Process Theology/Goddess as Change

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Indian Nataraj, Shiva as the Lord of the Dance

“While life is in us, we must live in the world, where the Dance is, and to live truly, we must join the Dance. There is no reason for this. There is no reason for the world, only the rhyme and the rhythm of the days and nights and the four seasons, without us and within. Life is a Dance and the beginning and end of our lives are steps only; the Dance goes on with us and without us. In time and space, we, as all things, arise and dance and in due time slow and cease to be. But the Dance continues. The Dance is; it always is.”

— Michael Adam, Wandering in Eden: Three Ways to the East within Us (1997)

In traditional Christian theology, one of the defining attributes of God is his unchangeability. According to mystic, Alan Watts, this image of God reflects a fear of life and all its fluidity:

“The rigid, male God embodies the ideal of the posses­sive will—to grasp and hold the mystery of life, to freeze the desired form of the living moment into an eternal and immobile possession. And so frozen, the thing is quite dead. The moment, the movement, the life has passed on and gone free. The feminine element is lack­ing in our image of God because we fear it in life as the beauty that burns our fingers when we try to hold it—the supple, flowing, changing aspect of things that so exas­perates us because we desire to possess it and can­not.”

Process theology posits a different image of God, a God who changes. Process theology was developed by Charles Harts­horne and John Cobb, and its insights have been brought to Neo-Paganism through the writings of Starhawk, Carol Christ, Constance Wise, and others. The fundamental in­sight of process theology is that reality is change. Change, mo­tion, flux are the fundamental realities; objects, things, and mo­ments in time are abstractions and unreal. As Starhawk ex­plains:

“All things are swirls of energy, vortices of moving forces, currents in an ever changing sea. Underlying the ap­pearance of separateness, of fixed objects within a lin­ear stream of time, reality is a field of energies that con­geal, temporarily, into forms. In time, all ‘fixed’ things dis­solve, only to coalesce into new forms, new vehi­cles.”

This is true of all reality, including the Neo-Pagan Goddess and ourselves. This can be expressed by the phrase, “Goddess is a verb.” Similarly, you, the reader, are a verb, as am I. We are in motion, in flux, as is the Goddess. This can be illustrated by turn­ing one’s name into a predicate. Hence, I am not John; I am John-ing. Likewise, there is no Goddess, only Goddess-ing. This process is often analogized to a dance: We are the dancers, and the Goddess is the Dance. The Goddess is dancing through us.

Updated 2019

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