|Art by Sudie Rakusin|
Under patriarchy, sovereignty is the greatest betrayal—the original sin. If you look up the antonyms for sovereign,4 they include all the things many of us were groomed to be in the church and/or patriarchal family structure.
Patriarchal men and institutions do not recognize the divinity of women.
While I have worked through a lot of this already, at times I have still tried to validate myself through both in hopes to heal what was missing from many of my earlier relationships. But these attempts were just picking at the scab of the wound. True healing comes from recognizing our own divinity—not in validation from others.
When you are raised to worship men, this is a difficult lesson to learn.
I spent most of my life trying to be a good girl. Goddess teaches us to connect with ourselves and with our joy. When we are in that flow, we are sovereign—and by default we are good enough. We are always enough. We are allowed to be human and to make mistakes. We are encouraged to look at our darkness and shadows to facilitate our healing, and the fullness of our be-ing.
In Dreams of Isis, Nomandi Ellis asks a very compelling question: “How can Isis truly be a goddess worthy of honor when she has these dark tendencies?” She answers, “In a way Isis has been recovering from what Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls a 'Nice-nice' complex. She has spent her life being too good, too kind, and turning the other cheek so often that her head begins to spin. She is the kind of woman who will smile during the day, but by night she howls alone in the dark of the moon. Women who fear the words of power expend a lot of energy biting their tongues.”7
When I try to be 'good' by doing what I think other people want me to do, everything goes to shit. That's when my sovereignty goes out the window. But I am learning to stay in my own zone, and each year gets a little better.
I am a work in progress. We all are. The gift of learning how to garden is that you realize that there is no end point. No matter how beautiful your garden is, there is always more to do—even if it is just upkeep. The weeds are eager to pop back up—and there always will be a few here and there that need tending to.
Sovereignty was stolen from women thousands of years ago. It is not an accident that it is so difficult for many of us to reclaim.
We don't have to do it all alone. Sitting together face-to-face in women's circles has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Through the sharing of our stories, we heal. We see ourselves in their mistakes and their triumphs. We learn and we grow and we learn to love ourselves in all our messiness. We are given a portal back to our Goddess nature.
A few months ago, my beautiful circle sister Camilla taught me Fia's song, Shedding Skins. The chorus states:
am beautiful and fucked up, in the most glorious way
When standing in my truth, who cares what people say
'Cause moment we stop running from the demons
in our heads and instead we choose to love them
When saying yes to life of shadow and light
oh, our suffering is done and we come alive”10
May our suffering be done—and may we all become truly alive. May the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names restore the throne that is the birthright of each and every woman through reclaiming our innate divinity.
Excerpt from On the Wings of Isis, to be released this fall by Girl God Books.
Trista Hendren (editor and contributor) is the creator of Girl God Books. She lives in Bergen, Norway with her family. You can learn more about her projects at www.thegirlgod.com
1Oliver, Mary. Dream Work. “Wild Geese.” Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st edition, 2014.
2Turner, Toko-pa. Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home. Her Own Room Press; 1st edition, 2017.
3Williams, Terry Tempest. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice. Picador; Reprint edition, 2013.
5Morrison, Toni. Sula. Knopf, 1976.
6Morrison, Toni. Sula. Knopf, 1976.
7Ellis, Normandi. Dreams of Isis: A Woman's Spiritual Sojourn. Quest Books; 1995.
8Kidd, Sue Monk. The Book of Longings. Viking; 2020.
9Morrison, Toni. Sula. Knopf, 1976.
10Fia, Made of Stars. “Shedding Skins.” CD Baby, 2016.