Presence of the Goddess
by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Soulful living, to a witch like me, is practicing the
presence of the Goddess. Itís living in Her home,
which is our beautiful blue planet. Itís letting Her
be our mother and our friend. Itís remembering that
every one of us is Her most precious child. Itís
remembering that we are all kinówe who have two legs
and also those with four legs or wings or fins, also
those with leaves, and even our eldest kin who have
crystalline structures and look like rocks. She is the
Great Creatrix. She is the grandmother of all the gods
of all the standard-brand religions.
But those are big, fancy, abstract ideas, arenít
they. What does it mean to live soulfully in the lap of
the Goddess on a daily basis? After all, She doesnít
open up a lane on the freeway especially for me. She
doesnít sprinkle money down upon me while Iím
standing in line at the grocery store. She doesnít do
car or computer or plumbing repairs.
Day in and day out, like everybody else I struggle to
live soulfully, to bring a little bit of peace to a
world that is always marching toward war, to be kind and
helpful and creative. Some days, I succeed. Other days,
So what else is new?
I think focus is a large part of soulful living.
Paying attention is a large part of practicing the
presence of the Goddess. This reminds me of a college
English class in which the teacher explained the
difference between Romantic literature (the poetry of
Wordsworth) and Naturalism (the novels of Zola). Letís
imagine weíre all walking down a road, my teacher
said. The Romantics look at the scenery on one side and
all they see are clouds and daffodils and lovely maidens
and handsome knights. The Naturalists look at the
scenery on the other side. What they see are children
working in factories, the bodies of people who starved
to death, and families full of rape and incest and
betrayal. Good writers have written about all of these
things, and their words have been read for two hundred
years or more.
How about you and me? Should we spend our time
looking at daffodils or corpses? Should we focus on
fluffy little greeting card angels and pretty crystals?
Or should we focus on a failing economy and stupid,
corrupt politicians and CEOs?
I believe that to live soulfully, we need to be aware
of both sides of that road weíre traveling. Itís the
good and the bad that make us what we are. Itís both
helpful and hurtful experiences that act like sandpaper
on our lives and on our souls to smooth us out. Itís
the combined spinning of upper and lower chakras that
brings us into balance. Itís yang and yin working
together that energize us so that we can keep walking
along that road. The road, of course, is our life path.
The Great Goddess has many faces. She is the virgin
who is exploring the wonders of life and learning to
stand on her own two feet. She is the creative mother
who nourishes her children and causes corn and roses and
oak trees to grow. She is the destructive mother who
prunes back our growing tips and harvests our fields so
that new crops can be planted. She is the warrior mother
who fights like hell to defend Her own. She is the sexy
mother who sings and dances and embraces her consort.
And she is the crone who looks at life and gives counsel
and judgment. The Great Goddess is said to have ten
thousand names and ten thousand aspects.
It seems to me that whatever we doówe are
practicing Her presence. Wherever we goówe are in Her
presence. Whenever we liveówe are keeping Her time.
Soulful living is living in the world. It is also, as
a friend of mine once said, praying to the Goddess for
help but doing our own homework.
I am a writer. Our society places little value on the
arts, and so to help pay my rent and buy cat food, I
sometimes do temporary office work. My books bring in
royalties, but only twice a year, and writing book
reviews and contributing to web sites, however wonderful
they are, isnít going to make anyone rich. So I am
fairly pushy about publicizing my editing services. Iím
fairly pushy about getting in touch with literary agents
and acquisitions editors. Iím doing my own homework.
And nearly every morning, I practice the presence of
the Goddess with a little ritual. I speak specifically
to the goddess Fortuna. Youíll recognize this goddess,
for Hers is the famous Wheel of Fortune that we see on
Card X of the Tarot pack, in the famous television show,
and in any casino. Wherever that wheel is spinning, Dame
Fortuna is spinning it. Dame Fortuna also carries a
cornucopia that is filled with wonderful things, and She
holds the rudder with which She steers our lives. Dame
Fortuna stands on one of my altars. Behind Her is a
collage that I made one night in ritual with friends.
Piled on the altar in front of Her are my symbols of
abundanceógold and silver U.S. dollar coins, a
wishbone or two, a magnet, sand dollars, play money,
fortunes from Her cookies, fairy dust, and cat whiskers
(which enhance any spell).
I cast my little circle, and then I invoke the powers
aboveó"Help me reach the stars"óand the
powers belowó"Keep me grounded"óto create
a sphere in which I stand at the center. "Dame
Fortuna," I say, "be with me in my life and in
my work. Turn your wheel to bring me to fame and love
and abundance. Share with me the bounty of your
cornucopia. Use your rudder to steer me to good
publishers and good friends." These are the things
I want in my life. Other people, of course, have other
wishes and talk to other goddesses and gods.
Writing and editing are what Iím good at. When I do
what Iím good at, Iím practicing Her presence. When
Iím practicing Her presence, I am living as soulfully
as I know how.
© Copyright Barbara Ardinger 2002.
All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D., (www.barbaraardinger.com),
is the author of Goddess Meditations and Practicing
the Presence of the Goddess. She has two books
scheduled for publication in 2003. Finding New
Goddesses is a book of parody and puns. Quicksilver
Moon is a novel about a vampire, a coven of witches,
and a far-right fundamentalist preacher. She has
recently finished Crone Encounters, a novel, and
is also working on a book called Let There Be Beauty.
She lives in Long Beach, California, with her cats,
Schroedinger and Heisenberg, plus her collections of
witches and goddesses