by Rev. Gail Collins-Ranadive
This article was originally published in Gail Collins-Ranadive (2014): “Chewing Sand, An Eco-Spiritual Taste of the Mojave Desert”, Homebound Publications.
It is not an apparition, that strange structure blooming from the desert floor some sixty miles northwest of Las Vegas.
At first I thought I was conjuring up that infamous image from Hiroshima, the haunting steel skeleton left standing after our nuclear bomb incinerated the city and its population, that dome that has become the centerpiece of its Peace Memorial.
This is not an inappropriate impression, as this temple of goddess spirituality was erected here precisely because this desert space is close to the Nevada Test Site, where atomic bombs were tested above and below ground for half a century.
The small stucco covered straw bale building is filled with goddesses from all of the world’s major religions, and stands as a testimony to another perspective in an effort to balance the prevailing patriarchy’s answer to everything: warfare’s violence.
Mothers are the only gods in whom all the world believes Joseph Campbell claimed. And this makes psychological sense: all children come forth through women, but boys must learn to separate from the mother by making her other, while girls identify with her, as they will become mothers themselves.
Perhaps the human race needed both in order to evolve its fullest potential, but that balance has been tragically out of order for most of the past 5000 years. So that now humans have so violated the earth we stand at the brink of extinction.
The largest statue within the temple is that of Madre del Mundo. Originally placed at the front gate to the test site and immediately confiscated by the federal government, this is a sculpture of a woman holding the world in her lap.
It became the inspiration for creating the goddess temple. Now this little oasis of feminine energy witnesses to another way of being in the world, with its goddess ceremonies, gift based economy, and dedication to peace.
With its four sides open to the weather, a fire pit in the center, and a ceiling that lets in the sky through a dome of seven interlocking copper hoops meant to suggest lotus petals, the temple stands as a symbol of healing in the midst of a radiation ravaged land. Overhead, fighter jets from a nearby air force base buzz by, and a lone drone slinks its silent way over the interstate, each a personification of Destruction and Death.
But then I remember that Nevada means ‘snow clad.’
And directly west, along the tops of the mountains that define the horizon line against the brilliant blue sky, a mantle of snow holds the nourishing feminine moisture that means Life.
Published with the author’s permission.
© Parliament of the World’s Religions
® Parliament of the World's Religions name and logo are trademarks of the Parliament of the World's Religions.