Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Goddess Conference in Glastonbury for Lammas

I'm celebrating Brighid/Imbolc by posting an early notice about what looks like a terrific Goddess Conference, "Celebrating the Crone Goddess at Lammas" in Glastonbury, England. The conference takes place August 1-5, with fringe events beginning July 29 and ending August 6.

Some of the more than 40 contributors/presenters are: Alessandra Belloni, musician, drummer, artist-in-residence at St. John the Divine in NYC; Annie Spencer, ceremonialist, founder of Shamanka and Harwell Association; Cheryl Straffron, author and editor of Goddess Alive!
; Hannah Corr and the Halfouine dancers (Middle Eastern dance group located in Wales); Jane Meredith, Australian ritualist known for her association with the "Dark Goddess"; Kathy Jones, priestess of the Goddess and of Avalon ; Lady Olivia Durdin Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis; Leslene della-Madre, mother, author, feminist shaman; Lydia Ruyle, artist, creator of Goddess icon banners; Max Dashu, found of the Suppressed History Archives ; Sally Pullinger, Gastonbury Goddess songwriter, trance medium, Avalon priestess; Thalia Brown, artist, banner creator; Sheila Bright, co-founder of Goddess Alive!, priestess of Brighid. And there are many more - I get excited just writing about it!

We'll be reminding you again closer to the date of the conference, but we thought you'd want to know now so you can start making plans! For more info, go to

Bright blessings of Brighid and inspiration to all.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Buzz Coil: January

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

At the end of desire: Blogger Inanna, who has a MA in Philosophy, is devoting Mondays to thealogy posts. Recent posts include: "Thealogy" (Jan. 8) "Imagining the Goddess" (Jan. 15) .
On another topic, in a Jan. 16 post,"On healing and being broken," Inanna compares assumptions underlying Christian baptism and Pagan healings, writing:

...I worry that the idea that we all always need healing, that healing is an on-going process, that we are all healing old wounds, whether from childhood or ancestors or past lives - I worry that this way of thinking about healing implies the assumption that we're all sick or broken. And that doesn't sound so different from the idea that we're born in sin and need to be redeemed. Do we unwittingly model some of our ideas about healing on a Christian model that we mean to reject?
The Adventures of Dr. Diana: Is a woman’s desire for a butt implant a sign of our culture’s spiritual decline? Find out in Diana Blaine’s Jan. 4 post, "And Now A Word from the Oracle," with a comparison to Incan cosmology.

Radical Goddess Thealogy: In a Jan. 14 post, "Marriage? Say Wha????What’s That?" blogger Athana writes about the possibility that "ancient Goddess people might not have known the institution of marriage," after reading a contribution by Vicki Noble to a 2005 anthology (see Athana’s post for complete citation).

Hecate: In her Jan. 17 post, "Nice Pagan Ladies," blogger Hecate ponders her feelings at "interfaith" functions and wonders if she’s behaving properly.( Well, she’s sure wearing a nice hat!) She writes:
We share many values -- peace activism, concern for the poor and homeless, opposition to capital punishment, green concerns -- and when we work together on those problems, I'm just fine. But still I find that the majority Abrahamics tend to slip into their assumption that all the world's population is monotheistic. It bugs me. I feel I should try to bring it up in as constructive a way as I can. How do others deal with it?
The Continuum: The relationship of the contemporary emergence of Goddess spirituality with women being admitted to the Anglican priesthood is examined by Fr. Robert Hart in his Jan. 13 post, "Priesthood and the Church" There’s some technical Christian stuff in this, but the post is notable for Hart’s acknowledgement of ancient Goddess artifacts and the feeling that something important is happening today. For instance, he writes:
....In a sense, if I am right about their meaning, these ancient pagans had a clearer understanding of a sacredness of the feminine than modern theologians who want to convert the Church into a religion with a Divine Feminine. ...It is not an accident or mere coincidence that women priests and the new "Divine Feminine" are conntemporary with each other.
And a few paragraphs later:
We see that redemption cannot be separated from the feminine presence of Mary.... In fact, not simply a feminine presence, but a female presence. This distinction is necessary in order to clarify its significance to an age that confuses the meanings of the word "sex" and "gender." People come in two sexes, male and female, rather than in genders. The Mother of God is a woman. However, the Church is not a woman, but it is the Bride of Christ, and as such is of the feminine gender, though not of the female sex.
Earth Family Alpha: Susan Bright’s Jan. 10 post, "The Age of Quan Yin" relates some of the many stories about the this Goddess.

Newbies (blogs begun in last 1-2 months) Short blurbs linking to news stories of female firsts (Yemen’s first female zone chief, Alabama’s Female Chief Justice, Baltimore’s first female mayor, etc.) plus other news such as, "Immigrant Faces Female Genital Mutilation If Deported" (Jan. 17), "Indian Woman Accused of Witchcraft Is Killed" (Jan. 13), "Witch in WW II," (Jan. 12), "Jewish Clergy Sexual Predators," (Jan. 11), "Indonesian Women Fight Sharia Laws" (Jan. 9), "Bishop Admits He was Wrong About Female Priests" (Jan. 9), "Women Burned to Death in East Timor"[for witchcraft], Jan.8, "Mormon Founder Descended from Mary Magdalene," (Jan. 7), "Italian Christmas Witch" [Le Befana] Jan. 5.

Cryptidcrits: A Jan 12 post, "Baba Yaga Bitches!,"retells Russian folklore about Baba Yaga and concludes, "Demon - not, She is a Goddess!!!"


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Guest Blog: Starting a Goddess Temple in Australia

[Update from Medusa, Feb 25, 2007: The links in this post to the Australian Goddess Temple ( have been redirected by Anique to her personal site while the site with the information about the Temple is being updated.]
by Anique Radiant Heart, guest blogger

Since time out of mind, women have been gathering.

Gathering together at the river bank to wash, often singing while they work; gathering together to make food - often singing as they work; gathering together to look after sick children or elders - often chanting prayers as they worked; gathering together to make art - always singing as they worked; and gathering in the Temple, to create ritual, officiate at special ceremonies linked to special sacred days in the year, and to celebrate and honour the feminine Divine in all Her many manifestations. And always there was singing and chanting.

In very early times, the Temple was a grove of trees, natural caves, or a group of rocks, or a body of water, named and recognised as a sacred place and returned to over hundreds of years by the same tribe. As the ancients began to understand the power of "energy" as we know it today, and the ability of invoking the presence of ancestor spirits, they began to build or create permanent shelter/buildings for their place of worship and magic - the Temple. These buildings, over time, held the energy of many ceremonies, prayers and chants, making them "awesome" places to enter.

The Temple became the spiritual and cultural heart of tribal community. The priestesses, who were multi-skilled in sacred rites (shamanism), healing and divination, also were responsible for the training of girls and young women into the arts of shamanism and prophecy, ensuring that the people were well supported both in their everyday lives and also in the continuance of the herstory and well being of the tribe. The Temple was the place of government as well, the place where the Circle of Grandmothers held council and heard petitions from the people. Because women bled each month without dying and because life came from their bodies, women were seen as numinous, having powers in their bodies that men did not. The original "sacrifice" was the offering of menstrual blood at the altars to the Goddess, as a means of expressing gratitude for abundance. Women’s menstrual blood was also mixed with water and poured over crops to make them more abundant.

Associated with the Temple, was the Artists and Crafts House, the original "guilds" as we know them today. Also associated with the Temple was the home of the dark Goddess, the House of Death or mortuary.

When I’ve travelled overseas, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many places of worship, some of them thousands of years old. On recent trips I’ve also been able to visit modern Temples dedicated to Goddess worship.

When I was in Glastonbury, I had the opportunity to visit the Goddess temple there, created and voluntarily maintained by a group of men and women led by Kathy Jones. It was a blessing to walk into a space which was so obviously dedicated to the Goddess. The main altar, which had a large painting of a very abundant Goddess as the backdrop, was beautiful. On the altar, were many lovely artifacts and candles and incense….but what struck me most was the hundreds of little pieces of paper which held the prayers of people who had visited the Temple that week. I was told that each week, the Priestesses of the Temple collect the peoples' prayers and in ceremony, offer the prayers to the Goddess in spoken word. I walked around the space, seeing the four altars to the Four Directions. Large wicker statues had been lovingly made for each Element, creating an eerie feeling that they were actually alive. Each altar had been decorated with appropriate items and I felt a deep sense of "Yes..this is so good" deep in my heart. On the floor, here and there, were statues and objects donated by lovers of the Goddess to the Temple. It was obvious to me that many people appreciated this sacred space where they could embody fully their spirituality of choice.

When I was in Nevada, I was fortunate to be taken to experience the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, donated to the people of Nevada by Genevieve Vaughn. This little Temple took my breath away. Totally open to the elements and the people and creatures of that place, the Temple was built of straw bale construction and had openings on all sides and an open roof. A beautiful wrought iron artwork of a half sphere created of crescent moons "covered" the roof and a smaller wrought iron circular artwork of Goddesses holding hands protected the central fire pit. A large black stone statue of Sekhmet adorned the Western wall and a stone statue of a typical abundant Goddess sat facing Her.

Everywhere, people had left offerings….pictures, jewelry, feathers bones and stones, all kinds of objects. The space was sacred in a wild and untamed way. I was affected at a visceral level as I stood at the entrance and looked in. It took me quite a while to actually enter and then I had to chant to ground myself. It was such a powerful place, resonating deeply in my being. I felt my faith deepening and my dedication to the goddess "sharpening" or focusing in some way. It was an indefinable feeling, but I knew deep in my bones that something wonderful had happened.

I had an epiphany in that moment, as I understood how powerful Temples are. How palpably they hold the energy of sacredness and worship. How imprinted in the very walls, floor and objects are the intentions of those who came there to deepen their connection to the Divine. I imagined how healing it would be to come here and just sit in times of crisis or grief - as I experienced when my canine companion died last year. I imagined how wonderful it would have been to have my Croning Ceremony here. I thought about all the rituals I had created for hand fastings, baby namings, ceremonies of gratitude for prayers answered, rituals for the bringing in of abundance, so many…so many….and each time I had to set up the Temple space and then dismantle it again when the work was finished. All that wonderful energy, enjoyed in the monument and then lost for ever, to live on only in memory.

In that moment, I decided that I needed to create a permanent Temple on my land. I had to begin. There had to be one Temple at least in Australia, totally dedicated to the worship of the Goddess. A Temple open to all who wished to connect with the Divine. And not only a Temple, a place of teaching and learning. A place where regular ceremonies could be held and rituals enacted for Full Moons, Solstices and Equinoxes and so on. A Temple which could begin to accumulate the sacred energy which all Temples resonate with. A Temple where people could gather from all over Australia for annual worship and celebration of the Goddess, where people could come and get "married", where babies could be named in the sanctity of the Goddess, where young girls could celebrate their menarche, where all milestones and initiations could be witnessed and celebrated, where Priestesses could train in the skills and arts of that profession with a variety of teachers of many disciplines.

It is possible. All we need is a large shed, just like the very nice shed I live in.

To see the progress being made on the Goddess Temple in Willawarrin, New South Wales, Australia, go to

Anique Radiant Heart has dedicated her life in service to the Feminine Divine. Through original song/chant, retreats and workshops in the Temple, she shares her wisdom and love of the Goddess. Check out her web site


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Thursday, January 18, 2007

WaPo 'On Faith' panelist bashes Goddess

"Have women fared well or badly in the world's religions down through the ages?" is today's discussion question on The Washington Post's online, On Faith. One of the panelists, Wendy Doniger, takes the opportunity to attack Goddess feminists, and WaPo highlights her Goddess-bashing quote and gives her top billing. There are already some responses, but if you want to tell her what you think, here's a shortcut: Responses from a number of other panelists are more balanced and make interesting reading, so you might want to check them all out. And I'm glad to see discussion on this issue on a mass media site.

[SEE UPDATE BELOW Unfortunately,
Starhawk, who is one of On Faith's regular panelists, wasn't included among the responders to today's question (could it be that she wasn't asked?). Her most recent post on Jan. 15, which you shouldn't miss, is "Our Goddess Weeps at Our Wars." ]

UPDATE,Jan.21: The order of the comments has been changed, so that Doniger's no longer is highlighted at the beginnning of the discussion AND a panelist post by Starhawk (dated Jan. 16),"Woman and Goddess" has been added (Actually I don't know if this was added from somewhere else or existed somewhere on this topic and just wasn't showing???)



Thursday, January 11, 2007


A few readers have asked me to write about the term, Goddessian (pron. God dess' i an), which I’ve been using in posts here.

The first use of the term I’m aware of is in August 1999 during a discussion on WMSPRT-L, a list which no longer exists but at that time was housed on the server. Some of us were trying to put a name to the distinction between Paganism (or Neopaganism) and "feminist Goddess people." I suggested several possibilities, including calling ourselves "Goddessians," and that’s the term list members liked best. In 2002, I mentioned the term in a column titled, "Naming Ourselves" in The Beltane Papers. At that time I suggested that some of us might want to call ourselves Goddessians because:

To not name ourselves is to risk becoming invisible–both to ourselves and to others. To not have a name is to be in peril of not existing, disappearing, becoming subsumed into other groups. This has already started to happen. Women who came to the Goddess through feminist spirituality, for lack of any visible alternative, may join Wiccan or Pagan groups that give short shrift to women and women’s issues, despite having goddesses in their pantheons. Those who don’t find a home in Witchcraft or other Pagan groups may simply lose interest in Goddess spirituality because they have no cohesive group to identify with.
The need to distinguish ourselves with a name separate from, or in addition to Pagan, Witch or Wiccan not only continues but has become more important, as misogynist attitudes in some Pagan groups seem to be persisting, even intensifying (see, for example, comments to my Jan. 1 post "Looking Back, Looking Forward")

"Goddessian" is being used increasingly; Google came up with about 60 links for the word when I searched today. Among them, a Yahoogroup called "Sage of the Grove’s Goddessian Pathway" . And people with profiles or posting on Witchvox identify as "Goddessian." In another link, Sage Starwalker writes :

I tend to think of myself as Goddessian, and I hope that this site is on its way to becoming a Goddessian Resource (Goddessian as it both relates to and differs from pagan, neopagan, Wiccan and "Witch.")
And on her blog called Panthea, Grian DeBandia in a April 10, 2006 post, "Time for a Change," uses the term "Goddessian," when touching on some of the other issues I’ve been blogging about lately. Grian writes:

My daughter asked me the other day why she has to be different. She thinks it's "cool" to be Christian because everyone in her class is. The other kids teach her Bible songs and tell her about going to church. Where are the opportunities for Goddessian people to offer those things to their children? I want a religion with top-notch, University accedited training facilities and the ability for paid clergy who can run the organization of our temples....
The time has come for change. The first thing we need to do is break free of some of the more modern labels we've taken on, most of which are slurs that were used against our ancestors millenia ago.
Quoted From Another Source:
"The word Pagan was given to the non christians by christians as an insult. It means country dweller which at the time equated to dirty, poor, uneducated idiot, now there's a name worth keeping! ... We are "pagans" because CHRISTIANS say we are!"
Although some people, like Grian and "Another Source," see problems with the term "Pagan," others still identify as Pagans but use the term "Goddessian" to specify what type of Pagan they are. The same may be true of some Witches and Wiccans.

And while the term Goddessian may denote a subset of Pagans, it can also be a term that is more inclusive than Paganism. For example, there are groups such as Goddess Christians, Goddess Jews , who don’t feel the term, "Pagan" describes them, but may be able to identify with the word, "Goddessian."

So to sum up the present situation: Goddessian is a term used by people who revere Goddess(es) and strive for full participation of women in religion. For some Goddessians, this is their sole spiritual identity. Others who identify as Goddessian also identify as Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches. They use the additional identity, "Goddessian," to show that their emphasis is on female deity and securing equality for women in religion.

updated 11/3/10 with pronunciation



Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Events Coil: Jan. 14 - March 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. All locations are in USA unless otherwise indicated. Other countries in which we currently have listings are Australia, England, and the Netherlands. We’d like to have events from more countries!!! 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.

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 February, and will include events listed here that haven’t happened, plus new events through late March or early April.

Jan. 14, 11 a.m. Services with guest priestess Jacki Schreiber, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 18, 7 p.m. Circle: Dark Moon of Hel, Sirens Sanctuary, New York NY

Jan. 19, 7 p.m. New Moon Women’s Mysteries, "Neolithic Images of the Divine Feminine," Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 20, 8 p.m. Lunation Ritual, The Goddess Shrine, Canberra, Australia

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

Jan. 21, 11 a.m. Services with guest priestess Jennifer Sarreal, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

Jan. 25, 7 p.m. Wendy Garling, "Exploring the Transformative Power of the Wrathful Goddess," Women’s Well, West Concord MA

Jan. 27, Max Dashu presentation on the Goddesses of Asia Minor, Emeryville CA

Jan. 27, Doors open 6:30 p.m. Ritual begins 7 p.m. Holy Day ritual: Imbolc, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan 28 11 a.m. Services with guest priestesses Kathe Schaaf & Sandy Pendleton of "Gather the Women" Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan.29, 8 p.m. Lunation Ritual, The Goddess Shrine, Canberra, Australia

Jan. 30, 7-9 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine 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 , Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 2, Max Dashu presentation, "Celtia, or the pre-history of Gaeltacht," Emeryville CA

Feb. 3. First Goddess Path Class, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

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

Feb. 4, Women’s Magical Wares Sunday.11 a.m. Services with guest priestess Vajra Ma; 12:30 p.m. Red Door Priestess Training Q & A with Vajra Ma, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 4, Imbolc Sabbat dedicated to Brighid, Toronto Temple, Wiccan Church of Canada, Toronto, Canada

Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Eingana, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), SF Bay Area CA

Feb. 10, Max Dashu, Taming the Female Body, Emeryville CA

Feb. 11, 11 a.m. Services, speaker tba, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 13 7:30 p.m.,
Monthly Ritual: The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 15, 7 p.m. Circle: Cerridwen, Sirens Sanctuary, New York NY

Feb. 16-20
Pantheacon, annual US West Coast Pagan covention, San Jose CA

Feb. 16, 7-9 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 18, 2 p.m.
New Moon Healing, Gastonbury Goddess Temple, Gastonbury, England

Feb. 18, 11 a.m. guest priestess Sara Buckley, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 24, "Women Voicing the Dharma," Buddhist Women’s Conference, De Paul University, Chicago IL

March 2, 8 p.m. Lunation Ritual, The Goddess Shrine, Canberra, Australia

March 2, 7:30 p.m. Max Dashu, "Goddess Cosmologies," Women’s Well, West Concord MA

March 2-4, Toronto Pagan Conference, Toronto, Canada

March 3, 7-9 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 3, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Bast, Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Eingana, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), SF Bay Area CA

March 4, 7 p.m. Max Dashu, presentation tba at Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Andover MA

Perth (White Gum Valley):
Mondays, 6 p.m., Chalice Ceremony.

Sudbury: 1st Friday (Sept.-June) 7:30 p.m., Sudbury Women's Circle.


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: Sundays, 10 a.m. Magdalene Community, Rothko Chapel; Mondays at Noon,
Christian feminist theology study group ; 1st &3rd Fridays at Noon, Group studying Gospel of Mary Brigid's Place, Christ Church Cathedral.

Irvine CA: Sunday Services: 1st Service at 9:30 a.m. inward, meditative; 2nd service at 11 a.m., dancing, drumming, singing; see dates for guest speakers.
Goddess Temple of Orange County,

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: 1st Monday, 7-9 p.m. Women's Circles; other ongoing groups include Demeter & Persephone's Circle for mothers and dauaghters; Council of Mother Bears; Menopause As Spritual Journey; Menarche, for mothers and Daughter, at Women's Well.

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

Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Forward

My first post of the calendar new year is dedicated to the Goddess Anna Perenna, who is sometimes seen as having two faces: Postverta, looking to the past, and Prosrsa, looking to the future.

Postverta: A Look Back

In the spirit of Postverta, a look back at the development of Goddess spirituality and spiritual feminisms can help us better understand where we are today. Feminist spirituality grew out of the consciousness-raising activities of the 1960s and 1970s, and evaluated the status of women in religion in ways similar to the critiquing of women’s social and political situation. Some women reacted to the information about the oppressive nature of mainstream religions by attempting to reform those religions. Others left mainstream religions and sought to establish (or re-establish) religious/spiritual paths that included Goddess figures or concepts, including seeing nature as good rather than as a negative force to be controlled. These modern Goddess pioneers understood that respecting nature, valuing women, and revering goddesses were intertwined, and they felt that the downgrading and erasing of goddesses was at the root of women’s social and political oppression.

The contemporary Goddess movement began with explorations by individual women or small informal groups sharing information and intuitions about ancient religions. Small groups became larger, a bit more structured, but usually remained all-women. As the movement grew, many women either opened their groups to men or joined existing mixed-gender Pagan groups. The migration of Goddess-honoring feminists into the Pagan community played an important role in the growth of that community in the last two decades of the 20th century. Women were to drawn to Paganism because the groups honored goddesses along with gods and also because nature is held sacred in many forms of Paganism. Women assumed that if a group honored the divine as female, it would also treat human females equitably. This assumption may have been naive. Women report that in many Pagan and Wiccan groups both online and "in real life," the input and opinions of women are resented or downright ignored, and sometimes, reflecting the larger society, "feminist" has become a bad word. Why, how, has this happened? One important reason is that the basic underpinnings of the old power-over, male-dominance paradigm haven’t been thoroughly rooted out. Rather, the old paradigm has been transferred from mainstream religions to some (many?) Pagan groups, which give short shrift to the empowered goddesses in matrifocal cultures of more than 3,000 years ago, and have instead adopted pantheons and viewpoints from later eras, which, while they include goddesses, envision them from a patriarchal rather than egalitarian perspective. This trend of downplaying women’s contributions and the importance of female deities is bolstered today, particularly in the U.S., by the backsliding socio-religio-political framework of the larger culture which, at least partly in defensive reaction to the slight progress made by women, is increasingly antagonistic to feminism and to equity for women.

This backlash occurs in spite of (because of?) another response to the writings, teachings and actions of spiritual feminists during the last two decades of the 20th Century: Many Jewish and Christian denominations became more open to women’s full participation in religion, including ordination, and grew sensitive to how exclusively-male god language serves to exclude women. Some of these groups responded by degenderizing language used to describe and address the divine. Some denominations added female "god language" or imagery to their texts and became more open to visioning the divine as female, or as they sometimes prefer to call it "feminine." (There’s a difference, but that’s a topic for another blog post.) A more recent development is Christian and Jewish groups who allow embodiment of the Divine as Female. People in these groups sometimes identify as Goddess Christians or Goddess Jews . (There are also a significant number of people people identifying themselves as "Jewitches," but imo the focus of many of these individuals and groups seems to be polytheist and magickal, but not particularly feminist.)

Let’s say you left a (non-fundamentalist) mainstream religion for Paganism as a result of your feminist views 20 or 30 years ago. An interesting experiment might be to revisit whatever group you left and see if there’s a difference in the language and the participation of women. Then compare that to how women are treated in your Pagan group. Where would you say women are treated more equitably today? Is there as great a difference in gendered "god language" between the Pagan group and the mainstream denomination as when you left it? What about male and female representations of the divine?

Prosrsa: A Glimpse of the Future
As we look towards the future with the vision of Prosrsa, the forward-looking face of Anna Perenna, I’m going to continue asking questions, borrowing from my column of a few years ago, "Goddess Spirituality at the Crossroads," in The Beltane Papers. These questions are about groups we may be involved in now:
- Do women participate equally in discussions in our mixed gender groups (including covens), or do they defer to, or are they often interrupted by men?
- Are leadership roles, other than high priest/ess, filled as often by women as by men in mixed gender groups?
- Are deities referred to as "the gods" when we actually mean both goddesses and gods?
- Are the group's teaching materials free of sexist assumptions (for example, characteristics assigned to gods and goddesses)?
- Do the books and techniques used for metaphysics (such as tarot, astrology, kabbalah, meditation, magick) depend on outdated patriarchal frameworks?

In addition to assessing whether groups are meeting our goals and needs, imo there is another important question to ask ourselves at this New Year: Do we Goddessians want to stay on the outskirts of spiritual paths or do we want to evolve into a fully-accepted religion? Many of us dislike "organized religion," and this feeling may be increased at present because we see in stark specifics, the harm that foisting religion onto political decisions and actions can do. Yet the outcome of continuing to remain on the margins – of both mainstream religions and Paganism – could mean that groups for which Goddess(es) are primary, groups that emphasize equality for women, will eventually disappear and fade into the persisting patriarchal culture. A year ago or two ago I thought this was likely to happen. But more recently I’ve been encouraged by the emergence of Goddessian and other spiritual feminist bloggers. And I’ve become more hopeful that there will be at least some sort of structure, (dare I say organization?) that will sustain us. To me, the most encouraging sign of this is the establishment of several Goddess temples, which I found out about in the last year while developing this blog. Medusa Coils has been fortunate to have guest blogs by people involved with a number of these temples – they’re listed over there on the right under "Archived Favorites," and some of the activities of these temples are listed in our "Events Coil" every month. I hope we’ll have more posts on physical spaces devoted to Goddess celebration in the future. At present I’m aware of contemporary Goddess temples in the western and midwestern USA, in England, the Netherlands, and in Australia. And I say wow!!! What these groups are doing is really impressive!!!! I’m optimistic that existing temples will continue to flourish, and that more Goddess temples will join them.

At the turn of the millennium, Abby Willowroot encouraged people to create Goddess statues and art in what she called "Goddess 2000 Project", whose aim was "A Goddess on Every Block!" Now that we are well into this millennium, I’d like to state another goal – a Goddess temple in every town!

I believe Goddess temples will bring us increased visibility and stability, lessen the perception of us as an unimportant or fringe group (or groups), and enable people to see contemporary Goddess religion(s) as a legitimate spiritual path. This, in turn, will help us reach other goals, such as having our research, scholarship, and writings published more easily, having our findings accepted in academic circles, and having Goddessian representatives included in "interfaith" programs and gatherings.

Recently, on her blog, M. Macha Nightmare (author with Starhawk et al. of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying) described an interfaith forum at Napa College in California. Macha was the speaker on "Contemporary Pagan, " in a program that also included speakers on Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other mainstream religions, and a speaker(Leilani of the Daughters of the Goddess) on what the program described as "Goddesses Based Wicca." In a footnote to her blogpost, Macha wrote, "This is how it was listed in the program, but the speaker actually said she was talking about goddess spirituality, which seemed more accurate to me." Napa College should be complimented on making a distinction, too infrequently made, between Paganism and Wicca and Goddess[es]-based Wicca, and I cheer Leilani’s and Macha’s further distinction between "Goddesses Based Wicca" and "Goddess spirituality." I consider the latter a wider category, a bigger tent. A tent that might even include Goddess Christians and Goddess Jews.

So at this dawning of a new calendar year, let us pour a libation to Anna Perenna, as well as to She who has many faces, many embodiments, many names. And let us toast to a year of continuing Goddessian progress.


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