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“She is the holy Oneness; that’s why she is a mystery,” says the African healer and guide Baba Mandaza Augustine Kademwa, in conversation with the Buddhist teacher Thanissara in this Winter 2019-2020 issue of Parabola. He speaks of Mother Earth, whom he says accepts to be called by many names, including Goddess. But this issue on Goddess reveals that she is always to some degree unknown. “The brain isn’t the highest human function,” points out physician and author Rachel Naomi Remen in conversation here with Parabola’s West Coast editor Richard Whittaker. “The highest human function is shrouded in mystery.”

This is necessarily so because our ultimate purpose may be to realize how our human nature is inseparable from Great Nature, from Oneness. This realization cannot be known as an established fact apart from us, but it can be expressed through compassionate action. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author Avikrita Vajra Sakya here describes Tara, the goddess of compassion: “She is known as the one who helps us accomplish all our activities and who liberates us from fear.” In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that Tara made a vow always to appear in female form and always to come to comfort those who suffer and feel afraid (and who doesn’t at times?) because in our darkest moments most of us long for a motherly embrace.

This issue reveals that the Goddess’s healing spirit takes many guises: as an extraordinary human, the Bengali “Joy-Permeated” Mother; as symbols in the Tarot; as the diverse goddesses who come to us in ancient tales; and as visions in the songs of Nobel-winning bard Bob Dylan. But the Goddess always leads us home to Mother Earth, reminding us that no matter how far we may have strayed, we are meant to be here, to be part of a greater whole. May this issue help restore you to wholeness.

—Tracy Cochran

Cover DescriptionDiana the Huntress. Guillaume Seignac (1870-1924). Nineteenth century, oil on canvas.

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