The Goddess, perhaps the world’s most ancient archetype is making a resurrection amongst our generation as the feminine rises towards a power she once thrived upon. As gendered imbalance continues to be combated, a new breed of women are on the front lines, one that recognizes the value of reverence for the Divine Feminine spirit rather than adapting a predisposed masculine set of tools with which to combat the status quo. The injustice of sexism has plagued society for centuries since women were pigeonholed as second rate citizens — where their sacred purpose and reverence was first stripped from them. The aftermath of this wide sweeping downgrade continues to plague our society. Harmony between the sexes remains unattained on a universal plane. Yet women from all over the world are discovering the abundant possibilities dormant within her and buried in the past where the Divine Feminine had a high seat upon the throne of a radiating spirituality. Our study of the Goddess and inquiry of this unequivocal truth brought us here to a series of divine meetings with leading thinker of Goddess Study, Hilary Anderson, Ph.D.
We were invited to embark upon a journey of incredible proportions alongside Dr. Anderson. With these visits came thought stirring, often challenging and ceaselessly illuminating conversation. She invited us into her home to share with us the work that she has dedicated her life to. Her sacred space is adorned with Goddess representations — paintings, an altar, and at least one room stacked to the brim with books pertaining to Goddess Studies.
WS: What do you think is the cultural importance of invoking the Goddess today?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: Well first of all, we have a patriarchal culture and Goddess studies are interestingly interjected into that. And it's not against patriarchy, it's a recognition of patriarchy as it stands. This is what has been going on for thousands of years and most of us didn’t even know that there was such a thing when we were born. We didn’t even know that there was patriarchal and matriarchal way of doing things — that these divisions existed. The call to the Goddess is an awakening from the default patriarchal mode of society that we have been born into. Now in that same way, we must be aware of what lens we use when approaching Goddess Study. From the point of view of any of the social sciences we must be aware of how we set the Goddesses within a particular orientation and acknowledge that particular framework or culture.
WS: Why is it important for the modern woman to explore Goddess study?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: If you don't do (this study) I don’t know where you’re going to find the Goddess. You’re not going to get it in the patriarchy. Who's going to teach you the Goddess in the patriarchy? I used to give all these lectures on the Goddess and at one of them, I brought out the Virgin Mary and I handed out beautiful pictures of her. At the end, one of the women who ran a center for women turned to me and said, 'Well Hilary, the Virgin Mary, what has she done for me lately?' You see she didn’t think the Virgin Mary was potent enough for our time. And if you’re American and you’re in the patriarchal culture, what Goddess are you studying if you’re not studying the Virgin Mary?
WS: As seekers in this new age, how do we discover the Goddess that most resonates with us?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: Our problem in the new age is we don't go deep enough. We don't think its necessary to go into the cultural forms at all. We like to stay on the top, we skim. We say ‘Oh we like Aphrodite, we like Durga, we love Kali.' We don’t know anything about Kali. We would be a hell of a lot different if we embodied Kali as women. We haven’t a prayer! She’s the death Goddess but she’s also magnificent in every way. IF you’re gonna go down into the cultures and get in touch with a Goddess like Kali you can invoke her energy within yourself. How much of this is sweet little new age that doesn’t want to learn the languages of the culture, doesn’t want to know anything about the cultures, they don’t wanna go down there and LOOK? They just want to say 'I love Lakshmi, I love Radha and Krishna together'. Well if you knew anything about that couple you’d know what she went through, she was a divorced woman.
No New Age Woman wants to dig through all this stuff. They just want the goodies. That’s my feeling about it. Because you’ve gotta go down into the culture to get in touch with these major energy fields.
WS: Once we explore the Goddesses, how do we integrate her into our experience?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: We need to get in touch with her powers and strengths. We need to bring what we’ve learned of her into ourselves. We need to be able to pull on it when we need that energy. And when we don't need it we must know how to put it aside, so that we have access to this energy in a fluidic way.
I think for the New Age Woman that really wants to walk around with this great energy she’s got to be able to at least embody one or two of these great Goddesses. For example, how do you integrate Pele, the Hawaiian Fire Goddess into your life? Well I would read her myths, her stories you can read about her and get in touch with her that way. Culture is always a very important factor. Greek culture is one and European is another — when we go up to the Tutonic cultures and we go down into the Celtic culture, Goddesses are very different. In our time we’re global. You integrate the Goddess by understanding the image and the archetype... unless you really study this substance, I don’t know how you can integrate it.
WS: What do you think is the most important message that women today can take from study of the Goddess?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: What I’m wanting to bring you today is that Aphrodite, or Venus, is a sweet, beautiful energy — she’s so honey-like. Her words are so sweet and honey-like that they’re almost hypnotizing. Its almost like when someone falls in love with you and you fall in love with them and you’re whispering sweet nothings in the ear. Aphrodite whispers in your ear. That’s Aphrodite, she is not a warrior Goddess- she is a beautiful rose. Its important for us to have a love dimension. A love, beauty, and prosperity dimension. We also need the warrior. I think its very important for us to have the warrior energy, because these are meant to be fused. We’re trying to fuse this in the culture. The new wave needs to fuse these energies. We don’t want to lose the warrior because we need that energy to make our living and we need that one to wake up in the morning. But we’ve lost a lot of the sweetness and ability to cherish a loved one. It is important for us as women to get back in touch with these elements of ourselves.
WS: Does the Divine Feminine harness sexual energy in a way that is alignment with feminist ideals?
Dr. Hilary Anderson: “We are always thinking in terms of western heritage. If you can for a moment step back and have a look, let me give you a contrast. In the eastern heritage you have the great warrior Goddesses but they are gorgeous and they’re provocative as hell from the point of view of beauty. We (in the west) have the women in Athena garb. Wonderful but always in armor. Thats very different than being in a gorgeous scene where a feminist is riding a big lion or tiger... (searches for an image) here’s our huntress. There's Durga — she’s riding a tiger and look how gorgeous she is. We’re talking about a warrioress and look how gorgeous she is. Sexuality is alive and well.
We’re talking about somebody who is sexual in her own right and is also a warrior. But look how she is depicted. She’s bejeweled and gorgeous. This always tantalized me when I started studying all this. That the distinctions in the cultures make so much difference in the interpretation of the feminine. Sometimes it's because of the patriarchal setting in the west — if you show off your feminine side and you’re provoking sexuality through beauty and maybe language, I don't know, there are all kinds of ways of provoking sexuality, it's a magnificent thing. Sexual energy is the second chakra. It can be very seductive, it can be very beautiful, it can be magnificent.
The feminists say that if you use that energy, then you can promote change. Unless you’re promoting another ideal, you’re not promoting social change. Feminists are really about provoking change. They’re thinking in terms of social change — the sexual roles need to be connecting with shifting things for the feminist point of view to be supported.
What we found over the course of these visits was that we could merely brush the surface of the depths of wisdom Dr. Hilary now intuits. However, should we tune into our own purposes for becoming acquainted with the Goddess. We will be led closer to the answers of our own burning need for recognizing Her. Embodiment of the Divine begins with each of us.
More about Dr. Hilary Anderson
Dr. Hilary Anderson is a renowned lecturer, scholar, therapist, and seminar leader. She is Professor Emerita and a Founding Board Member of California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Her many roles since it was founded in 1968 have included professor and dean. Today she continues her private practice in Los Angeles. She is a leading thinker in the transformative potential of mythological study and has spent her career extensively studying and relaying the Goddess via Integral Psychology, delivering seminars and teaching the art of Tarot. She founded the Universal Way Foundation in 1992 “to support study groups. programs and celebrations that promote self sovereignty and cross cultural regard for all spiritual pathways”.
Contact her via email at Urbanlady1@aol.com
Interview and introduction by Alyssa Aparicio. Alyssa writes to live life twice. As a professional dancer and music journalist, she applies her study of anthropology to the cultural phenomenon of the modern music festival. Alyssa is Creative Director & Co Founder of WildSpice Magazine and Art Director of The Carnavalesque Beauty Movement. AlyssaAparicio.com