Friday, November 28, 2008

Buzz Coil: November

Alive Mind & Spirit: In her Nov. 21 post, Carol P. Christ asks, "Do We Still Need the Goddess?" She bases the answer not on religious or spiritual theory but on our secular life.

House of Inanna: Congratulations to Brian Charles on becoming a Priest of Inanna in a ritual in Hungary, which he discusses in in Nov. 18 post, "Back in the labyrinth," and his Nov. 24 post, "Priest of Inanna."

The Village Witch: In her Nov. 18 Asheville NC Citizen-Times blogpost,"Mother Grove Tea Party–No Hatters Mad or Otherwise," Byron Ballard tells about a tea party at a local café where community people exchanged ideas about what they want in a Goddess temple, now in the planning stages.

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters discusses "the smear job" on Margot Adler, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter, in his Nov. 25 post "Where Fox News Gets Its News," and the first item in his Nov. 24 post, "(Pagan) News of Note." Adler is probably best known among Pagans for her book, Drawing Down the Moon.

Evoking the Goddess: The questionable economic approach of which Blogger Paul in Britain writes on Nov. 25 in "Your country wants you to spend" will likely also be familiar to those in the U.S.

Broomstick Chronicles: Macha NightMare's Nov. 14 post, "AAR in Chicago," gives summaries of some of the first day’s presentations of the Pagan Studies Group meeting of the American Academy of Religion. In her Nov. 12 post, "Freedom to Marry," Macha posts the Covenant of the Goddess’s policy statement about its clergy performing ceremonies that join two people in a love relationship

A number of this month’s posts include spiritual views of the U.S. Presidential Election:

At Brigid’s Forge: On Nov. 2, Lunaea Weatherstone wrote "What a Woman Can Do," telling how, after taking town her Samhain ancestors’ shine, she left up the photo of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and made a foremother’s shrine for the election. Lunaea writes:
Elizabeth and Susan are at the forefront of an army of ancestral spirits who fought with all their heart and soul for women's rights, and in particular, for the right to vote. Alongside their photo, I placed two antique books from my collection, "What Can a Woman Do?" (1893) and "Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement throughout the Civilized World" (1901). When those books were printed, the women who read them were still struggling for that right, and would continue to do so for years to come. How overjoyed they would be to see how far women have come today -- and I suspect, they would be equally disgusted and outraged by some other changes in the political landscape. But one thing I know for sure: they would not be daunted.

At the end of desire: Blogger Inanna’s Nov. 5 post, "Hope" is about friends whose children felt their own potential increase because of Obama’s victory.

Flashes of Insight: Flash Silvermoon, in an evocative Nov. 5 post, "The Dream is Awakened," writes of her reaction to the election as one who remembers first-hand Woodstock, the Civil Rights era, and the "police riot" against antiwar protestors outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in same area in Chicago where Obama gave his speech after winning the 2008 election.

Branches Up, Roots Down: Deborah Oak has written several posts from Nov. 5 through Nov. 15 about both the election of Barack Obama and about California’s Prop 8. I think you’ll want to read them all. For example, in her Nov. 7 post, "We the People", Deborah writes:
The American Dream just expanded into something completely different than the selfishness of the past decades. It no longer is a nightmare.
We, the People. All of Us.
Obama, you can count on me to be serving. I am for this dream.
And in her Nov. 6 post, "the truth is self-evident" , she writes:
There have been long years of fear of women and people of color having rights and a claim to power. Imagining all people sharing power and sharing equal rights has always been a revolutionary act. And it's a revolution we've steadily been winning. Tuesday night we won a crucial battle and I am choosing to believe that victory is in sight. The slave owners who started the American revolution cast a spell with their words;
"We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."
That spell led to Obama being our will lead to equal rights for the LGBT community. Obama cast his own spell by saying "gay and straight" in his speech. Our words hold power. What we spell out is certainly a spell. We shall overcome. Yes, we can.
Did we miss an item you think is important? We’d like to know about it, so please leave it as a comment.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politics & Religion & Marriage

I’m often surprised by the response people give when I ask them whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:
"Historically, there is not much of a relationship between politics and religion."
(Do you agree with this statement? Just for fun, write down your response before reading the rest of this post.)

Even after the last 8 years in U.S. politics, even after the Presidential campaigns of 2000, 2004, and 2008, most people I ask say this statement is true. I wonder if they neglected to read some essential history texts, such as those about the Inquisition, or World War II– or even the Bible. I try to give them a break and assume that they are interpreting the statement to mean that there shouldn’t be a relationship (rather than that there isn’t) between politics and religion – but really, that’s a stretch, isn’t it?

When I was a child, my parents told me it was impolite to discuss politics, religion, or sex at social - particularly family - gatherings. My guess is this "rule" has pretty much fallen by the wayside in the ensuing years, but in case it’s still supposed to be observed at your get-togethers, maybe you’ll read something in this post that will come in handy for etiquette-breaking at holiday gatherings this season.

It is very clear from even a casual look at world history, especially in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, that politics and religion go hand in glove from as far back as we can go – the Neolithic where the evidence is mostly archeological – to the present day. Evidence from the Neolithic shows that the most likely socio-political structure was something approaching egalitarian councils of consensus, while religion was centered around female deities (sometimes ancestors) and a high value was placed on peaceful solutions to problems. (See books by Marija Gimbutas and Riane Eisler for starters.) Although there have been some recent writings attempting to discredit these findings, such books appear to be based largely on misconceptions and are far from convincing when submitted to thorough scholarly scrutiny

In many early societies that have been investigated, this time of peace, cooperation, and Goddess worship is followed by the imposition, usually through violence, of socio-political systems that diminished the rights of women, setting men to rule over them in their families, and replacing cooperative councils with hierarchical rulers (e.g., kings on Earth, and a King/Father God in Heaven).

As the centuries slid by, just a few of the instances of the strong linking of religion and politics included the Christian Crusades against Islam; the European Inquisition, which targeted non-Christians, including those who claimed to have converted to Christianity (usually Roman Catholicism) and during which those accused of being "witches" (regardless of whether they themselves claimed they were witches) were killed if they (inevitably) failed to pass no-win tests to prove they weren’t; the conflict between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots; the the quest for "religious freedom" that played a large part in driving the European invasion of North America; and World War II, in which Germanic ruler committed genocide against anyone he considered "non-Aryan," or otherwise different. These included, but were not limited to Jews, Roma ("Gypsies"), homosexuals, and any persons accused of supporting or sympathizing with them.

Books and other materials on feminism and religion since the 1970s in the U.S, (see especially those by Starhawk, Mary Daly and Riane Eisler) point out the difference between two sociopolitical-religious models sometimes called "power-over" and "power-with." The "power-over" paradigm is hierarchical, settles disputes by fear or force, and is usually accompanied by misogyny, male-only or male-dominant deities, and the glorification of war. It is this paradigm that has been dominant (!) through much of written history in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and, after the European invasion, the Americas. The "power-with" paradigm was, as far as we can tell, present in the Neolithic and possibly survived in some areas of the Middle East until 5000 - 3500 BCE, and may have survived in a few indigenous cultures elsewhere to the present day.

It seems to me that the three U.S Presidential elections in the 21st Century exhibit the contemporary conflict between these two paradigms. The power-over paradigm resulted in the victory, (either by actual votes or by voting "irregularities," a type of force – choose your interpretation) in 2000 and 2004. Note the significant role that religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity, and religion-related social issues such as abortion and gay rights, played in those elections. "Power-over" came into even sharper focus during the Dubya administration, a time marked by glorification of war and backlash against feminism and science (including the environmental "Earth" sciences), and btw, the near disappearance of degendered "god" language in public discourse (for example, as far as I can remember, President Bill Clinton never used a gendered pronoun or noun when talking about "God." But with Dubya and eventually others, including many Democrats speaking during the Bush fils administration, it was always God "he" and "Lord" and "Father.") With the election of Barack Obama, it appears the people have chosen the shared-power paradigm, as the President Elect’s sociopolitical approach appears to be more of what Eisler would call a "partnership" model than a power-over model. Though he is careful to be gender inclusive when talking about humans, it remains to be seen whether Obama will catch on about the god language....

Now what about that vote for Proposition 8 in California revoking the right of gays to marry? How does that fit in?

I begin my answer with another question: Have you noticed that when pressed to show how marriage between two people of the same sex hurts their heterosexual marriage those who oppose gay marriage seem stumped? They hem and haw a lot; sometimes they digress, maintaining that, according to the Bible, marriage is supposed to be between "one man and one woman." But even this argument won’t stand up – most marriages portrayed in the Bible are between one man and several women. That’s right – the patriarchs, from Abraham through at least Solomon were polygamists having multiple wives and sometimes wives and concubines. (So the original Mormons got this one right? How ironic is it that much of the opposition to Prop 8 is from Mormons....)

If people can’t come up with an example of how same-sex marriage threatens their heterosexual union, why are they nevertheless so bothered, so enraged, so scared by it?

Because it exposes the true nature of, the original reason for, marriage: to establish power-over, to assert ownership. Marriage originally had nothing to do with romantic love or sexual attraction. It had to do with forming alliances between families, tribes, and later nations. A dowry (usually money) was commonly transferred from the bride’s family to the groom’s. In addition, the marriage gave the groom and his family ownership rights to the bride’s property and in some cases, especially early on, to the bride herself. This history is partly why second-wave feminists in the 60s and 70s became disenchanted with the institution of marriage. Another other part is that practices and assumptions that began with the dowry/property model still persisted into the 20th century. To some extent, het marriage in the US has become more equal than it was 20-30 years ago – but for many, still not equal enough. For example, although most people drop the promise to "obey" from the wedding vows, in Christian weddings the bride is still led down the aisle on the arm of her father or other male family member and then "given away" (or "given in marriage') to the groom. This giving-away is a symbolic remnant of the earlier marriage property transfer.

Extending the right to marry to people of the same sex exposes marriage’s origins in the power-over model. In a het marriage, we know "who’s wearing the pants" and "who’s on top" (sometimes literally). It’s supposed to be the man, right? If two people of the same sex marry, who gets given away (represents the property)? Who has the power? I know this may be difficult to get your head around, but people who oppose gay marriage expect the man to be in charge. If there is no man in a marriage – or if there are two men in a marriage – gollygeewhillikers, who’s in charge?

With so much baggage associated with het marriage why model gay marriage on it? Why not take the opportunity to lessen its importance by establishing civil unions for everyone, both gay and straight, as the state-defined legal entity? Why not change marriage from a state-defined entity to one defined–and variable–according to the religion of those being joined?

One answer is that it probably would take a lot more work to make this change than to allow gays an equal right to marriage as it now exists. But I’ll put the question out there anyway as something to think about: Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to have civil unions for everyone and leave the definition of who can "marry" whom up to religious institutions? In this model, it would be the civil union that would confer the rights now allowed (in most states) only to het marriages. Marriage would be a religious formality. It would work something like this: A couple, straight or gay, who wanted to form a civil union, would go to the court house (or wherever that jurisdiction specifies) and get a "license" and be joined in civil union by a civil official (judge, justice of the peace, etc.,) Religions and denominations would define what "marriage" is according to their religion, and who they are willing to join in "marriage." If a couple also wanted a "marriage" in addition to their civil union, they would find clergy to perform the religious ceremony. That way, the churches can define who can "marry," but they have nothing to say about what rights a union provides. The legal joining would be the civil union, not the (religious) marriage. The religious/marriage ceremony would carry with it no legal rights for either straights or gays. This change, as I see it, would accomplish at least two things: (1) get rid of the baggage carried by "marriage" and free up the joining of two persons to be whatever power structure they (or they and their religion) agree on;(2) give everyone, both gay and straight, rights that are the same and equal.

And, btw, the separation of civil and religious ceremonies has been standard in some European countries for some time. Another irony–more separation of church and state in countries with official state religions than in the US, which supposedly has no official religion.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Events Coil: Nov. 17 - Dec.31

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. 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 mid-December and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through early February . If you have an event you want listed, please leave info a comment. See the end of this Coil for what info we need for listings.

Nov. 17, 7 p.m. China Galland speaks about her journey from Eastern goddesses, to Mary, to a wider engagement with her own American culture, Center for the Divine Feminine, Palo Alto CA

Nov. 21, 1:30 p.m. Female Rebels and Mavericks: Special Lesbian edition for Lavender Seniors, with Max Dashu, Oakland CA

Nov. 22, 7 p.m. Rebel Shamans-Expanded Version: Indigenous Women Confront Empire with Max Dashu,
Berkeley CA

Nov. 23, 11 a.m., Goddess Service honoring Spes with guest priestess Lyena Strelkoff, followed by Roman/Italian Thanksgiving Feast, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 25, 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 26, 7 p.m. Annual Orphans Thanksgiving, Goddess Temple of Orange County,
Irvine CA

Nov. 27, time tba New Moon Song and Drum Circle, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Nov. 28, 2-4 p.m. New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Nov. 28, 7 p.m. New Moon Women's Mysteries, Goddess Temple Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Nov. 30, 11 a.m. Goddess Service honoring T'ien Hau with guest priestess Kathe Schaaf, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. The Craft Conection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec.7, 11 a.m. Goddess Service honoring Takanakapsawk with the Grandmothers Council, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Full Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Dec. 12, 7 p.m.,
Full Moon Drumming with Melinda Rodriguez, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 12, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.,
Full Moon Ritual, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 13, 7 p.m.
Winter Solstice Ritual, Circle of Aradia (Dianic), Studio City CA

Dec. 14, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service Honoring Sakwa Mana with guest priestess Melinda Rodriguez, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 19, 7 p.m.
Winter Solstice in the Red Tent, Women's Well, Concord MA

Dec. 19, gather 6:30 p.m., program 7 p.m.,
Winter Solstice Pageant (cross-cultural event), Circle Sanctuary at First Unitarian Society, Madison WI

Dec. 20, 6 p.m.
Summer Solstice/Litha, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

Dec. 20,
Community Yule Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Mt. Horeb WI

Dec. 20, gather 19u30, ritual 22 uur,
Yule, Moontree Goddess Temple/Godinnentempel, Gent BELGIUM

Dec. 20, gather 3:30 p.m., ritual 4 p.m.,
Yule bonfire, Reclaiming, Ocean Beach, San Francisco CA

Dec. 20, 7 p.m.
Yule Ritual & Feast, Temple of Diana, Madison WI

Dec. 20, gather 6 p.m., ritual 7 p.m. Temple Holy Day:
Winter Solstice, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 20, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.,
Yule, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Celebrate Winter Solstice and Hawaiian Snow Goddess, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic) San Francisco CA

Dec. 21 12:30 p.m.
Yule/Winter Solstice, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

Dec. 21 7 p.m.
Celtic Yul Ceremony, Nemea Goddess Center, Salzkammergut AUSTRIA

Dec 21, 7:30 p.m.
Winter Solstice Celebration. First seasonal celebration in new Goddess Hall, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Ded. 21, time tba,
Winter Zonnewend, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillgom NEDERLAND

Dec. 21, sunrise,
"Sing Up the Sun" Reclaiming, East Bay Hills, San Francisco, CA

Dec. 21 11 a.m.,
Goddess Service honoring Rainbow Serpent. Wordless Service but plent of music,drumming, laughter and other nonverbal communication. Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 21, gather 4 p.m., ritual 5 p.m.
Winter Solstice, Daughter of Artemis Grove (Dianic) Green Valley CA

Dec. 24, gather 5:30 p.m., service 6 p.m.
Temple Spiritual Service Honoring Mother Mary led by Ava, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 27, time tba,
Dark of Winter Ritual, Becoming, Washington DC suburb

Dec. 27, 7 p.m.
New Moon Women's Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 27, 7 p.m.
New Moon Drumming with Liz Prall, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 27, time tba New Moon Song and Drum Circle, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Dec. 28, 11 a.m. Goddess Service honoring Odudua with guest priestess Tora Moon, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA



Canberra, 10 a.m.most Saturday mornings, Meditation. The Goddess Shrine, Temple of Lunation Magick
(White Gum Valley): Mondays, 17:30, 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.

Great Britain
Glastonbury, England, ongoing, Priestess/Priest of Avalon Training Program, both in Glastonbury (Avalon) and by correspondence, Glastonbury Goddess Temple.

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


Arlington VA: 3rd Sunday of month, time tba, ritual Moonfire.
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; 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,
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.
St. Sandy UT: second Saturday of each month, 4:30 p.m., Isis Devotionals, Iseum of Muth/Lyceum of Auset and Heru em Aakhuti
Washington DC: 2nd Sunday of month; gather Noon, ritual 12:15 p.m. , National Arboretum, Becoming DC.
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 (no pdf pages). (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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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Global Goddess Oracle: Samhain '08

The theme of the Samhain issue of Global Goddess Oracle is "Honoring Our Female Ancestors," and its purpose is explained in an introduction by Bendis.

I’m going to depart from the order in the handy contents list on the left hand side of the page, but you can refer to that to find the articles.

I was blown away by H. Byron Ballard’s piece, "My Mother Has Risen from the Dead," about family history and stories. It’s beautifully written in the best tradition of stories of the US South as apparently only Southerners can write them. I can easily see a novel emerging from this one, even though it may be nonfiction.

"My Grandma’s Love" by Rocio A. Palomino is a moving real life story that Palomino wrote about a week after her grandmother’s passing. "What is remembered lives," Palomino writes (attributing the phrase to Reclaiming), as she remembers the loving care her grandmother gave her.

In "Agnodice: A Lesson in Empowerment–How Just One Woman CAN make a Difference," Gail Goldwin tells about a Greek foremother who, in the 4th century BCE, decided to do something about the low level of medical care afforded women by the male-only medical establishment of the time. Dressing as a man, Agnodice earned a medical degree in Alexandria, Egypt, and returned to Greece, still cross-dressed, to practice gynecology. To her patients only, she revealed she was a woman. Agnodice's practice grew as women abandoned their male doctors for what they knew to be a woman M.D. The jealous male doctors, who believed Agnodice was a man, charged the gynecologist with seduction. I hope I haven’t given too much away–I urge you to read the article to find out what happened next.

In "Their Eyes Were Watching Women’s Bodies," Caryn Colgan explores the relationship among politics, religion, and spiritual belief systems, including anti-abortion rationales and the Terry Schaivo case.

Angie Skelhorn has three pieces in this issue:"Clearing the Past," about the European witch persecutions, including the September 20, 2007 action by the Swiss Parliament acknowledging that the execution of Ana Goeli, the last person executed as a witch in Europe, was a miscarriage of justice; "Soul’s Evolution," about the relationship of reincarnation and Samhain in which Skelhorn shares how she "calls" her spiritual guides; and a poem, "Allow the Power of Your Soul to Shine."

It will be no surprise to readers of this e-journal, that in addition to her issue intro, Bendis has a variety of articles in this issue: "Free and Bold" about Amazon women you just might recognize; "Halloween - Its Historical Background," an excellent basic introduction to the holiday; "Los Dias de Los Muertos," explaining the joyous Mexican holiday (now also celebrated in the US), over which La Muerte (Death) presides as La Caterina, or La Flaca, or La Huesada, or La Pelona, and during which ancestors are honored. I can see a close similarity to Halloween in the celebration of the Night of Mourning on Oct. 31, when spirits of departed children (angelitos) visit their families at their homes.

Dawn "Belladonna" Thomas also contributed several articles: "Samhain Solitary Ritual,""Herb for Samhain - Wormwood,""Moon Schedule from Samhain to Yule,"and a book review of Vila SpiderHawk's Forest Songs: Finding Home.

On the lighter side, Barbara Ardinger continues her series with "Found Goddesses - Computer Goddesses. Part 6," in which she tells about the esoteric power animal, Mouse, as revealed in the myth, "How the Mouse came to help us."

And in "Ask Your Mama," (column title now apparently trademarked) Mama Donna Henes responds to a letter from "A Realist in Florida" who asserts that "hope is no better than worrying."

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

In Gratitude

Source of all blessings,
thank you for the election of Barack Obama to be

President of the United States.
Continue to bless him

with hope, courage, strength, and wisdom.
Protect him in the circle of your love.

May his administration bring great good

to the American people
and to all the people of the world.

So be it.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Matrifocus: Samhain '08

The cover art for the Samhain issue of the ezine Matrifocus is "The Path to Infinity," an oil & acrylic by Sue Vincent inspired by the Tarot card, "The Universe."

In this issue's editorial (look for the link at the end of the contents list), "There's No Vermont in the Bad Reality," Feral shares her thoughts on faith in the "Good Place" in dystopic sci fi. Ferel explores how this sci fi world affects our outlook on real life.

In her article, "Spirit Possession and the Goddess Ishtar in Ancient Mesopotamia," Joanna Stuckey explains that the Pythia was an Oracle who channeled Apollo, and speculates that rather than being entranced by eating psychedelic substances or breathing volcanic fumes, as some believe, the Oracle was a medium who went into a trance induced by spirit possession without the aid of chemistry. (Today the term "medium" may not always entail spirit possession. For example,
John Edward, James Van Praagh, and Sylvia Browne are not possessed by the spirits [usually of departed humans] whose messages they channel. Rather they work as messengers. These types of mediums often refer to themselves as "psychic mediums." To avoid confusion, it may be more accurate to call mediums [or channels or channelers] who are possessed by spirits "spirit mediums," "spiritual mediums" or "spiritualists." ) Stuckey goes on to explore what she feels are various instances of spirit possession in Ancient Mesopotamia: the sacred marriage ritual of Inanna, prophecies contained in the Mari letters, and the Ninevah collection, which involved predominantly female prophets and the Goddess Ishtar, whom Stuckey describes as having transvestite characteristics.

In "Deconstructing Yeshe Tosogyal, Tibet's Amazing Mother of Knowledge," Vicki Noble compares and contrasts discrimination against women in Tibetan Buddhism with this religion's honoring of female deities. Noble describes how she helped changed discriminatory practices, and tells of the woman Yeshe Tosogyal's role in this religion.

In "The Cihuateteo," Anne Key looks at Mesoamerican cosmology through a feminist lens and discovers powerful female deities, including the Cihuateteo, mortal women who died in childbirth and were deified, and then demonized.

"Behold This Compost" by Mary Swander explores alternative and innovative methods of mulching. In another view on composting, Madelon Wise's Walking the Hedge - A Hedge Witch's Musings on Permaculture," begins with a myth on "Goddess as Compost" and discusses composting as a sacred activity.

"Mudras (Finger Yoga)" by Nancy Vedder-Shults, Ph.D., describes how to use Hindu and Buddhist hand gestures for divination.

How do we know Baba Yaga is old? Susun Weed answers this and other questions about the Russian folkloric figure in "Baba Yaga Stories."

This issue's poetry includes "Maenad Prophecy" by Starhawk (used in the recent Dance for Life and Regime Change), and three poems by Sondra Bell: "This Second," "Cracks," and "Inner Voice."

The photo essay by Gwyn Padden-Lecthen, "Morning Hike at Blue Mounds State Park," has stunning pics taken just a few days ago.

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