She’s the loving Venus, the bold Brigit, the fiery Pele, the wise Athena, the nurturing Madonna, the furious Kali. She is the goddess, a presence of feminine divinity who has been the focus of spiritual seekers, feminists, anthropologists and historians around the world.
And she may be just what you need if you feel disconnected from the traditional gods of some religious belief systems.
In their spiritual and personal growth search, women especially find that honoring a goddess is fulfilling because she nourishes our feminine side. “We’re raised in a culture where the highest form of godhood is male, so women have developed a sense of being diminished psychologically and spiritually,” says Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D., who teaches in the Mythological Studies department of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, Calif. “It’s as if we can’t find our own voice or spiritual maturity until we can find within us the call of the divine feminine. Turning to the goddess honors us in a way the father-god of the Judeo-Christian tradition just doesn’t do. In that system, we’re always second best; we’re daughters of Eve made from some fellow’s rib.”
Reaching out to goddess energy helps us shed the past’s old, oppressive, shaming mindsets and explore spirituality that honors and expresses the divine as a lively, creative force. “We never hear of Moses or Jesus or the Holy Spirit laughing,” muses Jenks. “Goddesses laugh. They sing songs and dance. I think both men and women really need that — and many men are also strongly drawn to the goddess movement.”
In Search of the Divine Creative
Goddesses can be creative and nurturing like good mothers, but they can also invent a plow or wield a spear,” warns Jenks. “A goddess may be a nice warm mommy figure when that’s needed, but she’s really about honoring the full, mature depth of what it is to be human.”
And goddess honoring certainly isn’t limited to women. Last year during a visit to Singapore, a young man named Desmond brought me to the Kuan Yin temple on the eve of the Chinese New Year. At midnight, throngs of devoted worshippers crowd their way into the temple — the first 10 to enter receive a special blessing from the goddess, who is famous for her mercy and compassion.
There the gold-covered goddess sits, perched on her lotus throne, surrounded by the four Gods of Heaven and sacred dragons. At her feet are offerings of marigolds, walnuts, pussy willows and pomelos; her eight arms are draped with beads that people have brought her in thanks for her blessing. Desmond, my guide, whispers to me of his special relationship with Kuan Yin. “Every time I pray to her, she answers my prayers,” he says. “Once I was in a bit of trouble and came specifically to this temple to ask for help. Later, when the trouble passed, I came back specially to give thanks.”
A goddess, Jenks continues, also knows when to push the fledgling from the nest.
Along with wisdom, goddesses embody all forms of creativity — from motherhood to the arts. “Almost every goddess is involved with the gift of language, healing and creating things like sand-paintings, music, dance, pottery, metal-crafts,” Jenks points out. “She offers a space within which all forms of creativity are safe. I think the reason people are interested in goddesses today is because the Judeo-Christian god doesn’t seem to welcome our creativity as much as our obedience.”
The Goddess: Not Just for the Ancients
Though some people consider goddesses long-gone symbols of an ancient civilization, they’re worshipped and revered by many people in the present day. “Among the Navajo, Changing Woman and Grandmother Spider Woman are as present now as they were 2,000 years ago to their ancestors,” says Jenks. “Likewise, I might study Athena as the patron of art in ancient Greece because I’m a religious historian, but a Greek goddess worshipper might have an entirely different relationship with a very real Athena who’s a strong, divine feminine in life today.”
Sometimes Anglo-Americans feel drawn to goddesses because they don’t have access to the goddess tradition in their own culture, Jenks says. Or, some people find a goddess connection as they explore their ethnic roots. “Someone of Irish heritage might discover the Celtic goddess Brigit,” she points out. “Though goddesses often date historically from an early time, it’s not uncommon for a modern person to be attracted to what Brigit stands for in the Celtic tradition. The energy of the Divine is still viable; it just needs to be activated by a human ‘receiver.’”
A World of Goddesses
Most cultures have goddesses in their pantheon. A few of the better known examples of Feminine Divinity:
Lakshmi: The Hindu goddess of good fortune and material wealth ensures human well-being and prosperity and luck. Worshippers lavish her altars with gifts of oil, milk and flowers.
Kali: This fierce, black goddess is depicted with her tongue lolling from her mouth, dripping blood. She wears a necklace of skulls, brandishes a sword, and wears the corpses of infants as earrings. She is the bringer of death and the giver of ultimate truth.
Isis: According to myth, Isis, the faithful wife of Osiris, diligently searched for his body after he was murdered, returned him to Egypt and impregnated herself with his dead body. She is the Goddess of Water, Earth, Corn, Stars and the Underworld, and she possesses healing powers. She created the Nile from her tears.
Ancient Grecian and Roman
Aphrodite (Venus): The goddess of love is associated with sexuality (eros)and fertility but also embodies the qualities of mother love, love between friends (agape), and spiritual love.
Athena (Minerva): The goddess of war and wisdom. She gave the world agriculture, the arts and is also a warrior.
Gaia: Born of Chaos, Gaia is the goddess embodiment of the earth. She gave birth to the sky and the ocean as well as the Titans, among them Chronos, father of the Olympian gods.
Kuan Yin: The goddess of mercy is popular throughout Asia. She helps childless couples conceive, heals the sick, is a patron of travelers and farmers, and protects souls in the times of travail.
Epona: This Celtic goddess is portrayed with a horse and worshipped as a warrior, guardian of the dead, a healer and the Earth Mother.
Brigit: The goddess of language and metalsmithing. She creates shields and spears. After the Roman conquest of the British Isles, Brigit became associated with Minerva, the Roman artist/warrior goddess.
Spider Woman: She is the creator and weaver of life; the sacred guardian and teacher to peoples of many Southwest Native American cultures. She appears as both a spider and an old woman.
Inanna: The Queen of Heaven, she descends into the underworld to experience her own death and regeneration. There her sister Ereshkigal hangs Inanna’s denuded and dead carcass on a hook for three days. To return to life, Inanna must appoint a sacrifice in her place — her husband Dumuzi.
This can change your life if you let it. Stormy
Though it may seem naive to some, there are persons who are optimistic simply because they choose to be that way. The cynic may ask: “Why should I be optimistic? What is there to be optimistic about?” A good answer is that we must choose to be optimistic because any other path leads to quiet desperation. It is possible to be aware of the seriousness of personal or world problems, but at the same time express optimism about the ultimate outcome. Good, solid answers come with the marriage of awareness and optimism! Words From Unity
• What did the Buddha Teach?
• What is the First Noble Truth?
The first truth is that life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. lnstead, Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.
• What is the Second Noble Truth?
The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want,etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.
• What is the Third Noble Truth?
The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.
• What is the Fourth Noble Truth?
The fourth truth is that the Noble 8-fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering.
• What is the Noble 8-Fold Path?
In summary, the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.
• What are the 5 Precepts?
The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts, of which the main five are: not to take the life of anything living, not to take anything not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech, and to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.
• What is Karma?
Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. This simple law explains a number of things: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, why some live only a short life. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.
• What is Wisdom?
Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. At one extreme, you could be a goodhearted fool and at the other extreme, you could attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.
• What is Compassion?
Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Buddhism, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.
Today I will improve myself, body mind and spirit.
Today I will refuse to spend time worrying about what might happen if….
Today I will not imagine what I would do if things were different. They are not different. I will do my best with what material I have.Today I will find the grace to let go of resentments of others and self-condemnation over past mistakes Today I will act toward others as though this will be the last day of my life. Steve Goodier..Joy Along the Way
You can’t bring the light to the darkness. You have to bring the dark to the light. You have to own it. What you don’t embrace, you can’t own and it’s not yours to surrender.
If you witness it enough, it will, of itself transform.
You must be willing to admit those habits that causes suffering: Say, I am greedy, I am jealous, angry, sad, selfish, afraid, out of harmony or balance…whatever….and ask God to take it from you.
You cannot bring the light to the darkness. You have to bring the dark to the light. This is called SURRENDER. Surrendering everyday, to your higher source, will be transforming. But you must trust the Divine, you must show gratitude and reverence. When you become entrenched in anything, you are consumed by it and it keeps you in darkness.
When you understand nature, you know the true essence of who you are. You are the same as a tree, a rock, a flower, an insect and a blade of grass. You ARE nature. Listen to and become a part of the symphony that is in nature.We are here to connect to that which is nature. When you lose your center, you fall out of harmony with the body.
You can say, Spirit, please speak your intentions thru me. Tell me what I should do for this body. You are all powerful and are in every cell of my body. Please help me and show me how to find peace and harmony.
Talk to your body because your cells love it when you speak lovingly to them. Tell them, I love you, every day. They respond to what you tell them. Listen carefully.
We are not alone. We are all one and a part of a complex and orderly system, such as our universe; the opposite of chaos. A complex, well-ordered, and unified system, usually referring to the world .. Not only are we nature, we are one with everyone.
God is behind reality. You can find true harmony when you learn to surrender completely. You may bow, or sit or stand in a crowded subway. There is no difference. Surrendering to the presence of “God” in everything will bring you closer to fully experiencing your true nature.
Crop Circles appear in every country of the world. They are messages from Mother Earth, from Spirit, speaking to us of Love and Healing. Look at the circle, meditate on the circle. Your subconscious will receive the message of enlightenment
. When the time comes, you will know what to do, and do it without fear. Stormy
Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
so may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings,
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
By the power of every moment of your goodness
May your heart’s wishes be soon fulfilled
as completely shining as the bright full moon,
as magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.
By the power of every moment of your goodness
May all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.
For all in whose heart dwells respect,
who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
May your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength.
I recently wrote on PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is the aftermath of an experience that has left us traumatized; it is our reaction to what happened to us that can completely take over our lives. We can experience everything from mind numbness to impending doom. Unable to let go of the past keeps us in a prison of our own making. Once we are aware that we are suffering, then we must learn to stop the suffering. For we are not meant to stay stuck in the past; we cannot be happy or make others happy. We cannot enjoy watching others be happy. It is a joyless life. Staying “stuck” in the past becomes a selfish act. Selfishness is at the root of all suffering.
Relationship is the basis of human existence. The consequences of being hurt are that you bring the hurt into each relationship, each encounter with another.
Everyone you meet, every time you speak, you bring the past into your conversation. The person has nothing to do with the past hurt you experienced yet you continue to react as though it still exists. It does. As it exists in you, it exists in others. You may have been deeply hurt in the past and have spent many years suffering because of it. You may say, I cannot continue like this. Life is too painful. In order to live in the present moment seems impossible. But it is only impossible because you have “invested” so many years to suffering. You re-live your hurt, daily. It has become a habit. You may call it your “lot in life”- your “fate.” It is not. It is your conditioned response, a warm blanket to hide under, a place of refuge, your secret place. It does not welcome strangers nor does it tolerate confrontation. It’s a closed book. Nobody reads it but you. Living in a painful past does not welcome relationships. So, how can you live in the present moment with so much baggage to carry? Lose the baggage–all of it. Good and bad must fall away. Pleasant memories are ok, sometimes. But dwelling ANYWHERE is dangerous. When you are thinking of the past, you cannot be in the present moment. It is impossible to be in two places at one time; you can only be in one place. We know what happens when we dwell on a bad memory-pain, sadness, anger, fear etc.
What are the benefits of “being present”? Improved relationships, good communication, deeper understanding, peace, awareness, happiness and joy are available to anyone.
Being present sounds like a good idea but how many of us are actually present; all the time?
Steps to learning how to be present:
1. Learn to listen.
When you listen, you catch up quickly, you don’t have to have a lot of explanations, analyses and descriptions; you are flowing with each other. We are talking together as two friends sitting in a park, or in a wood, quiet, birds are singing, there’s plenty of light coming through the leaves on the floor and there is a sense of appreciation of beauty. When you listen, the miracle takes place.
2 . Learn to meditate.
So what happens when you sit down to meditate? You place your attention on the present moment. First, you must desire freedom from suffering. You must be willing to surrender all of your pre-conceived ideas. Then, you must train yourself, with all your strength, to stop your mind from thinking while you sit in perfect silence. Of course, it is a struggle when you begin. Your thinking mind will fight you every inch of the way. You become who you are, in the moment. You see, but not with your eyes or memory or dreams about the future. Seeing into the Present, you are aware of your connection to all humanity, the earth, sky, and all the creatures. Staying focused on one object, like your breath going in and going out, without reacting to stimuli whatsoever, when done daily for at least 20 minutes, will eventually create calmness to a point where you are in control of your own mind instead of it controlling you.
Warning: If you do not understand the basis of life, our everyday reactions or behavior, your meditation will have no meaning whatsoever.
3. Be an observer.
Learn to observe and not react. Do not form an opinion, do not relate what you observe with anything at all. Just allow the coming and going of what you observe like watching clouds move across the sky. Whether it is observing your own steps, an angry person yelling, the t.v. or your own wandering thoughts, simply watch the activity and let it go. Leave no trace.
4. Question everything.
If you are lonely, look at that loneliness, understand the depth of it, the nature of it. Loneliness is total isolation which is brought about through our daily activity of selfish ambitions or ideological ambitions, competitions, each one out for himself. Those are the activities which bring about loneliness. Most of us have no passion. We lust, we have ambition, we want to get rich and we put our energies into that. We call that passion. But those activities cause sorrow. The very word `sorrow’ etymologically means passion. Only with the ending of sorrow there is passion. Passion is total energy, not limited by thought. So it is important to understand the nature of suffering and the ending of it. The ending of it is to hold that sorrow, that pain, too. Look at it. It is a marvelous thing to know how to hold the pain and look at it, be with it, live with it, not get bitter, cynical, but to see the nature of sorrow. There is beauty in that sorrow, depth in that sorrow.
Listening, meditating, observing and questioning are conscious acts we take now so that one day, these actions will be natural movements we make through life.
One begins to see very clearly that all human beings bear the same burden, share the same sorrow; not a particular sorrow, not the sorrow of one’s son dying or brother dying, or the wife or the husband leaving, but the sorrow which man has accumulated for thousands of years. Your sorrow is the sorrow of mankind. Put your total energy into being present.
Have you ever wondered why some affirmations don’t work? Some patterns of unhealthy thought–jealousy, anger, fear, unworthiness, anxiety–are so stubborn they are hard to tame by simple substitution. For these thoughts, the Buddha offers more forceful methods. “When there still arise patterns of unskillful thoughts, the danger that thoughts will cause pain and suffering should be clearly visualized. Then, naturally, like the abandonment of rotting garbage, the mind will turn from these thoughts and become steady, quiet, clear.” We can actually feel the danger when we are possessed by thoughts of jealousy and anger, or we are in the grip of anxiety. These tighten and stress our whole body. They keep us from rest. And when we consider acting on them, we know the results will be shameful and regrettable. It is important that we don’t judge or recriminate with ourselves when we see these thoughts; the practice is to simply set a powerful new intention. We can see that our thoughts are unbidden, impersonal, painful. Out of compassion for ourselves we can feel their danger. “Like rotten garbage,” says the Buddha, “we can put them down.” Still, some patterns of destructive thought are so strong that even more forceful measures are needed. The Buddha tells us to “deliberately and directly ignore these thoughts, turn away, giving no attention, as if shutting our eyes or quickly looking away from a disturbing and harmful sight.” And if such patterns continue, “the wildly unskillful thought stream should be gradually slowed and stilled by slowing the breath step by step as if gradually slowing one’s pace from a run to a walk to a standing.” We all know from experience when a “sticky” thought just won’t go away. Our mind gets in a groove and we don’t know what to do so we just stay there. Ignoring the thoughts or walking mindfully and breathing slowly may reduce them. If not, then the Buddha recommends a final and rarely used last resort. “Such thoughts must be met with force, teeth clenched, tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, determined to constrain, crush, and subdue these thoughts as if constraining a violent criminal. In this way does one become a master of thought and its courses. In this way one becomes free.”
These are not sweet “self-esteem” practices because the destructive habits of mind can be tenacious. There is an element of fierce determination and self-discipline needed to take on the realities of the suffering world. – SD