I emphatically do not understand this. How can a woman on the one hand lyrically proclaim not just the equality, but the apparent spiritual supremacy of women – and then in practically the very same breath, choose to kneel at the feet of a male deity that demands not just submission, but has a brutal history of violent suppression of both women and dissidents? When will she admit it’s time to just walk away from the abuse?
Searching carefully, I find one single page in the entire book which seems to attempt explanation of this contradiction within Weber’s work. If I am interpreting her writing correctly – and I have no guarantee this is the case – the reason Weber gladly and consistently falls back onto an androcentric, monotheistic male deity is simply because: the concept of Goddess “caused inner turmoil because of her lifelong struggle to understand and resolve the tension between her own mother and herself…. [her listeners] demonstrated both empathy and relief at having ‘God the Father’ returned to them in a community of women most … had expected would be ‘beyond God the Father'” (50).
So… this sounds like she eschews admitting Goddess as peer to God… because of unresolved issues with her mother? I’m not sure, but if that’s the case, a) this sure explains the horrific and patriarchal view of the Mother as potentially smothering, and b) I can no longer recommend this book to other women. Surely questing for the Self includes how that Self relates to others?
Weber later observes without any apparent shred of irony, “Organized Western religion has limited God to the masculine, and it is not because ‘he’ is masculine that we suffer but because ‘he’ is limited” (50). If that is the case – if human fears limit the deity and cause our suffering – then why does she continue and promote those very limitations?!
I was absolutely astonished a few pages later to find the exact gendered dualities – which Weber had consistently insisted had to be characterized as either masculine or feminine – all neatly drawn up into two lists to describe the female archetypes of Virgin and Mother! She describes the Virgin imagery as focused consciousness, self motivated, purposefully energetic, emphasizing thinking and order, living linearly… and, just as beautifully descriptively, she notes the conceptual imagery of the Mother is diffuse awareness, motivated by the needs of others, productively energetic, emphasizing feeling and chaos, living in cyclical or spiraling time (159).
Why even bother trying to create a falsely gendered duality here? This is precisely why I so intensely dislike the gendering of concepts and inanimate objects: it’s neither necessary nor accurate. Mostly what it does is allow completely unrelated value judgments to creep in, and I cannot condone that. Frankly, I find Weber herself consistently (and unwittingly?) disproves most of her more androcentric assertions. Her consequent fascination, therefore, with the misogynist Christian mythos — despite her apparent love for the Goddess and her declaration that women should not be victims — utterly bemuses me.
Ultimately I choose to interpret this strange data through the lens of the Goddess herself: Her myriad complex and often contradictory aspects offer me more options for subtlety and spiritual flexibility than a rigid male monotheism’s strictly enforced (and usually incorrectly defined) binaries. I do not understand why Weber chooses to remain within the system she herself proclaims is abusive and damaging to women. True, she calls on women to change the Christian community – but it’s been about two millennia now, and if anything the Roman Catholic Church appears to be becoming more and more misogynist. When do we get to decide enough is enough, and we should dump the losers? :)
Within the framework of a Goddess’s spiritual and intellectual complexity I can remind myself of Judy Grahn’s poignantly perceptive statement: “all origin stories are true.” I can laugh ruefully and shrug, not understanding Weber’s choices – but also recognizing she does what she does not to be logical according to my definitions, but because she loves her deity. It is not her job to live up to my perceptions of modern feminism, self-empowerment, or subversion of the current dominant paradigm; nor should I feel the need to put her down or “prove her wrong” in order to feel good about myself and my chosen worldview. I would like to think Weber would regard my personal spiritual quest with interested but perhaps bemused compassion. Consequently I feel the least I can do for her is to metaphorically return the favor, and gift her with the same tolerance and compassion she’d grant me… even though we ultimately disagree.