Jill Solloway, The Goddess, and MePosted: September 30, 2015 Filed under: Feminine Power, Feminism, Goddess Spirituality, Woman's Bodies | Tags: Feminism, Jill Solloway, personal essay, Tabby Biddle, The Goddess, Transparent 69 Comments
“Thank you, Goddess.” That’s not something you hear said a lot out in the mainstream, especially on national television. But when Jill Solloway, the creator of the show Transparent, got onstage to accept the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series last week, those were the first words out of her mouth.
“Thank you, Goddess,” Solloway said again. I held my breath. What would everyone’s reaction be?
I discovered “The Goddess” about twelve years ago in an all women’s movement class. My friend who had recommended the class didn’t mention that it was a Goddess circle. If she had, I’m not sure I would have gone.
Growing up Catholic and Filipina, I was taught to believe that there was just the one God. He was a White guy in a long gown. He had shaggy hair and a beard.
The only reason I even signed up for the class was because my friend had told me that because of this particular movement practice her days had turned orgasmic. Orgasmic? What did she even mean? Was she walking around having orgasms all day? Did she have orgasms even when she was stuck in traffic? Was she having an orgasm right now? Surely she was being metaphorical. Either way, I thought, I’ve got to have me some of that.
That first night, it became clear that this wasn’t a class about orgasms. Instead, something else happened.
As I moved in my body and witnessed other women do the same, I felt the presence of God in the room. Only, he wasn’t a man, she was a woman. And her name was Goddess.
That my God might actually be female and not male should have come as a huge shock except that it made absolute sense—and not just in my head but in every cell of my being. No wonder I’d never quite resonated with the God I grew up with—like a relative you have nothing in common except for your bloodline.
That God was this male figure up there, remote and outside of me. With the Goddess, I didn’t need to wait to get to heaven to find out if she was real. I could see her everywhere in the flesh now, as the Earth (Mother). I could feel her in my body, moving through me as feminine energy. By recognizing that the Holy could also be female, I was able to see that women, and not just men, are sacred too.
Even though my spiritual conversion from God to Goddess was instant, this wasn’t news I was dying to advertise outside my circle of close friends and family. What if people think I’m too “out there” spiritually and stop wanting to know me? What if I’m blackballed by the journalism industry, the acting industry, any industry? Worse yet, what if I don’t get a date with a guy ever again?
My fears about what could happen if I were to publicly admit that I am a woman who worships the Goddess may be particular to me, but they do not exist in a vacuum. I spoke with Tabby Biddle, women’s rights advocate and author of Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action. She said:
“Over the years women have been persecuted for speaking their truth and being ‘different’ than men. Women have been burned at the stake. Stoned to death. Raped and murdered. While witch burnings don’t happen today, stonings do, and so do rape and death threats. The Goddess presents a shift in orientation from the male culture that we all have grown up in. This direct challenge to the patriarchal status quo is a game changer. It is scary for a woman to say, ‘I stand for and with the Goddess.’ She temporarily has to re-live the barbaric acts taken against women over the centuries since the onset of patriarchy. The memories of these acts live in her body. In her blood. In our collective consciousness. Who will support me? Will history repeat itself? These fears are real.”
Which is why I reacted the way I did when I heard Solloway mention the Goddess in her speech. What is going to happen to her?
In many parts of the world, including certain communities in the United States, to acknowledge the existence of a female God is still forbidden.
The day after the Emmys, New York Magazine listed Solloway’s thanking of the Goddess as one of the feminist highlights of the event. Twitter and the media mostly lauded Solloway for her creative work and continued advocacy for transgender equality. As Biddle noted, “I think there is more of an open-mindedness to the term [Goddess] now that women’s equality and ending gender discrimination are more at the forefront of the cultural conversation.”
Here, on Stories from the Belly, I’ve alluded to the Goddess—written about her even (or, rather, written around my relationship with her). But to admit outright that the Goddess is the one to whom I pray, the one I sit before at my altar, feels like I’m risking a lot.
Hearing Solloway publicly acknowledge the Goddess makes me want to take that risk.
The only reason this blog even exists is because I discovered the Goddess all those years ago. It was then that I began to own my worth as a woman. It was then that I began to recognize that other women are my allies and not the competition. It was then that that I began to understand that my body really is a temple—and it belongs solely to me.
Thank you, Goddess.
I feel that there is one energy and I don’t believe it has gender. But I also believe there are feminine and masculine energies within nature and those energies guide me in certain ways. Such as the moon leads me as a woman. Perhaps there are angels with gender that are there for us when we need it.
I’m with you. And for each person one form/gender may resonate more- or like you said, neither or both. I love that reminder of how the moon leads us as women.
Hello again Diahann,
your comment to Diane Lansing reminded me of my question for you… Do you pronounce your name the same way “Diane” sounds? It was the greek goddess Diane (my spelling of her might not be right) that was the “huntress” and her symbol was the moon… but you probably already know this! 🙂
Hi! Yes, I love Diana the moon goddess. And yes, my name is pronounced exactly the way Diane’s name is. After the actress Diahann Carroll. And thank you, glad you enjoyed the post, Tabby.
That’s a cool namesake! A goddess in her own right, I’d say. Thanks for your reply. 🙂
Great post. I was very inspired by Goddess culture when I first discovered its history. It’s extremely liberating to know that the prevalent religions of today, with all their patriarchal and violent ideologies, were not the only (or even the original) human belief paradigms. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this discovery, during very turbulent teenage years, was life changing. It’s a constant reminder we need not be spiritually or intellectually bound by the dominant ideas of our age.
hi Lesley, thank you. It must have been amazing to discover her at such a young age. I definitely would not have been open to her as a teenager but I can only imagine what that would have done for me. It’s good to be on the spiral now.
More and more women are acknowledging goddess, and good for them, and good for you. But I suspect — and this is only a hunch, nothing I can prove mind you — it actually goddesses.
HI Peter, I’m in resonance about that there are plurals of her. It’s been great finding so many likeminded men and women online and not just pockets in my everyday life. My husband is always telling me that the violence against animals has similar roots to the violence against women, btw. – makes sense not just rationally but spiritually given the Goddess/earth connection.
Wonderful post! Thanks for being brave enough to share your beliefs! As one believer in the Goddess (as well as God) to another, I applaud you! 😀
Thank you, Moonstone Maiden. I too am finding lately that there is a way to bow to both.
Amen, Sister Goddess.
Same to you, Martha. Love the tagline for your blog, btw. Look forward to getting to know you through your posts.
Thank you! I look forward to reading more of your as well. 🙂
A great post Diahann. Well done ! 😀
I have always queried why the Trinity is totally masculine until I was led to read The Book Of Knowledge The Keys Of Enoch by JJ Hurtak. (The Shekinah is the Holy Spirit).
In the prologue (page vi) I quote, ” The Shekinah (Divine) Presence, the feminine aspects of the Godhead, exists in all creative orderings of all dimensions, and is the Power through which we are respatialized to partake in the “virgin birth” of our embryo godself. This is “The Age Of The Holy Spirit” – where the Bride and Creator become one ……”
Later on in the book it states that Love is the substance of Eternal Life and is created by the Shekinah, Holy Spirit.
Personally, I believe that there is still an unknown not yet told to us. There is the Father, Mother and Son, but where is the Daughter ? Balance !
Just my view my friend. 😀 ❤
Thanks for sharing, Ralph. I haven’t heard of this book- it sounds very interesting. Also, I’ve never heard about a possible daughter- I like that very much! And love the wisdom that love is the substance of life. 🙂
Thank YOU Goddess! I see her in every act of feminine power, like this one right here, in which you proclaimed your freedom to choose how and whom you worship. I see the Goddess in you. I see her everywhere, and yes, hanging out with the shaggy white-bearded god–because they’re buds too. In my universe, we have many different forms of the divine, and it’s perfectly acceptable to work with different forms that resonate with you. This way is so much more fun to me than accepting some dogmatic doctrine that insists I worship a certain way at a certain time in a certain place. Thanks for sharing this story from the belly. Loved it!
Thank you, Lorien. Yes- for sure- agree that there is room for both and for all. I think there is a lot to be said for the freedom that comes with freeing oneself from strict dogma for sure and play- like you said, so much more fun. 🙂
Yay, glad you are writing about such important ideas…so that we can all share and discuss and find common ground. Thank you.
Just watched the video–thanks for posting that. I especially liked how Jill Solloway mentioned the trans equality problem. I didn’t know that trans discrimination is legal in 32 states!!! I applaud Jill for bringing up this tragic truth in such a huge public forum right on the heels of all of that applause–what a brave woman…a goddess.
Yes- I thought her talking about trans equality was incredibly important for sure. Have you seen Transparent? Not just great writing and acting but really wonderful in portraying one man’s journey to becoming the woman he always was.
I LOVE TRANSPARENT. My husband and I watched 3-4 episodes at a time, blew right though the season. Can’t wait for another.
As a recovering New Ager who lived in Santa Monica for 14 years and then Asheville for 2 (both new age meccas), I’m surprised to hear the term ‘goddess’ is still considered unconventional. I’m also surprised at myself, now more attracted to Christianity and interested in learning about the biblical God, that I feel uncomfortable identifying with the goddess terminology… As a child and teenager, my understanding of God came from self righteous preachers and teachers. I think the mainstream Christian view of God is a very limited one. Based on my current research and reading of the bible, I’m developing a very different view of God than what was presented to me early in life: I’m learning just how much God loves his children. I’m also learning that He wants us to live in harmony with ourselves and each other, and that the pain and violence that women (and men) have suffered has not been God’s punishment, but part of His larger plan to ‘win’ back his family. Understanding God in this new light is very complex because it requires understanding all 66 books of the bible in its entirety and within historical context. It’s also very simple to understand because it’s just a long, epic love story about a Father and his children. (This is a VERY huge topic, so I won’t go into more detail here.)
I appreciate you bringing this intriguing and important topic up for discussion, Diahann!
Hi Annie, so much to catch up on and definitely curious about this journey you’ve been on rediscovering Christianity. I know you mentioned it before and sounds like you are really digging in. I appreciate you sharing a bit of what you’ve found out and adding that element to the conversation here. Let’s PM soon and figure out a good time to talk now that you are back in the USA.
At least your Goddess sounds more down-to-earth and, dare I say it, humane than the god I used to follow. So glad to see you back writing, Diahann. 🙂
Thank you, Tony! Feels good to be back writing, too. Great to connect here with yuo.
Thanks for sharing, and for owning it. I think you’ve created a pretty safe space here and hope it will be reflected in the comments.
Also: I love your internal monologue stuff!
Thank you, Jay. And also, glad you enjoyed the subtext in my head- 🙂
I teach women’s studies and when we do the religion section, textbooks I’ve used talk about a lot of ways that feminists do religion. One involves goddesses/ the goddess, Which got me interested. After doing research it seems that she was the original deity, adding a male god once people understood how reproduction worked. And then with patriarchy, The goddess disappeared in many places, Or was at least downsized. I feel I really need to be in touch with feminine deity, Having been indoctrinated with only male deity. It was great to see this at the Emmys. And I’ve been amazed to see a lot of talk of female deity on blogs lately.
Thanks for this!
hi Georgia, it does strike me that more people are coming to to speak about her- I think with so many women writing and speaking out these days about women’s rights, equality, and goddess herstory- including you- the world is becoming a safer space where there are others who will have our back if need be. I love that you teach about feminine spirituality in college.
An informative read about the source of your spirituality Diahann. Why should anyone stone you for your beliefs?
I feel the same way, Timi! No one should be stoned period and definitely not for beliefs that harm no one. Thanks for being here.
I wasn’t aware of her speech..I don’t have TV nor watch TV. So off to watch the videoclip soon.
Just saying Goddess, instead of God, gives a sentence a different “feel”.
Huh! You are right, Jean, about the feel- I never noticed that before but I just tried it now. Enjoy the clip. Good for you for not having a TV. Wish I could do that.
The goddess is my form of deity Diahann (though I believe she, like a god, is really a personification of a force of energy). It’s empowering to have access to a whole pantheon of goddesses with all their different aspects.
Hi Andrea, I have to say, I am not surprised, esp with the gorgeous name of your blog. I have found that goddess spirituality to be very self-empowering in more ways than one, including the wonderful plethora Shes available, and, as you say, their many respects.
“Was she walking around having orgasms all day? Did she have orgasms even when she was stuck in traffic? ..I thought, I’ve got to have me some of that.” LOL.
Appreciate the honesty, Diahann. In some respects (some, not all), it’s a different (feminist zen-like) language for what is actually part of the traditional long-haired God doctrine. (He was not white, by the way, as I explained in my Black Santa post two yrs ago. I know, I know. The White Male rules in our collective consciousness.) Point being that women are indeed sacred too, every bit as our male counterpart. That is why God made them in His image, male AND female. But society has certainly favored one half of this truth, esp in times past. And I certainly hope it is your feminine energy you feel – not male!
THanks, Diana. Appreciate your insightful perspective. I definitely get now that he wasn’t a European white guy – same with Mary – but as a child those were all the images I saw- esp. as the Philippines was colonized by the Spanish for hundreds of years… a lot of that was passed down. It’s interesting that there is a full circle happening in me – that I’m starting to find room for both Her and Him in my spirituality these days.
It is always a good day when I log on to find Stories from the Belly has gone orgasmic again! 😉
I missed this speech, but totally understand your reaction. I belonged to a small group of pagans for some 15 years back, and something significant — almost electric — happens when the language of “God” becomes “Goddess.” Blind spots are revealed. Possibilities change. Pains we didn’t even know we carried can open.
Ultimately, for me, the Goddess wasn’t a lasting answer. Of course, I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition (lapsed Unitarian here!) that worshipped a God either, in any coherent way. What I am finding now? I have started writing the word “gods” in places where “god” would be expected — and while it began as a whim, or a personal subversion, I am taking more and more comfort in that idea of a divine plurality. God of the kitchen, god of house pets, god of friendship and saying “sorry” when you really mean it. I haven’t drawn any grand conclusions about this yet, I just have a feeling that I might…
Thank you, Alice. I think a lot of people would be on the same page with you in terms of not agreeing with monotheism. Perhaps a returning to ancient roots even in the subversiveness – when Apollo and Zeus and the gang were all acknowledged and honored along with Venus and Hera?
Dear Diahann, I so admire both your authenticity and your courage. Thank you for continuing to share your beautiful, and fierce, soul so generously with the rest of us, including giving voice to who you are and what you stand for. Although I neither watched the Emmys nor have seen “Transparent,” I fully appreciate the insightful, honest points made by you and Tabby Biddle. Rock on, my friend, rock on. xoxo
thank you, Chloe, for your support and holding space for my creativity and expression not just here but on your blog. xo
How synchronistic to see that you’ve been writing to me this morning, as I FINALLY got my tush back into rehearsal on my new solo and was thanking you for your inspiration and articulation about using the marsh as my muse…and also for the Diahanndance using pelvic/tail initiation for movement. I actually made some progress! Thank YOU for all of your support and wisdom, my friend/goddess. For sure: when women recognize the divine in each other, rather than competition, we can do amazing things…again and again. Love to you….
Chloe, I’m so excited to hear about the marsh Diahanndance (love writing that just now) pelvic tail initiation taking shape. Look forward to finding out more as your solo takes shape and hoping to see video or photos on your blog should you decide to share with us. Here’s to women empowering each other and supporting each other when we do.
Thanks so much for this post Diahann. I didn’t watch the Emmy’s so did not know that Goddess had been acknowledged on prime time tv – very exciting.
I understand very well your hesitation in “coming out” so to speak as a Goddess worshiper. The Goddess has been an important part of my spirituality for the past 35 years. After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute with a BFA in painting it took me a number of years to find the courage to let Her speak through my art. The art world does not accept such expression as valid but so what… She continues to speak through me and folks respond (even if the art world does not).
Obviously, the One Source from which we all come has no gender, but while we live in a world of duality, gender identification to a deity will certainly continue. There are many goddesses and many gods – all of which are manifestation of the One Source (at least that’s my belief).
hi Judith, a took a peek at your gorgeous art and SHE is definitely represented. Yes- writing about her was definitely “scarier” than other topics considered taboo to talk about that I’ve tackled. Which made it clear that I had to write about it cuz it shouldn’t be scary to do that. I didn’t realize the art world had issue with Goddess art but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It sounds like you’ve found your audience and that’s just wonderful.
As a Hindu (albeit non-practicing), I grew up with an awareness of both gods and goddesses. My knowledge of the stories are very limited, sadly, aside from what I have read on my own. However I did go to Catholic school of the majority of my education and learned a lot more about Catholicism, so I too automatically visualize “God” as a male/Father figure. I think if people taught religion with a gender-less God, it might make humanity more compassionate and understanding of women as a whole. However the view of God as a Father is so deeply rooted in the monotheistic religions that I do not foresee this happening, possibly ever. Not to mention that even though Hinduism worships both gods and goddesses, it really doesn’t affect their view and treatment of women (if one watches the news this is shamefully obvious). I’m not sure what the answer is in terms of promoting social change, but I applaud you for not ignoring your own belief preferences and for being honest about it.
Thank you. I definitely think it is an interesting paradox how with Hinduism and in India there is such reverence for female deities but not of women. I am intrigued by the idea of religion taught with a gender-less God. Makes me think of the spiritual paths that connect with “a higher power” or “the universe.”
I have mentioned faith pm my blogs, talked about transvestites and how the Native Americans name their Moons and call gas “Two Spirits” so I am definitely accepting of goddess or any belief system that shows positive force and loving energy. My Grandpa was born in Sweden where he felt that socialism embraced “the least of these” but rarely said any type of faith statements. Once he was in a great debate with my Dad who came to find religion and a pastor was like a father figure in his youth. He found comfort in God and church. The question my agnostic grandpa asked has been on at least 2 posts:
“How BIG is your God?” He meant this for us to think. Later, my Dad used it in his discussions. You see, it was my Mom’s father who asked this and my Dad felt it embraced all religions, faiths and even his science (evolution) he so loved. “My” God is an inclusive total sum of all people. ♡♡
In my comment my phone changed a few words. I should have checked more carefully, Diahann. 🙂
pm = on
I love how you describe your God, Robin. I’m often struck by how God/dess would likely embrace everyone but its his/her people who keep getting in the way of that. I so resonate about what you said about God being big enough. God/Goddess the universe is big enough to hold everyone.
LOL- I do that too. Thanks for the translation. 😉
Wow, when I got to your internal question “What will happen to her?” this post got especially deep for me. I realized I had the same reaction, fear and worry for women who declare their spirituality. More powerful still that you connect it back to the witch trials. And all of this connects me to the current battle with Planned Parenthood as well. Inspiring read.
Thank you, Jenn. Yes- women speaking out for themselves, their bodies, their rights and the risks that can come with that. There may not be literal witch burnings but there is more than one way to metaphorically torch someone in the 21st century. Thankfully a lot of us are now speaking out and saying enough is enough and standing for ourselves and each other.
This is such a Wonderful post Diahann!
I can’t remember if I shared this/these link(s) with you before, but I think You’ll love and relate to the project(s):
Here are some quotes from the project:
“Myths of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living things. There you appreciate the real sanctity of the earth itself, because the earth is the body of the Goddess.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
“Masks have so much transformative power. One might say that they are like cups, waiting to be filled. The Masks of the Goddesses were created to investigate, re-claim and re-invent these important universal stories, as well as empowering women to explore each archetypal presence within herself. What does the story of Sedna , ocean mother of the Inuit, have to teach us about ecology and reciprocity with the Earth? What is the Gnostic “Mirror of Sophia”? How is the “Descent of Inanna” a potent story of psychological death and rebirth, the journey toward wholeness? How is Spider Woman, the great Weaver, an important metaphor for our time?”
Thank you, Kate, this looks fascinating. And I am a huge fan of J. Campbell. Have you worked with any of the masks in person?
I was working on my own masks at the time and had been dealing with the archetypes of Goddess(es) for my Girl Soda Atlas for years, so was researching for more when I encountered the artist and other women making masks and working with a goddess-narrative based performance. I love the variety of faces and the interconnected female mother earth stories.
You being a writer and an actress as well as a “Goddess daughter” made me think this might encompass your interests! 🙂
Yes, definitely! 🙂 I can definitely see Her inspiration in the Girl Soda Atlas image you shared with me. Have you ever read Vicki Noble’s SHakti Woman? She writes about the use of art by women as a shamanic practice.
Thanks for the recommendation Diahann. I haven’t read Vicki Noble’s Shakti woman but I looked it up on line after your question and now I think I’d like to! I’ve quoted Starhawk before and now see how they relate. And I read Vicki Noble even worked on a female-based tarot deck and I’d love to see that with the illustrated-symbols and how those effect or alter the energetic readings… I was actually attempting an “oracle deck” (different than the tarot but similar) as a companion to my atlas, but it was SUCH a highly ambitious project that I never figured out quite how to manage it… and yet this post of yours and your comment all re-inspires me. Uh oh! Lol!
Anyhow I hope your projects and memoir writing are going well too! 🙂
Her Motherpeace Tarot deck is pretty remarkable. That’s awesome that you were thinking of doing an oracle deck with your work. I’m doing well-thick in the writing of memoir and have put myself on some deadlines. I hope you are doing great and enjoying your new home, Kate!
Oh, I didn’t get to move yet, which is a long ongoing and somewhat complicated story, but thank you.
However… it is most excellent that you’re in the thick of writing! Good that you’re focused and allowing generous time and space for your work. Best wishes to you (and Michael too). 🙂
I hope all is good with you, too, Kate. Sending you and yours best wishes up there as well.
Such an inspirational post… and an experience which certainly may lead to women empowerment… I much enjoyed the reading… Plus, Tabby Biddle´s words really resonated with me… and so did yours… thanks so much for sharing, dear Diahann. Sending love and best wishes!. Aquileana 😀
Thank you, Aquileana. Yes, Tabby articulated that collective female wound so beautifully and in such a grounded way. Thank you for reading and for being here!
I liked this comment when I was watching the Emmy’s, too. The show I have only caught at friend’s house since I don’t get the channel. This show, “Transparent,” really resonated with me. I do believe people don’t have a choice, they just are who they are. Accepting friends and loved ones helps them to become or show their true selves. I also feel respecting a Goddess to some is equal to all the other wsys we may look up to a higher being: God, Allah, Mother Nature or . . . They are Presences in our lives. Great summary on the event and specifically, the writer or director who spoke up. I am a little tired so please forgive I forgot her role in the production of “Transparent.”
I’m with you- accepting ourselves and each other and letting people be who they are and love who they love and worship who or what they worship. The Emmy winner, Jill, created the show and also directs and writes.
Thank you for liking what I said and adding dimension and depth to my comment, Diahann. I appreciate your clarifying Jill Solloway’s major roles, too. 🙂
Thanks for this post,
I am an atheist and so it was particularly scary to come out to my atheist friends that I worship Gaia. OK, I am still an atheist so I don’t literally believe in a human shaped female deity with the Earth as her pregnant belly. But I understand people who believe that or all the myriad variations of it because it is such an attractive concept. More than attractive, for many, including myself, it is a psychological necessity. I know that the Gaia, whom I rationally believe in exists because she is simply all the living organisms on the Earth taken together.
What could be more awesome than that? 30 million species of living creature each with a population of on average something like a octillion. Something like a decillion creatures each of which can trace its ancestry back to a single common cell 4 billion years ago. Awesome yes but hard to relate to. It tickles the intellectual part of the mind but the social animal that I am wants someone to worship not something.
So purposefully, I suspend disbelief and allow myself to picture her, to speak to her, to get guidance from her, to feel connected to her and through that connection, to all her component parts, the decillion. I write “prayers”, fictional works in which the second person protagonist meets Gaia and discusses the right relationship to reality with her (http://wiki.solseed.org/SolSeed_Book_of_Days). I found the right friends, people who also understand this way of relating to the divine. Together we form a small tribe that is exploring this path together.
But as I said above, I understand people who believe in real divine Goddesses. I understand that hunger to express awe to something that could understand the feeling. I hope you find (or have found) people who can share your particular path with you in a way that feeds and nourishes your creative mind.
hi Eric, Thank you for sharing your perspective here. I do think of the Sacred She as form and formless both so it strikes me that she can be manifest in deity form and also be everything at the same time. And I agree with you on the importance of finding your tribe. I too have found and it makes the journey that much richer and deeper.