Saturday, June 6, 2015

She Rises Introduction by Trista Hendren

[Author’s Note: This is part of introduction to She Rises, Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?” forthcoming June Solstice, 2015]

Goddess has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the last twenty years, although it wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I was able to fully embrace Her. She had been hidden and demonized throughout my childhood in a way that took me a long time to recover from. I was always the quiet and submissive daughter that I was supposed to be. Once she was fully unveiled, there as no turning back on the rage that I felt and the power that slowly returned to me. This awakening cost me the relationship with my father. It has been a painful realization that my continued silence and subordination was a mandatory requirement for some of my relationships. Despite the loss that I still feel, I cannot revert to the person I once was.

Goddess does that. Once your eyes have been opened to what has been suppressed and where your power lies, you cannot close them again. Hence, most men are scared to death of Her. Having a safe place or a sanctuary – like the Mago Circle on Facebook – is critically important for those of us who are awakening to Her reality.

For many people, Goddess is still a woo-woo, New Age fantasy. It is easy to dismiss Her for this reason alone. Goddess scholarship is therefore critically important. Women and girls especially need to understand Goddess as an historical reality. There is a reason so many go to such lengths to suppress Her.

Over the last year, I have had the pleasure of reading through all the essays on why Goddess Feminism and Activism is important. The Mago Circle on Facebook has been one of my very favorite for many years now, and although many of us live far from each other – and most of us have never met in person – I feel a strong connection to this group. Reading through each submission and putting them up individually on my Girl God blog has left me with a special feeling of connection with each contributor to this anthology.

The Mago Circle has been a key component to my spiritual and feminist development over the course of many years. One reason is that I find the level of respect between and among people in that group to be extraordinarily high, particularly in a Facebook environment where even feminists are often at each other’s throats. Goddess Feminism, it seems to me, is different. Not to say that we all agree or even like each other – but it rare, in my experience, so see the level of conflict rise to the level I have experienced in other feminist groups. I think part of this may be that we are all also working toward our own healing; and the Goddess offers such a healing and allows us to work together with love and grace.

Recently my daughter and I had the honor of spending several days with two of the contributors to this anthology: Max Dashu and Danica Anderson. We were able to hear three of Max’s presentations on Suppressed Histories – and also to absorb some of the deep wisdom of both these women during our down times. I cannot begin to describe the psychic impact this had upon both of us.

As I shared with Max, my 8-year-old daughter is now home-schooled, and our focus is on HERstory. Nearly every time I finish a biography with my daughter, I end up in tears because I never heard these stories growing up. Mostly what is available at my daughter’s age range however, is more recent HERstory. Hearing the ancient HERstories with my daughter was at times an almost overwhelming experience. Several women in the presentations also expressed intense anger at being denied this knowledge all of their lives—well into their sixtieth years.

Although I had been ecstatic about this trip, I returned home feeling more tired than I had in years; and very depressed. For many of us women who grew up in patriarchal religions, rage is still an emotion we tend to internalize rather than act-upon.

I have often quoted Judy Chicago over the years, but it was only these last few days that I actually felt the full force of her work. “Because men have a history, it is difficult for them to imagine what it is like to grow up without one, or the sense of personal expansion that comes from discovering that we women have a worthy heritage. Along with pride often comes rage – rage that one has been deprived of such a significant knowledge.”

Goddess Feminism is critically important to both our own well-being as women and the development of our daughters, nieces, granddaughters and other young girls in our lives. Goddess is the beginning; and it is only by returning to Her that we get to the root of the problem. It is for this reason that I have raised both my daughter and my son within this tradition. Embracing Goddess Feminism is a sort of restorative justice. As Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor wrote in The Great Cosmic Mother:

Once we thoroughly understand how and why patriarchy acquired its power over us—the power of an entrenched mistake over the minds and lives of all people—once we understand and feel clearly that the fight of witch women is also the fight of earth’s people everywhere against mechanical subjugation and exploitation—once we reestablish the magic link between the individual psyche and the earth’s vital energy flow, between all-evolving matter and all-evolving spirit, and learn to encourage and teach others to do the same, in a loving return to what we always were—perhaps then, in the final time of crisis, the Serpent Goddess will shake herself loose from her deep exiled sleep in the earth’s belly. Perhaps the serpent of life’s flowing energy will begin to rise again, all luminous and of the earth, and the children of the Great Mother will rise up with it, and the universe will be our home again, as before. This flight is not an escape, but a return. The only way for human being to survive the end is to return to the beginning.

There is no end to the level of gratitude I feel towards my Goddess Feminist foremothers: Helen Hwang, Max Dashu, Danica Anderson, Mary Saracino, Mary Daly, Monica Sjoo, Barbara Mor, Patricia Lynn Reilly, Carol P. Christ, Glenys Livingstone, Kaalii Cargill…my list could go on forever. I am constantly amazed at how much I don’t know and am always heartened to find new Goddessian pioneers who I was not previously familiar with.

This anthology is a gift to every person who reads it. Goddess Feminism will change the world.

Find out more about this anthology here.

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