Minister of Free Inquiry (aethyrflux) wrote,
Minister of Free Inquiry


Where can we find the divine feminine in pop culture?

I have been thinking about this concept for a few days, and it led me into a labyrinthine exploration... and I am still not certain how to relay my ideas in this medium...


Of course, when talking about the Divine Feminine in general, I am more likely to look for the Ur examples

And I generally point people towards Christine Hoff Kraemer's resources... particularly this one first:
Annotated Bibliography of Histories and Ethnographies of Interest to Contemporary Pagans
Designed especially for the smart and skeptical contemporary Pagan practitioner who is frustrated with the bad history that is rampant in so many Pagan books.

She even edited a book that relates to many of these themes
Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books & Graphic Novels

I really appreciate y'all encouraging me to turn around and look at where we are with modern media portrayals, rather than just contemplating where we came from & where we are going

And I must say that I am glad that at least this is a completely discredited trope, now...


While this is true, it is also true for all young people, whatever gender...

We have to be careful of the fine print in what we are asking for, since this is what we actually want...

And this is what we get, more often from the big media conglomerates:

Not that such results are always bad... but they often are, from a certain perspective

So, can we address the actual issue, please?

Perhaps we need to define our territory...

Because most tropes can conceivably be the same at a basic level, irregardless of gender

Although there have been some traditional problems in exploring this concept

In general, there are some tropes tropes that blend genders more often

While the standard model of the feminine gender has been this

Caused by an obvious issue

And even though this may be changing to some degree... in fandom, we all too regularly see serious stereotypical typecasting for Gender

Here are some attempts to categorize archetypes that are generally played as female

Certain tropes are often culturally associated with "femininity"

And there are some characters that are identified as feminine, almost all of the time

So, what is it that is uniquely "feminine," anyway?

Unfortunately, in the process of defining what is "acceptable," cultures create scapegoats by exclusion of the "other"

Paulo Coelho & Ernest Becker have both written extensively about this

However, there are at least some traditional themes which often lead to some reverence for the divine feminine

There is this one curious theme between certain tropes that usually involves an innocent girl becoming all-powerful, which I have always associated with the Phoenix, for some reason...

YMMV, but there may be more recent references to the divine feminine due to these influences...

And although there are some feminine elements in certain religious traditions... sometimes, they are shrouded in mystery

But why is there no entry for "goddess" or "god is female" on TVtropes???!

So, apparently, we have to read the feminine into the mysteries... rather than in between the lines, i like to think of it as how seemingly parallel lines are actually curved by gravity wells in space-time, so that they actually meet on the horizon.

And what does it really matter, if we're essentially making all of this stuff up?

But beware the fakirs, salesmen, parasites, & predators...

Big media has institutionalized & enshrined this kind of scam

Television networks that produce such content usually justify it by saying - off camera - that the programs are entertainment only and the filmmakers have no more of a duty to reflect the truth than do the makers of The X-Files; if viewers mistake it for non-fiction, that's their problem. That defense might work if the programs themselves were actually presented as fiction...

Personally, I prefer the other end of the extreme

And ultimately, we come face to face with the divine, much closer than many would have guessed, anyway


Admittedly, I don't watch TV, much... But I understand that female characters have been getting better, over the years...

Even Alice Lidell was a self-possessed protagonist

Wendy Darling was also a true heroine

And Dorothy Gale has been an inspiration for generation of strong-willed young ladies

For half a century, many of the ladies on Dr. Who have a great deal of depth to their characters

And now we have the ultra-rational, calculating & strategic Scully from the X-Files

As well as the raging warrior Starbuck from the Battlestar reboot

The entire ethos of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is replete with examples of complex, well-rounded female characters

Now, if we could only replace Disney in the West with Hayao Miyazaki...

And while we're talking about anime that references the divine feminine, I would suggest watching Evangelion

There are of course many series of anime inspired by similar Gnostic themes, such as "serial experiments: lain"

The Matrix saga blurred the lines between film & anime, while exploring many aspects of Gnosticism... here's an essay particularly examining it from a feminine perspective

And speaking of new riffs on old themes, here's a curious & surprising comparison & contrast of Philip Pullman & C.S. Lewis

Not that Pullman's writing hasn't been subversive in some way or another

Yet, the most obvious case for exploring magick & witchcraft in the context of modern culture is probably J. K. Rowling

But I am much more prone to point towards the triumph of Felicia Day as promoting intelligent, well-rounded female character development

Although I probably know even more geek girls who will be more likely to promote Joss Whedon, any day

And recently, we have seen a new rising star who writes complex female characters... George R. R. Martin

In general, I would say that Neil Gaiman has been quite fortunate in having his works adapted to the screen... and has managed to help us all explore the mysteries together, for decades now

There are many other examples in comics & novels that are not quite as popular with the mass market, yet...

Apparently, if you don't want to write the screenplays yourself (Alan Moore rightly refuses to do so), you may not be so fortunate in the adaptation of your tales... yet, I doubt that we will see a Promethea film anytime soon (unless Kenneth Anger finally wants to film a talkie, for real, this time?)... but Moore's graphic novels are some of the deepest explorations of hermetic magick you will find

Grant Morrison's work is pure chaos magick

Starhawk is an inspiring figure in activism, literature, & ritual...

And I have always been fond of Ursula K. Le Guin's work

In case you hadn't already guessed, I love Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Octavia Butler is an amazing writer

And I absolutely love the work of Spider & Jeanne Robinson

I imagine there's a few more names that could be pulled out of these lists as promoting exploration of the divine feminine


Perhaps though, this is what we are really dealing with right now:
The Postmodern Sacred:

I am looking forward to reading Emily McAvan's entire PhD dissertation, from Murdoch University in Perth Australia...
The Postmodern Sacred: Popular Culture Spirituality in the Genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fantastic Horror

Here's a preview

There are some other gems, referenced here:


I am reminded of a conversation I had with Sam Webster about the lack of ritual in Western culture...

And similarly, Christine Hoff Kraemer also explores what Sam would call the liminoid nature of sacred elements in cinematic culture

But no matter how certain films may try to capture the elements of the sacred, they often end up feeling empty & cliche

However, some audiences are certainly more vulnerable than others (q.v. the "DanBrowned" trope, above)
"From Angels to Aliens: Teenagers, the Media, and the Supernatural," By Lynn Schofield Clark


For further comparisons between the religious models, media tropes & role playing game characters, etc... perhaps we may consider the "Chosen Ideal"

...which I might refer to as a Devotional Archeype, not unlike a character sheet in the context of Avatarism?

Here's a related speech from TeaFaerie that I was looking forward to @ Burning Man, this year... now available for those of you who may not have been able to attend in person, for whatever reason!

Hacking the Game
...concerning: the purpose of metaphors, the Simulation Hypothesis, Virtuality, Avatarism, Life as a MMG, Being a Superhero, Manifestation, and how the Psychedelic Ultraculture can (maybe) help Save the World!

Tags: cosmology, divine feminine, gender, integrating the shadow, love, sex
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