We at Gaia's Garden have been exploring our understanding of the Divine Feminine for more than 30 years through ritual, reading, travel and study; individually and in a range of groups. Like many women our search commenced in traditional Christian churches where we were constantly confronted by the male domination and the history of patriarchy which excluded the feminine at the personal, theological and political levels.
Inspiration came from many sources: novelists such as Starhawk and Marion Zimmer Bradley, researchers including Mary Daly, Margaret Songbird; experimentation in our own groups and circles; practitioners such as Z. Budapest, Vicki Noble and attendance at Goddess Association In Australia Conferences as well as Glastonbury Temple Conferences and spending time in Nepal, India and south east Asia.
For us the Goddess is strongly connected to the Earth, Australia and therefore our limited (and gradually increasing) understanding of the Indigenous Australian Dreaming. We are all interconnected and interdependent with the Earth and our future as individuals and as a planet is dependent on a shift from the patriarchal approach to taming and subduing the land to an approach which nurtures the resources that are here. The dominance of male energy and priorities over the last 5000 years has exploited and destroyed our natural environment and placed the world on the edge of disaster.
Goddess worship has remained and co-existed with monotheisms for thousand of years in various parts of the world; and there is increasing interest and commitment to the Sacred Feminine across continents and various religious traditions. Growing areas of research are finding and documenting the ways in which worship of the Goddess has been discredited, denied and diminished over centuries by rewriting history, killing strong women as witches, refusing women space to study, write and speak about their experiences.
The Jewish rabbis diminished the role of Sophia as the female equivalent of Yahweh; the catholic church denied and discredited the roles of both Marys, especially Mary Magdalene and patriarchy aggressively wiped out Goddess worship in the Mediterranean and progressively across Europe. In spite of this concerted war against the feminine, the church had to include much of the Goddess traditions, which were adapted and incorporated into Christian practices.
In other parts of the world there have been similar experiences and yet in others the Divine Feminine has remained as part of the cultural and religious practices and teachings.
There are different schools of thought in the Goddess community about whether the Goddess is a specific entity, a multitude of manifestations/incarnation, the energy of nature or the spark of the divine in each of us. From our perspective it is not useful to argue about these various approaches; She is all of these and more.
We are also informed by other philosophies and practices which focus on life enhancing practice rather than problem solving. We have found that understanding what works and building from that is more effective and satisfying than wallowing in what doesn’t work and getting caught in negativity. These approaches underpin our work.