The Parliament of the World's Religions (October 15-19, 2015 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) is the oldest, largest and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faith and traditions. This year the Parliament connects the dots between spirituality, culture and politics with major speakers such as the Dalai Lama, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Rev. Jim Wallis and Dr. Vandana Shiva, bringing their global wisdom and practice to the Parliament's theme, Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity. Speakers will address three critical issues facing people across the globe; Climate change and care for creation, income inequality and wasteful consumption and war, violence and hate speech.
I spoke with Rev. Karen Tate, who moderated a panel on Friday, October 16 discussing the relevance of sacred feminine liberation thealogy called The Living Goddess. Tate will also give a presentation on Saturday, October 17th, Reawakening Our Earliest Sacred Stories, that addresses how pre-patriarchal mythology of the feminine face of god has all along given us a template for a more sustainable future.
Question: Why were you invited to speak at this global gathering?
Tate: Hundreds of proposals were accepted from the thousands submitted, and I can only assume my years of teaching, speaking and leadership in the Goddess spirituality movement have been noticed and the people making the decisions thought I'd represent the Sacred Feminine well. It's hard to say, of course, but I've been outspoken over the years. Recently I was bestowed the titles "Wisdom Keeper of the Divine Feminine Movement" and voted "One of the Thirteen Most Influential Women in Goddess Spirituality" and my long-running radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, is considered a treasure trove of wisdom, according to peers and listeners. Perhaps I was noticed in the film, Femme: Women Healing the World produced by actress Sharon Stone and Emmanuel Itier of Wonderland Entertainment. I've been at this for a few decades and have also written four books: Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations, Walking An Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy and compiled and edited the anthology, Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversations to ReShape Our World, based on my radio show. I teach the Unitarian Universalist programs, Cakes for the Queen of Heaven and Rise Up and Call Her Name and also serve the Joseph Campbell Foundation as a RoundTable sponsor to foster adult continuing education. I guess you could say I eat, sleep and breathe Goddess and She has informed and inspired my entire adult life. In recent years I've been very dedicated to sharing the importance of sacred feminine liberation thealogy and this opportunity to share at the Parliament feels like a dream come true, maybe even, the culmination of all the aforementioned work over the years.
Question: How does the conference view speakers like yourself who aren't not representing "mainstream" religious?
Tate: Well, I believe they must be very tolerant, wise and actually believe in diversity. They're obviously walking their talk of the importance of inter-faith dialogue, and I have to believe with the ever-growing interest in the Sacred Feminine across the globe, they really cannot deny people like me and my like-minded brothers and sisters a place at the table. That said, I think it's interesting that in the early years of the Parliament there was some resistance to people like me. I interviewed one of my mentors, Lady Olivia Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis on my radio show about her participation in the Parliament in those early days and she candidly told of the death threats she received by more intolerant attendees of the Parliament, but those attitudes are few and far between these days as more and more people understand what humanity has been denied when the Sacred Feminine was swept beneath the patriarchal rug. Let me say though, I don't think it will be long before Goddess is considered "mainstream" because the Sacred Feminine is making a come-back within Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Thanks to our information age, more and more people discover She's been worshiped more than 35,000 years as the archaeology and material culture of history proves, long before a male god was on the scene. People are demanding liturgy and language of the Mother or the Mother alongside the Father and there's been a lot of progress on this front in the last few decades.
Question: For you, how does Goddess spirituality fit in -- what is your message?
Tate: Well, we're all giving presentations that fit beneath the umbrella of the theme I've mentioned earlier in the interview, however my talk, Reawakening Our Earliest Sacred Stories, is specifically about how we must give ourselves permission to reinterpret, rewrite, reawaken and retell all those stories of wisdom that Goddess thealogy and mythology provide, particularly as they relate to creating a more just, compassionate, equitable and sustainable future. Mythology and our sacred stories shape our culture and Her myths guide the world away from patriarchal domination, exploitation, imbalance and war and toward the practices of caring, sharing, reciprocity, partnership and peace. People of the world are ready for a change and values of the Sacred Feminine can temper or replace the authoritarian Father mythology and thealogy that has given license to so much of the imbalance we see today. There's a saying within Goddess Spirituality, "She changes everything she touches, and everything She touches changes." (R)evolution is a'foot in politics and religion.
Question: In the future, many predict traditional religious influence will decline. Do you think Goddess spirituality will fare differently? Why?
Tate: Though this new Pope is a rock star and even people like me are hopeful and grateful with him at the helm of the Catholic Church, I think we're seeing that the younger generation particularly rejecting religion and opting for spirituality, as many of us are. People are weary of the conformity forced upon them by organized religion. Women are tired of being relegated to second class or told by men what they can and can't do with their own bodies, lives and sexuality. People can't help but see that some extreme versions of religion seem to be more about power over, control, fear and hate rather than love and affirming life. Scholars and visionaries say evolution bends toward altruism rather than selfishness and history tends to bend toward liberalism, and I think that's what we're seeing coming into being even if feels like two steps forward and one step back at times. We're all suffering through terrible economic times. Income inequality and austerity is killing the poor and middle-class. All our tax dollars go toward war and corporate welfare and loop holes for the richest among us. We've had enough. People are opting out of support for the status quo and institutions that strive to keep things the way they are or have been and want something that better serves them and helps create a new normal for the majority of humanity. I believe that new normal we all strive for is one where we respect the commons, take care of one another, provide opportunity, social safety nets and take care of the environment and all the living creatures that live on Mother Earth. We want wisdom and long-term thinking to replace greed and short term thinking. We want to be able to develop ourselves as human beings and put less emphasis on growth, considering our finite resources. All these ideas are in-sync with sacred feminine liberation thealogy, which I teach and discuss in my talks and on my radio show with men and women who share their vision and insight. For those who want a spiritual life and value these ideas, the Sacred Feminine can be their deity, archetype or ideal. And who can turn down the arms of a loving Mother? I think the Great She is going to fare rather well in humanity's future. She's being rebirthed in the new paradigm that's awakening right now. I'm confident She'll be restored to the center of society with temples, grottos and churches in neighborhoods around the world.
Click here for more information about Rev. Karen Tate.