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Jewish World Review August 1, 2003/ 3 Menachem-Av, 5763

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Goddess craze gone goofy

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | At great risk to my standing in the zeitgeist, I have a confession to make: I'm having trouble locating my inner goddess. I've looked everywhere. I even consulted my inner child, who was still moping from our last encounter when I gently suggested, 'Oh, grow up!' No sign.

I began my goddess search, as doubtless thousands have in recent weeks, immediately upon finishing Dan Brown's summer blockbuster, "The Da Vinci Code," the relentless page-turner about the search for the Holy Grail and the lost sacred feminine.

Brown's book - the new bible for Ya-Ya sisterhoods everywhere - curtseys to the notion that modern western religion is part of a male conspiracy, facilitated by metal weaponry and the Vatican, to keep women down. This was accomplished in part by tossing out the Mother Goddess allegedly worshiped by early man and demonizing women as crones and various apple peddlers. Bye-bye Isis, hello Medusa.

I won't spoil Brown's book by revealing the really dark secret that predicted modern gender relations. Suffice it to say that his novel may represent the tipping point for the far cosmic wing of modern feminism and predicts a tsunami of goddess-ness for the foreseeable future.

Goddess book clubs, goddess hiking troops and goddess support groups already abound. Any time three or more women gather these days, the goddess word is likely to bubble up.

Michelle Pfeiffer gives voice to Eris, goddess of Chaos, in DreamWorks' animated film, "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas." There are goddess pillows, goddess T-shirts and a "Goddess" exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Coming this fall to a Bergdorf Goodman or a Saks Fifth Avenue near you are ... goddess dresses. "Designers know when something is happening at the Met," said Harold Koda, curator of the museum, during a recent CBS interview about the goddess movement.

Even Stonehenge has a new sacred feminine interpretation. The stone monument that has puzzled humans for some 5,000 years is really - a girl! Not a landing platform for alien spaceships at all, but a fertility symbol in the form of female genitalia, according to a retired gynecology professor, Anthony Perks, who, one might argue, retired none too soon.

If you type in "goddess" on Amazon, 1,302 entries pop up, including diet books and tarot card guides, as well as scholarly works on reclaiming the sacred feminine, invocations and rituals. Google "goddess" and you get 2,430,000 entries, a review of which might lead us to reasonably conclude the following:

Oogedy-boogedy.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the culture that made the feminist gynecological encyclopedia "Our Bodies, Ourselves" a coffee table book - followed by the riveting scene of women discovering themselves by squatting over mirrors in "Fried Green Tomatoes" - inevitably would morph into the self-absorbed, self-worshiping goddess movement.

Fast forwarding from "I am woman, hear me roar" to "I am goddess, back off Bubba," the goddess movement is a logical extension of the narcissistic self-esteem movement. Emotion and superstition congeal in a spiritualized version of Revlon meets Rosie the Riveter.

I should pause here for another confession. I once went on a "goddess hike" in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which roughly translated meant nine women over 40, no guys. We were a spirited bunch, equipped with sandwiches and a bottle of champagne, when about two miles along the Appalachian Trail we intersected with nine male convicts clearing underbrush with chainsaws and one guard armed with one-little-tiny pistol. (Hush, Sigmund.)

Whereupon we wondered, what was such a great idea about no guys?

Considering that the convicts might be able to connect the dots as we did, we began assessing our defenses: one pocket knife, one champagne bottle and one gorgeous woman who had slipped under the minimum-age wire. We determined that she was our best protection, figuring we'd offer her as a sacrificial virgin. Then we ran.

Whether ancient times really were more female-centered as Brown fictionalizes - and as some scholars suggest - it is increasingly clear that modern times are leaning that way. As we seek to find new ways to express our narcissism and invent new matriarchal myths to sustain us, however, we might remember that for every alluring Georgia O'Keeffe receptacle in nature, there is an important-looking pinnacle nearby.

The real name of the game is balance, yin and yang, male and female. And real goddesses, as with everything else, do not have to declare themselves.

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