Many women are drawn to the image of the Sacred Marriage—perhaps especially those raised in Roman Catholic or Protestant traditions where sex is viewed as necessary for procreation but nothing more, and who learn that the naked female body as symbolized by Eve is the source of sin and evil. In this context, the positive valuing of sexuality and the female body found in symbols of the Sacred Marriage can feel and even be liberating.
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Max Dashu’s Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1000 challenges the assumption that Europe was fully Christianized within a few short centuries as traditional historians tell us. Most of us were taught not only that Europe became Christian very rapidly, but also that Europeans were more than willing to adopt a new religion that was “superior” to “paganism” in every way. Careful readers of Dashu’s important new work will be challenged to revise their views. When the full 15 volumes of the projected series are in print, historians may be forced to hang their heads in shame. This of course assumes that scholars will read Dashu’s work. More likely they will ignore or dismiss it, but sooner or later--I dare to hope--the truth will out.
History has been written by the victors—in the case of Europe by elite Christian men. These men may have wanted to believe that their views were widely held, but Dashu suggests that they were not.
I try very hard this election season to avoid reading about, watching, or listening to Donald Trump: the man is a liar, a cheat, a bully, a narcissist, a racist, a sexist, the list goes on. Yet even progressive commentators are talking almost exclusively about him. And now I am joining them--despite my best intentions.
Reflecting on why facts seem to matter so little to Trump, Patricia J. Williams characterizes his campaign as an exercise in one-way communication:
Freedom of expression is reduced to an arbitrary insistence upon one-way communication, a barked order. Making America “great again,” by this measure, is a command, not a hope. . . This assumption—the belief that communication flows in one direction only, that it is the role of some to speak and others only to listen—is a paradox that stifles rather than encourages debate.
In the first blog in this series, I argued that one of the hallmarks of a good theology is recognizing that the source of authority must be located in individuals and communities who interpret texts and traditions as they encounter divinity anew in the present. In our new book Goddess and God World, Judith Plaskow and I suggest that a second hallmark of good theology is the “turn to the world.” What we mean by this is not only that divinity is immanent in the world, but also that the purpose of human life is to be found in this world—not the next.
The God of traditional theologies is pictured as an old man with a long white beard who rules the world from heaven. It is commonly assumed by those familiar with this picture that the purpose and meaning of human life is not to be found in this world—but rather in heaven. This assumption is increasingly being challenged. Many people no longer believe in life after death. The purpose of morality is increasingly being understood as improving the conditions for the flourishing of human and other forms of life—not on gaining the approval of a God who has the power to assign individuals to heaven or hell in the next world.
In my earlier book She Who Changes, I argued that western philosophies and theologies took a massive “wrong turn” when they accepted the Platonic dualism of mind and body and argued that the rational soul or spirit can—and should--rise above the body in order to commune with eternal truths. I stated that this “wrong turn” away from the body and the world was rooted in “matricide.”
"[T]he Old European sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population." Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, 318.
August 15 is known to Greek Christians as the date of the Koimisi, "Falling Asleep" or Dormition of the Panagia, She Who Is All Holy. December 25 is a minor holiday in the Orthodox tradition, while Easter and August 15 are major festivals. The mysteries of Easter and August 15 concern the relation of life and death. In Orthodox theology, both Easter and August 15 teach that death is overcome: Jesus dies and is resurrected; Mary falls asleep and is assumed into heaven. These mysteries contain the promise that death is not the final end of human life. Yet this may not be the meaning of the rituals for many of those who participate in them.
Our new book Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology has just been released. It just so happens that this is a time for celebrating the harvest. An excerpt from the Introduction introduces the "embodied theological method" we hope will turn the field of theology upside down.
People who reject the popular image of God as an old white man who rules the world from outside it often find themselves at a loss for words when they try to articulate new meanings and images of divinity. Speaking about God or Goddess is no as longer simple as it once was. Given the variety of spiritual paths and practices people follow today, theological discussions do not always begin with shared assumptions about the nature of ultimate reality. In the United States, the intrusion of religion into politics has led many people to avoid the subject of religion altogether. In families and among friends, discussions of religion often culminate in judgment, anger, or tears. Sometimes the conversation is halted before it even begins when someone voices the opinion that anyone who is interested in religion or spirituality is naïve, unthinking, or backward—or, alternatively, that religious views are a matter of personal preference and not worth discussing at all.
Thus through an enormous network of mythological narrative, every aspect of culture is cloaked in the relationship of ruler and ruled, creator and created. . . . [Sumerian] legend endows the Sumerian ruler-gods with creative power; their subjects are recreated as servants. . . . [This new narrative was] deployed with the purpose of conditioning the mind anew. (20, italics added)...