Rising Above Adversity

Rising Above Adversity

When I studied at Ocean Seminary College, I took a very interesting course, “Goddess Archetype: A Psychodynamic Thealogical Perspective,” as part of my Feminine Spirituality Masters degree.

The last lesson of the course had us looking at the big picture of how Goddess had influenced us in our lives. I’m uploading my response to it here because it relates to how we as women face adversity in this patriarchy-based world today. The three books I cite are:

Bolen, Jean Shinoda, Goddesses In Everywoman, Harper-Colophon Books, New York, 1984

Spretnak, Charlene, Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, A Collection of PreHellenic Myths, Beacon Press, Boston, 1992

Stevens, Anthony, Ariadne’s Clue, A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1999

At first when I started reading this book (Goddesses in Everywoman) I wondered why the author had chosen to depict Goddesses who became popular after the Greeks changed the pantheon, not only to include male gods, but also to make the pre-existing Goddesses subservient to them as well. I would rather she have chosen the pre-Hellenic Goddesses as Spretnak shows in her book, ‘Lost Goddesses of Early Greece.’  For me, this was almost like a supportive gesture to the patriarchy. But then I read this passage on page 24:

“Thus the goddesses represent patterns that reflect life in a patriarchal culture.”

I realised that this is still the case today with all women: we still live in a culture that elevates the male as all-powerful while the female is downgraded to a lower level in all aspects of our society. It is, after all, a “man’s world.” It was then that my perspective on this book did a complete three sixty degrees.

Archetypal images inform our relationship to the universe and to all other human beings who have lived before, who live now, and to those who will live tomorrow. The Archetype of the Goddess in Every Woman teaches us to see the Bigger Picture of what we go through in our lives as women in a patriarchal world.  As Bolen concludes so brilliantly in her last chapter,

“To be a heroine on her own heroic journey, a woman must begin with the attitude that her choices do matter.”

This, in my opinion, is the crux of the larger lesson to learn from in this book, in Jungian psychology and indeed, in a woman’s life, my own included.  When we believe that what we are undergoing can be related to an archetypal purpose, we are more likely to be able to bear it with courage and hope for the future.

It wasn’t until I started making my own choices that affected my life in a larger way, and that had nothing to do with others, especially men, that I started becoming responsible for myself and living a self-generated, happier life. How was this possible after fifty-nine years of doing the exact opposite?

I met Goddess and I placed my trust and faith in Her ability to help me better my life in an authentic way, seeking integrity more than security.  I had been a “non-heroine” all my life, going along with somebody else’s choices, but now I was making my own decisions from the deepest part of me that I had not been aware existed before. When I met Ocean Seminary College, my life changed for the better because I dared look deeper and larger than what I had so far experienced, which had only brought me dissatisfaction. In the ensuing years I also studied Jungian psychology to understand more of what these archetypes had to teach me. Now Goddess is a personal spiritual reality for me, and my dreams are my teachers and leaders, guiding me to clarity and a peaceful state every night that I encounter them along my journey. I don’t see myself alone and pitiful anymore. Instead, I am strong and decisive.

I love that Bolen illustrates a woman’s encounters with adversity in this patriarchal world with dream symbols of the snake, the bear, the predator, the darkness, etc. For I too have had all those dreams! In Jungian dream analysis, the one who “interprets” (I prefer to call it “deciphering”) the dream looks much farther into the psyche and the unconscious than just relating it to the day’s mere details being relived in the dream. It is that, but the dream is also so much more than just that. The dreaming self does take random thoughts and events from the dreamer’s experiences to bring up elements that are familiar but for a larger purpose: to relate these events to issues that the dreamer has yet to confront or resolve in her emotional, conscious life (Stevens). We all live so much on the surface that dreams seem alien, but they are simply the details of the depths of one’s psyche in need of being made conscious to the ego-mind.

As we relate goddesses, snakes and dragons to what we live in our outer, waking reality, we get a glimpse of the bigger things that life has in store for us: to be forever learning, growing, and shedding the old learned prejudices for a larger psychic perspective that encompasses so much more than our individual life. We are all part of the Collective Unconscious and our individuation adds to its rich wealth of knowledge and symbolic library. If we stay small and don’t accept this fact, then we contribute little. But if we see the archetypes in our lives as catalytic agents that transform and enlarge, then we have so much more to contribute to the world’s Collective Psyche. I for one need this more than ever since I was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and heart problems.

In progress here on this site is a new workshop depicting 13 different Goddesses, each one studied individually for one complete month of the calendar year, or as some call it, the Wheel Calendar Year. The workshop will have a duration of 365 days, enough time for careful study of each Goddess, and will include correspondences, rituals, activities, a private community, tests, a certificate and much more. I hope you who have enjoyed this article will come and join us in the workshop, its debut predicted for March 20, 2023.


#goddess #spirituality #survivor

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