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.