Tuesday, December 26, 2006

RCGI Seasonal Salon, Winter Issue

The winter issue of Seasonal Salon, the e-journal of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess-International (RCG-I), is now online with excellent articles.

Gorgonic Reconstruction Part II by Marisa Folse is about the Gorgon goddesses Medousa (an alternate spelling of the same Goddess after whom this blog is named), Stheno, and Euryale. Folse says that each of these Goddesses was "a triple Goddess with immense power in each aspect." She does a terrific job of giving us a lot of information in relatively few words about the aspects and attributes of each Gorgon Goddess and the influence of each in a number of different countries and cultures.

Into the Darkness by Max Dashu takes us on a tour of Goddess traditions in various parts of the world at this time of year. She writes, "We are in the Winternights, the Modranecht, the Night of the Mother, and especially of the Old Woman...." Dashu also points out that at Winter Solstice in many traditions the Goddess gives birth to the Sun and she gives examples of these traditions.

Other articles in this issue are: "Wine Parable: Mulled Wine," by Patricia Monaghan, "Seasonal Poems" by Debby Zygielbaum, and "2007 is a 9 Year," by Bellezza Squillance.


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Buzz Coil: December

Here’s what’s been buzzin’ on other blogs recently. If we missed an item you think is important, please leave the info as a "comment."

Hecate: In a Dec. 16 post, "Saturday Goddess Blogging," blogger Hecate suggests that Sheila-na-gig is "a good goddess for Yule" - with some great pics.

Peeling a Pomegranate: "In the spirit of earth-based Magickal Judaism" and in celebration of Hanukkah, blogger Carly rededicates the Temple as Earth (or Earth as Temple) in a Dec. 14 post, "Rededicating the Temple." Here is a portion of it, with a little extra explanation in brackets:

"Where is the Temple?"
"Isn’t She everywhere?"
"Is She the..." [Hebrew letters – word for Shekhinah – usually means presence of the divine, understood as feminine]
"Then I rededicate The Temple here" [Hebrew words for "We rededicate The Temple there"]
"Yes, but I am here." [Hebrew word for "here"]
Thank you to Carly for helping us with the translation of the last two Hebrew quotes. The post then closes with a beautiful rededication prayer that I’m not going to quote because I want to encourage you to go over there to get the full flavor of this post.

Raihn Drop’s: Blogger Raihn has some lovely pics of her current Summer Solstice celebration in Australia, including a deciduous "goddess tree," in her Dec. 14 post, "Snapshot of 72 Raihn Hours." Another December 14 post, "AM-Moora" gives poetic spiritual guidance from "the Mother of all for time and now, for now and time."

Yezida’s Journal: And speaking of Australia,T.Thorn Coyle writes about her visit there in a Dec. 10 post, "Fairie Tree," and a Dec. 16 post, "It’s so big."

Broomstick Chronicles: In a Dec. 1 post, "College Interfaith," M. Macha Nightmare tells about a forum on world religions at Napa College that included speakers on Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Goddess, Contemporary Paganism, and Religious Science. In a Dec. 5 post, "SD Post Mortem-Technical", she analyzes this year's technical aspects of probably the best known Samhain Spiral Dance event, which could make you feel better about difficulties you may experience when trying to create and present rituals.

Radical Goddess Thealogy: Blogger Athana’s Dec.9 post, "Don’t Believe in Goddess. See If I Care," gives 3 tenets she’d like you to agree to even if you don’t "believe in" Goddesses.

Screaming into the Void: We’re glad to see that blogger Amananta, who, as we reported in last month's Buzz Coil , posted that she was going to stop blogging, has found a way to continue – most posts don’t allow comments.

That’s the buzz-coiling for now. If we missed an item you think is important. Please leave the info as a "comment."



Friday, December 15, 2006

Trees and Lights

Regardless of what you think about the flap at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport brought on by a Chassidic rabbi’s request for a Hanukkah menorah to be displayed along with Christmas trees, here’s an interesting aspect of both Christmas trees and menorahs that many people aren’t aware of: if you trace their history back far enough, they both can be understood as Goddess-connected, and the lights associated with both can be seen as related to the Winter Solstice.

The "Christmas" tree is not originally a Christian symbol. The story of the birth of Jesus in the Christian scriptures makes no mention of evergreens decorated with lights. Trees are Goddess symbols in many cultures. The decorated tree apparently originated in European Pagan observances. Some say it originated as a deciduous tree (specifically, an oak) in Germany, and then was changed to an evergreen when Germany was Christianized. But others say that there were traditions of decorating evergreens among some Pagans. The custom of decorating evergreen trees for Christmas was adopted by the British from the Germans in the 19th Century. There is no historical consensus on date of Jesus birth. The Christian scriptures don’t give Dec. 25 as the date of Jesus’ birth, nor is there any biblical indication that he was born near the Winter Solstice. Dec. 25 was the date of the Winter Solstice in the Roman calendar, which preceded the Julian calendar (which moved the Solstice a few days earlier). Most likely, church fathers set the date of Jesus' birth on Dec. 25 to coincide with popular Pagan celebrations that time of year, which included the birth of a son/sun-god, child of the Goddess. But in the Pagan versions, the Goddess isn’t denied her sexuality. (For a Winter Solstice invocation asserting the full sexuality of the Mother of the child born at Solstice, go here. )

On to the menorah: Though rabbinical explanations of its origin trace the menorah to the burning bush seen by Moses at Mt. Sinai , historical analysis links it to the Tree of Life, a concept within Judaism that was present earlier among Ancient Near East Goddess cultures, and especially associated with the Goddess Asherah. Two different menorahs are used today in Judaism: the 6-branched (plus usually a central candle), used year-round; and the Hanukkah menorah, which has 8 candles plus a "shamash" candle, used to light the other candles. They both can be seen as representations of the Tree of Life. (A web search for menorah+tree will turn up many Hanukkah menorahs made in the shape of trees, often specifically the Tree of Life). Though the historical aspect of Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians, c.165 BCE, and the rededication of the Temple after it had been "defiled" with a statue of Zeus, Hanukkah is also called the "Festival of Lights." One candle (plus the shamash) is lit on the first night, with additional candles lit for 8 nights until the entire 8 are lit on the eighth night. The story usually given as the reason for the growing light of the candles is that during the Maccabee-Syrian conflict there was enough oil to keep the eternal flame burning for only one night; by a miracle the flame continued to burn for 8 nights, until more oil could be obtained. But some of us cannot help but wonder if the theme of growing light is related deep down to the anticipated growing of the Sun’s light at the Winter Solstice. Rabbi Jill Hammer has created a ritual for Hanukkah incorporating Winter Solstice symbolism.

But enough intellectualizing for now. The important thing is, whatever holidays you celebrate this time of year, may they bring you much joy.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

'Elizabeth', the film

Sometimes I think there’s a genie in my TV. Or something (someone?) providing guidance (no, not a Goddess chip, though that’s not a bad idea)--getting me in front of the tube at the right time and prompting me to click it on. This has happened in the past, for example, with the History Channel’s programs on the Da Vinci Code. For instance, late at night I’ve fallen asleep in front of the TV. I wake up and there is "Beyond the Da Vinci Code" playing. Once I fell asleep while watching it only to awake several hours later at exactly the same point! And then there was the time in 1992 when I came home Saturday night, hadn’t watched SNL for years (well, at least months). I had been dancing and usually would have headed straight for a bath (showers in the morning, baths before bed), but for some reason I decided to turn on the TV instead. There was Sinead O’Conner saying, "Fight the real enemy," and holding up a picture of the Pope. I watched in wonder as she angrily tore up the picture.

The latest instance of my TV guidance was a couple days ago. I hadn’t been feeling well and so did something I rarely do, put on the TV in middle of the day. I clicked it on and right there on the channel it was set to, AMC, was a movie that looked familiar. It was "Elizabeth," about Queen Elizabeth I of England, a film I had seen when it came out in 1998. I had liked it a lot, not because I’m a history buff, but because of its mythological aspects and implications for women today. (The rest of the post contains spoilers, but I don’t think that will spoil it for most folks, since the plot is already well known.)

The movie, with Cate Blanchette as Elizabeth, has been criticized for having some historical inaccuracies, to which I would add anachronistic background music (for example, music by Mozart, composed in a later century). But historicity is not where the value of this film lies for me. It’s deepest impact is Elizabeth’s transition from real-life woman to "Virgin Queen." Elizabeth had one lover in this film, Robert Dudley, Earl Of Liecester, and there have been rumours (I’ll use the British spelling here) of others for, well, centuries. So, she was not, in fact, physiologically virgin. Despite encouragement of her advisors to marry to secure her throne, Elizabeth refused to marry any man, including Dudley, because she felt she could have no man be her master and still rule in the way she wanted to rule. This is the point in the movie that the mythological aspects began resonating for me, because the concept "Virgin, " when talking about Virgin goddesses, doesn’t mean not having sex, but rather refers to a strong independent (often young) woman who is not beholden to or dependent upon, any man. After the young Queen overcomes her enemies (it gets bloody here, I closed my eyes during the beheadings), Elizabeth senses that she needs to do something more to have as much respect as a male monarch would, and it is here that the mythological aspect of the film becomes more explicit.

After the massacres, Elizabeth is shown in a church (Westminster Abbey?) talking with a spiritual advisor. She is standing in front of a statue of Virgin Mary. The Queen wonders aloud why "men" still honor Mary (remember, this is after England broke from the Roman Catholic Church). Her advisor replies that people need such a figure and, "they have found no one to replace her." The next scene shows Elizabeth having her gorgeous red hair cut while someone prepares a white powdery-pasty substance. After her haircut, she says, "I have become a Virgin."

In the final, powerful, scene, we see Elizabeth as we have seen her in paintings: white-faced and wigged–with, I suppose, her own red hair. In order to rule, she has put aside her human feelings and with them society’s definition of "woman," to become what is to me a demi-goddess. Her face an unchanging white masque that looks like china or alabaster, her unchanging hair, even her unchanging demeanor, transform her into an apparently superhuman being robed in the mythology of the "Virgin."

To me, this resonates today for woman in political and corporate spheres, at least in the US and perhaps elsewhere. Can a woman rise to great power in the U.S. national government (or corporate world) without depending on a man to establish her power and secure her position? Can a woman be in a position of great power without people referring her person (for example, more attention paid to what's she's wearing than what's she's saying) and her family life in ways that would never be the case with a man?

And if not, centuries after Elizabeth I, why not?

Did I mention that the photography in this film is stunning? AMC is running ‘Elizabeth’ again on Thursday Dec. 14 at 12:30 p.m. I suggest that, if possible, you tape it (or record it with one of those newfangled gizmos) and run either when or where not too much light is entering the room, so you can get the full impact of the photography.


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Events Coil: Dec.5 - Feb.4

As far as we know, all of the following are "open" functions; but some may be limited to women. Please check the websites for group policies. All times are local. When listing events for the same date, we have tried to list the events 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 correct, as it may have changed since we listed from it. The next Events Coil is planned for early to mid January, and will include events listed here that haven't happened, plus new events through late February. If you have an event you want listed in future events coils, please leave it in a comment. See the end of this coil for what info we need for listings.

Dec. 5, 7-9 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 6, 7 p.m. "Earth Spirit, Earth Justice," with Starhawk,
Cambridge MA

Dec. 9, 7 pm,
"Woman Shaman" with Max Dashu, New College of California, San Francisco CA

Dec. 10, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Ceremony in Honor of La Virgen de Guadalupe/Tonatzin, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 10, gather 7:30 p.m.,
Feast of the Virgin de Guadelupe, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), SF Bay area, CA

Dec. 17, 1400 uur,
Winter Solstice , Avalon Mystic, Hillegom, Nederland

Dec. 17, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m.,
Winter Solstice, Connect DC, Washington DC

Dec. 17, 11 a.m.,
Wordless Service, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 17, 5 p.m.,
Winter Solstice Celebration, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), SF Bay area, CA

Dec. 17, 7 p.m.
Winter Solstice Ritual, with Starhawk & friends, Sebastopol CA

Dec. 20, gather 3:30 p.m., ritual 4 p.m.
Solstice Eve Ocean Beach Bonfire, Reclaiming, San Francisco CA

Dec. 20, 7 p.m.
New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 21, gather 6:30-6:45 A.M.,
Sing Up the Sun, Reclaiming, East Bay (SF) CA

Dec. 21, 2-4 p.m. New Moon Healing; 7:30 p.m. Winter Solstice Festival, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury England

Dec. 21, 7 p.m.
Winter Solstice in the Red Tent, Women's Well, West Concord MA

Dec. 21, 7 p.m.
Solstice of the Warrior at the Dark Moon - Morrigan, Sirens Sanctuary, NYC, NY

Dec. 21, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual beings 7 p.m.,
Winter Solstice, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 21, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Winter Solstice , The Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 23, gather 3-4 p.m. for pre-ritual dinner, 5 p.m.,
Yule High Rite (ADF), Baltimore MD

Dec. 23, gather 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. doors locked, ritual begins.
35th Annual Winter Solstice Ritual, Spiral Dance & Feast, Circle of Aradia (Dianic), Los Angeles CA

Dec. 24 11 a.m.
Yule Service, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Dec. 30, 7 p.m. New Moon Women's Mysteries, "Neolithic Imagery and the Divine Feminine," Guest House, , The Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Dec. 31, 11 a.m. Services, "A New Year," Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 3, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 7, 11 a.m. Services with guest priestess Servet Hassan, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 19, 7 p.m. New Moon Women's Mysteries,
Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 21, 2-4 p.m. New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury, England

Jan. 21, 5-8 p.m. New Moon & Chinese New Year & Quan Yin, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), SF Bay Area, CA

Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. Imbolc Festival, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury, England

Feb. 1, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m. Imbolc with guest priestess Diahann Reyes, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 3, gather 7 p.m. ritual 7:30 p.m. Imbolc, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 4 1400 ur, Imbolc, Avalon Mystic, Hillgom, Nederland

Feb. 4, Brigid's Day (Imbolc) Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, Horeb WI

Baltimore MD: Sundays 10 a.m., Rites of Cafeina, Cedar Light Grove (ADF)

Geyersville CA: Sunday Services 2-4 p.m. Temple of Isis .

Houston TX: The Monday Group, Noon.
Christian feminist theology study group.

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,

Mt. Horeb WI: Goddess Circle, Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m.,
Circle Sanctuary.

NYC: Open Monthly Women's Circle,
Sirens Sanctuary.

Portland OR: Rituals at new and full moons, quarters and cross-quarters.
Full Circle Temple , Tuesdays-Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m. "Open to all self-identified women and girls."

San Francisco CA: New Moon and Full Moon observances,
Maa Batakali Cultural Mission.

West Concord MA: Women's Circles, 1st Monday of month, 7-9 p.m., Women's Well.

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