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Avatar, Remembering the Divine Feminine
"It's hard to put in words the deep connection the People have to the forest. They see a network of energy that flows through all living things. They know that all energy is only borrowed... and one day you have to give it back." ~Jake Sully
I frequently hear people say that the Goddess is returning, to which I respond, "Where do you think She's been?" I understand the crisis of the soul that feels forsaken by Deity. The ego that needs to see Divinity as having abandoned all of creation to explain its misfortunes perplexes me. In fact, the need to say the Feminine Divine is returning to modern culture from long enigmatic hiatus only perpetuates blame and doesn't take responsibility for needing to perceive Her as missing to start with.
Why we need to interpret Deity by gender, or how much fertile soul growth is denied by ignoring neutrality aside, I should just be grateful that She's getting play at all. The real issue isn't that She left. We left Her, and in doing so created an imbalance via patriarchy that gifted us sexism, racism, materialism, and militarism--all of which in Martin Luther King's words, until we remember to be person-oriented are "incapable of being conquered." As an animist, I say, we can't overcome them until we become Life-oriented--that is, until we see All Things as equal and connected, until we realize that we are All One. This is the message I take from James Cameron's "Avatar." The connection to All Things is always there. We can never leave it, we can only drop it from our awareness, and when we do, we devalue ourselves and All Things.
Yes, I'm late to the discussion on "Avatar." Despite that, I read a lot on the film's archetypal philosophies before I knew their context. On the surface, it was easy to see how widely its symbolism and cultural dynamics could be interpreted. I was as skeptical of gurus spouting wisdom on its sincere depiction of returning Goddess culture as I was of yet another "white man learns a few magickal truths from Ethnics, then uses his new power to save them from his culture," story. About twenty minutes into the film I realized the inherent egotism in those surface judgements, then relaxed and enjoyed the film.
I relaxed when Jake thanked Neytiri for saving him from a pack of night predators, and she replied, "You don't thank for this! This is sad. Very sad, only." Instantly, I realized what the film was attempting to accomplish, and subsequently, what it was up against. At that moment a muted recognition settled over the theatre. The audience seemed at peace with the knowledge that the killing was a somber survivalistic necessity, but a dimness obscured that Neytiri's anguish wasn't from having to kill. It was from having to kill needlessly. Jake had no respect for the terrain or animals he invaded. Cultural egocentricity and defensiveness severed his connection to All Things. Had he honored Universal life force, he would have never violated the space of the forest; there would have been no killing. The resounding philosophy of connection and honor is the core of balanced Divine Polarity. That message of the human patriarchy invading the thriving Feminine ecostytem trumped every mundane criticism I'd read about the film--military vs savages, technology vs Nature, culture vs culture, patriarchy vs coexistence... The singular reason those other conflicts existed was because of the loss of divine connection.
If viewers see this film and come away with only allegories of returning goddesses and trite interracial conflicts, they are missing the higher message appealing to the subtler mind, which is that we can't expect the support of Divinity when we don't cultivate interconnection between ourselves and with the life force of Nature. No, the film isn't emotionally gripping or highly intellectual. Neither is it preachy or understated. If it was any of those things, its story could not speak directly to the spirit so effectively.
I know why Goddess "went missing." We didn't ditch Her because we found a shinier, more flattering deity. We stripped Her from our consciousness because that way of honoring All That Is was under siege, systematically being whittled away until our spirits were defeated, separated. We abandoned Her in order to survive in a brutal climate riddled with fear and defensiveness. These projections of separation we have carried into our present. The differences of culture and tribe, of gender and alignment are part of formed reality. We have to face them. They can't be evaded in our experience of Earth any more than they could on Pandora. Acknowledging a feminine aspect to Deity is frightening and threatening to many. If we can collectively imagine Woman empowered, there would be no need for any group to remain oppressed, because we would have to face that we are all inherently the same. There would be no more power struggle, no disconnect.
The collective need to experience Life without Her has coincided with the optimal time to remember that each of us is Divine, and in doing so, we are all All. In that single memory our future thrives. Honor Goddess. Until we do, we cannot truly bless Her God.
About the author:
Kelley is author of "Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma." She also writes the column "Intentional Insights: Q&A From Within." Her shamanic practice is Soul Intent Arts, in North Carolina.