It is time for both women and men to create a new vision for society--one that is in harmony with the life on the planet as a whole.
As the patriarchal structure and military warriors threaten to destroy the Earth and her beings, we are being called to awaken to the wisdom of the sacred feminine, to have the courage to embrace our own denials on a personal level so that we will be better equipped to heal the reflection of self-hatred in nature. We can no longer sit back and watch in silence as the military industrial complex wreaks havoc on the immune system of the Earth and on its inhabitants. We need awakened individuals to take action in any way that they can to protest war based on greed and exploitation of women and minorities. As Ynestra King so powerfully put it, "War is the violence against women in all its forms... rape, battering, economic exploitation and intimidation––and it is the racist violence against indigenous peoples here in the U.S. and around the world, and it is the violence against the Earth." It is this same attitude of heartless arrogance that denies women the right to their own bodies and sexuality, and which depends on multiple systems of domination and fear tactics to have its way. This is the time of women--healers, teachers, nurses, artists, visionaries, mothers--to grow in confidence and power, to reclaim their right to have a voice in all aspects of life, from politics to spirituality, and to the arts.
I am horrified that six of my closest women friends and several more acquaintances have been raped, molested and/or physically abused by men. We know that twenty-five percent of all women in this culture are raped within their lifetimes, and another nineteen percent have to fend off rape attempts. We know that as many as forty four million American women have been molested by relatives, with twelve million of those molested by their fathers. Furthermore, increasing numbers of women, particularly single moms, are in poverty despite the fact that they work more hours per week than men. There continues to be a severe income gap between men and women as well as a lack of women in positions of power and authority. Despite the groundswell of women's actions for peace, women still lack power and authority when it comes to peace negotiations. Those sitting around the peace table are almost exclusively men. Furthermore, a number of recent studies have shown that depression is high amongst women, and is more common in working-class women than in middle-class women. With all the suffering that women have to endure on a day-to-day basis, it is no wonder we suffer from high levels of anxiety and depression. And to top it all off, some men have the audacity to turn around and place judgment on women for being passive, dependant and insecure.
It is because of the ground breaking work of an assortment of feminist thealogians, eco-feminists, feminist artists and other cultural creatives in an assortment of disciplines that women now have more opportunities to become fully empowered, autonomous and confident in their voices. Not only have feminists revealed a history where knowledge has been controlled by a white, male, eurocentric perspective, or “androcentric bias” that has excluded the viewpoints of women and minorities; they have also exposed a history of tyranny in which patriarchy, power, knowledge and discourse have all been linked together, creating a complex system of justification for social inequality.
They have exposed a lack of sacred imagery of the Goddess in the West and how that lack has justified and maintained gender inequality and disrespect of the Earth and her animals. Imaging the divine as female is essential for the larger vision of emancipation and equality because it not only empowers women but also gives them a sense of hope that they will be freed from the destructive impact of our culture’s pervasive negative imaging of the female. As Carole Christ, a pioneer of the women's spirituality movement informs us, "The real importance of the symbol of the Goddess is that it breaks the power of the patriarchal symbol of God as male over the psyche." Therefore, it is through symbolic imaging in the arts that we will be able to take the first steps in our efforts to bring about social change.
At this crucial time in human history, the Great Mother is revealing herself to all cultures, including the West. We in the West simply have yet to acknowledge her presence as much as other cultures, and as a result have tended to neglect the thousands of images of the Goddess created by artisans in the United States. While this is a complex problem that has been occurring for quite some time, it is partly due to the censorship of Goddess images by the majority of galleries, museums and various media outlets. This trend of censorship is the result of a multitude of factors and an overall lack of awareness, but it is slowly beginning to improve as alternative routes are carved out by visionary artists and and cultural creatives in an assortment of disciplines. More often then not, powerful gatekeepers in the art world aren't as tuned-in to new movements in art as they think they are. It is the artists and mystics who are the true visionaries, inspiring a sense of hope as they midwife the birthing of a new mode of consciousness--the death of the old beliefs, values and limited perceptions of God that are no longer working for us, and a rebirth into a new paradigm of consciousness that is more aligned with the diversity of creation, the Earth and animals.
As a human race we are slowly beginning to awaken to the fatalism of the dominant scientific worldview that has not only denied our need for spirituality, but also stripped us of our deep connection to the Earth. We are beginning to see how a coalition between Judeo-Christianity, patriarchy and science has been an enormous source of social control, and that much of this control stems from fear--fear of the unknown, but most of all, fear of the feminine principle. It is this propagation of fear that is perpetuating a sense of apathy, anger and hopelessness in humanity. Without a sense of hope for the future, the brave souls who challenged mediocrity and the status quo in the past would not have had the courage to fight for justice as they did. Whenever I feel scared about the state of the world today, I recall the work of several female artists in the 1970’s who committed their lives to creating images of the Divine Goddess. I also draw inspiration and courage from the extended history of female mystics from numerous disciplines constituting a long matrilineage of women who, through powerful mystical visions and divine revelations, acquired the authority to challenge the sexism and misogyny of their own patriarchal societies and religions. Many of these women put themselves at great risk as they swam against the current of mainstream culture. Not only were they severely marginalized by society and told that they were crazy, many of them also experienced grave poverty, psychological torture and even death as a result of their selfless vision for social justice.