Saturday, August 29, 2009

RCG-I Seasonal Salon: Summer '09 Issue

The articles in the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess International's summer solstice issue of Seasonal Salon include:

"Approaches to the Study of Goddess Myths and Images" by Patricia Monaghan. This the first part of a four-part series about pioneers in the Goddess Studies field, beginning 150 years ago. It takes a look at the roles of biases such as gender, class, and religious background in early Goddess studies, and then examines the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Ellen Harrison, Lady Augusta Gregory, and Margaret Murray. Judging from this first installment, this looks like an important series!

"By Choice or Chance: Advance Health Directives" by Bellezza Squillace, who writes that she was taken by surprise by a health problem recently which caused her to examine the role of the recipient of healing, and ultimately the importance of having an advanced directive for her health care options. This article includes a link to state-by-state regulations impacting such directives in the U.S.

"Shamanic Healing Crystals," by Marisa Folse, advises that "for each person Stones work differently" and suggests nine stones (with pics) for our consideration.

There is also a piece of short fiction, "Return of the Guard," by Kip Parker, that tells a story that begins in 3786 BCE and continues through the present.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy , 1932-2009
Blessings & Thanks
requisiat in pacem


Women's Equality Day

Today is Women's Equality Day in the U.S. It marks the anniversary of the ratifiction of 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote nationwide. How many years ago was this? Not even 100. It occurred in 1920, after a 72-year campaign by first-wave feminists and suffragists.

We have Jimmy Carter to thank for designating this day "Women's Equality Day" in 1977 during his Presidency. To celebrate, you might want to visit Gerri Gribi's terrific web page containing more info on the history of women's suffrage, plus musical suggestions (including a Mass that includes a "March of the Women") as well as a multitude of other links. Also, as you may be aware, many of the suffragists recognized the role religion played in keeping women from being full citizens. For extra inspiration, you want want to read, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible and Matilda Joslyn Gage's Women Church, and State (yes, these are the full texts!)

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Buzz Coil: August '09

The Village Witch: Byron Ballard gives us a heads-up on yet another Goddess find in her Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times blog post of August 21, "Goddess in Orkney, Goddess in Boone."

Gorgon Resurfaces: Blogger LaughingMedusa gives us some good think pieces this month. On Aug. 8, in "Not ‘The’ Goddess, Just Goddess", she explains what she feels is the difference between the Christian concept of humans representing God and the "panenetheistic way of seeing Goddess" as including humans. With a good discussion of reasons to reject dualism. In her Aug. 13 post, "It Is All About the Sin After All," LaughingMedusa refutes reasons Christians assume Pagans give up "male patriarchal religion," with particular focus on the views of Robert Wright.

The House of Inanna: In his August 11 post, "Readiness," Blogger Idres writes that 9 months after being initiated as a Priest of Inanna:

...I now know that Inanna has called me. I know that it is not an illusion but a simple fact. Who or what Inanna is, I really have no idea. I have applied Occam's razor and have realised that She is the simplest answer. I have heard Her voice and feel Her presence. I am still rational and have a grip on the reality of the world. I can go about my daily business as effectively as I ever have. In fact, in many ways more effectively since I am less concerned about the opinion of others than before.
He goes on to discuss perfection and inperfection as they relate to spiritual paths.

Goddess in a Teapot: Carolyn Lee Boyd’s July 31 post, "Celebrate Your Muses: Your Gateways to Inner Worlds," begins:

I have stared out my kitchen window several times a day for over 20 years and only yesterday did I notice that I have a woman emerging from the closest tree. From several different angles, a female figure is clearly stepping out of the tree’s gnarled bark. Now, do I believe that there is a physically present being, or even some kind of spirit, actually trying to free herself from a maple in my backyard?
After answring this question, Carolyn writes that she is reminded of the "many nature images of goddesses, mythical figures, characters..." and she discusses her muses. With photo of tree in her yard with emerging "woman. "

Peeling a Pomegranate: In her Aug. 5 post, "Women’s Work: Seyder Tekhines", blogger Ketzirah Carly writes that before her Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) training, she never considered "what it meant to be a woman," and that part of her growth in this program involved exploring her relationship to gender and forgotten women’s history. She then writes about prayers written in past centuries by women for women in Yiddish (because they women usually weren’t taught Hebrew).

Full Circle News: In her Aug. 8 post, Blogger Sia presents a thorough, thought-provoking discussion of "Privacy and Trust Issues Among Us:Cameras at Pagan Events."

Alive Mind and Spirit: Carol P. Christ’s Aug. 6 post, "Jimmy Carter Becomes A Feminist," is about the former U.S. President’s formal statement about his break with the Southern Baptist Church, reported on July 20 on this blog. Christ concludes:
...both Carter and the Elders took a nuanced position on the nature of religion—acknowledging that religious texts and traditions are not “handed down from Above” but rather are filtered through human interpretation and understanding. Carter put it this way: “The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.”
Peacock Dreams: Thorn Coyle, in her Aug. 15 post, "Late Summer into Fall" /200100.html says that she has redesigned her Mystery School curriculum to reflect that she can no longer be restricted to the Feri Tradition. She writes:
My guidance on this matter comes my connection to the Gods and God Herself, but primarily from my own God Soul. My work can no longer be held in even so porous, forgiving and strong a container as Feri Tradition is, therefore, I will no longer be teaching regularly within that tradition. My roots remain in Feri, but they are also in Gurdjieff and Sufism. My influences are of the Craft, but they are also of Kabbalah, Buddhism, Hinduism, Thelema, and mysticism of all traditions.

Daily Kos: Blogger Tara the Anti Social Social Worker continues her wonderful Wednesday series on Goddess spirituality and political activism, "How a Woman becomes a Goddess," in which she combines the myths of various goddesses with socio-political issues. Her Aug. 19 diary tells how the story of "Pali Konju," a Korean healing Goddess similar to Kuan Yin, relates to her work with foster children in California. Her August 12 diary is about "Atalanta," aka "The Impossible One" of Greece or thereabouts, whose father orders her killed when she is born because she’s female, and whose myth also involves golden apples. She relates this story to "shiny objects" in today’s US politics. "The most common suggestion for dealing with shiny objects is to ignore them," Tara writes, because they’re a diversion from the real issues. She then gives us examples of the various recent lies by right-wingers about the President. She points out that "shiny-object stories cannot be killed by facts or common sense," and advises what may be the best way to handle current political crackpot (my term) claims. Her Aug. 5 diary on "Laima," compares "ex-gay" programs to the story of Liama, the Baltic Goddess of fate, who can shape-shift into a swan. These and previous diaries in this remarkable series can be found here.

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


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

16,000-year-old Mother Goddess 'Figurine' Found in Turkey

The Anatolia News Service is reporting an archeological find in a cave in South Turkey of a 16,000- year-old "figurine" which they term a "Mother Goddess." Archeologists involved in the excavation interpret the finding as showing that women had a high social status at that time. More info here and here. If anyone spots any pics of Her in breaking news stories on the Web, please let us know (in a comment, and I'll transfer the url up here).

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Monday, August 17, 2009

New Edition of Novel

I'm happy to be able to share with you that my novel, Three Part Invention, has just been published in a new lower-priced yet, imo, spiffy edition. This is not a Goddess-themed novel, although it touches a bit on women (& girls) and religion. Its main focus is the mother-daughter relationship--and music. For more about the book, including reviews, visit

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Events Coil: Aug.16-Sept.30

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 the group says it is "Dianic," that usually means women-only.) If no country is given below, 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-September and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late October or early November. 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.

Aug. 16, 11 a.m., Goddess Service with Anique Radiant Heart, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Aug. 20, 2 p.m.
New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Aug. 20, doors open 6:30 p.m.,
New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Aug. 20, 7 p.m.
New Moon Women's Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Aug. 21, time tba,
New Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

Aug. 22,
Lady of the Lake Workshop with Viviane, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Aug. 22, 7 p.m.
Magickal Summer's Eve of Revelry, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Aug. 23, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service honoring Sekhmet, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Aug. 29, 1 p.m.
Middle Eastern Drum Workshop, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Aug. 30, 11 a.m.
Ceremonial Healing Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Aug. 30, 11 a.m. Goddess Service with Presiding Priestess Morrighan and Slyvia McPherson on Finding Coventina," Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.
The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

Sept. 3-7 Sacred Fire Intensive, Shamanic workshop, Circle Sanctuary, near Barnesveld WI

Sept. 4, time tba, Full Moon Celebration, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

Sept. 4, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Full Moon Celebration, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Sept. 5, 10 a.m.
Returning to the Mother with Caroline GullyKir & Anna Saqqara, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Sept.6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Celebrate Yemaya, with ocean pilgrimage, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

Sept.6, 11 a.m.,Goddess Service with
guest priestess Lyena Strekloff, and Ritual of Appreciation for Temple Priestesses,Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 8, 6 p.m., 5th Annual Festa in Honor of the Sicilian Black Madonna del Tindara, Phoenix Bar, New York City, NY

Sept. 11, 12:30 p.m.,
Reconnecting with the Ancestral Priestess/Priest ,Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Sept.13, 11 a.m.,Goddess Service with
guest priestess Miluna Fausch, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept.15, 6 p.m.,
Fall Decorating of Temple, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

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

Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
New Moon Women's Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Sept. 18-20, Solstice Celebration and New Moon, Matreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

Sept 18-20, Mary Magdalene Weekend with Margaret Starbird & Joan Norton, Stockbridge MA

Sept. 19, 4 p.m. Eostar/Spring Equinox, PaGaian Akkademie, Blue Mountains AUSTRALIA

Sept. 19, 19u30 Mabon Ceremony, Goddess Temple, Gent BELGIUM

Sept. 19, 7 p.m. Singing the Harvest Home (Mabon ritual), Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Ashevillle NC

Sept. 19, 2 p.m.
Introduction to Frame Drum Workshop,Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m. Autumn Equinox Ritual, Circle of Aradia, Sherman Oaks CA

Sept. 20, doors open 12.00, ceremony 14.00 uur, Herfst Equinox, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillgom NEDERLAND

Sept. 20, 12:30 p.m., Mabon/Autumn Equinox, Temple of the Sacred Arts, Germantown MD

Sept. 20, 11 a.m.Goddess Service with
guest priestess Pilar Chandler,Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 20, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Mabon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Sept. 21, 7 p.m. Fall Equinox Celebration, Women's Well, Concord MA

Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Autumn Equinox Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Sept.22, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual begins 7 p.m., doors lock 7:15 p.m.
Autumn Equinox Ritual, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 22, gather 7 p.m. Celebrate Fall Equinox and Hawaiian Goddess Hi'iaka, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

Sept. 26, 18:45,
Equinox Celebration, Daughters of Ishtar, near Harvey AUSTRALIA

Sept. 26, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m.,
Equinox, Reclaiming, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

Sept.26, time tba Welcome Fall Celebration, Shamanic workshop, Circle Sanctuary, near Mt.Horeb WI

Sept.26, gather 6 p.m.,event begins 7 p.m.,
Interfaith Quan Yin Ritual for Military & Their families, by The Abby of Avalon in conjunction with Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept.27, 11 a.m.,Goddess Service with
Leilani, High Priestess of Daughter of the Goddess;
2 p.m.
Workshop with Leilani, 'Living Aloha',Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 28
"Cakes..." course begins, MMUUS, Syracuse NY

Sept. 30, 3 p.m. Multimedia Concert to benefit Asheville Mothergrove Temple, UU Church of Asheville, Asheville NC

Sept. 30,
"Cakes..." course, Part 2, begins, UU Fellowship, Waco TX



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.
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

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. until July 5, then 10 a.m. inward, meditative; 2nd service at 11 a.m., dancing, drumming, singing; see dates for guest speakers.
Friday services, gather 6 p.m., service 6:30 p.m. "All Souls in Reverence." Goddess Temple of Orange County
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.

World Wide Web
Online, various times, Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, course with Max Dashu.

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

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Congrats Mother Grove of Asheville!

Congratulations to Mother Grove Temple of the Goddess of Asheville, North Carolina. These folks are building a Temple and have just received their 501 (c) 3 non-profit status. WTG! Take a look! And if you're in the area, don't miss the benefit concert on Aug. 30.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Matrifocus: Lammas Issue '09

The lunar Lammas issue of Matrifocus opens with a photo by Falcon River called "Gaia’s Children." This month’s editorial by Sage Starwalker is "Goddess 2.0" Goddess Movement Beyond the Baby Boom," in which she tries to answer the question: "What can we do to make sure that he Goddess movement lives beyond our generation?"

Articles are:

"Tanit of Carthage" by Johanna Stuckey, with great pics. Stuckey traces the history of a temple in Malta that has been home to Astarte, Tanit, Juno, Hera, and ultimately Virgin Mary. She tell us about the many mysteries of Tanit and their relationship to other Ancient Near Eastern goddesses. Included are hints from a sea treasure found in 1971 off the coast of Israel and dated to the 5th Century BCE.

"Ancient Festival Embraces a Modern Miracle" by Vicki Noble, also with great pics. Subtitled "How Santa Gemma Spared the Village of Goriano Sicoli from Earthquake Damage in April 2009," the article tells how Noble and a friend made plans to visit the Italian village during May when the women gather in a special house to bake bread and the town celebrates "the return of the Maiden to the Mother" in spring. However an earthquake occurred in the region in April, causing modifications to the festival—and also another in a long history of miracles credited to Santa Gemma.

"Light My Fire with Banana Briquettes" by Mary Swander. How to make sure everything from your garden is used, plus the recycling of banana peels.

"Trees" by Nancy Vedder-Shults. How to divine with trees.
"Finding a Niche" by Madelon Wise. The author "discovers" a place for herself through permaculture.

"Tlaltechutli: The Jaws of Life and Death" by Anne Key. All about the Aztec Earth Goddess, in birth giving-posture, who has knives for teeth and clawed hands and feet. Yes—with pics!

"Why are Women Attracted to Goddess Feminism?" by Giselle Vincett. Why wouldn’t they be, is what I would ask. But Vincett is more an academic than I (I’m learning, though...). Why, she asks, are women deserting traditional Christianity at a faster rate than men? And why are women "the majority of adherents in both traditional Christianity and alternative spiritualtities?" She then offers a methodical, scholarly, and detached view of Goddess feminists.

"Frolicking with Fairies" by Susun Weed. Tips on living in a tipi and contacting fairies and plants.

This issue’s poetry includes: "Peachwood Drama" by Sharda, and "Silence pt 18" and Silence pt 19" by Sandi Strehlau.

This issue’s Photo Essay is "Summer Fruit" by Kate Clapper.

This is my last post as an official member of the Medusa Coils team–-at least for now. I am entering a crucial phase of my graduate work and need to focus on that. It’s been great blogging with Medusa, and with you! Blessings to all!


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Review: Memoir by Deborah DeNicola

The Future That Brought Her Here: A Memoir of a Call to Awaken by Deborah DeNicola (Ibis 2009)

This spiritual memoir by a widely-published poet is both an inner journey and a geographical pilgrimage. DeNicola is author of 5 poetry collections and editor of an anthology of contemporary poems about Greek mythology. She is recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts plus other writing awards, and has taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Lesley University. She shares some of her wonderful poetry in this book, yet her background also means that DeNicola is an adept writer who knows when to use poetic language in prose (in this book she uses it sparingly and effectively) and when more direct diction is appropriate. This skill makes this book a pleasure to read.

The book starts with DeNicola's quest to heal from childhood trauma, ventures into (mostly Jungian) dreamwork, then soon enters the author's very intense visionary experiences, leading her to explore a variety of New Age and mystical Christian belief systems and authors such as Rumi, Gary Zukov, Caroline Myss, Stanslov Grof, transcendental meditation, and A Course in Miracles. She consults the psychic, David Hall, as well as a psychic healer, Jason, who discusses with her "The Brotherhood of Light" and "Master Avatars." She then starts attending sessions in the Boston area with a medium, Gerry Bowman, who claims he channels John, author of the last book in the Christian Bible, Revelation. During this time she also reads books by Margaret Starbird and Elaine Pagels and visits Israel. This leads her to an exploration of Mary Magdalen (she spells it without a final e, so I'll use her spelling here, though I will also abbreviate it MM) and the Black Madonnas. DeNicola is guided in this ultimate quest by Deborah Rose , who has since passed over. In fact, DeNicola dedicates this book to Deborah Rose. DeNicola had access to the notes Rose made during their tour of sites related to Magdalen and/or Black Madonnas, and shares some of these notes with us in this book.

The journey to the south of France in 2000 takes up Chapters 19 through 27 of this 28-chapter book. Chapter 18, "The Gnostic Mary," deals with DeNicola's growing interest in MM after her 1997 visit to Israel, and in it she quotes (among others) Elaine Pagels, Karen King, Deborah Rose, Angeles Arrien, Ean Begg, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and various texts from the Nag Hammadi Library. As Chapter 19 begins, DeNicola and Rose get acquainted in a café in Cambridge, Massachusetts (at the time, they both live in the Boston area). They find (coincidentally?) that they have much in common; for starters: the same first names, same age, same religious background (reared Roman Catholic)–and they both majored in French in college. During this time, and throughout the tour, DeNicola continues to have visions, but she now seems to have found an on-off switch that I associate with more advanced psychic work so that the visionary experience feels more under her control; she opens herself to visions willingly in a meditative state, whereas at the beginning of the book she is sometimes thrown for a loop when they spontaneously appear.

The tour group comprises 6 women, as DeNicola puts it, "Two Joans, two Deborahs, Katie, and Elaine." Their journey takes them to Marseille, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Arles, St. Maxium La Ste. Baum, Provence, Le Puy en Velay, Clermont-Ferrand, Vezélay, Dijon, and Paris, and through the many myths and legends surrounding both MM and the Black Madonnas, which may or may not be connected, depending on the legend. Cathars, Merovingian kings, Knights Templar, Roma, Egyptians, the Phoenicians, et al. are considered, as is Le Tarot de Marseille. Regarding the whether there is historical truth in these stories, DeNicola writes, after viewing a relic that is supposedly Magdalen's blackened skull:

Was the relic real?....I seriously doubted it, but I didn't really care. I've learned to live quite happily with mythic truth....
This is similar to Deborah Rose's attitude, explained on her website,

DeNicola points out that three goddesses are associated with "the iconic Mary": Isis with Horus on her lap, "Cybele, who came to Rome in the form of a black stone, known as Magna Mater, and Artemis of Ephesus, who was brought to Marseille in 600 BC by Greek Phoenician traders." She says that the icon was originally dark-skinned but was later "whitened." She quotes Deborah Rose, who wrote in her tour notes:
When Mary appears as the black madonna, at the sites I have visited, she has independence and power unlike her white counterpart. It seems that blackness is the thread to the older deeper teachings...that a woman's body, like the Earth itself, is sacred....
So are the Black Madonnas originally Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) goddesses conflated with early portrayals of Mother Mary? Or conflated with Mary Magdalen and her child? My guess is the first, but since this is DeNicola's book, let's try to just enjoy the myth(s). DeNicola writes about the legend (from which the town gets in name) of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in which 3 Maries (Magdalen, Mary Solomé, Mary Jacobi–the latter two supposedly half-sisters of Mother Mary) arrive from the sea with Sara, their "servant girl"—or MM's daughter, depending on the version of the myth. The town church has a mural showing the 3 Maries arriving in "a crude, ruderless dinghy." Sara is always portrayed as black. DeNicola tells how each spring the people of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer have a festival honoring Sara [link has pics] and carry her statue from the church crypt into the sea. She says that the "gypsies" (i.e., Roma) in this town believe that Sara (aka Sara La Kali [link has pics]) is the daughter of Magdalen and Jesus.

In Marseille the group visits the Black Madonna called Notre Dame del la Confession. Marseille has a procession through the town honoring her on Candlemas which replaced the Demeter/Persephone ritual held there until 600 CE. DeNicola writes, sourcing Rose's notes:

...Notre Dame de la Confession is dressed in a green cape and lifted from her crypt to parade through the town followed by a crowd carrying green candles....The color green, also the color sacred to...Isis, is a representation of the coming spring....She sits straight up upon a throne just as Isis does, which gives her power and authority.

In Le Puy they visit the Enthroned Black Madonna, a replica of one burned during the French Revolution. DeNicola describes this Madonna as having

a black face, long narrow nose, and circumflexed eyebrows below a crown...topped by a golden bird. The child's gown is deep maroon and patterned with Greek crosses. The Madonna's dress has lotus mandalas rimmed with fleur de lis. On the cuff of her left sleeve are lettered designs like the words in the Hebrew Cabala.
I looked for a pic of this, as I was interested, among other things, in the "words in the Hebrew Cabala." I found these pics , and though they're great, you can't see the lettering.

DeNicola goes on to write that

The original statue has been traced to Jeremiah. It was passed to Moses' priests some 600 years before Christ. So she was part of the Babylonian treasure smuggled from Jerusalem during the first or second Crusades.
Sorry, but I can't buy all of this story, as much as I appreciate myth. Here's why: First, the prophet Jeremiah is notorious for railing against goddess worship. In the Hebrew scriptures, in the book bearing his name, he bellyaches about people baking "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven." Second, because of the Mosaic proscription against "graven images (see Ten Commandments)," it is very unlikely that "Moses' priests," would have any role in preserving a goddess statue. My guess is that had they gotten ahold of her, Jeremiah or Moses' priests would have destroyed her. However, another part of the myth DeNicola suggests--that the statue was "smuggled from Jerusalem"-- could be historically correct. Unless someone has specific proof, why assume it's origin was Bablylon? If it was taken from Jerusalem, why couldn't Jerusalem be its origin? As we now know, goddess veneration continued to be part of the religion of most Israelites, Judeans, and other ANE ancestors of present-day Jews through the Temple period(s). As I look at the pictures of the Le Puy Madonna, it occurs to me that the face does appear of ancient provenance, but the patterns on the clothing seem more recent and the iconography Christian. Even the Hebrew lettering could be part of a Christian design. (The first Jewish kabbalistic writings are dated 200-500 CE. Jewish kabbalalistic thought, probably influenced by an interplay of Jewish and Christian gnosticism, emerged in the 12th Century in Provence, France). Did the French Christians keep the "body" of an ANE goddess statue and place on top of it clothing with French and Christian symbolism?

There is much more in this book about various Black Madonnas and MM, but the space-time continuum precludes me from discussing them all.

Towards the end of the book we find that the tour also led DeNicola to include goddesses in her spiritual views. Near the end of the chapter on Dijon, she writes:

The Mother Goddess asks that we learn to produce only what we need in the moment. We do not need anticipate or fear scarcity, which can lead to senseless oppression of others.
And further on she refers to a chapbook she wrote that contains "several of my goddess poems."

Also near the end of the book, DeNicola describes how friends surrounded Deborah Rose at her death, and tells about a later communication from the tour guide and Goddess scholar. This book is a fitting tribute to Rose, and a fascinating trip for those who read it.

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