Goddess: On the proliferation of goddess imagery in popular culture

February 1, 2013 in Shop, Wicca and Neopaganism

Change happens slowly, but when it finally hits, the years of
individual strides and steps culminate in a burst of change. Trouble
is, change doesn’t always take effect in the ways we’d hoped.

When the “goddess movement” was birthed out of feminism in the early
seventies by groups of women passionate about both political and
personal growth, it started with small circles of women determined to
use magic as a tool for change. Leading figures during this decade
included such notables as Zsuzanna Budapest, Shekinah Mountainwater,
and Starhawk. The Wiccan religion, which was first birthed by Gerald
Gardner in the mid-twentieth century, had grown into a viable
alternative religion in both Europe and America. As one of the first
modern Western religions to worship a goddess as well as a god, it was
a logical starting point from which feminists could build their new
faith. Wicca formed the skeletal structure of the new women’s religion,
including seasonal rites and the use of magic, but was altered in ways
that made it truly different. Some continued to include male god
imagery, but a significant variant not only focused solely on the
goddess but made it a women’s mystery religion where only women
attended the rites, only women were taught magic, and seasonal rites
became inseparable from the cycles of a women’s body as she moved from
pre-menstrual maidenhood through her post-menopausal crone years. This
sect came to be known by several monikers, such as Dianic Wicca, Dianic
Witchcraft, and simply “goddess religion.”

One of the primary sacred narratives of Dianic Witchcraft was built
upon the idea that in civilizations past women held higher status than
contemporary society and was only lessened when matriarchy gave way to
patriarchy. Built upon archeological finds of female statuary
interpreted to be goddesses, the idea was birthed first by scholars but
only became the foundation of new religious movements when the idea had
gained a foothold in feminist circles. Many of the scholars (such as
Marija Gimbutas & J.J. Bachofen) who presented these ideas do not
find currency any longer with most academics. This development has
parallels with the larger Wiccan movement, whose own sacred narrative
includes the idea that it has a direct linear connection with
pre-Christian European witch-cults (as proposed by Margaret Murray), an
idea which contemporary academics have long considered unfounded.
However, whether or not the idea of matriarchy is in fact a viable and
factual history is beside the point. The role these ideas play among
contemporary Dianics and Wiccans is as sacred history, a potent
symbolic web upon which ideas for a new worldview and societal change
can blossom and grow. Key factors of this different society for both
groups include empowerment for women and a more symbiotic relationship
with nature.

Witches of either sect understand that there is magic that
happens when symbols become manifest as reality in the form of tangible
objects. First it is only within the realm of the groups that birthed
them – jewelry and adornments with representations of goddesses and
magical symbols, bumper stickers, books on nature religions, etc. -
until the symbols, if not always the idea behind them, seep into a
wider cultural milieu. Items such as those mentioned above move from
esoteric mail order catalogs and small metaphysical shops into the
women’s studies or occult sections of larger bookstores (in the case of
books) or museum gift shops (in the case of deity statuary or jewelry).
Spell candles now find their way into gift shops of every sort. Still,
even these things are perceived by the larger public as fringe items -
possibly even with satanic implications (in the case of pentacles, for
example). A lack of interest may even result in their falling below
their radar at all. Then, arriving with a force that makes it seem
almost sudden, despite the slow trickle over several decades, goddess
symbolism is everywhere. “Good Witches” have become stock characters in
TV dramas from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to Aaron Spelling’s
“Charmed.”

In high end beauty catalogs and stores we find Charmed World’s
spell-casting kits that come with items such as “Wash that man out of
your hair” shampoo and conditioner, Eau de Fortune money-drawing
fragrance designed to release your inner tycoon!” and “Temptress”
bubble bath in hot pink containers. The contact page of their website
bears this caveat:

CharmedWorld is not affiliated with any
organized religion. Rather, it is our belief that there is magic within
all of us. We hope that our whimsical products empower people to be
proactive in their lives and, at the same time, have some fun. We would
also like to stress that our products cannot be used to bring harm to
any one, nor to make any one act against their will. Have fun! And,
most of all, have a “charmed” life!

The text above and at various places on their website
suggest Wiccan influence without being explicitly stated. These pink
potions are still in the broomcloset with regard to their inspiration.
Wiccan influence can be seen in the “harm none” ethic voiced above as
well and in the text of one of the spells: “I beseech thee, dear
Goddess, let it be true. So be it!”

Despite their assertion that products cannot be used to “make
anyone act against their will” their descriptions for their spell kits
belie their stated ethics. The Tie the Knot magical spell, for example,
bears this description:

Would your man rather have a root canal
than discuss your “future”? Do weddings make him comatose? Does he
cringe everytime you pass a jewelry store? Help him lose those
ball-and-chain blues, cast this spell to get to the “I do’s.”

Less explicitly witchy and even more mainstream is Jacqua Girls
“Goddess Gathering Kit.” According to their website, Jacqua Girls
products has “distribution to more than 2,000 prestige gift shops,
specialty and department stores in the United States, England, Canada,
Germany, Scandinavia, France, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong.”
Package details state:

Get all your goddess girlfriends
together for a night of rituals, and beauty to bring out the best in
your life. Includes for 4 people:

  • Juturna Aromatherapy Spray
  • Isis Jasmine Incense
  • Kali Herbal Foot soak
  • Gaia Clay Mud Mask
  • Aphrodite Jojoba Lotion
  • Wish Boxes
  • Hestia candle
  • Bindis
  • Henna Tattoos
  • Invitations

 

 

Women have been gathering for thousands of years
to share in story-telling, ritual, beauty, and bonding. In this
fast-paced world we seldom take the time to gather in this ancient way.
This kit was created to encourage you to gather with your friends for a
meaningful and memorable time and discover your true goddess potential.
So may it be!

Here again a Wiccan influence can be detected in the phrase “So may it
be” and the names of popular goddesses, but otherwise the kit makes no
mention of spirituality. Instead, the intent is to “discover your true
goddess potential.” As goddess imagery seeps further and further into
popular culture, the word goddess begins to shed its religious
implications and seems to connote beauty with a liberal dash of female
bonding thrown in. Here, we make wishes, not magick. Dark and powerful
Kali is relegated to soothing tired feet.


The Go Goddess
game also doesn’t make any mention of magic or religion (though they do
refer obliquely to spirituality and include “chakra-colored candles”),
but does borrow a phrase from Dianic Witchcraft, paraphrased
prominently on their website: “What does a goddess look like? Look in
the mirror. You are a goddess.” Below this, the creators state that the
Go Goddess game is:


. . .an enriching catalyst to realize our dreams, recreate our lives
and fulfill our unique potential.By bringing women together to share
life’s experiences, Go Goddess! is a great way to connect with friends,
make new ones, and realize the goddess that’s blossoming within each of
us.

There are no right or wrong answers, and no
judgments. Go Goddess! is a concept for living, a spiritual oasis that
bathes you in positive, supportive energies, and inspires you to be the
best you can be – to be the best mate, mother, sister, daughter, lover
and friend. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?

Unlike the Jacqua Girls kit, the Go Goddess game
leans more heavily toward female bonding and empowerment than beauty.
This is pop psychology with a Goddess twist rather than either religion
or cosmetics, but it seems clear that our beloved goddess is destined
to attain pop culture saturation as a synonym for beauty – hairless
beauty.


The most audacious use of goddess imagery is without a doubt the Gillette Venus Razor
for women. The television commercial for this product pans over dozens
of svelte women in white bathing suits kicking their smooth hairless
legs to the pop tune lyric “I’m your Venus.” The close-up of the razor
itself reveals a handle shaped to look like a woman’s body with her
arms raised above her, much like the Nile river goddess. The slogan for
this product, “Reveal the Goddess in You” (which is, by the way,
trademarked) suggests that the word goddess, here, refers to a woman
finally free of all that unwanted body hair.

As much as we want to believe in symbols as archetypes that
shape our consciousness as a species, symbols evolve and meanings
change. The fact of the matter is that once the meaning has changed, it
loses some of its power even for those who embrace it. The use of the
swastika by the Nazis has never regained its luster. An extreme
example, to be sure, but the goals of feminist witches have never been
modest. They seek to change the world for the better, but unfortunately
much of the world does not want to change with them.

 

Document Copyright 2001 Spiritualitea.com & Sandra Mizumoto Posey, Ph.D., author of Cafe Nation: Coffee Folklore, Magick, & Divination
(Santa Monica Press, 2000). This article may be reproduced as long as
no changes, additions or deletions are made to the text. All the
information in this paragraph must be included on the document whenever
it is distributed or reproduced.

 

 

 

I Am Grateful and Sweet Gratitude: The Cookbooks of Cafe Gratitude by Terces Engelhart, Orchid, Matthew Rogers, and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra

January 6, 2013 in Book Reviews - Health, Nutrition and Healing Foods

I Am Grateful book coverSweet Gratitude coverNo two books fit the philosophy and focus of Spiritualitea quite so well as this pair from Café Gratitude.  Inherent within them is the idea that food is nourishment for both body and spirit.  Take, for example, the titles of each of the dishes, both at the café and in the book I Am Grateful:

The Café Gratitude menu gives you the opportunity to start practicing saying something new and affirming about yourself by simply placing your order.  All the items on our menu have self-affirming names like I Am Adoring, I am Loved, or I Am Fulfilled, which is how we encourage customers to order what they want.  Then when the servers bring them their food and drinks, they place them down saying, You Are Adoring, Your Are Loved, or You Are Fulfilled!

The recipes in I Am Grateful are fairly straightforward, though a good many of them require you to have a dehydrator. The recipes in Sweet Gratitude on the other hand can seem involved at first they may entail learning to use unfamiliar ingredients such as Irish Moss (a sea vegetable) or learning to create your own liquid vanilla but once youve learned the techniques, the recipes arent as complex as they first seemed and the results are oh so worth it.  In one taste test, non-raw friends sampled the Sweet Gratitude pecan pie side by side with one from Marie Callendars and deemed the former superior.  With regular desserts, you can expect only sin and guilt from your indulgence, but with these recipes you get living enzymes, protein, and healthy fats.    I can personally attest to the fact that even with desserts like these as a semi-regular part of my diet, my previously pre-diabetic glucose levels have remained stable and I continued to lose weight.  What more could you ask?

While of the two books I loved Sweet Gratitude more I’ve been blown away by every recipe Ive tried in it Id recommend getting I Am Grateful if you are deciding between the two rather than planning to purchase both. I Am Grateful not only includes a broad range of raw entrees, salads, sauces and drinks, but also includes some of my favorite desserts from Sweet Gratitude, such as the Pecan Pie and Banana Cream Pie.  I Am Grateful also includes the inspiring story of restaurant founder Terces Engelhart and a bit on the philosophy behind her creation.

I am so inspired by the food of the underlying philosophy of the restaurant, I hope to make a pilgrimage of sorts next time Im in the Bay Area of California where it is located.  Its no doubt a favorite destination of raw vegan pop star Jason Mraz he mentions it in his song Make It Mine (from the album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things) and used a reference to the restaurant as the title for his recent tour.   Like Jason Mraz, I am grateful for many things, and among them are these two books.

Sample Recipes:

The Secrets of Isis – Oh Mighty Isis – TV Show

November 17, 2012 in Magical Children's Classics

oh mighty isis tv show


More on Isis the T.V. Show

 

More on Isis the Goddess

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A Very Brief History of Witchcraft by Isaac Bonewits

November 17, 2012 in Wicca and Neopaganism

Women DancingI am unusually hesitant in posting this essay, for I have some ten thousand pages or so of notes, xeroxes, earlier essays, etc. on this topic, only a fraction of which I’ve been able to scan in and merge over the last few weeks. But the sudden upsurge of visitors to my website last Halloween made it clear that I need to have something, however incomplete, here for people to read. So consider this a “beta version,” if you will, and forgive me for not making it as “perfect” as my obsessive-compulsive habits usually dictate. This essay will be updated continuously over the next few years. Please note that many of the books referenced in this essay are out of print and hard to find, though Amazon.com will search for them for you and many such books are available in online auctions or from your local bookseller.

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The Aries Character — The First Sign of the Zodiac

November 16, 2011 in Divination and Intuition

Aries Symbol

Aries

Passion is never a problem for Aries. Nor is self-assertion. Nor is being downright pushy and tromping on toes if that gets a job done. Aries is long on initiative and ambition, notoriously short on tact — and few will apologize for that. Whoever first said, “Lead, follow or get out of the way,” was an Aries through and through. (Only what he meant was “I’m gonna lead. The rest of you follow. And God help whoever doesn’t get out of the way.”)

Aries people go directly for their goals. They don’t mean to be offensive; it just happens that way sometimes. And they don’t pour much oil on troubled waters when they tell complainers, “I’ve got places to go and things to do. Build a bridge — and get over it.”

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Egyptian Revenge Spells: Ancient Rituals for Modern Payback by Claudia R. Dillaire

August 10, 2009 in Book Reviews - Spirit

Egyptian Revenge Spells

Egyptian Revenge Spells

Obviously this is a tantalizing title, especially for those of us who were taught that practicing negative magick is wrong. Its forbidden fruit, now isnt it, yet as a close friend of mine believes, the motivation for most spellcasting is revenge.

While this book is a fun idea and the title page does warn the reader (in very small print) that it is for entertainment only I have to say I think the author is serious about this stuff rather than just being arch. However, with names of revenge spells such as Cool Me Off and Kick to the Curb you know that Ms. Dillaire was having fun with her ideas and her writing style is entertaining.

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The Stress Management Kit by Alix Needham

July 27, 2009 in Book Reviews - Health

Stress Management Kit

Stress Management Kit

To say that stress is a problem in todays society is to grossly understate the situation. Since readers of this site are assumed to be already actively involved in managing their health, this book should be a great start for anyone who hasnt as yet read a book on stress reduction.

The kit consists of a book, a CD, and two Stressdots . The book gives the same information on stress as many other books I have read, but for the first-time reader, it presents the reasons why stress reduction is necessary and the ways to achieve it in a clear-cut, no-nonsense manner. For example, Chapter Two is all about recognizing the symptoms of stress. In this chapter the author describes the fight or flight reaction that the body demonstrates when under stress–its not pretty, and explaining it works well as an argumentation technique by showing a concrete example of why stress management is important. In addition, three questionnaires intended for self-diagnosis explain the physical, psychological, and behavioral effects of stress.

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Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World by Adrian Butash

July 13, 2009 in Book Reviews - Spirit

Bless This Food

Bless This Food

Bless This Food was a delightful surprise for me. I thought the book would be more of a reference work, something I’d use like a dictionary. I thought I’d look up a particular prayer in the index, read the one prayer, and then close the book until the next time I wanted a new food
blessing.

I’m glad I was wrong. It is more like a fine meal, where every garnish on the plate and every aroma commands attention along with the food.

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Nuts and Seeds (From I Am Grateful: Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude)

June 20, 2009 in Nutrition and Healing Foods

It’s important to buy raw organic nuts and seeds, as toxins are stored iin fats.  Cashews are one of the harder nuts to find really raw.  Typically in processing and removing the skins they are steamed, but really raw cashews are hand-peeled.  We share with you an online source in our resource guide. 

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Chakra Foods for Optimum Health: A Guide to the Foods that can Improve Your Energy, Inspire Creative Changes, Open Your Heart, and Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit by Deanna M. Minich

June 8, 2009 in Book Reviews - Health

Book CoverRather than a traditional diet book that advises you to avoid certain foods to lose weight or lower your cholesterol, this book takes the approach of changing your diet to heal your chakras, and therefore heal your entire energetic system.

It would be easy to assume the book is based on new age fluff, but the dietary recommendations are based on real science about the energetic properties of different foods. The authors argument is that by balancing your chakras through dietary changes, you can recover from illnesses or stress and restore your energy and creativity.

Minich offers a scientific approach to her recommendations, starting with a quiz that indicates which of your chakras is most in need of balancing, and which is the most balanced. She recommends starting your recovery with the healthiest chakras so you build a foundation for healing. She predicts that most modern Americans have severe throat chakra issues.

Each chapter focuses on one chakra in order, and focuses on using that chakra to balance the energetic activity associated with it, such as communication in the throat chakra. It includes the diseases commonly associated with imbalances in that chakra and an exploration of the foods that could be consumed and avoided in order to start the healing process.

Although she argues that changes to your diet can help heal your chakras, she doesnt argue that healing the chakra alone will cure all diseases. It can, however, make the disease easier to manage. In the back of the book, she lists a variety of foods and the chakras they either activate or balance, as well as a list of common health concerns and the chakras they either activate or balance. Finally, she includes a chart of the chakras and the foods associated with them.

The book is designed to allow you to quickly flip through it for the advice you need, or to work through it chakra by chakra in order to heal your entire system. To get you started, she provides healthy recipes for each chakra, most of which sound like tantalizing treats rather than traditional diet food.

This is not a traditional diet book. Its a wellness book and a resource for living a more balanced life through food and spiritual health.

My only quibble with the book was the size of the text. The print is rather small, which can be hard on tired eyes.

 

Purchase Chakra Foods for Optimum Health

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