By April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW
When I was a little girl, I loved school. I loved learning and reading and was fond of history, art, & humanities. It was only natural that I loved mythology- a beautiful blend of history, art, and storytelling. I knew all of the gods and goddesses by name and I knew their stories inside and out. They were friends that lived in the magical lands between the pages of books and I visited them often.
As I grew older and subsequently more serious, I had less time for fantasy and make believe. More time was devoted to scholarly studies and secular pursuits like finding a job once I finished grad school. Then the focus became working a 9 to 5 to pay the bills so I could keep going to work. My friends- the gods & goddesses- and I grew apart. But like any good friendship, when I found them again, time was of no consequence.
In our society, we have a neurotic need to categorize and label everything. We also have a tendency to think of everything as “separate” or think of ourselves as unique and “different”. The stories of the gods and goddesses are then dismissed as fantasy and make believe. We may find ourselves hard pressed to find any value in silly stories about make-believe people from our childhood- but that doesn’t mean the value isn’t there. It just means that we might not immediately recognize or understand the intrinsic value of make-believe.
We also tend to label anything before our highly technological time as “primitive”; certainly we associate the word “ancient” with being primitive. When we hear the stories of ancient civilizations, who no longer exist today, it’s all too tempting to dismiss them, thinking there’s absolutely nothing we can learn from an ancient culture with primitive ways- but we are far from accurate in this assessment. Although the times and technology have changed, the human psyche- our souls- have not. We love, we laugh, we cry; the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians did these same things. They were just like us. In fact, we are them.
While we may find their beliefs to be incomprehensible in today’s times, we should realize that the ancient civilizations understood their gods and goddesses to be archetypes- energies to be embodied; traits to be cultivated.
The world of mythology provides us an opportunity to actively explore the human psyche- indeed, some of the dramas would put even our raunchiest modern day reality TV shows to shame. In our masculine culture, the feminine energies are often overlooked and underappreciated. We learn about very few “strong women” in our Western history books. The accomplishments of most strong women come second to their sexual histories- it is the latter which is most often discussed. Marilyn Monroe, Queen Cleopatra, & Mary Magdalen are three great examples- society may not know a lot about all the great things they did, but it is common knowledge “who” they did!
The goddesses are more than just stories. They are chances for us to stand in our sacred feminine energy and embody the divinity that we are. They are not supermodels that bear no resemblance to the “average real woman”; they are role models. They are strong, powerful women who are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who live, laugh, love and cry- and just like our flesh & blood girlfriends, we can learn from them. We are them. Woman, you are a goddess!