Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Goddess Pages: Beltane Issue

Another terrific issue of Goddess Pages features two in-depth articles, one by Max Dashu and the other by Brian Charles, and an assortment of poetry, a meditation, and reviews.

Max Dashu continues her important series, "The Meanings of Goddess" with Part 2, "Goddess Heresies: the legacies of stigma in academia." In this rigorous and righteous scholarly rant, Dashu examines a phenomenon that continues to mystify and frustrate many of us: the refusal of academics to take Goddess study seriously, especially if the studies are coming from those who have been studying the subject the longest. She begins by pointing out that "most of academia" especially those involved in historical analysis, "don’t like to hear goddess talk, and especially don’t want to hear that it has any political significance." She then traces why Western academics appear "allergic" to anything ‘goddess’, by beginning with Roman Catholic priesthood’s attempt to overhaul European folk religions in the early Middle Ages, moving on to the increased misogyny that culminated with the witchhunts of the Inquisition, and continuing through the Reformation. She then examines "the Modern University" and the "triumph" of scientism – which included doctrines of female inferiority that were rationalized by medical and biological "explanations."

Linking this history to today’s academic attitudes, Dashu writes:
Academicians have been highly resistant, speaking generally, to seeing ancient female iconography as goddesses or having any sacral value. Most insist that goddess veneration has no historical or gender-political significance. They seem unwilling to entertain the idea that it undergoes cultural shifts as patriarchy advances, or to look at complex patterns of cultural stratification. They loudly demand "proof" for the sacred character of neolithic figurines, but do not raise objections to assumptions that patriarchy is a universal and panhistorical condition. Feminists who call the figurines "goddesses" are seen as being ideological, but not their opponents—even when their books bear titles like Goddess Unmasked.
Under the subtitle, "Stigma in Academia," she refers to two posts from this blog, "Article Double Whammies Goddess" and my more recent review of a book by William Dever . Dashu writes that stereotyping as "Goddess monotheism" certain Goddess concepts
ignores the diversity of perspectives, and misrepresents their complexity. It sidetracks analysis of cultural shifts toward patriarchy, and discussion of history bearing on gender politics, toward (usually inaccurate) assessments of a scholar’s personal beliefs....
She discusses historical shifts in goddess narratives in a variety of cultures, and the significance of the survival of goddess images in some patriarchal societies, after asserting:
It’s important to repeat that we are looking at a broader interpretation of "goddess" than the narrow defile to which orthodox theorists have relegated it. What spiritual feminists have been developing over the past 35 years sees women’s embodied experience in relation to their spiritual iconography, their ritual culture, and their expression—until this is interrupted through historical interventions—of the sacred in a female form. (I’ll return to this importance issue of embodiment—and "essentialism"—in Part III.)

Well, I for one can’t wait for Part III! And if you missed Part I , I encourage you to catch up.

Brian Charles’ "The Messianic Delusion" looks into the search for one individual–whether messiah or guru–who we expect to solve all our problems, and finds a relationship with the rise of such tyrants as Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin. Charles sees the longing for "some Divine king" to carry our fear-laden responsibilities in several contemporary books and films, such as Lord of the Rings, the "Narnia" books, Star Wars, and DaVinci Code, and contrasts them with much earlier mythologies.

The Beltane issue’s poetry feast includes "Reunion" and "Hecuba" by Ama Bolton,"Blodeuwedd Rising (Song for Hazel)" and "Unexpected (for C)" by Jacqui Woodward Smith, "Gromer Somer Joure - a modern riddle" by Geraldine Charles, "Ode to my cunt" by Hazel Loveridge, "At the mercy of the moon" and "Sea Burial of a dead lover" by Michele Darnell-Roberts. There is also a meditation, "Salome Speaks," by Tiziana Stupia. Some of these titles aren’t on the front page; to get to them, click on "poetry" over on the right side of the page. You also need to access the reviews from the "reviews" link on the right side of the page. They include: Geraldine Charles’ reviews of The Queen of Myself, Sacred Places of the Goddess, and "Moon Diary, Address Book and Wall Chart," and Sandra Roman’s reviews of 2 CDs by Anique Radiant Heart.


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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.