One of my friends sent out an email in December:
Goddess Photo Project
I am hoping to participate in Fun A Day in January, where you commit to doing something fun every day for a month.
There’s a photo project that I have dreamed up independent of this event – and Fun A Day seemed like a good excuse to get started, but I need your participation!
I need to take a photograph each day of a lovely, divine person!
I’m focusing on the feminine form, but am also interested in working with all genders who identify with the feminine aspect of themselves. If you know people not included on this email who identify with the Goddess in some way, I would love to have them participate too – send them my way! The divine feminine is in ALL of us.
This is a celebration of bodies, of the divine creative flow within each of us.
Despite the first word right there in her subject line, “goddess”, and her repeated use of the word “divine”, nothing about this email registered with me as religious or theistic.
Excited by her creative endeavor, I enthusiastically scheduled a photo shoot with my friend.
She showed up at my house with a fancy camera, a tripod, and a big, shiny reflector. I didn’t know that she had studied photography professionally after college.
We discussed the merits of upstairs vs. downstairs. “Is it warmer up there?” she asked, since I would be taking off my shirt. “There are better colors on the walls up there, too,” I chimed in.
She toted her gear up the stairs and into our bedroom. I stood on the bed, pressed against the wall, as she photographed my bare back. I felt like the artist’s subject… special and beautiful. It was a very cool experience.
We chatted as I stood still and she busily tinkered with angles and lighting. The click-click of the camera shutters snapping open and shut peppered the room and made me feel like a model.
“I think we all forget that about each other,” she said, breaking the quiet but not the calm.
“Forget what?” I asked.
She thought for a moment. “Our divinity.”
That was the first time the word actually registered with me. I somehow hadn’t noticed it in the email she sent.
It is a goddess photo project after all, I thought. That’s why she’s talking about divinity. How did you miss that? 😉
I was struck by her use of theistic language for this hippie, artistic project with which I was totally on board.
I don’t have the same associations with “goddess” that I have with “god”. When I hear “goddess”, I think of feminine beauty and empowered women. I picture curvy, flesh-bearing women floating in the sky over Greek islands. That’s not my image of “god” !
“Divinity” is a word that never rubs me the right way. But I decided that my understanding of it is simply “beauty and humanity”. As we go about our lives, we naturally forget our own beauty and humanity as well as that of others. Reminding ourselves of this beauty and humanity is an extremely worthwhile and enriching endeavor.
So I can embrace being a goddess. In fact, I love it. It fits with my understanding of god as a psychological construct. From my perspective, god exists only within human minds. And to be fully adult, we must play goddess for ourselves. So I am an atheist goddess.
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