Tuesday, April 15, 2014

spring meditations: a Goddess by any other name?

There is a flood warning for river around the corner from my home (not so close as to be a concern for me). In general, it looks like the homes in the neighbourhood will be fine, but the water is higher than I've ever seen it. In fact, while I knew that much of the land around the peninsula I live on is swampy, I had no idea just how much of it was touched by the water. The way the homes have been developed in my area (with big sections kept forested) makes a lot more sense to me now!

The flooding, caused by the crazy hectic melting of large amounts of snow, is just another event in a long string of things that have marked this spring as one of the most unusual I've experienced since I've lived out here. Combined with being home all winter with a new(ish) baby, it's been a hard season and I'm suffering from cabin fever.

I am eager for the warmer days of spring and walks outside.

In fact, a recent card reading about ways to connect spiritually came back with this beauty:

Oh the ironies.

So it looks like I'll be spending a fair amount of time, as the weather warms, watching the river water levels recede, in the name of spiritual connectivity.

There's another layer of irony that the universe seems to be sending my way in this card. I've been pondering God/Goddess names a lot lately, wondering what names I'm comfortable with as the archetypal paradigm from which I view divine consciousness. I've been experiencing a certain amount of dis-ease with this topic lately as I contemplate what names mean within a practice.

For example, when calling on the Goddess as Aradia, what does that say about my perception of the Goddess and my aspirations as I work with her?

Does that make sense as a question? Sometimes I write these posts to help myself figure out where I am within a thought process, only to realize how very complex and untranslatable my thoughts are. This can be super frustrating of very rewarding depending on my ability to figure out a way to synthesize my ideas coherently.

But back to the question I've been pondering.

I've written before about the fact that I am not a big fan of reducing the divine into personified gender binaries and this discomfort has led me to think a lot about what I am choosing when I identify the God or Goddess as a particular deity. Who is Aradia, what does she represent, how does choosing to identify Goddess as her impact my practice, aspirations, and understanding of the path?

A lot of what we "know" about Aradia comes from Leland's Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, which is a problematic text at best. Regardless of (or despite) this text, I've always understood Aradia as an Inanna-esque type figure; she who descends into the abyss, sacrificing self for knowledge, only to learn the suffering of humanity, and return with a boundless willingness to help ease that suffering. Her love is infinite though not always easy or necessarily gentle in her quest to help us see ourselves as we are in order to enable us to see our own divinity.

There are loopholes that can be explored in the story of Aradia I have been working with but that's a conversation for another day. What I want to consider is this: does this infinite love, gentle or not, fit with the ideals I hold about our divinity? And if so (or not), how? Does she reflect my highest spiritual aspirations? Why or why not? Is she reductive or limiting? And if so, am I ok with that? Do I need to be complicating my ideas of Goddess in order to get beyond the maiden, mother, crone triptych of pop paganism?

And most importantly, do I still feel like I am in communion with her?

I am happy to say, after a fair amount of contemplation, that the answer is positive. Aradia, despite feeling disconnected from me while I stepped away and made my way through said questioning, still remains the lens through which I understand the feminine divine, and by extension, my journey towards embodying my spiritual self in my daily life.

There is so much more I could say about this but I think sometimes that less is more. And while this post isn't necessarily in the less side of things, the questions I'm asking are more what I want to share than the actual answers because I feel like that's what my muse is calling for... opening the door for contemplation; not answers.

So my dear friends, who are the faces you draw your practice around and how do they reflect your aspirations? Do the Gods and Goddesses you work with honour your deepest spiritual aspirations or are they too limited and reductive? Perhaps this question is moot for you if you are practicing pagan paths that are very different than my own. But honestly, I think I might find the answers given based on totally different paths equally fascinating to me!


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