I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the Divine Feminine really means for me.
My relationship with my mother in this life is less than happy. She has a very stunted idea of what it means to be nurturing. She loves talking about how she fed me and changed my diapers, but when I needed someone to tell me it was going to be okay, instead I got someone who ridiculed me, ignored my emotions entirely while making hers all-important, gave me a “well, that’s life” speech, or catastrophized my feelings into yet another sign of a mental illness I didn’t have. I have a mother, but I don’t have a Mom.
That could be where it comes from in this life. I never felt attracted at all to the white-bearded patriarch of Calvinism because I had a father I frankly trusted a thousand times more than the severe, secretive, restrictive, vindictive, fickle, and cruel deity that reminded me more of my mother’s unstable, narcissistic, victim-blaming attitude than of a truly loving father. Like my mother, the Calvinist God gives you a lot materially, then expects you to love them even when they set you up for failure and then make your life miserable when you inevitably stumble. That’s not love. You can’t pull the wool over someone’s eyes about what love really is if they’ve been truly loved by someone, or what a good father is when they’ve already got a good father. My mother didn’t have a good father; maybe that’s why she finds it so easy to embody all the worst traits of the Calvinist God.
For a few brief but happy years I thought I’d found a goddess to fill the void, in the goddess archetype of the witch. I practiced an eclectic religion derived from British Traditional Witchcraft for a while and it was really fulfilling, at first. I observed the Sabbats, drank mead around a campfire, danced naked in the forest under a full moon, and had a grand old time howling back at the coyotes in the Ouachita National Forest one Yule.
Granted, there were other signs that led me to think this was the right path. The most prominent was a trip I took in 2005 to the New Forest. I’d been through once on my way to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu but I felt drawn to it somehow and vowed to come back and give the region a better look. Later, I found out that the New Forest had been the wellspring of the Pagan revival in the 20th century. Later still, I realized from the photos I had taken that I wasn’t looking for the sacred grove of the New Forest Coven, but for WWI memorials and for John’s home… my home. I never found it because I didn’t know where to look, and if I’d gotten as far as the Somerset countryside instead of stopping in the New Forest, I might have found it.
In the end, the romantic theatrics of the circle, the chalice, and the blade lost their luster for me when I recalled what happened to me on the Western Front in a life before this one. To paraphrase Sir Edward Elgar on his own great disappointment, my heart was incapable of any tender feeling of religious devotion after that. I can’t even listen to Pagan music any more without feeling jaded, which is a shame because I discovered some talented artists and bands in the Pagan community, like S.J. Tucker.
And yet, the curious thing I’ve seen is that throughout several- though not all- of the lives I’ve lived, I had some sense of the Divine Feminine, and it makes me wonder just how deep the tendency runs within me and why.
In the 13th Century, I was a devout Catholic at a time when Mariology was becoming increasingly popular, and I embraced the Epicurian virtue of the Troubadours while never once straying in my belief. I even was supposedly the subject of miracles involving Mary, but whether there is any truth to this or it is merely a romantic invention from Flores Historiarum, I might never know for sure even if I do remember because I might be inclined to distrust my memories.
On the off chance I was John Dowland (which is highly speculative since it’s based on a lot of “ifs”), I was even Catholic at a time when it was an unpopular choice.
For a very long time I was a Protestant of some sort. That was almost certainly my religion in the 18th and 19th centuries, and for much of the 20th (unless I discover that John was a member of one of the many secretive Pagan groups in England at the start of the 20th century).
Now, I cannot be sure I was Philip K. Dick and I’m forever in doubt that I even possibly could have been him. But if I was, then that adds something to it because Phil was a Gnostic, a believer in a true god and in a female figure, whom the Gnostics often call Sophia. For him, Sophia was always a dark-haired girl, the image of his sister who died in infancy. But there was also a maternal, nurturing aspect to her. Both aspects can be clearly seen in the character Zina in “The Divine Invasion.” Incidentally, like me, Phil also had a rather unhappy relationship with a less-than-nurturing mother.
So what am I to make of this? If I took the lazy, a priori argument I could say that because I’ve believed across lives, it must be true because it fits my conception of truth, and I have been worshiping the same mother goddess this whole time. But I also believed in other things in past lives and in my younger years in this life that I no longer believe are true. I’ve been led astray by a priori arguments and I’ve believed in things that didn’t serve me, and to my detriment.
And yet, there’s no doubt I want to believe. I hunger for a solid reason to believe in a nurturing mother goddess, because that’s exactly the shape of the void in my life. That’s why I cry real tears when I hear Schubert’s Ave Maria. That’s why I still can’t listen to S.J. Tucker without feeling like I’ve been robbed of something I used to feel when I heard her music. That’s why my eyes and ears are still open to whatever divine force would have me.
So far, none have called, and I have no memory of Phil’s experience in 1974 which could possibly mean that the events of early 1974 were not a divine revelation, but a mental break or a ministroke after all. It could also mean that the Philip K. Dick who was born in 1928 literally died on February 20, 1974 to be replaced by an entirely new being in the same skin, a transfiguration by divine grace which would make my soul nothing but undesirable leftovers cast off during that transfiguration.
Or it could also mean that I was never him and I’m full of shit for ever thinking I was him in the first place. Occam’s razor would certainly favor that conclusion, though it would also require me to ignore an increasingly dense cluster of weird coincidences and circumstantial evidence as if they meant nothing which, though rationally defensible, becomes difficult when the circumstantial evidence all points one direction.
Perhaps I’ll never know. Phil spent his remaining 8 years trying to figure out what was going on, and never did come closer to an answer when he died of a stroke at the age of 53. I might spend another 80 years and die of old age, having come no closer. There are some things a human lifespan is just too short to do, and working out what the truth really is behind all the smoke and mirrors is one of them. But I’d like to think that one day, I’ll know for sure if there really is a cosmic mother looking out for me.