Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Buzz Coil: January '09

At the end of desire: Congrats to blogger Inanna and her Adonis on the birth of their son! See the pic, learn his name on Inanna’s Jan. 14 post, "Welcome, little light."

Branches Up, Roots Down:On Jan. 18 Deborah Oak posted an "Invitation to the Fourth Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam"
Since she invites us to pass the info along, here it is (yes, Medusa Coils is planning to take part):

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading
WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2009
WHERE: Your blog
WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day
HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.
RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this[branchesup.blogspot.com] post. Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than I could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun. Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers
Daily Kos: [UPDATE Jan. 28] I just found this tonight and didn't want to wait until next month to tell you about it. A blogger called "Tara the Antisocial Social Worker" has started a Wednesday series on Goddess Spirituality and Activism on this well-known progressive political blog. Her Jan 28 diary is "How a Woman Becomes a Goddess: Lakshmi." She uses the story of this Indian Goddess to also tell a story about political bipartisanship. You can access previous diaries in the series by clicking on the blogger's name at the beginning of the diary.

The Village Witch: In Byron Ballard’s Jan. 17 post, "All Acts of Love," in her Asheville NC Citizen-Times blog, Byron tells of a meeting to discuss the bylaws of a planned Goddess Temple. One topic was dating between members of the congregation and the Temple’s "College of Celebrants." Especially if you are a member of a Goddess Temple, you might want to go on over there and see if you want to share what (if anything) your Temple does about this issue. Beginning on Jan. 19, with the post, "Prepping for Cakes," Byron has 3 posts about giving a UU "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven" course. The other 2 are "Yummy Cakes Are Cooling on the Rack in the Kitchen," (Jan. 20) and "Am I High or What," (Jan. 21).

Gorgon Resurfaces: In her Jan. 14 post, "How Do We Experience Our First Call to the Divine?" , blogger Laughing Medusa responds to some of Brian Charles’ House of Inanna posts.

House of Inanna: In response to Laughing Medusa of Gorgon Resurfaces’ Jan. 14 post, Brian Charles tries to answer the question "Can a man embody Goddess in the same way a woman can?" in his Jan. 18 post, "Men, heterosexuality, and the embodiment of Goddess"

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters’ Jan. 25 post, "Post-Christian Anxiety" looks at a trend in Europe and elsewhere in which as Christianity becomes less popular, those who prefer "a Christian-dominated society are becoming increasingly hostile and defensive." Jason’s examination shows that

The true enemy then isn’t “secularism”, but what they fear the process of secularization will bring about. A post-Christian (and ultimately post-secular) re-enchantment that gives birth to a new multi-religious (pagan) world. Christian groups have responded with increasing hostility to this process, and some are slowly re-embracing once-discarded ultra-conservative factions as a sort of rear-guard action against the secular onslaught. But are all the fears of this “pagan” future justified?
Knitting, Sex and God: Blogger Anna writes about feminist theology’s approach to evil in her Jan. 21 post.

Amused Grace: Artist Thalia Took features a "Goddess of the Week" on her blog. Her Jan. 18 post contains fascinating information about the Arabian Goddess Al-Uzza. As you might expect, this blog has fantastic art.

Radical Goddess Thealogy: In her Jan. 23 post, "Z Budapest’s Review of sWitching Blogger Athana reprints Z’s review of J. Lyn Studebaker’s new book. Z writes that she got so "fired up" while reading the book that she phoned the author to talk about it – plus another neat result (yes, you have to go over there and read to the end to find out what).

Evoking the Goddess: Blogger Paul gives us a look at "Glastonbury in January" in his Jan. 14 post, with 3 gorgeous pics and a visit to the Goddess Temple.

I am WiTCH (previously Matters of Minutia): Blogger Lisa in Australia in her Jan. 25 post, "10.24 am The Winds of Change" is grateful for a cooling trend in the summer weather and writes:

so i am wondering where i am spiritually and truth is
who knows?
changes on a
regular basis
my 'core' belief stays the same but the 'other stuff' changes
according to the wind
In her Jan 26 post, "10.01 a.m. fangs, bruises,...Australia and Auschwitz," Lisa celebrates Australia Day and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She also needs help identifying a bug bite on her upper arm.

U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Gorgon Resurfaces In trying to define "Goddess," in her Jan. 19 post, "Judgment, Strength, the Tower and Politics" blogger Laughing Medusa looks within, turns to Tarot, and explores the recent U.S. elections.

Alive Mind & Spirit: In her Jan. 16 post, "Obama Honors Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins", Carol P. Christ shares a letter she sent to the minister selected by the President to give the sermon at the National Prayer Service . Juliette Lauber, in a Jan. 22 post, "Musings from Paris...Temperance: Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow", shares her experience of and mystical approach to the Inauguration.

Several bloggers described the "Ritual of Unity and Blessing" at the Jefferson Memorial on Jan. 19, which we alerted you to on Jan. 5. Magick TV captured the ritual on video reproduced here from youtube.com and, if you go to this youtube page you can also see interviews with ritual participants. Don't miss blog links below this video...

Witchvox: Probably the most extensive description is Caroline Kenner’s post, "Animating the Spirit of Democracy". Kenner, who was one of three ritual hosts, includes host Caroline Casey’s remarks. Here is an excerpt:

"O, Spirit of the Compassionate Trickster residing inside each one of us, come on in! After you've waited through 2000 years of Empire for this moment! Open the path before us so we may be danced into place, where each of us can do the most good while having the most fun. May It Be So!"Our incoming president is well-named: Barack means Lightning, Blessing, Hussein means Beloved of God and Obama means The Good. So even if some snarky commentator is saying his name with a negative inflection, he's actually saying "Lightning! Blessing! Beloved of God! The Good!"

Today we are also breaking the spell of martyrdom. Better a Trickster than a martyr be! So as one of our acts of magic today, let us imagine Barack Hussein Obama sitting with Nelson Mandela, celebrated by a grateful nation on his 96th birthday, along with his beautiful wife, former President Michelle Obama, and his kids and his grandkids. If we can get there, it implies so much good! That is what we are animating today!
as well as host Katrina Messenger’s closing remarks, such as this excerpt:

We have an incoming president with all the mythical qualities of the Day Reborn. In short, we have crossed a threshold as a people, as a culture, as a planet. Up in that celestial vault of our highest ideals, it is morning again, and the Sun does rise. Let us approach this gleaming temple and lay upon this altar all of our brightest dreams and hopes."And remember: It is not Obama that rises on the bright sky of our ancient memories. It is all of us reawakened from our slumber of despair.
Nine Ravens: Angela Raincatcher reported on this ritual in her Jan. 25 post, "Invoking compassion and heart into democracy," including the invocation she gave. With pic.

Peeling a Pomegranate: In her Jan. 19 post, "Blessing of Washington, DC...." blogger Ketzirah Carly shares the blessing she gave in the emerging Goddess Judaism tradition at the Jefferson Memorial ritual. With pic.

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


Friday, January 23, 2009

REVIEW: Signs Out of Time

Signs Out Of Time: the story of archeologist Marija Gimbutas (DVD)
Narrated by Olympia Dukakis; directed & edited by Donna Read; written by Starhawk; music by Stellamara with Sonja Drakulich. Belili Productions. 60 minutes.

The combination of inspiration and scholarship that many of us have come to know through the previous
Read/Starhawk collaboration, Women and Spirituality:The Goddess Trilogy, continues in the 2008 DVD version of the 2003 film/video Signs Out of Time.

Signs Out of Time focuses on the work and life of Lithuanian-born archeologist Marija Gimbutas (pron. Mar-i-a Gim-boo-tas), perhaps best known among non-academics and Goddessians for her 1989 book, The Language of the Goddess, in which a mythology emerges from her decoding of the repetition of symbols in Neolithic artifacts unearthed from Old Europe.

The first thing that grabbed me watching the DVD was the opening music. Though Lithuanian, it is close in style – especially the strong-throated women’s singing – to music I’m very familiar with from more than 40 years of dancing folk dances from Eastern Europe – for instance, from Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and countries and areas (such as Serbia and Macedonia) of the former Yugoslavia. This is essentially the same area Gimbutas refers to as "Old Europe." I love this music, love the dances from these regions, some of which are very ancient women’s dances, and wonder if dancing the older dances for so many years (and from a young age) unaware of their relationship to Goddess traditions helped bring me to Goddess.

Visually, Signs Out of Time opens with dancing similar to dances I've danced. The film then intersperses footage from a 1989 interview of Gimbutas conducted by Riane Eisler (whose 1988 book, The Chalice and the Blade, applies Gimbutas’s archeological findings to anthropology and other social sciences) with both still and film footage of Neolithic Goddess artifacts going back to 21,000-24,000 BCE, and quotes from well-known scholars. For example, Prehistorian James Harrod says, "She [Gimbutas] opened up the diversity of Neolithic religious imagery...probably as old as human evolution."

In the Eisler interview, Gimbutas points out that the 3 great inventions of the Neolithic – agriculture, weaving, and pottery – are inventions of women. She tells how her research led her to conclude that "Old Europe is a peaceful culture, without weapons." Brian Swimme, mathematical cosmologist, tells how at first he thought that Gimbutas’ conclusions were "all fantasy," because he couldn’t imagine a time that was free from war. Upon reflection and closer investigation, Swimme came to understand that Gimbutas was onto something valid. Naming the places Gimbutas’ work focused on, narrator and well-known actress Olympia Dukakis observes, "our history books never told us these names."

Colin Renfrew of Cambridge University, who supported Gimbutas' earlier work involving the Bronze Age, became a critic of her Goddess work. He appears in this film criticizing Gimbutas’ work from what I suppose is a strict academic point of view. But I didn’t find his arguments particularly convincing.

Also appearing in the film are Joan Marler, Carol Christ, Patricia Reis, Miriam Robbins Dexter, Vicki Noble, Elinor
Gadon, and others. The credits at the DVD’s end list loads of other people and organizations who participated in making the film. If you’re like me, you may recognize there names of Internet friends.

The second half of the film gives us a closer look at Gimbutas’ personal life. She and her family hid from and fled from both the Nazis and the Soviets. She married, gave birth to 3 daughters, and attended university. She was deeply involved in collecting Lithuanian folk songs. She and her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1949 and she found a non-paying position at Harvard University, which allowed her to do research. She tells of the discrimination she faced at Harvard, which at that time admitted only men as undergraduates and apparently also had restrictions on hiring women instructors. In 1963 she found a post at UCLA, ended her marriage, and began what she describes as a happier time in her life. She tells how at the beginning of her academic career as an archeologist she had no trouble getting grants and other funding. But once she started specializing in archeology related to Goddess, she was unable to get funding.

The film then comes what might be called full circle, as we learn about Gimbutas’ excavating of Kilian in Greece and how she came to decode the symbols she found on the artifacts there. And we are treated to more pictures of artifacts.

Marija Gimbutas died on February 2, 1994, in Los Angeles. At her request, her ashes were taken back to Lithuania.

Reis sees the the "backlash" again Gimbutas’ work as "part of the backlash against feminism."

A quote I found on the Gimbutas/Belili website demonstrates dramatically the need for us to take seriously Gimbutas' findings:
Starhawk and Donna were together, editing and writing commentary, on September 11, 2001. Starhawk has vivid memories of playing bits of the film on Donna’s VCR, which would revert back to the news every time she paused too long to think. The Goddess images and beautiful scenes of life in the film were constantly interrupted by scenes of the twin towers falling, the airplanes crashing and the anguish of survivors and relatives. The juxtaposition of the ancient images of peace and regeneration with the current reality of war and destruction deepened our commitment to get this information out to the world.
What I’m hoping is that with the new Administration in the US and possibly with other worldwide changes, the years of trouncing on feminism, both political and spiritual, as well as the disregard for environmental concerns, will end. For it is clear to me that the knowledge revealed by Gimbutas’ work — that human history is not just a saga of wars, that in fact the warring times are far shorter than the times preceding it in which peace and social equality were accompanied by honoring the Earth and females, both human and divine — can give us the courage to reinstitute peaceful, equitable sociopolitical systems as our true heritage, and to do the work necessary to save our planet both from war and from environmental threats such as global warming. Yes, this DVD clearly shows through its exploration of Gimbutas’ work, these things are all interwoven.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For Blessing Obama's Inauguration

Waning Moon Invocation

On the wings of the waning moon,
we see the spiral arms of our galaxy,
and you, Goddess, are there.
On the wings of the waning moon,
we sense the spiral within us,
and you, Goddess, are there.
In the smallest of particles, you shine.
In waves of light, you flow.
In the dying of the darkest hole,
you bear the spark of new life.

Slowly fading crescent,
Honored Crone of change
Ancient One of transition,
open our minds to your wisdom
and our hearts to your love.

Blessed be.

From Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century copyright 1997 by Judith Laura. Used with permission.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

National Prayer Service Clergy Inclusivity

A number of women and non-Christian clergy will be included in the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral on Jan. 21 beginning at 8:30 a.m. EST at the invitation of Barack Obama. Attendance at the Service, which is traditional Inaugural event, is by invitation only.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will be the first woman to deliver the sermon at this event. Other Christian women clergy include: Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori, who will give the closing prayer; the Rev. Cynthia Hall of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Atlanta. Non-Christian women clergy include: Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America and Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America. Other non-Christian clergy include: Rabbi David Saperstein (Reform); and Rabbi Haskal Lookstein (Orthodox).

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Events Coil: Jan. 19-Feb. 28

UPDATED Jan. 16 , Jan. 21, Jan. 23
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-February and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late March. 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. The first three events are related to the Inauguration; the first two are in Washington DC.

Jan. 19, set-up 1-2 p.m., ritual 2 p.m. Ritual of Unity & Blessing, followed by Drum Circle, (if you're planning to attend be sure to also read this), Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC

Jan. 19, 6 p.m., End of Bush Era Purification Rite, with Mama Donna Henes and Kate Clinton, Dupont Circle, Washington DC

Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Lady Liberty, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

Jan. 24, 3:30- 5 p.m., Tambourine & Frame Drum Workshop with Allessandra Belloni; 7-9 p.m. Concert with Belloni, Judy Piazza & Miranda Rondeau, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 24, gather 7 p.m. ritual 7:30 p.m. Brigid , Reclaiming, San Francisco (Mission) CA

Jan. 25, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. "The Circle, the Sound, the Song" with Susan Robbins & Marytha Paffrath of Libana, Women's Well, Concord MA

Jan. 25 11 a.m. Goddess Service with guest priestess Marsha Lange; 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 25, gather 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m. Imbolc, Northbay Reclaiming, Sebastopol CA

Jan. 26, 7 p.m., New Moon Women's Mysteries, Goddess Temple Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 26, 8 p.m. New Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.
"Gold-Red Woman: A celebration of Brigid of Ireland," led by Byron Ballard and Jill Yarnell, MotherGrove, (also see comment below) Asheville NC

Jan. 31, 7 p.m.,
Lammas Ritual, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, Mooncourt, Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

Jan. 31, time tba,
Imbolc, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Barneveld WI

Jan. 31, doors open 6 p.m., ritual begins 7 p.m.
Temple Holy Day Ritual: Woman The Initiate, with Ava and the RLC Circle, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 1, doors open 12.00 uur, ritual begins 14.00 uur,
Imbolc, Nederlandse Godinnen Temple (Netherlands Goddess Temple) Hillgom, NEDERLAND

Feb. 1, 11 a.m.
Service honoring the Goddess Brigit; initiation of 2008 members. Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 1, 7 p.m.,
Imbolc, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Imbolc Ceremony, Glastonbury Godess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Feb. 2, 4th Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam, Blogosphere WWW

Feb. 2, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Imbolc, Goddess Temple Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. 6th Annual Dedication Ritual and Honoring of Brigit, Artemis & Haumea, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

Feb. 8, 6 p.m.,
Womens Drum Lodge, The Women's Well,
West Concord MA

Feb. 9, 8 p.m. Full Moon Song and Drum Circle, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Feb. 9, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. Full Moon Ritual, Temple of Goddess Spirtuality dedication to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 21, gather 19u30, ceremony 22 uur, Imbolc, Goddess Temple, Gent BELGIUM

Feb. 24, New Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Feb 25, 7 p.m., New Moon Women's Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb.28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Menarche Rite of Passage, The Women's Well, West Concord MA



Perth (White Gum Valley): Mondays, 17:30, Chalice Ceremony, Daughters of Ishtar.

, most days 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Goddess Temple open for personal prayers.


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: Priestess/Priest of Avalon Training Program, both in Glastonbury (Avalon) and by correspondence, Glastonbury Goddess Temple.
Glastonbury: Most days except Mondays, Noon-4 p.m. Temple Open for personal prayers; Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. Belly Dancing
; Thursdays, 7 p.m. Temple Ritual Dance Class, Glastonbury Goddess Temple.

Soderhamn, Gudinne Temple Open weekdays Noon
-6 p.m. Mondays, 7-9 p.m., meditation prayer, conversation.

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.
Friday services, gather 6 p.m., service 6:30 p.m. "All Souls in Reverence." 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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Monday, January 05, 2009

Pre-Inaugural Ritual of Unity and Blessing in DC

UPDATE Jan. 11: If you're planning to attend, please also read this.

The following is from a press release from Caroline Kenner:

Animating the Spirit of Democracy With a Ritual of Unity and Blessing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5 JANUARY---The Washington, D.C. community of magical and spiritual progressives will join together on Monday afternoon, January 19th, at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza, to sweep the town clean and welcome President-elect Obama and his administration to the White House.

The Ritual of Unity and Blessing is organized by a triumvirate of native Washingtonians, one of whom is the great-granddaughter of slaves, one the great-granddaughter slave owners, and one the daughter of a populist New Deal Congressman. The ceremony will begin promptly at 2 pm with a Witches' Broom Dance, intended to cleanse Washington of the malfeasance, deceit and partisanship of the last eight years.

Washington Witchdoctor Caroline Kenner, a Pagan shamanic healer and organizer for the Sacred Space Foundation, says, "Many of us are worried by the ruinous course our country has taken for the last eight years, and we are also concerned for the safety of the Obama and Biden families. This ceremony gives us a chance to request help from our loving ancestors and our multitude of deities, and to bless and protect the incoming administration. We will begin the work by magically sweeping away the detritus of the worst administration in American history with our consecrated Witches' Brooms."

Wiccan Priestess Katrina Messenger, founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School, and faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary, says "We have an opportunity not only to sweep away the old, we also need to bless this beautiful city in preparation for what is to come. With all that is churning around the world in recent times, we need clear leadership and compassionate hearts at the helm of this great nation. Washington is such a jewel in the larger fabric of peace, freedom, beauty and justice, let us charge this historic incoming administration with all the good juice we can conjure!"

Caroline W. Casey, founder of Coyote Network News (the Compassionate Trickster Mythological News Service) as well as the host-creator of Pacifica Radio Network's, "The Visionary Activist Show," said, "The word "inauguration" comes from the "augur", the pattern-tracker, the diviner within us all. The augur would walk out into nature to divine the patterns indicating which human was deemed the most responsible steward of the Common Wealth, the well-being of all our relations. And that chosen person would be "inaugurated" as the ruler who weds the land. We invite you to contribute your medicine blessing to our collective brew, and toast our new President, with whom we vow to collaborate: Barack Hussein Obama!"

A large quartz crystal resembling the Washington Monument will be charged with the blessings of unity and protection during the ritual. At the culmination of the ceremony, the crystal will be sacrificed into the Tidal Basin, whence it will broadcast the energies of the ritual to the Potomac River and the world at large.

A Drum Circle will follow, lasting until 4:45pm. People from all religious faiths and spiritual traditions, or none, are welcome to join us. A detailed description of the ceremony, including instructions for parking and what to bring, can be found at
paganreligiousrights.org starting January 9th.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

REVIEW: Switching to Goddess

Switching to Goddess: Humanity’s Ticket to the Future by J. Lyn Studebaker (O Books 2008), trade paperback.

This is a treasure of a book. Written with a light touch, at times humorous enough to make you lol, Switching to Goddess by J. Lyn Studebaker brings together scholarship now known about how Goddess religions were suppressed in antiquity and suggests ways we can bring Goddess back for our own well-being and for the survival of the planet.

Studebaker (who blogs as Athana on Radical Goddess Thealogy) doesn't mince words in her bold assessment of where "war-daddy god" worship has gotten us and why we need to return to the female divine, whose cultures have been associated with peace, equality, and risk-taking. She doesn’t tip toe around difficult issues, and isn’t afraid to directly and strongly criticize Christianity and the Bible, for example. Though she often writes in a slangy style, you’d be wise not to be taken in by the flip language: Studebaker is no intellectual lightweight. The offbeat language helps make the book more accessible and enjoyable, but behind it a strong intellect and Goddess interpreter is at work.

Studebaker has completed all coursework for a PhD in cultural anthropology, has taught archeology and anthropology at Ohio State University and has a master's degree in prehistory and archeology. Before taking us on a worldwide tour (with pics) of ancient Goddess cultures in the Near East, the Indus Valley, Old Europe, Southeast Europe, and Japan, the author introduces us to cultures surviving today (also with pics) that have many traits in common with ancient Goddess societies. These surviving cultures include the Moso on the China-Tibet border, which served as a model for ‘Shangri la’ in James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon, and whose people eschew marriage for a system of "free love"; the Basques of the Pyrenees mountains on the Spain-France border, whose language and customs differ greatly from the rest of Europe’s; and the Hopis and Pueblos, native to the American Southwest. As a point of comparison, Studebaker also discusses what she calls our "kissing cousins," the sexy, peaceful bonobos, who, along with more violent chimpanzees, are humans' closest primate relatives. Bonobo societies, she says, "look suspiciously like an animal version of guiding goddess societies...."

One of the great contributions of this book is its careful tracing of the change-over from the Mother-modeled guiding goddess to what Studebaker calls "war daddy," which includes not only Abrahamic monotheism headed by a male-only deity, but also belligerent, domineering male gods in polytheistic societies. In a chapter called "Good Times," the material under the subhead, "Just Any Ol’ Goddess Won’t Do" is one of my favorite parts of this book. Studebaker writes:

The mere presence of goddesses in a society, however, doesn’t guarantee peace, prosperity, and plums for breakfast....This is so important that I’ll probably repeat it more than once: just any old goddess won’t do. It has to be a special kind. For starters, it can’t be one with a jealous god hanging over her right shoulder....And above all it needs to be a guiding mother goddess who not only gives birth to everyone and everything in the universe (including any other gods and goddesses) but who also serves as a guide for our behavior.
This means that most goddesses that existed in pantheons after 4000 BC to 300 BC (depending on the culture) are no longer guiding goddess models. (This book uses the abbreviations BC and AD so I will use them in this review, rather than the BCE and CE sometimes used in discussing Goddess cultures.) Studebaker gives us some excellent, easy-to-understand, diagrams of this switchover from guiding goddess to war god cultures under a sub-head, "Who Popped Us in the Chops Ma?" in a chapter called "Bad Times." Figure 6.1, "Black Box" shows us when each culture entered what Studebaker calls the "Black Box," during which time the culture underwent drastic change but we can’t (yet?) define exactly what happened to cause this change (although she does discuss several theories). Figure 6.2, "The Switch from Guiding Goddess to War Gods," shows at what points in time cultures in 5 different geographical areas entered the black box, and when they exited the box. Another fascinating time chart is in the chapter called "Home Again." Figure 9.1, "A Generalized Look at History, Goddesses, Gods, and Society," summarizes by time period (beginning in 10,000 BC and ending in the present) characteristics of religions compared with characteristics of societies.

Another of my favorite parts of this book are 3 sections in the chapter "Good Times," called "Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go," "Backlash," and "Tricky-Dickies." Studebaker recalls the initial publication of books in the 1980s about ancient Goddess cultures:

The second someone suggested goddess was equal to god...all hell broke loose. The result: since the 1990s, a backlash of unprecedented proportions has raged against the Neolithic and Bronze-Age Great Mother Goddess
She goes on to give examples (and names names) of professors of religion, anthropologists, archeologists, and a "writer-combo team" whose attitudes and books represent backlash against Goddess scholarship. Studebaker refutes what she calls their "folderol," and warns about the trickiness of the backlashers’ tactics, writing:

They throw page after page at us of confusing, stuffy, tangled academic language that boils down to this: before 4000 BC the world might not have worshipped goddesses. Which of course is something you can say about anything archeologists dig up....In archeology all we can ever do is go with our best bets.
She gives examples of backlasher claims, such as "just because a figurine is breast-bedecked doesn’t mean it’s female"; or that breasts must be a certain size for the statue to be considered female even though the statue lacks a penis; or that even though figurines have two heads or two faces, one shouldn’t assume they represent goddesses–they could just be "ordinary women."

Yet another of my favs is the subhead "Bounceback #2 Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better," in the chapter, "Fight." Studebaker enumerates the many ways various cultures’ gods, in order to gain power, tried to take over the Goddess’s role of giving birth. Most of us are familiar with at least two examples of this: God (aka Yaweh) enables Adam to give birth from his rib to Eve, and Zeus gives birth to Athena from his forehead. In figure 7.1, "And the Dude Bore a Nine-Pound Blonde," she lists these plus 8 other births from various parts of gods’ bodies in a number of cultures. She then discusses other stages of Goddess sabotage and obliteration that frequently followed.

Because war god religions are threatening to both people and the planet, and because it has been shown that human beings appear to be hardwired for religion of some sort, Studebaker has set a goal of the year 2035 for switching to Goddess. She gives us all tremendous help in accomplishing this in the information and motivation she provides in Switching to Goddess.

Part of the information is contained in the extensive and extremely helpful appendixes. For example in Appendix C, "Questions from the Peanut Gallery," she anticipates questions people may challenge her with and gives responses. These are arranged alphabetically. Some examples:
BUDDHISM "For bringing peace and harmony to the world, wouldn’t Buddhism work as well as goddesses?"
Like Jesus, Buddha decreed for his followers lives of sensual deprivation. Also like Jesus, he suggests humans deserve poverty, primarily. In contrast, the Guiding Goddess demands we enjoy the senses she gave us, and that we pull everyone together in abundance—the way healthy siblings do....What’s more, Buddhism is not always the cornucopia of peace and purity many in the West believe it to be....
"But you said culture is highly resistant to change. So how are we going to shift to Goddess by 2035?"
....Almost all of us, however, already live in partially-goddess societies. The starvation/war gods are simply thin overlays....Our job is to pull out the old goddesses from beneath the starvation/war culture dirt layer and dust them off again.
"What is it?"
....In choosing how to behave [in any situation] answering the question "In this situation, what would a healthy mother do vis a vis her children" is likely to scare up good moral behavior. Not just men, but all of us need to learn from this [Mother Model]. Since I’m a non-mother woman—I’ve never had children—I need to learn from it too. But even mothers themselves need to learn from the Mother Model.
There are more than 30 of these Q & A’s. One way to make use of them is, as you’re reading along in the book's chapters, if you have a question–particularly a point where you think you would give Studebaker a good argument, go to Appendix C and see if she has already thought of your question and responded to it.

Also helpful while you are reading are 6 maps placed between the end of the last chapter and the beginning of the appendixes. Included in the other appendixes are a chart on "The Origin of the Starvation Culture," associated with the changeover to war gods; a list of "War Gods Around the World"; a list of "Guiding Goddesses We Can Return To," also from around the world; a list of blogs in "closed countries"; a chart of world religions showing the numbers of adherents and what percentage this is of the total; suggestions for "Things You Can Do to Flip the Switch" to Goddess, alphabetized by what may be your occupation, nationality and other identifiers—don’t miss this one; a list of some relevant websites and blogs; a "Goddess Reading List" with books and more websites and blogs; and last but definitely not least, "Cruelty in the Bible: Short List." In addition, there is an extensive bibliography and an index.

These back materials plus the charts and pictures throughout the book make it ideal for classes, whether they be in universities or outside academia in small private groups. Switching to Goddess is an excellent book for newcomers to Goddess spirituality–whether enthusiastic or skeptical. And with its new (to me, anyway) material and fearless yet humorous writing style, it will also be a treat for many of us who have been Goddess-involved for some time.


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Thursday, January 01, 2009

RCGI Seasonal Salon: Winter Solstice Issue

Three gems glow in The Winter Solstice Issue of the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess's Seasonal Salon:

In "The Importance of Being Fooled," Bellezza Squillance, an ordained RCGI priestess, tells how she gave a Tarot Fool card from a variety of decks to each participant in the group's 2008 Hallows ritual. Bellezza reveals what she said when bestowing these cards and invites you to look at several Fool cards that illustrate the article and pick one to guide you through the coming year. She also comments on the relationship of the Fool cards to the new U.S. Presidency and economic and social problems. Also included: some questions to help you understand the Fool's guidance.

"Kashmiri Goddess Myths" by Patricia Monaghan shares 2 Kashmiri myths, one about a girl who left home due to her brother's incestuous desires, the other about the mountaintop Goddess, Vais no Devi.

In "Power of Images, Power of Names," Max Dashu recalls childhood play and crafts that appeared to contain "archaic" Goddess knowledge of which the girls were not consciously aware. Reflecting on the experience, Max asks, "What cultural foundations do we stand on, we who revere Goddess?" Her answer is inspiring and thought-provoking.

She ends this intriguing article by nominating women for a list of spiritual leaders and invites you to email her names to add to the list.

What a great way to begin the new year!

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