Saturday, April 24, 2010

ASWM Awards to Dawn Work-MaKinne & Margot Adler

Dawn Work-MaKinne received the first Kore Award for Best Dissertation in Goddess Studies, awarded at the Green Goddess Conference of the Association for Study of Women and Mythology this weekend near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. The award was given for for Work-MaKinne's study of collective Germanic goddesses including the Romano-German Matronen, the Norns, the Disir, and the Christian saints called the Three Holy Maidens. Work-McKinne presented a paper based on her dissertation at the conference. Margot Adler received ASWM's first Demeter Award for Leadership in Women's Spirituality. (Thanks to Patricia Monaghan for this information.)

The Kore Award is offered in even-number years for dissertations completed in the previous two calendar years, including defense.


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Buzz Coil: April '10

A look at some posts of interest from our blogroll and sometimes beyond:

Know Thyself: Musings... Thorn Coyle begins her April 6 post, "Sacred Peace Walk part 1" telling about a ritual at the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet that preceded her groups’ walk to the Creech AFB 3 miles away. In her April 9 post, "Sacred Peace Walk part 2," she describes entering the Nevada Nuclear Test Site and then returning to spend the night at the Goddess Temple.

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters’s April 20 post, "Child-Abusing ‘Druid’ Sentenced to 12+ Years in Prison," is about a man convicted of raping and molesting a girl/woman from ages 11-19. The man, who claimed to be a Druid, told her that she should submit because the assault was "pleasing the goddess." Jason goes on to explore what can be done to prevent such violence and abuses.

Blog o’Gnosis: In her April 20 post, "Toward a New Pagan Ethics," Anne Hill responds to Jason Pitzl-Water’s post, sharing her experience in Reclaiming, Congregation of the Goddess (COG) and the Cherry Hill Seminary.

House Morgain: Shan Morgaine responds to an article in the April newsletter of the Temple of Cybele in her April 1 post, "Goddess, feminists, women-only." For example, countering the Cybele newsletter’s statement that "Goddess groups which are not open to men have already made a bad impression on the public," Shan asks:
Why do we have to be NICE?
The discussion also gets into transgender issues.

Z Budapest Blog: In her March 27 post, "The Goddess IS alive, and magic IS afoot!" Z Budapest responds to a letter about a woman’s husband’s opposition to her coven calling themselves "Dianic." Here is part of what Z writes:

The Dianic Tradition had been maligned because its for and by WOMEN. Who loves women? Why is that a bad baggage? Don’t you love your mothers and sisters? Shame on you if you hate us....When women gather to worship the Goddess they worship their own ancestors, their own mothers and sisters. Why can’t males do the same?And as to why males insist to be in the circle with females and malign the female only circles, is because males don’t really bother to develop Men’s Mysteries. And why not Men’s Mysteries? Because its WORK. It’s study, it’s reading, digging deep, and spending the time like I’s creativity, it’s taking a lot of flack, it’s being called names.
Amused Grace: Thalia Took has replaced the Black Virgin card in the Goddess deck she is creating with a card depicting the Goddess Kybele. In her April 8 post, "New Art of Kybele," she tells about the process and compares Kybele’s iconography to an even more ancient Goddess.

American Witch: In her April 13 post,
"ASWM Rising" Annie Finch writes of her enthusiasm for the poetry reading she is giving at the first conference of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology.
The Village Witch: In her April 18 post, "Knots Tight and Loosed" in the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, Byron Ballard writes about "sympathic magic" and her own experience in unbraiding expectant mothers’ hair in blessingway ceremonies and tying knots during handfasting ceremonies.

Hecate: In her April 16 post,
"Liminal," blogger Hecate explores her affinity with Goddess Hecate and feels a "huge part" of the attraction has to do with the deity being "the Goddess of liminal spaces (crossroads)." Blogger Hecate relates this to her feeling that she is "the witch of this place."

Gorgon Resurfaces In her April 15 post, "Paying Spiritual Debts," a. l. bodnar (aka LaughingMedusa) writes that aspects of feeling that you need to pay a spiritual debt "is a mind and soul trap of the sneakiest kind..." and goes on to pose several questions and ask for your thoughts on the subject.

Pagan Godspell: Blogger Sara Ruby recalls her first Beltane ritual a number of years ago in her April 12 post,
"Testimony to the Power of the Mama."

Flashes of Insight: Flash Silvermoon’s April 5 post is about "Warming Up for the 7th Annual WiseWoman’s Festival". Flash asserts:
EMPOWERED WOMEN ROCK THE WALLS OF THE DYING PATRIARCHAL PARADIGM IT IS OUR TIME TO BE BOTH THE CHANGERS AND THE CHANGED JOIN US lift the veil,walk through the doors beyond what is known and unknown and join the journey
Radical Goddess Thealogy: Blogger Athana devotes her April 9 post to
"Anwering William," who left a comment on one of Athana’s earlier posts disagreeing with a part of her book, Switching to Goddess.

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


Monday, April 12, 2010

Events Coil: April 14 - May 31

As far as we know, all events we list are open functions; but some may be limited to women or to adults and some may require that you notify them that you plan to attend. 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 that occur 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. Ongoing events are listed after the dated events. The next Events Coil is planned for mid-May and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late June. If you have an event you want listed, please leave info as a comment. See the end of this Coil for what info we need for listings.

Now-April 25 (except Mondays), The Lost World of Old Europe Exhibition, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, NYC NY

April 14, 6:30 p.m. Women's New Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 14, time tba,
New Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

April 16, 7 p.m.
"Grandmother Stones: Megalithic Europe" with Max Dashu, Women's Well, West Concord MA

April 17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Earth Day Celebration, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Mt. Horeb WI

April 18, 11 a.m.
Spiritual Singing of the Baka, workshop led by Su Hart, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 18, 7 p.m.
"Crete, the Cycladic Islands, and Greece," with Max Dashu, Unitarian Universalist Church, Andover MA

April 21, 7:30 p.m.
"Crete, the Cycladic Islands, and Greece," with Max Dashu, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, (DC area) Oakton VA

April 23, 4 p.m. Temple Dressing for Beltane, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 23-25,
Green Goddess Conference; keynoters Max Dashu, Cristina Eisenberg, Dr. Ann Filemyr, Cristina Biaggi; with Lydia Ruyle's Goddess banners; presentation of Demeter Award to Margot Adler; presentation of Kore Award; and workshops, films, performances, and ritual; Association for the Study of Women & Mythology; Bangor (near Delaware Water Gap) PA

April 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Temple Earth Day, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 25, 11 a.m. Goddess Service honoring Oshun, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 27, 7-9 p.m. Full Moon Circle, Circle Sanctuary near Barneveld WI

April 27, 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 28-May 3, Hawaii Retreat, Daughters of the Goddess, O'ahu HI

April 28, 7 p.m.
Full Moon Ceremony of the Presence of the Lady of Avalon, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 28, time tba, Full Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

April 28, 7 p.m.
Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 29, 6 p.m.
Sound Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

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

April 30-May 2, Beltane, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Mt. Horeb WI

May 1-2,
May Day Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

May 1, time tba, Beltane, London Reclaiming, London ENGLAND

May 1, 1 p.m., Beltane, SF Reclaiming, San Francisco CA

May 1, gather 1:30 p.m. ritual 2 p.m., Beltane, North Bay Reclaiming, Sebastopol CA

May 1, 7:30 p.m., Beltane, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

May 1, 6:30 p.m. Beltane, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 1, 7 p.m.
Beltaine, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

May 1, 7 p.m. May Eve Ritual & Feast, Temple of Diana - Daughters of Artemis Grove, Green Valley CA

May 2, doors open 12.00 uur, ceremony 14.00 uur,
Beltane, Nederlandse Godinnen Temple, Hillgom NEDERLAND

May 2, 7:30 p.m. Moon Lodge, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

May 2, 11 a.m., Goddess Service honoring Pele, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 3, 8-9:30 p.m. "Lighting the Fires of Summer," teleconference with Ketzirah, via telephone to Washington DC

May 4, 7:30 p.m. The Circle of Craft with Lady Deberah, Goddess Temple of Orange County,
Irvine CA

May 7-9, "The Ecstatic Feminine" a spring retreat with Leslene della-Madre, Occidental CA

May 8, 3 p.m. Celebrating the Goddess: The Blossoming, Goddess-Nottingham, Nottingham ENGLAND

May 8 7 p.m. Samhain/Deep Autumn, Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW AUSTRALIA

May 8, 1 p.m.,
Cakes for the Queen of Heaven , Part 2, Session 1 "The Hebrew Goddess," Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 8, 7 p.m., Anique Radiant Heart Concert, celebrating Quan Yin, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 9, 11 a.m.,
Goddess Service honoring Taweret with guest priestess Anique Radiant Heart , Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 13, 6:30 p.m. Women's New Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekmet, Indian Springs NV

May 14, time tba, New Moon Celebration, Maetrum of Cybele, Palenville NY

May 14, 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County,
Irvine CA

May 15, 5:30 p.m. Goddess Beltane & Erzulie Celebration, proceeds to Haitian relief, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco, CA

May 16, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service honoring Cordelia with Dr. Miluna Fausch, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 21-23, Gathering of Priestesses and Goddess Women, with Jade River, Patricia Monaghan, Sid Reger, susan Grossman, Kim Duckett et al, Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, Wisconsin Dells WI

May 22, 1 p.m.
"Cakes...", Part 2, Session 2, "Sarah the Priestess" Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 23, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service honoring Clementia with Lyena Strelkoff, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 27-31, Sacred Fire Circle, Circle Sanctuary, near Barneveld WI

May 27, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m., Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

May 27, 7 p.m.
Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 28-30 International Goddess Congress 2010: Spiritual and Political, Hambacher Schloss, DEUTCHLAND

May 28, time tba, Full Moon Celebration, Maetrum of Cybele, Palenville NY

May 30, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service honoring Chantico, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 31, 11 a.m., Ceremonial Goddess Healing Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND



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.

Hamilton: Saturdays, 4 p.m.
Open Classes ; gather 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.
Berkeley CA: last Sunday of month, 6:45 p.m., East Bay Goddess Rosary, University Lutheran Chapel.
Canton CT: Sundays, 10:30 a.m. Services, Women's Temple: In Her Name

Charleston SC: 1st Tuesday of month, Women's Circle, The Sophia Institute
Geyersville CA:
Sunday Services 2-4 p.m.
Temple of Isis
Grants Pass OR: Monday Services; doors open 6 p.m. for silent meditation; service starts 6:30 p.m. and includes teachings, candle-lighting, drumming & singing, Southern Oregon Temple of the Goddess. 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. until July 5, then 10 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
Minneapolis, MN: Monthly Womens Spirituality Group, True Colors Bookstore.
Palenville NY: Saturdays, 5 p.m. training sessions; Sundays 4-6 p.m, open classes, 7 p.m. Pagan Circles,Matreum of Cybele.
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.

World Wide Web
Online, various times, Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, course with Max Dashu.
Online, Wednesdays, 6 p.m. PT
"Voices of the Sacred Feminine" interviews with well-known Goddessians and Pagans, hosted by Karen Tate, Blog Talk Radio.

Online, Sundays, 11 a.m. PT, "Creatrix Media Live" roundtable discussions include guests and phone-in audience participation, co-hosted by Jayne DeMent and Anniitra Ravenmoon, Blog Talk Radio.

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 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, no password-protected 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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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

REVIEW: The Throne in the Heart of the Sea

The Throne in the Heart of the Sea, a novel, by Martha Shelley (Ebisu Publications 2010), trade paperback, 344 pp.

Martha Shelley's spell-binding novel, The Throne in the Heart of the Sea, brings to life the people and customs of the 9th Century BCE Middle East. It presents an alternative view of such biblical characters as Jezebel and the prophet Elijah, and introduces a character invented by Shelley, Tamar (there are at list 2 Tamars in the Bible, but the one in this book is not meant to be them.)

Though Shelley did extensive research to make sure the novel reflected the ambiance of Canaan/Phoenicia and the "northern kingdom" of Israel, she avoided using the stilted language some authors of historical novels use in an attempt to reflect ancient times. Instead, she has written the book in today's American English while retaining some of the terms used in the ancient near east. In fact, the characters' narrative gets, at times, downright slangy and some characters, reflecting their lower education level, speak in ungrammatical English. For me, this makes the novel even more alive and relevant.

Shelley is also a published poet, and her inventive use of language, especially in descriptions, is one of the joys of this book for me. For example, on the first page of the novel, she writes of Tamar: "She leaped up and shrugged into her dress."

Shelley not only brings to life the people, but also the smells and tastes of the middle east in the 9th Century BCE. She describes so you can almost taste them, various foods, and sometimes even uses food as a simile or metaphor to describe people's characteristics. For example, in the first chapter, she describes an Assyrian sailor: "His face was round as a plate with huge eyes like fried eggs, lips like slices of raw beef." A few pages later the sailor gives Tamar "a big fried-egg wink." The voice of another character is "as bitter as poppy juice." Later in the book, a character's aptitude for math is described: "She slid through the most difficult math problems as though they'd been greased with lamb fat...."

We first meet the main characters, Tamar, Jezebel, and Elijah when they are young teens, which at that time was on the verge of adulthood. Tamar is of mixed Cushite and Israelite parentage, living in Old Tyre on the mainland. Jezebel is a princess and appears to be heir to the throne of her father, King Ittobaal of Tyre, a Canaanite city on an island off the coast of Canaan and Old Tyre. Elijah is an angry young Israelite living in Tishbe.

Tamar's grandmother is a healer and worker of magic, and Tamar follows her on her rounds, much of which deal with women's health. Tamar's family follows the code of hospitality, a middle east custom of that time in which families that have food and lodging are obligated to share it with travelers in need.

Jezebel, upset at the attention given to her new baby brother, a likely competitor for her father's throne, disguises herself as one of the palace servant girls, Ziphia, and runs away to Old Tyre with her servant eunuch, Mattan, who assumes a false identity of being "Ziphia's" brother. Experiencing what it's like not to be protected royalty and in need of food and lodging, "Ziphia" and Mattan are taken in by Tamar's family. But living as a non-royal isn't easy and soon the princess and her servant return to the palace.

Meanwhile, in Tishbe, Elijah is killing birds for food, evading enemy soldiers, and seeking revenge for his father's death in the war. Elijah falls in love, but the young woman, alas, is to marry another man. Drunk, Elijah kills him and flees from Tishbe to Tyre, where he goes by the name Ilyas, the Arabic equivalent of Elijah (Eliahu, in Hebrew). Much is made of Elijah's drinking, especially wine, and I couldn't help but wonder if this is Shelley's ironic joke related to the post-biblical custom of setting out a glass of wine for Elijah during the Passover seder. To add to the irony, Ilyas meets Tamar at a wine shop her mother has established on Tyre, where the family has moved after being dispossessed of their land in Old Tyre.

Shelley portrays Elijah observing the Goddess Asherah's birthday:

The next holiday was the birthday of Asherah, Queen of Heaven. Elijah was pleased to find it celebrated here just as it was in Israel. The smell of baking woke him, and when he left the house the streets overflowed with women carrying trays of triangular cakes to the shrines.
Both Jezebel and Tamar are described as praying to Asherah. But while Jezebel becomes a priestess of Asherah, Tamar becomes a priestess of ‘Anat. She enters the school at the temple of ‘Anat following a celebration of her first menstruation because she wants to learn to be a scribe rather than apprenticing to her grandmother and learning to be a healer. But when Tamar takes the entrance exam, the ‘Anat priestess testing her uncovers Tamar's medical knowledge (and comparative lack of ability in some other areas, like math) so her admission to be trained as a scribe is conditional on her also studying medicine because the community needs people with medical training. (I really identified with this part, as I was educated as a writer/journalist but after college was pulled into medical/health writing. Plus, I was terrible in math.)

Elijah/Ilyas discovers he has a talent for making perfumes and becomes a perfumer in the court of King Ittobaal, where he meets and falls for Jezebel. After her ordination as priestess of ‘Anat, Tamar again meets the young woman she knows as Ziphia, now, following her family tradition, a priestess of Asherah. They are strongly attracted to each other and after they become lovers, "Ziphia" reveals her true identity, but Tamar thinks she is joking.

Okay, we're about half way through the book so I better stop telling you about the plot because I don't want to spoil it for you (and so have left out some juicy tidbits in the chapters discussed). But it is such a good novel, I couldn't resist sharing this much with you.

The Throne in the Heart of the Sea is also enriched by:
–Poems and song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the novel, translated into English from their original ancient languages, with Shelley rewriting them so that their diction is more contemporary.
–Maps of Tyre, Jezebel's World, and Tamar's Journeys by Emeline Mann Sanchez.
–Reproduction of the Seal of Jezebel, now stored in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, redrawn by Max Dashu from a "tiny photograph" Shelley brought back from Israel .
–Glossary of terms from mostly ancient Middle East languages.
–Chart of calendars comparing Canaanite, Babylonian, and Roman months.
–Shelley's Afterword, with historical information and a summary of the biblical portrayal of these characters. Shelley concludes:
Elijah's partisans wrote the story in the Bible and, I believe, slandered Jezebel. The annals of Tyre were destroyed. What remains are the histories of their neighbors, some archeological evidence, and what we can surmise from the customs of modern Levantines. I have assembled my tale from these. It is fiction, but no more so than some of the Biblical tales. It is what might have been.
Martha Shelley is a long-time spiritual feminist who has published essays, short stories, poetry, and a feminist Passover haggadah, Haggadah: A Celebration of Freedom. Before she moved to the West Coast, she was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front in New York City.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

REVIEW: Aphrodite's Magic

Aphrodite’s Magic: Celebrate and Heal Your Sexuality by Jane Meredith (O Books, 2010), trade paperback, 174 pp.

The blurb from Annie Sprinkle on this book’s cover says, "far above and beyond a regular sex manual." In fact, Aphrodite’s Magic is not only "beyond" a sex manual, it is not what most people would consider a sex manual. It doesn’t suggest fancy positions, practices or genital techniques to improve your sex life. What it does do, and do well, is provide ways for women to remove blockages and overcome obstacles to feeling physical pleasure. These obstacles may have been foisted on us by society, some religions, our families, or result from abuse including rape. The method explained in this book is meant to replace this negativity with self-esteem and love—particularly love of your body and your self. The book’s aim, as Australian Jane Meredith writes in her introduction, "Invitation to the Magic," is to help you "discover your inherent beauty and your enormous potential to change and heal" and to celebrate your sexuality. Meredith structures this discovery and presents this celebration so that it is available to women of all sexual orientations, all ages, and whether or not you have children. Nor do you have to be in a relationship with another person to experience it. This celebration is based on self-knowledge fostered through interaction with the divine, personified in this book as Aphrodite. The path to this celebration is a magical journey Meredith first presented at the 2001 Glastonbury Goddess Conference and has shared in many workshops since.

Throughout the book, Meredith quotes women who have taken part in these workshops. For instance, at the end of the introduction Meredith quotes Miriam, who says:

I realized that I’ve always regarded myself only as whole, sexual, feminine, beautiful when I was with a man, never on my own... that I have to reclaim my being ‘whole until myself’ in order to love myself. This was a real awakening that came to me gradually.
The magic—and 7-session "journey"—with Aphrodite, centers on 7 "threads" (probably better described literally as cords because of their circumference). In each session you add and work with another cord; at the end you plait or weave them together into a girdle reminiscent of Aphrodite’s (and other goddesses'). Meredith specifies the colors of two of the threads, you choose the rest, as well as their fabric(s). This girdle should not be confused with the torturous undergarment worn by many women in the 1940s and ‘50s that began at or slightly above the waist, ended at the thighs and squished everything it covered (updated versions are marketed today as control panties, etc.) Rather, Goddess girdles are similar to belly dance costume girdles (also called belts), which begin under the navel (often just above the pubic area), and cover the lower hips. One such garment is shown on the cover of the book. Here is part of how Meredith describes Aphrodite’s Girdle:

Woven from precious metals, it conferred sexual attraction on the wearer. Occasionally Aphrodite lent this Girdle out to others....Her Girdle – with its middle-Eastern associations of belly dancing, sensuality, and seduction – is a symbol that continues to resonate with us. Her proud ownership of her sensuality inspires women to make their own choices, respect their bodies, and honor the deep feminine.
Before beginning instructions for the journey itself, Meredith offers "Practical Guidelines" that include how to do magic, creating and maintaining ritual space, gathering materials that you will need (the cords, sewing things and decorations, journals and pens), dancing and music, and timelines. She gives 4 different timelines, depending on whether you want to complete the journey in a weekend, a week, a moon cycle, or 7 months.

Each of the "strands," or "processes" (each trip of the journey?), contains similar elements, including working with a chakra, beginning with the crown chakra. Each often includes a lesson or learning exercise; some sort of magic and ritual; working with an Aphrodite altar; journaling; selecting a cord; a guided "journey" (aka meditation or visualization); and dancing. The chapters of the book share the names of the strands: The Goddess, Eye of Beauty, Voice of Truth, In the Heart, Dancing the Body, Red Womb, and Inner Mysteries.

"The Goddess" chapter includes instructions on how to cast a circle and raise energy and how to make a Aphrodite altar. In "Eye of Beauty," you discover your own beauty and the beauty of other women. In "Voice of Truth," you explore why it is hard to speak the truth, especially about sex, and you are prompted to speak, chant, sing, and write your truth. "In the Heart," you examine love in its various forms and the relationship between love and fear. "Dancing the Body," explores embodiment and how you understand and feel in your body, and includes Sacred Body Bathing, The Painted Body, and, "for the adventurous," "The Edible Body ." "Red Womb" explores women’s fertility issues. "Inner Mysteries" is about women’s relationship with our genitals, including words used to describe them, products sold to mask them (or their odors), and art and literature portraying them, both in contemporary and in ancient Goddess times. In the last chapter, "Weaving Aphrodite’s Magic," Meredith gives magical and practical instructions on how to weave or plait the cords together. The book ends with the author's Afterword.

Aphrodite's Magic is both a practical and magical guide, written clearly and with emotional depth. By putting her workshop material in book form, Meredith bestows upon many women a healing and enriching gift.

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