Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Buzz Coil: February '09

Driving Audhumla: Victoria Slind-Flor writes about teaching a crone preparation class in her Jan 18 post (that we missed last time), "Hanging out with Freya" The course is for women in their 50s and focuses on a different Goddess each session. The post has pics of priestesses’ crone staffs, an altar to Freya, and women in the crone class quilting. Her Feb. 21 post, "The quintessential techno-Pagan" has a pic from Pantheacon of a priest who used a well-known techie gadget to prompt him during a ritual.

Blog o’Gnosis: "Attention, Pantheacon Shoppers!" calls Anne Hill’s Feb. 19 post in which she writes about the popularity of the badge ribbon she created, which reads, "Ask Me About My Feminist Rage."

Branches Up, Roots Down: In her Feb. 17 post, "blessings,"Deborah Oak writes about the rain ending a California drought that coincided with this years’ Pantheacon. She also writes about a panel discussion and other goings-on at the ‘con.

The Wild Hunt: Thanks to Jason Pitzl-Waters for picking up the info from our post on Cakes for the Queen of Heaven and adding some opinions and info in his Feb. 24 post, "Baking Some New Cakes." Jason also reports on Pantheacon in his Feb. 21 post, "A Preponderance of Post-Pantheacon Ponderings" Check it out for even more of Pantheacon than you see here.

The Village Witch: Byron Ballard’s Feb. 2 post, "We All Come From The Goddess," mentions the "Cakes" class she is leading and her attempts at adapting hymns and prayers (especially of Inanna) "into a more useful form."

At the end of desire: Blogger Inanna, in her Feb. 10 post, "Earth my body, water my blood," compares this Goddess chant to words attributed to Jesus at the Last Supper and which have become part of the Christian Communion. Inanna wonders:

...why Christianity had to assign a central ability and task in the lives of women to their Main Guy and elevate it to the central and supreme sacrifice of the faith. Jesus gets mad props for making this sacrifice; his willingness and generosity are signs of his divinity.But women are the ones who literally give of our body and blood so others might live.
And that gift is one of life begetting life, not one of death begetting life.
House of Inanna: In his Feb. 16 post, "Back Again," Brian Charles writes of a presentation about InannaTantra that he gave at a Love Festival in Budapest. Beginning on Feb. 20 with "Barry Long - a personal reflection on a couple of his tapes", Brian writes several posts exploring sex that, to me, show how messed up our culture still is about sex. Brian’s posts attempt to shed some honest light on the subject and our nakedness.

Gorgon Resurfaces: In her Feb. 13 post, "The Goddess vs. The Dark Night of the Soul" blogger LaughingMedusa tells why she no longer feels that her soul has a dark night; why she is no longer "ashamed of being human nor do I feel repentant...." A provocative post on the Christian God’s "absence" contrasted with Goddess immanence and ending with Goddess words from Abby Willowroot.

Amused Grace: In her Feb. 22 post, "Creative Every Day Update" Thalia Took shows us "little Minoan things," including an altar, that she created for the Sims. In her Feb. 15 post, "As they have always done," she writes about an Archaeology Magazine article discussing the mummy of Egyptian priestess Meresamum. With pics including, as she points out, a stunning (and to me inspiring) visual of the encased mummy about to be moved into a CT scanner. Also don’t miss her beautiful art, posted in Feb. 13,"Labrys"

Necropolis Now:In her Feb. 24 post, "Faeries Wear Boots," Caroline Tully, in a longish and fascinating post, explains various theories of what/who faeries are and how to most easily connect with them.

Peeling a Pomegranate: Blogger Ketzirah Carly’s Feb. 10 post discussed "Shabbat Tzovot" a special Sabbath that her Kohenet (Hebrew priestess) group observes. This Sabbath is related to the Shekhinah and honors "the priestess at the doorway." Carly uses the High Priestess card from the Coleman-Waite Tarot deck to illustrate this post.

Daily Kos: Tara the Antisocial Social Worker continues her Wednesday series, "How a Woman Becomes a Goddess," about Goddess spirituality and political activism on this well-known progressive political blog. Her Feb. 4 diary was on "Santoshi Ma", the Hindu Goddess of contentment who apparently appeared first in the mid-20th century, with comments on a similar situation with Aradia. Her Feb. 18 diary is about "Mayahuel," ,the Aztec food Goddess with 400 breasts associated with the maguey plant. Tara the Antisocial connects Mayahuel’s story with U.S. political right wing’s "love of control, particularly when it comes to women’s bodies and sexuality." She also connects Mayahuel’s story with the role of "the token [female] torturer" in the mutilation of women and then connects this attitude to the "fraternity hazing syndrome" which she sees as related to repeatedly sending troops to die in a war so that previous deaths won’t be "in vain." Quite a diary! You can see previous posts (and follow future posts) in this excellent series by going here.

On Feb. 22, Julia Rain posted a diary in the Kos series "History for Kossacks" (Kossacks are what bloggers on Kos call themselves): "Introduction to Wicca/Paganism". This is a brave attempt to present a subject that may not be welcomed by all Kossacks and can be controversial even among Pagans and Wiccans. Though it is clear that Julia was trying to write in an even-handed, objective way, well, stuff happens... For example:

We believe in both the male and female aspects of divinity. To me, this just makes sense. The moon represents the Goddess and the sun represents the God (in Asian cultures it is the opposite).

This of course leaves out Dianics and others who are primarily Goddess centered. Julia corrects this misperception in a comment at 7:24:14 PST. There is at least one misstatement of fact: Julia writes that the holiday Ostara is held on Easter. A more correct statement would be that Ostara occurs on the Vernal Equinox (or is a name given by some Pagans to the holiday at the Vernal Equinox), and Easter is also related to the Vernal Equinox in that it occurs the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. This error was corrected in the comments by a Kossack at 8:12 p.m PST.
By my bedtime on Feb. 22 there were 184 comments to this diary. By midday Feb. 24, there were 463 comments. Some of them were questions about accuracy, some disagreements among Pagans, some questioned why such a post was appearing on this political blog (answer: because there are Pagans in the Kos community and it might be good for non-Pagans to understand what they were about), and many comments expressed appreciation for the post. I recognized only one commenter, mainly because he blogs under a recognizable name (bloggername: ibonewits aka Isaac Bonewits ). He contributed a number of comments that added much clarity to the discussion.
Julia deserves praise for even attempting this, for presenting the material in a thoughtful manner and for searching out such colorful illustrations.

Around the Mother House This is the blog of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International. Kip Parker’s Feb 1 post, "A chance for real change" is a spiritual call to collaborate with the Obama administration in bringing real change. Kip writes:

Because at this moment in the UNiverse, we have a chance to do even more than a stimulus package, end the war in Iraq, renew protections of civil liberties and renew our commitment to the idea that we do not torture. We have a chance to make a real and lasting change in the way our society functions, the way it sees its leaders, and the things it expects from its government. I for one will do everything I can to assist this new era in its birth, physically, mentally and magically.
Alive Mind & Spirit: In her Feb. 5 post, "Imbolc: The Goddess Brighid" Juliette Lauber, writes how Imbolc came to her during a visit to the Louvre in Paris.
In her Jan. 21 post, "A Prayer for the President and a New Era," Carol P. Christ expresses her hopes for the Obama Presidency yet is also critical. She writes:

I found too much militarism, patriotism, and American exceptionalism (well-known acolytes of the Father God) in the events and speeches, including the President’s own. I was disappointed that Obama used non-inclusive or sexist language in addressing us all as “my fellow citizens.” (I guess he didn’t he read my blog on the subject.) When President Obama spoke of us being a nation of “Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers” I wondered why he didn’t add the simple phrase “and spiritual seekers” to include the rest of us. And I was screaming out “What about the Native Americans?” when he praised those who settled the West.
Did we miss an item you think is important? We’d like to know about it, so please leave it as a comment.


Friday, February 20, 2009

REVIEW: Church of the Old Mermaids

Church of the Old Mermaids, a novel by Kim Antieau (Ruby Rose’s Fairy Tale Emporium, 2009), trade paperback, Kindle

This is a delightfully buoyant novel filled with humor and magic, yet grounded by serious themes. Even the cover is clever: A mermaid statue with a placard hanging from her neck to her waist with this information:
Church of the Old Mermaids
Kim Antieau, novice
The Church of the Old Mermaids is "not a real church..." protagonist Myla Alverez tells us as the novel opens. It’s what she calls her space in an outdoor market in Arizona where she puts her table, chair and wares on Saturdays. She calls it the Church of the Old Mermaids because "her mother told her when she was a child that the desert had been a vast sea." It seems that Myla inhabits a magical world in which, for example, a "wash" continuing across the road by itself toward the desert moves "like a glacier" or "a slow dance troupe." She likes to imagine "that the mermaids had not dried up when the sea did; they merely changed their attitudes." Some of these attitudes are demonstrated by the Old Mermaids’ quotes that begin each of the 13 chapters. For example, at the head of the first chapter we read:

Get the starfish outta your eyes, sister.
–Sister Sheila Na Giggles Mermaid

Myla retrieves from the wash the items she brings to the Church to sell each Saturday. Each of them has a story that either she, or the people buying the items, tell. Here are short versions of some of the stories: Small colored bottles were once filled with a "precious liquid" by Bridget Mermaid later aided by Ruby Rosarita Mermaid who cooked a certain delicacy with it; A broken tile with a peach on it played a role in a romance between Sister Magdalene Mermaid, aka Sissy Maggie Mermaid, and an attractive younger man the Mermaids hired to help them tile their kitchen; An old ticket to a Mariners’ baseball game is connected to the relationship between one of the customers and his college roommate.

These wonder-filled colorfully-written stories would have been enough to keep me engrossed, yet I was lured in further by weightier plots through which Myla encounters more practical issues, such as her role as the caretaker of The Old Mermaid Sanctuary, a group of five houses whose owners are away and where she stashes people who need temporary homes after crossing the border from Mexico; her relationships with three men with whom she has been or is involved; and a crisis of faith brought on by a declaration of love.

In fact, the stories themselves are not always light fluff. They can be profound. For example, the very moving story about "Gifting," reveals that the true essence of all the Mermaid stories is healing love.

Is it a stretch to see the Old Mermaids’ continued existence as a metaphor for survival of Goddess myths in the "desert" of patriarchal religion? After all, some of the 13 Old Mermaids bear Goddess or Goddess-like names: Grand Mother Yemaya Mermaid, Sister Sheila Na Giggles Mermaid, Sister Bridget Mermaid, Sister Sophia Mermaid.... Or maybe we should see the stories of the Old Mermaids as a display of how our culture would be if it revered old women? I’m not sure. Neither of these interpretations are necessary to enjoy the book; as with much good literature, the novel can be understood and appreciated on a number of different levels.

Antieau has written 6 other novels, which brings me to my confession: This is the first I’ve read. I guess that makes me a Kim Antieau novice. But not for long. I’ve taken a vow to read another of her books as soon as possible and look forward to becoming an Antieau postulant. As part of this spiritual path, let me leave you with a memento from the Old Mermaids -- the song they sang while healing a crow:
"The Old Sea rolls in and washes away the pain. The Old Sea rolls in and washes away infection and inflammation. The Old Sea rolls out and washes away all disease. So say the Old Mermaids. Blessed sea."

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Version of 'Cakes for the Queen of Heaven'

An updated version of the popular Unitarian Universalist adult education course, Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, is now available . Both the original and the updated courses are by the Rev. Shirley Ranck, Ph.D.

The original Cakes course was published in 1986 by the religious education section of the Unitarian Universalist Association , the main Unitarian Universalist organization. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that this course opened the eyes of thousands of people to misogyny in Abrahamic religions and opened their hearts to Goddess. I was fortunate to participate in one of the early Cakes courses and to be a facilitator for the course and for follow-up study groups in 2 different UU churches in the DC area.

The updated course is published by Women and Religion, an affiliate organization of UUA. And here we come to the subtext of this event:
From 1977 to 1996 the Women and Religion Committee was part of the UUA – you could say it was included in the top level of the UUA organizational hierarchy or in its inner sanctum, depending on your worldview. It was created in 1977 to find ways to achieve greater inclusiveness and gender equity in the denomination. In 1996 the UUA Board decided that the work of the committee was no longer needed (by whom, we wonder...) because all its goals had been achieved (?!). In 2002 Women and Religion became an independent affiliate organization of UUA. Here’s what they say on their website about the situation:

The religious roots of sexism continue to pervade the secular world and reinforce sexism and patriarchy throughout the world today. Clearly, we still have work to do.

At the about the same time, although there continued to be interest by members of UU congregations in the Cakes course, UUA didn’t update it, which it sorely needed because the original course was based the limited amount of material available at the time it was written (my guess: 1983-85). A few years after its initial 1986 publication, there was an explosion of books and other materials on both prehistoric Goddess archeology and feminism within Judaism and Christianity. If the groups were lucky, facilitators were familiar with at least some of these materials and were able to bring them into the discussions. If not, groups got a limited picture. Eventually UUA no longer offered the course.

Enter the now-demoted Women and Religion affiliate organization. Several years ago they decided to take on the publication of an updated Cakes course and they persisted until it was completed. Help, in terms of partial funding, came from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism and the UU Women’s Federation. While the original Cakes course was one unit containing 10 sessions, the updated version has two sections. Part I, "In Ancient Times," has 5 sessions and introduces participants to ancient Goddesses, weaving their stories together with major concerns of women today. It includes Ranck’s "Statement of Feminist Thealogy, Elinor Artman’s "Brief Herstory of Cakes" and Nancy Vedder-Shults’ Baking Cakes for the Queen of Heaven." Sessions are: The Sacred Female, In the Name of the Mother and the Daughter, Womanpower, The First Turning-From Goddess to God, and Reclaiming Women's Heritage of Peace. Part II, "On the Threshold," has 6 sessions. It focuses on reclaiming the stories of powerful women in ancient Judaism and early Christianity, looking at the global silencing and brutalization of women that accompanied the rise of patriarchal religion and society, celebrating the "exciting new world-view and thealogy that has emerged in our time," and exploring "the personal and social changes that may be suggested by that new world-view and thealogy." Sessions are: The Hebrew Goddess, Sarah the Priestess, The Apostle Mary, The Virgin Mary, Witchcraft, and Future Fantasies.

To see samples of the curriculum, go here. There is also a new Cakes website and a blog.

If you’re wondering where the course gets its name, it comes from the biblical book of Jeremiah,
where God speaks to Jeremiah, saying:
“Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? the children gather wood and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven and to pour out libations to other gods, in order to anger me!” (Jer. 7:17-18)
Some of us wonder if baking these cakes ever stopped. A number of people (including me both in the Cakes classes I led so long ago and here , have pointed out that the pastries still baked today for the Jewish holiday, Purim in early spring (this year, March 10) may be related to the biblical "Cakes." Triangular in shape and fruit-filled (poppy seeds were probably the earliest filling), today they are called hamentaschen and supposedly represent the three-cornered hat (though some sources say the ears–yuk!) of the villain Hamen in the Purim story. I say I doubt that men of that era wore 3-cornered hats and maybe my experience is limited but I have yet to see triangular ears. The cakes more closely represent that common triangular Goddess symbol, the yoni. Further, the heroine of the Purim story, Queen Esther, has a name that appears related to the goddesses Ishtar and Oestre.

In any event, many thanks and many blessings to UU Women and Religion, Shirley Ranck, the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, the UU Women’s Federation and all others who helped bring updated Cakes for the Queen of Heaven to fruition.


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Events Coil: Feb.14-April 1

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. Ongoing events are listed after the dated events. The next Events Coil is planned for mid-March and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through early May. 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.

Feb. 14-16, Pantheacon, Doubletree Hotel, San Jose CA

Feb. 15 11 a.m.
Goddess Service with Ava and Guest Priestess Malin Licon, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m. Slavic Pagan Tradition with Max Dashu, Emeryville CA

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

Feb. 22, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service with guest priestess Tora Moon, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 24, 8 p.m.
New Moon on the Mountain, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

Feb. 24, doors open 6:30 p.m., starts 7 p.m.,
Mardi Gras Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 24 7:30 p.m.
Celebrate Califia, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

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

Feb. 27-March 1, Minmia Workshop Australia, carrier of traditional women's lore/law of Wirradjira people, Camp Chaptman, Central Coast AUSTRALIA

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

March 1, 11 a.m. Goddess Service,
The Maidens Speak, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 3, 7 p.m. The Craft Connection with Lady Deberah, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 7, 2-4:30 art workshop; 4:30-6:30 party and dinner; 7-9 p.m. presentation and ritual; International Goddess Icon Spirit Banners with Lydia Ruyle, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 7, 7:30 p.m. Rebel Shamans: Indigenous Women Confront Empire with Max Dashu, Berkeley UU Fellowship, Berkeley CA

March 10, 8 p.m.
Full Moon Song & Drum Circle, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

March 10, time tba, Full Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

March 11, gather 7 p.m. ritual 7:30 p.m.
Full Moon Ritual, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

March 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dancing the Maiden, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

March 20-22, Season of the Tree Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

March 20, 7:30 p.m.
Spring Equinox Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

March 20, 7 p.m.
Spring Equinox Celebration, Women's Well Community, West Concord MA

March 21-22, British Reclaiming Spring Gathering, Tutnes Devon ENGLAND

March 21, doors open 19u30, ceremony 22 uur,
Ostara, Goddess Temple, Gent BELGIUM

March 21, time tba, Spring Equinox, London Reclaiming, London ENGLAND

March 21, Welcome Spring Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Barneveld WI

March 21, 3 p.m.
Spring Equinox, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

March 21, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 pm. Spring Equinox, Reclaiming, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA

March 21, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.,
Ostara, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

March 22, 12.00 uur doors open, 14.00 uur ceremony; Lente Equinox, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillgom NEDERLAND

March 22, gather 11:30 a.m., ritual Noon, Spring Equinox/Ostara, Connect DC, Washington DC

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

March 28, time tba, New Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

March 29, 11 a.m. Open Meeting, Wicked Witches of F'ing Everything, (also see comment below) Capitol Hill, Washington DC

March 29, 7 p.m.
Holding the Sacred Circle, 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,
Oakland CA: Jan-March, Exhibit by Max Dashu, Female Seers, Prophetesses, & Medicine Women, Dimond Branch, Oakland Public Library.

Palenville NY: 1st Saturday of month, 4 p.m. Goddess Meet-Up Group, 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.

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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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Matrifocus: Imbolc '09 Issue

The opening art for this issue of Matrifocus is "Transformation" by Susan Mills, composed of mixed media and copper.

Johanna Stuckey's article, "The Goddess Meenakshi and her Temple at Maduri" tells how Stuckey, traveling with a tour group, visited the Meenakshi Temple is south India. It is a huge Temple with 12 towers. The article has great written description and pictures. One tradition at the temple is throwing butterballs at Meenakshi and sometimes her consort to cool them down. Yes there are pictures of this too. Stuckey writes that this is "One of the few major Hindu Temples devoted primarily to a goddess and a pre-eminent pilgrimage site."

"The Auspiciousness of Being a Woman" by Vicki Noble is a beautiful, inspiring article mainly about the vulva as a symbol of both Woman and Goddess, especially in Tibetan Buddhism. Noble contrasts the status of Goddesses with the 2nd class status of women in Tibet today. Noble discusses Yeshe Tosogal, a northern Tibetan princess who with guru Padmasambhava founded Tibetan Buddhism. Noble writes that Tosgyal's practices and sexual teachings have not come down to us like the male guru's have. She then tells the story of Tosgyal's healing through a vision in which she drank menstrual blood of "the red Goddess" Vajrayogini. Noble writes:

The essence of the narrative is the innate teaching (transmission) contained within the menstrual blood itself. I wish to reaffirm what women's spirituality has investigated, confirmed, and encouraged for thirty years of research, practice, and teaching: Contemporary women need to regain positive contact and psychic alignment with the sacred cycle of their menstruation and ovulation....

During much of our adulthood, women are initiated into the lineage of the "red boddhicitta" every month through our menstruation, which in tantric scriptures is stated to be the "red time," the time of sexual initiation — not, as we have falsely come to believe, a time when women are "unclean" and to be avoided sexually.

In "Goddess of the Garbage Dump," Mary Swander recalls the garbage of her childhood and a certain shack where "one thing could magically become something else."

Exploring divination, Nancy Vedder-Shults writes about "Seeds" in the Psyche and Eros myth and how to sort seeds and grain "to access your own inner wisdom."

"Observe and Interact" by Madelon Wise is about permaculture, sustainability and a hot tub named Sheela-na-gig.

In "Chicomecoatl: Goddess of Sustenance," Anne Key discusses a Mesoamerican agrarian Goddess of maize and all nourishment, who was the first to make tortillas and is sometimes associated with ball games like soccer. Chicomecoatl and her priestesses wear a headress called amacalli, a paper house whose name is a combination of "7" and "snakes."

Giselle Vincett's article "Goddess Femnist Ritual Practices and Thealogy," is informative, and thought-provoking. But I felt it could give the wrong impression to people not familiar with Goddess feminist rituals because, imo, Vincett overgeneralizes her own experience in the UK when she emphasizes the embodiment aspect of Goddess feminist rituals which, in the group she participated in, was a central element of all rituals and involved one participant at each ritual being chosen to embody the (or a) Goddess. She states this in a way that the reader comes away thinking that this practice must be a part of the ritual in order for it to be considered Goddess feminist. I don't know if this is true of all Goddess feminist rituals in the UK, but in my experience it is not true of all Goddess feminist rituals in the US. I myself have been to many rituals of Goddess feminist groups in which there was NO embodiment (or "carrying") of a Goddess by an individual woman. OTOH, I have been to Wiccan rituals--that were not necessary feminist--where this practice was done. So to me, although I agree that spiritual embodiment (and the sacredness of our bodies) is important in Goddess feminism, embodiment of Goddess by a one person cannot be said to be a defining element of Goddess feminist ritual. Some groups do it, some groups don't is all you can say. After you read the article, I would be interested in hearing from people in the comments section of this post about what your experience is with embodying or carrying the Goddess in Goddess feminist groups. Does your group do this? Maybe I'm the one whose experience is not typical.....Vincett goes on to discuss gender identity and whether or not Goddess feminists are "essentialists." A lot of this article is written in academic language, some of which I had trouble understanding. But maybe you won't have that problem.

Nane Jordan, a nurse-midwife, compares the parts of a large over-turned tree to the human placenta in her article, "Roots of Life," with fascinating photos of tree roots and placenta. She goes on to discuss the harmony and interaction between humans and trees.

In "Grandmother, Gazing" Shay Harris discusses something I wasn't aware of: That the gazing between mother (or other caretaker) and infant helps bond them on psychological and physical levels. And eyes are not the only thing involved in the gaze.

"Fibromyalgia" by Susun Weed is an excerpt from her book on menopause. Weed describes symptoms of fibromyalgia and suggests steps for relief.

This issue's poetry: "A Text of Broken Texts" and "My Mothers" by Eloise Klein Healy," from her book, Poems for Sappho; and "Dear Mother" and Spring Time" by Merry Gangemi.

There are two photo essays in this issue: "Studying Light: Morning and Sun and Trees at -1 Degree Fahreinheit" by Gwyn Padden-Lechthen, and "Natural Ice Sculptures at Sunset" by Kate Clapper. Photos in both essays were taken in Wisconsin.

A new feature is introduced in this issue by editors Feral and Sage: Matrifocus Review, a book blog that publishes continually, not just at issue time, and where you can both read and contribute reviews as well as comment on other people's reviews. Read the rating system and reviewer's guidelines if interested. Sounds like fun.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam

This poem by Judith Laura is posted as part of the 4th Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam, instigated by Branches Up, Roots Down. "Labyrinth Dance" was first published in the second issue of e-journal Poemeleon along with a link to the music (scroll down to "Tsakonikos") usually used today for this dance.

Labyrinth Dance

Our arms are twined,
our bodies tight.
In wonder we lean into the line.
Our arms are twined.

Our bodies tight,
we move as one,
threading now towards time’s ancient home.
Our arms are twined.

We rock as with the same spine,
drawn back to love’s secret shrine,
together in the moon’s glow we wind.
Our arms are twined

so close we flow in the light.
We wander far without fright,
such clear vision we’ve no need of sight,
our bodies tight.

Our arms are twined,
our bodies tight.
Our dance leads deeper into the night.
Our arms are twined.

Copyright 2006 by Judith Laura. Used with permission.

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