Can you imagine if you visited a Christian church and discovered all the parishioners referring to each other as “God”? Even though the Holy Spirit is present in each church, and seen in the loving actions of each Christian, the title of “God” is usually reserved for the Creator.
Many religions have in their doctrine a concept of Higher Power being actively with us, or a part of us. There is a spark of divinity within us all. In India, the traditional gesture that accompanies the greeting “Namaste,” is an honoring of that divinity.
In modern neo-paganism, divinity is no less present within and around us. When I left the Christian church of my youth I never felt I was turning my back on one deity in favor of another. From my perspective I honor the same Higher Power I always have. The rituals are different, the images are different, but the Higher Power is the same. I understand Higher Power more easily as loving mother than angry sky daddy. I think God/dess is big enough to be both, and more.
When I first came to Paganism twenty-five years ago, I never heard mortal women referred to as “goddesses.” The Goddess was our deity, known by many names. We mortal women were her priestesses.
We saw Her face in the face of Her priestesses. We strove to channel Her holy light. But never did we presume to actually be Her. We only tried to reflect and channel Her wisdom.
Now, no day passes that I do not see some reference to women as “goddesses.” A healer describes herself as a “goddess” on her website. A post on a drum circle thanks the many “goddesses” for their fine dancing. A circle invitation reads “calling all goddesses.”
When I “call all Goddesses” I am invoking Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate… To me they are real aspects of holiness, just as are the Catholic saints, or the Christian Redeemer. When I “call all Goddesses” I am not inviting a bunch of my girlfriends to a party.
I can’t help but feel that when we use the term “goddess” to describe ourselves we are disrespecting and endangering the worship of the Feminine Divine. I see this as another attempt to un-deify the Goddess in a way that is more dangerous than ever before, because we ourselves are doing it.
I know I am in the small minority here, but I am sounding the alarm. All Pagans who honor Higher Power as feminine might consider that if we claim the name “goddess” for human women, we may lose the concept of “Goddess” as divine. We shouldn’t need to disempower the face of divinity in order to empower ourselves.
Today there is a great movement to disempower women in the world. I can’t help but see a connection. Modern spiritual women are right to seek respect and empowerment, and right to see feminine divinity within themselves. But if we conceptually become the Goddess, we have made the divine mundane, and have played into the hands of those who want to disempower us.
I know that when people refer to me as “goddess,” it is done as a sign of respect. I appreciate that, but the term “priestess” will do better.
I am not the Goddess. I am Her priestess. There is a difference.