Gods and Goddesses Within and Without: A Response to “The Inner Goddess Controversy: We Are Not Gods & They Do Not Live Inside Us: A Polytheistic Opinion,”by Astrea.
by Rev. Dee
First of all let me say that I agree with some of what Astrea has to say, but I also disagree with most of her assertions. So let’s unpack this article bit by bit and see what it’s all about and why I decided to write about it.
I agree with what she says about Fifty Shades of Gray—utter garbage, and utter misogyny at that. Astrea writes, “Lately, I’ve seen a lot about of buzz on the internet about my “inner goddess” and how to unleash her or embody her. This phrase [inner goddess] appears to have increased after it was featured in the Fifty Shades of Gray books and movies. It’s well known that the author of those books promoted a very wrong kind of BDSM–and it appears she advocates for a wrong kind of paganism as well.”
I disagree with the whole idea that the god/dess is not within as well as without. “Thou art god/dess” has been a part of Wicca and paganism ever since I started in the Craft, which was in the late 1960’s. It’s not some invention of Teen Witch movies. And of course it goes much further back than modern paganism in Hinduism, in which each person honors the god/dess within every other person (raise your hand if you’ve ever said Namaste in a yoga class).
I get very, very tired of people trying to tell others what the “right kind” of paganism is. Like, really, Astrea, who died and made you queen? Well, she bases her theory—that we are not gods nor do we have a godhead within us—on the following: “Ask a high priestess or a high priest who channel the gods what it’s like. They’ll likely tell you that it’s uplifting and exhilarating for a few moments, and then, the deity leaves, and it’s exhausting.” Well, ask the people I know who’ve been ridden in a Vodou or Santeria ritual. Yeah, they’re exhausted too. And this proves what exactly? Ask those who learn to channel deity or spirit and are NOT exhausted because they’ve learned to do it without expending their own energy. Yeah, there’s that too. What’s my point? Rituals are exhausting. Some people can channel and not get exhausted. So?
And then she makes this astonishing announcement: “I expect anyone teaching a class or coaching someone about goddess energy to know about what the gods can and can’t do, and what they will and won’t do.” Uh…really? Wouldn’t you have to be a god/dess to know that? How dare she presume. Wouldn’t you, like, really, need to be much more omnipotent than anyone is to truly know what the gods can or can’t do?
And of course she has to bash the newbies and other writers, which really honks me off. “Their articles and books have created a new tradition, along with a learning curve that they can capitalize on. They ask and answer questions such as who is your inner goddess? How do you awaken her? … Just read the book, take the class, get the coaching sessions, and come to the retreats, of course!” I try very hard not to bash other authors, especially if they’re trying to do something positive, like, say, help to build up a young woman’s self-esteem, something we haven’t been allowed to have for several thousand years now. So, no, I don’t feel this is the “wrong kind” of paganism. And I sure as hell don’t bash beginners. Astrea, you were a beginner once yourself.
And then I read her bio: “Astrea is the author of Intuitive Witchcraft: How To Use Intuition To Elevate Your Craft, as well as the forthcoming book Air Magic: Elements of Witchcraft Volume 2 (Llewellyn Worldwide). She also leads the fire dancing group Aurora Fire and stirs up magic for the Blessed Be Box, the service that ships a "ritual in a box" for new moons and sabbats.” Uh, yeah, and that doesn’t sound anything at all like the books and services she’s bashing, does it? Personally, I don’t see much difference.
In talking about the gods she further states that, “I believe we’re not the gods. We’re humans. We do very human things, like make mistakes, go to the bathroom, grow old, have bad days, and look tired at the end of a long night. The gods don’t do any of those things, as far as I know.” Well, my dear Astrea, you are clearly not conversant in world mythology if you think gods don’t do some of those things. Most pre-Abrahamic gods have very human foibles and make huge mistakes. Why doesn’t the Ifa god Obatala drink alcohol? Because when creating humankind he got drunk and fell asleep, and one of his proto-humans ended up deformed, thus ushering birth defects into humanity, and he’s been deeply embarrassed every since, so much so that he won’t touch alcohol now. The Native American trickster god Coyote talks to his own poop, and apparently sometimes it talks back to him. I guess she’s saying that these stories are all truly mythical—meaning not true—and she could be right about that. Parables and all. But don’t tell me the gods that we look to don’t have human attributes, regardless. After all, we made them.
Yes, so far as we know, all the gods we know from Aphrodite to Zeus we have made. So if they have human attributes, like, say the Abrahamic god who gets mad and sends the Angel of Death to kill a whole bunch of innocent babies, well, someone made that shit up, folks! Maybe they channeled it, or maybe they were a prophet or the divine son of said angry Middle Eastern god. Same difference. But the gods we know to exist only exist because we say so. Can you prove otherwise? Does an anthropomorphic god that looks like an Earth human or other earthly being have any relevance on an inhabited planet hundreds of light years away? Of course not. They must have their own gods, or else they’ve stopped believing in divine beings long ago. Get real, everyone, please. There’s a reason why the book I co-wrote is called The Dark Archetype. They’re archetypes.Who created those archetypes? We did.
But let’s also see what I DO agree with besides her evaluation of 50 Shades. I agree that one cannot claim to be equal with some cosmic god, some being so immense and so powerful and so much more advanced than we are that we can scarcely comprehend it, much less access its power. And that’s why you don’t try to summon Cthulhu, kids. Yeah, please don’t do that. Such beings may exist, and if they do, they may be so huge and utterly alien that we won’t recognize them even if we do see them. They’re most certainly too big to channel. Even some terrestrial gods can’t inhabit a human; Olokun, for example, who is the Ifa orisha of the ocean, never possesses his followers, because no one could hold the entirety of the ocean in his or her head. So in that sense, I agree with Astrea.
But think about this: who made you? What was the divine spark that sent those amino acids into motion? Who told that thing to eventually walk out of the ocean and evolve into a therapsid? What is a therapsid, you ask? I’m glad you asked that question. It is an order of earth beings that evolved from reptile-like creatures in the Permian age. We’re the only ones left. We mammals are the last therapsids, or perhaps the most advanced therapsids, if you want to look at it that way. Maybe God is a therapsid, or at least the gods that we therapsids thought up might be.
Maybe all living things have a spark of the gods; if you want to really be a pantheist, then maybe rocks and all the inorganic elements do too. And I agree that something godlike that created that spark of life is probably too big and scary to inhabit us completely, but quite literally, some little part of it lives in all of us, because we exist and are self-aware.
“We’re made of star stuff,” said scientist Carl Sagan. And as it turns out, we really are. In the Egyptian tradition, gods such as Ra and Thoth are self-created, just like that creation event that barfed up the universe around 4.5 billion years ago. Yeah, so literally, we came into being when it did. And nothing ever created is ever really destroyed, so far as we know (although it’s doubtful anything would return from a black hole). That includes Ra and Thoth and the other gods, and you and me and your cat and dog and budgie. I don’t pretend to know all about the gods, although as far as Djehuti goes (that’s Thoth to you, mister!) I’ve been hearing from him since I was a kid and I still don’t know even a tiny bit of all he is and does and knows. So I would never profess to know “all about” him or any other god or goddess.
The most important thing here is not that you agree with me or agree with Astrea or both or neither. The important thing is that you are a miracle. You really are. Don’t let someone smash your self-esteem by telling you that you are a not a part of the divine or that the divine is not a part of you. You are star stuff. And that’s good enough for me.
Astrea, ““The Inner Goddess Controversy: We Are Not Gods & They Do Not Live Inside Us: A Polytheistic Opinion,” Patheos, 3 Sept. 2020, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/starlight/2020/09/inner-goddess-we-are-not-the-gods/
Melina, Remy. “Are We Really All Made of Stars?” LiveScience, 13 Oct. 2010. https://www.livescience.com/32828-humans-really-made-stars.html.
“What are Therapsids?” Paleontology World, https://paleontologyworld.com/exploring-prehistoric-life-curiosities-q/what-are-therapsids