Image copyright © 2008 Wytchy Ways. Used with permission
Before connecting with Goddess communities I had over twenty years of magick working in small groups, in solitary or with close friends. It had never occurred to me that the term Goddess could be used in reference to define exclusively female spirituality. Goddess to me is a wonderful term of love for our Mother Earth and a sacred path of wisdom and respect. To me it has never been a term to define ‘women’s spirituality’ or claim the Earth path as a spirituality for women. However, my journey into Goddess communities over the last few years has left me quite perplexed. Wonderful circles of women fill the spaces, yet no men? I have experienced great workshops, conferences, training and ceremonies, but my brothers who honour Goddess cannot be there. I have been told time and time again that women need gender specific space, and while I believe that to be true for BOTH men and women, there is also a great need to bring balance back to our Earth and to our lives.
We cannot replace patriarchy with matriarchy; we do not do the Earth Mother or ourselves any service by this act. Matri-focal Goddess cultures did not have women ruling at the expense of men. In Celtic cultures, women were great Priestesses, War chiefs, Mothers, leaders, weavers, artists and warriors, but this by no means represents a culture that holds their men to the side of their magick or society. Celtic men too were leaders, warriors, fathers, war chiefs and artists. Druids who devoted their lives to the Mother, even kings could not be crowned until partaking in the rites of Beltaine with Priestesses.
Some claim men will take over ‘our’ spirituality. But we do not allow ego and dominance in circles from women when it occurs, we deal with it, and we cannot be afraid of male strength. We need men to lead as well as support. We should also not confuse strong men with dominant and abusive forms of patriarchy. Strong women need strong men and strong men need strong women.
However too often men of the Goddess who could be great leaders in our community, are left to ‘help’ with cleaning up after ceremony or wait outside until circle is finished. While I respect and honour many men who help and support their women with Goddess work, we must remember that there are also men who wish to live their lives in the transformative power that is Earth based magick and Goddess Law. Yet, experienced men who have devoted their lives to Goddess are expected to wait outside or stand quiet in circle, while women new to Goddess are asked to facilitate. Eventually they drift away to more meaningful circles or they abandon Earth-based magick entirely.
We are losing our sacred sons at a time when balance and healing is critical.
I believe we are going through a time of transition and healing. Many of the women who have found Earth based spirituality are often using it as sanctuary from patriarchy and a place to heal from past violence and affirm the rights of women in a safe space. Sometimes it is simply a kind of spiritual ‘time out’ from the demands of life as a mother, wife or daughter. We must maintain these very important spaces of women’s strength and healing. The red tent movement has been a great testament to creating powerful healing spaces for women and facilitating great insight and change.
But we cannot afford to make women’s space our centre. It is time to make the centre of Goddess spirituality a place of service, clarity, community and balance. A place where both male and female specific space is honored, but the centre point is OUR community for all. This centre is a place of leaders, a place where the needs of both men and women are met, and a place where the Goddesses and the Gods walk together in honour and celebration.
Maybe it’s the sociologist in me, driving this, identifying gaps and wanting change- or maybe it’s the Priestess in me, watching the Earth spin in fertile circles of light and dark, male and female and the dance of the Sun and Moon across our skies- yet watching the Goddess community sing to one song with no polarity, interplay or dance. For me when I want to understand something I always go back to the Earth, what am I seeing? Is my life practice in harmony with the song of the Earth Mother? In this area the community is too far from how the Earth spins her beauty.
Just as the Moon dances across the sky with the Sun, and light and dark dance together across the seasons and in ourselves, so too must we call for men and women to stand together and bring a truly fertile and rich spirituality to our community and to our Mother Earth. The seasons do not spin on female spirituality alone, the Earth Mother and our bodies blossom in their fertility in this sacred union. Sun Gods and forest Gods spin in a respectful and beautiful union with the Goddess. The Earth operates in this beautiful divinity, and so must we.
In Indigenous Earth based spirituality Gods, male leaders, male sexuality and the male body are sacred. He is potent and strong, emotional , tender and wild. He is not to be confused with the abusive and socially constructed forms of masculinity that have plagued patriachical society, or newer sky based Gods of the book religions who ‘rule over’ rather than lead with women. He is the untamed wild stag, the warrior, the Sun warming the Earth Mother, the trickster faerie, the divine son, the forest dweller, the loving Father, and the Beltaine lover bringing fertility to the land. The God of many names spins in an intimate dance with the Goddess across the seasons, giving, living dying and being reborn.
As Starhawk so eloquently put it; “ At Winter Solstice he is born as the embodiment of innocence and joy, of a childlike delight of all things. He is the triumph of the returning light. At Bridget… his growth is celebrated, as the days grow visibly longer. At the Spring Equinox, He is the green, flourishing youth who dances with the Goddess in her maiden aspect. On Beltaine…their marriage is celebrated with maypoles and bonfires, and on Summer Solstice it is consummated, in a union so complete it becomes a death…He is mourned at Lughnasad and at Fall Equinox he sleeps in the womb of the Goddess, sailing over the sunless sea that is her womb. At Samhain…He arrives at the land of youth, the shining land in which souls of the dead grow young again, as they wait to be reborn…He too grows young, until at Winter Solstice He is again reborn. (Spiral dance: 1989; 114)
Our men are crucial elements in the divine dance with our Goddess. We can no longer lose our sacred sons. The doors need to open, with all the transition and messiness that will mean. We have powerful strong men out there, ready to be our warriors for the Goddess and we leave them at the door. It is time to not invite the sacred masculine in, but realize this was also their space all along. This is the way it was always done. Research any Indigenous culture on this planet and you will find women AND MEN, in strong sacred roles, representing their community in respect and honour of our Earth Mother. Men have lived for our Earth Mother, died for our Earth Mother, and have been part of the sacred and beautiful union that brings balance to our Earth and to ourselves. Men are the fertile balance of both humanity and the representation of gods in the divine son, warrior and lover to our Goddess.
Our Earth Mother has always had her Sacred Sons and Daughters in her service, and she does not simply prefer it that way- she requires it. The sacred spinning of Goddess spirituality is not women’s spirituality, it belongs to us all.
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