The Goddess Myth Problem: Uncommon Skills For Deliciously Happy Women Who Lead
There is a dangerous conversation happening, that women need to stop “trying to live up to the goddess templates” being hyped on social media.
Even TIME Magazine got it wrong with a recent cover story titled “The Goddess Myth.”
The story had some important points, but the article, including the title, misses the bigger picture, contributing to a pervasive problem.
Point 1: The “image of perfect pregnancy, perfect breastfeeding, natural childbirth, and effortless mothering” are detrimental to women, and causing undue pressure and harm to women.
Yes, TIME, women are “stressed out, and embarrassed that they can’t do it all (perfectly).”
But that’s not what goddesses are.
Goddesses are not perfect creatures, nor have they ever pretended to be.
Point 2: Yes, TIME, woman are overwhelmed with “so many conflicting ideas, studies, and opinions – it’s overwhelming.”
But Goddesses don’t succumb to the chorus of voices around them.
A Goddess trusts her inner knowing: she listens to opinions and facts, makes her choice, takes action and does not apologize.
Yes, TIME, women:
“have been bombarded by a powerful message: that she is built to build a human, that she will feel all the more empowered for doing so as nature supposedly intended and that the baby’s future depends on it. Call it the Goddess Myth, spun with a little help from basically everyone–doctors, activists, other moms. It tells us that breast is best; that if there is a choice between a vaginal birth and major surgery, you should want to push; that your body is a temple and what you put in it should be holy; that sending your baby to the hospital nursery for a few hours after giving birth is a dereliction of duty. Oh, and that you will feel–and look–radiant.”
The real myth is that women aren’t worthy of goddess-like reverence.
The myth is that women are supposed to be perfect to be revered.
The myth is that women are supposed to do it alone if they’re to reach Goddess Status.
Here’s the truth about Goddesses, from Gaia, Hera/Juno, Sheela Na Gig, Demeter, Mary, Grain/Corn Mother, Black Madonna, Lady of the Vine, Pachamama, Mary Magdalene, Nu-Wa, and more.
The truth is that Goddesses were complex beings.
Capable of great power and strength, and they also had their shadow.
Goddesses are whole beings, honored for their darkness and their light. Women should be honored for their wholeness and allowed to be as complex, and still admired and respected.
Hera was the Goddess of Heaven, Love and Marriage, was revered for her nurturance and her steadfastness in the face of adversity, but she could also be vindictive, jealous. People built her temples, brought offerings, and prayed to her. She was complex, and revered.
Shakti is the Hindu Great Divine Mother, both responsible for creation, and the agent of all change. She brings life, and brings destruction through transformation. She is complex, and revered.
Demeter is the Goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over grains and fertility, and was also revered as the “law-bringer” and presided over divine order and unwritten laws. Demeter withheld her fertility over the fields and led humanity to the brink of extinction with famine and endless winter in the face of her grief over her daughter. People built her temples, brought her offerings, and prayed to her. She was complex and still worshiped.
Pachamama is the Goddess of earth and time to the indigenous people of the Andes. She is the fertility goddess with the power to sustain life on this earth. She is also the bringer of devastating earthquakes who can take vengeful action against humans for their mistreatment of the earth. She is complex, yet still worshipped through daily and seasonal rituals throughout South America.
Sheela Na Gigs are ancient pagan figures from Celtic Ireland and England, depicting a female figure displaying an exaggerated vulva. The powerful carvings were used to ward off death and evil spirits. She was simultaneously “the old hag with hanging breasts” and represented the power of fertility, wisdom, and protection. She may also have been considered a war-goddess who tested powerful men and granted kingship to those deemed worthy.
The truth of what Goddess are, and the fullness of what they represented, has been erased from our collective memory.
People that worship Goddesses know they have shadow sides, yet still find them worthy of reverence:
Self-absorption, neediness, addictions to avoid emptiness, abandonment (of self or worshipers), need to belong, over-responsibility, co-dependency, low self-value, scarcity thinking, and a general feeling of “not enoughness.”
We have simply forgotten that we are Goddess-like.
The current patriarchal culture dominates our vision with media that only portrays perfection and the light-side of the Goddess.
Reclaim your complexity, Women Goddess.
You are light, and dark.
You are live-giving, and a destroyer of that which you no longer deem worthy.
You are pure, and lusty.
You are full and completely whole, and needy at times.
You are abundant and well-resourced, and sometimes feel not-enough.
You are all these things. WE are all these things.
Like every Goddess ever worshiped, you are worthy of acceptance and worship, not in-spite of your faults, but because of them.
The TIME article points out two important ideas, but fails to go the distance:
“what’s lost in the cacophony of anxiety is the other thing every mom wants: to enjoy the beauty of motherhood.”
“Motherhood in the connected era doesn’t have to be dominated by any myth. Social media can just as easily help celebrate our individual experience and create community through contrast. Moms have to stick together even as we walk our separate paths. We have to spot the templates and realize there are no templates. We have to talk about our failures and realize there are no failures.”
Yes. In our perfectionistic patriarchal culture, there is no room for real women to enjoy the beauty of motherhood. Because we can never measure up.
Yes. Women have to stick together in all things.
But Goddesses don’t apologize for who and what they are.
The Myth is that Goddesses were perfect, infallible beings.
The Truth is that they, and we, are complex and still worthy of reverence.
We struggle against the judgment of other women, which is also a false narrative forced upon us by a toxic masculine culture:
“I’m so tired of women falling into the trap of thinking it’s other women, or nature – and sound biological principles such as natural birth and breastfeeding – that are the problem. The problem is white-male privilege, greed-based capitalism (of which hospitalized, medicalized birth is a part), and patriarchy (a system based in control through domination and suppression),” wrote Suzanne Arms, founder of Birthing the Future.
Women, this is a call to action:
- Acknowledge that aspects of the Goddess reside in you.
- Acknowledge the complexity that lives in each one of us.
- Allow every woman you see to be complex in her lightness and her darkness.
- Believe that you are worthy of respect, adoration, and yes, even worship.
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From one Goddess to another,