Wednesday, April 15, 2009

GUEST REVIEW: Feminine Mysticism in Art (DVD)

Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine - “a collection of contemporary Visionary and Goddess Art synchronised to uplifting music with over 50 artists". (DVD, New Paradigm Publishing)

A review by Glenys Livingstone

Although this DVD is over an hour and a half of images – mostly of Goddess, and mostly very beautiful, together with some inspiring music, I find the con-text, the text within which it is set at the beginning and conclusion, to be very distracting and rendering the whole DVD barely useable for my Goddess purposes at least. I know that language is difficult in these times … especially perhaps the English language which does dominate the planet: so how does one express an essence in one’s heart, a feeling, without it coming unstuck in the dualistic frame of its conveyance? Or does the language used in the conveyancing of it reveal its true essential stuck nature – that the essence is actually yet unchanged?

I like very much the dedication at the beginning of this DVD: “to Earth Mother Creatrix and the ancient/future knowledges of indigenous cultures across the Globe", but my enthusiasm stops there. In my opinion, the text/story that follows this dedication, and is meant to serve as a preliminary to the images and music of the DVD blocks/locks the mind into “old paradigm". This blocking/locking is also true, perhaps especially so, of the text/story with which the whole DVD concludes. To speak of the feminine face of “God" is not sufficient for “new paradigm" thinking to my mind: Goddess of whom I speak is not a “part" of any god. I understand that some think this is unreasonable and unbalanced, but let me explain a little.

My work is to re-instate the Mother who is before all gender, who gave/gives birth to All including gender, who is the Source of All [1]. “Mother" is my word for “God" if you like. Some will say: but “Mother" is female, and I say: but “God" is male. If you think it isn’t, consider this: so often when the Divine is addressed as Mother, She is understood as Mother because there is a Father that makes Her Mother – She is “part"/half of an equation: but when we see the ubiquitous images of the Divine as Father as we do for instance on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, is He Father because there is a Mother that makes Him Father? No I don’t think so! He can create it All by Himself with His pointer finger, and that is apparently no problem, but Mother birthing it All without His assistance is – even amongst some Goddess women. Imaginations do need to be stretched a little further on Her behalf I think.

And I am sorry to say that we are a long way from the story put forth in the preliminary text of this DVD that speaks of “consecrated union between masculine and feminine, God/Goddess" being at hand: we live on a planet wherein girls are still being systematically genitally mutilated, stoned for being raped, prevented from being educated, and by far the minority amongst elected decision-makers. “Union" is only realistic or desirable when a full self can be given and received. Huge amounts of work needs to be done to re-instate the Fullness of the Female – Her wholeness and integrity outside/inside All. This DVD is supposed to be about that, but it fails in my opinion with its opening and concluding statements. I am not interested in more images of the Father or in being “balanced", until She is comprehended as whole unto Herself, and He learns His place as participant. In my experience, the Father and the Goddess are not one and the same, as this DVD tells us. I am not speaking of a Goddess that holds “a position of power in the Godhead" - in my Cosmology, the brotherhood is within the Motherhood[2].

A prayer is made in the text for Her “role" in all of creation to be honored … well any good patriarch would agree – they think they all do honor her role, and that they know what that role is. Goddess is not just weaver and mender to be summoned forth when the Planet gets messy, as the text goes on: and apology is then made for Her apparently “scary" dark bits. The finishing with a quote from Jesus is an astute move I suppose, in terms of making the DVD appealing to those who need converting, but I feel that it may reveal or play further into the still-reigning Christian paradigm: until dominant andro-centric religions get their relativity, nothing will shift.

The saving grace of course is that once the viewer has made it through the con-text or perhaps manages to miss it, the images may speak for themselves, beyond any frame they are set within … and there are some beautiful images of Her: and hopefully the publicity may be good for the artists involved. Although there are also some images – of Father and of female and male together that I find far too stereotypical for my taste, the plethora of female images for the Divine remains enabling for the gentle changing of minds in the right kind of setting … a meditation space or some religious/spiritual events, particularly wherein She has previously not been admitted.

However this DVD is not the kind of resource that I would use at any of my events or in my work. I may on the other hand follow up on some of the artists represented. I do think images are very important; they are essential in fact to the re-imagining of ourselves. In my Goddess work I have always advocated surrounding one’s self with images of Her, from which one may learn and be in-formed … we learn far more in our bodyminds by mimicking the demeanour of the Deities, as some religious traditions are well aware. My favourite well-used book in this regard has been Hallie Iglehart Austin’s “The Heart of the Goddess" (1990) … it is still unbeatable: if only it were a DVD.

1. The Universe is One from the Beginning, not Two: meiotic sex did not occur until 1.5 billion years ago, thus apparently it was preceded by some 12 billion years of Creativity. That is, female plus male is not an essential equation to the Creativity of the Cosmos. See PaGaian Cosmology
Chapter 2 for more.
2. "The brotherhood is within the Motherhood" is a quote from my beloved partner Taffy Seaborne.

Australian Glenys Livingstone is author of PaGaian Cosmology and holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. For more about her and her work, visit


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At Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:18:00 PM, Blogger Thalia said...

This line:

“Union" is only realistic or desirable when a full self can be given and received.
is so good to read. I am so very sick of the immature status-quo version of 'balance' that isn't.

At Thursday, April 16, 2009 8:53:00 AM, Anonymous Glenys Livingstone said...

yes isn't that so Thalia!

At Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:47:00 PM, Blogger Lily Wyte said...

It's so typically human that people would need to add words to what is basically an art dvd. People just have to babble on. Art inspires emotion, pure. Words corral those emotions and tell them what they ought to be, and apologize for them... how sad and silly. You know working with video isn't as hard as it used to be...

At Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so thank you for this essay. I now have returned to your book realizing what I did not get the first time I read it. Please write more. Rhondda

At Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:31:00 PM, Anonymous Glenys Livingstone said...

Hi Rhondda
thank you ... I do aspire to writing another whole edition - updated and re-named slightly - but in the interim I am quite busy writing on the website in the forum and homepage articles, and also continuing to ritually celebrate the Seasonal Moments ... and making videos about the them posted to YouTube on my channel - pagaian.
best wishes


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More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.