Goddess symbology:
Re-emerging from the shadows

A rambling by Melinda Lau,
July 1999

Ten thousand women in a football field, an unlikely place for the resurrection of an ancient goddess. Yet there she was, Lilith in all her glory, touting an anthem for the modern female. Since 1997, this demon/goddess has drawn crowds to her yearly musical event.

Hints of the goddess movement gone commercial? Perhaps, but this isn't about Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair, now in its third and final year. This is about goddess symbolism gone mainstream. Representations of an Earth Goddess, whether in the form of maiden, mother or crone, are cropping up everywhere. Yet for all the assertion of female identity in the all-seeing media, the influence remains subtle. The more obvious and apparent the symbol, the more subconcious the effect.

Accustomed as we are to loud commercial advertising, we've learned to filter out the more blatant images shown to us through various visual mediums. What remains are the more memorable, stirring motifs that we can immediately identify with. Hence, the re-emergence of the goddess in our popular culture. It is perhaps not that she is making more appearances, but that she is beginning to be noticed.

She is showing up everywhere, the full figure of a woman with wide hips, large breasts and a belly swollen with new life. She appears in art, advertising and even as a fashion accessory. An increasing number of pendants and pins with her round little self can be seen hanging from necks and pinned to lapels. Even more popular with mainstream culture is the maiden with her fresh face and flowing hair, showing up on bottles of Wellatm hair care products, or even as the once-controversial Starbucks mer-woman.

This year, the side panels for the Lilith Fair mainstage were two large images of a harp-bearing Euterpe, the Greek muse of music. Looking over the expanse of the stadium, her presence was a strong reminder of an old religion and an even older spirit of female influence.

Though some traditionalists would prefer an ancient goddess to a modern one, change is inevitable. However, considering that the alteration is a positive one that brings this earth religion goddess out of obscurity and into a more enlightened role, this modernisation of image should be welcome. With this now more public view re-awakening, the Earth Mother is no longer an obscure figure in folk lore or faery tales, but a constant as well as ever changing mainstream goddess for the 21st century. Surely as ever, we are witnessing a goddess re-born.

[ by Melinda Lau ]