The Real Goddess
There’s been a bit of a hubbub lately about the “real” origins of the Goddess Aradia. (I know, shocking, right?) Some say that She is an authentic, old school, traditional Goddess from ancient times. Daughter of Diana, original witch, badass sorceress she-warrior who fights with magic. Some say She is totally made up and really no older than the late 1800s. So, what’s correct?
Then we have Lilith. Ancient first wife of the Biblical Adam, right? She who refused to lie beneath him and was then demonized and turned into a monster, yes? Well, a little research will tell you sadly no, that’s not true. In fact, She was made up in Jewish satirical writings much later. True, that writing is hundreds of years old, but the acceptance of Her being an ancient Goddess and first wife of Adam is a rather new concept. Lilith has become the poster-Goddess of giving patriarchy the middle finger. Is that wrong?
And let’s not forget Mary Magdalene. Was She the wife of Jesus or She-who-was-once-a-prostitute, or maybe both? Was She the most devout follower of Christ? Did She continue to preach the gospel after his death? Mary Magdalene is one of the Christian Gods that gets a lot of praise and love from the Pagan world. She has become a symbol of positive sexuality, of speaking truth to power, of not being ashamed of being a woman. Which of her stories is true?
What Is Remembered Lives
A common phrase in Paganism is “what is remembered lives”. We say this about our beloved dead, but I firmly believe that this is also true of the Gods. In Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods, the main character sees a vision of a hall filled with statues, images, and figures of all the Gods that have been long forgotten. The hall of the dead Gods, whose worship died out and therefore they died out as well. I think about this concept all the time and I think Neil Gaiman is onto something. The Gods need us as much as we need them. They are alive because we remember them, we share their stories, we give them offerings, we give them life. What is remembered lives.
It is important to know the history of a Deity. It is important to have an understanding of the culture and time that they were born from, but there is something more important than history. Because, you see, what is remembered lives. If enough of us remember a Deity, give them offerings, and believe in them, they will live. The power and energy they gain from our modern worship may be drastically different than what it would have look like for our ancestors. This means that they as a God, may be different than they were for our ancestors too. So what?
Lilith and Mary Magdalene
Lilith had a resurgence in the late 1980s and 1990s, a transitional time in feminism. Goddess-worshipers needed a Goddess that was powerful, that didn’t take shit from men, and (let’s be honest here) they needed a Goddess that had been demonized. During that time we needed a Goddess that the mainstream religions had turned their back on. That made Her more powerful.
Mary Magdalene resurfaced in the early 2000s, really after the whole The Da Vinci Code thing. People started to wonder about the truth of Her. They wanted more of Her story. Goddess-worshipers needed a sex positive Goddess – not one that was reviled like Lilith, but one that was loved and cherished, like the Magdalene. She took the Pagan world by storm and quickly became a beloved. At that time we needed a sex positive role model, we needed to feel holy, and She helped us to do that.
The Now and Aradia
Which bring us to now and to Aradia. I’ll tell you something, She started showing up for me about a year ago and this sent me on a quest to learn more. Books, research, prayer, lots of listening. This culminated for me at the North Bay Reclaiming Winter Solstice Ritual. We invoked Her for our ritual and later I learned that at the same time one of our sister communities – Reclaiming in Brisbane Australia – had also invoked her for their Summer Solstice ritual on the same day! Right about this time She started showing up in internet conversations, notably one conversation between Storm Faerywolf and Tempest Zakroff, and then the We Are Aradia hashtag was born.
Yes, it’s important to know your history, learn as much as you can about the Gods. Learn as much as you can about your Gods, the ones that show up for you. Know their history, culture, and myths. These things are important, but so is your own personal experience. Your mileage may vary, because ultimately, we can never really know the absolute truth about a Goddess. What really matters is when they show up. Remember this; we need Her right now. The world needs the story of Aradia, the power of Aradia. The world needs a badass witch daughter of Diana. We need to know how to create spells to subvert the dominant paradigm, to weave magic into the world. We need Her now more than ever. The more of us that believe, the stronger She gets. So believe. It doesn’t take much.
What is remembered lives. #WeAreAradia