S_c2Despite the first word right there in her subject line, “goddess”, and her repeated use of the word “divine”, nothing about this email registered with me as religious or theistic.

Excited by her creative endeavor, I enthusiastically scheduled a photo shoot with my friend.

She showed up at my house with a fancy camera, a tripod, and a big, shiny reflector.  I didn’t know that she had studied photography professionally after college.

We discussed the merits of upstairs vs. downstairs.  “Is it warmer up there?” she asked, since I would be taking off my shirt.  “There are better colors on the walls up there too,” I chimed in.

She toted her gear up the stairs and into our bedroom.  I stood on the bed, right against the wall, as she photographed my bare back.  I felt like the artist’s subject.  It made me feel special and beautiful.  It was a very cool experience.

We chatted as I stood still and she busily tinkered with angles and lighting.  The click-click of the shutters snapping open and shut again peppered the room and made me feel like a model.

“I think we all forget that about each other,” she said at one point.

“Forget what?” I asked.

She thought for a moment.  “Our divinity.”

That was the first time the word actually registered with me.  I really hadn’t noticed it in the email she sent.

It is a goddess photo project, I thought.  Duh.  That’s why she’s talking about divinity.  How did you miss that?

I was struck by her use of theistic language for this hippie, artistic project with which I was totally onboard.

I don’t have the same associations with “goddess” that I have with “god”.  I think more of feminism, feminine beauty, and empowered women.  I picture flesh-bearing, curvy Greek women in the sky. That’s not my image of “god” !

“Divinity” is a word that never rubs me the right way.  But I decided that my version of it is simply “beauty and humanity”.  As we go about our lives, we naturally forget our own beauty and humanity as well as that of others. Reminding ourselves of this beauty and humanity is an extremely worthwhile and enriching endeavor.

So I can embrace being a goddess.  In fact, I love it.  It fits with my understanding of god as a psychological construct.  From my perspective, god exists only within human minds.  And to be fully adult, we must play goddess for ourselves. So I am an atheist goddess.