What Would the Goddess Do?

Here are some suggestions of how to embody the energy of the Goddess in these troubled times.

This article originally appeared on Beliefnet in September, 2001.

The world has changed since Tuesday, September 11, 2001. All of us have come face to face with death on a massive scale, with the immense power of the forces of destruction, with our fragility, and with fear. The loudest voices around us in the U.S. are calling out for retaliation and revenge, led by the president and most of our public officials. In such a situation, what would the Goddess do?

In the Pagan tradition that I practice, the Goddess is not a role model. She's the great forces of birth, growth, death, and regeneration that move through the universe. In thealogian [a feminist theologians] Carol Christ's words, the Goddess is "intelligent, embodied love." Her many aspects are the faces we put on these forces so we can interact with them. She is immanent within us as well as in nature. So for me, the question shifts and becomes, "What can we do in the name of the powers of creativity and regeneration? How can we intelligently embody love in this crisis?"


First, we can mourn the dead. Death kills the body but not the spirit. Thus the prayers and energies people of all religions have been offering truly help the spirits of the dead pass to a place of peace.

We can support the families and friends, who have lost someone, by offering comfort and practical help, by being willing to listen, by sending prayers and love.

We can feel our grief. Our grief is not just for the dead, but for the world that existed before last Tuesday. Grief can be an opening; it can make us rethink our values and our priorities, and make us more compassionate.

We can speak for justice, not revenge. Retaliation is the quick fix that might restore our sense of being mighty and powerful, but can't actually make us safer. Revenge will simply exacerbate the tensions that led to the attack. If we bomb civilian populations, if we kill innocent women, men, and children, who had no part in these activities or voice in their governments' decisions, we become terrorists ourselves. The intelligent, embodied love of the universe does not value some groups of people over others, does not weigh the lives of Americans more heavily than the lives of Afghanis.

Witches know that words have power. If we continue to call this attack an 'act of war,' we turn the perpetrators into martyrs and heroes. A criminal act of murder is seen as despicable, but an attack on the heartland of the enemy in wartime is seen as admirable. If we go to war over this, we dignify the perpetrators. Instead we should call for them to be brought to justice and tried in a court of law.

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