Sleeping with the Goddess  

rm_connor696 60M
944 posts
9/24/2005 8:17 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Sleeping with the Goddess

One of the very first posts I made here concerned the logic of monotheism. Lately religion has been cropping up again, both in my life away from this site (yes, I do have one) and in some of the posts I've been reading. So pardon me if I enter these waters one more time.

It seems to me that one of the salient features of monotheism--and here I mean the three main branches of the Abrahamic tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--is that is that the notion of a single, absolute deity reflects a kind of totalizing logic found, among other places, in science. But while that may work spectacularly well there--because at the medium-sized level force simply does equal mass times acceleration--I wonder whether it's a good thing for religion.

I'd like to blame Paul for this with respect to Christianity, and to the extent that he grafted Greek philosophical thought onto the more aesthetic style of Jesus himself, he does bear some responsibility. But to tell the truth, all three religions share what came to be the worldview of the Mediterranean, the tendency to purify concepts to their apotheosis, bleaching out qualification and controversy, ambiguity and ambivalence. God thus became wholly and absolutely good, powerful, and knowledgeable, and the description provided by each religion is taken to reveal the unqualified truth for all, just as science does. Stray from the path, and you have done something categorically incorrect, something wrong; you have sinned.

Paganism seems to me to offer an alternative. Now I am not a pagan, and I don't purport to speak for their understandings. What follows is simply the take of an outsider--an outsider, moreover, whose heart is drawn to paganism even though his brain and Freudian superego resist. Even if I get paganism wrong, I think my thoughts here mark an important distinction.

Basically, I see pagans as operating with a different notion of religion, one that treats religious thought and practice as expressive rather than descriptive. Yes, I'm sure there are punctillious rigid pagans who demand painstaking precision in matters of ritual or even orthodoxy, but for the most part, the stereotypic "criticism" of such folk seems apt: they're just making it up. Yes, I want to answer, and bully for them.

Of course, most pagans would probably reply that their traditions are ancient, as old as humankind, and certainly older than the upstart monotheistic religions. And they would be right. But that's not quite my point, which is rather that those hoary old traditions were designed from the beginning to be expressive rather than descriptive. They are designed to articulate--from the bottom up--a person's felt relation with the world or a significant part of it, not to describe it from the top down.

Gender provides a nice example. Me, I hate cops. It's an almost pathological thing. So the idea, especially prevalent in Judaism, Calvinism, and Islam, of God as a kind of supercop really shuts that door for me. But, because this is supposed to be the "truth" of the matter, the issue is ostensibly settled.

It's clear to me, however, that a goddess-based religion would speak more directly to my experience, to my deepest understandings of nature, nurture, and creativity. And viewing religion expressively would mean that I needn't suppose a personlike being who is female in some objective sense, perhaps with ethereal breasts and womb; I could simply use the notion of femaleness to flesh out my feelings about and relation to self and world. Thus, understanding religion as expressive opens up the door to, among other things, deities otherwise gendered and in general to organizing your spirituality around those images and symbols, rituals, and concepts that most speak to you and your conception of yourself and the world around you.

But monotheism's totalizing logic is difficult to elude. I mentiond that a part of me resists participating in paganism, and the relentless demands of logic provide the reason: embarrassment. To the extent that I can't shake these demands, I feel goofy in flouting them. There's a saying that floats around pop culture: dance like no one is looking. But that old superego hangs tough whenever I consider adopting paganism as a lived experience. Still, I recognize that it should be otherwise: what I'm saying here is that religion can be construed as not science but dance. There is no right or wrong to dancing; there is only the joy of the dance, the feeling of entering the music's rhythm and melody in a way that makes sense to the dancer. Understand religion this way, and there is no worry about "getting it wrong" as long as you follow the voice that calls to you. The pagan aproach offers so many ways of being connected to (or even "tied to," as in the etymological roots of the word religion), that if one ceases to satisfy, many others can take its place.

Blessed be!

rm_saintlianna 45F
15466 posts
9/24/2005 9:20 am

I think that I would like to be both, I love the Goddess's, but Catholic dogma has such a grip on me I don't dare give it up.

rm_connor696 60M
834 posts
9/24/2005 2:01 pm

Ste. lianna (whose earlier post in part prompted this one)--
Well, you could do worse. Of all the forms of Christianity, Catholicism is the most capacious. Beyond the ususal it includes a kind of paganism in the worship of the saints, a definite goddess worship in the hyperdulia offered to Mary, a strong tradition of mysticism, a scholarly bent running from Augustine to the modern-day Jesuits, and an aestheticism unmatched elswhere in Chistendom--or perhaps the religious world generally (imagine the history of Western music and visual art apart from the Catholic Church).

Pax vobiscum

MissAnnThrope 56F
11488 posts
9/25/2005 12:10 am

Most Pagans would argue their traditions are older than time. They'd be blowing smoke up your ass, to be quite honest. We are generally NeoPagans. Even the ones who have written tradition through their families, well, that's all changed over the years for the most part. The Neo-Pagan movement is very new. There were no Druids left to impart Issac Bonewits with the knowledge of the ages and their traditions. Gerald Gardner was a first degree initiate when he ran off and started Wicca. The rules are stringent, which is why people will make the distinction between Wicca and Wiccan. They are two very different animals.

Now, it just tends to be Dianic Wiccans who ignore the male aspect in Paganism. They're also not fond of men as Pagans, most of them feel that it's a woman's movement. However, in the rest of Paganism, the Gods are just as important as the Goddesses. For anyone to ignore the dual-aspect is robbing themselves.

Sure, there are modern interpretations of various Goddesses that are gorgeous and all of that. However, look at the statues that have been uncovered. They were all fertility Goddesses. Big, round bellies, tits to their hips, thighs that make mine look svelte. Those are the true images of the Goddesses, not the fantasy art work you see these days.

Connor, if you have an honest interest, have you thought about Gnostism or Thelemic paganism? I mean, I could go on for hours with this.

rm_rsp54 58F
531 posts
9/26/2005 5:33 am

One of my problems with Christianity is the path that one strays from. You would think that if one professed to be a Christian they would "be on the same team as all of the other Christians." Christ is Christ, after all.
Having been raised a Catholic, I was totally confounded the first time I attended my husband's evangelical church. The pastor spoke of sending missionaries to "deepest, darkest Ireland". These people needed to know Jesus and see the error of their ways, and be saved ,and blah, blah, blah. Last time I checked, the predominantly Catholic population of Ireland did worship Christ. What the fuck?
I think that paganism gets trashed because most people misunderstand the notion. They immediately conjure up images of satanic worship.and such.They equate it with evil.
A religion that is designed to be expressive seems to make so much more sense.

As for me, at this point in my life, I try to avoid any religion with a ten foot pole. But as hard as I try, it always comes back to haunt me in one form or another.

MissAnnThrope 56F
11488 posts
9/27/2005 2:50 am

rsp, evangelicals and born agains have hijacked the word Christian, just as Wiccans have hijacked the word witch.

My roommate was raised Christian, went to bible school instead of public school and she and her siblings are incredibly screwed up. Her mother still gives out Jack Chick tracts at Halloween to trick or treaters.

She explained all of this to me. Catholics are NOT Christians. While Catholic is a form of Christianity, those of us raised Catholic are not and never were Christians. You have to be born again to be a Christian. What bullshit. Believing in the divinity of Christ means nothing. You have to renounce all the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary or you're going to hell. There is no triple God of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Jesus is all that matters. Therefore, unless you're born again, etc, etc... I know, it makes no sense.

Now, as far as witchcraft being evil, thank Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca. He taught that any practitioner of Wicca should deny it and preach that witchcraft is evil. As a matter of fact, the word Wicca does NOT mean wise one, it means male witch with evil connotations. But, things do get reinvented over time.

Makes me wonder... If Wicca has changed so much in 60 years, how much has Christianity changed, not to mention the gospels in 2000 years?

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