by Jill Smith
I was delighted when Geraldine asked me to write something for this first edition of the Goddess Pages magazine. I wish her all the very best of luck with it.
There are not that many magazines dedicated to Goddess/goddess spirituality or indeed women’s spirituality; at least not that I am aware of here in Britain. There is the excellent Goddess Alive!
There must be others like myself whose life does not include computers and the internet in any great way, so I hope that one day Goddess Pages may become a paper magazine. How I treasure my boxes and filing cabinet drawers full of old and wonderful magazines from decades ago. It is amazing how the internet reaches all over the world, but it can also be very transient. I print everything I want to read properly not just that which I want to keep. Even long e-mails. But, the Internet has brought my work to many who would otherwise not know of it, so I am not complaining. I just feel that sometimes it is forgotten that the Internet is only one of many ways of communicating, not the only way.
I hope Goddess Pages will evolve into a broad spectrum of goddess and spiritual experience. I myself love to read very personal subjective experiences of goddess and also of spirituality linked to landscape. It is very interesting and informative to read the I would love one aspect of it to become a forum for discussion: the exchange of ideas, the exploration of some of the issues which sometimes seem to divide us, when really our diversity should be a strength as part of a powerful whole. Let us not be afraid to explore our differences in a non-confrontational way.
I would like to read of how others experience goddess. I do not have ‘A Goddess’ or ‘The Goddess’ a bit like a female God. For me goddess is the essence of everything living in the universe – including rocks, water, planets, suns and galaxies! Sometimes there are ‘beings’ who manifest as ‘spirit of place’ in small or larger localities, who seem to have form and identity and who are very powerful companions, teachers, ancestors and guides for me; yet I am often reluctant to actually call them ‘goddesses’. But I know others experience ‘Goddess’ in very different ways.
I personally went through an extraordinary ‘awakening’ and ‘re-membering’ from the mid-70s and especially in the early ‘80s. It was an awakening not only of goddess awareness and a relationship with all of nature, but of my woman-magic, my spirituality as a woman, a celebration of my identity as a woman – and this partly grew from my political awareness.
We are currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the start of the Women’s camp at Greenham Common airbase here in England. The ‘Greenham Years’ were powerful in many women’s lives, not just those who lived at the site, but many who visited or took part in some of the big actions. Those years were life-changing for very many women, who discovered a power within themselves, who discovered a spirituality which was political and a politics which was spiritual, and a powerful spiritual sisterhood with other women. It was a wonderful flowering and it achieved things.
But the Thatcher years changed society in Britain, and not for the good in my opinion; and somehow that powerful coming together of women’s experience got lost again. In more recent times I have felt that those who are political are not spiritual and those that are spiritual are not political. These are very broad generalisations I know and are not meant to be critical of any specific women, but of the state of the society we live in. And I write only of Britain for that is what I know. Things may be a bit different in some parts of the USA where groups such as Starhawk’s are still both politically and spiritually active.
I have not been very political for many years; fighting my own very tiny personal political battles not on the big stage, but I yearn for some of the power of that great sisterhood which manifested in the early 80s and wonder if there is some way we can re-find something like it here now in this world which so desperately needs much magical, spiritual political action to veer us away from very serious dangers. This is a cry from my heart.
My own past 19 years has been a journey from Lunar Standstill to Lunar standstill. There is a lunar cycle of 19 (well 18.6) years. I only became aware of this not long before the previous Major Standstill in 1987. It happened again this year. I returned to the place which is my heart and spiritual home – the Isle of Lewis in the Western isles of Scotland. A place where the low southerly standstill moon is re-born from a mountain who lies like a sleeping woman, a creation ancestress, alive and waiting to rise and walk the earth again. I lived close to her for ten years, visit her often and this year went back to be with her in March, June and July.
In March I stood with a group of people in the Callanish stones on Lewis, in the dark, in the gently falling snow, and I saw the previous 19 years of my life grow from a point in 1987, swell and expand as time passed and then contract to a point again in 2006. Many things were fulfilled in my own life this year and many things feel complete. It is a time of change and I stand waiting for the path to emerge which will take me on the next 19 year journey to where I do not yet know.
I wait with excitement and anticipation and hope that the goddess energy which guides me, teaches me, protects me and challenges me will lead me to others with whom I can once again find a sisterhood which is both spiritual and political.
Is that too much of a dream? We cannot re-create the past. These are different times. But they are dangerous and threatening times, and need our combined strength. We shall see.
I sat to write this article for Geraldine not knowing what I would write and it seems this is what my heart cried out to say!
Blessed Be, Sisters; love, Jill
PS, although I have been feeling thus for a long while, I need to credit the similar thoughts which were put into form in an inspiring talk a couple of years ago by Maggie Parks at the wonderful Exhibition in Bath of the work of the late and lamented Monica Sjöö.