Now, I don’t know about anyone else, and I can only speak for myself, but when I refer to America’s Goddess as Columbia, it is not because I decided to name Her that. It is because that is the name She introduced Herself as, because that is Her name. Also, about Her bearing Columbus’ name… Well I guess you could say that, but am I the only one to speculate that She used him to spread Her own name more conveniently?
If we look at her aspects and correspondences, for instance, Columbia as the Peace-bringer, and Her association with the dove (a symbol of peace), which in Latin is called Columba, we can see just how easily She usurped the right to name this country. The United States of America is Columbia. I am not condoning the activities of Columbus or those like him, but let us also realize that Columbus may not have even been his real name.
His name was Cristobal Colon, if he was a Spaniard, or it was Cristoforo Colombo, if he was Italian. His origins are widely debated, and it is also speculated that he may have adopted the surname Colon/Colombo/Columbus in order to mask his true identity. With all this in mind, it seems fairly reasonable to believe he may have simply been a tool of a Goddess who knew exactly what She wanted.
There is also no getting around the fact that this country, under Her auspices, has done truly terrible things, though my impressions of Columbia Herself lead me to believe She is a young Goddess, and who among the Gods did not make any terrible or tragic mistakes in Their youth? Again, I am not attempting to minimize the damage that was done (and still being done– but conversely, a lot of good is also done) in Her name, but if you were a young God or Goddess, wanting to be recognized, would you turn your nose up at the people who saw and recognized you? Or, would you embrace them, and attempt to help them achieve their goals, at least until you understood the wrong being done?
History is a dirty, bloody affair, because the world is a dirty, bloody affair. I will not apologize for honoring the first Divine Entity I ever recognized, even before all the Gods of Olympos. I will not apologize for calling Her the name She gave me to call Her. I will not apologize for listening to, and adhering to the wishes of my Goddess. I will also not apologize for history, or the role She played in it. History is never black and white anyway. There are so many facets of the jewel that is the story of Columbia, that the light can only catch on so many at a time. What we see is often not the sum total of all events.
Things are beginning to change now (though there is still much left to work on, because this country is far from perfect), and from what I can tell, She sees and cares for all of the people residing within Her jurisdiction. Columbia isn’t evil, Her name isn’t evil, and She is learning from the past, just as the Gods who came before Her are learning from the past.
When I started this blog, I knew that revealing myself as a devotee of Columbia would raise eyebrows. But did I allow that apprehension to overpower me? No, because I could not have lived with myself if I’d done so. I was born in the District of Columbia. My name, Columbine, is a gift directly from Her. The columbine flower is the State flower of the place which nourished me and my budding spirituality, and will always be my home. She is the Patroness of the State in which I now reside, with a statue placed atop the Capital building since before Texas was a State. My entire life has been guided subtly by Her. I will not deny Her rightful place in my heart, or deny Her honor in my house. And I will always, always call Her Columbia, because Libertas is a different Divine Entity.
Libertas is of Rome. Columbia is truly and completely a Personage of this continent, and She was already here when the first European settlers stepped foot onto this land. She simply wasn’t yet recognized, as was illustrated in the famous poem “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace”, by James Russell Lowell:
“…Our fathers found her in the woods
Where Nature meditates and broods,
The seeds of unexampled things
Which Time to consummation brings
Through life and death and man’s unstable moods;
They met her here, not recognized,
A sylvan huntress clothed in furs,
To whose chaste wants her bow sufficed,
Nor dreamed what destinies were hers…”
What destinies, indeed. She is not perfect, but I do not believe any of the Gods and Goddesses are perfect. Nor are the humans who love Them perfect. We all do what we can to better ourselves, our lives, and hopefully, if we are compassionate, we strive to better the lives of those sharing this world with us. But compassion is a lesson learned only through time, trial and error.
Columbia has had trials, and errors, but precious little time yet for Her to be seen by some as anything other than an imperialist trope. I will continue to love and honor Her in the meantime, because through our actions, as well as our words, do we succeed in changing the world. And change will always be the drumbeat to which She marches.