I went to Austin, Texas a couple of weeks ago with my girl friends and loved it! It is a beautiful city with lots of swimming holes, live music and dancing, friendly people, and of course amazing Mexican food.
The Mexican influence is clear and I loved seeing the beautiful little shrines and altars for the Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. For a long time growing up Catholic I had an aversion to the Blessed Virgin Mary because she represented oppression to me. I never liked how she was portrayed or how the bible and the church spoke of women.
After reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Untie the Strong Woman last year, I have been reconnecting with the Blessed Mother, and she is now a close ally of mine. It’s all about your perspective and the stories you tell! I now like to call her Mother Mary, the Blessed Mother, or Our Lady because these names emphasize her femininity and that she is a mother to us all. I don’t like “Virgin Mary” because who cares if she’s a virgin or not?! As a child and teenager, the idea that a woman needs to be a virgin to be “good” and “pure” was very oppressive. This doesn’t seem like it should be my business. Besides, sex is sacred. Using the word Mother instead of Virgin gives me a much stronger connection to Her. Our words–how we refer to things–matter so much.
This is how I perceived the word “virgin” and how I still perceive it. However, I recently learned that there’s another meaning to the word Virgin which has nothing to do with sexual purity. In the Goddess traditions, the word Virgin means whole unto herself. A woman can have sex with man or woman and remain whole. Instead sex is a sacred spiritual ritual and a celebration of two beings coming together in ecstatic union. Instead, becoming a virgin means a woman is embodying her spiritual essence. It means a woman whole unto herself, belonging to no man, a complete and powerful person independent of the needs and desires of others.
To me, Our Lady represents femininity and she is a representation of The Goddess. She gives comfort, endless compassion, unconditional love, and protection. She comes to us in many forms and many stories. She is whole and humble yet she will not be suppressed.