Sunday, June 03, 2007

Embracing the archetypal spirit

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Chandra responds to Arnulfa's articles on faith, logic, goddess-reality and the Crone:

I read with great interest Arnulfa’s thoughts on faith and logic, and her conception of the gods/goddesses as transcendent beings. As a fellow traveler in search of truth and the sacred, I have to applaud her strong belief “that all other human beings are entitled to the same respect in being allowed their own belief systems, whether I agree with them or not.” On the other hand, such a statement almost closes the door for discussion. I’m allowed my own belief system whether Arnulfa agrees with me or not; consequently, she is allowed her belief system whether or not I agree with it. I suppose that’s fair. However, I do have some questions of Arnulfa and her belief system. Is that also fair?

I’m afraid that, even after reading her post, I don’t know exactly what it is that she does believe. For one thing, her entire theory hinges on an acceptance of the binary opposition between faith and logic. Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962) taught us much about shifts in paradigms in the natural sciences. Since that time, it is increasingly difficult to talk in terms of such absolutes as a binary division between faith and logic. It is conceivable that those divisions are false and that one may be very logical and still have faith. After all, I have faith that the airplane I am about to board will fly me safely to my destination even as my logical mind explains the principles of aerodynamics while reminding me of the statistical probabilities of staying airborne vs. crashing. These are not mutually exclusive possibilities. Can’t it be my logic as well as my faith that protects me from the “monsters in the night?” Is faith always the Christian belief in “the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen?” There aren’t many self-respecting scientists out there who continue to support such a binary as Arnulfa proposes.

Secondly, I am not sure where her position that “choice in religion or gods is of paramount importance” in our culture precludes the choice to believe that the very spiritual being(s) she believes in are, in fact, manifestations of the goddess within all things or the same being(s) or even an archetype. Reading spiritual beliefs across cultures can astound the reader with remarkable similarities in myths and legends and forms/types of belief, especially when you include others beyond the “big 5.” Isn’t it equally true that my belief, whatever it is, is a type of religion or god and therefore of equal paramount importance? Even atheism is a form of choice in religion. What of the concept that religion is “the opiate of the masses?” Isn’t that an equal choice deserving of its place?

There are other statements in Arnulfa’s piece that I find troubling, but none more so than her declaration that she is “part of the indigenous tribals, though not of the North American continent.” I want to know which one(s) in order to more fully understand the rest of what she says. It seems an easy way out of a conundrum to say that the gods/goddesses are capable of more than mere humans are capable. It excuses our reluctance to move forward, to take charge, to claim anything as our own. In that vein I can claim the sacred feminine and be excused from the consequences of that choice because there are beings ‘out there’ bigger and more capable than I am and those beings called me to them in ways that prevented my ability to decline. No, I don’t think so. Not for me, anyway. The sacred feminine I embrace is my choice, my salvation, and my responsibility. I embrace the archetypal spirit that flows through us all that allows me both action and agency, and I willingly accept the consequences of both. I celebrate the archetypal mother and crone (that term was reclaimed by feminists a long, long time ago) within me, and I rejoice in my connection to others and to the spiritual foremothers who were voices of reason and sanity in any of the major religions as well as those in the religions of indigenous peoples everywhere, and many of those spiritual belief systems center around women as spiritual leaders and guides, not impure whores.

And, that last statement leads me to reflect on another aspect of the sacred feminine: my independent sexuality and my expressions of it. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, writing in Love in the Time of Cholera, said “nothing one does in bed is immoral if it helps to perpetuate love.” That, too, is an archetypal belief that permeates both the sacred feminine and the consciousness of us all if we will allow its entrée, and in so doing we eliminate yet another binary: that of pure woman vs. the feckless whore.

— Chandra

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