divine feminine

Goddesses at War: Healing Our Fragmented Feminine Natures

Listening to the sacred sound of bees in Maplewood State Park, Minnesota and praying for peace.

Listening to the sacred sound of bees in Maplewood State Park, Minnesota and praying for peace.

When my mother and I began this project of exploring the Goddesses, our faith, and our relationship back in January I thought we could push this baby out before Lent.  Then Lent came and went and we decided we could make this happen in the season of Easter.  But the Goddesses refused to be squeezed into our timelines and demanded that we give them more time and space to tell their stories.  As we were wading through centuries of mystery and mud, the deeper we went, the more strained our relationship became; my mother and I found ourselves feeling misunderstood, hurt, and silent, ironically at the gate we had designated for the throat chakra.  

In the midst of all of this, more violence erupted in our culture, making this work feel almost irrelevant.  But the more I considered the systemic roots of violence, I realized that the return of the Goddess brings the essential healing for which we are all searching.

Many women have issues at the throat chakra from history's long silencing of our stories.  It is well known that the church traditionally focused on stories written by men for men and that history is written by those who won wars.  The stories of women were omitted in the lectionary readings and the characters we often heard about growing up (as we do in many modern day stories and movies) women often play the side kick—as if they are not a subject in and of themselves.  Today women are groomed to lower our naturally high pitched voices in order to talk and act in more masculine ways so that we can be heard and respected in our communities.  We have been trained to act like a man to survive; we divide and conquer ourselves in order to survive in a patriarchal culture where the feminine is devalued.  The Goddesses war. 

Our collective consciousness still bears the pain and taboo of thousands of women who were hung (at the neck, the throat chakra) or burned at the stake for speaking their truth or for simply being a woman who was perceived of as evil during the Inquisitions and the witch trials.  Before the rise of scientific rationalism, women were the natural healers in their families and local communities.  Women were the gatherers of herbs and medicines and the knowers of the magic of human touch, which is often restricted in modern day societies and hospitals where more invasive--even life threatening treatments-- are preferred to natural “weaker” solutions.  Doctors who were unable to heal a patient often blamed a witch for thwarting his efforts.  Women’s wisdom was systematically demeaned and dismissed and then, adding insult to injury, women were labeled hysterical for reacting to their suppression and domination. 

Recently I watched the revolutionary documentary, The Mask You Live In which explores the way boys are raised to repress their emotions.  (Anger seems to be the one acceptable emotion men can express.)  Men share how the worst thing you can call a young boy is 'a girl.' In our culture boys are constantly getting the message early on that being perceived of as weak is a threat to their manhood.  Men are socialized to hate and despise the more feminine aspects of themselves like vulnerability, emotionality and tenderheartedness.  Not only men are taught this, but everyone who wants to get ahead in our country is taught this.  In order to make it in the real world the qualities of compassion and empathy often get in the way of the accumulation of power which often requires that one disassociate from the human family and see the world in terms of “us” vs. “them.” 

This devaluation of the feminine side of our humanity, and the loss of our empathetic relatedness, is fueling our culture of violence and apathy. 

I remember an old friend telling me how he was beat up one day in elementary school and how when he got home his father hit him again for not hitting back.  These are the powerful cultural forces that boys and men are up against, forces that make being perceived of as weak dangerous for all of us. 

If God was never a woman, if being a girl is the lowest common denominator, then how were we ever supposed to learn to value the feminine qualities of vulnerability and connectedness in the first place?  If Eve (the mother of creation) is to blame for sin entering the world, if the Goddesses are only evil witches, if emotions are only experienced as manipulation by a culture that would prefer to stay disconnected so that it can dominate without feeling guilt, then it’s no wonder we are so fragmented by violence today.

When we demonize weakness, the weak appear to us as demons. 

When we demonize weakness we become possessed by violence towards self and others in trying to rid our human family of essentially more feminine aspects of our intrinsic nature. We overvalue independence separating ourselves from the consequences of our actions, from our connection to the earth and to one another, and demonize our natural dependencies upon the earth and community we need to survive, as if any kind of dependence was intrinsically bad. 

Maybe this is why so many people are so angry today.  We were raised to shun weakness in ourselves and in others and now we are supposed to have compassion and love others who embody the very qualities we were taught to see as evil? Many of us lack the internal structures to have compassion for others in need because we have been taught that our true needs were selfish and our weaknesses and emotions were bad.  Many feel that the rules are suddenly changing (and they are) and we are smarting from a world where we did what we thought was right, only to discover it was actually wrong.  Some of us are still fighting that realization because it is a painful one. 

Most of us remember the uncomfortable years of navigating the social pecking order that arises in junior high and high school.  At an early age children are trying to determine (consciously and unconsciously) who is on top and who is on the bottom of the totem pole.  The ones on the top receive our projections of glory, worship, and popularity (and conversely our jealousy—when we can’t also see our likeness in them too) and the ones on bottom serve to hold our disgust, our hatred and our fears (and conversely our compassion—when we can see our likeness in them too). 

Where were you in the social pecking order?  What did you do to remain there?  To rise up or fall?  Who did you break relationships with to make it?  Who did you betray?

As a military child who moved around the country every three years switching schools often, I had the opportunity to experience many different places on the social pecking order totem pole.  I learned a lot about the power of projection and how people in one town may adore you and value your gifts and people in another town may not.  While I don’t know what it’s like to be black in this country, I do know what it’s like to feel the projections of misplaced hatred and shame of a community that perceives you as being at the bottom of the social totem pole.  For one year of my life I held the dark space of the school slut.  I had just moved to a new town before eighth grade, made the wrong friends, and I was sexually abused by a trusted youth leader in the community who was well regarded by the adults.  In his efforts to maintain power and silence me, he spread rumors about me, and before my first day of school in a town where I knew nobody, I was crowned the school whore by my peers.

Every school seems to need a girl to hold this space for the community; it is a difficult place in the human psyche and crowded lunchroom to reign.  Being publicly marked as a slut or a feared minority is like being that piece of sacred earth designated for a landfill.  People need to put their shadows somewhere.  It has taken me a long time to understand that the shadow comes out in order to be healed.  The shadow wants to be integrated.  It is bursting forth from within all of us, and those who are unlucky or brave enough to hold dark space for our most unconscious projections are giving us the gift of consciousness.  Ultimately, they hold the keys to our healing. 

In my darkest days I wondered how I would survive in a world that couldn’t see my true self or value.  On those days, the black female voice has saved me.  Writers like Maya Angelou and courageous women like Rosa Parks modeled to this timid white girl dignity and bravery.  I only had to serve as the school slut for one year—then I moved.  I got to be a cheerleader, I got to experience popularity and white privilege.  I could hide in my looks where others could not hide the color of their skin.  I don’t know how they survive a lifetime of prejudice.  But I want to learn where they find their strength.  I believe they can teach humanity how to recover our dignity against all odds. 

In a culture that raises up leaders and praises them for dominating and controlling others, our human dignity is marred on both ends of the spectrum: the strong and the weak are traumatized by violence.  Those of us who are unable to meet our society’s expectations to be tough and to dominate, end up dominating our souls and our inner worlds, hating our very selves for our inability to conform and be “successful” while still depending on a violent family (as children) or a violent society for our survival.  (See: Stockholm syndrome).

In individuals insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.
-Friedrich Nietzche

Maybe this is why we continue to fear and oppress women and minorities and unconsciously deny what we are doing—we cannot be held personally accountable for following society’s codes, right? We’re not really bad people, right?  Maybe some people don’t view the #blacklivesmatter as a movement for equality; instead they fear (maybe unconsciously) the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. Maybe those in power fear that what they did to someone else will also be done to them.  Maybe they fear (even unconsciously) that the victims will draw from their years of oppression and finally bring forth justice, and this justice (an eye for an eye type) would bring the same death and destruction that was brought to them.  Who can hold all that darkness?  Where do we put that landfill?  (Jesus is like: bring it.  Lay your burdens on me, stop laying them on other people.)  Archetypally this space also belongs to the great Mother Goddess, the black Madonna, the dark feminine that has been the target for centuries of disdain of our own human frailty and femininity. 

St. Paul wrote about the law bringing death, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23).  Unconsciously we do to others what has been done to us; there is no escaping the consequences of our sins, or the effects of our karma.  When we hurt others, we fuel the cycles of violence.  When we deny the consequences of our actions we fuel the illusions and kick the can of healing and reconciliation farther down the road.  Jesus said the greatest teaching is this:  Love God and love your neighbor as yourselves.  (Mark 12:30-31 & Luke 10:27).  To love in the face of hatred and follow this high vibrational way of human life requires that we have a self—that we know what that self feels and we know what that self needs.  But if we are dominating and silencing the needs and feelings of that very self in order to survive in a culture that is constantly telling us not to feel and to simply follow orders so that we can gain power and be successful in life—then we have no idea how to treat our true self—nor anyone else’s for that matter. 

It seems to me that many of us are terrified of facing how we really truly feel.  And who has the time to descend into the basement of our very being and retrieve the soul from the jaws of death? If we aren’t getting paid to do things: like raising our children and salvaging our souls, then it is assumed in our capitalistic culture that these things aren’t really valuable to the greater good. 

Some people decide that things are so messed up that maybe it’s best just to numb ourselves and live lives of denial because we believe we are powerless to change anything. 
And yet, the violence is erupting; the shadows are demanding to be seen.  We are not going to be allowed to stay numb.  We will either have to descend into the darkness we have inherited and do our healing work consciously, or we will be dragged into the underworld kicking and screaming to face what we have left rotting there in order to experience resurrection.  We can't escape it; resurrection must happen in the natural cycle of life.

In a society like ours that has become a world power by dominating and stealing the land from native peoples, raping and pillaging the earth of its vital resources, and destroying others countries and economies for the benefit of a few, we have created a lot of natural consequences which are now returning to us.  We have a chance now to open our eyes and face the horrors that we have created in our quest for power and in our blind ignorance (of things known and unknown, things done and left undone). In our collective efforts to divide and conquer the world, we are now waking up to the consequences of how we have allowed our communities and our very souls to be divided and conquered, if we are brave enough to behold the truth and surrender to our healing while resisting the powers that wish to control us through fear and violence.

In the ancient days hell was not understood as a destination for punishment at the end of one’s lifetime; the flaming underworld was known as a realm of the Goddess who helped humans transform their pain into new life. Jesus also teaches a similar message when he says, take up your cross; our salvation is found in walking through our pain, not avoiding it.  For many of us the descent is a journey down from our rational thinking mind into the wisdom of the heart.  Here the flames of love can make all things new.

Just as the bees are experiencing colony collapse disorder, so too are we experiencing the breakdown of our society.  The totem poles and ladders of power are toppling all around us and giving way to a new emerging form: the sacred circle of the human family where no ground or person is allowed to be a designated landfill for our unconscious shadows.  We are waking up to the holographic universe of which we each hold an essential part.  We are realizing that what we do to another we do to ourselves.  We are connected.  We are integrating what we know.  This is a time of tremendous healing and transformation.  We have gifts to use.  We have voices to share.  We are ascending into our higher natures.  We are leveling up now.  We can do this.  In fact, we were born to do this.


This brings us to our next gate in our Divine Like a Girl, Descent to the Goddess project:  the heart chakra where we will explore the Mary, the Black Madonna and the Goddess Isis.  These images of Divine Feminine energy hold keys to help us descend into the depths of our human suffering, to search for all our fragment parts, and rise to new life again.


Divine Like A Girl
Descent to the Goddess: A Sacred Coloring Journey

Gate Seven
Crown Chakra

Gate Six
Light Chakra
Hecate & Persephone

Gate Five
Sound Chakra
Athena & Artemis

Gate Four
Love Chakra
Mary & Isis

Gate Three
Fire Chakra
Hestia & Demeter

Gate Two
Water Chakra
Aphrodite & Hera

Gate One
Earth Chakra



Artemis: Goddess of the Woods by daughter, Jessica

Gate Five
Sound Chakra


Chant to Artemis

Original Chant created by CathyMoon

This candle I dedicate to thee

Light the way so I might see

Your presence I do call

Mother, nurturer to us all

Hail Goddess Artemis


I dream of leaving the city one day to live a solitary life in cabin, in the woods.  I hunger for silence, for enough quite to hear the music of the birds.  I long for the scent of wet leaves, that brush across my skin and open my pores to misty green air.  I want to feel the dark fertile ground beneath my feet and live in harmony with the natural world.  

I imagine that I would live simply.  I would grow a garden.  The dirt underneath my fingernails would fall into the cracks of my keyboard as I poured out my inspirations upon paper and piano--both creations of the wood the Goddess rules. 

I hunger for privacy, for a sacred place to listen deeply to the seasons, for time to know in my bones the wisdom of the wind and the fierceness of the crow.  

I ache for space to rest when my moon cycle appears.  To swap secrets with women who demand time to self care and grow wise together.  

I long to establish myself in life independent from a man.  I want to discover my own strength. I want to know how to stand on my own two feet, not just hanging at his side or constantly cheering for his success (and hoping some of it trickles back to me someday).  I want to sharpen my own skills and figure out how to kick ass at being me.  

The wild feminine calls women to discover the power of their own nature in a realm apart from the world of men.  This is the energy of the Goddess Artemis.

Artemis is one of the most famous of all the Greek Goddesses.  At times she is also personified as Mother Earth or Gaia herself.  She rules over three essential phases in a woman's life and guides young girls through vital transitions.  Artemis is the Goddess of virginity, menstruation and childbirth.

Artemis is the eternal virgin.  As a virgin, the Goddess is one in herself.  No one else completes her.  As a young girl Artemis asked her father Zeus for this gift, and to rule over the natural fields, mountains and woods beyond the city.  She doesn't want a man, she doesn't need one. She penetrates the world just fine with her swift arrows.  As Artemis can be cold towards men, she can be cold in general to humans as she prefers her solitude in nature to their constant drama.

Imagine little girls 5-10 years old dressings up like bears and dancing wildly in the temple of Artemis. Young girls participated in these celebrations "to get the wild out" before settling down in marriage.  

Before a marriage, young women gifted their chastity belts to Artemis.  Girls would also offer their beloved childhood toys and blankets to the Goddess before their first sexual encounter as a recognition that they were leaving the Goddess' virginal realm as they entered marriage (ruled by the Goddess Hera).

Legends say that after Artemis was born, she helped her mother, Leto give birth to her twin brother, Apollo. For this reason, Artemis is also the tender midwife who helps women through the wild journey of childbirth.

Artemis enjoys her solitude and her single life.  Her creative introverted energy is often found in women writers, painters, and poets.  Her powerful hunting and defending aspects are found in many female athletes, ecologists, feminists, and lesbians.  You won't find Artemis at the center of politics, or maneuvering upon the world stage-- there you would find instead her counterpart, the more extroverted strategist, Athena.  

As an interior wild Goddess, Artemis rules over menstruation, and the sacred solitude that women need throughout their lives to reconnect with their own inner wisdom and natural rhythms.

Artemis reminds us (as did Hecate) that the Goddess has a dark side.  In a jealous rage Artemis slaughtered the daughters of a woman who dared to boast she had more children than her mother, Leto.  The Goddess is paradoxical in her nature (as is God in the Old and New Testaments) as she mothers new born infants, young girls and small animals, and she also hunts game and she kills her favorite male companion, Orion.  

The story of Artemis and Orion may reveal to to us an ancient violation of feminine power. The two became great friends and hunting companions.  Apollo her brother grew jealous of the two (after a tryst with Orion) and suspicious that Orion had tempted his sister away from her eternal chastity.  He sent a scorpion to chase Orion to the sea  and then told Artemis that one of her beloved nymphs had been raped.  When Artemis vowed to slay the attacker, Apollo pointed to Orion fleeing from the scorpion in the sea.  Artemis swiftly directs her arrows towards Orion and kills him.  Artemis rushes off to comfort her nymph and then discovers the truth.  Her brother lied to her and betrayed her and caused her to kill her friend. Grief stricken, the Goddess finds Orion's body and tries everything she knows to revive him.  When all is lost, she sets him in the stars, with the scorpion at his feet.  

Apollo is the beloved light bearer, the dashing intellect who can rapt us all with his wit and charm. As much as Artemis is all wild instinct, her brother Apollo is all in his head (and all in his ego).  He uses his divine powers to sever the Goddess from her joy out of his deep insecurity.  We see this in action today wherever our intelligence or our collective common senses are co-opted to serve that which destroys the earth, our innocence, our children and ultimately our love.  There are many crafty insecure ones in the world who use their power to incite drama, betraying even their own family members to grasp for power they can't ever seem to posses without the integration of the instincts and the wildness of love.  

This ancient betrayal lives on today in the severing that our culture has done in keeping women from sharing in sacred menstruation, the medical industry's unnecessarily over-controlling of the birthing process (sterilized healthcare vs. wild women's instinctual wisdom, the demonizing of midwifes in ages past...), pollution of the natural world, and societies where women's rites of passages have been forgotten and little girls have lost the safe spaces of childhood by being raped or forced to to grow up too fast and marry too young.

A vulnerable aspect of the masculine fears the fact that this Goddess does not need him. (How many feminists must justify:  "I don't hate men...I just want equality..."?) I think many men work so hard in order to feel valued.  I'm guessing that there is an essential aspect of the masculine psyche that needs to be needed.  And it's this deep vulnerability within all of us that keeps us cutting ourselves off from our beloved-- We are so insecure that we don't really trust the beloved or the solitude and companionship that our beloved is calling us to.  Like Artemis, we swiftly kill before seeking out all sides of the story.  We betray our beloved because we are unwilling to behold the true heart of love and our own bruised egos.  

In another variation of the story, Orion is walking with Artemis through the woods when he boasts, "Someday I will kill every living thing."  The tale goes one of two ways, either Artemis kills him or Gaia herself sends a scorpion to kill him. Both versions of the story reveal a violation the sacred private feminine realm by the masculine who is often willing to destroy life at any cost.   

At the same time, we know the dark side of the Goddess and we fear her swift (sometimes irrational) wrath.  We long for the beautiful and gentle mothering aspects of the Goddess and dread her cold silent treatment shadows.  But Mother Nature will not allow us to cut her in two and take the parts of Her we like and throw away the parts we don't.  The Goddess asks us to behold all of her children, to see the light and the dark of all of Her creation and to pursue Her sacred symmetry and discover how it all fits together into Her one sacred creation.  

The grief of Artemis reminds us how we have all participated in betraying the Goddesses' realms of earth, birth, childhood, and the sacredness of women's blood.  This feminine wound is why at times the Goddess lashes out with her arrows in irrational vengeance.  But her passion calls us to remember the ways of our wild instinctual soul and to honor her realms again.  Her strength teaches us the impenetrable safety of the womb and a seed before life blooms.  She protects the vulnerable before their time has come.  Artemis touches our hearts with her innocence. And this is a gift that we do not need to grasp for with power and manipulation.  Innocence is gifted to those who live in right relationship to the truth about their mistakes and act with compassion towards their own tender shoots.