When I was pregnant for the first time, it was a shock to realize that “something” could grow in me. Though I had no words for it at the time, it was a beginning of revelation of the presence of the creative force of life in me. There was nothing second rate about this, and yet all previous stories had hidden its significance from me. Though I had no words to describe it – no possible expression for this, the knowledge sat in my heart like an uncut jewel, awaiting its time.
My quest for the Mother – She within me and within Whom I am, has been a a coming home to an indigenous self, a self who has roots in this Earth and Cosmos, and is sentient as She is: a Place which was as surely within me as it was my actual Earthly and Cosmic habitat – I could not separate these realms of myself. I felt accutely the words of feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray who said that woman is not situated, “does not situate herself in her place”, that she serves as a thing and is thus nude[i]. I intuitively felt the need to “clothe” myself, to find the Place within me, to move from object to sentient subject. It was a hunger which grew into a holy desire, a passion, encouraged by many other feminist philosphers, artists and poets.
I had thought I was vacuous, even dead and inert as all matter was understood to be, in the christianized, industrialized cosmology of my time and place.I felt acutely the identification of myself with the “inanimate”world, as it was understood to be. Ursula Le Guin says,
We are told in words, and not in words, we are told by their deafness, … (that) …the life experience of women, is not valuable … to humanity.” We have been valued by the patriarchal viewpoint only “as an element of their experience, as things experienced[ii].
The male in this worldview was also “inanimate”, albeit usually as the machine that was expected to perform.
The journey into the creating of a PaGaian cosmology, one that is inclusive of the layers of self: small self, Earth and Cosmos, has been a coming Home, to recognising that I am a Place, and indeed directly participate in the sentient Cosmos, the Well of Creativity. The concluding meditation of my book PaGaian Cosmology is a summary of this Placement; and it is a practice, as it expresses my being and each being, as a creative place of the Cosmological Unfolding[iii].
And THAT is a knowledge of agency, a sovereignty of the self: it is a knowledge of a Creative Potency which is innate to coming into being. A PaGaian sense of habitat includes knowing that one IS a Place, a place of the sacred interchange of life, with all the complex web of stories; to which one belongs, and with which one acts. It is an intimate reality, but remains mysterious and unknowable in its infinite dimensions of belonging and action. It is as intimate as the breath: the breath comes in – a gift of all that has gone before, you are the Place where it is received, changed and given forth again. Your organism is the dynamic Place of this exchange. You are then the gift as your breath is released.
This then is the primary pilgrimage: there is no need to travel further than one’s breath and being.
(c) Glenys Livingstone 2020
[i] Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, p.10-11.
[ii] Ursula Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World , p.155.
[iii] Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.261. This meditation is now named as the Triple Goddess Breath Meditation, and I understand it to summarise and express the essence of a PaGaian Cosmology.
Irigaray, Luce. An Ethics of Sexual Difference. (trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill) NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.
Le Guin, Ursula. Dancing at the Edge of the World. NY: Harper & Row, 1989.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.