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Why Goddess?

Late last year I became the co-director of Stroud Goddess Temple (Opens in a new window), after setting (or receiving) an intention as part of an ancestral healing witches art collective ceremony.  I was gathered in to the Temple CIC by my co-director, who received a magic lasso whilst under the tutelage of Starhawk, to catch the people she wanted.

In other words, it seems some kind of magic is at play.

You may know exactly what I am talking about or you might think I am talking utter rubbish or you might have a sort of sense of knowing without having much framework for understanding. You might be refusing to accept it or you might be excited by it or you might be feeling quite hatey or judgemental or you might be delighted or you just think it's normal. Or you just don't really care (in which case I have to wonder - why are you still reading?)

I have felt all those things and much more in relation to witch-goddess things. And I have come to understand that this is about being female, and misogyny, and othering, and indigenous culture, and marginalisation and oppression.

To be clear, I am white and educated and wealthy at the global level and have access to a lot of social and material privileges. There are places where people are actually being killed after accusations of witchcraft, places that as Silvia Federici has eloquently explained (Opens in a new window) are at the frontiers of capitalist domination where land, people and life is to be taken and exploited. And accusing small landowners of being witches, exploiting common human fear and hostility, is one way to facilitate that takeover.

Yet even in my position of relative comfort and safety, making public these steps I myself am taking, feels uncomfortable, risky, and potentially humiliating. Why?

When I was at school, about age ten or eleven, I used to play a game with a friend where we would read each others minds for fun. We would play at breaktime, guessing numbers, colours and words that the other was thinking. As we practiced we got better at it. I don’t remember being especially connected at the time in other ways, mainly just this mind reading game, which established a friendship. One day some other girls (it was a girl's boarding school) decided to test our claims and set us up in a room under observation. I did know what colour my friend had chosen but I lost faith during the process and said the wrong thing, feeling thrown by the way the girls were approaching the process. Being examined caused me to fear the outcome and I lost my connection. 

Is this intuition? I could hear or see in my mind what the other was thinking or `sending` me. It took effort, concentration and practice to get good at it. It was a skill.

If psychic, intuitive, and seemingly magical processes are a skill you can learn, then why aren’t they on the syllabus? What prejudice in you and I says this is not a valid type of knowing?

Being an artist feels the same way. I listen, or I hear (it's loud) to what the hidden threads are inside people's thoughts or who-knows-where. The language of such practices,like the language of Traditional Chinese Medicine for example, may seem to dominant culture, western medicine,  to be meaningless, fluffy, undefined, vague, nebulous, unverifiable. But I know and have always felt, that these unseen things are very real and can be cultivated. I have been repeatedly cured of unhealth by TCM practices. 

In the rainforest, the Shiwiar people who taught me so much, are able to converse with trees and animals, are able to speak in dreams with spirits of the forest and receive in quite a mundane way medical and other instructions from the multiplicity of agents in the environment, of which the humans are not a master but an integral part.

For anyone to insist to such people that this must explained, and that if it cannot be explained within their frame of understanding, that it must be nonsense, is intensely arrogant and violent and is a form of self-impoverishment.

Pat McCabe teaches (Opens in a new window) that humans are the youngest, newest species. We are the new kids, and have a lot to learn from the creatures that have been here much longer than us. We only have to ask them, and if you don’t know how there are lots of people who do - so you could just hire one of those people. (I can put you in touch if you are looking for a listen-to-nature consultant).

When I make what I am calling a “goddess painting” (Opens in a new window) what I am doing is listening to the spring water, the chalk, the earth, to my experience, to your thoughts - to the invisible threads behind everything that is explicit. I am in dialogue with life, and it is a skill and a practice I want to develop. We are impoverished by our lack of knowledge of such things, and while our envy fetishises those who are still wealthy in this multilayered dancing with life  - we yet are too scared to step into the rhythm of it. We know we may be punished and condemned, excluded or shamed, ignored or just misunderstood. And we know that people who celebrate or practice such things are subjected to genocides and other harms, so we have good reason to be afraid. Witchcraft laws were only rescinded in the UK in the 1950’s.

In speaking about goddesses and witches, I am insisting on the validity of the unseen and of feeling-knowing as an enrichment of and complement to thinking-knowing. It is my reclaiming the feminine/intuitive genius, giving it space to grow, refusing to let it be crushed under the concrete of external logics and extractive domination culture.

I use the term goddess because I cannot yet find an acceptable language for my experience of life. My options are to stay in the limits of our cultural understanding, hampering myself - or to use this awkward, poorly understood terminology to stand in the fire of this beingness that I am.

Goddess in your language, is a beautiful ecstasy of Biology and Poetry combined with dizzying possibility. Goddess has no gender and all genders, is rock and stone and water and air and mud and blood and birth and death and auras and energetic flow and qi and yin and yang and vibration and quantum/mechanics and astrophysics and engineering and genetics and the sensation of the ridges of your fingerprint and listening to the colours in other people’s minds and the voices of the moss under your feet.

If you don’t like the sound of goddess, then create me new language. I’m busy, forging images from egg yolks and ash and travelling to the roots of the carob tree. 

In order for me to function, the conditions of the culture are that I must ask you to share your financial resources with me, which you can do via the 100 Goddesses website here (Opens in a new window). You can choose your own goddess artefact to help you create your own dialogue with life.


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