My Path to the Goddess
We live in a man's world... a patriarchal society (rule by the fathers). Was there ever a matriarchal society or 'rule by the mothers' in ancient times? Of course not! No, it was not the norm anywhere in the ancient world for women to rule over men; to dominate them, turn them into second class citizens or slaves. And, certainly not to value men only as commodities to be owned, bought and sold as the patriarchy continues to do to women even into modern times.
Patriarchy is the systemic oppression of women.
In ancient times, the original divine presence was female; a Great Mother Goddess. And, in their social organization, women and men were relatively equal. Women didn't rule over men, but were honored and revered as life givers with the wisdom of the Goddess herself.
My path to the mysteries and music of the Goddess symbolized by the Moon (Orb of Mystery) began in the mid-1990's after I discovered that there was a Women's Spirituality religious curriculum.
Published in 1986, it was entitled "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven" and it changed my life forever.
From the Unitarian Universalist Women & Religion website:
Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, by Shirley Ranck, provides in book format the powerful lessons of the life-transforming curriculum by the same author. The book version, first published in the 90s, makes this material accessible for women today. It can be used by individuals or small groups to explore key issues women still struggle with today. Cakes for the Queen of Heaven explores the relationship between women's religious history and the personal issues that arise in women living in this patriarchal society. Women struggle with issues of body image, troubled mother-daughter relationships, sexual freedom and access to power. We need to know that there was a time when the female body was sacred; that there once was a long-lasting religion in which the chief divine actors were a mother and her daughter; that in very ancient times women had significant power in their societies; that although patriarchal societies have oppressed women for centuries, there have always been strong and talented women. Our female history has been erased and trivialized for too long. In this book we meet ancient goddesses and their stories from around the world, real women in ancient Sumer, in Greece, in Judaism and in Christianity. In Cakes for the Queen of Heaven the past is before us, the women are there, and they help us change our lives.
In the early to mid-1990's, I was just divorced and looking for community when I found the Unitarian Universalist Church. Over the next few years, I facilitated the "Cakes" curriculum 4 times and began attending WomanSpirit retreats. My eyes and consciousness were opened to the hidden side of history.
Authors such as Merlin Stone, Barbara Walker, Mary Daly, Starhawk, Margot Adler, Diane Stein, Riane Eisler, Carol Christ, Jean Shinoda-Bolen, Vicki Noble, Patricia Monoghan and Rosemary Ellen Guilley expanded my consciousness.
Sandy & Rev. Shirley Ranck at WomanSpirit 2008
I had always been interested in mythology, but now I wanted to know more about the Goddesses. As well as Mother Nature; the primordial Gaia or Earth Goddess... and I wanted to know about Earth Magick and Earth worship. I wanted to learn to be a Witch.
There was an explosion of Feminist & Goddess books on the market in the 1990's after the publishing of the "Cake's" curriculum. However, before then, there had only been a very very few books on this topic starting with an archaeological look at The Great Mother by a man; Erich Neuman in the late 1940's.
An integral part of the curriculum was learning and singing chants that honored the Earth and Women.
History has always been written by the winners. Let's look more closely at the word history, shall we? His Story. That's right... history is 'His Story'. It's the story of humanity from the male perspective.
How would your life have been different if you had been raised in a society where the word Herstory was the norm instead of History?
And, what happened to 'Her Story'?? Just because our society only has 'His Story' as our current history of the past doesn't mean that there wasn't another story of humanity.. from the female perspective. But, in the Middle Ages, the patriarchy turned 'Her Story' into heresy. And, women were called witches and burned at the stake for it.