My experience of the Goddess is different than many. I came to the Goddess through the gateway of Wicca; and yet as soon as I found out about her, I felt her calling me. This calling lasted for over 18 years before I would finally have the courage to leave Christianity behind and embrace her for good. It never crossed my mind that she wasn’t a distinct being. To me, she is the Great Mother that our earliest ancestors worshipped. She is the Goddess of life and death, nature, and above nature, beyond it. She is the Creator and the Destroyer. She is the energy of nature, and also of the universe and what was there before it existed. She is the Nothing, and she is everything.
Note: I am going to be talking about the Goddess in this article, but everything I’m saying refers equally to the God as well.
I have been surprised and dismayed that any experience of the Goddess as transcendent, in addition to her immanence, has been discouraged and criticized by others in Goddess spiritualities. I’ve heard warnings against “Jehovah in drag.” I’ve read that believing in a transcendent deity means ” replacing the old man on the throne with a beautiful woman on the throne.” I understand the concerns these comments come from; I do. I know the problems that come when divinity is solely “out there”; when the Divine is simply someone who constructed the world and then withdrew from it except to direct it from above like we were all simply puppets on its strings.
I have experienced the Goddess as immanent. I have experienced her when I go out and gaze at the silver orb in the night sky, lighting up the clouds around it. I have experienced her when I have walked in the wind and the rain, letting the cold and the force of the wind drive all sadness and foggy-headedness from me. I have heard her whisper when I light a candle on my altar and sit down to meditate. Since I first heard it, this part of the Charge of the Goddess always stuck with me: “If that which you seek you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.” I have certainly found her within myself- I am of her. Of her. I am not identical to her, and this is where I seem to differ from many.
To realize that I am a part of the Divine does not mean that I am the Divine. Nor is that necessary for Goddess spirituality to empower me as a woman. I don’t need to be divine to be of consequence. I can see the Goddess in the women around me without seeing them as the literal Goddess. Goddess spiritualities are often called “mystery religions” but where is the mystery if the only one we see in the mirror is ourselves? Is our spirituality a tool used to increase our self-esteem and self-consequence, or is it the reality that has inspired worshippers and mystics throughout time?
Humility and worship are two words that have got a bad rap. I think it’s past time to reclaim them for our own use. Humility is simply seeing the truth about ourselves. It shows us our weaknesses but also our strengths. It does not have to mean a negative view of ourselves. It’s understandable where this misconception comes from. So many of us were raised to believe we were sinners and that everything we did was tainted with bad, and that is often called humility. Humility simply shows us the state of things. If humans had more humility, we would not treat the earth as we do because we would truly understand that we are all interconnected. We would not see ourselves above nature; we would see ourselves as the part of nature we are. We would see the divinity in the earth, the Divine Energy that permeates, shapes, and sustains it.
Humility also leads to self-compassion. It reminds us that we aren’t perfect, but neither is anyone else. Only by truly recognizing where we struggle can we treat those parts of ourselves with compassion and understanding. Compassion towards all beings is a consequence of humility because when we see our connectedness, we learn that to have compassion for all beings includes having compassion for ourselves.
Worship does not have to mean groveling at the feet of a deity, telling them how horrible you are and how wonderful they are. Worship is a function of humility, something that cries out from you in awe and gratitude. If you have a humble view of yourself, worship comes naturally. It comes from the Divine within us and reaches out to the Divine that transcends us.
Some state that since most Goddess spiritualities do not believe in fate, that therefore the Goddess cannot be transcendent because then we wouldn’t have a choice but to do what she wants. However, if anything or anyone has free will, it is the Goddess, and she certainly can share that aspect of her nature with us. This is not as black and white as it seems, however. There are goddesses of fate and prophecy; Gaia, Theia, the Morrigan, Varuni, and Isis, for just a few examples. To some extent, this is part of her nature, which is fitting if we accept the role transcendence plays in who the Goddess is.
I have experienced the Goddess as transcendent. I have sensed her in her role as Creatrix. I have felt her motherly presence. I have communicated with her, which was not the same as talking to myself. She is both “out there” and “in here” for me. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way.