How I Loved Myself through Charismatic Worship

Breaking up with your first love can be an excruciating process; especially when it happens to be completely entangled with your being. God was my first love and he stayed for a long while. We had many exhilarating times together, particularly within the branch of Christianity I was raised in: Pentecostalism. I fell in love with God when I uttered his divine language at 13 years of age.

Currently, I’m writing my memoir and narrative nonfiction, Freeligious ™, for which I explore the scientific explanations of my charismatic experiences in the church, which inevitably led to a closer attachment to God. In the Pentecostal church, we were encouraged to connect with God through supernatural phenomena.

Read more at Feminism and Religion

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The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women?

Women’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my  brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.

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Purity Culture

The Hostility Effect: Just Conform

We all know who you are. The ones who always have to be different. Deviate from the norm. Stand up for alternative rights. Educating themselves far more than necessary. Appear different. Disrupting society. Vagabonds as my grandpa says. Let’s take a moment to reflect on these individuals and their relationship with society. What are the philosophical and psychological implications of their deviation from societal norms and standards? Do they wish to lead more seemingly difficult lives? Most people choose the path of least resistance so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for these individuals to take a path of most resistance. Essentially, there is a chief answer as to why non-conformity is prevalent amongst certain groups. What is it? Lack of benefit.
Change is necessary to those who realize their marginalization. Admittedly, some do continue life in a state of disbelief or depression, but not everyone is capable of being silent after knowing they are a marginalized group in society. Why does society blame them? Society blames and devalues these individuals because though their rebellion, they confront those who adhere to the standards set before them. Modern society is created through a hierarchical order where a marginalized presence must exist in order for the dominant group to reign. Through a modern capitalistic framework, values taken out of a corporate handbook, and the hierarchical order of humanity; we have created globalized inequalities.
Theses inequalities manifest themselves differently depending on the economic condition, political positioning, and social conventions of the cultural landscape. The subservient group knows their place and should remain there. In certain locations, the marginalized groups are given barely enough to survive, presenting the illusion that there is always more to gain if they work hard enough. In other areas, people are starving on many levels, replacing any hope for improvement with daily survival. The ones who dwell in the dominant group will rarely deviate from their habitat. Why would they? Even if an individual acknowledges the social processes that take place and the atrocities of globalized inequalities, they cannot defy their group so profoundly and possibly end up empty-handed. In this case, the issue at hand is one of motivation. What motivates those who do fight for a more productive, egalitarian society?
Simple: Death vs Survival.
Once you know what group you inhabit and who your master is, you ultimately have 2 choices: Death or Survival. I don’t mean this in a fatal, mortal sense. With enlightenment comes a fierce passion that induces a fire within you. At your core, you KNOW you can either fight the rest of your life to educate, create warriors, heal others, advance society, reap fulfilling benefits in order to survive. On the other hand, you can choose Death. Death is knowing everyday and deteriorating internally through complacency, apathy, and chronic emptiness. Most people will subside these feelings with substances, addictions, disorders, poor health, negative relationships and so forth in order to cope with not surviving. Most people believe it’s hard to survive, i.e. fight for an egalitarian system, but the reality is that it’s far more difficult to conform and prevent yourself from reaping the benefits of what it means to be human through our interconnectivity with the earth. Those who embark on a journey of most resistance do it because it reaps the most rewards, and frankly, there is no other way once you know.

Roots: Do they really matter?

roots2I recently moved into a house that requires extensive yard work. Initially a frustration, I later realized how therapeutic gardening is. While using my physical strength to pull out roots of gradually decaying trees, shrubs, and plants, I began contemplating the concept of roots. More specifically, the social, political, economical, and historical implication of roots. Digging at your roots is what keeps the mental health industry economically viable. The nuclear family unit thrives off the ideology of familial roots and how to keep an interconnectedness on a continuum even if these roots are damaging. Within the religious realm, it is predicated upon the insistence to refer back to doctrine and what was, and to re-connect to the historical and ‘spiritual’ roots of inspiring leaders/prophets.
Humans allow roots to exist which continue to deaden our existence rather than allowing something new to grow and blossom. We are often told that our roots are important but why? Songs, literature, social groups, institutions, etc. advocate for the maintenance of roots. One reason is the fear of change, movement, revolution, action, shifts in circumstances, situations, people, and so forth. By sticking to our roots, we are provided with the idea that we’re safe, secure, unharmed by anything different. This is a social myth to remain stagnate and to do nothing. It is, in fact, a form of imprisonment. This form of imprisonment hinders people from reaching their unrealized potential to be supreme entities of change in society, to be interconnected with the world, to attain levels of intelligent euphoria. What prevents this from happening is fear of newness.
roots
Roots only matter in terms of self-actualization and social change. Coming to terms with what was, what is, and figuring what SHOULD be. How can one truly achieve that if one is prevented from doing so through the subsistence of roots, of what was? It’s simply impossible. Today, many politicians and economists rely on the comfort of referring to historical happenings in order to leverage an opposing argument on a reformed social and political system. You may have heard the saying – ‘nothing is original, so all you can do is refer to the past.’ This is, of course, inaccurate given originality can be re-birthed through the analysis of the past and the motivational autonomy of the future.
Currently, I’m still pulling out roots in my yard and some are more frustratingly rooted than others, but at the end of this project, all the roots will be gone and my flower beds will be ready to be planted anew. We are meant to dispose of roots after their worth is over, be it a season or many years, each root must give way at some point to the blossoming of another. This is the only true way to reach revelatory, significant change within oneself and the world. Pull out your roots and embrace an inversion of experiential existence.

The Historical Deconstruction of the ‘C’ Word

Get the Book!

I remain hopeful in thinking most people have wondered why the ‘C’ word, also known as Cunt, is such a vulgar, contemptible term in our society. A few years back, I stumbled upon the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. Yes, the book does exist. It has spectacularly shattered the sweet, safe way I used to live. I traveled with this book, once on an airplane. As the book, Cunt, passed through security, one of the female workers nudged her female co-worker whispering, “Did you see the cover of that book”?! In a lower whisper, making sure no one was looking, she said, “It’s called…cunt.” I was both amused and disappointed. Why were these womyn ashamed of a word that referred to their womanhood, femininity, femaleness, beauty, empowerment, independence, VAGINA?

The etymology of the word cunt was previously unknown to me. How did cunt become such a detestable, abhorrent word, and silently unravel itself in such a negative form within dominant discourse? Here are the historical findings. His name is Eilert Ekwall. Honestly, with a name like that who could blame him for being a misogynist? He founded a street in London called ‘GropeCUNTelane’ where cuntlovin prostitutes and their prospective clients would gather. What year was this? 1230 anno Domini.

“The Germanic and now English word cunt has verbal relatives all the way back in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ka-t in hieroglyphics meant vulva, vagina, mother, and women. Qefen-t, another ancient Egyptian word for vagina, even has the letter n infixed in the root. Consider the Hittite kun ‘tail of an animal.’ In Persian kun is the ass, the bum, the posterior. So this is not only a Proto-Indo-European root word. It looks like a very early borrowing from a Mediterranean rootstock or language now lost. The Greek reflex of the cunnus root is gunē ‘woman’ usually transliterated in Latin and English as gyne and supplying a large number of English scientific and learned words like gynecology, misogynist and androgynous. Absolutely cognate with the Greek gunē is the Sanskrit yoni, an artistic representation of the female organ of generation, an object of veneration among Hindus” (Cunt History).

Inga Muscio, the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, mentions that “cunt is related to words from India, China, Ireland, Rome, and Egypt. Such words were either titles of respect for women, priestesses and witches, or derivatives of the names of various goddesses: In ancient writings, the word for cunt was synonymous with woman though not in the insulting modern sense…” She further expresses how “cunts were anathema to forefather types. Literally and metaphorically, the word and anatomical jewel presided at the very nexus of many earlier religions impeded phallic power worship.” So now that you know. You can put this enlightening knowledge to use by acknowledging that it’s OUR (females) word. It’s our core. Our essence. It’s mine. Hers. And that womun sitting next to you. Her word. Her ‘anatomical jewel.’ History tells us that non-progressive men, especially religious men, couldn’t handle our overpowering sexuality so they had to silence, vulgarize, and repress womyn in any way they could to minimize their own sexual insecurities.

Knowledge is power. It’s your cunt. Your power. Your anatomical jewel gosh darn it. Say it. CUNT. CUNT. CUNT. That’s right. Keep saying it. In front of a mirror with your womanly, cuntlovin friends. It’s liberating. It was ours in the first place. It still is. Reclaim it. This is more than just about the etymology of a word. It’s about questioning certain discourse which we accept as the norm. Men: quit conforming to patriarchal values and liberate yourselves as well. Cunt is a beautiful, powerful, self-centered, womanly, loving, dominant, influential, dynamic jewel we should all discover. It’s where we bleed, orgasm, reproduce. “Negative reactions to cunt resonate from a learned fear of ancient yet contemporary, inherent yet lost, reviled yet redemptive cuntpower. Look between your legs ladies. The cuntpower is waiting anxiously to illuminate, to radiate, to emanate all sorts of treasures” (Inga Muscio).

The curse of the proper lady: Conceptualizations of purity and the slag

The conceptualization of purity. The definitional phenomena of this term has perplexed me in a way that transcends the performative, stylistic form of language and co-existence. Essentially, purity has formed a social hierarchy, a subjective oppression and repression, and a convoluted ideological framework of sexuality. The convergence of sexual identity and purity has culturally and socially produced a ‘polluted danger.’ Mary Douglas, British anthropologist who focuses on ritualism, comparative religion, and feminism “attempts to clarify the differences between the sacred, the clean and the unclean in different societies and times.” I will primarily be referring to her work in this particular post. I intend to address the intersection between sacred sexuality, womyn’s agency, and the theoretical and historical implications of purity.

Deconstructing body symbolism is crucial in the analysis of the hierarchical order and configuration of gender and sexuality in terms of the social taboos of what is considered ‘pure.’ We’ve all heard – be a proper lady! Sit up. Close your legs. Just sit there and look pretty. Hack up your skirt a little more (many thanks to Dave Matthews), bend over, more make-up, less make-up, shave, trim, wax, shorter skirt, longer dress, more cleavage. My point is we are consistently bombarded with a cacophony of messages which create an absurd imbalance of our perception of purity and something of utmost distaste. So why does this occur? What prompts such a contradictory mess? Firstly, it’s wanting the best of both worlds. These binaries are both desirous and expected unconsciously. But why? Well, because we are not linear, categorical creatures of reason. Humanity thrives on the complex opposition of humane traits and characteristics.

So in terms of gender construction, what is a proper lady? How can we know for sure when we’ve been consistently harassed with an imbalance of messages telling us what is sacred, clean, unclean, unholy, impure, etc.? History and post-christian beliefs have taught us that womyn were only sacred and holy in terms of their sexuality and how they were possessed. Biblically, womyn were unclean during menstruation, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and in general. They weren’t allowed to enter holy temples (that was only for men). King Solomon mentions it’s already difficult to find holy people in the book of Ecclesiastes, but there is definitely no upright, holy womyn.  The historical, social, economic, and political implication is that womyn are mainly used for mass consumerism, sexual objectification, as commodities, for reproductive reasons, etc. So how are we supposed to view ourselves? Are we clean? Dirty? Does it matter? Of course it does. Even if consciously we don’t want to accept the societal standards placed before us in a distorted way, it produces confusion. Confusion then creates hostility, warfare (on all levels), and inequality. Possessing a clear view of oneself in accordance to societal conformity is crucial to healthy development. So how do we achieve this?

Pre-christian religions like paganism, wicca, etc. revered both the Goddess and God – a balance of both female and male. That’s a start. Capitalism, inclusive of the commodification of womyn, the profit of human capital, the unnatural sexual exploitation of humankind, indulgent, mass consumptive behavior, the obvious lack of viable alternatives are some of the reasons as to why humanity is struggling with identifiable options. A postmodernist view would be that sex, gender, race, class, etc. would not influence the social and economic system as a whole. The de-centering of the subject if you will. The dismantling of the social and economic infrastructure we have become complacent with.

There is no direct solution; rather a plethora of ideological frameworks we can begin to implement in order to advocate change. There is no subjective definition of who and what is clean, dirty, sacred, etc. It’s a matter of perception dependent on history, economics, and social processes created in order to maintain a social hierarchy. Be radical. Start the change. Wear the dress.

The Revitalization of the Goddess Through Humankind

As I mentioned in my previous post, Oh Goddess Divine, Where art thou: The Fear and Intimidation of the Goddess, I will provide a  psychological perspective on the annihilation of the Goddess as well as the social and economic implications of her diminishment. In my first post, I aimed to inform the reader of a brief history of ancient Goddess worship and how her elimination originated. My objectives in writing this post are to:

  • Discuss why it is important to engender a rebirth of the Goddess and uphold her existence
  • Provide discursive consequences of her extinguishment within a social, political, and economic context
  • Critically analyze the meaning of the Goddess and how her existence impacts and influences an individual’s life

My objective is not to outline a spiritual assessment of Gods and Goddesses in order to create another widely accepted cult, but to examine why humans need to create divine  beings to impersonate and perpetuate their existence and purpose. I will propose my analysis based on the ideology that humanity creates that which is worshipped, obeyed, denied, admired, and oppressed. Let’s begin with a psychoanalytic view of identification. How does one identify itself?

Primary identification: This is rooted in primitive and emotional attachments usually during the infancy stage. The infant doesn’t know itself because its brain is not fully developed, and its environment, both culturally and socially, has not affected it extensively; therefore, it identifies with its relations and objects. For example, the child needs the breast to feed itself; therefore, the child identifies with the breast–the mother–the Female figure. It becomes the breast given it doesn’t have any previous socialization and/or identification.

Narcissistic (secondary) identification: This stage is early on and provokes the loss and/or abandonment of an object. The child becomes aware of its environment, personality, relations with others, and itself. It begins the process of melancholia because it is forced to abandon the primal, emotional attachment with the Female figure. The one who fed, nurtured, and embedded it within her. Once she was the Goddess, the primal Mother. Now she must be unconsciously mourned because of the patriarchal-father head system it encounters.

Partial (secondary) identification: This stage deals with the subject identifying with someone it admires or wishes to become. This specifically contributes to the ego and the development of the character. As this stage, one is conscious of its desires and needs based on socialization, perceptions, and observations of its surroundings. Even its primal needs are to a degree predicated on a hierarchical order. While it continually mourns the loss of the primary identification–the Female figure, it requires a replacement which becomes that which exists.

The male representative is born-God.

In my last post about the Goddess, I take on a more positive, optimistic perspective of Her given I acknowledge that she possessed a historical and spiritual significance that transcended womynkind. However, Simone De Beauvoir in the Second Sex, states just the opposite. She proposes that Goddess worship and her significance was primarily created by men to represent the womun and her unexplained mystical identity. This of course reduces her connotation to that of men’s creation, in addition to a peculiarity which she possess classifying her as the Other. Keep in mind, this is a matter of perspective, meaning Simone De Beauvoir takes on a more cynical standpoint of the history of the Goddess. So what does that tell us about the psychoanalytic model I outlined above?

Essentially, because I’m not providing a spiritual assessment or an invitation to a new cult/religion, I base this model on the assumption that spirituality and subjects who participate within that realm are created by man. The lost Female figure in the model represents the Goddess – the primal one. The beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. However, she is lost in a state of the melancholic unconscious because of the systematic processes which occur through socialization, subjectification, and objectification. She is the beginning and the end which one encounters, but she doesn’t perform a primary role during. She is forgotten because she is forced to be in order for the child to live within a patriarchal structure. Why does this matter to us?

To put it simply, when 2 things simultaneously exist, and you ignore or disregard one, it has a direct impact on the other. The one who hasn’t been disregarded typically formulates and creates a social order of some sort and objectifies the Other. This causes a rupture among the masses and creates identification processes. It causes disorder, chaos, and an imbalance. How is this repressed? Through that of social learning – imitation and models given to one from the time of birth, and it continues to learn and prevail. Wherever an oppressive hierarchy exists, a group of people are ceasing to abound in life’s glory. Therefore, the Goddess desperately needs to sprout from our unconscious so that we can truly reconnect with her truth. For so long, we have lived in a world ruled, occupied, and dominated by a masculine god – men. The saddening fact is that men suffer from the repressed Goddess as well. All of humankind continues to do so.

Her extinguishment affects every realm and dimension of our lives including the economic and political arenas. Laws, regulations, opinions, forums, theories, etc. are dictated by a world which is constructed without the Goddess, without that which is meant to exist on the same plane as the god. The formation of capitalism, mass production/consumerism, fascism, mass media production, white male supremacy, economic hierarchies, social injustice, hunger, poverty, marginalization, etc. are all the result of the forgotten Goddess – the female figure. Her thoughts, opinions, creativity, inventions, actions, love are suppressed, forgotten, and/or lost. Nothing is to her complete potential, and she is taught to live in fear, desolation, and adapt to a powerless persona unless it benefits the world that god – men constructed.

Whether or not the Goddess ever reached her full potential and existed in a world free of the patriarchate, she does exist. She is there in the depths of our minds, in the crevices of our hearts, in the trajectory of our souls. It is ultimately our choice if we choose to let her escape from the shackles which have been placed upon her. We must question what was (in history) in order to delegate what will be now. The Goddess is there, and once we relinquish her to abound in all of her glory, only then will we progress into a more neutralized, harmonious existence in this world we continue to occupy and consume.