Friday, March 28, 2008

Buzz Coil: March

Daily Kos: Many Goddess feminists will be familiar with blogger Philoguy’s explanation of "Patriarchy as a Social Structure," in his March 25 diary "Thoughts About Feminism–Clinton and Patriarchy," Do you agree with his opinion of which Democratic candidate is running the more feminist campaign?

The Village Witch: Writing in her blog in the Ashville (NC) Citizen-Times, in a March 25 post, "Lately I’ve been gathering information...",Byron Ballard compares how she speaks to groups of Goddess-honoring feminist Pagans with the way Rev. Wright speaks to his congregation. Her March 22 post, "The Spirit Moved Us (but I don’t think it’s on YouTube)" Ballard blogs about two Ostara rituals she attended.

Matters of Minutia: Blogger lisa xx brings us reflections on the current celebration of Mabon in Australia in her March 26 post, "7.59 a.m.–how faded are the roses on my favourite nighty."

Peeling a Pomegranate: Blogger Ketzirah Carly’s March 23 post, "Journeying to the Source" tells about an annual tradition for her: journeying to the source of the Potomac River. This year's visit begins with a disturbing surprise but turns into a newer and deeper spiritual experience. The title of her March 20 post, "Esther, Ishtar, Morning Star," alludes to a possible connection between the heroine of the Jewish spring holiday of Purim and an Ancient Near Eastern Goddess. The pic accompanying the article shows traditional Purim pastries called hamentashen, that are supposedly shaped like the hat worn by Purim villain, Hamen. The pastries are triangular and I’ve never been convinced that men of that time wore triangle-shaped hats. As I used to tell students in a Cakes for the Queen of Heaven class I led, I think these may be (remnants of?) the original "Cakes" baked to honor the Goddess in the spring and against which Prophet Jeremiah railed. In her March 9 post, "Considering Kohenet?",Ketzirah Carly gives advice to women considering taking part in the Jewish priestess program into which she was recently initiated. With pics.

Branches Up, Roots Down: In her March 21 post, "full moon," Deborah Oak shares thoughts about a medical diagnosis, achieving balance at equinoxes and other times, and a conversation with younger feminists comparing the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Evoking the Goddess: In his March 19 post, "Rooted in the land," Blogger Paul ponders the Spring Equinox, our relationship to the land, and the results of dispossessing people of their land, including comments on Darfur. Paul writes:

There is always death, burning, torture and the rape of countless women, the deaths of many children. And then there is the cultural annihilation. The attack on culture and language. The ridiculing of the Goddesses. The forced worship of one all-powerful god or warrior leader.

Hecate: Blogger Hecate shares a lovely Eostara post on March 20, "Balance: Only Two Days Out of Three Hundred Sixty-Five."

Immanent Gorgon: In her March 2 post,"Pre-Croning, the Passing of Time, and a Search for Place," The Gorgon asks, "How do prepping Crones adjust to their loss of moon time" and then reflects on various cycles, and looking forward to a trip to Budapest.

Radical Goddess Thealogy: Blogger Athana cracks up in middle of her March 11 post, "In Nutshell" about male gods making babies. Cracked me up too. It’s good we can retain at least some sense of humor. Athana's March 5 post, "Calling All Catholics: Come Home to Mama," was triggered (I think) by the Vatican’s stand against non-gendered terms for deity. Athana addresses the male leaders of the Church:

Lighten up boyz! Get used to it! You’re dinosaurs in a world beginning to smell your prehistoric, rancid breath and get brief glimpses of your green-glowing, lizardy eyes.

Wild Hunt Blog: In a March 28 post, Jason Pitzl-Waters brings us the news that "Hypatia Comes to the Screen" in a major motion picture. In his March 23 post, he addresses "Christian Attitudes Towards Paganism," assessing the views of Paganism in a number of books by Christians. His March 20 post, "A Blessed Spring Equinox" compares Ostara and Easter. His March 19 post, "The Ramifications of a Post-Christian Society," discusses a recent survey that places "modern Paganism over the one million mark." That's people, people. But I'm not sure if that's just the US, or worldwide. Maybe I was reading too fast. UPDATE: The figure is for the US. See Jason's comment below.

Goddess in a Teapot: March 9's post, "Singing with Ancient Women’s Voices" tells about a performance of Balkan folk music, one of my favs for music and dancing.

Women and Spirituality: This is a multi-(well-known)author blog. On March 27, Amina Wadud, in her blogpost, "Working," ponders how her work relates to "the Other," and Carol P. Christ blogs about "Tithing in the Women’s Spirituality Movement," comparing ways of making "offerings" among Protestants and citizens of modern Crete. In her March 24 post, "Carnival Time: So How’s the Missus?" Susan Reimer-Torn contrasts the response of a certain politician’s wife to that of Vashti in the biblical book of Esther. Charlene Spretnak’s March 21 post, "Thoughts on Good Friday," responds to the Vatican’s addition of several new sins; Spretnak feels, however, that at least one transgression has been left out. Starhawk’s March 16 post, "Women of the Underworld: On Being Thrown Out of Israel," relates how, despite being born Jewish and having invitations from 3 Israeli organizations to give permaculture presentations and training, she was first jailed and then denied entry to Israel because of the work she’s done with the International Solidarity Movement. Starhawk begins the piece writing, "What stays with me most from the last few days is the kindness of women." Donna Read’s March 4 post, "The Crone’s Weekend" is about the importance of women in women’s lives, even if you’re about to get married.

Did we miss an item you think is important? We’d like to know about it, so please leave it as a comment.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

REVIEW: Anthology Takes New Look at Ancient Texts

Patriarchs, Prophets, and Other Villains, ed. Lisa Isherwood (Equinox 2007), 240 pages, softcover

This thought-provoking anthology presents a number of ideas off the beaten biblical path, many of them related to sex. Part of an ongoing series on "Gender, Theology and Spirituality," Patriarchs, Prophets, and Other Villains centers around interpretations of the Hebrew Bible or Scriptures (aka "Old Testament," an old-fangled term I won’t use except for this mention). This is a scholarly book, with essays by Christians, Jews, Pagans, and probably people of other faiths as well as aetheists and agnostics, from the perspectives of feminism and queer theory.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Asphodel P. Long (1921-2005), who has been called "a grandmother of the Goddess Movement in Great Britain." I was fortunate to become acquainted with Asphodel in the last few years of her life through an assortment of online mailing lists. Long was born Jewish and considered herself feminist-Goddess-Pagan. She received a degree in Theology from London University at the age of 62, and was the first Sophia Fellow at the College of St. Mark and St. John in Plymouth, England. She authored In A Chariot Drawn by Lions (Women’s Press [UK] and Crossing Press [USA] 1992), an ovarial work on Wisdom goddesses, particularly in the Ancient Near East. Long and Lisa Isherwood, Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies at the University of Winchester (UK), planned this anthology. Isherwood writes in the Preface, that they decided to focus on the Hebrew Bible because in it

we saw the initial roots of the exclusion of the Goddess in both Jewish and Christian traditions and we also wished to honour Asphodel’s Jewish heritage through attempting to provide creative and alternate ways of reading those scriptures.
If you’re one of those people (and I confess, I’m one) who sometimes skips prefaces and introductions, I strongly recommend that you don’t skip this Preface. It has many interesting details about the motivation and conception of this anthology, and includes some of Asphodel’s writing about Lilith (beginning on p. xii, and ending at the last paragraph of p. xvii. I’m telling you because there are no quotes around the passage, so it’s a little hard to define.) Once I had read the Preface, first essay (also by Long) and the second essay by Carol P. Christ, I felt I had gotten my money’s worth. But these are just the beginning of this book’s gifts.

"Asherah, the Tree of Life and the Menorah: Continuity of a Goddess Symbol in Judaism," is the Asphodel Long essay that begins the book (an earlier version is on her website, where she graciously posted a good deal of her writings). In it, Long explores the relationship between the Tree of Life, both a Goddess symbol and a symbol in Judaism, and the branched Jewish candelabra called the Menorah, also a Jewish symbol. She also discusses Asherah, both as alluded to in the Hebrew scriptures and as related to trees in general and to the Tree of Life in particular. Long brings together a huge amount of material in this essay and I highly recommend it.

Carol P. Christ writes that the title of her essay, "The Road Not Taken," refers to "the incorporation of female language for God into Christian and Jewish worship, prayer, and liturgy...." Christ, who holds a Ph. D. in Religious Studies from Yale, is author of a number of Goddess books, the more recent of which are Rebirth of the Goddess (Addison-Wesley 1997) and She Who Changes (Palgrave MacMillan 2003). She asks a number of provocative questions in this essay. For example, after noting that some younger female Episcopal priests "consider the issue of inclusive God language to be uninteresting and unimportant," she asks:

...why is this so? Is the God of Judaism and Christianity as they have been developed and transmitted ‘really’ a male after all?
She says that after discovering Raphael Patai’s book, The Hebrew Goddess, when she began teaching Women and Religion courses in 1973, she had assumed that based on Patai’s findings, as well as other material, that

the path to reintroducing God the Mother and Goddess back into Judaism and Christianity would be a simple one. Yet this has not been the case. I wonder why.
She recognizes that some Jewish and Christian sects have dropped the male pronouns from Bible translations and prayers and but notes that while this allows some people to remain in their mainstream religion with some degree of comfort, these nominal changes

do not require those who ‘know’ God as a dominant male other to change their understanding of ‘His’ power and glory.
Christ decides that the reason that feminists who remain in mainstream religions have made only these minor changes is that

to go any farther is to challenge the image of God as an image of dominant male power that most congregants find not only acceptable but comforting.
She challenges whether even the most progressive Jewish and Christian feminist changes, including those of Liberation Theology, go far enough in creating the necessary new "structures of meaning." She then delves into the suppression of Goddess in these religions, including the interpretation of biblical texts, updating and reinforcing her famous essay, "Why Women Need the Goddess" (1977 and widely reprinted thereafter). She ends on a subject of great concern to me: the unfair criticism of the Goddess movement by Christian, Jewish, and secular feminists. She points out these criticisms are made

with no recognition or apparent knowledge that some of them are untrue (for example that Goddess feminists are not political) or others that have been responded to time and again (for example that Goddess feminism replaces a male dominant God with a female dominant Goddess)....Is dismissing the Goddess Movement a way to avoid the challenge that the image of the Goddess represents to the mystifications of male power...within Christianity, Judaism, and the larger world of which they are a part?
In "‘Dealing With a Jealous God’: Letting Go of Monotheism and ‘Doing’ Sacrality," Ruth Mantin, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Chichester (UK), takes on the implications of monotheism in attempts to establish female autonomy and a variety of sexualities in religion. She traces the elevation of the male god Yahweh to the Only God, and the subsequent demotion or disguising of Goddesses, most especially Asherah in biblical scripture. Mantin writes that she is proposing

a radical, post-realist approach to ‘Goddess-talk’, which offers the potential for refiguring expressions of spirituality and of the sacred...which has much to share with the insights offered by queer theory.
In addition to the term "post-realist," full understanding of Mantin’s essay requires a knowledge of such terms as post-modernist, modernist, Cartesian, heteroglossia, and "nomadic subject." So be prepared!

In "The ‘Torafaction’ of Wisdom in Ben Sira," Dominique Olney, a teacher in Nicaragua educated at the College of St. Mark and St. John, examines the changes of "Wisdom" as a female figure in Proverbs and the later identification of Wisdom with the Torah scrolls. Olney assumes the reader knows that Ben Sira was a Jewish scholar who worked in Alexandria, Egypt and authored, c. 180-175 BCE, a scripture called Ecclesiasticus, (aka "The Wisdom of Ben Sira) which is included in the Roman Catholic holy scriptures, but not in the Jewish or Protestant, though it was popular in Judaism between the 3rd century BCE and 3rd century CE. The same scholar also authored "The Alphabet of Ben Sira," which includes a story about Lilith. By ‘Torafaction,’ Olney means the transformation of Wisdom personified as female into the Torah (first five books of Bible, honored in scroll-form in Hebrew in synagogues). This essay is a thorough and exacting look at how that transformation took place, including a comparision of Ben Sira’s work with Proverbs, on which it is based. Olney sees, as part of this transformation, the change in Wisdom, from having "free and fluid mobility as the all embracing lover-creator of the universe" to being "instantly frozen into servile obedience just as her boundary-free territory is collapsed into one small area." Olney writes:

Ben Sira weaves Wisdom in a tight web, shrinking her domain in a few verses from the earth...then to a Israel’s territory...and a wilderness tent...and last to a city...and a tabernacle in the Temple.
The next several essays focus on specific biblical texts. Sarah Rogers’ "Sarah: Villain or Patriarchal Pawn" looks at the role of the Genesis matriarch Sarah, including her treatment of Hagar, and propounding (with references) the view that Sarah and Hagar were of different races; specifically that Hagar was African and Sarah was not, and that this is part of the friction between them. I’m not fully convinced by this argument. If we look at the physical characteristics of people in the Middle East today, it is hard to distinguish between those who might be seen as the descendants of Hagar and those who may be the descendants of Sarah. IOW, Jews and Arabs look the same "racially"– their skins colors are similar; both vary from light beige to dark brown (human skin isn’t really "white" or "black"–we are all various shades of brown, but that’s another blog). I would agree that people of the Ancient Near East probably made distinctions among themselves that may have been just as strong as the racial distinctions we make today (or that were made until recently?), but these ANE distinctions were based on tribe or ethnicity. Sarah and Hagar were of different families, different tribes, perhaps slightly different ethnicities. But different races? In another instance of comparing modern prejudices to ancient ones in a way that may not be entirely accurate, Rogers compares Sarah and her tribe to "modern gypsies or migrant workers." I have a problem with this use of the term "gypsies" to, I assume, refer to the Roma, who have a history of being persecuted in Europe. Rogers uses the term in a negative way, writing, for example, "It is possible to interpret Sarah as having lived the life of a gypsy-bandit." IMO it isn’t appropriate to use the term "gypsy" (Roma) as synonymous or hypenatable with "bandit." Rogers continues: "Like the modern Gypsy, Sarah would have been the product of generations of racially mixed marriage." Why single out "Gypsies?" Aren’t many of us of a variety of "races," nationalities, and ethnicities, products of "generations of racially mixed marriage"? Despite my criticisms here, Rogers’ essay does present some intriguing thoughts and questions. I couldn’t help but wonder that she didn’t include among her many references, the late Savina J. Teubal’s book, Sarah the Priestess (Swallow/Ohio U 1984). Perhaps when Rogers was writing this essay it wasn’t available in Britain, where Rogers studied at the College of St. Mark and St. John. IMO, Teubal’s well-researched book, in which she portrays Sarah as struggling to preserve a non-patriarchal system in the face of encroaching patriarchy, would respond to many of Rogers' wonderings about Sarah's role.

Graham Harvey, Lecturer in Religious Studies at The Open University (UK), delves into what is probably a lesser known biblical story in his essay, "Huldah’s Scroll: A Pagan Reading." Harvey looks at the treatment of Huldah, a prophetess whose story he says "seems to interrupt the Bible’s narrative of an ancient men’s movement." He questions why there aren’t more details on some aspects of this story, such as the weaving "of something" for Asherah, and finds their absence frustrating and suspicious. He concludes that the question remains: Who was Huldah?

Ken Stone, professor of Bible, Culture, and Hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Seminary (US), takes a bold look at biblical s/m in his essay,"‘You Seduced Me, You Overpowered Me, and You Prevailed’: Religious Experience and Homoerotic Sadomasochism in Jeremiah." After giving a summary of scholarship on Scriptural s/m, Stone focuses on Jer. 7-13. Rather than considering text as metaphor, his approach is to take the sexual language literally, and since what is transpiring is between a man and a male God, it is homoerotic. One of the questions, he asks is whether in this text, "sexual overpowering" can mean something other than rape.

In "The Monstrosity of David," Janet Wooten, director of studies for the UK Congregational Federation, looks at the charismatic king credited with forming the tribes of Israel into a hereditary monarchy. She compares two intertwined narratives in Samuel I; one "gives an amazingly positive spin," the other describes "the absolute power of a monarchy over lives of individuals." Including material about Saul, Wooten tells the story of David through the narratives of the women with whom he had relationships. She notes that "in order to preserve intact the moral character of David," it has been necessary to vilify and blame the women, especially Bathsheba. Wooten also looks at David’s relationship with Jonathan which, she says, "is described in explicitly sexual terms," and explores the relevance of David’s story to the story of Jesus.

In "Searching for Queer Sophia-Wisdom: The Post-Colonial Rahab," Marcella Maria Althaus-Reid, approaches applying queer theory to the Bible as "an art of cruising" and delineates the relationships among desire, theologies, and imperialism. Althaus-Reed is Professor of Contextual Theology at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and author of The Queer God, and From Feminist Theology to Indecent Theology, as well as other books . In this essay, Althaus-Reid seeks to answer the question : ‘What has sexuality to do with Liberation Theology?’ The extensive and detailed search for an answer leads her to look for "the deity in the female" and to view "Sophia-Wisdom" as an "alternative intelligence." She goes on to give what she terms a "subversive" reading of the story of Rahab, a woman in the book of Joshua who lived in Jerico (Canaan) and helped the invading Israelites.

Next is Daniel E. Cohen’s, " Taste and See; A Midrash on Genesis 3:6 and 3:12." It's delightful to have this story popping up amid the heavier articles. Not that Cohen isn’t capable of the heavy stuff: he’s Emeritus Reader in Pure Mathematics, Queen Mary University of London, and, as he puts it, a "Freelance Thealogian." He was also co-editor, with Jan Henning, of the well-known British Pagan publication, Wood and Water. A close friend of Asphodel Long, Cohen has dedicated his work to retelling myths from the perspective of men’s relationship to the Goddess, providing new images of "the hero." He does this with a light, sometimes even humorous touch, yet in a way that honors the deep knowledge base he is drawing from. This retelling of the Adam and Eve story, in which he looks at "what might have happened if Adam had accepted responsibility for his actions," is one example of his work. Another," Iphigenia, A Retelling," appears in the epilogue of Carol P. Christ’s Rebirth of the Goddess. I’ve heard through the grapevine ;-) that Cohen is gathering his stories together so they can be published in book form. I very much look forward to that publication.

In "‘Eat Friends, Drink. Be Drunk With Love’ [Song of Songs 5:2] A Reflection"Lisa Isherwood, editor of this anthology and the series of which it is part, looks at the Song of Songs, a biblical book that doesn’t mention God and is filled with sexual allusions. Isherwood calls some more traditional interpretations of the text "villainous" and says they "have led to centuries of body-denying repression and even witch hunting." In particular, she rejects Christian interpretations that argue the text is metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church and use the erotic text to justify celibacy. (In Judaism, the Song is often metaphorically interpreted as showing the close bond between God and the Jewish people– without the celibacy interpretions.) Like many others, Isherwood searches for the real source(s) of The Song (the attribution of The Song to Solomon is no longer accepted by most scholars) and mentions several possibilities but doesn’t include the theory, mentioned by Marcia Falk in The Song of Songs: A New Translation (Harper 1990) and others that The Song is derived from a number of individual lyric poems written over several hundred years (by unknown authors); best guess: between either 950 or 500 BCE and 200 BCE. Perhaps Isherwoood isn’t satified that there is sufficient data to back this up and so did not include it? At any rate, her essay is a fascinating exploration of the explicit meanings of the sexual language in The Song.

Thalia Gur-Klein, a scholar at the University of Amsterdam, explores a little-known, rarely-discussed custom that explains a lot of mystifying biblical activity in "Sexual Hospitality in the Hebrew Bible: Patriarchal Lineage or Matriarchal Rebellion?" Gur-Klein discusses Ancient Near East customs of men sexually sharing their wives and daughters (and sometimes also male family members) with male strangers (sometimes humans, sometimes "angels") who visit their homes. The purpose of the custom was to safeguard the host’s honor and protection and to achieve fertility (of both crops and humans). Gur-Klein points out the influence of this custom in many biblical stories including those of Sarah, Rebecca, Lot, and Sampson. I found this one of the more fascinating essays in the book.

Closing the anthology, K. Renato Lings’ "The Culture Clash in Sodom: Patriarchal Tales of Heroes, Villains, and Manipulation," contrasts the biblical approach to the hero/villain issue in the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah with modern Jewish and Christian interpretations. Lings, who is Translator/Interpreter and Honorary Research Fellow at The Queen’s Foundation (UK), provides some excellent tables that make this contrast easier to understand.

Before I close, I want to mention the placement of footnotes at the bottom of the pages in this anthology. I really appreciated this. Many books today, especially if they are aimed at a general rather than academic audience, transfer this additional information to endnotes, either at the end of each chapter, or all together at the end of the book. Sometimes notes contain just bibliographical references, but often they also contain fascinating tidbits, so I always try to read them; but when they’re not directly on the page they reference I have to make a special effort to remember to look them up. There are at least two reasons that most books for the general public now place them as endnotes: publishers fear that putting them at the bottom of each page as footnotes may make the book seem too scholarly, and thus forbidding, to the general public; and modern printing practices make it far easier to gather them as endnotes at the end of a chapter or book than to interrupt the typographic flow of each page with footnotes. Because the footnotes in this book are not extensive, I think it worked well to have them on the bottom of each page and I want to thank the editors for that--as well as for the entire book.

Patriarchs, Prophets, and Other Villains is an excellent text for college instructors and students looking for a solid yet somewhat unconventional anthology about religion, especially for classes in women’s studies, gender studies, and queer studies. It’s also a good find for the rest of us, with new ways to look at familiar and not-so-familiar texts.


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Monday, March 10, 2008

GUEST BLOG: The Southern Hemisphere is on the Same Planet and it's Autumn!

by Glenys Livingstone

Earth is perfectly poised in balance for a Moment – it is a Moment of Equinox @ EarthGaia. The light and dark parts of the day in the South and in the North of our planet, are of equal length at this time. In the Southern Hemisphere it is Autumn –yes! … and - no matter where you are - we all know what season it is in the Northern Hemisphere: Spring. In the Christian calendar, which dominates the consumer faith of the globe, Easter is being celebrated - no matter where you are – in Spring or in Autumn. Who cares? It seems sometimes not even Pagans – especially Pagans in the North of the Planet. Most Pagans in Australia do now celebrate the Autumn Equinox by the name of Mabon when it is actually Autumn, though there are still some recalcitrant ones that stick to the Northern Hemisphere dates regardless of what their Land is doing (I find it hard to believe but it is so!). However, for most Pagans in the North of the Planet, it is yet to dawn on them that the opposite Season is happening at the same time, on the same Planet. And even for those from the North who do know, who have been here to the South (the South is here not just there), and felt it, they have gone home glad to re-adjust their brains to the familiar half-Planet they inhabit. Southern Hemisphere Pagans continue to receive their unseasonal greetings in emails, on lists where one would think the author knows they are talking to a global community - authors who expect Southern Hemisphere people to simply comply to their unseasonal writings, or sit in their unseasonal virtual classroom unaddressed. I find this particularly bewildering (en-wilding) coming from feminist Goddess women who have a history and understanding of being “othered”, who blithely continue it in this form, despite attempts to alert them to the reality of the other half-Planet.

EarthGaia has a Solstice Moment twice a year - yet She actually does Winter twice and Summer twice within that. And there is a symmetry in their significance Poetically – which is quite lovely and profound to contemplate. EarthGaia has Equinox Moments twice a year – yet Autumn and Spring twice each within that: and there is an awesome symmetry in the Poetic significance that us humans may make of its simultaneous occurrence. Our ancestors had commonly connected them … the Greater and the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries being an example. The cross-quarter Moments have a special relationship as they occur co-incidentally in the different hemispheres, when one understands that the one is reflected in the other … present deep within – one aspect manifest in the light part of the cycle and the other aspect manifesting in the dark part of the cycle, a reflection in the mirror. Then, one is comprehending a Wholeness of being that is actually true of every moment – a connection enabled by the Gestalt of a spherical whole Planet.

This issue is one of my “things”. I grew up under Southern skies – the Southern Cross constellation of the night sky in my childhood eyes. I was a country girl in Australia … of European descent and heritage, and as I say in the Introduction to my book, PaGaian Cosmology:

Most of the texts and graphics explaining the Cosmos to an Australian and white child were (and still often are) drawn from the Northern Hemisphere perspective. The Moon’s phases were “backwards”; Sun’s daily movement from East to West was described as being “clockwise” (and it wasn’t); the seasons in the stories were always at odds with real experience. This was never regarded as important enough to mention, yet deep within me from the beginning there was scribed the cosmic essence of disregarding one’s senses.
Northern Hemispheric practitioners of the Old European Earth-based religious tradition, are generally less aware of the significance of the site of seasonal ritual – where we are in the Cosmos, than those of the South of the Planet. Yet in the times of global transformation and consciousness that we are entering, such an awareness seems a very positive attribute. Whereas in the past, for me personally and others, the fact of the context being thus – Southern Hemispheric, was initially a confusion, contributing to a deep internalised sense of being “Other”. It is now a clarity about the actual Planet and Cosmic situation. The PaGaian reality is that the whole Creative Dynamic happens all the time, all at once. The “Other”, the opposite, is always present – underneath and within the Moment: the Seasonal Moment, or indeed any moment. Practice of celebrating the Seasonal Wheel in the Southern Hemisphere seems to contribute certain identifiable qualities to one’s frame of perspective and flexibility of mind: we even joke about it “down” here. There is an identifiable rigidity of mind that is the usual fare of a “Northern” mind.

Like any “underdog”, us Southern Hemispheric PaGaians (Pagans with global perspective) can tend to be a bit smug about our larger perspective, or sometimes quite irrational and emotional. But in all truth, we must realize that the colonisation of the South of the Planet is a very recent event in the history of Gaia – our minds and our religious rituals are still catching up.
© Glenys Livingstone 2008

Australian Glenys Livingstone is author of
Pagaian Cosmology and holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. For more about her and her work, visit
For a taste of the "anti-clockwork" experience, visit Glenys' YouTube offerings celebrating the light part and the dark part of Earth's annual orbit around the Sun. Glenys and her partner hold sacred space for the celebration of Earth’s holy-days with a small open community, according to their place on the planet.


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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Events Coil: March 15-May 16

As far as we know, all events we list are open functions; but some may be limited to women or to adults. Please check the websites for group policies. If no country is given, the event is in the USA. All times are local. Links to events lasting more than 1 day are bolded. When listing events for the same date, we have tried to list those occurring first, taking into account time zone differences. If there is a difference between our listings and the listings on the web page linked to, assume their web page is correct, as it may have changed since we listed from it. The next Events Coil is planned for early to mid-April and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through early June. If you have an event you want listed in future Events Coils, please leave info a comment. See the end of this Coil for what info we need for listings.

March 15, 2 p.m. Spring Equinox Celebration with local council of Covenant of the Goddess; 8 p.m. "Sacred Serpent Power"; Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 16, 11 a.m. Service honoring Persephone, with guest priestess Nicki Scully; 2 p.m. "Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt," workshop with Nicki Skully, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 17, 7 p.m. "Priestesshoods of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece," with Marguerite Rigoglioso, Ph. D., Center for the Divine Feminine, Palo Alto CA

March 18, Spring Equinox, gather 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m. Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 18, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Spring Equinox & Vila, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

March 20, 7:20 p.m. Spring Equinox Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

March 20-23, Sister Camp with Equinox Celebration, Camp Sister Spirit, Hattiesburg MS

March 21, 7-10 p.m. Full Moon Morgens Oracle, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

March 21, 7 p.m. Spring Equinox Celebration, Women's Well Community, Concord, MA

March 21, time tba, Full Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

March 21, gather 7 p.m. ritual 7:30 p.m. Ostara & Full Moon with Peace Event, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

March 21, 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 22, 7 p.m. Mabon/Autumn Equinox, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, Blue Mountains, AUSTRALIA

March 22, time tba, Spring Equinox Ritual with Ostara Egg Hunt, & Workshop, Circle Sanctuary, Barneveld WI

March 22, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m., Spring Equinox, Reclaiming, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

March 22, 7 p.m. Premiere Screening of "Women's Power," DVD produced by Max Dashu, Redwood Gardens, Berkeley CA

March 23, 14.00 uur, Lente Equinox, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel (Avalon-Mystic), Hillegom NEDERLAND

March 23, time tba, Spring Equinox/Ostara, Connect DC,
Washington DC

March 23, 11 a.m. Eostre Sunday Service, honoring Hi'iaka, "Mary Magdalene, the Sophia" with guest priestess Beverly Denusis, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 24, 7 p.m., "The Embodied Feminine: An Exploration Through Movement, " with Valerie Sher, Ph. D, Center for the Divine Feminine, Palo Alto CA

March 30, 11 a.m. Service honoring Primavera, with guest priestess Harita Meenee, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 1, 7 p.m. The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 3, 6 p.m. Topic tba with Max Dashu, MIT, Cambridge MA

April 4, 7 p.m.
"Rebel Shamans: Indigenous Women Confront Empire, " with Max Dashu, Women's Well Community, Concord MA

April 4, 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 5, 7 p.m.
"Chinese Deasophy," with Max Dashu, Women's Well Community, Concord MA

April 5, 7 p.m. New Moon Womens Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 5, 7 p.m. "Un-Merchandising the Maiden" with Rev. Ava and Rev. Ayanna, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 6, 2-4 p.m. New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 6, 11 a.m. Service honoring Bau (Baba) with guest priestess Kathe Schaaf, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 6, 7 p.m. "Taming the Female Body," with Max Dashu, UU Congregation, Andover MA

April 8,7:30 p.m. "Rebel Shamans:Indigenous Women Confront Empire," Media Education Foundation, sponsored by Rain & Thunder Collective, Northampton MA

April 9, 7:30 p.m. "Rebel Shamans: Indigenous Women Confront Empire," Women's Temple: In Her Name, Canton CT

April 13, 11 a.m. Service honoring Nut (Nuit) with guest prestess Debbie Barnett, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 13, 3 p.m. "Goddess Herstory in Art & Artifact," seminar and ceremony with Karen Tate, Goddess Studio, San Diego CA

April 19, Earth Day Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, Mt. Horeb WI

April 19, 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange Temple, Irvine CA

April 20, 11 a.m. Service honoring Oya with guest priestess Annitra Ravenmoon, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 20, time tba, Full Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

April 20, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m., Full Moon Ritual, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 27, 11 a.m.
Service honoring Xochiquetzal with guest priestess Melinda Allec, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 28, 7 p.m.
"Enheduanna: The First Author of Record," with Betty Meador, Ph. D. , The Center for the Divine Feminine and Serpentina, at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto CA

April 30, 7:30 p.m.
Beltane Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

May 1, gather 6 p.m., ritual 7 p.m.,
Beltane, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 2-4, Beltane, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve,
Mt. Horeb WI

May 3, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m.
Beltane (Reclaiming) Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

May 4, 11 a.m. Service honoring Maeve,
" Women Rethinking the Role of Caretaker" with Rev. Karen Tate; 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 9-11,
Blue Ridge Beltane Festival, Charlottesville, VA

May 10, time tba,
Samhain/Deep Autumn, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

May 11, 11 a.m.
Service honoring Parvati with guest priestess Elana Golden, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 16-18,
Layne Redmond Frame Drum retreat, Goddess Studio, San Diego CA CANCELLED



Canberra, 10 a.m.most Saturday mornings, Meditation. The Goddess Shrine, Temple of Lunation Magick
(White Gum Valley): Mondays, 6 p.m., Chalice Ceremony, Daughters of Ishtar.

Sudbury: 1st Friday (Sept.-June) 7:30 p.m.,
Sudbury Women's Circle.
Hamilton: Saturdays, 4-6 p.m.
Open Classes ; gather 6:30-7 p.m. Open Circles , Hamilton Temple, Wiccan Church of Canada.

Soderhamn, Mondays, 7-9 p.m.,
meditation prayer, conversation, Gudinne Templet.

Arlington VA: 3rd Sunday of month, gather 12:45 p.m., ritual 1 p.m. Moonfire CUUPS.
Baltimore MD
: Sundays 10 a.m., Rites of Cafeina,
Cedar Light Grove (ADF)
Canton CT: Sundays, 10:30 a.m. Services, Women's Temple: In Her Name
Geyersville CA: Sunday Services 2-4 p.m. Temple of Isis
Houston TX: Sundays, 10 a.m. Magdalene Community, Rothko Chapel; Mondays at Noon, Christian feminist theology study group ; 1st &3rd Fridays at Noon, Group studying Gospel of Mary, Brigid's Place, Christ Church Cathedral.
Irvine CA: Sunday Services: 1st Service at 9:30 a.m. inward, meditative; 2nd service at 11 a.m., dancing, drumming, singing; see dates for guest speakers.
Goddess Temple of Orange County,
Portland OR: Rituals at new and full moons, quarters and cross-quarters.
Full Circle Temple , Tuesdays-Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m. "Open to all self-identified women and girls."
Rockville MD: night before new moon,
Dark Moon Book Group, Spiral Heart (Reclaiming).
San Francisco CA: Wednesdays,
Christian Goddess Rosary, Ebenezer Lutheran Church; 1st Fridays, evenings at various locations, Woman's Spirituality group.
San Francisco CA: New Moon and Full Moon observances,
Maa Batakali Cultural Mission.
West Concord MA: 1st Monday, 7-9 p.m.
Women's Circles; other ongoing groups include Demeter & Persephone's Circle for mothers and daughters; Council of Mother Bears; Menopause As Spiritual Journey; Menarche, for mothers and Daughter, at Women's Well.

We'll be happy to add your Goddess and spiritual feminist events (and those you know about that are open to the public) no matter where in the world they are. Leave a comment with your event, giving: Name of event, sponsoring organization (if any), town, date, time (if known), and, required: url of website where person can get more info. (Do NOT give street addresses, phone numbers or email addresses. People should go to the website to get that info.) We plan to publish an Events Coil every month.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Anahita-L Moderator Shuts Down Gimbutas Discussion

The moderator of Anahita-L , a mailing list dedicated to discussing "women and gender in the Ancient Mediterrean world" today shut down (or should I say shut up?) a discussion of the work of the late archeologist Marija Gimbutas, research about the ancient city of Catal Huyuk (in what is now Turkey), and related scholarship about religion and other aspects of culture and women's roles in the ancient Mediterrean world.

The lively but non-flaming thread took place over the last several days in a group used to more soporific discussions. A day or two preceding the discussion shutdown/up, one of the list members asked snarkily (message 1268)
if the list had become a New Age discussion list. (For people who don't know the difference between Goddess scholarship and New Age thought, please see "The Goddess vs. the New Age..." by Jacqui Woodward-Smith in the first issue of Goddess-Pages).

In the next post, the moderator responded with the list description:
ANAHITA-L is a scholarly list for the discussion of women and gender in the ancient Mediterranean world. Discussion topics include: women's work, legal status, social roles -- both public and private, intellectual life, religious activities, and men's views on women. The discussions should be based upon historical, archaeological, linguistic, literary and other evidence from the ancient world and the various interpretations of this evidence. There are many interpretations of the source material and we encourage a variety of approaches, including controversial authors such as Stone and Gimbutas. These latter authors may be discussed critically but they are not to be taken as the 'final word' on any topic. Some familiarity with original source material is expected.
But he ended this post ended ominously, writing:"we're watching..."

Four days later, at a point at which it seemed that through admirable persistence, several Goddess scholars seemed to be making some headway with factual evidence, the moderator ended the discussion with a post (1288)
saying, in part:
It has become apparent that the discussion is no longer about women in the ancient world but rather is about bashing 'academe' (for reasons which seem more 'personal' than 'academic') and not really discussing anything....
As such, and keeping in mind that this is an ACADEMIC list, the current discussion of any approaches which are based on overuse of the suffix -archy shall be considered
closed....Any complaints may be sent directly to me...but I seriously doubt I'll attempt to respond.
Since (at least at this writing) the list posts are publicly available
, you can read them and decide for yourself whether they are about "bashing academe" or whether this "reason" is an excuse for shutting up a discussion of a subject (and even use of certain words!) uncomfortable for some group members.

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