Across the planet many people honour and worship the Feminine Divine. As well as the established traditions in the East and in indigenous cultures, there has also been a renewed interest in the Goddess via western earth-spiritualities such as Druidry, Wicca and the Goddess Movement. In many belief systems that honour the Divine Feminine, there is an understanding that the Divine resides within each of us – that we are an expression of Divinity; that there is an underlying unity and connection between all life and Goddess/God/Spirit. This approach asks of us that we treat all life-forms with care and kindness and view each as equally important and deserving of respect.
It might be assumed that in honouring the Divine Feminine, nature and women would also be honoured and treated with respect, and yet we only have to look around the world to find an alarming amount of abuse and violence towards both women, children and the natural world.
There has been an interesting advertising campaign in India that illustrates the disparity between the worship of the Divine Feminine and the actual attitudes and treatment of women in everyday life. In recent times we have seen reports of the most shocking violence against women coming out of India, a culture that, paradoxically, has a rich relationship with the Goddess in her many forms. There are many complex reasons for violence against women in Indian culture (or in any other for that matter) but it is clear that far too often something is going horribly awry between the spiritual teaching and the actual practice. It is precisely this that the Mumbai based agency Taproot India has tried to address in their campaign Abused Goddesses and it gives food for thought to all those that see the Divine Feminine as a vital source in helping us to create a more equitable and loving world.
Taproot India were commissioned by Save Our Sisters, an initiative of Save the Children, India to bring attention to domestic violence and the trafficking of women and children. In response, they took traditional images of the goddesses Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Durga – three of the most widely venerated goddesses in Hinduism – with bruised and battered faces. Accompanying the images was the following text:
Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.
Whether such a campaign can truly make a difference is unclear but it is an interesting point that the images make and, whilst causing a good deal of offence in many quarters, it has helped to drawn attention to the issue. Surely, if we love the Goddess, that love and respect must extend to all women – in fact, it must extend to all beings.