Friday, May 31, 2013

The Girl God: A Divine Image Reflecting the Power of Girls

When I grew up, God was a man. I was a sinner, in need of his salvation for my many transgressions.

I came out of a Fundamentalist Christian home, ultimately desiring a career as a Minister. After starting Religious Studies in College, I began to deeply question my faith. The doctrines I had been taught as “Gospel” were broken open to me in a way that I could not repair or reconcile once I began to look at the historical, cultural and linguistic roots of the Bible.

I did not realize how deeply my upbringing in the Church had tainted and still suppressed my core being until I read Patricia Lynn Reilly’s book, A God Who Looks Like Me, several years ago.

As I pondered this in my own life, I realized my daughter was about to enter the same dark hole that I had.

When my daughter turned five, I already saw the way the world was beginning to taint her image of herself. We had disconnected the cable several years before, but the message was still seeping in from other places: you are not enough.

I grew up with 3 sisters. I never realized how distinctively different the experience of boys and girls is until I raised my son and daughter, who are 3 years apart.

I realized that although I had tried to give both my children the religious freedom I never had, it was not enough for my daughter.

Ultimately, she is the one who connected me back to my spirituality in a way I never could have done for myself. In watching her grow, I began to value myself more. In recognizing how precious she was, I realized how precious I was.

I began to understand that most religions de-value women in subtle ways. When we refer to God only as male, the message is that women are inferior.

I saw this very clearly one day in talking with my daughter. She could not relate to a male image of God. But when I asked her about a “Girl God,” she lit up!

Ultimately this shifted how I began to think about both myself and my faith. I began studying women’s history and the suppression of the Divine Feminine in all faith traditions. I wrote a children’s book called The Girl God which describes some of that journey with my daughter.

I think as young girls, we begin to talk ourselves into a male image of God, when in reality it is completely unnatural to us. As Judy Chicago reminds us, “In the beginning, the feminine principle was seen as the fundamental cosmic force. All ancient peoples believed that the world was created by a female Deity.”

The Girl God is a story about how I was able to relate spirituality back to my daughter in words she could understand. I wrote this book for children; however, many women and therapists have contacted me along the way to say that they thought the book would be helpful for women as well. My hope is that the book will be collectively healing for both mother and daughter, as they read through it together.

The book is magically illustrated by Elisabeth Slettnes, whose paintings give you something new to discover every time. The book is also filled with poetry, quotes and spiritual texts. Carol P. Christ, Alice Walker, Sue Monk Kidd, bell hooks, Gandhi, Rumi and others add their timeless wisdom to the storyline.

Spirit-Filled One,Your Grandma is God and so are your favorite star and rock.
God has many names and many faces.
God is Mother, Daughter, and Wise Old Crone.
She is found in your mothers, in your daughters, and in you.
God is the God of Sarah, and Hagar, of Leah and Rachel.
She is Mother of all Living, and blessed are Her daughters.
You are girl-woman made in Her image.
You can run fast, play hard, and climb trees.
You are Batwoman, firewoman, and Goddess.
The spirit of the universe pulsates through you.
Be full of yourself. You are good. You are very good.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

Ultimately, our hope is to translate this book into as many languages as possible so that women and girls around the world can begin to awaken to the Divine within them.

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes

See the original essay in magoism blog

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