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Ray Bergen

Creating Sacred Space as Hero and Goddess
by Ray Bergen, Ph.D.

Hero and Goddess: the Ultimate Lovers

The basic polarity that has been driving evolution, from the cellular level up and from the dawn of time until now, is the energy of attraction and repulsion. As positive-negative electrical and magnetic fields, this energy envelops us, creating storms, weather patterns, and so much more. In plants and animals, this force emerges as gender: male and female. The highest expression of human male-female polarity manifests as lovers, and the supreme expressions of lovers are the archetypes of Hero and Goddess.

At first blush, Hero and Goddess may sound like grandiose terms, or worse, an attempt to return to outmoded stereotypes. But they are in fact ancient, universal patterns that are already encoded in our DNA. You don’t have to be endowed with great strength, courage, beauty, or wisdom to access the Hero and Goddess within. Think of them as roles. When two persons want to create love, they learn to step into these roles. Most couples refine these roles enough to get to the altar—but then they stop! Thinking they have crossed the finish line, they relax, not realizing that they are merely at the starting gate; their journey has just begun in earnest. As magical as most new lovers find these roles, they are just scratching the surface of the deep and nourishing game they are evoking.

The Hero initiates. Drawing from his primary slogan, he says: "I will step beyond my own preoccupations and concerns and do whatever it takes to reach you." Meanwhile, the Goddess guides, using her primary slogan: "There is more." She means that the further we travel into love the more passion we can celebrate and the more connected we can feel. If a relationship were a car, he would be the engine, and she, the steering wheel. Without the engine, we can still entertain ourselves, push the buttons, listen to the radio, but we won’t go anywhere. And without someone steering, even if we start on the journey, we will shortly run into a ditch.

Remember the myth of "Snow White?" That was no ordinary prince. He wasn’t just hanging out on a street corner passing time when he came across Snow White. No, he was on a mission—a vision quest—searching for love. He had the Hero’s heart. Once he spotted the woman of his dreams and proclaimed "I’m going to do whatever it takes to reach you, even though you’re dead." His kiss was so powerful it awakened that goddess vision lying dormant waiting to be activated. This is the story of every new love. Her surrender to him creates the falling in love that initiates their adventure.

This point on the journey is as much about despair as it is about love. Despair, not anger or hate, is love’s opposite. Whenever she feels her inner vision neglected, trampled on, not nourished, she confronts despair. Every woman holds that Goddess essence wisdom deep inside her. Knowing what the two of them can become with her guidance and his courage is the source of her power.

As Joseph Campbell points out, after all the other Hero journeys are played out, the ultimate journey is towards the Goddess, the representative of wisdom. On the Spirit level every relationship is a journey into the feminine. For a man, this means letting go of his conquering mentality by placing those qualities under the guidance of his female partner, as the representative of their shared vision.

As the holder of the relationship vision, she sets their course while he navigates them there. The image is of two people paddling a canoe: she steers and he provides the power. She says, "Let's head towards that island" and he honors her (which is not the same as agreeing blindly). All ancient stories have lovers traveling in the same direction: towards sunset—and sunset is followed by night, where the ebb and flow of the moon hold sway. Night time begs us to set aside surface preoccupations so we can nourish ourselves on the depths below. It is no accident that most relationship encounters happen at night. This is Goddess territory, where every man encounters the deeper meaning of the reality that his Goddess truly is a woman of the night.

Creating a Sacred Bedroom Space

Every ceremony is a call to connect. Just as every man’s challenge is to empower the feminine in his woman, every woman’s challenge is to guide them to connect. She puts out the call that says, "Its time to drop our preoccupations and come together. Join me; let’s step out of practical concerns and touch souls." This is why a ski trip together may be an exhilarating bonding experience, but it’s not ceremony.

Ceremony takes place in a sacred space. In relationship the most sacred of spaces is usually the bedroom—a couple’s church. Instead of just adding a few candles and soft music, I recommend a more far-reaching ceremony: turning the whole bedroom into a permanent sacred space. This is the challenge to every woman as guide: to make of the bedroom a place that feels nourishing to her most feminine, sensual aspects; where her heart says "I’m home." This means creating a theme, redecorating, starting from the bottom up to design the most intimate room in the house.

Both persons making the intention to collaborate on externalizing their shared vision of intimacy is what lifts this activity from project to ceremony: one stretching over months involving lengthy discussion accompanied by trial and error. Using as a guide "what feels good to her," couples can produce bold, daring possibilities never before imagined. The room becomes a physical metaphor for the whole relationship, breaking old barriers and opening new doors.

Now the house has a "Lovers Center," like the church centered old New England villages, to balance the other centers of kitchen and playroom—a special place where lovers come together. When we nourish this center all other aspects of our relationship also thrive.

© Copyright 2003 Ray Bergen. All Rights Reserved. 

Audio Programs by Ray Bergen:
(Available at: www.herogoddess.com)


Ray Bergen
Ray Bergen, Ph.D., a marriage counselor specializing in the archetype of "The Lovers." Author of an Audio series entitled, "When Hero and Goddess Love" which applies the Hero journey and Goddess journey to relationship work. He and his wife conduct workshops about the core drama at the heart of every relationship. His website is:




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