Thursday, June 6, 2013

(Re)Imagining God to Survive and Grow

I feel a strong sense of urgency for girls globally. We are being sucked into so many different directions, that I worry deeply about which paths we are guiding our children towards.

Several years ago, I purchased The Lady of Ten Thousand Names: Goddess Stories from Many Cultures for my daughter. She was a bit too young for it then, but I have pulled it off the shelf to read with her now. 

More often than not, I wish I would have started teaching her my values earlier. As a normal 7-year-old girl, she is often pulled away by Disney Princesses and Barbie dolls. Those are the things girls are supposed to like: and I think there is good reason for that.  

Both literally suck the life energy out of girls and give them an life-long, impossible template of who they should be.

It really wasn't until my daughter was 5 that I decided I would need to radically re-think how I raised her, or she would face the same problems I had all my life. 

As Gerda Lerner once said:
“Men develop ideas and systems of explanation by absorbing past knowledge and critiquing and superseding it. Women, ignorant of their own history [do] not know what women before them had thought and taught. So generation after generation, they [struggle] for insights others had already had before them, [resulting in] the constant inventing of the wheel.” 

Why do we keep struggling this way? More important, why don't we begin to teach our daughters what we know immediately upon their birth?

Perhaps, we are too isolated in the modern world, or perhaps we are just too distracted by the demands of motherhood and all the other expectations that are placed upon us as women and mothers.  I know both were true for me. 

We need to find ways to support each other more as women. 

And, we need to continually go back to our roots, to find them deeper and deeper within Mother Earth. There, we will find both strength and guidance. 

My mom gave me Goddesses in Every Woman a few months back. She had it on her bookshelves from years ago. I found myself in many of the Goddesses – both good and bad – which was truly affirming for me.  

Growing up as a good Christian girl, I always aimed for total perfection. I also believed God (male)  must be perfect, above reproach. A a careful reading of the Bible would have lead me to believe otherwise - and it did, years later as a Religion Major in a Southern Baptist College.

I think it is crucially important for us to be able to embrace ourselves and our daughters completely and without restrictions. The idea of who we should be keeps us from being who we can be.  

Gloria Steinem wrote the intro to Goddesses in Every Woman and I couldn't possibly say it better than her:

“This book will be an “Ovarial” experience for you if identification with a goddess archetype reveals something about yourself that you hadn’t previously acknowledged. You may realize that what truly matters to you is different from what you have done to please others. You may forgive yourself for not being who your family expected you to be. You may realized that you need to stand up for a goddess in yourself that you are neglecting. You may identify with a shadow part of a goddess and be inspired to change a not-very-pretty part of yourself.

At a minimum, these archetypal goddesses are a useful shorthand for describing and thus analyzing many behavior patterns and personality traits. At a maximum, they are ways of envisioning and thus calling up needed strengths and qualities within ourselves. As Alice Walker makes so movingly clear in The Color Purple, we imagine god and endow her or him with the qualities we need to survive and grow. “ ~Gloria Steinem’s intro to
Goddesses in Every woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

There are many resources out there for us to empower ourselves as women and empower our daughters. Knowing our Herstory - and the path of the Goddess - are two very important ways we can do that.

So, distractions and all, I will teach my daughter about the Goddesses throughout the world and as much Herstory as she will listen to. I'm sure I will continue to grow and learn something new everyday as well.

My hope is that through my work and that of so many others, girls around the world will begin to know their absolute worth. We shouldn't have to wait until our thirties, forties or fifties to know who we are or what our value is. Some women never realize their worth or potential.

We must reclaim what has been stolen from us. And, we must do it now

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