(Book Announcement 4) Introduction (part 2) by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang

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[Editor’s Note: This Introduction is from She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Volume 2.]

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The Text of the Primordial Mother/the Creatrix/Mago

She Rises Volume 2, like her predecessor, is born out of the Magoist vision.[i] It intends to raise the collective consciousness of WE, a cognitive symbolic system derived from the knowing of the Primordial Mother or the Creatrix. One may call it an embodied knowing or gynocentric epistemology. Our stories shed light on the holistic view in which all parts are revered as a microcosm of the Creatrix. The She Rises book is an emblem of gynocentric cosmology: All contributions are interconnected and the book is enriched by each and all contributions.


This book is NOT just about what we have discovered and what we have experienced about Goddess feminism, activism, and spirituality but what and how we do with our discoveries and experiences. Where are we heading to with our knowing of S/HE? The collective consciousness of WE summons a gynocentric reality. This book is designed to show our togetherness in our uniqueness. It stands for unity that is enhanced by the diversity of individuals. The key phrase in the subtitle, “Goddess feminism, activism, and spirituality,” is a reminder of the all-embracing gynocentric way of our becoming. We ARE committed to the making of the book to reflect the gynocentric principle of unity in diversity. We allow our differences to lead us to a new (read gynocentric) territory without making ourselves fall into factionalism. Competition in a constructive manner helps us grow. But factionalism destroys us. We speak our truths not to argue or win. We speak our truths because they are true to us. Truth speaks, even when we can’t hear. And we trust ourselves to speak our truths in HER. And S/HE shall bring us together in WE. To trust in our contributors is the map that we editors have followed in She Rises collective books. In the process, we have learned that what we really need to be careful of, not the other camp of Goddessians, but what really divides us among Goddessians/Magoists.


In my Introduction to She Rises Volume 1, I drew attention to the word “Goddess,” concerning our need to reclaim it despite its linguistic drawback. Summarily, we strategically adopt the word, “Goddess,” knowing its derivative and subsequently dualistic nature from the word “God” in the English language.[ii] We are aware of the functional nature of language, a means for the meaning that we intend to convey. We choose one word over another for our political and utilitarian reasons. Our use of the word “Goddess” has given us a common ground to come together and interweave the She Rises books. The Magoist vision of the book merits the stance that the Goddess is not just the female divine or a sum of female deities but the Great Goddess, the Primordial Mother. It is S/HE who allows us the holistic view of WE/HERE/NOW, the ultimate reality. We who are awakened in S/HE know that we ARE this S/HE reality.


In writing my Introduction to the second book, another term has come to my attention, “feminine.” As seen in this book, some of our authors have favorably chosen the word, “feminine” in support of Goddess feminism, activism, and spirituality for reliable reasons. The context wherein the term is used is complex and highly suggestive of the female divine power. In their uses, some make it clear that the feminine refers to the female divine nature/power of women. Others use it in redefining and deconstructing patriarchal definitions of “the feminine.” It is true that “the divine feminine” or “the sacred feminine” has taken on popularity so much so that it appears almost indispensable in the Goddess Talk. Nonetheless, I hold that there is a point that we need to think and explore together the meaning of “feminine.” Linguistically speaking, referring to the gender quality of women, the meaning of “feminine” fluctuates. I find it worth broaching these questions to us: Is the term “feminine” empowering Goddess feminism? Why yes? Why no? These questions can only be answered by our authors and readers. We editors by no means advocate the purge of the term, feminine, from this book. Forcing unity is not gynocentric. We propose the question as an ongoing conversation among Goddessians.


Here is my stance to the question, which is yes and no. When the context indicates an ancient (read gynocentric) or feminist meaning, the word “feminine” certainly empowers women. When “the divine feminine” indicates the Primordial Mother within an environment like this book, the word is empowering. Put differently, the meaning of “feminine” can be conveyed as gynocentric, that is, women-empowering, when “the divine feminine” refers to the Creatrix, the Great Goddess. In this case, the gender quality of “feminine” is coherent with the biological quality of “female.” The meaning of “feminine” in such context does NOT reflect the patriarchally-imposed qualities of women; the feminine is gynocentric and sacred.


However, when the word “feminine” is used outside the gynocentric context, it becomes dubious in meaning, if not self-defeating, obstructing the impetus of women’s empowerment. Referring to the gender quality (read a social/patriarchal construct), of women, the meaning of “feminine” changes in different times and cultures. It is not free from socio-cultural settings. Being feminine today in the U.S. would be very different from being feminine two centuries ago. Also, being feminine today in one country would be very different from being feminine today in another country. On the other hand, the word, “female,” conveying the biological and biologically-derived quality of women, remains coherent in meaning across times and cultures. “Female” offers us a solid ground to build our feminist activism and feminist spirituality. Thus far, we women still hold the power of female biological and biologically-derived traits. The word, “feminine” alone risks a powerful conceptual ground for Goddess feminism. Precisely, it falls short in capturing the divine power of the Primordial Mother, the Creatrix. For example, I wouldn’t call Mago the Feminine Divine and her divinity the Divine Feminine. S/HE is the Female Divine in that S/HE is the Female prior to the bifurcation of the two sexes, female and male, and subsequently the qualities of the feminine and the masculine. The Female (in uppercase) is the Creatrix from which both women and men are derived. It seems we lack a word that refers to the gynocentric female quality that includes both the feminine and the masculine.


What patriarchy ultimately fears is female biology and our gynocentric qualities. Patriarchal societies have attempted to tame the quality of women and have been partly successful. Many women have internalized such patriarchally-defined feminine qualities as submissiveness, dependency, and weakness, etc. Due to patriarchal disturbance, the word, “feminine” is severed from the gynocentric quality of women. That is not surprising, however. Like women, patriarchy has conflated the quality of women. Under patriarchy, hence, the qualities of women have been bifurcated to the gynocentric feminine (as embracing the masculine) and the patriarchal feminine (as opposed to the masculine). In short, I am saying that there is no need for us to fall into two camps as “the feminine” vs “the female” and insist on one over the other. The kind of energy that we emit to each other matters to the community of Goddessians/Magoists. Our caution has to be directed to the patriarchal ruse that has severed the meaning of the feminine from the female. I throw this question to us: What is it that really destroys us? Is it the other camp of feminists or patriarchy?


(To be continued)


[i] See Helen Hye-Sook Hwang’s Introduction in She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? (Mago Books, 2015), 8-9.


[ii] See Ibid., 3. Also see Carol P. Christ’s “Why Women Need the Goddess” and Max Dashu’s “Meanings of the Goddess” in the same book, 43-68, 144-157.


See She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Volume 2.

See Meet Mago Contributor Helen Hye-Sook Hwang.


[i] See Helen Hye-Sook Hwang’s Introduction in She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? (Mago Books, 2015), 8-9.


[ii] See Ibid., 3. Also see Carol P. Christ’s “Why Women Need the Goddess” and Max Dashu’s “Meanings of the Goddess” in the same book, 43-68, 144-157.