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What Would the Goddess Do?
Belief Net Website ^ | September, 2001 | Starhawk

Posted on 10/12/2001 12:08:13 AM PDT by Karl_Lembke

Sacred Ground


What Would the Goddess Do?

Here are some suggestions of how to embody the energy of the Goddess in these troubled times.

The world has changed since Tuesday, September 11, 2001. All of us have come face to face with death on a massive scale, with the immense power of the forces of destruction, with our fragility, and with fear. The loudest voices around us in the U.S. are calling out for retaliation and revenge, led by the president and most of our public officials. In such a situation, what would the Goddess do?

In the Pagan tradition that I practice, the Goddess is not a role model. She's the great forces of birth, growth, death, and regeneration that move through the universe. In thealogian [a feminist theologians] Carol Christ's words, the Goddess is "intelligent, embodied love." Her many aspects are the faces we put on these forces so we can interact with them. She is immanent within us as well as in nature. So for me, the question shifts and becomes, "What can we do in the name of the powers of creativity and regeneration? How can we intelligently embody love in this crisis?"

First, we can mourn the dead. Death kills the body but not the spirit. Thus the prayers and energies people of all religions have been offering truly help the spirits of the dead pass to a place of peace.

We can support the families and friends, who have lost someone, by offering comfort and practical help, by being willing to listen, by sending prayers and love.

We can feel our grief. Our grief is not just for the dead, but for the world that existed before last Tuesday. Grief can be an opening; it can make us rethink our values and our priorities, and make us more compassionate.

We can speak for justice, not revenge. Retaliation is the quick fix that might restore our sense of being mighty and powerful, but can't actually make us safer. Revenge will simply exacerbate the tensions that led to the attack. If we bomb civilian populations, if we kill innocent women, men, and children, who had no part in these activities or voice in their governments' decisions, we become terrorists ourselves. The intelligent, embodied love of the universe does not value some groups of people over others, does not weigh the lives of Americans more heavily than the lives of Afghanis.

Witches know that words have power. If we continue to call this attack an 'act of war,' we turn the perpetrators into martyrs and heroes. A criminal act of murder is seen as despicable, but an attack on the heartland of the enemy in wartime is seen as admirable. If we go to war over this, we dignify the perpetrators. Instead we should call for them to be brought to justice and tried in a court of law.

Justice restores balance. But to wage justice, we must also look at ourselves. If we begin a campaign against terrorism, we must look honestly at the many ways in which the U.S. has supported and uses terror as a political tool. When the Israelis assassinate Palestinian political leaders with U.S.-made rockets fired from U.S.-funded helicopters, when we support death squads in Colombia, are we not supporting terror? Our bombing of Iraq's water system and our sanctions cost the lives of 500,000 children a year from contaminated water and lack of medicine. The CIA trained bin Laden and funded his group from 1979-1989. We supported the Taliban and helped put them into power as part of our Cold War against the Soviets.

These are painful issues to look at because they undercut our belief that the U.S. is a free and just society. But only by facing hard truths can we grow. And I do believe that out of this terrible time can come growth and transformation. The Goddess, who is the cycle of rebirth, teaches us that death is followed by regeneration. We need to hold that possibility in our minds through the moments of fear and despair.

As Witches, we know that energy follows imagination and leads to manifestation. We need to imagine a world in which love can flourish and the cycles of regeneration are cherished. We need to envision a world at peace.

We can speak and act for that vision. We can embody it in the ways we speak and treat each other, in every action we take. And we need to take action. We need our voices to be heard. When we speak out, we may receive unexpected support. My friend Nancy went out with her children in her small town and held a peace banner on an overpass, just a day after the attack. They expected to receive hostility or even threats, but instead people cheered, honked in support, or came over and said, "I'm so glad you're doing this. I was afraid to speak out. Can I join you?"

What would the Goddess do? Ultimately, any answer I give to that question is more honestly what I would do, what I urge you to do: Hold the vision. Speak for it. Act for it. Don't make decisions out of fear. Take risks because there is no longer any safety in inaction. Write letters, make phone calls. Organize your neighbors. Fill the streets and connect with one another. In times like these, we need support. Create places of healing, rituals, circles where people can come together and speak of how they feel. We can be the intelligent, embodied love of the Goddess for each other. Right now, we need each other as never before.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
When I read this, I had to write a rebuttal, which I posted on Belief Net. Here, for your amusement, is what I wrote...

Firstly, thanks to Starhawk for presenting a challenging piece.

In times of crisis, it is well to ask "What would the Goddess do?" As Wiccans and other Pagans, we have dedicated ourselves to the Goddess, and in most cases, to the God as well.

Starhawk describes the Goddess as intelligent, embodied love. But having mentioned that She embodies, as well, the "great forces of birth, growth, death and regeneration", she pays very little attention to the destructive aspects of the Lady.

Love manifests in countless forms. There is sexual love, the love of mother and child, love between brothers, the love of "family by choice" -- covens, lodges, and other very close working groups. There is the love of country, and the love of an ideal. Love is not always nice and fluffy. In many cases, the emotion of love is strong enough that those who feel it can make the conscious choice to die for love -- or to kill.

If you want to see love at its grisliest, stand between a grisly bear mother and her cub. I guarantee you won't stand there for long. If we had manifested that sort of love on September 11, Afghanistan would be radioactive slag today.

Love is not always pretty.

Revenge is also not pretty, but it has its place. Most Pagan traditions teach of the law of return, that what you put out will come back into your face. The most basic instinct in humankind is the desire for balance, for retribution. Let that which is given to me be sent back to him who gave it. On its positive side, we all see the beauty of this impulse. Those who do good to us receive good in return. We do favors to others, and receive favors in return. Revenge is not always as beautiful, but then neither are death and decay.

Both are critical parts of the wheel of life and death. To stop any part of the cycle is to stand athwart the entire Wheel. This never works for very long.

Webster's Ninth New International Dictionary traces the word "revenge" through a lengthy path, to vengeance and vindication. Ultimately, these trace back to the Latin word for a claimant -- one who claims that a wrong has been done, and seeks to restore the balance. Revenge is the payment due for a wrong done someone. "Justice", oh the other hand, traces back to the Latin word for "right" and "lawful". The main difference between justice and revenge is that justice requires a judge. This implies a system of laws that holds sway over all parties in a dispute. If any party stands outside the reach of the law, justice cannot be had.

Retaliation may or may not be a "quick fix". When we finally entered World War II, it was, at least in part, retaliation for the bombing at Pearl Harbor. We poured resrouces into the battle, and eventually the enemy was left in no position to continue the fight. To date, we have not seen any willingness by either Germany or Japan to restart the war.

In addition to ending German and Japanese agression, the war had a few other effects. There's a good chance that some of the people reading these words have relatives who survived the Nazi Holocaust. In many parts of Europe, as many as 90% of the Jewish population was wiped out. The world Jewish population went from 18 million to 12 million in less than a decade. Stopping this "final solution", even at the 90% mark required many things, including the bombing of civilian populations. Perhaps we shouldn't have done this?

The history of US involvement in the world outside its borders is long and complicated. None of us has the whole picture, and very few are qualified to offer more than opinions, based on which side we happen to approve of most. Ultimately, living as I do in this country, and having, at least, not chosen to leave it, I have chosen which side I'm on. In this time, I say it out loud. I am on the side of the USA.

"These ... issues ... undercut our belief that the U.S. is a free and just society." It is said that the best is the enemy of the better. That is to say, those who reject everything that falls short of perfection will reject any improvements.

It is vitally important to remember that the terms "free" and "just" are relative terms. No society on this planet has been perfectly free and perfectly just. No society this side of the Summerland ever will be. This does not mean that I am indifferent as to which society I live in. The U.S., along with most of the Western world, is freer and more just than the alternatives.

Certainly, I would not want to live under the Taliban, or in other states that enforce their notions of propriety upon their populations. Those who heard Bush's speech to the joint session of Congress heard a list of the features of Afghanistan's alternative to U.S. culture. "You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. Men can be jailed for if his beard is not long enough." In addition, women may be attended only by woman doctors, and since women are not allowed an education, it means that women have no access to health care.

I think we can all guess how Starhawk (or I, for that matter) would fare under the Taliban. For all her problems, I prefer to remain a citizen of the U.S., and work to improve that government. At the very least, I have less work than I would under the Taliban!

The U.S. has done a great many things that haven't been pretty. But we've also done a great many things that have been glorious. Eleven score and five years ago, our forefathers created a nation based on the ideal of freedom. We've fallen short of the ideal, but then, if its attainment were easy, it wouldn't be an ideal. We've made mistakes, we've failed to keep pure our highest ideal. Some decades, we've failed even to strive toward it.

But let us look at the bottom line. The freedom that we do have, and the justice we can effect, have created a freer, wealthier, and more kindly society than the one that seeks to destroy us. Those who struck out at the World Trade Center attacked not only the U.S. and her policies, but they sought to strike a blow against the spirit of freedom and the power of choice.

In a pure free market (another ideal, striven toward but never attained), a trade occurs only when both partners agree. A higher authority does not have any place in the deal, either to command the transaction take place, or to forbid it. Higher authorities hate that.

There is a totalitarian impulse in the world, which causes people to take power over others, and to impose their will over the masses. They claim that these masses are too stupid, too ignorant, too unsophisticated, to make their own decisions. In Communist regimes, the government has to tell the people what to make, how much to make, where it goes, and who gets it. In Islamicist regimes, the religious police dictate the minutest details of correct behavior, and protect the masses from foreign ideas that might lead them into sin. They take charge over the masses because only they have the knowledge, understanding, and judgement to make the correct decisions. They know best, and will use whatever force is necessary to enforce it, all for the good of the people.

We are at war against this impulse. We did not go to war, it came to us. It is a hard truth that in any difference of opinion, both sides are required to maintain a peace; only one side is needed to maintain a war. My sense of the country's mood is that we'd be more than happy to drop all thoughts of war, if we could only be assured that the extremist governments in the Middle East would do the same. If you don't believe this, I ask you to consider one question: What is the current state of our war preparations against Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom? All of these countries have been on the other side of shooting wars with the U.S. All are now allies, and there is no thought of going to war against any of them.

We remain a peaceful country, waging war only against those who threaten us. We remain one of the freest of countries, and one of the most prosperous. We are one of the nicest -- many immigrants from the Middle East have been expecting pogroms. What they have not been expecting, what they've been astonished to be on the receiving end of, is support, sympathy, and love from the rest of the country. Those who would target people of Middle-Eastern descent as scapegoats are vastly outnumbered by those who offer support, often stopping to ask if they're OK, or do they need anything.

The many faults of our country may be painful to confront, and they will require lots of hard work to repair. But the bottom line is still pretty good. We may measure the bottom line against the numbers of people who will risk everything to come here. We have freedom, prosperity and human decency which millions of immigrants every year attain at the end of desire.

1 posted on 10/12/2001 12:08:13 AM PDT by Karl_Lembke (
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To: Karl_Lembke
Someone's going to put a hex on you.
2 posted on 10/12/2001 12:15:13 AM PDT by capitan_refugio
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To: Karl_Lembke
The many faults of our country may be painful to confront, and they will require lots of hard work to repair. But the bottom line is still pretty good.

For a nation state to exist it must be amoral. There is no room for morality OR immorality when it comes to a nation’s survival from outside threat. Morality or the lack thereof is the individual nations' responsibility towards its own citizens or "subjects" as the case may be. No nation state has any obligation to any other nation state outside of contractual agreements or treaties.

3 posted on 10/12/2001 12:17:10 AM PDT by Texasforever
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To: Karl_Lembke
What would the Goddess do? Ultimately, any answer I give to that question is more honestly what I would do, what I urge you to do: Hold the ___________.

I think starhawk has been holding and stroking something far too much. Maybe he needs to set his sights down from "Goddess" to "Beer Commercial Quality Model".

4 posted on 10/12/2001 12:23:28 AM PDT by L,TOWM
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To: Karl_Lembke
It occurs to me that this may not be the best time to dwell endlessly on the "faults" of our Country.

Also, this New Age pagan/wiccan/moron nonsense is just crap. Sorry to break it to you, but you are stupid.


5 posted on 10/12/2001 12:23:47 AM PDT by RANGERAIRBORNE
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To: Karl_Lembke
I get tired of the same old gramcian sixties radical ideology recast in 50 different ways.

To demonstrate my point i will invent a new ideology of this type in a few words. We are going to call it Meteorism. Watch a few issues of the PBS show "Thinking Allowed" and you'll be able to BS your way to communist revolution as fast as the best of em'.

< Begin BS >

Meteorism is an old and sacred practice that was origionally practiced thousands of years ago by tribes from around the world. It believes that we humans are products of the vastness of outer space and empowered with the stuff of the universe. To get in touch with ourselves we go to meteor craters and pray to the sacred rocks around us which traveled from so far away and are our fathers and mothers. These rocks are feeling the terror of being removed from their natural eternal state by our GREEDY WESTERN CAPITALIST material needs. We seek instead to return to a simpler time were we can get back in touch with the ancient mystery of these rocks and through their power become mightier than our lowly earth selves and advance to a higher state of humanity were we can care for all comiscly born beings equally on the earth without greed or suffering in an equal one world alliance of those who care everywhere [hint: Global Socialism]. Come join us as we go and pray in the sacred meteor crater and worship the special power of the rocks. We will learn from the rocks the wisdom which will bring about the glorious enlightmenment [hint:communist revolution].

< End BS >

And there you are one more socialist based cookie cutter garbage spiritual belief created in less than 10 minutes.

6 posted on 10/12/2001 12:26:08 AM PDT by Odyssey-x
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To: Karl_Lembke
The One True Goddess:

(courtesy of

7 posted on 10/12/2001 12:32:11 AM PDT by Skibane
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To: Karl_Lembke
worse than barf! Projectile Puke!
8 posted on 10/12/2001 12:33:43 AM PDT by woollyone
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Skibane
Fashion plate and giver goddess!


10 posted on 10/12/2001 12:42:25 AM PDT by Mercuria
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To: Skibane
Oh...BTW...MY favorite quote of wise insight from the Giver Goddess Jooooooody...

"Did you ever go out on a blind date...because you were too LAZY to COMMIT SUICIDE?"

11 posted on 10/12/2001 12:45:20 AM PDT by Mercuria
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To: Mercuria
Although a perfect example of a Beefy Burrito Of Manhood myself , I am nonetheless drawn to the altar of the Queen Fashion Plate — There's just something about a well-honed Horner that really does it for me...
12 posted on 10/12/2001 1:14:12 AM PDT by Skibane
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To: Skibane
13 posted on 10/12/2001 1:21:43 AM PDT by Mercuria
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And I thought only fuzzy brained women go for this Goddess stuff!
14 posted on 10/12/2001 5:03:43 AM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: Karl_Lembke
What Would the Goddess Do?

Why don't you ask Mercuria yourself? She's right here.

15 posted on 10/13/2001 7:08:43 AM PDT by lowbridge
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