In response to the controversy regarding the Starbucks’ coffee cups, I am re-posting this blog with a little addendum.
First of all, and almost ironically, the Christians who are protesting the absence of Christian symbolism have missed a most crucial sign that Starbucks never was in the business of promoting one particular religion over the other. See, for instance, the blog post on the Starbucks website about the origin of the logo, who is, in fact not a goddess, but a mermaid/siren.
Second, and I have pointed this out to Christians on social media, it’s not likely that Christ, if he ever existed at all, which is beginning to fall more and more into the category of the improbable, was born on December 25th.
- It’s cold as hell in Judea at that time of year, with the possibility of snow.
- What with the weather being that cold, therefore, the likelihood that a) there were shepherds tending sheep b) that any king in his even halfway right mind would announce a census in the dead of winter when the roads were most likely closed because of snow is so small as to be negligible.
- The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ was moved to late December likely to coincide and co-opt the pagan winter light festivals (The Return of The Sun/The Birth of the Son).
Please feel free to enjoy your Starbucks coffee, have a Starbucks scone and listen to some popular Starbucks Winter Holiday music. Thank you.
I just had an encounter with one of the local Jehovah’ Witnesses. I believe I handled myself beautifully.
He asked me if I believed that Jehovah was going to step in and save all the Good Christians. I explained that my father was, by all accounts, a Good Christian. He also was a child predator who chose me as his target for the better part of a decade. I wrote about that a couple of years ago when the good men of our Congress were debating what “legitimate” rape was and what it wasn’t. It was a trigger for me so I wrote about it.
The debate with the Jehovah’s Witness continued and I had an answer for everything he said. He asked me if I believed the Bible was true. I told him that I believe that the Bible has truth with in it, but I really don’t think it was meant to be taken literally.
After I graduated high school I had freedom to explore my spirituality and discover my spiritual path. I actually began to research witchcraft at the age of 14, when I checked out Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch (blessings on your journey, Ms. Leek, and thank you). This was initially a form of rebellion against my parents, who let me drink and smoke, as long as I did it in the house. So, I showed them by researching the occult. Little did I know that the joke was on me and that 20 years later, I would come out of the broom closet and declare myself a witch.
But in my research of various religions I found that almost all of them were tainted with the stain of misogyny. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam…all of them showed none of the respect that I believed the women of this world deserved.
In my search for the best spiritual path for me, I discovered Merlin Stone’s When God Was A Woman, about the preponderance of ancient female statues who were obviously pregnant and the possibility that before patriarchy there were advanced, civilized cultures that were matrifocal if not matriarchal.
Then I discovered Edward C. Whitmont’s book The Return Of The Goddess. A Jungian far ahead of his time, he warned of the consequences of the repression and denigration of the female attributes in the patriarchal religions. It’s not the easiest read in the world but one well worth the time.
I took a little detour in the late 80s and early 90s, when I moved to Cleveland, OH shortly after losing my brother-in-law, who was originally from there. I was confirmed a Catholic at St. Malachi’s Church, but that was only because I saw the inner city church reaching out to do God’s and Christ’s work by feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and comforting the dying. And I was depressed and vulnerable from the loss of someone I loved.
Then in college, as research for my play, I read Margot Adler’s wonderfully balanced and thoroughly researched Drawing Down The Moon.
Finally, after my graduation I became a member of The Unitarian Church of Norfolk, VA where there was a local CUUPs (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter. I found some pagans, one of whom was a hereditary Welsh witch. After a night out, with me constantly asking how I would know when I was a witch, he walked me to the door, kissed me on the lips and said “Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again” (this is a common wiccan parting) . He’s very cryptic, so it took me awhile to realize that what he was telling me was I already was a witch, and had been all my life. All I needed to do was to recognize and honor my witch by bringing her to the surface. When I told him this later he was very pleased that I had figured out what he was saying to me.
So, I acknowledged that I was a witch and pretty much, for all intents and purposes, came out of the broom closet.
As I explained to the nice gentleman with the agenda of converting my soul as if it were a football, it was obvious to me the the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religion had much darkness within them. Until these patriarchal religions admitted the darkness and managed to integrate the darkness into the whole of their religion in a healthy way, I was not interested in exploring that particular spiritual path.
I explained to him that before there was Jehovah there was the Goddess. He said that Jehovah had always been there. Then I asked him the question, “Who was Sophia?”
Now, those who know me, know well the affection that I have for Judy Chicago’s monumental sculpture installation The Dinner Party, a representation of 1,038 women who shaped the force of history. This project took Chicago several years, and involved hundreds of artisans and crafters of various types and was responsible for the dissolution of her marriage. It’s a huge triangular table consisting of place settings for 39 women who shaped the force of history with the names of 999 other women on the floor below.
Sophia earned her place at the table and on the website for the project, here’s some of what Chicago had to say about her:
“According to The Apocryphon of John, one of the main texts of Gnosticism dating to circa 180, Sophia represented divine wisdom and the female spirit. In the Gnostic creation story, Sophia, seeing God’s creations, desired to make something of her own. The being she formed was her son, Ialdabaoth, who had the face of a lion and the body of a serpent. Ialdabaoth later used Sophia’s power to create the material world. Because of her relationship to Ialdabaoth’s creation, Sophia became known and worshiped as the mother of the universe.
Sophia appears in many passages of the Bible as the female personification of wisdom, though her roles and popularity in Judeo-Christian traditions have changed throughout time. She is also celebrated in Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, as the female expression of God. Sophia has been venerated by various religious figures throughout history including Hildegarde of Bingen, another woman represented at The Dinner Party, whose theological writings addressed Sophia and the concept of divine female wisdom. In nearly all representations of sacred wisdom some aspect of Sophia can be found; she, like many other goddesses, even became integrated into the worship of the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages.”
So, when I finally asked him who Sophia was, he conceded and bid me a good day.
Never mess with a witch about her religion.