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Reflections of a Reluctant Goddess

<i> Columnist Bill Boyarsky is on vacation. Today's guest columnist is Aurora Mackey, a reporter for the Ventura County edition of The Times</i>

It was ages since I’d been invited to a Los Angeles party.

Not, mind you, that I was particularly baffled by the reasons why. When you’re a single mom, have kids your neighbors call “Jaws I” and “Jaws II” and then move to Ventura County, it does tend to take a person off a lot of A lists.

Still, when I opened up the cream-colored envelope that arrived not long ago, I was certain there’d been some mistake.

“You are invited,” it said, “to come worship the goddess within you.”

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Now, anyone who took even the quickest look around my house would know in an instant that no one like that lives here. What goddess in her right mind would have heaps of unfolded laundry on her sofa, smashed Gummi Bears on her kitchen floor and a Nintendo game blaring at full volume while she exhaustedly fixed Spaghetti-O’s for dinner?

Even if I did have a goddess within me, I knew which one she’d resemble: Venus de Milo. You know, that armless one in the Louvre. She probably took both her kids into Toys R Us and let them tug too hard on her hands in the Ninja Turtle section.

As I drove through Coldwater Canyon toward the party, I wondered if perhaps I was making a mistake. Pants were probably the wrong thing to wear. If everyone else showed up in a toga, I was going to feel like the only fully clothed guest at the nudist colony.

Then, a terrible thought struck me.

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What if this party was some bizarre, last-ditch ritual for women whose biological clocks had wound down so far that now they were even willing to pray to the fertility goddess?

I already gave to that goddess. Twice.

When I arrived at the front door of my friend’s house, I was led inside where 12 women stood in groups of two or three. Behind them were three musicians from South America who played folk music on wooden panpipes. Candles flickered around the room, casting a soft, gentle glow.

“Come and meet Anne,” my friend said as she took me by the arm and introduced me to a tall, beautiful woman I later learned was an attorney. “She’s done a lot of goddess work.”

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I nodded and smiled, uncertain how to respond. “Congratulations,” I said after a moment.

After a while, we all sat in a semicircle with my friend in front of us. She had asked us to come, she said, because all of us--including a local TV reporter, two film producers visiting from New York, a musician and several artists--had something in common. We were strong women, she said, and had strong goddesses within us.

“Our feminine energy is critical for the planet now,” she said as the folk music played softly. “We live in a patriarchal society that has no concept of future generations. It only thinks about materialism, conquering and using up resources.

“If we don’t now offer, as women, our greatest strength and passion,” she said, “the world will destruct.”

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The women were silent. They took hands. Then, the group walked outside under the full moon. They raised their hands in the air.

“I celebrate the Goddess!” everyone said in unison. “I am the Goddess!”

The party, I discovered later, was only the tip of the goddess iceberg.

Goddess worship groups have been springing up from California to Massachusetts, along with goddess newsletters, goddess books, a goddess hot line and even a cable-television goddess show.

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Believers talk about a time thousands of years ago when goddess-worshiping societies lived peacefully and in harmony with nature, when male traits like competition and dominance were supplanted by female qualities such as intuition and compassion.

Then, they say, a bunch of male-dominated warriors swept through Europe about 3000 BC--bringing their aggression and lack of reverence for nature with them--and ruined everything. All of this may be true, but I still have a hard time with the goddess solution. No matter how hard I tried to get into the spirit of the party, I felt as if I didn’t belong.

Maybe it was because, while I embrace the whole idea of taking care of the Earth--and agree that women’s traits historically have been undervalued--I doubt whether lighting candles or shaking my hands at the moon will change anything.

Or maybe because, in contrast to those women, the things I do to make a difference are simply more mundane. As soon as I got home, I did them.

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I scraped the Gummi Bears off the floor, folded the laundry and put the recyclables outside for collection. Then I went upstairs and tucked in my sons.

They were asleep, but I kissed them anyway. I have always believed it would make a difference if I didn’t.


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