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Feminine Empowerment in Ancient Civilizations: Al-Uzza and Dushara of Petra

A trip to Petra, Jordan in the 1970's followed by several years of meditation and study helped an American scholar and devoted mother develop a growing understanding of the Divine Feminine's role in our lives. During conversations with a presence she calls "The Goddess," the author merges what she learned about the Divine Feminine during her studies with the emerging wisdom she was given during her meditations. The powerful images and stories of ancient civilizations juxtaposed with the words of The Goddess reveal empowered women as the mothers of a new birth of consciousness.

Chickee reports from her studies:

Nelson Glueck, archaeologist of Petra, has written that the goddess of Petra was the paramount deity over many millennia. At the time the statues of the chief Nabataean goddess, Al-Uzza (arabic, translates into "The Mightiest One") and the chief god Dushara (arabic, translates into "The Lord of the Mountains") were carved, the god was perceived by the Nabataeans as consort of the goddess, and the goddess was perceived as primary. This was so not only at Petra, but also throughout the Near East.

Perhaps these ancient statues could reveal something of the story of the shift from goddess as paramount to god as paramount. Maybe Dusharawas a god who was older than the god of the Bible's Old Testament.

Looking at the statues of Dushara up close, you will see he was magnificent. He was seated on a throne, flanked by bulls. Regal in posture, with the impersonal authority of a god, he was bearded and robed, wearing a torque, the necklace of royalty, around his neck. He held a thunderbolt in his left arm. As I looked into his majestic gaze, his robes seemed to stir as if moved by a subtle breeze, and to give forth the fragrance of incense. His presence had within it something of Petra's mountains, the splendor of storms and lightning at play upon them. He seemed as old as the dawn days of creation, yet still alive.

Chickee asks The Goddess:

"What and who is this image?"

The Goddess replies:

" The image you see is one of many such images of the god which have appeared in different cultures over the centuries.

This is the sacred masculine. It represents that planetary life-stream which has taken on the permutation of what you call "the masculine."

Think of the Taoist symbol of yang (masculine) and yin (feminine). Yang is not separate from the Round which encloses it, nor is it separate from yin, yet yang configures distinctly differently qualities from those of yin. As life-stream emanating from the planetary matrix, the god is alive and conscious to the extent that he is an aspect of the consciousness of earth. He is separate from earth, the round of nature, only to the extent that he is yang.

He also represents the powers of nature as the Nabataeans experienced them.

He represents their race too, and certain qualities they admired and wished to emulate, such as strength in war and the sovereignty of kings.

Dushara is much older than the Nabataeans, older than the Edomites who came before them. From the earliest times of the goddess (Al-Uzza) he was her consort. By the time of the Edomite kings who lived and reigned in these mountains he had become as important as she. By the time of the later kings in the lineage of kings named Aretas, he was more prominent than she.

The High Place was used to worship him for a while. Slave-women were able to go in secret to the High Place and sacrifice to the goddess unobserved because the High Place was eventually abandoned for another site, where his god-block remains. The goddess continued to be worshiped by commoners like slave-women long after he came into prominence. The upper classes considered such commoners to be superstitious."

Chickee reports:

The words of The Goddess convey a clear imprint of Dushara as an extremely old god. Since he was still god of the Nabataeans when their kingdom came under Roman rule, he had evidently survived a great transition by retaining an older identity--while evolving a new one. Dushara had transformed from being a local god with chthonic powers to a god who became paramount. No doubt he had acquired the more universal attributes of the gods of light, such as the Greek deity Apollo. Even before the Roman Empire's conquest, the god of the Nabataeans must have become an updated product of the Hellenistic period, when the heady influence of the Greek world reached the Middle East, transforming its cultures.

Chickee asks The Goddess:

"How can the images and stories of ancient goddesses and gods be meaningful to us moderns and contribute to the birth of a new consciousness?"

The Goddess replies:

"Humans will unite fully with me. They will perceive my true nature as unborn space and fully embrace me without fear and separation. I have allowed a veil between myself and man humankind as my lover to entice him, to draw him into fuller realization of myself. At the same time that he will lift the veil in his understanding of the cosmos, he will lift the veils in himself and see the beloved there and in all of the cosmos. Then he will blend with me and I shall be fully realized. Ecstasy will be an ordinary part of life, and every human will be a priestess/priest.

Humankind will be able to blend with everything that ever was, is, and will be, and will be able to fully penetrate the goddess; in this sense my veil will be lifted."

Chickee reports:

This frame of reference for understanding the nature of the ancient goddess widened beyond the ancient local goddess of Petra to include a spacious universal presence speaking in present and future tenses. I'd become familiar with a concept of the feminine as "unborn space" when reading another book, The Feminine: Spacious as the Sky, by Jose and Miriam Arguelles. During an intensive Buddhist meditation practice, the authors came to experience this feminine reality as "unborn space" which was not born from any source, yet it was mother-like in giving birth to phenomena. Their experience widened into a perspective in which unborn space gave birth to entire universes, while it remained a point of origin beyond time and space.

This conception of the feminine principle was sweepingly expansive compared to any idea of the feminine I'd encountered, even in my university philosophy class so long ago. I remembered my feeling of exhilaration when the professor presented the Taoist notion of the masculine and feminine principles, metaphysical complements larger than the engendered lives of us women and men students. Feelings of gender constriction lifted, at least in my mind, if not in my university environment.

But the futuristic tone of this recent inner journey went far beyond anything I ever learned in that class or from The Feminine: Spacious as the Sky. The goddess spoke of a vision of modern humankind enraptured by a new relationship with her. At the same time, she was connecting unborn space with her ancient nature, thus transcending a view of her as a great goddess of the past whose nature was limited to the world-view of those ancient peoples who once revered her.

Glueck, Chapter IX,"First Among Equals," pp. 269-313.

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Dedicated mother and endowed scholar Dorothy Atalla (Chickee to her friends) never expected a trip to Petra, Jordan in the 1970’s would take her on a journey that would transform her life.   Upon returning from her profound experience, Dorothy began to study ancient history, mythology and religion, archaeology, depth and transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, and the evolution of consciousness.  Her book Conversations With the Goddess brings the emergent wisdom and power of the Divine Feminine to modern readers and affirms every woman’s role in the story of The Goddess.  Visit to learn more and buy the book.