Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Book by Danielle Dulsky: Woman Most Wild

Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Liberating the Witch Within, by Danielle Dulsky (New World Library, 2017) trade paperback, 6” x 9,” 252 pages. Also available as an e-book.
 
Although this book is mostly prose, Danielle Dulsky begins Woman Most Wild with a remarkable poem:
 
This Truth

 Snuff out the candles! Make the room dark!
I’ll cradle you close, star-shaped child.
Inside your heart’s ripe, red center— a spark!
When I speak of Her rhythm, this Woman Most Wild.

 She lives in a hut made of soft guts and hard bones,
She crawls out of your mouth while you sleep.
In the forest, the desert, She sets up her stones.
‘Fore bare-breasted swimming in the salty blue deep.

When She comes back to your body, Her hearth and Her home,
She’s tired, and filthy, and fed.
She hopes that you’ll notice the sand, water, and loam
She’s painted all over your bed.

Peel off her hard mask, the woman so mild,
And drink of the succulent moon.
You, my sweet one, are the Woman Most Wild.
You’ll swallow this truth whole and soon.
 
 (Copyright ©2017 by Danielle Dulsky. Used with publisher’s permission)

 
In an unusually personal and warm approach, Woman Most Wild focuses more on practitioners’ or potential practitioners’ needs and questions rather than on the history of Witchcraft, deities and mythology. Beginning with her introduction, Dulsky addresses the reader as “my love,” and “Sister-Witch.” In the introduction, she writes: “I will honor you as a high-level Priestess. I am neither above you nor below you; we sit at the same table.” She promises the reader that it’s okay not to be fully comfortable with naming yourself “Witch,” and that she will not ask the reader to let go of “any part of your belief system you hold as true.” Calling the reader to be a Witch, she offers instead of religion, “glimpses of how your soft and perfect being may be infused with the marrow of ritual, magic, and circle-craft.” She writes that although this book is “primarily for those who identify as women, your wild spirituality does not require a physical womb; it only asks you to honor the fusion of your body and psyche to your feminine spirit.”

 The book is divided into three sections called Keys that, per the subtitle of the book, are aimed at “Liberating the Witch Within.” Key 1, “Your Wild Rhythm,” begins with a poetic invocation, followed by an introductory few pages in which the author discusses embodiment and both the body’s and world’s cycles, writing: “There is no great chasm between your enduring spirit and your holy, sensual self.” She then relates this to her concept of “wild.” The chapters of this section include material related to the seasons; the moon , including a meditation, a prayer, and a ritual; material related to the sun and fire also including guided meditation; blood rhythms related to the moon; and the role of yoga and chakras. This and the other Keys’ chapters also include a feature called, “Verses of the Holy Feminine.” Key 2, “Your Wild Ritual,” includes chapters on circle-casting and its relationship to ecology; healing spellwork; Goddess ministry; pathworking, and prayer and meditation. Key 3, “Your Wild Circle,” includes discussion of magick and circle-craft, working with various energies in the circle; ritual and other ways of belonging in a circle. The last chapter in this Key is “Benediction of the Liberated Wolf-Woman.” The back matter includes an epilogue, an appendix, “Moon Rituals for Lone Wolf-Women and Witches Circles”; acknowledgments, notes, recommended reading, an index and an author biography.

Woman Most Wild is a beautifully written, empowering, and inspiring book. It is directed primarily to those new to this path and who have yet to identify as Witches. It is also likely to be of interest to those who have identified as Witches for years as well as those who, like me, may not identify as Witches even after many years identifying as Goddessians and/or spiritual feminists.

To complete this post, I’d like to share with you parts of an interview with the author provided by the book’s publisher.

How do you define the word “Witch”?
Danielle Dulsky: A Witch is someone who has affirmed their connection to the wild, claimed their right to handcraft their own spiritual path, established a flexible and personally relevant practice of embodying nature’s cycles, and realized their birthright as a global healer of the wounded feminine. “Witch” is not a name that can be given by any external authority, nor is Witchcraft solely the domain of women. It is the feminine—that soulful and cyclical energy within all beings that yearns for a meaningful relationship with nature, craves sensual presence and creative expression, and intuitively understands the role of ritual and magick in our world that can groundswell within us and urge us to claim the name Witch. To be a Witch means to see magick in the mundane as often as possible, to attune oneself to both inner and outer rhythms, and to know oneself as divine. In my experience, a Witch is also a change-agent, as every spell or ritual cast by the Witch’s hand is a reflection of the world in which s/he wants to live.

Can you tell us the story of your “coming out” as a Witch?
Dulsky: I am asked this question a lot, and I always wish I could pinpoint a single event or pivotal conversation that prompted my “coming out.” A large part of me has always known I was a Witch, though I suppose I did not call myself one until my mid-20s. I was raised attending a strict born-again Christian elementary school and similarly evangelical church. When I a little girl, I remember having many experiencescommuning with dead family members, seeing angels, and generally having magick-riddled dreamsthat I would share with my teachers or mother, only to be immediately scorned or invalidated in various ways. I have vivid memories of men from my mother’s church putting shaking hands on my shoulders to cast the demons out, all the while feeling like there was nothing really wrong with me. I remember hiding tarot cards under my bed, talking to tree spirits, practicing yoga, rituals, and chanting in secret, and numerous other signs that point to my being a Witch during girlhood, but I did not call it anything other than childhood. In my experience, women often have memories of being little Witches, as children are far more attuned to nature and feminine rhythms that are adults. In attempting to be contributing members of society and appearing to be in fierce control, we tend to spiritually conform and reject that which is most divine within us; I am lucky in that, as soon as I possibly could, I refused to practice anyone else’s religion. For a few years, I believed Wicca would satisfy my thirst for spiritual authenticity, but, alas, there are as many predators and narcissists in the Pagan community as there are in more traditional religions. I can say with certainty that I did not fully own the name Witch until I separated myself from all covens and hierarchal Pagan organizations. There is a necessary sense of agency that comes with claiming the name Witch, and I think most wild ones require a level of sacred solitude and personal practice before they are sufficiently empowered to liberate their Witch’s soul.
 
What is “wild woman spirituality” and how does that relate to being a Witch?
Dulsky: To my mind, there is no significant difference between following a path of Wild Woman Spirituality and being a Witch, other than the obvious need to identify as a woman. Gender is a social construct, but wild spirituality speaks to the feminine energy within all human beings. To be wild is to be soulfully awake but hardly immature or out of control. To be wild is to honor the ebbs and flows within you as well as those in nature, being particularly attuned to the relationship between those two forces. A Witch does all of these things, refusing to separate her sensuality, emotionality, and creativity from her spirituality.

How do your two sons feel about their mommy being a Witch?
Dulsky: Honestly, apathetic. They have lived with it their whole lives, so, while I think they have an understanding that not everyone’s mother is a Witch, they don’t really see it as anything special either. My older son is 11, and I think he just realized this past year that not everyone buries apples in their yard for their ancestors on Halloween night. I involve them in circle casting and spell work every so often, but only minimally. I am not raising them to be Witches, as I think everyone should have the right to choose their own spiritual path, but I answer every question they ask, to the best of my ability. If my boys grow up to stand against oppression and be open-minded, tolerant individuals, I will be a happy Mother-Witch.

Can you be a Witch and also religious?
Dulsky: A Witch follows her own spiritual path, and I do not believe religion and Witchcraft are necessarily incompatible. There are a number of religious traditions that condemn Witchcraft, however, and I do not believe a Witch should be forced to hide who she is in order to practice her religion. Importantly, though, Witchcraft is a practice and not a religion; it demands nothing from the practitioner other than what s/he is willing and able to give. There is no concrete dogma or contract to sign. You take what you like and leave what you don’t; this is the way of wild spirituality.

How does sexuality and wild woman spirituality intertwine?
Dulsky: A hallmark of wild woman spirituality is the refusal to separate the realm of the soul, that is the connection with nature, sensuality, emotionality, sexuality, and selfhood, from the realm of spirit. A wild woman honors her bodily autonomy and acknowledges she can be a sexually vibrant creature who is also spiritually awake and at one with the world around her.

What is your advice for people who are scared about coming out as a Witch?

Dulsky: My go-to advice is never to come out as a Witch until you are ready and confident enough in your identity that you can face any condemnation. That said, a Witch does not owe anyone her “coming out.” You are not made more Witch by telling the world you are one; it is admitting to yourself you are a Witch that is the real “coming out.”

How does your experience in a coven differ from your experience in a women’s circle?
Dulsky: Let me begin by saying I know there are very empowering and soulful covens in the world that are longstanding and hierarchically ordered; I was never a member of one of these organizations, however, and I will say that my experience in a manipulative and spiritually predatory coven is unfortunately a common one that keeps many young women from safely practicing the Craft. A women’s circle is a non-hierarchal entity that is a beautiful affirmation of feminine communication, women’s right to speak and be heard, and the importance of sisterhood. In my work, bridging the coven and women’s circle has been paramount, as I believe whole-heartedly in the genuine, healing power of women coming together, sharing their stories, and working magick together. I also believe younger/newer Witches are in dire need of a safe context for mentorship and support, where they are not in danger of being manipulated or exploited.

How does feminism play a role in witchcraft and wild woman spirituality?
Dulsky: Feminists are fundamentally against oppression, as are Witches. There is an element of vindication involved in claiming the name Witch openly, as most of the women prosecuted, tortured, and killed during the Witch hunts were not Witches but women who did not fit the socially validated role of dependent woman. They were women without support networks or independent earners. They were women who were isolated, and they were women who were vulnerable to prosecution because they represented aspects of the feminine that could not be sufficiently bound by the predominantly male-controlled social, political, and economic instruments in place. For the most part, they were oppressed people, not Witches. By extension, taking back the name Witch and claiming wild womanhood is a refusal to succumb to such deeply institutionalized prejudices again.

What do you love most about sharing your new book with the world?
Dulsky: I love that I live in a world where the wild feminine can speak and be heard, whether through me or through other feminist voices; I want to never take that for granted.

Danielle Dulsky is an artist, yoga teacher, energy worker, and founder of Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs. She leads women’s circles, Witchcraft workshops, and energy healing trainings and lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
 
Interview copyright ©2017 by Danielle Dulsky. Excerpted and printed with permission from New World Library. You can find another interview with Dulsky about the book (of about 5 minutes) on the publisher's site
 

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

New Issue of Goddess Pages Published

Issue 30, Spring-Summer 2017 of Goddess Pages is just out! Usually I list the articles and poems, etc., in this wonderful publication, but at this time I want to draw your attention to Editor Geraldine Charles’ editorial, which has this information plus news of upcoming changes to the publication you’ll want to know about. Oh, and I can’t resist telling you that the first chapter of my book, Goddess Matters, titled “At the Crossroads,” is one of the contributions to this issue.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Beltane Meditation

This meditation is from my audiobook (which I also narrate) and e-book, Goddess Guided Meditations.

 Beltane/May Eve
 
Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax......Beltane is a happy celebration of love and life. Love in our own lives, and new life in our own lives and in the world around us. In your mind’s eye, see grass growing, the flowers and trees in bloom, the vegetables beginning to grow, some of them still beneath the soil. What else do you see on this spring day?.....Let this vision fill you with happiness….

Now turn your attention to your own life. To love in your life, love that involves physical pleasure. If you are involved in a relationship now, see your loved one in front of you. If you are not involved in a relationship and you want to be, ask to see one who might become your lover ....What is your loved one doing? Is your loved one saying anything? Is there anything you want to say to your loved one? If so, in your mind, say it now.....If you are not now involved in a relationship, and you want to be, affirm now that a relationship will manifest for you that is for the greater good of both of you and of all concerned. If your new love has not already appeared to you in your mind’s eye, take a moment to see if this person appears now, or if you can sense this person now…..

If your loved one is with you in your mind’s eye, reach out and take hands. Do you hear the music? It may be in the distance and very faint at first, but it’s getting a little louder now. What kind of music do you hear? Are there instruments playing? Are there people singing? Can you hear the words? As the music becomes a bit louder, it may also become a bit more boisterous. As it does this, move as close to your partner as you want and begin to dance. If you don’t presently have a partner, begin dancing alone. A partner—or many partners—may join you now. Or you may continue to dance alone. Notice that others are also dancing alone, but that all of you—with partners and without—are dancing together in this dance of life….
 
Now the music slows, becomes softer, until you may no longer be able to hear it distinctly although a melody may linger in your mind. If you are dancing with a partner, you let go of your partner’s hand. You say goodbye—for now—to your partner and to others in the dance, and you come back to this place and time. And when you are ready, open your eyes.

Copyright 2013 by Judith Laura. Permission given for use in spiritual work, but not for republishing it elsewhere.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Buzz Coil: April 2017

Here are some recent posts from blogs on our blogroll (please note, we don't knowingly list posts in Buzz Coil that have been published previously by the blogger elsewhere or on the same blog) [editor's note: I have tried about 10 times to get the item about HecateDemeter's posts the same font as the rest of this, but I cannot (I am transferring it from WORD, as I did the others.) Please excuse the difference in font.]

Annelinde’s World: Annelinde Metzner offers her April 21 post, the poem,“I Have Sworn to Protect Her,” as a prayer “especially for those traveling to the Climate Change March in DC” on April 22.
 Her April 13 poem, “Praise House,” begins:
“Blessed with a tour of the Gullah homeland,
St. Helena’s Island, where freed slaves
were given each ten acres upon emancipation…”
In a rare-for-her prose post, “Erna’s Ark” on March 31 is a eulogy for her mother written in 2001, whose importance she still feels. All posts with pics.


HecateDemeter: Blogger Hecate’s posts on April 1 and April 22 are (at this writing) the most recent in her series “The Magical Battle for America,” which offers spiritual work we can do for these times. Her April 11 post is a prayer to Baba Yaga, which is titled with its first two lines:
“This is a prayer to Baba Yaga.This is a prayer for Resistance.”
The prayer continues:
“This is a prayer for the magic of chicken feet, the heat of old hates, the way old bones hurt. This is a prayer for Resistance.”

Hearth Moon Rising’s blog: Marking the 27th anniversary of her ordination as a priestess of Ishtar, Hearth Moon’s March 24 post, “Queen of Heaven and Earth,” begins with a poetic invocation of which the first few words are:
“Ishtar amongst the gods, extraordinary is her station
Respected is her word, it is supreme.”
 
Broomstick Chronicles: Aline O’Brien (aka M. Macha NightMare) shares her experiences at a MIC Clergy Luncheon on Diversity and Inclusion,” in an March 20 post.


My Village Witch: In an April 10 post, Byron Ballard tells how she how she became involved in editing an anthology of travel writings titled “My Wandering Uterus” and provides a link (from a photo) to submission guidelines. Her April 4 post, “What I Do When I’m Not Here,” focuses on one of her eventful weekends.
 
 Pagaian Cosmology: Glenys Livingstone’s April 13 post, “Samhain/Beltaine Moment EarthGaia May 2017 C.E.” gives details first on this May’s Samhain celebration in the Southern Hemisphere , including Australia where she lives, and then discusses the relationship between this holiday and Beltaine, being celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere.
 
Large Goddess/Spiritual Feminist Blogs
 
Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on these blogs, we are now suggesting that you visit them and select the posts that interest you most.

The Wild Hunt:Pagan, News-oriented blog that has grown from single blogger to many bloggers.

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.

Pagan Square: This blog of many mostly-Pagan paths is sponsored by BBI Media and includes SageWoman blog posts

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Nov.9-19 Women's Trip to Israel to Include 'Divine Feminine'

The following information is from Rabbi Rayzel Raphael, who gave us permission to post it here:

"Dear Friends, and colleagues and sisters of spirit,
In honor of Miriam crossing the Red Sea, I’m excited that the details have finally come together for my women's trip to Israel this fall.  It's a peace mission/spirituality journey with emphasis on interaction with various local Israeli cultures.  This is a great trip for Asherah fans as we will be going to the roots of worship of the Divine Feminine in ancient Israel, as well as meeting contemporary manifestations of Her Presence.
"We invite you to join a women’s INTERACTIVE trip to Israel, embracing the land, people, and promise of peace. This 11-day trip from November 9 to 19, 2017 is equally appropriate for those who have never been to Israel as it is for those who have been in other contexts but want a deeper richer experience with a focus on the women of the land. 
 "Each day’s itinerary was crafted and featured speakers were selected using the template of the heroines’ journey of transformation.  Our intention for this trip was to explore the ancient roots of Jewish women’s spirituality. We will visit archeology sites and receive an overview about matriarchal worship in ancient Israel at the Israel Museum. Our journey then follows this path of growth and blossoming from these roots. We will visit feminist change makers, secular and religious. Weaving between layers of history, we will find the thread of connection, women-to-women, through herstory. Our hope is that each participant also finds their own place on the path of the Divine Feminine as we travel -  adding her voice to this ongoing tradition.
 "One exciting feature is that we have included an optional culinary package to engage with Arab and Israeli women cooks and sample creations from various cultures in Israel.  
 "We have tried to make it economical- we are staying at good - but modest accommodations- because we felt location and convenience trumped luxury. We have included a number of meals, but have not covered all meals, as we know some folks like to wander on their own.  We also priced the trip without credit card fees to give you the choice to save a few bucks if you pay by check. Our guides, driver, speakers are all paid in line with fair wages.
"Please share this widely with those who you think would like this.
Sincerely,
Geela Rayzel"

"A Woman's Journey of Spiritual Transformation in Israel
Roots of Shechinah, Branches of Peace
There is no setting like Israel for profound spiritual transformation. This trip is designed for women who are seeking a rich, deep, yet fun journey.
 We will learn with top-notch women scholars, activists, artists, musicians, and peacemakers and pray with Women of the Wall. The itinerary combines touring with activities that engage the senses. We will taste the fruits of the land through the hands of women cooks from various cultural backgrounds. We will experience the Kabbalistic elements of Israel: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Archeology will ground us, Biblical women, contemporary mystics and prophetesses will inspire us… and then the gates to the other worlds will open in order that we may receive personal guidance on our own path.  Drawing on the power of some of Israel’s holiest sites, we will open to the mystery of our encounter.  Fun, food and frolic are of course, part of the adventure.
Come for the tour leave with transformation.
 Registration deadline: July 20, 2017"
 

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: The Mythic Dimension by Joseph Campbell

The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959 – 1987 by Joseph Campbell (edited by Anthony Van Couvering). New World Library, 2017, in conjunction with the Joseph Campbell Foundation, 348 pages trade paperback. (Hardback published in 2008.)

This book is part of a series of “Collected Works” by Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) being published by New World Library. We have previously featured two other books in this series. Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine and Romance of the Grail: the Magic and Mystery of Authurian Myth.

The Mythic Dimension has one chapter about the Goddess and touches on the subject in several other chapters. In his Foreword to the book, the editor, Anthony Van Couvering, points out that the essays in the book are in two categories (which he has given section headings): “Mythology and History” and “Mythology and the Arts.” He also notes that the essays are presented “with a minimum of editorial change.” I noticed that this apparently included leaving in Campbell’s use of the generic “Man” (sometimes with initial cap, sometimes not) and “men” for what most of us today would term humans — or more simply, people — as well as other male generics such as “mankind” when humanity or humankind would be more appropriate, and “fathers” instead of parents. I don’t know if this outdated usage will bother many readers, but it will probably come as no surprise to you that it bothered me, at times diverting me from the other content of the book, which contains a huge amount of material often of great historical and mythological interest. Although the use of the male generic occurs throughout the book, the use of “Man” is particularly curious in the first chapter (“Comparative Mythology as an Introduction to Cross-Cultural Studies”), an essay by Campbell about how he developed a course for his students—all women—at Sarah Lawrence College beginning in 1939. This course eventually became a series of lectures on television, beginning in 1963.
   
Thanks to permission from the publisher, here is an excerpt from the third section of the chapter on Goddess. The title of the chapter is “The Mystery Number of the Goddess.” It is the last of 4 chapters in the first of the section titled “Mythology and History.” This excerpt is from material under the heading “Māyā–Śakti–Devī.” Campbell writes:
 
The earliest and richest aggregate of testimonials to the character and functionality of this all-embracing and supporting, universal divinity in the earliest period and theater of her preeminency is that illustrated and expounded in Marija Gimbutas’s unprecedented exposition. And the fundamental original trait of the Goddess there represented at the opening of her historic career is that she was at that time bisexual, absolute, and single in her generative role. “As a supreme Creator who creates from her own substance, she is the primary goddess,” Gimbutas declares, “of the Old European pantheon. In this she contrasts with the Indo-European Earth Mother, who is the impalpable sacred earth-spirit and is not in herself a creative principle; only through the interaction of the sky god does she become pregnant.”
 
The idea is equivalent to that which in India is implicit in the compound noun māyā–śakti–devī, the “goddess” (devī), as at once the “moving energy” (śakti) and the “illusion” (māyā) of phenomenality. For according to this nondualistic type of cosmogonic metaphor, the universe as māyā is Brahman, the Imperishable, as perceived. ….
 
An outstanding characteristic of many of the artworks illustrated in Gimbutas’s volume is the abstract formality of their symbolically adorned and proportioned form….
Painted or inscribed upon these symbolically composed little revelations of powers intuited as informing and moving the whole spectacle of nature were a number of characteristic signs or ideograms….
Statuettes of the Goddess in many forms…identify her with every one of these tokens of the structuring force of a universe of which she… is at once the source and the substance….
[end of excerpt]

 Other sections of this chapter are “All Things Anew,” which discusses a number over 100,000 (I don’t want to give it away if you don’t already know it), which relates to a “cycle of time.” Campbell puzzles over the fact that the number of years appears not only in writings about the mythology of “recurrent cycles of time” from India, but also in writings of similar subject from Iceland. He continues with related numerology from various other sources, bringing him to the next section, “The Goddess Universe,” which begins with a discussion of various Flood texts, continues with discussion of the relationship of mythologies among various cultures, and leads up to the appearance “everywhere” of a “paramount divinity” that is a “metaphoric apparition of life that outlives death who became in later centuries venerated as the Goddess of Many Names.” The chapter after “Māyā–Śakti–Devī” is titled “The Pulse of Being” and discusses the dates given by Gimbutas of the appearance of the Goddess in various cultures and their relationship to the special number with which Campbell is concerned. The next two sections discuss the Goddess-related forms, “Creatress and Redemptress,” and “The Muses Nine,” after which Campbell moves on to sections titled, “Of Harmony and of Discord,” and “Ragnorok,” about other Goddess roles and relationships. In all, “The Mystery of Number of the Goddess” spans about 65 pages, one of the longer chapters in the book. It is preceded in the Mythology and History section by “The Historical Development of Mythology,” “Renewal Myths and Rites,” and “Johann Jacob Bachoften.”
 
In the section, Mythology and the Arts, chapters are “Creativity,” “The Interpretation of Symbolic Forms,” “Mythological Themes in Creative Literature and Art,” “The Occult in Myth and Literature,” and “Erotic Irony and Mythic Forms in the Art of Thomas Mann.” The back matter includes the Sarah Lawrence course reading list, notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Though a serious, scholarly, book, The Mythic Dimension is not without its humor. For example, in the first chapter of Mythology and History Campbell writes: “… for six days a week we honor the humanistic values of Greece and Rome and on the seventh for half an hour or so, confess guilt before a jealous Levantine god. Then we wonder why so many of us must repair to the psychoanalyst.”
 

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Buzz Coil: Feb.-March 2017

Here are some recent posts from blogs on our blogroll (please note, we don't knowingly list posts in Buzz Coil that have been published previously by the blogger elsewhere or on the same blog):

HecateDemeter: Blogger Hecate’s March 14 post, “On Purchasing Armour” is a thank-you to readers responding to her posts about “The Magical Battle for America,” (most recently March 11 and Feb. 25) as well as suggestions for protecting oneself when doing this work. Her March 21 post is her poem “This Is a Prayer to Aphrodite. This Is a Prayer for Resistance,” which begins (double space retained from original):

“This is a prayer to Aphrodite. This is a prayer for Resistance.


This is a prayer for love and beauty. This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for wine and roses. This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for orgasm. This is a prayer for Resistance.”

The Goddess House: In a February 27 post, “Opening at Port Adelaide,” Frances Billinghurst announces that starting the end of March The Goddess House in Adelaide, Australia, will be holding events at the both a location on Kyle Place in Port Adelaide and the Isian Center of Metaphysics. She gives an annotated schedule of events at the Kyle Place location through May and a link to the Isian Center’s information.

Pagaian Cosmology: In a March 10 post, “Red Threads of Autumn Equinox,” Glenys D. Livingstone writes that each Autumn in Australia, where she lives, she remembers “the passing of my ceremonial circle’s sister-friend.” She goes on to write about death in general and about the danger that planet Earth is experiencing due to climate change. She then includes some mythological and ritual-related material, as well as the relevance of other of her personal relationships. In a March 5 post, “Mother Medusa: Regenerative One,” she compares “Society’s” view of Medusa to her own views and experiences.

Annelinde’s World: Annelinde Metzger’s Feb 12 post, her poem, “At the Labyrinth,” begins:
“Ever, ever, She pulsates, warm beneath our feet,
our Mother the precious Earth.
Will She ever let us go?”

Casa della Dea: This blog’s first post in a long time was published on Feb. 1. “Canto per Brighde,” the lyrics of a traditional Irish song presented previously by Caitlin Matthews in English and translated into Italian by Anna Bordin.

Hearth Moon Rising’s blog: Hearth Moon’s March 10 post, “Great Gray Owl,” is about the significance of the appearance of this large owl in her neck of the woods.

The Rowdy Goddess: On February 21, in her first post in a long time, Gail Wood tells about the threads of “Yoga, Equanimity, Tarot , and more!” coming together for her.

Large Goddess/Spiritual Feminist Blogs

Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on these blogs, we are now suggesting that you visit them and select the posts that interest you most.

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.

Pagan Square: This blog of many mostly-Pagan paths is sponsored by BBI Media and includes SageWoman blog posts

The Wild Hunt:Pagan, News-oriented blog that has grown from single blogger to many bloggers. 
 
 

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Goddess Temple of Ashland Priestess Convergence

Early registration for the 3rd annual Goddess Temple of Ashland (Oregon) Priestess Convergence ends April 1. The event is scheduled for Sept. 14-17 and plans include: Ritual Immersion in the Sacred Spring (Mikvah); Honoring Ceremony for the Trusted Men of the Temple; Priestess Arts; Serpent Initiation; Holy Bee Medicine; Oracular Attunement; and omni-faith, all-generations Sisterhood. For registration information, go to the Convergence page on the Temple's Website  and scroll down to the registration information under the photos of last year's convergence.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Sheela na gig, a book by Starr Goode

Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power by Starr Goode, Inner Traditions 2016, 8” x 10”, 2.4 lbs., 384 pages. Also available as an ebook.

Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power is a large, beautiful book in which the author, Starr Goode, delves into the art, history, and mystery of one of the most sexually assertive and explicit figures honored by those who revere Goddesses and a subject studied by researchers of ancient artifacts. As you might guess from its dimensions, the book is illustration-intensive with a total of 151 excellent black and white illustrations—mostly images—of Sheelas or related deities, such as Baubo. The images come from various time periods (most recently dated back to at least 9600-800 BCE) and various cultures, and can still be seen on churches in the UK, including Ireland. In exploring them Goode, who teaches writing and literature at Santa Monica College and produced and moderated the cable TV series “The Goddess in Art,” travels back to the Neolithic and forward to art in our own time. The latter features contemporary interpretations of Sheela. A number of the photos were taken by the author, others are from the work of Marija Gimbutas and from other well-known sources. The seven chapters of Part I, “History,” contain 73 illustrations; the two chapters of Part II “Journeys,” 30 illustrations; and the four chapters of Part III, “Image,” 48 illustrations.
 
This scholarly book about the “displaying” (holding apart vulva lips) female figure begins with a historical overview that includes agreements and disagreements about Sheelas’ origins and significance. Today, there is apparently no agreement on the meaning of Sheela na gig’s name, nor her significance at various times in history, nor even when She first appeared historically. Goode discusses various theories of origin, such as Neolithic, early Pagan, Romanesque, and even later. She includes the role that Romanesque architecture played in the popularization of Sheela representation and the relationship of the transfer of Irish and other goddesses to Christian saints, which resulted in the probable transfer of symbolism that occurred when displaying Sheelas were placed on churches and castles—where many remain today.
 
In her discussion of Sheela symbolism Goode considers several possibilities, including as “a regenerative symbol for the cycle of life, representing fecundity, decay, and renewal.” She writes, “Certainly, the mysteries of sex, death, and rebirth, have accrued around the image of the vulva. It is an open invitation to sex, a birth canal, and, paradoxically, a symbolic return to Mother Earth following death.” In Christianity, Goode writes, the displaying figures became “a warning against lust.” Later their symbolism became more protective and powerful. One of the strongest and longest associations with Sheelas is “apotropaic” power, in which the displaying female genitals have the power to avert negative influences or bad luck. For example, people used Sheelas to guard against the “evil eye.” Related are various titles that have been given to Sheelas by different cultures, such as “Evil Eye Stone” and “the Witch.” Citing the German writer Georg Kohl, Goode also discusses “human Sheelas,” living women who, in Ireland, were and are still called “Shila na Gigh” and who help people’s luck to change from bad to good by “lifting their skirts to display their female nakedness.” Goode also discusses why and when stone Sheelas become less prominent in Ireland, including through their mutilation. Goode explains that in medieval times, Christian clergy considered Sheelas “the devil” and ordered them to be “burned as witches even though they were made of stone, not flesh….in later centuries and to this day, many are being recovered from where they were sometimes tossed into rivers or buried deep beneath castles. Other carvings had their vulvas hacked away....”

 In sections on the Sheela’s “forebears,” the author discusses the relationship of other figures to Sheela , such as Baubo (as in the Demeter-Persephone myth/Eleusinian Mysteries); Medusa; and the Frog Goddess. One of the sections that was especially interesting to me (because I was involved in Eastern European folk dance groups for many years and came to feel that many of them had Pagan and/or Goddess roots), is Goode’s discussion of a Bulgarian women’s ritual with dances related to the Frog Goddess. The dance, which is still done today, is a spring rain dance called Peperouda, While the dance is related to power of frogs, its name is translated “Butterfly” on You Tube videos (butterflies of course also have a springtime association.) I have placed three videos of different (though similar) versions of this ritual dance the end of this review.
 
Part I of the book also includes a section on “Male Interpretive Bias.” Part II looks more deeply into what Goode learned from her travels to Sheela sites, especially in Ireland and England. Part III focuses on images of Sheelas and deities that resemble Sheela, such as some versions of Kali, and includes contemporary artists’ Sheela interpretations. The back matter includes both Footenotes and Endnotes, plus a Bibiography.

Both the large number of excellent illustrations and the details and depth of Goode’s discussion make Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power an extremely valuable book that many Goddess folks and students of the mythology — as well as others — will treasure.
 
 Peperouda Videos

Full ritual with dance in the village of Tsar Samuil, municipality of Tutrakan in northeastern Bulgaria. Features “frog girl” surrounded by older women (The word in the You Tube link  “German” refers to another dance on the same video group, not the location of the ritual of this Peperouda ritual, which appears at the very beginning of the video):

 

Children in Radost Folk Ensemble with some adult women:



More choreographed version, Bulgarian women’s group, you can see similarities in waving of hands, and headdresses of 2 of  the women:

 
 

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