Jason Pitzl-Waters wrote about the recent God’s Wife controversy over at On Faith. As a dude he nailed it, and I suggest you open it in a new tab and read it through before you go further into my rant. Leave a comment and tell him you appreciate what he wrote.
I’ve been avoiding this drama because it cuts too close to the bone. It makes my head begin to buzz like angry honey bees. It makes me clench my fist and grind my teeth. Y’all know I ain’t the Goddessy type. I have no patience for Dianics, for uber-feminists or for anyone to expect me to wax eloquent about the magic of my “wombspace” because that just ain’t me. That does not mean I am not deeply connected to the Goddesses, to the feminine Divine. It’s a connection that has no voice, it’s too deep, rooted in my mitochondria, in my bones and in my very breath. There are no words to describe, only aching sound. I wish I could give it words, but there is no way to convey it to another. My inability to analyze and share this drives me crazy.
Yet other women can express it, and express it well. None so well as the Hebrew women in the book of Jeremiah (I’m stealing the translation Jason used):
“We will not listen to the things you’ve said to us in the name of YHWH. On the contrary, we will certainly do all that we’ve vowed. We will make offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and pour libations to her as we used to do – we and our ancestors, our kings and princes in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem – because then we had plenty of bread and we were satisfied, and suffered no misfortune. But since we ceased making offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by sword and famine. And when we make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations to her, is it without our husbands’ approval that we make cakes in her likeness and pour libations to her?”
– Jeremiah 44:15-19, translation by Graham Harvey, from the Hebrew text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, excerpted from “The Paganism Reader.”
There is anger in these words, hot and quick. Can you blame them? Thousands of years later they still speak of Asherah as God’s Wife, by a nameless title denoting her sexual position in relation to him. No one calls El or Yahweh Asherah’s Husband. No one calls him consort, concubine, helpmeet or other term placing him in a subservient role. No one apologizes for Her, explains away Her moods, Her harsh words.
As a teenager I would lie awake at night praying to Yahweh and Jesus with every fiber of my being. I was desperate for God’s love, to be an expression of Divine Grace. I wanted to be God’s Comb, making the tangled straight and smooth. Imagine me, a young girl staring at the ceiling and sobbing out her prayers, because every word of Yahweh tells her she is less, she is incomplete, she is subservient and second-class.
Everything involving discussing gender is so politicized and charged, but for a second forget the rhetoric and imagine God tells you that you are second class. Actually consider that for a moment, that state of being. That you were created to alleviate man’s loneliness and meet his needs. That your God is telling you to “lie back and think of England.” Yeah, that’s extreme but when you’re a bright budding young woman who sees all the women of the Bible (excluding Deborah and Miriam) tainted by sexuality, who reads Saint Paul insist she be silent and considers how Yahweh never even considered creating woman until Adam started to whine, you tend to see things in an extreme light. I spent hours crying and begging for forgiveness for being a woman, just like he made me.
Alienation? Hardly. It’s rejection, spiritual slavery and then being asked to be cheerful about it. No sir, no thanks and I do not want another. I’ll tell you where to stick your alienation. I will not bend to an abusive God who needs excuses made for him, like a violent boyfriend. Oh, he only says I’m sinful when his beer has gone warm. Oh, he only rejects me on the days I don’t have testicles, so it’s all my fault. Really. He doesn’t really mean it when he calls me the origin of death. He loves me. Really. He does…
I’m not a Wiccan because I place the Goddess at the pinnacle of Divine perfection. I am not Wiccan because of the Great Rite, the union of the God and Goddess symbolically re-enacted, because of chalice and blade. No, I am Wiccan because of the Sword of Power. I rarely hear people talk about this, and it may not be relevant to every Wiccan trad. At Beltane and Samhain, the sword of power passes between the God and Goddess. Each time I catch my breath, lest the priest or priestess be moved by a power-hungry impulse. Yet, each time the representative of Divinity receiving the power insists they cannot wield it alone, and asks for their partner help. That is a theology that I can stake my soul on, that encompasses us all. We cannot do this alone. We have to help each other if we’re going to make it.
I don’t lie awake worrying about whether the Gods love me because I have a vagina or lack a Y chromosome. I don’t believe I was created to be inferior. However, I do think I was created second. Would you like to hear my UPG-modified Origin of Woman story? Too bad, I’ll tell you anyway:
Zeus had created man, Prometheus “stole” fire from Hephaestus and Hephaestus had gifted them with a few of his arts. Yet all was not well and things were not running smoothly. Man showed disturbing promise yet seemed limited. Zeus had never intended man to have fire, to be able to create like Hephaestus creates, to be so like the Gods.Yet, was that such a bad thing, that Zeus should create a race that is like the Gods in cunning and creativity? So Zeus and Hephaestus came up with a plan that mankind should be as balanced as Godkind. Hephaestus created Pandora, the all-gifted first woman. She was not created to be subservient, to be less. She was showered with all imaginable gifts from both Goddesses and Gods and she was given a jar.
Now Hephaestus kept his hands clean as much as he could. He got into enough trouble with the Gods as it was and the Goddesses might not be pleased with woman, made in their image and a mirror of their fierce cunning and bright beauty. So just as Prometheus “stole” Hephaestus’ fire to give to man, so Hephaestus “warned” Pandora against opening the jar. Yet Hephaestus had made her, molded her calves, ears and heart with his own two hands, created her from his love and appreciation for the Goddesses of Olympus. He knew how to speak to her and knew she was bright, intelligent and wise. I can imagine him saying the words while miming that she should look inside. You see inside this jar was all the darkness man had stored up, all that was making him slow, his thinking constipated, his work rough and unfinished. For man was bound by darkness, primal apes wielding tools, but as yet not truly human. They lacked a Divine spark.
So there he left her, with the jar before her. Pandora carefully tilted the lid back, and out flies fear, insecurity, self-conciousness, fear, doubt, worry and all those dark things that paralyze us. Out flew the dark dumbness of the animal and leaving man’s mind free and open. She let them go, set them free and unburdened the soul of man. Then in the bottom of the jar she sees something bright, something that lights up her lovely face and she quickly closes the lid and seals it shut. She held onto precious hope.
So every man and woman living today is her descendant, and each of us have the ability to let go of the darkness. Each of us carry hope within. Men are not better than women, nor are women better then men. Man didn’t ask for woman but stood proudly on his own. Woman was not created to serve man, but to be the catalyst through which they are both transformed, which still happens through the process of birth, where the male and female combine within woman to become a human child. Those early men were not perfect, though skilled, hardy and clever. Pandora herself was an impossible creature, unlikeable in her perfection, created in the image of the larger-than-life Goddesses. No, the ones worth emulating are their descendants, a perfect blend of the two, our very selves. Together they created a full spectrum of humanity to emulate the diversity found in heaven. Pandora and her many partners gave birth to men, women, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, shy, gregarious, analytical, tender-hearted, tall, short and every other kind of human you can imagine. Pandora was a Divine virus set loose among our ancestors, an evolutionary mutation of vast consequence. She is that mitochondrial Eve who lives symbiotically in our DNA, male and female, giving us the ability to let go, move forward and never lose hope.
So let’s set the record straight: Yahweh is Asherah’s Husband, and he’s not the only one. She shared her bed with El first and has many lovers. She is Goddess, and to deny Her is to deny yourself. She is the Queen of Heaven: holy, loving and many Gods are equal to Her brilliance. We are the Children of the Gods, and they live in us, male, female and genderless. They do not reject or deny us. They do not strike us for being who they made us. They do not leave us sobbing in darkness struggling to dent our souls to please them. We are not Second Class, not Helpmeet, not Consort nor Concubine. We are Whole and Wholly Blessed.