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Samhain 2003, Vol 3-1
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
Modern Goddesses of the Urban Landscape

Urban Pagans face a challenge in practicing a nature-based religion in the midst of mostly unnatural surroundings. While visits to parks and wilderness vacations can help, most of us have learned to look for and find the Goddess where we dwell, in the concrete and asphalt and crowds of the city. Below are some of the Goddesses I have found in the heart of Our Nation's Capital.

Gridlocki
A trickster Goddess, stepsister of Asphalta. (Both were fathered by the God Detroit.) Gridlocki and her minions do their best to prevent devotees of the automobile from reaching their destinations on time. Among the tools of Gridlocki are the Lane Closure, the Fender Bender, the Major Incident, the Emergency Vehicle, the Broken-Down Bus, the Malfunctioning Signal Light, the Raised Drawbridge, and the VIP Motorcade. Because She often resembles her gentler stepsister, devotees of the automobile make offerings to Asphalta in the form of added freeway lanes and more road construction, little knowing that such offerings simply make Gridlocki jealous, and result in even deeper chaos.

Tunnel Woman
Tunnel Woman is a Goddess beloved of urban commuters. A chthonic Goddess, her temples are found deep beneath the city streets. She guides wanderers to their destination through darkness and confusion caused by inaccurate or hard-to-read system maps. She accepts tributes of tokens, farecards, and electronic passes. Delays and disruptions in Her service teach Her devotees patience and faith, although nervous novices may be heard to chant out loud "There will be another train, there will be another train. . ."

Caffeina
Although the worship of Caffeina has been a part of contemporary urban life for several generations, in the past 10 years the number of temples dedicated to Her worship has burgeoned. It is now possible to worship Her as a Goddess of Many Lands and Many Names, including Cappucino, Latte, Breve, Mocha, Au Lait, and Chai. Her Priestesses and Priests, who hold the title Barista, are heard reciting prayers whose meaning is known only to Her devotees: "Grande Latte Skinny No Foam." " Decaf Skim Hazelnut Cappucino Extra Shot." Orthodoxies have arisen, such as those under the names of Starbuck, Hannibal, and Xando, but many of Her worshippers prefer Her more colorful locally owned temples.

Exertia
The worship of Exertia was once limited to those who could endure the scorn and ridicule of co-workers as they pursued their athletic goals. Now, temples to Exertia equal and may outnumber those dedicated to Caffeina, and devotees often set aside areas or entire rooms in their homes for Her worship. Exertia in Her aspect of Aerobia is celebrated in group rituals called "Aerobics," including dance aerobics, step aerobics, water aerobics, cardiofunk aerobics, and low-intensity aerobics. Those who prefer to worship individually can choose from a variety of traditions, including Lifecycle, Nordictrack, Nautilus, Cybex, and Bowflex. Adepts of the Mysteries of Exertia are often found seeking Her Inner Mysteries in the Free Weights Room.

Pedestria
Pedestria is honored by many devotees of Exertia, and by those who would avoid the tangles and snarls of the trickster Goddess Gridlocki. Her icons are found at most urban intersections, providing guidance to those who would pursue Her worship while avoiding physical encounters with the car-demons of Gridlocki. Women who follow Pedestria can be recognized by their characteristic footwear, for they disdain the pain of pumps, spikes, slides, and slingbacks for the comfort of Nikes, Adidas, Rykas, Birkenstocks, and Vasques.

Conventionaria

Enormous temples to Conventionaria are found in large and medium-sized cities. They are surrounded by buildings offering hospitality and lodging to the pilgrims visiting the Temple. The devotees of Conventionaria visit her temple by the thousands, and sometimes the tens of thousands, from around the world. They identify themselves to each other and to the Temple workers by wearing plastic name badges. Rituals to Conventionaria include the Plenary Session, the Concurrent Workshop, and the Awards Luncheon. A key feature of Her Temple is the Exhibit Hall, where pilgrims receive gifts from the acolytes of Conventionaria known as Vendors. Her rituals often have a specific topical focus (for example, dermatology, modern languages, architecture, politics, or library science).

What Goddesses have you found in your part of the world?

Graphics Credits
+ Caffeina and Walk With Light, digital sketches © 2003, Sage Starwalker, staff artist. All rights reserved. (The Goddess rising from the cup is from the Mythology One Dingbat by Emerald City Fontwerks.)

Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without permission. All other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.
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