Goddesses in the Dirt: Our Lady of Perpetual Fear, Pain and Suffering... just to name a few

I was raised Catholic...sitting Sunday after Sunday surrounded by images of beaten, bleeding saints. And terribly sad women. Most of the images of the Virgin Mary were morose, like this one.

For the first 18 years of my life I heard, over and over again: Lord, I am not worthy to receive thy word. I was taught to beat my chest. Was told I was full of sin before I was even born. Was marinated in all the shame, the sense of being doomed, the pervading sense of unworthiness. I really, really had trouble with that.

As kids, all we know is what we are taught - from our families, our religion, our culture. Yet hearing messages that beat you down long enough will have an effect on you...and they're not always positive. In my case, I felt silenced. And while the church may not have been the source of this, it didn't exactly boost my sense of self esteem either.

There have been many times in life when I lacked the confidence to use my voice. Like singing or speaking in public. Or anything that has to do with being in front of a crowd. For some reason a part of myself shut down. 

Because this undermined my confidence, I've had to work really hard with this part. Sometimes it has made me angry: why do we feel the need to cover up what we perceive as our shortcomings? Why do we fear using our voice? Why do we wear masks and hide parts of ourselves? Is it because we are ashamed of those parts...that if someone found out about them, we would be rejected?

In a very strange way, traveling to Greece over the years has brought these issues to the surface. On several occasions in the past I experienced panic attacks while there, which made me ask: what was it about this place that had that effect on me? And I think I've learned the answer: Greece is home to the god Pan. As the root of the word panic, he is the god who wreaks havoc - not at nighttime - but at the height of the noonday sun.

In the intervening years I've realized that bright light, of which there is so much in Greece, casts the deepest shadows. If you are afraid of your own shadow, then the light will feel unbearable. In a strange way, this country has prodded me to realize that our shadow is where our strength and creativity is hidden. And unlike the church, it has modeled the Divine Feminine in a very different way, in the guise of Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis and Persephone...who embrace all aspects of the feminine, including many the church overlooks or erases: women who are fierce, wise, sexual, assertive, vocal, powerful, solitary, fearless.

So after all those years of staring into the faces of female saints and seeing fear, pain, and endless suffering I realized...

We are long overdue for a new version of the Divine Feminine — one that casts a gentle light, encouraging us to embrace our vulnerabilities, perceived failings and shortcomings. Most of us are taught to fear our own shadow - but what if we learned the opposite? That instead of chasing our shadow away, we could embrace it.... and in so doing find our own strength?  

So this post is dedicated to a new goddess. I have named her:

Our Lady of Perpetual Self-Love and Self-Acceptance (and her irreverent and unselfconscious sister, Our Lady of Perpetual Love Handles, Unbridled Self-Expression and I Really Don't Give a Shit What Anyone Thinks of Me)

Who - instead of shedding a vale of tears - is laughing uproariously.

I wish you all the opportunity to find the courage to look at your own shadow and the wisdom to embrace what you find.

Now go in peace...and live it up. Amen.

P.S. here is her baby photo ;-)

Photos courtesy of Google images

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