Sunday, March 29, 2009

Buzz Coil: March '09

Daily Kos: Tara the Antisocial Social Worker continues her Wednesday series, "How a Woman Becomes a Goddess," about Goddess spirituality and political activism, with a look on March 25 at the Demeter-Persephone myth and a comparison of mythical and political cycles. She writes:
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like we’ve just merged [sic] from eight years in the Underworld
Her March 11 diary in this series compares the story of the Chinese Goddess "Chih Nu" with the forced break-up of marriages by Prop 8 and about one difference between liberals and conservatives. Her March 6 diary shows how a story about the Hawaiian Goddess Pele sheds light on the Republican concern about "wasteful pork," especially Louisiana Gov. Jindal’s scorn for "volcano monitoring." These and other diaries in this excellent series can be accessed here

Goddess in a Teapot: Each spring Carolyn Lee Boyd creates a diorama using Peeps candies. In her March 15 post, "The Reunion of Demeter and Persephone: A Moment in Peeps" , she shows a pic of this year’s creation and tells its story, including who the purple and yellow Peeps represent.

Alive Mind & Spirit : In her March 27 blog, Carol P.Christ tells about a "Roman Catholic Woman fired by Bishop for Advocating Inclusive Language for God" in her master’s thesis. The woman was a pastoral associate in Beloit, Wisconsin, who refused to renounce a statement asking that "God language" be freed from "captivity." Christ points out that little progress has been made in mainline churches and synagogues towards affirming divine power as female since her now famous essay of 30 years ago. "Why Women Need the Goddess" If you have never read it, I urge you to do so now! Thank you to Carol for making it available on her website. In her March 20 post, "Is God an Equal Opportunity Employer? Power as Domination..." she blogs about the attempt of some Catholic and Jewish clergy to to block a NY State bill that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations on lawsuits allerging sexual abuse of children. She points out that such abuse can be understood as one of the shortcomings of the image of God as male, especially when male power is represented as domination.
On March 19, Juliete Lauber, in "Musings from the Labyrinth" writes about the spiritual aspects of her return to San Diego from Paris.

The Village Witch: In her Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times blog on March 24, Byron Ballard writes about "Pope Benedict and Witchcraft," focusing on the influence of the present Pope on the treatment of traditional healers and others in Africa.

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters reports on an article on Israeli paganism that ran in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, in his March 22 post, "Modern Paganism is Everywhere (Even the Holy Land)."

Driving Audhumla: In her March 4 post, "Dancing with Goddess on the Shores of Lake Michigan," Victoria Slind-Flor tells of a retreat enjoyed by the group Gaia’s Womb at the motherhouse of the Racine Dominican community of nuns. Her March 5 post, "Mardi Gras aftermath" is about an event at her loft. With lots of colorful pics.

Gorgon Resurfaces In her March 6 post, "Virgin Mary: Trickster," blogger LaughingMedusa writes about a Virgin Mary she passes at a certain house every work day. This Mary magically(?) moves to a different place each day. LaughingMedusa goes on to tell how she recently revised her views of Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene.

At the end of desire: Blogger Inanna writes about giving birth as one of several initiations she has experienced in her Feb. 26 post, "Passing through the gates."

Hecate: In her March 18 post, "I Was A Bride Married to Amazement", Blogger Hecate tells how she envisions her death and burial.

Amused Grace: In her March 11 post, "Kicking and Screaming," Thalia Took shares the beautiful, wonderful, and sometmes funny results of an activity she says is uncharactieristic for her: art journaling.

Metapagan: In a March 6 post, blogger Yvonne alerts us to a new film, "Dancing with Gaia," comprising "interviews with visionaries at sacred sites around the world."

Evoking the Goddess: In his March 22 post, "You never know" Paul blogs about breaking his left femur (thighbone) and his gratitude for the help and treatment he has and continues to receive: He writes:
Goddess thinks very highly of science and skilled anaesthetists and surgeons. She also delights in health care systems that provide first class care absolutely free at the point of demand :) This is Goddess thinking at its very best - no one asking for a credit card before surgery!
Speedy recovery and Goddess blessings, Paul!

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


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Trivia - Voices of Feminism - Issue 9

The theme of the current issue of this respected feminist journal, Trivia - Voices of Feminism, is "Thinking About Goddess." Introducing the wide-ranging contributions to this issue, editor Lise Weil points out the relationship of Trivia’s name to a Goddess, notes that the thoughts of many feminists are now turning to Goddess, to the divine or sacred envisioned as female or with feminine traits. Issue editor Hye Sook Hwang, in her editorial, explores the "problematic "qualities of the term "goddess" and the difficulties female scholars face in doing Goddess research.

The contributions to this issue of Trivia are all marvelous and really you should just go on over there and start reading. But if you want a peek beforehand, here it is:

"When hens were flying and god was not yet born" by Italian feminist Luciana Percovich, begins with personal reminiscences of the differences in approaching the Madonna and God. After discussing her recognition in the 1980s of "what the loss of the feminine ‘divine’ has brought," which she refers to as her "second enlightment," Percovich explains the distinction she makes between "sacred" and "divine," and her current research into "female cosmogonies of the Early Times before God."

"Canoeing our way back to the Divine Feminine in Taino Spirituality," by Marianela Medrano-Marra, begins with a quote from Gerda Lerner. A Dominican writer-psychologist now living in Connecticut, Medrano-Marra writes about her explorations of the indigenous Dominican traditions and of her calling to reclaim the name of a female Taino chief, which led to her commitment to scholarly work. With pic of Taino Tree of Life that I must say bears a strong resemblance to the Trees of Life unearthed in the Ancient Near East.

In "Testify," Vanita Leatherwood writes about trying to communicate her Goddess path to her Christian Bible-reading partner. Leatherwood recalls childhood memories of AME church-going and Catholic school attendance, her later refusal to join a church whose beliefs she questioned, and a dream related to what at the very least can be called a synchronistic experience. With examples of her art portraying African goddesses.

"Goddess is Metaformic,"according to Judy Grahn. Using the state of Kerala (near India) as a specific example, Grahn introduces the term "metaformic consciousness" as the realization that menstruation is the basis of many aspects of human culture, including "religions, sciences, and household arts and crafts."

In "For Want of a Goddess," Carolyn Gage tells a quasi-historical tale from Hawaii involving Queen Liliuokalani; the U.S. Marines; Kahuna women; the Goddess (akua) Hiiaka and her human girlfirend, Hopoe, who taught Hiiaka the hula; the lack of specificity in the Hawaiian language; and a confrontation between Christianity and indigenous religion.

Shannyn Sollitt, in "Calling Amaterasu, the Great Eastern Sun Goddess of Peace," claims that President Truman used Emperor Hirohito’s loyalty to this Goddess to delay the end of World War II and justify the dropping of the atom bomb–and she gives a link to backup data for this claim on her website. Sollitt also discusses how the mythology associated with Amaterasu relates to that time as well as our own time. With comments on the the figure she calls "America" atop the U.S. Capitol Dome (for more on this, see Katya Miller’s article, discussed below.)

Beginning with a poem, Nané Ariadne Jordan discusses her dedication to Goddess as an expression of birth and midwifery in "What is Goddess? Towards an ontology of women giving birth..."

In "Inanna Comes to Me in a Dream" Betty Meador, a Jungian analyst, analyses a dream with a figure she now identifies with Inanna though, she points out, at that time she hadn’t even heard of Inanna. Meador later became a translator of Sumerian Inanna writings, including all the known work of her priestess Enheduanna.

"Song of Lilith" by Liliana Kleiner is illustrated with Kleiner’s own stunning art. The article presents various mythologies associated with Lilith: Is she a demoness? A goddess?

In "Freedom Speaks Through Us" Katya Miller discusses her relationship with the statue "Freedom," (also called "America," see Solitt’s article, described above) atop the US Capitol Dome. Miller describes her creation of miniature "Lady Freedoms," and her gift of them to some famous folk. With pic of Her.

This issue's poems, all of which include working notes, are "Vulture Medicine" and "Augury" by Deena Metzger; "Young Pagan Goddess" by Andrea Nicki, accompanied by illustration by 6-year-old; "First Blood," Well," and "The History of Bleeding" by Katie Manning; and "Dulce’s Hands," digital picture by Susan Kullman, poetry by Marvelle Thompson.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goddess Pages, Issue 10, Spring 2009

In addition to the wonderful content of the Spring Issue of Goddess Pages , you might want to see if there’s anything you missed from previous issues, especially in the premium content. All articles, up to and including the Spring 2008 issue , that were marked * , meaning premium and requiring a fee, are now available free (see list of back issues on left side of page). The Spring 2009 issue opens with art by Helena Nelson-Reed, "Brighid Walks the Land."

You can read the entire content of the following articles online:
"Being an upside down witch" by Serene Conneeley. Serene, an Australian, says she’s met "a surprising number of people from the US and UK" who don’t realize that the seasons vary between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. (C’mon Yanks and Brits, I slept through some geography classes too, but this is ridiculous! The Earth is Round, remember? Equator...North Pole...South Pole...) Serene says she doesn’t know of a single Southern Hemisphere witch who "follows the northern model" of calendar month dates for sabbats, and explains how they time and celebrate their holidays.
"Beowulf, the Goddess and a can of wyrms" by Geraldine Charles. Starting with a Woody Allen quote, Geraldine reads "behind language" of Beowulf to reveal the relationship between Grendel’s mother and goddesses. A fascinating, expansive article!
"The Garden Goddesses" by Rita Lewis, explores Goddess presence in spring (along with a few masculine helper plants), with special focus on Lady’s Mantle.
"Raising the Roof-or-is it Time for Revolution Yet? by Jeri Studebaker. This article by the author of the recently published book, Switching to Goddess has a surprise starting statement so I’ll just say that Geri conclusively makes the case for the connection between social and political constructs and who ,or what, and how we worship.
"The Brighton Goddess Temple: Reflections and Introductions" Six members of one of the new Goddess temples in England introduce themselves and their Temple.

There are also shorter articles about the following groups:
Heart of the Dragon
Wiccan Educational Society

Poems this month are: "Herne" by Jacqui Woodward-Smith; and "Rebirth" and "Tenacity," by Doreen Hopwood.

This month’s premium articles:
* "Blood Mysteries by Susun S. Weed
* "Freyja, Great Goddess of the Northlands," by Thorskegga Thorn
* "The Journey of the Soul into the Mother and my response to the Dalai Lama’s assertion that sex spells trouble," by Janie "Oquawka" Rezner
* "A meditation on the Import and Export of God/desses into foreign lands" by Tiziana Stupia
* "Some Goddesses and Ideas for Spring" by Barbara Ardinger


Sunday, March 15, 2009

REVIEW: 'Secret Life of Bees' DVD

Since it was first published in 2002, "The Secret Life of Bees," (Viking Penguin) by Sue Monk Kidd has sold over 5 million copies. The DVD version was released in February after the movie, produced by Twentieth Century Fox, debuted in October 2008. I read the book when it came out and decided to rent the DVD because I hadn’t seen the movie. I wanted to see how much of the sacred female imagery was retained in the film script and am happy to report that much of it remains. As you might expect from the cast credits, the acting is excellent–with Queen Latifah as August Boatwright, and Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo as her sisters, May and June, with Dakota Fanning as 14-year-old Lily Owens and Jennifer Hudson as the Owens’ housekeeper, Rosaleen. It was also worth at least the price of rental to see the visuals of the Boatwright sisters’ pink house, their honey-filled kitchen, August’s blue bedroom, and the parlor with its red velvet, doily-bedecked sofas and wooden ship masthead that the Boatwright sisters identify with Mary, Mother of Jesus. In addition, the DVD contains both the movie as shown in theaters and a director’s cut, along with a number of additional features, such as scenes that were cut from the final film, an interview with Sue Monk Kidd and commentary from others.

In case you’re not among the millions who have read the novel, let me mention that the setting of the book (and film) is the Southern USA during the often violent aftermath of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It is this aspect of the film, as well as the mother-daughter relationship, that most of the reviews focus on. Since these themes have been thoroughly covered in mass media reviews I'm not going to say much about them, but rather focus on aspects that are rarely mentioned in reviews – especially those in the mainstream media: the "Mary" in the parlor and the bee symbolism. (BTW, I usually don’t read other reviews before I review a book or DVD, but since I was trying to decide whether a review from me could add anything, I made an exception in this case.)

Lily and Rosaleen are led to Tiburon SC by a memento left by Lily’s mother who died when Lily was very young. The memento is a label from a jar of "Black Madonna" honey. In the movie, the label's Madonna and child are honey-colored with African facial features. On the reverse side of the label is written: "Tiburon, SC." When Lily and Rosaleen leave home, (Lily to escape an abusive father and Rosaleen to escape violence that occurs when she tries to register to vote) they head to Tiburon and there find the pink house and behind it, the Boatwright honey house and bee farm.

Before getting into the symbolism, let me mention what I feel is one drawback of the movie/DVD version: it sometimes seems to lack flow due to insufficient transitions. I wonder if people who haven’t read the book will be a bit lost because of this. For example, sitting in the kitchen, Lily asks for an explanation of the wood figure in the Boatwright’s parlor. Without further discussion, the film moves abruptly forward several days when the Boatwright sisters and their friends, who in the book call themselves the "Daughters of Mary," have gathered for a worship service.

And speaking of abrupt, let me bounce back to a description of that former ship’s masthead. Here’s how the figure is described in the book:

...a carving of a woman nearly three feet tall....She was as black as she could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she’d been through. Her right arm was raised , as if pointing the way, except her fingers were closed in a fist....She had a faded red heart painted on her breast, and a yellow crescent moon, worn down and crooked, painted where her body would have blended into the ship’s wood.
(p. 70)
The DVD shows the figure not black, but medium brown (at least on my TV), and the "driftwood" has been gussied up with a lavender dress. Her face has the look of a woman around 50, one of several ways in which this image is not consistent with the Christian Virgin. To those familiar with Goddess imagery, she may appear to be a Crone or an ancestor-goddess figure of the type once common among Africans (and others). The red heart doesn’t look all that faded and is slightly above her breast, not on it. The crescent moon (a Goddess symbol) appears neither worn down nor crooked to me. But I like Her! Most especially I like her raised clenched fist!

It’s clear to me that this clenched-fist, assertive Mary is not the same as the maiden who, at the Annunciation (Luke: 1:38) responds passively to the angel by saying: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Let it be done to me according to thy word."

This Mary in the parlor, she's no one's handmaid!

In the novel, following the lead of August, whose mother was Roman Catholic, the women worship "Mary" every night after watching the news of the civil rights struggle, by kneeling before her, using rosary beads and repeating the Hail Mary, then crossing themselves "from their foreheads to their navels." The film/DVD lessens the Catholicism: the women stand while praying (you can still catch a few words of the Hail Mary if you listen carefully) and they don’t cross themselves. I like this better. It makes "Mary" more of a Universal Mother figure and better prepares us for August’s and Lily’s conclusions about the nature of their Mary.

In the film/DVD, when the Daughters of Mary convene in the Boatright parlor, in response to Lily’s question about "Mary," the story August tells has been shortened to eliminate the explanation of why the figure is called "Our Lady of Chains" (in the book, August says she got that title not because "Our Lady" was chained, but because she broke the chains with which a slave-owner tried to restrain her, see p. 110); I don’t remember hearing the Chains title used in the film. To read how Kidd combined European Black Madonna imagery with two other figures – an actual boat masthead and another figure related to the title "Our Lady of Chains" – go here. During the "church" service, the Daughters show Rosaleen and Lily how to commune with "Mary" by placing their hands on her heart.

It seems to me that the Boatwright sisters and other "Daughters of Mary," identify the wood figure with the Christian Madonna because that is the only divine female figure they are familiar with. In the novel, in response to Lily’s fears about being parted from Mother Mary if she should ever leave the Boatwright house, she and August have this conversation:
"Listen to me now, Lily. I’m going to tell you something I want you always to remember, all right?"....
"All right," I said, and I felt something electric slide down my spine.
"Our Lady is not some magical being out there somewhere, like a fairy godmother. She’s not the statue in the parlor. She’s something inside of you. Do you understand what I’m telling you?"
"Our Lady is inside me," I repeated, not sure I did.....
I think the theatre version of the movie would have been better if it had included this scene, but it didn’t. However, the scene is included DVD's director’s cut and section of other cut scenes. Eliminating this scene has the effect of making it seem, when Lily repeats a similar statement near the end of the film, that she came to this conclusion on her own, when this concept of divine immanence was something she learned from August, who is not just playing the traditional African American woman’s role of white girl's caretaker, which a number of reviewers objected to, but rather shows that August is Lily’s spiritual mentor and guide; some might even see August as high priestess of the bee goddess.

And speaking of bees, none of the reviews I could find in a web search got the spiritual significance of the bees (the real secret life of the bees?). Bees have a long history of being associated with goddesses including those of Minoan Crete, Egypt, and Greece, to name a few. Melissae, the Latin word for bees, refers to both these goddesses and to their priestesses. Some of the specific connections of Goddesses and bees are: Aphrodite has been called the Queen Bee, Demeter the Mother Bee. In the African Yoruba tradition, Oshun heals the sick with magic honey, is mythologically associated with bees, especially the Queen, and one of her titles is "Owner of Honey."

The Boatwright sisters can be seen as melissae, priestesses of the Bee Goddess, and August, so grandly played by Queen Latifah, as high priestess. She initiates Lily into the priestesshood by showing her how to control the bees with love and how bereft a hive is without a Queen Bee. You think my association of the bees with Goddess symbolism in this book/movie is too much of a stretch? Hah!

If there is any doubt whether Kidd intended this symbolism, let me just mention that she has given Lily the middle name, Melissa. Unfortunately, mention of this was dropped from the film/DVD. But in the book it first appears (p.41) when Lily experiences what may be considered "a call" related to leaving her abusive father:

I heard a voice say, Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open.
[Italics Kidd’s]

This middle name, Melissa, is used again, sparingly but at times of intensified spirituality in the book (see pp. 64 and 288).

Blessed bees!


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Events Coil: March 11-May 3

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-April and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late 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.

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 14, 2-4 p.m. Panel Discussion: "Feminist Archeology" with Ellen Belchoft and Diana Craig, in conjunction with exhibit "The Fertile Goddess," Brooklyn Museum, Brookyn NY

March 14, "Divine Mothers, Dancers, Female Buddhas" with Miranda Shaw, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 17, 7 p.m. "Sacred Serpent Power at Spring Equinox," Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 19,
Spring Equinox Ritual, Montreal Reclaiming, Montreal CANADA

March 20, 7 p.m.
Mabon/Autumn Equinox, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, PaGaian Moon Court,
Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

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 20, gather 6 p.m., service 6:30 p.m. Spring Equinox, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 20, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Spring Equinox and Goddess Tara,
Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

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, Noon-5 p.m. Sacred Solitude, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

March 21, 7 p.m. Ostara Public Ritual, Mother Grove, Ashville NC

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 22, 11 a.m. Goddess Service with Melinda Allec, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

March 26, 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 27-29, Faith & Feminism with Helen Lakelly Hunt, Sophia Institute, Charleston SC

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, Capitol Hill, Washington DC

March 29, 7 p.m.
Holding the Sacred Circle, Women's Well, West Concord MA

March 29, 11 a.m. Goddess Service, "Fairy Sunday" with Lovely Linda and Fairy Group, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 4, 7 p.m.,
Celtic Goddesses of France & Britain with Max Dashu, Women's Well,
West Concord MA
April 5, 11 a.m. Goddess Service with Sandy Pendleton, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 5, 7:30 p.m.,
"Chaos & Indigenous Wisdom" with Max Dashu, UU Congregation, Andover MA

April 7, 7:30 p.m. The Craft Connection with Lady Deberah, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 9, doors open 6:30 p.m., drumming 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 9, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Full Moon Ritual, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 9, 7 p.m.
"Witch Hunts: a prehistory of modern patriarchy," with Max Dashu, Rain and Thunder Collective, Northampton MA

April 9, 7:30 p.m. Celebrate Kuan Yin, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

April 10, 7 p.m.,
Full Moon, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

April 10, time tba,
Full Moon Celebration, Maetrum of Cybele, Palenville NY

April 11, 2 p.m. Curator Talk: "The Fertile Goddess" in conjunction with exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn NY

April 11, 7:30 p.m.
"Chaos & Indigenous Wisdom" with Max Dashu, Women's Temple: In Her Name," Canton CT

April 12, 11 a.m. Eostre Sunday with Jeanne Michele, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 18, Embracing the Enchantress, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 18, Earth Day Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Mt. Horeb WI

April 18, "Female Fire & Womanly Waters" with Vajra Ma, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 19, 11 a.m.,
Open Meeting, Wicked Witches of F'ing Everything,
Silver Spring MD

April 19, 11 a.m. Goddess Service with Jackie Schreiber, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 23, 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 24, 7:30 p.m. "Suppressed Histories: Iran" with Max Dashu, ISAA, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA

April 25, time tba,
New Moon Celebration, Maetreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

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

April 26, 11 a.m. Goddess Service, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

May 1-3, Beltane, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Mt. Horeb WI

May 1, movie 4 p.m., ritual 7 p.m. Beltane, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

May 1, time tba,
Beltane Outdoor Community Ritual Theatre, The Flying Lotus,
Mt. Shasta CA

May 2, 7 p.m. Samhain, Akkademie PaGaian Cosmology, PaGaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

May 2, Noon, Beltane Parade & Ritual, Mother Grove, Ashville NC

May 2, doors open 19u30, ceremony 22 uu4, Beltane, Goddess Temple, Gent BELGIUM

May 2, 3 p.m.
Beltane ritual, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

May 2, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual begins with wreath-making 1 p.m.,
Beltane with Maypole Dances, Reclaiming, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

May 2, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.,
Beltane, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet,
Indian Springs NV

May 3, doors open 12.00 uur, ceremony 14.00 uur, Beltane, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel,

May 3, 11 a.m. Goddess Service with Marguerite Kusuhara & Sacred Origins, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA



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.
Brooklyn NY: Now through May 31, Exhibition: The Fertile Goddess, The Brooklyn Museum
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
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 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, March 07, 2009

The World's First Sheela-na-gig at the World's Oldest Temple

by LYDIA RUYLE, guest blogger

The World’s First Sheela-na-gig appears at the World’s Oldest Temple, Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey.

I have a long relationship with Turkey and the Goddesses there. My first exhibition of Goddess Icon Banners was at the Celsus Library at Ephesus in 1995. A dozen of the banners were based on images from the neolithic excavations at Catalhoyuk including the earliest human figure seated on a throne giving birth—Ana Tanrica, the Great Mother of Catalhoyuk, who was found in a grain bin. I’ve visited the site half a dozen times since 1990 and will be returning in 2009. Please join me if you’re interested.

Hence, I was excited to see the November/December 2008 issue of Archaeology magazine had Göbekli Tepe on its cover with the caption “oldest temple in the world” and Smithsonian Magazine featured Göbekli Tepe in the November 2008 issue. I opened both magazines eagerly wanting to see the images and stories. I was disappointed but not surprised. No mention was made of what I consider the most important human image found at Göbekli Tepe on the floor of the Löwenpfeilergebäude (lion pillar building) of a birthing, hocker, sheela-na-gig female! I discovered the image in a book several years ago in Istanbul titled Neolithic in Turkey: The Cradle of Civilization: New Discoveries. The only text along with a full page photo in the book about the image states:

The motif of a female is found only in a drawing carved into a stone slab on the floor of the Löwenpfeilergebäude. The naked woman is depicted in a sitting position with straddled legs, obviously representing a sexual scene (Fig. 35) Schmidt sees similarities to figures known as “dejenoun” in the rock art of North Africa.”
--p. 80, Neolithic in Turkey:The Cradle of Civilization: New Discoveries, edited by Mehmet Ozdogan/Nezih Basgelen, 1999.

Göbekli Tepe means “navel mountain” in Turkish. It is on top of a hill that is the highest point on the windswept Urfa Plain, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This is the area where emmer wheat was domesticated and hunter gatherer cultures settled into agricultural communities. As early as 12,000 years ago, humans spent much time and effort to cut stone and create circular structures with twelve foot tall pillars with carvings of animals, vultures, snakes holding up a roof. Gobekli Tepe’s impact reached to other later megalithic temples that follow a similar plan including Jericho in Syria.

In 2006, I created a Goddess Icon Banner of the image and named her Göbekli Tepe. She has been flying around the world ever since. My banner description states:

Göbekli Tepe is a Neolithic Sheela-na-gig incised into stone on the floor of a rock cut temple which appeared to have ritual purposes.Two standing pillars with lions sculpted in relief protect one of the earliest known Sheelas. Göbekli Tepe, which means navel mountain, is in eastern Turkey near the source of the Euphrates River. Emmer wheat was domesticated in the area. All life comes from and returns to the mother.
Source: Incised rock. 9600 BCE. Göbekli Tepe. Near present day Urfa, Turkey

After reading the articles last fall, I wrote to Klaus Schmidt, the German chief archaeologist of the site, asking him why the omission of the female figure in the articles in Archaeology and the Smithsonian magazines which had excellent photos of the rock built temples with carvings of animals, vultures, snakes. It would seem that the ONLY human figure found is worth mentioning and illustrating. I asked Schmidt if She was the only human image found at Göbekli Tepe and where the image is displayed today. I also asked if he had written about the image.

He replied that the authors of the magazines choose what to write not he. I suspect She was ignored because She is a splayed hocker sheela female. I realize, unfortunately, that the image could be considered pornographic and too much for a general audience U.S. publication to print. Schmidt told me he has written more about her in a new book published last year in German.

I e-mailed my Turkish friend Resit Ergener asking him where the image is housed. He contacted Mehmet Ozdogan at Istanbul University who said the last time he saw Her She was under a shed at Göbekli Tepe. I want to SEE HER. If you are interested in joining me please contact me through my website at

Here are some links to my stories of Catalhoyuk.
Goddess Conversations at Catalhoyuk (pdf)
Turkey Goddess Conversations (pdf)
Catalhoyuk Herstory (file)



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Thursday, March 05, 2009

For Women's History Month:Religion 1970-2008

We are, you and I, living history: We are living participants and witnesses to an important time in the history of women and religion; and we are living in a history that we have been part of yesterday and today and that is likely to have significant impact on the future role of women in religion. In the past few years, some of us have felt that we are backsliding, losing ground once gained, or that our progress was being blocked by the old paradigm, by forces of that paradigm that wouldn't let us move forward. Yet in other ways some of us are also able to sense just around the corner a greater breakthrough to equality and freedom for women and its positive effect on spiritual seekers of all genders.

With this as a backdrop, to mark Women’s History Month I’m offering excerpts, with permission, from the 1997 Introduction and 2008 Preface to Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century by Judith Laura. What follows is of necessity a brief summary of what has occurred from my point of view, especially in the US. Your views and experience may differ, depending on where you live, when you became involved in spiritual feminism, and other factors. If you’d like to add your own take on the recent history of women and religion – including personal anecdotes – that would be great! Please leave them as comments

A vibrant new form of spirituality emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Variously known as women's spirituality, feminist theology, and Goddess spirituality, it was born of mid-century feminism. From a few people, scattered across the country, musing privately over the possibility of divinity imaged as female, it grew to a spiritual movement replete with traditions, rituals, and hundreds of thousands of participants not only in the United States but also in many other countries around the globe.

My involvement began in the mid-1970s, when I wondered if religion, like other social institutions, had been influenced by the patriarchal suppression and devaluation of women. There were then few books even touching on the subject, but in a bookstore specializing in esoteric, old books, I found the works of Helen Diner and Esther Harding. They revealed that worship of deity as female existed – indeed it was virtually universal – not only before Judaism and Christianity, but before even the Greek, Roman, and other pantheons in which goddesses were reduced to serving as the wives or daughters of gods.

This information had, by the late 1980s, become more widely published and elaborated upon by contemporary anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and theo(a)logians. This spiritual movement encompasses many traditions including Pagan, Christian, and Jewish. It also draws inspiration from Native American, African, and Asian traditions….Perhaps the greatest influence has been Pagan....Though quite diverse in their beliefs and practices, in general these groups worship the Goddess and her son/consort, the God (usually characterized as horned, showing his closeness to nature). Some groups, however, worship exclusively the Goddess in her many aspects and personalities and names. I've observed, however, that just because a group bills itself as Pagan and honors the Goddess doesn't mean that it is automatically free of sexism, particularly in the language used in its rituals and in group interactions. It seems that some Pagan groups, particularly those that predate the feminist spirituality awakening and whose traditions have remained unchanged by it, may also be burdened by patriarchal customs similar to those plaguing other religions.

Within Christian feminism, at least two movements have emerged: Women-Church and the Re-Imagining Community. Most observers credit liberation theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether with starting the Women-Church movement in the 1980s. Initially a mostly Catholic and Anglican movement, Women-Church asserts that women cannot function as whole spiritual persons and still stay strictly within the church....Women-Church advocates, therefore, that women form an exodus from the church and, still retaining their Christian roots, create their own rituals, traditions, and sacred spaces. In addressing divinity, if any gender is used, it is female. The imagery used to describe divinity is also female. A similar movement, the Re-Imagining Community, began in the early '90s. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the community's mission extends to many areas of church life and belief and involves women and some men from many Protestant denominations. Participants at a conference in Minneapolis in 1994, before they spoke, invoked Sophia as Divine Wisdom personified as female. The conference – and some of the participating clergy – were later denounced by some home churches. Nevertheless, a significant number of laypeople and clergy had served notice to their denominations that continuing to personify divinity as "God, he" would no longer do…. One of the Re-Imagining Community's prayers begins:

Bless Sophia, Spirit of Wisdom and Truth,
we who continue to seek new life and a
new vision for the church.

The efforts are similar but perhaps more fragmented for Jewish women. While writers like Blu Greenberg try to beat a path through the morass of Orthodox laws and customs, those customs remain unchanged, and the women within Orthodoxy, like many Roman Catholic women who still blindly follow the Pope, remain bound – or at least reconciled – to those traditions. Conservative Judaism is a mixed bag, apparently depending on the location of the congregation and the openness of the rabbi to new ways of thinking. Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism continue to be the most comfortable with adapting their worship forms to accommodate objections to exclusive male-god language as well as the lack of female divine imagery. These groups also are at the forefront of including women as full participants, including women as cantors and rabbis. The Jewish Renewal Movement, a kind of New Age manifestation in Judaism, seems to be making a particular effort to incorporate what Jewish Renewalists usually refer to as the "feminine divine" or the "female face of God." Yet, even in these groups, for the most part, the implication is that God is still "he," but he has a feminine side or aspect.
In her groundbreaking book, Standing Again at Sinai, Judith Plaskow advocates what some might consider revolutionary changes in Jewish thought to enable women to become spiritually empowered while staying within that tradition. Some Jewish women have formed their own feminist spirituality groups, sometimes within and sometimes outside the synagogue walls….

From the evolving forms of feminist spirituality in Pagan, Jewish, and Christian settings, many traditions and practices have emerged - from rituals that begin with casting a circle to women's seders. Yet, there is, for some, a yearning for additional metaphysical or mystical paths consistent with Goddess spirituality and with contemporary life, including scientific knowledge. This yearning may lead participants to explore other spiritual forms such as "New Age" philosophies, theosophy, gnosticism, and other Western esoteric traditions. These explorers [may find] in what are touted as modern and open traditions many of the same patriarchal prejudices that persist in traditional religion....

…. Since the initial publication of Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century in 1997, the greatest influences bringing change to Goddess spirituality in general have been the Internet, Goddess Temples, and the increasing acceptance of Goddess imagery in some forms of Christianity and Judaism.

....Early on, the phenomenon of "mailing lists," discussion groups connected by email, brought into world-wide community people interested in Goddess and in women's role in religion. The exchange of ideas on these lists, particularly in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was invaluable not only in increasing available information but also in lessening the isolation of some of the participants who, until then, may have felt alone on their Goddess path. With the growth of the World Wide Web, hundreds to thousands of websites arose with information about the divine personified as female. This made information about Goddess studies, theory, groups, individuals, and rituals available in a way that was unimaginable [earlier]....Today a lively Goddess blog community supplements earlier Internet phenomena with very personal views and additional ways to interact and exchange opinions. Most Goddess folk no longer feel isolated even if they live in a geographical community that is less then welcoming to their beliefs. Such isolation is being replaced by the feeling that many people share this spiritual path, which is growing in perhaps unforeseen ways. Indeed, sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by the amount of Internet information about Goddess and other spiritual feminisms and the challenge of figuring out which websites, blogs, and individuals offer credible information and valuable theories.

The emergence of Goddess Temples as well as the increased acceptance of female divine images in Judaism and Christianity may be, at least in part, related to Internet influences and to the feeling that it is time for an organized, public community in real life. Although many of us love outdoor rituals and also enjoy the feeling of warmth that comes with meeting in each other's homes, there is a growing realization that to avoid having to "reinvent the wheel" every few years when groups develop and then dissolve, and to better serve the emerging and growing Goddess community, it's important to have buildings dedicated to Goddess reverence. At this writing, there are Goddess Temples in North America, Europe, and Australia. Most of these Temples are not affiliated with any mainstream Goddess-inclusive religion, such as Hinduism or Tibetan Buddhism, or with any specific branch of contemporary Paganism or Wicca. Rather, many of these Temples honor a wide spectrum of goddesses and have a variety of rituals and programs extending to a number of different traditions, some of them newly created. A growing number of people identify as
"Goddessian," meaning either a distinct Pagan sect, or a group apart from Paganism that could theoretically include Goddess Christians and Goddess Jews, among others.

The increase in people identifying as Goddess Christians is partly due to the influence of Christian feminism and partly to publicity surrounding various theories about the role of Mary Magdalene in early Christianity, with some contemporary Gnostic Christian sects giving her the status of Goddess or co-messiah with Jesus, and at least
one Lutheran church holding weekly Goddess rosary prayer hours.

There are at least two concurrent movements among people who come from Jewish backgrounds and are interested in incorporating reverence for deities of the Ancient Near East. Some of these people identify as "Jewitches." They have a strong interest in magic, both in Witchcraft in general and in the Jewish magical tradition in particular. At the same time, there are people who identify as "Goddess Jews." They usually have less of an interest in magic and more of an interest in feminist views of women's equality in religion. Some people identify as both Jewitch and Goddess Jew. The interest in Goddess Judaism is fed by the increasing archeological and anthropological evidence showing that ancient Hebrews
worshipped the Goddess Asherah , and probably other deities, in addition to the male deities Yahweh and El….

Interest in the relationship between Goddess and scientific theory is increasing in the Goddess community…but there is still room for more growth, which I believe will occur as an increasing number of Goddessians with advanced degrees in various sciences explore this area further. Of particular current interest are the relationships between Goddess and such topics as black holes and chaos theory, as well as other aspects of quantum physics and cosmology. [In addition to this book] Examples include Glenys D. Livingstone's PaGaian Cosmology: Reinventing Earth-based Goddess Religion (2005), Marcia Kelley Hunter's doctoral dissertation for Empresarial University of Costa Rica, In Search of Dark Mater: A mythopoetic study in imaginal cosmology (2003), science professor Jenny Kien's exploration of physiology and Kabbalah in Reinstating the Divine Woman in Judaism, and this book, which explores similarities between Goddess and quantum physics and cosmology. Of course the environmental sciences, as well as evolutionary theory, have been friends with Goddess spirituality for some time.
From Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century © Copyright 1997, 2008 by Judith Laura. All rights reserved.

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