A Radical Re-think of Objectification ('Cause Patriarchy)

Earlier this week I posted a comment in regards to an article by Jamie Utt on Everyday Feminism. Apparently it was not appreciated as it no longer appears on the site under the article. You can check out my Facebook page if you're interested in all that I said. I'm not sure why I was silenced (maybe it was my use of the word ass) but I've decided to repost some of those thoughts (and others) in more detail here. 'Cause this is my blog and I can say whatever I want without being censored.

Some readers (especially those that know me) might think I'm sporadically a little nutty on this sort of topic over the last few years. Yeah, maybe. I can admit that and I'm totally shameless about it. Because, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people, I think it's all worth saying.

Sites like Everyday Feminism are doing a great job making progressive gender ideas palatable for the masses. But I'm more interested in getting down to the nit and gritty and not pandering to a lowest common denominator. Nor am I interested in making people feel all warm and fuzzy about the Patriarchy and its influence. If you've got some patriarchal-shame, get good with it so it doesn't stop you from being able to see the world in a new light. Say "enough already", be free, and start imagining new paradigms. Shame is useless and only stops us from evolving.

There's no shame in being sexual. It's innate and wonderful to be gifted with such amazing potential for connection and pleasure. But how that sexual nature manifests is largely due to cultural influences. Humans are not born knowing how to be sexual adults. We learn it from our environments like we do most everything else.

The major evidence for this is how sexual mores have changed over time and vary by culture. All it takes is a small amount of research (thank you Google) to find out that women were once thought of as the more "over sexed" gender while today that label is thrown onto males. Whoa. How'd that happen? Did women have more testosterone back in those days? Did men have less? Did we evolve as a species? Aren't we told that according to Darwinist evolution, males are supposed to be the promiscuous, cheating, over-sexed monkey-men who can't get enough of sex, porn, and Rosy Redpalm? Tell that to the Ancient Greeks or even the Puritans. 

We can also observe other cultures - like tribal people - who don't possess the same nudity taboos or sexually repressed ideas that Westerners do. If breasts were something men were innately wired to ogle and get automatic hard-ons over, I don't think the human race would've made it this far. "Hunt for food? Build some shelter? Screw that! Titties everywhere! I need some alone time."

Every sexual idea or practice is basically made up by culture. Period. From gender norms to myths of sexual appetites, it's all a bunch of hooey. Hell, less than a hundred years ago pink was a color for boys and powder blue was for girls. Thanks to some retailers trying to sell baby clothes that all changed.

How about we think outside our proverbial patriarchal boxes for a second. In our current paradigm, sex is very phalli-centric. This means it begins with a male erection and ends with male ejaculation. Right? Right. 'Cause patriarchy. And women have been the class seen as subordinate to males, thought of as male property, etc. for a few thousands years or so right? Uh huh. Again, 'cause patriarchy. So what do you suppose would happen if we didn't have the "cause patriarchy" factor? We'll get back to that but try giving that question a good think over for now.

Let's move on to tackling some of the most common responses/excuses for stereotypical, hetero-normative objectification from some not so common angles and see what happens. Oh, but before we go on it needs to be made clear that we're not talking about "all men" and "all women". We're talking about men as a class and women as a class. This is an important distinction that helps us not overly personalize these topics and lose sight of the real issues.

Men Are Objectified Too.

Yup. And two wrongs don't make a right. Also, we can talk more about this when sexism isn't a thing anymore and women aren't sexually exploited every second by pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, human trafficking, Victoria's Secret, etc. - all for the enjoyment/entertainment of men. 'Cause patriarchy.

Women Like It Or They Wouldn't Wear Short Skirts, Little Blouses, Bikinis, Etc.

I don't give a shit what Cameron Diaz says. Just like males are taught to ogle women in order to feel more like "real" men, girls are taught to want to be ogled in order to feel more like "real" women.

I've actually witnessed this in a younger woman who was so distraught that my husband wouldn't ogle her that she competed with me for his gaze constantly. To get his attention her voice would go up a notch higher, she'd play with her hair, she'd consistently check to see if he was looking at her rear. All because he had yet to give her the once over she needed to feel worthy. I'm sure I've done similar things before but standing outside of the situation and observing it was a real eye opener.

Anyway, women objectify themselves (which can often lead to eating disorders and general body dysmorphia) and other women too. It's a vicious, dehumanizing cycle that really boils down to the fact that we place value on individuals based on the wrong factors. By wrong I mean harmful. Because that's exactly what objectification is. The gif below is from the TED Talk "The Sexy Lie" by Caroline Heldman. Highly recommended.


It's Biology. It's Instinct. It's Natural. Men Are Visual Creatures.

Firstly, we're all visual creatures unless we're visually impaired. This argument is just ridiculously over simplified and used as an excuse for the continuation of learned objectification behaviors. It also puts certain expectations on men to participate in objectifying behaviors in order to be "real" men. Because if you don't get a big happy looking at girl-butts and boobs you must be gay *gasp* or otherwise effeminate. 'Cause patriarchy.

Lori Rose wrote an article titled "Objectification is Not Your Sexuality" that sums up what I think about this pretty quickly. To quote her, "It's time we cleared something up: Sexual objectification is not related to or a part of sex.  Full stop."

As mentioned above, sexual expression is learned and conditioned by culture. Because males are taught from an early age to objectify women doesn't mean it's an in-born sexual expression that all males are burdened with.

One more time. Objectification of women through the male gaze is learned. It's not hardwired into our very elastic and malleable brains. It's not human nature. You don't have to do it. It's not you.

What's Wrong With Attraction?

Um, nothing. Nothing at all. But attraction - or more clearly the ways in which we express attraction - are not behaviors that are set in stone by our DNA. Also, the physical attributes we're attracted to change with culture and time period. From a plump belly to small penises (yes, once upon a time smaller was better) whatever we call "attractive" is completely mutable based on environmental influences. It's not in any way necessary nor innate to look a woman over like a prize steer in order to denote attraction to her or to even experience that attraction in the first place.

And how about realizing real attraction from manufactured attraction? Here's what I mean. We've all had that moment where someone we thought was gorgeous and perfect starts talking to us and all of a sudden whatever spark was there dies out in an instant. Maybe it's incompatible chemistry. Maybe their just too dimwitted. Maybe they spit when they talk. Whatever. Something changes and they don't look that great anymore.

We've also all had those times when someone we thought looked a bit average or lackluster becomes the only vision we want to see or think about because getting to know them made them uber attractive to us. Being with someone, experiencing them, appreciating them... maybe even loving them... that's real attraction. That's more than made up status-creating standards for appearances.

It's Appreciating Beauty.

Bullshit. Appreciating something gives it value. Objectification takes that value away and replaces it with the viewers own self-gratifying agenda. Instead of seeing a person, there is only an object that has the capacity to be viewed and used as a means to an end.

Why is it assumed that women exist in the world to be appreciated by the gaze of others anyway? What's that about? Women are not sunsets or flowers or whatever. They're whole people. And, as far as I'm concerned, if you're not recognizing the full humanity of another person, you aren't appreciating them at all. See more of my (censored) comments on this at my Facebook page.

And let's really talk about what this form of "appreciating beauty" is all about. According to patriarchy, men need it, women can give it and thus women have power over men. Since women being powerful in a patriarchy is unacceptable (because that weakens the male class and makes them vulnerable) men need to find a way to take that power back. Men "appreciate the beauty" of women because they have been taught that images of women can give them orgasms and imagined power that can calm their feelings of inadequacy. I know it's awkward but it's still true.


Women are seen as walking orgasms. Your average guy can stare at a bunch of women on the street then go home and imagine he's giving it to each of them in succession. He's in essence found a way to possess images of those women without their consent and use them for his I'm-bored-so-why-not-boners. Now he's got power over them instead of the other way around. Because the last thing men are supposed to be or feel is powerless or vulnerable. That's not what the patriarchy promises.

As I mentioned in my censored comments, this is thought of as normal male sexual expression in our society. When in reality this behavior is a coping mechanism employed by men to reaffirm their patriarchal male identity that becomes what psychologists call a paraphilia or fetish. Just because women are the most common or "normal" fetish object doesn't negate the purpose the fetish serves in the mind of the fetishist. The fact that so many men have a hard time giving up ogling and objectification is further evidence of the compulsive nature and fetish-like quality of the way women are viewed.

Patriarchal society says that "real" men want to have sex with lots of women, all day, every day. Most women will do but the super hot ones are especially coveted as a precious commodity. Because "real" men, powerful men have hot girls on their arms. The rest of the average guys (or commonly termed beta-males... ick) can only jerk off imagining those hotties. Because they're not good enough. Because they're not man enough. So objectification will have to do for the regular dudes who can't live up to the unrealistic, survival-of-the-fittest, he-who-wins-gets-to-screw-them-all mentality. Because patriarchy promised them hot girls one way or another. And they feel entitled to those hot girls.

It's really a very innocent response when we look at it this way. After all, most men and women don't see the patriarchal box they've been metaphorically taped into and they simply don't know any better to see the harms. However, none of it is truly innocuous and once someone knows better, there can no longer be excuses made for not changing the behavior. Because the way men feel it is their birthright to view women as objects they are deserving of possessing leads to a whole host of human issues ranging from divorce to rape culture to the recent Isla Vista murders. See Caroline Heldman's TED Talk for the specific ways objectification and self-objectification harm women and girls.

Without the 'Cause Patriarchy Factor

It's really not that hard to stop making people into things when we realize things are of no real value to us as human beings who desperately desire meaningful connection to all of creation.

I know this all sounds a bit strange. I mean, once upon a time I had no idea how to express my sexuality outside of the patriarchal norms of being looked at and seen as an object. And I'm sure many men out there can't begin to imagine what their sexuality is if it isn't tied up with objectifying activities like girl watching, strip clubs, porn, etc. I get it. It's what we all learned and it's what we all know.

But I now realize there are other ways of being sexual, other ways of thinking about sex, about men, about women that allow our humanity to stay intact. Objectification removes empathy for others and erodes our capacity for compassion. We are capable of so much more than what we've been given as a blueprint and we have great capacity to change. But it's going to take time and each of us as individuals needs to accept responsibility. To start, let's tell ourselves a new story about sex, about beauty, and about attraction.

Sex can be about a whole lot more than pleasing the male member or otherwise stroking the patriarchal male ego (pun intended). It can be a whole body experience full of sensuality and connection. Because being sensual has been seen as a feminine trait it denotes weakness and vulnerability that men are usually taught to avoid. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Attraction is about more than appearances. There are many layers and facets to each individual that can stir attraction. There is a difference between what we've been sold as "attractive" and what we really respond to deeply in our daily lives. Making these distinctions is one of the first steps to reclaiming our sexual responses as our own and not the creation of patriarchal media and advertising.

Beauty as we commonly define it is an inconsistent, made up compilation of status symbol creating attributes that change from time to time and culture to culture. If you think someone is sexy, chances are you were told they were sexy by the society you live in. If you see someone who fits this mold and have the urge to objectify them, you could say to yourself:

"She conforms to conventional beauty standards that I've been taught to create a sexual fetish of by the patriarchy in order to quell my deep fears of inadequacy. But I recognize that she is a whole person who doesn't need my eyes or anyone else's to validate her existence. Because her humanity is what really makes her beautiful. And my humanity is what makes me beautiful. I don't want to lose any of it by dehumanizing another in the act of objectification. I desire connection with real people not things."

While this was at times tongue and cheek, I am quite serious about coming to an understanding of human sexuality outside of our current influences. I welcome your questions and comments on this and similar topics as we all try to navigate new waters in a world that is moving away from patriarchal paradigms and shifting towards cooperation and partnership.

Called by the Goose

For about the last 6-7 years or so, I've been enamored with water foul, especially geese. Most people think geese are aggressive, mean-spirited creatures. I've never seen them that way and, as the years have gone on, they've brought strong emotional reactions to the surface whenever I see them.

I often feel full of joy and a gratitude for life when I see them all hanging out together, their grey and downy babies wobbling at their sides. The other day I witnessed a graceful adult goose get hit by a car on a busy road near where I live. Seeing the beautiful animal lying on the ground, honking and confused, with its faithful gaggle watching from the sidelines, immediately brought me to tears.

In a most dramatic (and perhaps silly sounding) sense I felt almost like Jim Morrison who, as a child, witnessed a car crash that took the life of a Native American man. Jim lived the rest of his days believing that the man's spirit somehow blended with his. At that moment yesterday, I felt something similar and hope that I can carry the soul of that wounded goose with strength.

So after years of watching and admiring the goose from afar, I decided it was time to accept that this bird was a totem of mine and look up what that meant. What I found seemed meaningful if not full of synchronicity.

"If Goose has flown across your path;

You are being reminded that we often take on the quests of our peers and family without stepping back and discerning whether or not this is something that we ourselves would wish to pursue. Make sure that the path you are currently following is your own and look deeply into your heart to ascertain that the choice is yours and not what someone else has wished upon you.
Alternatively  the quest you are currently on is about to take an abrupt change of course. Know that this is only a temporary thing and that you will soon be back on your chosen path.

If Goose is your Animal Totem;

You are kind, loyal and brave. Family and friends is a high priority for you. You are a clear communicator and a compassionate member of your community. Your focus is always on the community and family as a whole unit and make your decisions (often with self sacrifice) based on what is best for all. You have an innate belief that there is just one special person in the world for each of us and make a devoted and tentative spouse. You are good at setting your boundaries and aggressive at keeping them in place. Your greatest desire is to manifest the “good life” for your family and community. You know how to tap into the Universal Mind to find the destiny and directions of individuals and then relay the stories they need to activate their process of destiny manifestation."
And did you know that geese are monogamous pair-bonders? Like many other birds, they often mate for life and are quite loyal to each other. Strange that the goose began trying to get my attention as I was moving into a new love and a new way of looking at relationships. An entirely new paradigm is what's followed. Hmm...   

Brightest blessing of the goose and happy summer.

Life, Some Worries, and the Erie Canal

I rarely get personal here but there's so much going on lately - so much to worry about. I'm trying not to worry so much since I know as well as anyone that it is one of the mind's most useless preoccupations. But I've been slacking on the meditation a little and that has a way of making my head feel cluttered. Best to just get it all out.

Our dog passed a couple of weeks ago now. It was our decision and I hope the right one. We're moving in a month or so to a village on the Erie Canal and leaving the gorgeous acre and a half of green space we've called home for a decade now. It seems appropriate to have buried our boy on the only land he ever lived.

I'm flooded with questions and concerns about money, my daughter's new school and her education, how much space we'll have, whether our cats will make a bathroom of the new place before we even get settled in, and how much we'll miss our gardens and the openness and the dancing trees.

But we won't miss the obnoxious sounds of traffic flying down past the strip mall that poses as a main drag just up the street. We won't miss the macho motorcyclists who used to wake our baby with their antics at 3am. We won't miss the sound of sirens in this little oasis surrounded by commerce.

No, where we're going will be more quiet, that much is certain. Perhaps we'll hear a stray moo from a randy cow, but no Harleys will clash with our peaceful suppers. Surprising, considering it's a townhome in a circle of townhomes, surrounded by neighbors on all sides. 

In a few years time we hope to buy a home somewhere on the outskirts of the city - about an hour or so away to commute. This is the plan since it's a good way to be sure we won't be paying a mortgage for the rest of our lives (on top of student loans) as the houses are a million times cheaper out there. 

Ideally we'd love a small home, maybe even a tiny one - a 500 square foot castle surrounded by nature. Not much to clean, not much to maintain. Just us and the wild and some time to spare. He wants to grow food all day. I'll help, of course, but I still need to make the art and maybe even get some more of my novels off the ground. If I could set those things in motion, we could live anywhere and he could farm as much as he wanted and be completely set free from computer and cube.

I'm going to make that happen.

In the meantime, I will do my best to stay in the now. Because the now is almost always pretty awesome. I will choose to always be in love and never lose faith. I will strive to live for those I love and be ever brave in the face of fear. I love therefore I am.

Link: Rebalancing the Masculine and the Feminine

unknown artist | source

This is an important read from Goddess scholar, Anne Baring, and one that I downloading into my collection many years ago. 

An excerpt:
When the masculine and the feminine are in balance, there is fluidity, relationship, a flow of energy, unity, totality. This fluidity and balance is perhaps best illustrated by the Taoist image of the indissoluble relationship and complementarity of Yin and Yang. In the broadest terms, the feminine is a containing pattern of energy: receptive, connecting, holding things in relationship to each other; the masculine is an expanding pattern of energy: seeking extension, expansion towards what is beyond. More specifically, the feminine reflects the instinctual matrix and the feeling (heart) values of consciousness; the masculine reflects the questing, goal-defining, ordering, discriminating qualities of consciousness, generally associated with mind or intellect. For millennia women have lived closer to the first pattern; men to the second. But now, there is a deep impulse to balance these within ourselves and our culture. There is an urgent need to temper the present over-emphasis on the masculine value with a conscious effort to integrate the feminine one. [read more]

Anima and Animus Insights

Anima: the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious.

Animus: the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious.
After publishing my most recent thoughts on my current spiritual journey with the Horned God/Divine Masculine, I sent an email to my husband with the link so he could read it and we could discuss it later. This is pretty normal though I didn't really expect the thoughts that came out before I hit send.
This is something I wrote on Panthea today and it's bringing some revelations. I think I can see now that in every man I've ever been attracted to I've been looking for something to heal the wounded masculine spirit within myself. And that (consciously) choosing not to seek that in others, but to seek it in myself and in our relationship, I've finally begun to truly heal it instead of putting fruitless and temporary band aids over it.
I wanted to share that epiphany with you as I think it's universally human and that men obviously do the same sorts of things. It almost makes sense that men would covet and objectify so heavily given that their feminine selves are so deeply wounded in this age - disproportionately so, I would wager, than the masculine in women.
This is sort of like a big "ah ha" moment for me. It seems so obvious now, but I suppose I've never really been able to put the whole idea into coherent language. Even though I've studied Jung and read many times about anima/animus projection, it is just now beginning to make some serious sense. Perhaps it's taken me so long to figure out because the ideas of "masculine" and "feminine" are such loaded concepts in our patriarchal world.

Erich Neumann, a student of Carl Jung, said this in his book, The Origins and History of Consciousness:
It is in this sense that we use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" . . . not as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. . . . The symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" is archetypal and therefore transpersonal; in the various cultures concerned, it is erroneously projected upon persons as though they carried its qualities. In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid. . . . . [I]t is one of the complications of individual psychology that in all cultures the integrity of the personality is violated when it is identified with either the masculine or the feminine side of the symbolic principle of opposites.
"The integrity of the personality is violated" is very profound. What this means is that being forced by our cultural standards to bifurcate our true selves as "psychological hybrids" into one of two narrowly defined boxes called "male" or "female" causes great spiritual and psychological trauma to the individual. Obviously, we would need to develop some coping mechanisms in order to deal with that trauma.

Of the two social classes of men and women, we could easily say that men are more culturally policed to repress their anima natures. Calling a man a homosexual is a far bigger insult than calling a woman a lesbian, for example. In fact, there are many more words used to emasculate men than there are to de-feminize women (if that's even a word). The anima is repressed, scorned, and hated. The projected coping mechanisms created to deal with this violation of the naturally hybridized male psyche include objectification of female bodies, pornography, prostitution, general violence against women, and overall misogyny. Not to mention what men do to each other in order to punish the anima in other men.

Above are some of the more extreme ways in which a man may continue to disassociate himself from his anima (from anything perceived as feminine) as "the other" and therefore reinforce his culturally constructed masculinity. Women project their animus as well, though the outcomes of coping with that trauma seem wholly different and may need their own post. This is most likely due to the imbalance of power within a patriarchy.

So why don't most people feel consciously traumatized by denying half of their own experience as a human soul? Why don't more people do this psychological digging? Because it's oh so normal. It's what we know and the way we think things are supposed to be. We don't know better and so accept the abuses that come from these hidden psychological wounds. And being raised within a patriarchal paradigm, we unknowingly reinforce these stereotypical ways of being on a regular basis without the slightest bit of forethought.

Think about it. We all have pretty concrete ideas of what a man or a woman is supposed to be and behave accordingly. These values are planted when we're very young children with words like "isn't she a pretty princess" or "what a strong line-backer of a boy". What if we began to realize that everything we've been taught is a fabrication perpetuated throughout time in order to maintain social control? What if we really took a hard look at ourselves and saw that deep down, we are who we are, regardless of the bodies we arrived here in?

Masculine/Feminine, Anima/Animus, Yin/Yang... these exist in all of us and are integral parts of our soul's experience. To deny one side or the other is a violation of our innocent humanity, a bifurcation of mind and spirit whose wounds continue to threaten our societies and our very planet.

This is the new paradigm that can move us out of the culture of domination we currently find ourselves in. This is the time of partnership being set into motion by the planets and stars above, most deeply felt since the 2012 Winter Solstice. The question for all of us is, will we take the opportunities the Universe is providing and be brave enough to give birth to something new?

Divine Partnership and a New Leg of the Journey

Perspehone and Pluto/Hades as Divine Couple | source
I find I am becoming increasingly disinterested in accepting the concept of the Goddess as being a lone creator. This is unsettling in some ways as I've been a fairly devout priestess of the Goddess for nearly 20 years. But in other ways it feels like a liberating time of epiphany.

You see, I've come to understand that creation never happens in a vacuum, never without a partnership of some kind working under the surface (at the very least). This is true for my art and in the unfolding of my relationships.

In some ways, I am beginning to understand that holding (or grasping) onto the Goddess while dismissing the God was a way that I was trying to control my world through identifying with her. The image I created of her fed my ego, made me feel vindicated, and stopped me from truly being vulnerable enough to love. While I will never lose my faith in the Great Goddess, I do believe I have been attached to a self created image of her that she never intended. Now she's asking me to reevaluate and look at her lessons more closely so that I might heal some old wounds and rebirth myself anew.

The one thing I keep coming back to with these new insights is the Horned God and his ancient archetype that continues to echo throughout time. I have been realizing for a little while now that I had him pegged all wrong and purposely ignored his voice for far too long due to my own personal issues.

"The Sorcerer" is perhaps up to 32,000 years old.
Starhawk has said that the Horned God is "the power of feeling, and the image of what men could be if they were liberated from the constraints of patriarchal culture" and "If man had been created in the Horned God's image, he would be free to be wild without being cruel, angry without being violent, sexual without being coercive, spiritual without being unsexed, and able to truly love".

The above sentiments and others like them have struck a metaphorical chord in my being and they seem to refuse to stop ringing with realizations of pure truth. I can't let them go now, as if I've been called to walk down a new and uncertain path where I will finally be able to see humanity as a whole, not just the parts that make me comfortable. It is a road of partnership and the bravery to consciously choose to need another soul no matter the inevitable pain. It is understanding the relationships (with our world, other humans, and ourselves) that perpetuate change and birth our souls into something far greater than our current understanding of ourselves.

I'm simultaneously eager and frightened though I truly believe the time has come for the God to stand beside the Goddess as he was always meant to be; void of patriarchal mores and power struggles. They are true partners, hand in hand, facing the same direction in the service of a love that can save humanity from itself.

Men need him now as do women. Not the thunderbolt throwing gods of domination, but a whole and complete masculine archetype to teach and lead in peace by example. They remember him. We all do. Now it's time for Mama to introduce him to us in all his original innocence for the first time in many thousands of years.

For my son, my husband, and for the wounded masculine within myself, I choose this journey with open eyes and a willing heart.

Being Human is Good for Guys But Gross for Girls

I had an interesting non-conversation with my mother this morning after I did a little stretch and yawn while wearing a tank top. I've been letting my armpit hair grow out a bit just to see what it's like since I've never even actually seen it. Honestly, I've been shaving since I was 12 and have no idea what my body is naturally supposed to look like with hair. I let my legs grow out once during a particularly long Upstate, New York winter. But never my pits.

Anyway, my mom goes "Gross" as I stretched up my arms.

"This is how I'm naturally made so why is it gross?" I asked.

"It just is," she said. "Armpit hair is gross. But I don't mind it on guys."

"Okay, so the human default for women is gross then? But on men, nature got it right?"

"Pretty much."

So women are naturally gross and men are just fine the way Nature made them. Men are the superior model of humanity then and women are just there to conform to certain beauty standards to live up to the expectations of other women and be sexually appealing to the real humans of the world: men. WTF?

This all left me puzzling how in the hell I was born of this woman but then made me realize that she had helped shape some of the more patriarchal ideas I once held about the world. My mother is a patriarchy sympathizer. Or apologetic. Or whatever. But it's not like she knows any better.

So I've already been pondering shaving today since I'm feeling that bit of female peer pressure bred on disapproval. Those few words were able to leave a mark on my psyche enough to rethink my hair experiment in about two seconds even though the larger part of me really doesn't give a shit at all. This is just experiential proof of how strong the cultural scripts we were raised with really are. It's all so pervasive. And commercial. And exploitative. Ugh.

We'll see if I can fight the urge to conform since that's really all it is. My beliefs are not in line at all with that conformity but the urge is still there. Acceptance or fear of not getting it is a huge factor in the choices we all make in life.

Growing out my natural body hair is me trying to get just a little more free. If I can do it and not care what others think or say, maybe I'll be an inch further from being a hapless sheep. Then if I choose to shave it will actually be a choice and not an act of slavery to gain acceptance from a culture that I basically believe chews people up and spits them out for a profit. 

Your Mother Knows Who Your Father Is

Dionysus By Maria J. William
"How do you know who your daddy is? 'Cause your mama told you so." 
(An old country saying I heard a long time ago. Probably in a movie.)
I have been reading Athana's blog, Radical Goddess Thealogy for years now and quite love the place in general. This morning when visiting Medusa Coils for the monthly Buzzcoil post over there, I was pointed to one of Athana's recent posts. I read it gleefully, taking in all the Goddessy goodness until this point:
"It’s the female body AND the female body alone, with its magnificent, mysterious, magical holy powers, that manufactures life."
Maybe I'm missing something and I certainly mean no disrespect, but I have two children and both of them have fathers. 

Without the divine male principle of vulnerability there would be no life. Without his fluids acting as a catalyst for the fertilization of the seed, there would never be a life created to be further formed or "manufactured" within the body of a woman.

There are few creatures on this planet that can reproduce asexually. Humans are obviously not one of them. Life then apparently requires partnership at least at the moment of conception. I would even venture to say that partnership can remain beneficial for offspring and both partners indefinitely if it's tended to properly and consciously nurtured. 

If we are going to follow Nature as divine law, we must also recognize that there is divinity within males - that their contribution to life should be valued and embraced. Not doing so, in my opinion, has created and can further perpetuate a world where fatherhood is optional and being a nurturing human man is seen as weakness. 

To somehow claim that there is no divine father, that our mother doesn't require a mate, that he doesn't even exist within her, is not only blasphemous in my opinion, but also utterly false. Doing this picking and choosing of which attributes we wish to acknowledge in our divine system of Nature makes us no better than hypocritical Christians who refuse to see the misogyny within the Bible because they still wish to call it the word of a benevolent god.

The fact is that men need to see themselves as divine as much as women do but not in the bolt throwing, sky god, warrior way that they've been told about throughout the last few thousand years. Man needs to see that he is of Nature, never separate from it, never lording over it. He is the primal wildness, the untamed and innocent life force. We all are. Giving him that example instead of telling him maleness can never be divine, can be the way to reintroduce our primal male deity back into human consciousness.  

Male divinity exists alongside and within the Goddess, no matter that we've completely forgotten who he really is. He is not a thundering, war-mongering sky god. He is not a vengeful, corrupt divinity. He is the innocent principle of maleness, the boy, the Buddha, the Lover, the primal wild god whose name has been lost in time. 

Just because we've been given poor father substitutes throughout the darker ages of human civilization, does not mean the true and beautiful divinity of a male god has ceased to exist. We just have to remember him. And I believe, at this time, only our Divine Mother who is The Great Goddess of All Things, can reveal the true nature of our Divine Father.   

Buddhism and the Goddess

Feminism and Religion has got to be one of my favorite blogs to read. I look forward to the often daily posts in my inbox. Often I choose to comment when a viewpoint diverges from my own or otherwise gets me thinking. And I kind of look forward to that as well because within this benevolent friction, lives the great gift of opportunity to learn and grow.

Recently, Carol P. Christ posted an entry referring to the post of another contributor, Oxana Poberejnaia, on Buddhism as it can relate to feminism. You can read both of those posts for more background on my thoughts below, though this post should hopefully be able to stand alone.

On Suffering:

This seems to be a difficult concept for many Westerners. Suffering could also be called dissatisfaction. This, most persistent suffering encountered in life, is the existential kind. It's the "if only" or "I wish" moments of the world where things are not as we'd like them to be. This isn't wrong to feel. It just is. As the Buddha said, "Life is suffering". He didn't mean this in a negative, Debby-downer sort of way, but to reveal the nature of beings ruled by the "I want" thinking of desire where it seems at times that nothing is exactly good enough. We must have more and more in the hopes of filling that existential void within; of quieting that voice that tells us to find satisfaction outside of ourselves in material things and novel people.

So, we all suffer to some degree. This is often less about the struggles of the everyday and more of a persistent nagging feeling we all have experienced in our gut. This is the suffering without a name that can make us feel confused and ungrateful for not simply being happy for all the wonderful gifts in our lives. It's the something missing; the suffering of sentience as opposed to the suffering of not having material needs met. We are all familiar with both kinds of suffering though we can often forget that just because we are healthy, fed, clothed, etc. that we still may have inner suffering to become aware of and attend to. Sometimes we feel we are not entitled to that suffering and repress it. Other times we become identified with it and let it run our lives and relationships.

It is in this place of inner suffering that our unconscious patterns and reactions live. We regret, we lament, we mourn who we could've been. We beat ourselves up for our choices and admonish ourselves for not being better. And when someone wrongs us, we react as we've always reacted - from a place of defensiveness. We feel hurt, we get angry, we lash out. We think there is no other way to deal with these emotions. We think we must feel them, react on them, receive our justice, and only then can our suffering cease. When really these emotional reactions are all within our control if we choose to realize it. When we see our true nature as divine beings, these reactions cease to have any power and can cease to exist all together.

Accepting the nature of our suffering allows us to acknowledge it so we can be free from it. Just as you can't heal a wound that you do not know exists, so too does our suffering live on if we don't acknowledge its existence. If we become free from suffering, we would naturally wish the same for others, creating the consciousness of the Bodhisattva or the heart of Bodhichitta.

But this altruistic concern for the welfare of others begins within the individual. It begins in the place of “Know Thyself” as it is written in the stone at Delphi, once a temple devoted to Gaia before Apollo. This is a lesson of the Goddess and can be further heard in the words of Doreen Valiente's charge “for if that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without”.

On Life as Gift, Death, and Samsara:

Buddhists consider life a gift. They are not trying to be liberated from everyday experiences and the joys of life but to become totally immersed in them with mindful awareness. They are trying to be liberated from the fear of death by understanding their own true nature and the reality of death. Death can be fully accepted as part of existence while simultaneously being seen as an illusion. For what we really are can never truly die.

Recognizing that our true human nature and potential is divine may be the main goal of Buddhist practice. By doing so we can free ourselves from the limiting views of unconscious ego that can control our emotions and reactions which often cause pain to ourselves and to others. We can work to reveal our true nature as pure, altruistic beings striving for happiness. After sitting in meditation for a time we may finally discover that we are the divine void - the everything, the nothing, and all the spaces in between. We may remove the shackles of societal programming, peeling back all the subtle layers of unconsciousness, and revealing ourselves to be the totality of the Universe. This divine recognition is liberation from Samsara and living in the now of Nirvana.

On Buddha and the Goddess:

I believe that if Goddess Religion in the modern era had more time to evolve and manifest, it would ultimately end up looking a lot like Buddhism. For me, Buddhist practice reveals our nature as Goddess through the human journey of the Buddha. He is Cernunnos, sitting in the lotus position with torque and snake in hand while his antlers pierce the sky above him. He is the Gnostic Christ, the Anointed One, who suffered and learned before us so that we may have the tools to reach liberation. He is Persephone who journeys to the Underworld to bring back lessons of the seed; of immortality and the illusory nature of death. He is the Divine Son, The Holy Father, and the Spirit of Consciousness as Goddess. He is the divine principle of the Seeker, the Lover, and 100% a being of the Goddess while also the Goddess herself.

Though the Buddha is male, note that in most portrayals of his appearance, he can be quite ambiguous – seemingly neither completely “masculine” or “feminine” as we perceive these traits in our current culture. He is a whole human, defined only by his divinity and without attachment to divisive ideas such as gender.

Buddhist philosophies set us free as the Maiden does, teach us compassion as the Mother does, and ultimately gift us with the ego-less wisdom of the Crone. It shows us that we are now and always have been the conscious creators, the divine architects, and those who give birth to all of existence. I believe the Buddha taught these lessons and that they are the timeless words of the Great Goddess.

When Women Wanted Sex More Than Men

Lilith (1887), John Collier
Interesting article at Alternet: When Women Wanted Much More Sex Than Men and How the Stereotype Flipped

For the record, I don't think there are distinct variations between men and women when it comes to sexuality. I think it's more of an individual thing where everyone has their own levels of desire based on their own history, life experiences, social conditioning, etc.

Still, this is a great article because it points out one major thing about gender roles and the stereotypes that go with them. They're all made up. Everything is completely arbitrary and changeable as opposed to fixed and timeless. That is literally one of my favorite things. See quote below.

"Even when gender roles change, sexism has a remarkable ability to adapt--and historical amnesia enables this ability. The association of men with lust is as much an artifact of recent times as the association of girls with pink and boys with blue (less than 100 years ago, this system of gendered color-coding was also reversed). Yet even with all this switching-around, some things have stayed suspiciously the same. When women were sexual, their proper place was in the home as caregivers and mothers. When women became passionless, their proper place was still in the home as caregivers and mothers. Isn’t it funny how that works? Gender roles gain their power from the fact that they appear natural and eternal. By looking to the past, we can draw aside this veil and see these categories for what they are--made by people, and able to be changed by people."

Dissecting and Discovering the Triplicate God

Note: This started off as a stream of consciousness type thing and may seem a bit disorganized. I've tried to clean it up without losing any of the meaning but some things may still need clarification. Feel free to use the comments section if you're interested in getting a conversation going.

Concepts of the Goddess and the God are often patterned after what Carl Jung called archetypes. In the Jungian view archetypes can be defined as “....universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconsciousness.” In and of themselves, these archetypes are not a bad thing. However, insomuch as many of our current God models are based on a patriarchal standard and a culture of domination, they may take on meaning that they did not originally have in a pre-agrarian, egalitarian world.

According to the archeological record and the common held belief of many Goddess practitioners, our concepts of the Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine do not originally come from a world where power and patriarchy are the law of the day. Instead they were first fashioned in a time when humanity revered both males and females in equal, divine regard. Or so that is the theory of what human culture may have resembled within an egalitarian matriarchy (or antiheirarchy as I call it sometimes). In order to imagine what this world may have been like, let's suspend all of our doubt and allow for that shift in paradigms for a moment.

The most common archetypes within the Sacred Masculine are the Warrior, the Hero, the Hunter, the Mystic, the Lover, and the King. We could interpret these ideas from any angle that we like but I am most interested in what these archetypes may have represented before the last 5,000-10,000 years or so of agrarian, patriarchal human civilization.

I mention this period of history because, even though many vegetation goddesses survived through the ages, the advent of agriculture is believed to be where a huge shift began towards more patriarchal societies. With land being the primary form of wealth, and the hands of many being required to maintain and protect it, the bodies of women became commodified for their ability to create the necessary heirs and children as labor force. The leap from presuming one was entitled to own a piece of the earth (The Great Mother Goddess) to being entitled to own a woman (the literal incarnation of the Goddess) is apparently not a far one to make.

From my perspective, the Warrior concept may not even be necessary and certainly shouldn't be a focus when thinking of the Sacred Masculine. It is my long held belief that humanity has seen long stretches of peace and prosperity to such an extent where a warrior culture would not exist. I also deeply believe that wars are started over money, property, and material power in general. This entire concept is antithetical to a culture that predates the domination model of patriarchy. When we look at a surviving hunter-gatherer culture such as the Aka pygmies of Central Africa, we see a culture not obsessed with properties, money, or other forms of material wealth. In fact, they continually reinforce economic equality by a system of demand sharing. Whatever someone asks for (or needs) they will be given.

In place of the Warrior and in combination with the Hunter, I propose the Father-Husband as protector and partnered provider. In fact, why is this idea absent from the primary archetypes of the Divine Masculine within predominant traditions of Neo-paganism? Does a child not also need their father? I know there are many people who believe that's not the case and once upon a time I guess I was one of them. But my personal experiences of less than fantastic father-figures is not because men aren't or can't be great fathers. It's because fatherhood is seen as optional in a world where men and women are not equal. Raising children is the work of women according to the patriarchal paradigm and is thus seen as weak by the power-fueled standard. But this is not the only way for fathers to be, nor is it obviously the most healthy.

According to Professor Barry Hewlett, fathers in the Aka culture spend about 47% of their time with their children (more than any other cultural group on the planet) and the societal roles of Aka males and females are virtually interchangeable. As a result their divorce rate is almost non-existent (though perfectly accepted by their culture) and couples spend a great deal of time hunting and gathering with their children as a family. They also make love several times a night and often enjoy extremely close marital friendship.

Okay, so we've got Hero, King, Lover, and Mystic left. Where's the Son, do you suppose? Maybe some would join him in with Lover as in the Goddess's Son-lover (a grossly misunderstood concept, by the way). I would say I definitely believe the idea of a Divine Son could be connected to the inner-child and is an important one that allows us to ultimately grow from our fears and vulnerabilities. But joining him with the Lover aspect isn't what my intuition is telling me.

In the Goddess I would compare the Divine Son to the Maiden or the Holy Bride of Truth; the Revealer who shows us our shadows and beckons us to destroy our own egos and be free, pure, inherently innocent creatures once more. Without the inner-child concept and an honoring of it, we don't allow ourselves our fears and vulnerabilities and therefore will never grow out of them.

But Son here doesn't seem like the right title. The Maiden isn't called Daughter most often so I think the youth aspect of the God needs an alternate name that can speak to more spiritual and subconscious things with appropriate symbolism. So I did some research (see image) and I found the name/title of Feon most appropriate. I'm finding it difficult to put my intuitive conclusions into words so I'm hoping my handwritten notes may help make my thought process more clear. I'll also add some links at the bottom of this article that readers interested in investigating the Feon aspect can click through to.

Okay, so far we have Father and Feon. I was planning on rolling the Hero and the Mystic together as both are typically men who are on quests to find themselves. The Hero just seems to come at his problems in a more physical manner while the Mystic is the result of the Hero's spiritual journey. In a way the Mystic is on the next road where the material world has been seen for the illusion it is and he's now moving through the spiritual layers of himself towards enlightenment. We could alternately call him a Sage and see him as the male version of the Crone Goddess.

I'd like to forget the King in general or roll him into the Father. Not that there can't be benevolent kings, but as we know the archetype today, it has less than perfect connotations. Kings rule but Fathers protect and provide care. Kings take taxes. Fathers ask for nothing in return and act selflessly towards those they love.

And as for the Lover... well I believe he lives in all of those archetypes as I see the act of being someone's lover as far deeper a spiritual thing than just mere sex and physical expression. Nor does it just have to do with virility or procreation or providing for or sharing responsibilities. No, it's a joining of souls that recognize themselves as divine. The idea of Lover is perhaps the Great God himself; the combination of the Initiate (Feon), the Father, and The Sage all rolled into one. Pantheo: the God that is one but many.

Goddess = Maiden/Mother/Crone
God = Feon/Father/Sage
Androgynous Divine = Initiate/Parent/Mystic

Feon Related Notes

The word Pheon itself is of unknown meaning and origin. Also find it interesting that there is such a thing as a Pheon Cross - an equal armed, solar cross made of four broad arrows.

2. Lost Language Of Symbolism Volume 2,  pheon/feon (the One Fire)
Find particular interest in the obvious phallic imagery of the arrow combined with the bull and the serpent.

3. Feon also related to Finn MacCool of Irish folklore/Bel or Balanus and through him other Gods of Light or the Sun like Apollo. His stories bear resemblance to King Arthur and The Merlin Taliesin. 

The Innocent God

"Each arrow overshot his head" (1902) by Elmer Boyd Smith.
I've been thinking a lot lately of redefining the Sacred Masculine - a topic I touched on a few weeks ago - and I don't think it's so much a concept that's in need of redefining as remembering. In the way that for so long the Goddess remained veiled from human consciousness, so too I believe does the face of the authentic Male Divine. Though, as with the Goddess, I believe He continues to dwell in our collective unconscious and in our hearts.

Doing quite a bit of research has led me to some insights, some not yet coalesced into logical order enough to be put into words. At the moment, I'm becoming acquainted with the Norse/Dorian god Baldur whom many scholars believe is an earlier incarnation of other solar deities like Apollo, Horus, and the Christ.
"Baldur (also Baldr or Balder), also known as Balder the brave, is the god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation"
This feels slightly like synchronicity to me considering the idea of the Innocent God is something my mind happened upon over the last few months to a year or so ago.  Googling the phrase "Innocent God" led me to Baldur which led me to Apollo and on down the line.

If Baldur is one of the first imaginings in record of the common male solar deity and he is associated with innocence, I would see no reason to begin to recognize that the Divine Masculine indeed contains this primary attribute.Yet innocence, in the way many people have it formed in their minds, isn't exactly what I mean.

The innocence I'm talking about is more concerned with the inherent innocence of the soul represented in Vedic traditions by the First Chakra. When balanced properly and allowed to flow without outside influences, it is the pure and untamed life force.

This is the kind of energy that seeks to do good without getting anything in return; the representation of the brave soul that loves without fear of not being loved back. It's the innocence that comes when we assimilate and love our bodies, minds, and souls as parts of one united entity that has no end and no beginning. It's the spirit of pure altruism and seeing the divine in the eyes our our beloved and feeling that divine as dwelling within us. It is a state of being that operates only from a place of love, no longer giving in to fear. When we look into the spirit of a child or an animal we intuitively recognize this wild innocence.

Considering a triplicate face for the God has been interesting. I've searched around a bit and a lot of people tend to see him as Youth, Warrior, and Sage. I think this idea is incomplete and have come up with an alternative version that I'll get into more in a later post. For now, I'll leave you with the names for my version of a Triple God.

Feon | Father | Sage

Don't worry. I'll explain that Feon stuff very soon. ;)

Evil Doesn't Exist

Dead star surrounded by shell of matter that will form new bodies. (PBS.ORG)

I am often inspired by posts at Feminism and Religion. This morning proved no different as I woke up to an email in my inbox informing me of a new post by Carol P. Christ on a debate about whether human beings may have some natural disposition towards evil impulses because it exists in divinity. Me being me, my 6am brain starting churning out thoughts on this idea.

I believe that everything that the human psyche is rooted in consists of two primary emotions that we commonly call love and fear. This is an idea that's promoted by New Age, Oprah-endorsed guru types like Gary Zukav and even modern psychologists like Athena Staik. It's not my idea nor is it really theirs, but a compartmentalization created by the human mind to deal with the forces of creation and destruction that perpetuate existence in the Universe.

So the more I started pondering these polarities of creation and destruction the more I started to see that there really aren't polarities at all. Really, both creation and destruction are forces of change and transformation without which nothing can actually come into existence. Just because our frail human minds interpret the change of destruction as something to be feared does not actually make it evil. Really, it's not optional. Destruction must be for anything to exist at all.

In the act of making a new life, egg and spermatozoa are individually destroyed in order to create something new – something with more potential than the single cells had on their own. They come together to die in order to make something bigger. This seems to me to be one of the best metaphors for conscious ego death in an “as above so below” or microcosm as macrocosm sense. The same thing happens in the Universe on grand scales of dying stars and coalescing atoms. Nothing in creation would exist if it were not for the death of something else.

I think this inherent transformational death or impermanence is something human beings understand on deep subconscious levels. This then gives rise to the very prevalent mentality of fear that inhabits our world because we identify with impermanent things such as our bodies or even our minds. Our egos are wrapped up in things that can not exist forever and that makes us terrified. This fear created out of the ignorance of our rational minds creates other negative emotions like anger, envy, and hatred.

Actually, there is nothing to fear at all. We are not our bodies or our minds but eternal souls with no end and no beginning. Our fault lies in identification with impermanent things, ideas, and states of being. We think these phenomena are us. We think we are only our physical bodies. We think we are only our minds or our thoughts. We even think we are defined by the material things that we own. When we realize that we are much more than those things or thoughts, we are on the path to being free from the fear that causes suffering and therefore the force existent in the Universe that some have called “evil”.

Evil doesn't exist. There is only love (on a much deeper level than your average Harlequin) that perpetuates change. Fear of that change (or resistance against it) causes negative forces to materialize from within the human mind. Humanity created evil and through understanding, humanity can destroy it.

We Are Not Our Thoughts

Rene Descartes' famous idiom "I think therefore I am" just turns out not to be true at all. Well as not true as anything is not true. It's all relative. Still, that's a big idea. Understanding that we are not our bodies is a whole lot easier to come to grips with. But our thoughts are the things we identify with. We think we are our pain, our pleasure, and every thought-stirred emotion in between. Really we are the source of all of those things. They are a part of us but they are not the *true* us.

I should start with where this idea coalesced for me. It was after weeks of consistent meditation that that idea turned into more of an inner recognition of truth than just a mere idea. During my meditation sessions, where the point was not to think at all, I found myself observing a no-thought moment (few and far between in the beginning) which then created the thought (oops) "where am I when I'm not thinking?".

In essence I had this epiphany where I understood that when I stopped thinking I still existed. I still *was* even though no thoughts were being generated from my mind. I became the conscious observer. I was still there, aware and free from the persistent thoughts of my own mind.  I realized then that I was not my body and I was not my mind. I was my soul. And it turns out that my soul (and yours too, I'm sure) are curious things.

This then led me to ponder critically while not sitting on the cushion about what that all really meant. And if the body communicates through action and the mind communicates via thought, how does the soul communicate? For all communication (even communication with our own souls) we absolutely require the body. Our thoughts become ideas which then become words that come out of our mouths. The body makes this possible. Even our mind is dependent on our actual physical brains working properly. So our soul should also then communicate through the body, right?

I think the soul communicates via the mind and body. Our emotions, when not accompanied by thoughts or judgment, can be seen as an expression of the soul. While these emotions may originate in the mind and move through the body, they are also a way to generate and express the energy of the soul. That energy can be felt through the body and passed on to others with glances, conversations, and long embraces. It has the ability to heal or harm, depending on how we use it.

Together, these three systems (body, mind, soul) communicate with each other to create who we are in the material world. This, to me, is the real meaning of the sacred number three, the holy trinity in its purest form. (Though I'm still torn by the idea of the fourth aspect coalesced from all three aspects in various trinities being that our natural world is broken into four seasons, four phases of the moon, etc. Maybe it has something to do with the soul being liberated by pure consciousness after death or the mystery of the final rebirth to the godhead and the utterly unseen and unknowable. Hmm... interesting. But that's another post.)

However, the body and mind are dependent on material existence while the soul is not. It is, in fact, the animating force, the difference between life and death, and the spark. It is pure energy guiding matter and can therefore never be destroyed or cease to exist, but only be transformed. There is no death of the soul.

Now, does that mean we remain the same personalities after death? I don't think so. We are not our experiences any more than we are our bodies and it is our experiences and our physical life that create our personalities. We are only pure love that has no end or beginning. Of course, I'm not talking about love in the way most people think of it through their own selfish delusions, but that's for yet another post.

Anyway, consciousness is not thinking or doing. Which is good since I don't think anyone, if given the chance, would actually hang on to lifetimes of baggage eternally? I think we're meant to work those things out here and if our soul continues to struggle or we remain unconscious of our true soulful being, perhaps we have to come back and work some more stuff out until our souls get it right. I think we can give our souls a big helping hand by letting them take their places as the parts of us that are authentic and should be running the show - guiding the matter of our bodies and the energy of our minds to the best interest of our true selves.

The world we live in is focused on ideas and matter. This is great for the mind and the body but how do we live a life centered on the soul? How can we reach our own souls through the ever present noisy thoughts and physical stimuli? I think that's really the whole point of meditation. Once you feel your soul, there's no way to deny it's true nature any longer. You soul is not your thinking mind nor is it your doing body. It is the part of you that just is, truly the real being that is you.

Reading this isn't enough. Neither is writing it really. These are hard ideas to put into words and words alone can't do the realizations that are possible any justice. I can't tell you how many times I read or even said similar words before all of this sunk in while meditating.

Maybe the words can lay the groundwork but you need to experience it for yourself. So meditate even if it's just for five minutes at your desk every day. Just do it every day for as long as you can. Try not to think but if the thoughts do come (which they will) let them pass by. Don't dwell on anything that can get you caught in the trap of thinking. Simply observe your thoughts and let them go as easily as they came.

It sounds hard to do, and it is. But as with anything, practice makes it easier. It doesn't make it perfect because there really is no such thing in the way we think of it. But it does become more of a habit, which is what all beliefs or thought patterns are anyway. And knowing that we can become conscious shapers of our habits, thoughts, and worlds gives us all of the power in the palm of our hands. Or better said, in the center of our souls.

P.S. There's an article here from Psychology Today that is sort of relevant. The author states that our thoughts are not real, and in a sense that is true. Though I believe our mind can create just as our body can. That in fact, our minds and thoughts are the beginnings of creation in the material world. I've also been rethinking thought forms these days and I'm beginning to think there's really something to that idea. So, the idea in the article that our thoughts may have no impact is false, in my very humble opinion. Still an interesting read that might make things a bit more clear.

Musings on the Sacred Masculine

I believe one of the primary lessons of the Goddess is oneness and divinity of all life. This then means if I am Goddess then I am also God, that both exist within us as we are divine beings. While I could get this intellectually, and on psychological levels of "inner male" and "inner female" it took a very long time for it to resonate on deeper levels. 
For years I struggled with ideas of a male god. I didn't understand him nor did I want to based on the examples of war-mongering, vengeful sky gods that I'd been presented with in my life. I had a clear picture of the Goddess and realized he was a part of her, though that was about as far as I was willing to go. In the last few years, thanks to becoming immersed in feminist ideology, I've been realizing that the God concept needs a reworking based on the fact that the male divinities we've known for many millennium are all rooted in a system that was never meant to represent the true nature of the male human, let alone his inherent divinity.

Men in a patriarchy feel compelled by everything around them to conform to toxic versions of masculinity. Is it any wonder with the examples they've been given from gods to leaders to their very own fathers? War heroes are glorified while fatherhood is undervalued. Acquiring power and status on the material level is revered and encouraged while learning emotional skills and being altruistic is seen as worthless or “woman's work”.

The fabric of our society is based in these notions of what men are supposed to be in order to be "real men". And most often what men are supposed to be is dominating, aggressive, emotionless, isolated, etc. But of course, these qualities are not the true nature of men, nor are they the sole dominion of the male. Anyone who has a son or who has deeply and intimately been able to share a life with a man knows that there is a varied spectrum of "masculine" traits within male beings that simultaneously exists with traits thought of as more traditionally "feminine".

Recently I've begun to redefine the God for myself. He is the Green Man and the Goddess's horned lover who is nurturing caretaker to beasts big and small. He's the Buddha and the boy; a child of nature born to embrace consciousness as his birthright. He is the catalyst that jump starts life, whose body nourishes the seed and whose vulnerability all life is dependent upon.

It is in this inherent and important vulnerability that I believe we have come to know the fear-based misogyny of the patriarchy and the men it produces. Being vulnerable is frightening and I imagine men feel most vulnerable in the arms of women who represent their mothers and the deeply desired (and required!) connection of the human soul. According to the culture of domination, brute strength can trump fear every time.

And so male divinity lost its innocence and threw lighting bolts at those specters of fear produced within the shadows of the human psyche. In serving this fear, he became forced to reject all things perceived as weak - anything that reminded him of his vulnerable nature - bifurcating his spirit and sacrificing his soul on the altars of vengeful gods and blood-soaked idols.

But now that time is coming to an end. The Goddess has returned and with her comes the Innocent God who is ready to be brave in the service of love. He will do battle only with his own demons and support the Goddess as she supports him. Together they stand facing the same horizon, forming an unending, equal partnership that is the foundation for all life. 

[image source]

Mindfulness in Action

So let's say that one day I get really annoyed with one of my kids and have an angry outburst. And let's say that this outburst involves sputtering rage-filled comments that are hurtful to those around me. But I know that's not who I'd like to be or how I'd like to behave. If I recognize that behavior as something that goes against my own personal values, it shouldn't happen. Right? Well that's not usually how things work out. Often our lives don't reflect our values, creating a constant friction within.

Most of us have negative responses to certain emotions and events in our lives that we are not consciously in control of. Very often, our subconscious mind likes to run the same old program over and over again without our consent. So when something triggers our anger we tend to respond in the same way we've been responding our whole lives creating habitual behavior that is not purposefully chosen by us. Becoming mindful is a way to take control of our behavior and rewrite that program consciously.

First we have to get rid of the negative self-talk and judgment most of us employ when trying to change (see the left side of the chart above). Because negative reinforcement never, ever works in the long run. Ever. This only creates a negative feedback loop that feeds back into the undesired emotions and behaviors. There's nothing wrong with you, you're not a bad person. You're just a person, flawed and perfectly imperfect and on a journey of self-realization. It's okay to love yourself. In fact, it's necessary if you'd like to not pass on your own negativity to your children and those you love and really make a positive impact on the world.

Now it's time to own the behavior. Make the choice to accept it and try to learn from it. Be curious about yourself as though you were observing from a third person perspective. Think about why habitual behavior patterns have been formed and try to figure out where they may have come from. Nine times out of ten (or maybe even ten times out of ten) you'll realize that the negative behavior was something you learned along your life's journey as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Often we learn the same coping skills of our parents or peer groups, taking on these things as our own. We think the behaviors are us, that they originated with our personality, but that's rarely if ever the case at all.

So we in some way name the source or the root cause (giving us power over it in a Rumpelstiltskin kind of way) and without blame of ourselves or others, just feel the emotions that go along with it. We sit with the feelings that make us upset. We allow the emotions to flow without judging them or trying to push them away and eventually they dissipate like a wave crashing on the shore. Then we know we are strong enough to handle the pain, that we don't have to cope by reacting to it, by lashing out and creating suffering within ourselves or those we love. This helps us understand ourselves, have compassion for ourselves, and recognize the triggers and subsequent patterns that have been the underlying controlling forces of our lives.

Once you have understanding and acceptance you'll be able to catch yourself when you're triggered. You'll be able to notice with mindfulness that you're drifting into old habits and patterns that are not in line with your values and then pull yourself back to consciousness. Stopping the old behavior then creates new behaviors that are purposeful and choice-driven instead of subconscious programs. This then leads to a complete rewiring of your mind where eventually you'll no longer have to re-route your thoughts but will instead have created new habits that are in line with your values and who it is you want to be. When that happens, you are finally the only one in control of your life. 

Aine: Sun and Moon

Aine may have originally been envisioned as a primary sun deity or at least one half of a sun goddess dyad with her sister, Grian. Eventually though, she was imagined as a moon goddess as well. I believe this polarity embodied in one figure speaks of balance, of a yin-yang sort of idea that is an integral part of being a human being. We all have a dual nature, light/dark, masculine/feminine, etc. And perhaps one of Aine's lessons is to teach us to be balanced in these energies.

Many people think that balance (when speaking in spiritual terms) means maintaining two separate energies at the same time, neither one changing or affecting the other. The reality is that spiritual balance is not like material balance where two objects of the same weight sit level with each other on a scale. Instead these two energies mesh together and create something new and altogether more authentic, not to mention more powerful. It's more like mixing equal parts of black and white paint. The extremes of black and white are destroyed and transformed into grey – into sometime new. This is a better way to understand the creation of spiritual balance.

Maintaining balance between light and dark does not mean honoring your dark side one day and your light the next. It means allowing the two to come together as one and becoming a whole, self-aware being. It means owning your own power instead of fearing your magnificent human potential. When we disregard or ignore either of them, we risk living life to extremes, full of drama and endless battles of ego. A large part of our earthly journey is to become integrated and whole.

Aine is a well regarded, multifaceted goddess with a wealth of attributes. But first and foremost she tends to be seen as a Goddess of Love. I find this a compelling idea when taking into consideration her balancing nature as Goddess of the Sun and Moon. Perhaps love requires balance to exist as does all things.

Could it be that without balance within ourselves we can not know real love – the love of the universe, the love that animates our souls as the life force, the love of the Goddess. Maybe working towards balance as Aine teaches may be a necessary first step before we can claim our birthright to the highest, spiritual love of self and all life.

[image source]


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