Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reemergence of the goddess


I recently finished reading The Da Vinci Code. I thought it was an excellent book. I laughed when I noted the little digs, like “everybody loves a conspiracy.” Of course we do. I liked that I could jump online and do a google image search, looking at the artwork and landmarks that he cited. The book was really made to be highly interactive. You feel like you’re discovering secrets in the “real” world, as you read along in this work of fiction.
It is a wonder that it has stirred up so much controversy in Christian circles. The book really isn’t antichristian at all. Tales of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene have existed openly for some time. The real thrust of the book had to do with the disappearance of goddess worship and the contemporary issue of women’s rights. If this book does anything, it won’t be to undermine Christianity. Instead, it will be one of many recent motivators to reinstate goddess worship.
Before I got engulfed with The Da Vinci Code, I had been reading Merlin Stone’s “When God was a Woman.” I haven’t finished it yet, so perhaps it is unfair to talk about it. Anyway, the whole book sets forth precisely the same theory as The Da Vinci Code in areas that relate to suppression of goddess worship. Though the book is not a novel or work of fiction, but a historically based theory.
I’ve been considering this whole “suppression” theory for a while now. I see some serious flaws in it. I don’t think I say that because of my devotion to the Christian faith. Really, I could care less if goddess worship reemerges. People will always have an unlimited number of objects to worship. Some do so consciously and some unconsciously. Some worship what they consider to be deities, while others worship ideologies or their own significance. So reclaiming the goddess does not seem threatening to me, as though it were something dangerous to Christianity.
I believe what continues to suppress the reemergence of goddess worship is not a patristic worldview, but simply her irrelevance in contemporary culture. Goddesses were always associated with fertility, both of the womb and of the earth. Worshiping the goddess, therefore, has become impractical to all but the agricultural worker, of which there are few.
You see, the ancient people (perhaps not unlike the modern), sought the favor of their gods and goddesses more out of practicality than love. They did not relate to their gods. They sought to appease them, that they might receive some blessing. That blessing typically related to their livelihood or their basic needs to continue living. They worshiped the goddess of fertility in hopes that their seed be fertilized and grow plentifully, so that they might reap a great harvest. I am not speaking in metaphor here. They really wanted their crops to grow. Their lives depended upon it.
Along with this, having children was more than a luxury, it was a necessity. Children were the Social Security and nursing homes of the day. They were a form of protection and provision. Not to mention that many considered a barren woman to be cursed.
Culture has gone through some radical changes. No doubt, patristic monotheistic religion played a hand in suppressing all pantheistic religions, just as the pantheists for some time suppressed what they called the “atheists,” better known to us as the monotheists. Yet our culture, and for the most part, our world, has become very pluralistic, but goddess worship did not naturally reemerge. I believe this is because the vast majority of us have no need to implore a fertility goddess. If the corn fields in Nebraska are dried up, we’ll just get our corn from Michigan. And if we are having a hard time getting pregnant, we’ll implore a fertility doctor. We can use fertility drugs, do In Vitro, or even plant our egg into another carrier who will birth our child for us.
I tend to think goddess worship will reemerge. Yet it will be more of a response to popular culture and media than out of an authentic desire for spirituality. It will be seen as a means of furthering women’s rights (which I am all for), and as a form of psuedo-spirituality, where people just want to do something different and perhaps “cutting edge.” The reason I think this is because of what I stated above, people simply don’t have a need for a fertility goddess today. The god of luck and fortune would be much more plausible, or even the reemergence of Mithra, the soldiers god who is also the god of contracts (from whom we get the “hand-shake”), since we are living in an age of increasing war and bad business.