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Voices from the Circle

August 3, 2008

I found a dissertation the other day – entitled Voices from the Circle: Women’s Ritual Art. I am slowly savoring it and reading through – all the while basking in the imagery created by the author – Lynn Carol Henderson. Visit her Enigma Art Studio and see for yourself.

She answers a question I ask myself all the time – why do we persistently seek evidence for a time when the goddess reigned and our lives were earth centered – even when we know that this pre-history doesn’t exist in the written word? and the scholarship surrounding this search is at times questionable?

Judith Ochsborn believes that the determined feminist search of pre-history for non-oppressive spiritual alternatives [is motivated by] a desire to look to the past in order to  assess whether male domination and female subordination were, indeed, natural caused by our genes, or our stars, as accepted scholarship contended. If, however, the origins of male dominance could be traced to specific times and places, if it had not prevailed in all societies, then one might envision a future without it.

Lynn also educates me on a very basic theological difference of which I was ignorant! In the Dianic traditions – the Goddess contains within her both male and female aspects – so She is enough. In Traditional Wiccan theology – there is a recognition of both male and female aspects – Green Woman joins with Green Man.

Not having been raised in this tradition – and coming to these ideas from archetypal psychology – I have been puzzled with the vehemence with which women can deny and negate men and the male aspects of themselves as something that is “other.” Knowing the theological underpinnings helps me understand.

And with my Jungian orientation which relies on the archetype of the Shadow – I  understand my lack of resonance and connection with women’s groups whose remedy is to be as devotedly sexist and anti-male as they accuse men of being towards women. Increasing the split and widening the divide isn’t the answer.

For me the answer is in the both/and of men and women – women and men – and the even larger issues of privileged and non-privileged. The mindless, unconscious, oppression of the world that those of us who belong to the the dominant group inflict on others is as harmful and perhaps more invisible than the harm inflicted by men on women.

As Clarissa Pinkola Estes teaches in her Theatre of the Imagination – men suffer too.

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