Saturday, June 09, 2007

Celebrities as goddess-replacements

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The fascination with celebrity in American society has crossed the line into obsession. Consider the possibility that this problem could be caused by the lack of variety in the image of the sacred feminine because of the dominant religion in America. Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are taking the place of female goddess images as examples of the chaos aspect of the sacred feminine.

Chaos aspect is the side of our personality and nature that represents behavior that is not normally expressed publicly, like becoming intoxicated, expressing rage, facing our own mortality or expressing intense emotion. This is not necessarily bad, it is just uncomfortable behavior. It is also a representation and acceptance of both the good and bad in life. All life is not beautiful and serene. Life includes extremes in emotion, death, injury and conflict, as well as the positive aspects. A good example of chaos aspects of the sacred feminine could include goddesses and worshippers like Kali, the Maenads and Hel.

The dominant religion in America today is Christianity. The role of the female is limited in this belief system. Socially acceptable roles for Christian women include the good mother, the good wife, the silent and saintly grandmother and the pure maiden. These are order aspects of the goddesses or sacred feminine. In previous cultures and pantheon, there was allowance made for the dark side or chaos aspects of the goddess and the feminine. Because there is no face of the female in Christianity other than the order aspect, women have no role to follow once they choose to leave that path.

The only representation of a chaos aspect would be the bad girl or whore in the madonna/whore syndrome. And this aspect is simply a representation of a male fantasy, not a true aspect of the sacred feminine. Females in America today have few choices if they chose to step outside of these roles like celebrities do routinely. Thus the fascination with celebrity party behavior like that of Paris, Britney and Lindsey. If you want to know the truth, their behavior sounds like that of a group of Maenads to me. Maenads were the followers of Dionysus, the god of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, so to speak. They indulged in violence, blood-letting, ecstatic intoxication and sexual activities. The stories of their behavior were classic examples of behavior under intoxication by alcohol or drugs.

Add into this mix, the media cult of youth worship and you have young females who are being looked up to as role models with no idea of how they are supposed to behave. They have all the privileges of position bounded by public adulation but accept none of the responsibilities because they don't have any role models for chaos behavior that is socially acceptable in this culture. Traditionally, the gods have been the role models, but when you have a one sided culture where women are not represented in the face of the god and there is not an option for chaos behavior to be expressed, then roles become warped. Only the Madonna, i.e. good mother image or the pure maiden, which as order aspects do not threaten the dominant culture in a society, is acceptable. If you notice, the Madonna is a totally non-sexual being, like the maiden. She conceived a child while still a virgin. So instead of sexual pleasure with a god, she "immaculately conceives" a child, a physical impossibility. In American society, a woman is not allowed to be sexual, express anger or act out destructive urges unless she fits the media image. But women have as many facets as the goddesses that have been worshiped throughout history no matter what their age.

A prime example is Madonna, the performer not the mother of god. She appears to me to represent the aspect of Kali, who is the universal mother but is also fierce in battle and passionate in all arts, especially dance. Kali is an intensely sexual being in her relationship with Shiva. Legend says that she destroyed the universe during orgasm. Now that is one I would like to try. I can also see Madonna trying to express that type of energy. She is a performer that is always on the edge, trying to shock in order to get a message across. She is openly sexual and blunt in expressing opinions and emotions in public. Yet Madonna is also a strong, nurturing mother. She openly expresses her spirituality in alternative fashions because there is definitely not a place for the likes of her in the Christian pantheon. However, if you will notice, there is not as much popular fascination with her as regards tabloid coverage since she is not young anymore. As representing a chaos aspect of the sacred feminine, there is much to be admired about Madonna Louise Ciccone.

Another celebrity/goddess aspect pairing could be Angelina Jolie. She would appear to be a match for the goddess Hel. I don't mean the Christian hell but the Norse goddess of the underworld. Hel has a divided aspect. One half of her is strikingly beautiful, while the other half is described as being blue/black or sometimes decomposing. That is life itself. Half is lovely and serene and the other half is darkness, strife and death. Hel is the ruler of the underworld and her fiefdom is icy cold. With her beautiful exterior combined with her rather bizarre past antics and now her work as a
UN goodwill ambassador to Third World Countries, Jolie does draw attention to both of the extremes in life. She goes from the glamor of the red carpet to the slums of a poverty stricken country where children die with swollen bellies from malnutrition. And so she confuses the celebrity watchers and other members of the dominant culture by refusing to stay in one role or class. Hel was the child of a god, Loki and a giantess. By adopting children from these Third World countries Jolie seems to be trying to create a safe haven for them, much as Hel does for those of the Norse
who died of sickness and old age. So even though a compassionate mother, Jolie does not fit any of the socially acceptable molds of our society.

If you will notice, all of these women are considered outcasts to a large extent, from the dominant culture. They spend their lives in the brilliant glare of our obsession with celebrity. Their behavior is not consistent with what is considered appropriate for a female in a predominantly Christian culture. And to be honest, most of them seem not to care. Well, with the exception of Britney that is. She seems to be caught in an hell of her families making when they encouraged her to engage in a career in the public eye at much too young an age. But that is indeed another subject. She is caught on the crux of a dilemma. Should she indulge in maenad-like
behavior, which feels good, or should be a pure mother/maiden and gain favor with her family and society. And is it possible that she is being driven mad by the gods? That is typical maenad behavior. But I digress yet again. If these and all other women had the examples set by previous cultures in their goddesses, instead of a primarily male dominated religious structure, perhaps we could be more accepting of those women who live their lives in the public eye as being aspects of the goddess, instead of outcasts of the goddess.

— Arnulfa

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