Friday, May 04, 2007

Matrifocus: Beltane Issue

The Beltane issue of Matrifocus is full of thought-provoking and inspiring articles.

"Goddess and Demons: Some Thoughts" by Johanna Stuckey encourages us to ask: Were some entities usually considered demons originally goddesses? Johanna discusses Rangda, as presented in a Balinese ritual drama; Mesopotamian Lamashtu; Babylonian Lilitu and the possibly related Jewish Lilith, and Greek Medusa.

In "Dancing with the Dark Mother at Beltane," Victoria Slind-Flor tells why Kali Ma is her Beltane Goddess and how she honors Her.

In "The Goddess in Sante Fe," Kathy Stanley, who comes from a Roman Catholic background, tells us about her first experience of Goddess Spirituality at a "Divine Mother Conference" in 1994.

"Mother Tree: in Honor of the Matri-line" by Mut Danu brings us the power of naming ourselves matrilineally.

Patricia Monaghan takes us inside a Victorian house she’s retrofitting in her article,"It’s Always Something."

Matrifocus Editor Sage Starwalker graciously gives top billing to other writers’ articles but her editorial in this issue, "Pagan Identity, Pagan Peace," is not to be missed. I’m going to quote parts to give you an idea, but I encourage you to go read the whole thing. After introducing the issue of Pagan identity in general, and discussing some assumptions about Wicca in particular, Sage writes:
....We discover that Wicca is not the revelation of an ancient system of belief and practice handed down intact over centuries, but rather a 20th-century creation with roots in various folk religions, indigenous cultures and practices, and sophisticated systems of esoteric belief and ceremonial magic. As we study, it becomes clear that there was, indeed, no single religious system for all pre-Christian Europe....
Sage goes on to comment on Paganism:
...Looking to the academy, we find that we've been left out completely. We don't belong in any of the three major religious families studied in Comparative Religions programs: the Abrahamic family (Judaism, Christianity, Islam); the Dharmic family (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism); or the Taoic family (Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and others). Even among the academics who do study and write about Paganism we find great tension about what is legitimate Paganism and which are the legitimate Pagan voices. Their work is inevitably biased by the conservative environment in which they work.... We non-academics can and do feel free to make connections based on insight and intuition. Some of us think that Pagan is a good way to capture a fourth religious family. There is no consensus, however, about (religious) family ties among indigenous people (Native American and otherwise), shamans, witches, pantheists, and neopagans. Quite the contrary. Hinduism, though pantheist, is considered to be one of the Dharmic religions. Most Native Americans claim no affinity with contemporary Paganism, something they see rightly as a movement of sons and daughters of white European imperialists/colonialists groping toward a post-Christian identity crafted from a distant, pre-Christian past....Crafting a consensual Pagan identity among those of us who call ourselves Pagan is no easy task, given the many differences among us. As a Goddess-identified Pagan, for example, I'm left out of the circle according to some of the duality-identified Pagans....
Then Sage goes on to explore some new possibilities:

....pact and peace are derived from the same root as Pagan and are as much a part of our heritage as is the Maypole, a probable remnant of this ancient reality.... Why can't we reclaim "peace in our communities" alongside celebration of sacred sexuality for our Maypole-dancing? Is it such a stretch to add peace-making to the symbology of fertility and world tree that are already encoded in the Maypole and the season? What if, when we dance together in circle — or whatever we do to celebrate the season — we included some time, energy, and magic for creating peace among us by burying a symbol of conflict, metaphorically if not literally?...

Other goodies in this issue include: "Frequent Gardener Miles" by Mary Swander; "Egg Divinations" by Nancy Vedder Shults; "Herbal Medicine Chest in Your Backyard" by Susun Weed; poems, "Plan B" and "Allegiance" by Kven, and "Hard as Nails" by Feral; a photo essay, "County Roads, Highland Wisconsin by Gwyn Padden; book reviews by Madelon Wise (The Heart & Soul of Sex) and Dahti Blanchard (The Wicked Enchantment).


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Judith Laura

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