Back near Beltane I almost did a post on what some might term “red goddesses” (and I think that is poetic, if open to reductive interpretation). What that means to me is goddesses whose character and attributes seem directed towards love, eroticism and individuality, rather than the common Pagan obsession with “mother” and procreation*. These are often “venusian” deities to our modern view point, and what really interests me is the potential divergence of eroticism and procreation which they embody, right in a female form which has socially been used to carry the meaning of fertility and procreation over and over. It’s not that they can’t have children, it’s just not their meaning.
I gave up on that post at the time, because the associations of Beltane were so conventionally fertility related. It seemed appropriate in the first place because of the rulership of Taurus by Venus. Now we are on our way to Venus’ other sign of Libra I might have another go.
The sort of goddesses that might be included here are Inanna, Ishtar, Hathor, Aphrodite, Venus, Freya, and the Thelemic deity Babalon. The goddess which I have had a personal connection with is Freya. You can also note some connections with sacred prostitution, the spiritual erotic, and areas of overlap between the body, spirit and sexuality which completely burst the banks of typical “patriarchal” ideas. There are commonly links to transgenderism and homosexuality which can also often be picked up. It’s an area which is very dear to me.
On the subject of Babalon, she is often depicted riding on “the beast”, and in the Crowely Thoth tarot trump she appears to be riding an animal that looks very leonine (apart from the multiple, polymorphous heads!), matching the astrological rulership of the card. What this always recalled for me was the depiction of various Hindu goddesses, shown riding mounts. I remember mulling over this back in 1990 and feeling that Babalon reminded me most strongly of Durga, who is often shown riding a lion. Durga is like the power of spiritual realization itself, awesome, self-evident, liberated. She famously defeats the “demon” that besets the gods and the universe in no uncertain terms. At the time I went looking for a poster of her at a local head shop in Margate. I got a beautiful, brightly coloured poster and took it home. When I got home I looked at the tiny order code in the bottom right hand corner. It read “666”. I laughed.
Phil Hine and his friends reported an interesting attempt at working with Babalon (again in 1990, funnily enough). as he says:
“The lesson of the rite was that the magician cannot bind demons to his will without recourse to Babalon. That is, you cannot work with energies and forms by seeking to restrict or bind them, but only by letting them flow through you. ……. Seen in these terms, Babalon is not so much the cosmic fuck which some male Thelemites seem particularly hung up on, but an image of wisdom and intuitive understanding of the process of growth; from that self-image which clings to attachments (ego) to that self which flows with change (exo). Invoking Babalon triggered a subtle shift in our collective field of awareness, resulting in an enhanced perception of gestalt; and once a new pattern is glimpsed, then we can begin to work with it”
I had to laugh at the comment about the fantasized “cosmic fuck”, because yeah, it gets pretty boring hearing that. Neither does it match the vision I may have glimpsed of a magnificent spiritual presence. But the erotic element is important I think, because it is there, in the lust for surrender, to both the physical and the spiritual. There is also here a form of magick which is hinted at by the idea of “sacred prostitution”, and congress with the invisible.
With intuition and heart a lot can be explored, by the grace of the rosy and the red.* there are of course other kinds of goddess, but this is one category of departure from the neopagan stereotype of maiden, mother and crone.