The Art of Goddess Worship


worship_man_01Modern Man’s Response to the Emergence of the Goddess

Back in July, I published a piece on this blog, as well as on Huffington Post, called Why It is Wise to Worship a Woman. That article emerged in a very personal and spontaneous way. I’d been out for a walk with Chameli, my wife, one evening. Overwhelmed with the feeling of “it just couldn’t get any better than this,” I popped a little update on Facebook in celebration of the goddess I’m married to. Surprisingly, by the morning there were dozens of comments. A lot were from women, but many were also from men, either wondering where they could also have the good fortune to find a goddess similar to mine or, perhaps more important, wondering how they could discover the same spirit of deep appreciation of the feminine.

That article was my answer to that question. It reflected on the wisdom of being in worship of the feminine. Not just get along with, or tolerate, or befriend, or cooperate with. Yes, I said what I meant: to worship the feminine.

That article generated almost 1000 comments on my blog as well as the Huffington Post, with a variety of flavors. There were women who said “Finally, you see me.” There were women who said “I don’t want to be worshipped. Leave me alone.” There were men who said “Yes, I’ve discovered the same thing in my own life,” and there were men who said “You must be kidding. Women are all witches in disguise,” There were men who said “This sounds amazing. Show me how.”

One of the people who read that post was my old friend Gay Hendricks, who, together with his wife Kathlyn, wrote the book Conscious Loving back in the ‘80s. It was my bible back then and taught me a great deal about the practices that create healthy relationship.

Every Meeting is Happening in the Collective

Gay and I have been in continuous dialogue over the last several months about this topic. We recognize that whenever a man and a woman meet in any way, the meeting is happening within a context of a relationship between the genders which has a history of thousands of years. I’m sure you remember the play Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers were smittendickseeromeo by Cupid. But this was not just a boy meets a girl in a bubble, because each was a member of a family that had been in a feud with each other for generations. This was not just Romeo meets Juliet. It was Montague meets Capulet. Whether they liked it or not, they were carrying the inheritance of a conflict which they had each done nothing personally to create.

The same thing would be true today if an Israeli fell in love with a Palestinian, or if a Tea Party member fell in love with a Muslim, or if a Roman Catholic from Dublin fell in love with a Protestant from Belfast.

None of these meetings happen in a bubble. They all sit within the context of conflicts that have been generated in the collective. Just this same is true whenever a man enters into relationship with a woman. Of course, the man himself has likely never raped anybody, or burned any woman as a witch, or denied anyone the right to vote, or forced a woman to hide her face, or barred her from religious or political office, or forced her to perform subservient chores. “No, No,” such a man might say. “I’m a conscious man. I’m respectful of the feminine. I’m fully supportive that you do your thing.” Whether he like it or not, that man still carries within himself the echoes of the collective masculine and, like it or not, every woman is an incarnation of the collective feminine.

What is the Conscious Man’s Response?

The elephant is in the room. Now the question comes what to do with it. One response to this situation, becoming less popular everyday but still prevalent nonetheless, is to carry on with business as usual, the same business of the last 5000 years. The post from the summer evoked many such responses here on HP. The man carries on cleaning his gun and watching football, waiting for his woman to bring his dinner and his beer. The woman, still locked into millennia of enforced subservience, acquiesces, but bitter all the time, and holding back the treasures of her real love.

The second possibility, which began to be popular in the ’60s and ‘70s but still is in full force today, is dominated by shame and revenge. The man becomes meek and subservient. He may even grow his hair and his beard, play the guitar, and banish even the faintest whiff of his macho past far beyond the frontiers of consciousness. He distances himself as far as possible from the brutish behavior of his father and his ancestors and bows sheepishly to the newly emerged feminine power. The woman, now rebounding in resentment of how her mother and ancestors have been treated, becomes dominating. She becomes militant, unforgiving, and even castrating. The sad thing is, no one really enjoys this game either.

The third possibility started to emerge only in the last few years.

We discover that masculine and feminine are energies, not just biological genders. Every man has some masculine and some feminine energy and so does every woman. The balance we seek, is not only between men and women but between the masculine and feminine energy, which are to be found everywhere in life. The feminine way is neither inferior (as we had deemed it for thousands of years) nor is it superior (as some have claimed in the last decades), but it is different. Through a synergy of masculine and feminine strengths, we find the emergence of a whole that is far, far, far greater and the sum of it to individual parts.

The restoration of dignity to the feminine has happened in three stages over the last century. The first took place less than 100 years ago with suffragettes demanding the right to vote. At that time men moved from denial and ridicule, to violent opposition, to acquiescence and finally to support.

The next wave came in the 1970s when women stepped forward to fully participate in the world man had created on his own terms. Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi became heads of state (both in a woman’s body but doing things in a very masculine way). Women became judges and politicians and engineers and doctors and lawyers and ministers and construction workers, all roles which had previously been mainly reserved for men. Again, men’s response began with ridicule in the ’50s and shifted to acquiescence and then awkward support.

The third wave of the restoration of feminine dignity has really happened in the last few years. It is sometimes called “Theimages Goddess Movement.” We are, all of us, recognizing that there is a feminine way of doing things just as valid as the masculine. Women are realizing that they don’t have to compete or even participate in the world that man has created on his terms. We realize that there is a feminine expression to spirituality, a feminine expression to ecology, a feminine expression to leadership, and each has a huge gift to offer.

And still most men stand awkwardly aside, like a shy teenager at the school dance, wanting to join in but not knowing how.

Three Shifts Men Can Make

As men in transition, Gay Hendricks and I recognize that there are several possible shifts called for from men today, in order to reboot and to enjoy a completely new adventure.

First, the elephant in the room must be recognized. Women have been disenfranchised for thousands of years. Feminine energy has been given very little respect and we have all lost out as a result. Even if you’ve never disrespected the feminine yourself, the first step is still to say “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what we have done. I’m sorry for what my gender has done. And I come to you with a fresh start.” This is not the stance of shame, but of honesty and self-respect. Please take our words for it, and that of thousands of our colleagues and students, women love to hear this being acknowledged.

The second shift that today’s man can make is to fully experience and release the hurts that he has experienced in his relationship to women. It is those very hurts, both personally and collectively, which cause men to dishonor women, if they remain banished out of awareness.

The third shift is for man to recognize how much he really loves feminine energy: how much he loves her beauty, her capacity to love, her laughter, her freedom to feel and express emotion. In some senses, she brings vivid color to his world which can easily become black and white.

Man can discover, and then learn to worship, the feminine face of the divine. People sometimes object when Gay and I use the word “worship.” They hear the hierarchy of a subservient relationship. Worship has been like that in patriarchal religions because it was a one-way street. The devotee worships the deity, but the deity doesn’t return the favor. We use the word “worship” in a completely different way, one we found in our dictionary as: “to pay extravagant respect and admiration.” This kind of worship can easily be a two-way street. Gay and Kathlyn and Chameli and I endeavor to bring this quality of extreme respect and worship in both of our marriages, and it overflows into the rest of life.

Two Invitations

If you feel engaged by this conversation, I want to invite you to do a couple of things today.

First of all, come read our “Manifesto for Conscious Men” on Facebook. If it resonates with you, please click the “like” button to add yourself the the growing number of men and women ready to start over. If you would be so kind, please “share” it also.

Secondly, I’d love to invite you to join Gay and Kathlyn and Chameli and myself for a free tele-seminar this Thursday. Gay and I will read our Manifesto live, and we will all of us joyfully address the most sticky points about this conversation, which can make it challenging as well as infinitely rewarding.


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12 Responses to “The Art of Goddess Worship”

  1. Al Farthing October 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    Excellent follow up of the previous article —


  2. becky kemery October 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm // Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! For articulating these deep truths and setting us all on a new path… thank you.


  3. Susan October 26, 2010 at 5:15 am // Reply

    You have credibility because you live what you talk…the ONLY was of change. Inside to out. Thank you. Susan


  4. Lisa Sarasohn October 26, 2010 at 6:01 am // Reply

    In a previous article you mentioned that Chameli would be writing a companion piece … why it is wise to worship a man. Has she done so, and if so how do we find it?



  5. Tracey October 26, 2010 at 10:57 am // Reply

    I know what you write to be true… my boyfriend calls me “goddess” and the love emits from him to me and from me to him. I’ve never experienced something so freeing! Free to BE! He appreciates and loves the feminine and so do I. Thank you for this wonderful article!


  6. Rainbow October 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm // Reply

    Mmm, thank you for putting this out there, Arjuna. I am so glad to read someone writing about this. It is what I have been thinking and feeling for a long time – but I have been ashamed sometimes because to question the validity of women’s pursuits in a ‘man’s world’ could be seen as being anti-feminist. To say that there are attributes of femininity that women carry into the world more than men is a controversial statement.
    This truth is not political, it is spiritual. And well put, Arjuna!
    Thank you.


  7. Joseph Tany October 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm // Reply

    cant find the page with the Manifesto, but this is indeed meant as response for the manifesto, a few ideas to add to it.

    please allow this 5 cents. my kind of man
    somewhat aware of our short comings and
    need for control could have suggested a sort of providence of perspective-free-willed when humbly
    saying we regret if we with this document
    have in your eyes, repeated that same old man
    of control, if we reminded him to you in anyway, but we know
    in our hearts of hearts that you do not need recognition
    . We know all women, you are just fine
    without our funny Manifesto. And maybe whenever we’ll be the
    same man from time to time,
    do with us then what best
    for us, same as you always do
    we know you know how to care
    for us and we are learning.

    moms and godesses, please allow
    us to play fools with this game of ours
    if you have joined in, we would
    appreciate if you would write a “Manifesto for Conscious Women”
    or whatever.

    the more people adding ti this manifesto
    their names should be added to the authors.



  8. Joy Gardner October 28, 2010 at 5:22 am // Reply

    Thanks for writing this. I remember being at a sweat, and one man thanked all the women for making the sacrifice of child-bearing. It brought tears to my eyes. I never thought of it as a sacrifice — but it was! My body is entirely different. I was in labor for 36 hours. Yet I never even realized that it was a big deal!
    Most men have no idea how deeply they can touch a woman by speaking their appreciation with sincerity. It can help to heal and to open up whole generations of women. I think it must go deep deep down, into the archetypes of femininity that have been so painfully wounded for so long.


  9. Karin Oscarson October 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm // Reply

    Mmmmm….YES! Such a great initiative for the beginning of healing this huge imbalance that has created so much suffering on our planet. Let’s all be part of this so the hurt feminine can heal and then also worship the masculine! (I also want to see my man as God:-)


  10. Nirmama October 29, 2010 at 10:21 am // Reply

    It might be of interest what Sri Kaleshwar writes about the divine Mother and especially the part at the end of the article about our physical mother

    Happy Vijayadashami to everybody!

    Swami sends his love and blessings on the occasion of the tenth day of the Mother Divine festival here in Penukonda


    The Mother is a clear nectar.

    She’s unbelievable loving. Caring, sharing, loving. True love. You surrender. You respect her. Yes. She knows how to take care of you. Mother Divine’s Hrudaya (heart) chakra means kindness. Kindness in the sense of prema – true love. That is Hrudaya. The whole universe is her creation point. Whenever you put true love it’s a link – (between Mother Divines’ heart and creation point.)

    By grace of Mother Divine everybody will enjoy the fragrance of her true love. She’ll do it. I have confidence. But you have to win her heart. Once you win it, you really can command her. Command in the sense, you have a right, you have a voter list in her account. Do you know voter list? In the elections, whenever you want to select any politician, you have your own voter list. Security, social security.

    Merging in the divine creation is nothing but a merging with Mother Divine. You are with the Holy Mother. The whole universe is your Mother. The whole creation is your Mother. That Mother created your mother, that mother created you. Your mother also needs to go there. She is a bridge between the nature and to you.

    Once you win your own mother’s heart automatically your enlightenment is there. Whoever humbly respects the mother’s tears, her milk, her love and caring nature – that is enough for your enlightenment. You no need anything else. Doesn’t matter your mother is alive or not…you’re doing a good job in your mother’s name, yes, you made your journey. Your austerities, 99% of your japas, your homas, your journeys you made it very close by. Good jobs. Good jobs in sense of taking care of the poor people, the hungry people. It’s enough.

    The mother is the number one healer in the universe. More than Jesus, a mother can heal instantly because she has the same blood as her child. Whatever the mother prays on the child, it heals that soul. Without mother’s love, there is no creation on the planet.

    We all came from a mother. We all came from the female character. Your whole link is somewhere with the female. Even if God wants to come in this planet he has to choose a lady, he has to go in a mother’s womb.

    Our first master is our mother. Especially the women will recognize this. If the child is suffering the mother won’t sleep peacefully that much. She’s shaking. The man is second category. Even in Indian tradition the man is second category. The men know love but the real love the mother knows it. The mother is the first. She’s teaching you how to grow, how to take care. Praying with your mother’s name, from whom you came, doubles the effects of your normal prayer.

    Already the mother gave the rhythm, the fragrance, to your womb chakra. It doesn’t matter where she was born, or if she is alive, her energy is always activating in you.

    Once you have that thinking on your mother, if you have a pain, if you’re suffering, like your husband is torturing you, your children are torturing you, your boyfriend or girlfriend is torturing you, or you’re having any type of unhealthiness, you don’t need to pray to God. The first God is your mother. The first master is the mother.

    You don’t need to physically be with your mother all the time. Just have true love for your mother. Have a strong bond with both your mother and father. It doesn’t matter in your childhood days about their rough relationship, whether they fought or not, or even if they left each other. Once you have that strong bond with your mother she is the strongest healer for any soul in the planet. If I give healings to a person for a thousand hours, that thousand hours is equal to your mother holding you, hugging you for one minute, giving her love “Don’t worry, I’m with you.” She sucks the pain like a vacuum.

    Even if your mother is not available physically, still you can make a link with her on the cosmic level, intellectual level, soul level, heartful level, or mind level. You can connect her and feel her through any link. That’s the first big major step that makes it easy for you to access the healing.

    Why I’m saying this, you have to have respect for your mother; then for your father. That is the major step to spirituality. Indirectly it means I’m putting you to Shiva-Shakti. The real Father and Mother is Shiva-Shakti.

    A real mother-either your physical mother or the real Mother Divine-can heal you, can pull you, can take care of you, no matter what type of pain hits you.

    If you have bad feelings on your mother, I’m so sorry, I can’t help you. You have to respect your mother and you have to connect to your mother-then connect to Mother Divine. You have to develop these kind of inner feelings in silence. Even if you do not have good feelings for your mother, you have to respect her.

    There is no value, nobody cannot give value to the mother’s tears and her milk and her love; these are the three nectars in the humanity, in the divinity. Who respects the divinity will always get the enlightenment. Who doesn’t respect these three characterisms, they are unable to win the mothers’ love.

    A simple technique to heal the relationship with your own mother

    Visualize your mother or put a picture of her in front of you. Surrender by going down with your head to the ground and thank her for giving you birth. “I forgive you, and please forgive me for everything that has happened until now.” It doesn’t matter if your mother is alive or not. It is good to do this process for twenty-one days or longer.

    The mother’s love is immortal forever and ever.

    With love & blessings from Penukonda,

    Your Swami web site.


  11. michael November 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm // Reply

    Women: I am sorry that I have treated you like a sex object at times, though I have known better. I am not sorry that I have defended you often in the many groups of men I have been in my life (firefighter, construction crews, other worlds of mostly men, etc) but I am sorry for the times when I did not say anything as these other males (often just boys) said unkind and unaware things about the women in their lives or for that matter, the entire feminine. I am sorry that I (feared what they would say) did not step up at that time and provide a different paradigm: a man that respects women enough to let others know that it is an option for them instead of…ugliness. I am not sorry that I took womens studies classes in college as an elective, this was my first educated glimpse of the world of (often angry, often sad, always powerful) women that I had long suspected was there, and deeply longed for at the same time. I am sorry and saddened that I (and as many of my brothers) did not grow up with a strong and real masculine figure: my father sexually abused my sister from age 3-age 14. This I am so deeply sorry for I cannot yet stand to feel it yet completely, perhaps I could have ‘saved her”? So then I went out to ‘save’ many women since, and often took away their beautiful power that they could have used to love me freely with instead. For this, I am deeply sorry that I continued this imbalance between us lovers, and took away your power and mine at the same time. I should have trusted us both. I am not sorry that I have eradicated all traces of that incest demon from the lineage of my family, I am sure of it. But I am sorry that this left me not trusting the masculine in myself starting at the age of three. I am not not sorry that I have, however, fallen in love to the point of sublime ecstasy and hours of bliss with the feminine in many ways, despite my jagged wounds. But I am so sorry that many of my brothers do not yet respect that wonderful and essential feminine in themselves, and therefore squelch it, repress, it, and it then so often turns into rage and violence against women, the feminine. It pains me more than anything to hear that you have been raped, thrown across the room in rage, even murdered, and that I could not be there to defend you. If I ever see man doing this, I will use all my power and rage to stop him from hurting you more, I sacredly and without reservation promise. Yet I am most pained to admit this: I see it, all the emotional fallout of this thousands year old imbalance, in your eyes, in the way you move, wounded goddess, when you walk by me… and I know I cannot even say ‘hi’ sometimes without you questioning what I want. Oh I am so innocent, I want to say, but am I really? Can you truly trust me, open your beautiful soul and heart to me? If not, please please forgive me. This is so heartbreaking. So all I can do is open my heart to you, show you that I am indeed a man, and let you in, and worship you, and say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I am so sorry beyond all the wounds and words you may never know…


  12. Jyo December 10, 2010 at 1:04 am // Reply

    Most Beautiful way to express appreciation to the feminity. It shld reach to the corners of d whole world.


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