Sunday, 18 January 2009

Men, heterosexuality, and the embodiment of Goddess

Laughing Medusa wrote this on her blog a few days ago in response to earlier posts of mine:
But my question remains. When I turned to the Goddess some years later, I did not feel that I needed to approach an unapproachable Being and state my case. I felt I already belonged. I did not even feel that I had to petition for love. It seemed automatic to listen to myself as an innately embodied Goddess energy. I even came to know that what I termed Goddess was already a part of me, I just didn’t recognize it. How this differs from my Christian “conversion” is stark. Approaching a male God as a separate entity is a far cry from realizing that I am essentially Goddess myself; as are all men and women. Now, when Brian describes his encounter with Inanna, he too uses language of separation from the Divine. But I’m not sure if I’m interpreting that correctly. I am curious to know whether the limitations I felt coming to the God are the same for men coming to the Goddess

This is a question to which I have been trying to find an answer ever since I found myself on the Goddess path. Can a man embody Goddess in the same way as a woman can? I do not know - since I cannot partake of her experience. Neither can I speak for other men. I can only speak of my experience. LM says that I am using the language of separation and I can see what she means. "Language of separation", however, seems to me to have a harsh quality to it - implying some sort of existential angst. Which is, sometimes, how I have felt. But then, I can simply breathe and feel her presence. Not within but neither without. Perhaps the word is simply "with" me. She is immanent and I feel Her and breathe Her. But I am not Her. She is something other than I. For when total awareness of Her presence is there, then there is no "I" to be separate. I, as a separate entity, have ceased to be. There is an awareness of a being called Brian and an awareness of Goddess as everything there is - including that being called Brian. Such moments are not the stuff of the everyday, however.
In the everyday I do not feel a separation. It is more like an otherness which shows me my completeness - or, to put it better, allows me to see my completeness and, fully and without judgement, accept myself in that totality as partaking of Her divinity. Language is wholly inadequate to describe what I mean but I will continue to try.

I like to dance to dance the 5 rhythms. I like to allow music to enter my body and move it. When this happens, my head gets out of the way and allows me to be fully myself and fully in the moment. Then, when I find myself dancing with a partner, the movements can become effortlessly co-ordinated and the dance an expression of an encounter between two aspects of the divine. A perfect meeting for the minute or two that it takes - and then on to another perfect meeting. In these meetings, there is a feeling that the separation between two strangers no longer exists - that they are both aspects of the One.

This does not yet seem to be answering LM's question. Is my experience, as a man, of the immanent presence different from that of a woman? I think, perhaps, it is and it must be. I have many images of goddesses - some fat, some thin, old, young and coming from many cultures. Whatever the details of their physical shape, they all possess breasts, vulvas, wombs etc. I do not. I am therefore, in that sense, other. We talk of maiden, mother, crone - these are marked to a large extent by the workings of the female reproductive system. I am a man and, although I am now entering the final stages of life, have never experienced the onset of blood nor its cessation. I have brought up a child on my own but never experienced one in my belly, nor one sucking at my breast. Neither have I had such things as even the remotest possibility. They are and always have been completely absent from my life.

I cannot, with Inanna, call on Dumuzzi to "plough my vulva". In this story the only possible being I can embody is Dumuzzi. Dumuzzi, however, is mortal and is raised to divine or semi-divine status only through his union with Inanna. In another story, Inanna flirtaceously entices Enki, the god of wisdom, to get drunk and then takes all the gifts of civilisation that he, in his cups, showers upon and flees back to Her own city. But it is Enki, long after his hangover has subsided, who has the wisdom to see the necessity and value of Her descent and provides the element of empathy necessary to effect her return. Where she sets the demons on Dumuzzi - eventually giving him the gift of insight into his own inner darkness and thus allowing him access to total being - which he had never known before. Wonderful stories - but with Inanna calling all the shots and the males answering to her needs.

There is a lot more to be written about this - I feel that I am just starting. I do not feel that I can answer LM's question. I do not see an identity between her earlier experience of Jesus and my experience of Inanna but I do feel that it is impossible for me to embody Goddess. I am heterosexual and my relationship with the female body includes a large element of desire. I cannot escape it, and neither do I want to. Desire is sacred and must be honoured even when, and this is most of the time, not acted upon. I do not know how a gay man relates to Goddess. I do not even know how another heterosexual man does. They would have to say. To me, She is other but She is what makes me complete within myself. If that makes any sense.

I will be returning to this subject again and again - it is a journey of discovery for me and no final statement can be made. I am looking forward with delight to road ahead.


Ravenmoon said...

I think men (and women) can connect with Goddess in a much more unique way than with God, because we all come FROM a woman's body. Our first experiences in LIFE are that of connection-spiritual, physical, emotional-with a woman. The first face we come to know is that of a woman, the first voice while still in utero. We innately gravitate towards the female perspective for comfort and belonging. I know this is essentialist, but I FEEL it, and as a mother, I SEE it in my own children. I also work at a daycare, so I see it everyday when the distressed children call for "mommy", not "daddy".
This is a HUGE issue. Thanks for even thinking about it.

sometimesfaithsometimesnot said...


What an excellent start to a question that must remain "unanswered" in part. I love the dance analogy (much like your music analogy in an earlier post) because as a wannabe dancer, I know exactly whereof you speak when you say you get lost in the movement and are out of your head during such times.

The issue of Gender, Sexuality, and God/dess has always fascinated me and I think that it is all about the differences between transcendence and immanence; whether we feel a god outside or a goddess inside or vice versa.

In Christianity, when men described their God and used terms only relating to Fatherhood and men's essentialist concerns, I felt very much excluded; one: because I never experienced fatherhood myself and two: because my experiences of men as fathers has been abysmal. So I've always felt separate and yes, in existential angst, most of my life in relation to the God. (My experience with Jesus notwithstanding)

It wasn't until I came to know Goddess that I felt whole for the first time and felt no need to petition, importune, or plead for forgiveness or acceptance. She just was/is, as am I. Needless to say the freedom was intoxicating and compelling. My sexuality blossomed and my peace of mind has bloomed in relation to myself and others.

Thank you for tackling a difficult subject and your explanations do help a lot in that regard.


Gaina said...

Hello Brian :)

I just started reading your blog recently and so far I'm enjoying it very much :).

I think that a happy, healthy person has both male and female aspects of their personality in balance, so if a person feels 'out of step' connecting to a God or Goddess figure then that's often the energy within themselves that needs some boosting.

For a long time I concentrated solely on the Goddess aspect because I have to say I was reading books by women who didn't have very healthy attitudes to men and being young, I absorbed that.

Now I'm older, however and I embrace both the male and female in my own personality so working with the energy of a God figure is as easy as that of a Goddess. I think your gender is always going to make one 'click' with you a bit more than the other but it certainly shouldn't make you feel removed from it.

Brian Charles said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. This is a very important issue for me - and, I believe, generally.

Ravenmoon, I have for some time come to the conclusion that a certain element of essentialism is both unavoidable and necessary. In fact, I feel it is absurd and dangerous to pretend that there is no essential difference.

LM, I will be turning again to this question in a blog very soon. As you say, it can never be fully answered and I really have no problem with that - I much prefer to explore the vast unknown than to quibble over the minor details of paths well travelled.

Gaina, welcome to my blog. I hope you will continue to enjoy it. I take your point about working with both Goddess and God and will certainly come back to it.