Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Goddess of Being

I am grateful to laughing medusa for bringing back to my attention the following quotation from Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor's The Great Cosmic Mother:

To sin, within the patriarchal religious context of Christianity, is to risk being, I.e. within that context, true being can only occur in the renegade spaces outside the established religion, utterly outside and beyond its terms. The Christian dream has already been written, from beginning to end. It says that only one life was worth living, and it’s already been lived, and it was his. The best believers can hope for is an imitation of Christ. Christianity promises to save the human soul; but, in fact, Christianity exists by saving humans from the experience of our own souls. If we will forfeit our own mystical journeys through the world, if we will give up the dangerous adventure of discovering and creating our own consciousness-in-evolution, Christianity will give us, in return; a script about Jesus. And this is the only choice Christian ontology offers: One can spend one’s life risking the sin of being, or one can submit, and spend one’s life following the dead script. (page 343)

I find it hard to follow or expand on this. I have never read anything that so succinctly sums up the huge difference I see between Goddess centred spirituality and traditional patriarchal models. Script is dead as soon as it is written. I attempt here and elsewhere to describe what i have experienced and what I believe but the words cannot do other than approximate. What I can never do is to experience being any other than myself. Nothing I can write can be universally applicable - neither, if I am sane, would I want it to be. I am me and you are you and there is a gulf that cannot be bridged. RD Laing said in Politics of Experience that ( and I apologise for the heavily gendered language, but this was 40 years ago)

"I cannot experience your experience. You cannot experience my experience. We are both invisible men. All men are invisible to one another".

I remember reading this book shortly after it was published and being blown away by it. It seemed so clear and so obvious. There was no blueprint for experience- no little black book in which human experience can be classified and explained away. All experience is valid. A liberating thought.

But also a scarey one. As I moved outside the jurisdiction of the world of the dead script, I moved into a world of organic growth in which threat seemed to lurk at every corner. When I made mistakes - and some were huge - there was no place to run to safety - no Mother Church to soothe my fears and dispense forgiveness. I was on my own, Sitting with the sin - which grew and festered.

But this is because somewhere deep within I am still adhering to the script of death and therefore holding myself subject to its ineluctable laws. I am, in short, often afraid to be. To be, simply and wholly, who I am. To own my experience as valid. I am a human be-ing and as such am one aspect of all be-ing. Goddess calls, Inanna calls, me to be as I am and lose all my vestigial adherence to second hand, dead, scripts. Increasingly often, I am successful but then the shame returns and I retreat in fear. For shame still lurks, waiting to trip me up. And it is, I feel, shame that waits to ambush us as we move towards fuller being and send us scuttling back to the shelter of our cave and looking for a dead script to cover our nakedness.

For patriarchy does not wish us to be. It does not wish us to trust our own experience. This is clear as far back as the 14 Century

In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales the very first words of The Wife of Bath are that she holds experience as superior to authority.

"Experience, though noone auctoritee
Were in the world, is right ynogh for me
To speke of wo that is in marriage"

Chaucer was, of course, being ironic and satirical in this portrayal but for satire to exist there must be a target. It seems to me that Chaucer, as a good son of the Church, was here attacking a discourse that was very active in his society and that he saw as threatening to the church. There were indeed threats to the authority of the Church - the Lollards, for example - but Chaucer is not attacking them. His target is a sexually active , financially independent, woman. She is extolling the primacy of experience - the primacy of be-ing. This discourse is what I would now identify as the that of the Goddess- who has been here, although sometimes heavily disguised, all along.


Anonymous said...

Most excellent post Brian! And having memorized and portrayed the Wife of Bath in Middle English studies, your application of it is so apropos. You also wrote: "And it is, I feel, shame that waits to ambush us as we move towards fuller being and send us scuttling back to the shelter of our cave and looking for a dead script to cover our nakedness." That shame is insidious and your thought expresses exactly the tactics I also take when it shows up including trying to clothe ourselves in dead scripts. Thank you for expressing further what I was trying to express but couldn't. Blessings!

Brian Charles said...

Thank you LM for your comment. I cannot see that shame is any way a healthy emotion and yet it is one that seems to be universal. We are told, when we have done something of which others disapprove that we "should be ashamed of ourselves". This does not mean regret nor even guilt for the action but says that we should loathe our very being.


Andy said...

Shame is so disempowering and destructive, robbing an individual of any confidence and faith in who they are. The joy of being free of Christianity and all that goes with patriarchy is that I have had the courage and confidence to move into who I truly am - and know that I am okay as I am! As I have walked with Goddess and God I have been walking a path that has introduced me to my True Self and my Higher Self, whereas walking the patriarchal path all I ever learned was that I was never good enough. Patriarchy provides a blueprint for how one 'should' be, and it's full of such imperatives. Walking with Goddess and God has seen me walk into freedom and liberation and here I have found my True Self. Dead scripts or dogma just lead to death, Goddess and God write their scripts on my heart and soul and as such I am truly alive.

Brian Charles said...

Thanks Andy. Very fluently expressed, as usual, and nothing that i can disagree with. I am currently working on a book in which, among other things I look at the phenomenon of shame in the light of the stories of Inanna - and am devising workshops which will enable people to locate and leave behind the dead scripts.