Thursday, August 02, 2007

Matrifocus: Lammas 2007

How nourishing I found this issue of Matrifocus , marking this year’s first harvest!

Some of my favorite Goddesses are featured:

"The Holy One" by Johanna Stuckey explores issues surrounding some ancient near eastern Goddesses. Johanna asks us to consider whether the Goddess often shown naked standing on a lion and holding snakes or plants, is Anat? Astarte? Asherah? And is "Quedesh" (or "Qudshu" or "Qedeshet"), which means "Holy One" or possibly adjectively "holy," a title of one or all of these goddesses? Or the name of a separate Goddess?

In her "Pilgrimage to Nepal and Tibet, Part I: Entry into the Sacred," Vicki Noble honors Prajnaparamita, the Mahayana Buddhist (or sometimes defined as Tibetan Buddhist) Goddess . An unexpected opportunity enabled Vicki to travel to Tibet recently. This first installment of a series on her journey discusses the profundity of honoring Prajnaparamita, whose titles include "Mother of the Buddhas," "Mother of Knowledege," "Perfection of Wisdom." Vicki tells of her experience chanting a mantra to Her:

I personally experienced an epiphany during the singing, wherein I felt that Buddhism itself — anchored in Tibet in the 8th century — must have originated as this bittersweet song of love and remembrance to the Goddess religion that had preceded it for so many millennia. The research I have done over two decades, which includes all the recent histories being developed by Tibetan Lamas and scholars and translated to English, suggests that there was meaningful cultural contact between East and West for many thousands of years (at least since 2000 BCE and probably earlier) across the various trade routes we have come to call the "Silk Road." And in this early and sustained contact, the female shaman priestesses were absolutely central. Their magical healing practices and worship of the Great Mother were shared and expressed in similar ways by the "Priestesses" in African Egypt, the "Maenads" of the Mediterranean region, the "Amazons" of Central Asia, and the "Yoginis" of India and Tibet. "OM, gone, gone, all gone; totally all gone," is a (loose) translation of the famous chant — a swan song in my mind, celebrating what I now see as both ending and beginning, an unbroken and never-ending circle of devotion to the Mother of All Things.
The article has a picture of a statue of Prajnaparamita, which has special meaning for me because I was fortunate enough to see the original a few years ago when it came to one of the Smithsonian Museums in DC as part of an exhibit of Tibetan Buddhist artifacts. Perhaps it was the excellent museum lighting, but this slightly-smaller-than-life statue affected me profoundly. Yes, it is artistically exquisite, especially in the hand pose, but there is something more...surely it embodies the divine.

Remember to help yourself to the other fulfilling offerings in this issue:
"Birds, Bats, and Old Mammogram Machines" by Mary Swander, which also discusses gardening, geese, wrens, computers, birdhouses, travel, and Amish views.
"Bring Your Garlands Home" H. Byron Ballard, which tells how birthday gifts launched her – reluctantly – into beekeeping, through which she discovered that conquering fear sometimes involves breaking rules.
In "Dancing with my Grandmothers at Lammas," by Victoria Slind-Flor, "dancing" involves making bread.
This issue’s editorial, by Feral, "Eating the Seed Corn," is about hunger in America.
Susun Weed’s "Spirit and Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition," explores three traditions of healing – wise woman, heroic, and scientific – and the implications of combining them.
In "The Triple Spiral – a PaGaian Heritage for Our Times, " Australian Glenys Livingstone explores cross-quarters, solstices, and equinoxes in both hemispheres and their relationship to cosmogenesis.
And be sure not to miss:
"Color Divinination," by Nancy Vedder-Shults, Ph.D.
"The Personal Politics of Starvation," a poem by Rev. Nano Boye Nagle
"Walking Blue Mounds State Park", a photo essay by Gwen Padden
"Fruits of Earth," a crossword puzzle by Feral and Sage.

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Judith Laura

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