Karen Tate is an advocate for the Goddess. She first discovered the Goddess when she was exploring the feminine face of God. Growing up in a Judeo Christian culture, we were taught man was created in God’s image. Now she believes that sets up a gender disparity in our culture. When she realized that the Goddess had been worshipped for 40,000 years long before male gods were, it opened a totally new horizon for her.
She began her studies of the Goddess after moving to California and she found two books that changed her life – Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future and Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman.
In Karen’s book, Walking an Ancient Path, Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, she shares her personal story with emotional honesty, how she felt alone and abandoned. She found herself in communities surrounded by toxic people, or people who have a problem with sharing leadership, and she realized it was better to walk away from that community even if she had a big investment, in money, time, and energy.
She had the courage to step back and reassess what was important to her as a person, what she was looking for in a community, and what she wouldn’t be able to live with in a community. Now looking back she knows everything happens for a reason. She sees the people who devalued her and made her life miserable as her teachers. After some soul searching she had to be willing to be alone for a while, and learned it was better to be alone than be in a toxic environment. If she hadn’t walked through that fire and adversity, she wouldn’t be who she is today and accomplished all that she has. It taught her tenacity, strength, and it also changed her direction in life.
Her discovery of the feminine face of God set Karen’s path for the next two decades, which started as a personal journey. Like many women she became empowered when she realized that the face of God is not just man, but women are equally created in the face of the divine. And when we have that it puts women at par with men, as it doesn’t allow for gender discrimination that we have so much of in our society.
Karen states if you don’t want to believe in her as a Goddess in the heavens you can look at her as an archetype, or consider the ideals of Goddess spirituality in how we treat one other, so there is something for every body, even the atheist or agnostic believers.
So first it’s a personal journey and then you start to look at the different goddesses across the globe, because they are across the globe in living traditions still today, and you see all the different archetypes that women can use as role models to be the best that they can be.
Then you begin to take it outside to your immediate community and share it publicly, expressing it in ritual and celebrations and you start to realize how much bigger it is and how these ideals can change the world and lay a foundation for social transformation. Karen encourages you to see what the ideals of the sacred feminine can bring towards creating a more caring culture of partnership, rather than patriarchy and domination that so many of us are suffering from today.
Karen’s work now involves secular law accompanied by goddess theology – or thealogy (just as some people spell herstory, thealogy is a way to bring the feminine into our language.) Her focus is to raise awareness about herstory so there’s a foundation for this movement of embracing feminine ideals.
She feels the Goddess movement could potentially be the vehicle that can help us toward a healthy paradigm shift, tip us over into an age of enlightenment equality, and partnership rather than predator capitalism, survival of the fittest, individualism and disconnection with each other.
“Today’s divine feminine movement is not your mother’s feminist movement.”
Karen acknowledges the feminist movement as the forefront of today’s movement that embraces the feminine. Back in the 70’s there was the rejection of the feminine, as then we had the ideal that you had to be like a man to have equality in society.
The word feminist needs to be rehabilitated. Karen thinks a lot of the reason it was demonized to begin with is because of propaganda against change. All feminists really wanted was equality and what’s wrong with that. You heard some people say if women become feminists they want to be lesbians, they hate men, they don’t want to be mothers, they hate their families, which Karen says is so ludicrous and ignorant of what they were really striving for and still are.
Feminists want equality and desire a caring culture, and if we look at the statistics we’re still not achieving equality and caring for women. 80% of women in the U.S. retire in poverty, white women still make 70 to 80 cents to the dollar that men are paid, and even less for black and Hispanic women.
“What’s wrong with wanting equality?”
Karen points at what’s happening in Europe, which is so far ahead of us in so many ways. They have a 40% solution where women have to have representation of 40% in the boardroom. Here in the U.S., even though we’re more than 50% of the population there’s only 17% of women in leadership in academia, corporations and government. So our voice is not represented out there. Things are getting better for women but we still are not included in making the decisions that move us forward when only 17% are involved in the decision making processes.
Karen states having equality won’t unravel society, instead it will create a more caring culture, and that’s what feminists want. A caring culture brings in the feminine aspects of nurturing, taking care of one another.
Some people have fear, men in particular, that when feminists or women’s advocates or goddess advocates start talking we want to flip the table over and become patriarchy in a skirt and we want woman to rule the world.
But what women truly want is a partnership, a real partnership. So that’s all we’re talking about – we simply want equality and that bears the question, what is fearful about that?
There are some scholars who study matriarchy cultures and some still exist today. If you look at their values, they have some very important ones that if we embraced in our society it would improve the standard of living for everyone. They value nurturing, and children and women are at the center of society rather than on the fringes like they are in so many cultures where they don’t have decent health care, education and clean water to drink.
Karen talks publicly about sacred feminism as a means for social transformation wanting humankind to use those values towards a more sustainable future.
In order to do that Karen believes first we have to recognize that there is inequality, and inequality is not sustainable, besides not being fair and moral. Karen doesn’t think it was ever intended that there was this inequality between the genders. She pictures God and Goddess sitting in heaven, holding hands and asking why did our children ever divorce us?
So in this patriarchal society we have those who have riches at the top of the pyramid who are pulling all the strings, they’re the puppet masters. The rest of us are at the base of the pyramid at the mercy of those at the top. Very few people hold the wealth, and the middle class is disappearing.
Goddess ideals are about abundance, fairness, justice, equality and Goddess is for everyone, for the have-nots as well, so we can all have joy and abundance, and the possibility of wonderful fulfilling rights.
There are so many costs to our society when we deny the Goddess. If we had come through the last few thousand years with goddess ruling side by side with God we have to ask would we have domestic violence, bride burning, female mutilation, sex trafficking
Unequal pay? Would we have all these things that subjugate women?
We have to get out there ourselves and make a difference and part of that is supporting one another. But also Karen says it’s important to say it doesn’t mean that we support any women just because they are a woman. This is about supporting women who perpetuate ideas of a caring culture, not women who protect the status quo, protect the patriarchy, which really oppresses women. So she cautions us to not be complicit in our discrimination or our oppression.
Karen even goes as far as to say Goddess is a Democrat and wants us to look at the agendas of the Republicans. As she sees it, Republicans do not want to fix the economy because they want Obama to fail and not be re-elected. She views their agenda is putting women’s rights at risks, and cautions us to get the facts from truthful sources. We are all so busy we just believe what we hear on TV and the radio, but we need to dig deeper. We stand the risk of loosing medicare, social security, contraception, abortion rights and more. She’s been paying attention and states there’s been 900 bills pushed in states where republicans hold a majority since November that are against women’s rights to their bodies.
“Stop taking sides with religious authority or political parties, who would make women no more than body parts or an incubator controlled by the state.”
Some of the things that can move us forward are not just secular law. You can also look at goddess thealogy. If a society’s myths show male authority and male gods –we get a society with male authority. We can counter some of these ideals that shape society if we complement that with thealogy, and Goddess herstory.
We can use goddess thealogy for ecology as in the mythology of Sedna, who lives in the waters off of Newfoundland, Canada and maybe even Alaska. She’s the Gate keeper of the sea. People on land rely on the sea for food, bones, for tools, skins for clothing, huts. There’s an interdependence of men with the sea. If man gets greedy and takes more than he needs, Sedna cuts him off, so there’s no abuse.
In Eqypt you see on the temple walls the Goddess Isis – with her hand out to the pharaoh.
In her hand is the Goddess Ma’at who represents justice and truth. In that relief, the Pharaoh is given the right to rule through the Goddess, man is given the right to rule from a feminine face of God. She is saying you will rule only using Ma’at – truth and justice.
So those are examples of Goddess thealogy, showing us models to live by today rather than what we’re experiencing now in our patriarchal system.
If you look at the myth of Persephone and Demeter which is about the strong bond between mothers and daughters – and we’re all mothers and daughters to a certain extent – that’s saying let’s have good relationships among women and stop the back biting and competition that prevents a nurturing environment for women to succeed. We should be happy for our sister’s successes. We need to be there, cheering her on.
Everyone brings their unique voice, and Karen tells women to not wait to do something until you can be perfect at it. There’s such a thing as on the job training. Don’t think there’s someone out there who can do it better than you so you shouldn’t do it. We need all of us to bring our ideas forward and act on it, just go out there and do it. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re afraid you’re not going to be good enough.