Saturday, October 31, 2009

Global Goddess Oracle: Samhain '09 Issue

Samhain/Hallows blessings to all!!! To help celebrate, here’s a rundown of what’s in the Samhain issue of Global Goddess Oracle.

Much of this issue focuses on divination and other experiences of the thinned veil. In her opening statement, Dawn, one of the Oracle’s editors, tells us of her renewed interest in divination. This is accompanied by an amusing witch picture contributed by H. Byron Ballard.

In "Fireless Altar and Crone Encounters," Barbara Ardinger shares memories of past rituals, including one at Samhain with no candles and no incense. When they invoked "the dark goddesses," something happened...I’ll let you be the judge of its significance. Ardinger advises us to "think of the dark altar as a dark mirror." Ardinger also contributed an article on "Mischief" to this issue.

H. Byron Ballard's "Keeping My Eye on the Ball..." tells how, after years of reading tarot cards, she decided to try reading with a crystal ball as part of a Pagan fundraiser. She focused on a flaw in the crystal, and then....

In "An Oracle for Samhain," Bendis distinguishes an "oracle" from various sorts of "readings," such as tarot, crystal ball, palm, etc. She discusses oracles with the use of orgham twigs. In another article in this issue, "The Ladi Wen," Bendis writes about a Welsh "Cymric boygeyman" or bogeywoman and her/his legends. Bendis says she "can often see how they represent the disempowerment of the Goddess."

"Divination" by Angie Skelhorn discusses a variety of types of divination, gives tarot reading advice, and comments on her own practice.

In "On Finding Myself Middle Aged..." Mama Donna Henes explains why she is "not a believer in the triple Goddess paradigm."

"Intentional Insights..." by Kelley Harrell begins with a Q & A in response to a reader who feels they are receiving mysterious phone calls. Harrell then relates her experiences of sensing "presences" in hotel rooms, particularly one in Kansas City, faeries in gardens, and "mindful interactions with star people."

Dawn "Belladonna" Thomas offers a "Solitary Ritual," reviews the book Tarot and Mysteries of Love and Sex, gives us 2 articles about "Herbs of the Season": Marigold and Mullein, and also gives us the "Moon Schedule from Samhain to Yule."

Crone Garnet Hawk shares a poem, "Spirit Veil."


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goddess Book Wins Award

The second enlarged edition of my book, Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century: From Kabbalah to Quantum Physics has been declared the Winner in the "Religion: Comparative" category of the National Best Books 2009 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. This is happy news for me and I hope all Goddessians, who may not be used to our books winning awards, especially in "religion" categories. I say, let's get used to it!

For those of you interested in the "comparative religion" angle: The first part of the book compares concepts of emerging Goddess religions to concepts of Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity and Judaism. These concepts include immanence and transcendence and nature of deity. The book then moves on to a conceptual history of Jewish forms of Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabalah (also sometimes spelled Kabbalah, and itself a combination of Christian, Jewish, and earlier ideas from the Ancient Near East), and is the first book to give a feminist analysis of all of these and go on to propose a more egalitarian, balanced and Earth-friendly version, based partly on Ancient Near East Tree of Life concepts. The final section compares the comfort (or discomfort) with which most forms of Abrahamic religions and Goddess religions can assimilate new scientific knowledge, focusing especially on "new physics." The book also contains guided meditations and rituals. For more info, reviews, excerpts visit

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Buzz Coil: October '09

Flashes of Insight: Flash Silvermoon’s blogs about "The Secret," sweatlodges, Sedona, and the "Wise Women of old" who have been written out of history, in her Oct. 18 post "For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Drink the Kozmic Kool Aid." Here is just a small part of what she says in this powerful post, written with rightful anger and a deeply personal touch:
Part of the problem is the externalization of the Divine which is the foundation of all Patriarchal and mainstream religions. This is the big set up for all of us and especially the have nots who are never represented as being a God head. Therefore what is Divine is other and the Other has all the answers.
Its one big set up to keep all the isms well in place with a clergy that has the ultimate back up plan with Hell to pay if you stray from the dogma.
As long as people externalize a deity and especially if they worship one that is not like them, they are doomed to drink the Kool Aid at some point and to keep their seats securely at the back of the bus with their own connection to the Divine always just beyond their reach.There are wonderful and elevating paths one can explore that do not include spending exorbitant amounts of money and giving up your free will. Ideally, if you listen to your own quiet inner voice sans the hype, you will discover just what journeys will give you the wisdom and freedom that you most desire.

Walking on Fire: Influenced by the sweatlodge disaster, blogger Myfanwy dreams a dream whose characters include President Obama, the "Peaceful Warrior," an "unknown blonde-haired woman," Michelle Obama, and the blogger herself. In the dream, detailed in her Oct. 11 post, "Secret of the Peaceful Warrior," the President undergoes "tests" which the blogger and unknown blonde woman help him with by revealing certain "secrets."

Pagan Godspell: In her Oct. 20 post, "Encountering and Countering Culture" the blogger now known as Sara Ruby explores whether religion in general supports or counters the dominant culture, and asks whether American Paganism is similar to other religions in this regard and whether it needs to become more countercultural. Here is just some of that post (ellipses hers):
THUS, if one posits that the dominant culture is Wrong and Generally Destructive, Dastardly and Disharmonious, AND one believes that the purpose of Religion is to orient the human animal towards harmony with their World, one might conclude that the Religion of one holding this belief should be necessarily countercultural. That would be me, holding that belief there. SO, when I was a young lass, and found the Religion that spoke to my bones and my breath and my blood, and had within it all the Secret and Beautiful Trumps of my own personal Story, I also thought that, naturally, its communities and ritual expression would also be countercultural; a Liturgical, Communal and Mythical Opposition to the Ugly Way Things Are.
But, in my experience, Paganism as it exists today in America (I can’t rightly speak to any communities outside my own country so I won’t), is not by and large a countercultural set of religions (I realize that there are traditions that have at their core a radical, progressive political agenda and I grok that, but I am talking about my impressions of Paganism as a whole….the contemporary Egregore of the thing, if you will…and many won’t agree, I recognize). Paganism in America was born almost completely out of the same cultural worldview as any other American religion. As such, it often posits some of the same flaws (according to moi): rampant materialism, radical individualism (as opposed to radical community), a kind of “eye for an eye” ethic, and a spiritual libertarianism that posits a kind of radically apathetic perennialism along the lines of “if it works for you, that’s right swell, no matter the consequences, unless of course it affects me personally…” the NIMBY of religious
You may also want to read her related Sept. 30 post, "On Professional Angel-Wrestling."

Hecate: "My So-Called (Witch’s) Life," posted by blogger Hecate on Oct. 22, is about the feeling of living in a community of women amidst life’s daily turmoil "in the shadow of the Capitol" and on an excursion to New York.

The Village Witch: In her blog in the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, beginning with a Sept. 30 post and continuing to at least through the last time I looked (Oct. 24), Byron Ballard has been posting a series of exercises mostly centered around getting closer to experiencing your ancestors (even if you don’t know who your ancestors are). And in her Oct. 22 post, she explains why she thinks "Hallowe’en is Not a Pagan Holiday."

The Wild Hunt: In an Oct. 23 post, "Bath & Body Works Manager Doesn’t Want to Work With ‘Satanists’," Jason Pitzl-Waters reports that in Hartford, Connecticut, a woman has allegedly been fired and accused of devil-worship because she was planning to take approved vacation time to make a "religious pilgrimage to Salem for Samhain."

Peeling A Pomegranate: In her Oct. 18 posts, "Rites of Passage," blogger Ketzirah, a kohenet (priestess) recently ordained in tradition of the relatively new earth-honoring, feminist Hebrew Priestess Institute, writes about how it feels to perform weddings and baby blessings.

Read This and Weep: In her Oct. 13 post, "In My Considered Opinion," Carol Lovekin explains why she feels "the most effective rituals are the simplest."

Broomstick Chronicles: In her Oct. 13 post, "Blending In, Standing Out," M. Macha Nightmare writes about attending an "interfaith" luncheon that was "uncomfortably Christian-centric" for her, and another meeting of a group that aims to be interfaith but "limits itself to the big three Abrahamic religions."

Weblog for Our Mother God In a recent undated post, "The ‘Great She’, the Queen of Heaven," an unnamed blogger responds to a question from from a Fr. Wilken of Germany, asking why the "Chapel of Our Mother God," whose blog it is, doesn’t use the term "Goddess." Here is part of the anonymous blogger’s response:
Our worship is for God Herself, the one Supreme Being and Creatrix of all, not for some demigod or "goddess".
"Patriarchal" is a broad concept, but in religion we generally use the term "patriarchal" to refer to the transition from the worship of God in Her original feminine form to the picturing or the Divine in a variety of masculine forms. Also to the "demotion" of Our Mother God to the inferior elements of earth and moon while the male "gods" usurp Her position as Queen of Heaven and Solar Spirit.This being the case, we appear to be one of the few sites that actually reject patriarchy, while most "goddess" cults wholeheartedly embrace the patriarchal movement to lunarize and chthonize their "goddess" (another reason we prefer to avoid the word).
Not that we reject lunar and earthly functions. We see the Lunar Divine as being primarily the Daughter of Our Mother God, the savior of all beings.But we recognize that there is a hierarchy of being in which the Sun stands higher than the moon and the Heavens stand higher than the earth.The early patriarchs recognized that too. That is why we have a so-called "earth goddess" supplanting the true Queen of Heaven in patriarchal culture.
I think the blogger’s explanation contains some misconceptions, but there is no space for comments on their blog (you can click on a link up top and go to a form you can fill out, but my experience with similar online forms is that they often go astray). So here's my comment: Okay, they want to call Her "Mother God" rather than Goddess. Though it's not my choice, I can understand that; I think we need to make room for variety and personal preference. What mystifies me about this post (and the tone elsewhere on this blog and website) is the apparent need to separate themselves from anything "Goddess" to the point of stating inaccurately (with an apparent ignorance of the Goddess movement born of feminism) that "we appear to be one of the few sites that actually reject patriarchy, while most 'goddess' cults wholeheartedly embrace the patriarchal movement." Wha?Huh? Anyway, if this interests you, do go over and read the entire post. And then if you want, let me (and our readers) know what you think by commenting here.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

REVIEW: Moon-filled Novel by Rebecca Wells

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (HarperCollins 2009) hardcover, large print paper, audio, Kindle

This novel is at least as extraordinary as Wells' Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (and Little Altars Everywhere). It’s not about the Ya-Yas, but about Calla Lily Ponder, who comes of age during the 1960s and ‘70s in a small fictional town in Louisiana—Louisiana, land of myth, mud, and music. And the Moon. In La Luna, Louisiana, most especially the Moon. The book begins with a prologue in the voice of the "The Moon Lady" who says:

I know the moon and the moon knows me. I am the moon and the moon is me. I am life itself. I am not who they think I am, that old white man with the long white hair whose judging eyes try to force fear into their very pores. I am the moon mother, and I hold my children on my lap, night and day, in the heat and in the shade. When they wake and when they sleep, I whisper to them: Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.
And that’s just the beginning.

After the prologue, the narration switches to Calla Lily. She has wonderful parents and lots of good friends, including two girls her age, one who is a bit of a wild child, the other who is more conventional. But, as we know, bad things happen to good people and it seems to me that because Calla Lily is surrounded by so much love, that makes the negative stuff—which includes a racial incident and death in the family—more poignant.

Calla Lily’s mother, whom she calls M’Dear, gently teaches her about the Moon. She tells Calla that in addition dipping her toes in the river when she turned one, as was traditional in La Luna, she and Calla's father also held her up in the moonlight when she was 6 months old. M’Dear then says to Calla:

"You see how beautiful She is?" M’dear always called the moon "She." "See how bright She shines! See her light on the water? Here, let me hold you while we look. Tell me, Calla, what do you see up there?"
"I see a lady."
"I do too, darling." Then M’Dear wrapped her arms around me and whispered in my ear, "She’s the Moon Lady."...
Then M’Dear touched the crown of my head. "The moon is our mother, sweet daughter of mine. Call on her when you need her. Call on her."

M’Dear runs a beauty salon, The Crowning Glory Beauty Porch, and with Calla’s father also runs a dance studio where people come to learn the fine points of Cajun and other dances, and just to generally socialize. The beauty salon too is a social focal point for the town. Perhaps not surprisingly, Calla begins to develop an interest in hair and enjoys learning about it under her mother’s tutelage. But her first real intimation of the depth of its importance to her seems to come during an incident in what was, under Louisiana laws of that time, a roller rink where only white people were allowed to skate. One afternoon, though, the white owner of the rink allows a young black boy to skate. Watching, white (olive-skinned) Lily observes

that his skin wasn’t exactly black. It was more like roast coffee with a tiny bit of evaporated milk in it....I looked at his hair. Earlier I had thought it was true black, but then I saw that it had some dark brown and maybe even some auburn in there. It was beautiful.

A few years later (in barely 2-pages-long Chapter 13), Calla describes how she responded to a history class assignment on "trends that shaped civilization" by writing about the role of hair in history beginning with the Bible, through ancient Greece, the 18th century, the 1920s, up to the present time of the novel at that point, 1970. Her teacher tells her that the paper has "nothing to do with the growth of civilization or the wars that made it possible...." Calla counters that "hair is part of the history of the world." When her teacher responds that hair is "just fashion," Calla asks, "Isn’t fashion part of civilization?" Her teacher admits that it is, but maintains that "it hasn’t changed history like the rise of Christianity or the Industrial Revolution or the world wars." So he gives her a C. When Calla tells her father, a World War II veteran, he supports her view, saying: "Why is war more important than regular people’s lives...? Why is war more important than things people care about in peacetime?"

Calla is called upon to continue asserting the importance of her interest in hair. When a senior in high school she is steadfast in her decision to go to beauty school in New Orleans even though her boyfriend, who is headed for Stanford, insists that she too should go to college because she has scored high on college entrance exams. After high school graduation, to earn enough money to go to a beauty school in New Orleans, Lily works as both a waitress and at the Crowning Glory. While washing an older woman's hair one day, she realizes she is also an empathic healer, an experience that moves and somewhat frightens her.

As Calla prepares to leave La Luna for New Orleans, she says she

felt the Moon Lady jump into my heart, into my suitcase. You could travel the seven seas and she’d still be with you.
We then hear from The Moon Lady herself as Part II begins. Here’s a bit of what she says:

....Floating to the west, my light is a silvery white beacon tracing the undulations of the La Luna River, a tiny shimmering thread that gives herself out into the Red River. I sparkle on the waters of the Red as it makes a short run southeast to the Lower Old River, which empties into the great majestic Mississippi herself....My rays fall on the oil refineries, steam, smoke and bridges of Baton Rouge before dipping again into the inky darkness of swamp, bayou, woods, and fields....I unite my light with the shimmery glow of the city that care forgot. The river is now a black snake cutting through the sprawling, gleaming mass of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and blinking rubies spilling all the way to the edge of the ebony vastness of Lake Ponchartrain...."
Yes, the Moon Lady accompanies Calla to New Orleans where she enters L’Académie de Beauté de Crescent. We follow Calla during her time at the the beauty school, as she experiences life in New Orleans, keeps in touch with folks back home, and falls in love—and that’s all I’m going to reveal about the plot because I don’t want to spoil this wonderful book for you.

I will tell you, though, that the Moon Lady has the last words. And they’re beautiful.


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Events Coil: Oct. 16 to Nov. 30

As far as we know, all events we list are open functions; but some may be limited to women or to adults and some may require that you notify them that you plan to attend. 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-November and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late December. 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.

Now-Dec. 24,
Exhibit: The Sacred Feminine: Prehistory to Postmodernity, Museum of Art and Archeology, (see also Oct. 16-17) University of Missouri, Columbia MO

Oct. 16, 5 p.m., "Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece," Marguerite Rigoglioso,
James C. Loeb Classical Lecture, Harvard Univerity, Cambridge MA

Oct. 16-18, Hallows Gathering, Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess International, Wisconsin Dells WI

Oct. 16-17,
Symposium: The Sacred Feminine: Prehistory to Postmodernity, Museum of Art and Archeology, University of Missouri, Columbia MO

Oct. 17, 7 p.m. Descent of Inanna, labyrinth & ritual, Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

Oct. 17, 7 p.m. "Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece" with Marguerite Rigoglioso, Deborah Rose Memorial Lecture, Woman's Well, Concord MA

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

Oct. 18, 2 p.m.
New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
"Via Madrona: The Path of the Ancestors," Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
"Honoring Marija Gimbutas," includes showing of DVD, Signs Out of Time, Women's Well, Concord MA

Oct. 18, 7 p.m. "Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece," with Marguerite Rigoglioso, Deborah Rose Memorial Lecture, UU Congregation of Andover, Andover MA

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

Oct. 20, 12:30 p.m. "Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece," with Marguerite Rigoglioso, Brandeis Univerity, Waltham MA

Oct. 20, 6-9 p.m.
Temple Decoration for Halloween, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m.Crone Encounter Ritual, Circle of Aradia, Sherman Oaks CA

Oct. 23-25, Conference: "A (M)otherworld is Possible: Two Feminist Visions"; speakers include Genevieve Vaughn, Heide Goettner-Abendroth, Barbara Mann, Nane Jordan, Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Andrea Nicki, Erella Shadmi, Malika Grasshoff, Lydia Ruyle, Marguerite Rigoglioso, Pilwha Chang, Marina Meneses; York University, Toronto CANADA

Oct. 25, gather 11:30 a.m., ritual Noon,
Samhain Ritual, ConnectDC, Washington DC

Oct. 25, 11 a.m.
Annual Temple Halloween Party,Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 25, gather 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m.
North Bay Samhain Ritual (Reclaiming), Sebastopol CA

Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
Women in Buddhism:Mothers, Consorts, Saints, & Goddesses, Women's Well, Concord MA

Oct. 30-Nov. 1 Australian Goddess Conference, "Magdelena - the Mantle of Sacred Women's Power," Goddess Association in Australia (G.A.I.A.) Gold Coast, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Oct.30-Nov. 1
Samhain Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near
Mt. Horeb WI

Oct. 30, 7 p.m. The Ancestor Vigil (Samhain ritual), Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

Oct. 30, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual begins 7 p.m., doors lock 7:15 p.m.
Hallows Holy Night, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 30, gather 7 p.m., Spiral Dance (Hallowmas), Daughters of the Goddess,
San Francisco CA

Oct. 31, 7 p.m., Beltaine Celebration, Gaia's Garden, Kew East, Victoria AUSTRALIA

Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.
Samhain Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Oct. 31, time tba Night of the Dead (Samhain), Maetreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

Oct. 31, doors open 6 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m., Spiral Dance (Samhain) benefit for Reclaiming Community, San Francisco CA

Oct. 31, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Samhain, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Nov 1, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service, with sound healer Aleya Dao and author Anita Speake, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
Full Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.
The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 7, 5 p.m.
Beltaine ritual, PaGaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

Nov. 8, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service for Veterans Day, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 9, Start of course, "
The Inner Compass" with Starhawk, World Wide Web

Nov. 11-April 25 (except Mondays), The Lost World of Old Europe Exhibition, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, NYC NY

Nov. 15, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service "The Crones Speak", ; 7 p.m. New Moon Drumming; Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 17, 7 p.m.,
"Power and Mystery," talk with Starhawk, San Francisco CA

Nov. 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Women's Spirituality Conference, Sister Spirit of Portland, UU Church of Vancouver, Vancouver WA

Nov. 22, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service with Lyena Strelkoff, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov. 25-Dec. 10, 16 days of ARTivsm for the Healing of Violence Against Women & Girls,(see below for some specific events) mostly San Francisco CA

Nov. 25, Noon, Press Conference; 1-3 p.m. Healing Ceremony led by Chief Luisah Teish; International Day for the Elimination of Violence towards Women and Girls, City Hall, San Francisco CA

Nov. 28, 6 p.m. Teach-in with Max Dashu; 7 p.m. Altar Offering; 8 p.m. Music & Poetry; Rosas en el Mar: Recovering from Violence against Women, San Francisco CA

Nov. 29, 11 a.m.
Goddess Service with Ava, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Nov.28-Dec.6, Argentina Goddess Conference, with Vicki Noble, Sandra Roman, Kathy Jones, Mike Jones, Sally Pullinger, Monica Gobbin, Nora Araci, Mahi, and many others. Procession through town with Lydia Ruyle's banners on Dec. 5; Templo del la Diosa, Cordoba ARGENTINA

Nov. 30, 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming, 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.
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.
Online, Wednesdays, 6 p.m. PT
"Voices of the Sacred Feminine" interviews with well-known Goddessians and Pagans, hosted by Karen Tate, Blog Talk Radio.

Online, Sundays, 11 a.m. PT, "Creatrix Media Live" roundtable discussions include guests and phone-in audience participation, co-hosted by Jayne DeMent and Anniitra Ravenmoon, Blog Talk Radio.

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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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Exhibit at University of Missouri

We want to let you know about what looks like an extensive exhibit at the University of Missouri called "The Sacred Feminine: Prehistory to Postmodernity." It began in late August and will continue through Dec. 24. An accompanying symposium takes place on Oct. 16-17 and there also additional events and lectures throughout the Exhibit period.

Here are some of the artifacts included in the exhibit, courtesy of Margaret A. Waddell via Lydia Ruyle , which I have condensed somewhat. Ruyle's Goddess banners were hung at a program about the music of Hildegard von Bingen in which Waddell participated in September, and which was presented in conjunction with the exhibit. The exhibit is described as having 8 parts: The Sacred Mother, The Dangerous Feminine, Female Sainthood, Models of Knowledge and Power, Devotees and Consorts, Divine Queen, Cult of the Virgin, Contemporary Interpretations:

The Sacred Mother: Aphrodite/Venus, Greece & Turkey;"Bird-Headed" Female, Northern Syria;Venus-Hathor, Egypto-Roman; Anandakandapadma, Hindu, Nepal; Parvati, Hindu, South India; Sarcophagus fragment with Isis (wings spread), Egypt; Head of Demeter, South Italy; Annapurna, Hindu, South India; Standing Isis, Egypt; Seated Isis with Horus/Harpokrates, Egypt;"Gingerbread" Figurines of Standing Nude Women with Crossed Ear Plugs, Pre-Columbian, Mexico; Astarte Plaque, Syria.

The Dangerous Feminine: Female Monster, Assyrian Period, Iraq; Applique Mask of Medusa, Greek from South Italy; Kylix showing Herakles battling an Amazon, Greece; Kali, Hindu, Central India; Askos with Skylla, South Italy; Kali Standing on Shiva, Hindu, India; Adam and Eve by Andre Masson, French 20th c.

Female Sainthood: Mary Magdalene, 1519 by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Netherlandish; The Repentant Magdalene by Gerard Edelinck, Flemish; St. Helena, ca. 1720, Czech, Bohemia, Johann Wenceslas Grauer? ;The Martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria by Albrecht Durer, German, late 15th c.; St. Catherine of Alexandria by Leonard II Limousin, French.

Models of Knowledge and Power:
Lekythos with Achilles, Ajax and the Goddess Athena, Greece; Female Bush Spirit from Ivory Coast, 19th c.; Seated Female, Mali, Dogon people, early 20th c.; Neith, After 650 BCE, Egyptian; Mahisha-ashura-mardini, Hindu, India; Nike or Victoria, Roman from Italy; Saraswati, Hindu, India; Tara, Buddhist, Nepal; Lakshmi, Hindu, India.

Devotees and Consorts:
Jug in the form of an old woman holding a wine jug, perhaps a priestess of Dionysos, Turkey; Radha, consort of Krishna, Hindu, South India; A Kneeling Nun by Stefano Maria Legnani, Italian, 17th c.; Cassandra (lover of Apollo) by Max Klinger, German; The Sacrifice of Iphigenia by Gerard de Lairesse, Flemish; The Abduction of Prosperina by Johann Jakob Frey, Swiss.

Divine Queen:
Marie de Medici; Cleopatra; Arsinoe, Greek, Hellenistic.

Cult of the Virgin:
Diana and Endymion by Francesco Furini, Italian; Apollo and Daphne by Giuseppe Diamantini, Italian; The Vestal Tuccia Carrying Water in a Sieve, print after a painting by Hector Leroux; The Assumption of the Virgin Madonna and Child by Rockwell Kent, 1922; Rococo marble Head of the Virgin by Guiseppe Mazza; Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus, Paris Bordone, 1550's; The Annunciation, after 1570's Francesco Segala, Italian.

Contemporary Interpretations:
The Annunciation; Venus images; Galatea, lover of Acis; Saint Clare of Assisi.

You can see pics of the Hildegard concert with Goddess banners via this Facebook page (you'll have to log in).


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

'Save The Moon'

As you may know, NASA is planning to send missiles to the Moon THIS FRIDAY. Why? They want to find out if there's water below the surface. Besides the symbolism (!) there are other issues, which Amy Ephron sums up in her excellent article in The Huffington Post. And also thanks to Amy, here is a link to a Twitter page about it:

UPDATE Oct.8 2:09 p.m.: And in the interest of equal time (or something) here is the Twitter url for something or someone pretending to be the LCross spacecraft involved in the Moon crash:

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Welcome Back 'Pagan Godspell'!

About two years ago, the blogger at Pagan Godspell decided to stop blogging. But she left her beautifully written blog up for those of us who valued her words to return to from time to time. I kept checking, often monthly, when we do the "Buzz Coil," to see if maybe maybe she might have decided to return to blogging. Well, wouldn't you know, the past couple of months I stopped checking and guess what, well you read the headline, she started blogging again in September. (What's that about a watched pot?) She's using a different blogger name, but don't let that fool you. She explains why in her first Sept. '09 post, Thank you to Metapagan, where I found out about this excellent blogger's return.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

REVIEW: Baigent's Book On Fundamentalism in Abrahamic Religions

Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World by Michael Baigent (HarperOne, 2009), hardback.

Michael Baigent is probably best known to many readers as co-author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which in part formed the basis for Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. Baigent is author of three other books on religion, and co-author of seven others on metaphysics and religion, including, The Inquisition.

First let me get out of the way my objection to the word "The" in the subtitle,"The Three Great Religions...." By specifying "The" the publisher (and my bet is that the subtitle wording is the publisher’s not originally Baigent’s) implies inaccurately that there are only three great religions. It would have been far better to leave off the word "The," so that the title means three of the Great Religions (I know, for some the word "great" may be problematical, but if we think of it as meaning "large" rather than "wonderful" we can get by). Even better would have been "The Three Abrahamic Religions..." but my guess is that although Baigent uses the term "Abrahamic"(meaning religions that can be traced to the patriarch Abraham: Judaism, Christianity and Islam) in this book, it wasn’t used in the subtitle because it is not yet immediately understood by the general public.

Okay, moving right along: It’s important to keep in mind when reading and evaluating this book—and Baigent does endeavor to make it clear—that he is not writing about the belief system and actions of all people in Abrahamic religions, but rather a small segment of each of these religions which have a growing influence not only on religion but on politics and world events. Baigent examines each of these fringe groups in great detail and gives an overall view of what they have in common: they are anti-democratic, subordinate women, want to establish theocracy, are messianic, believe that the end of the world is at hand and that this is a good thing, and are militant—with some factions embracing militarism and other forms of violence to achieve their goals which, in Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, include world domination.

Baigent sees the geographical nexus of Abrahamic fundamentalism as Jerusalem. He begins the book with a map of the city as well as a very helpful timeline in 2 parts: "Israel and the Middle East to the End of the Crusades," which begins at the 4th Millennium B.C. and ends in A.D. 1291 (his abbreviations), and "Middle East, 1917 to Present," which ends in 2006. The book also includes, in the center, 8 pages of color photos of places and people in the Middle East and southern Europe, including the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount, an "enigmatic" circular temple in Megiddo, a small temple dedicated to Isis in the ruins of Pompeii, and a modern artist’s portrayal of the Christian fundamentalist idea of "the Rapture."

To better understand Baigent’s discussion of Jewish fundamentalism, which exists mostly in Israel, it’s useful to know that Jews in Israel define themselves as either secular (in Hebrew, hiloni) or traditional (masorti). Other terms Israelis use to describe this difference are "religiously observant" (dati) or "not observant" (lo dati), and though there are some Israelis who align themselves with the more moderate Conservative and the liberal Reform types of Judaism, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate recognizes as legitimate only rabbis ordained in the Orthodox tradition and only they are permitted to perform Jewish marriages and grant divorces. In addition to just plain Orthodox, this includes rabbis who are ultra-Orthodox (haradi) and ultra-Orthodox-Nationalists (hardal). If you want a fuller explanation and more background, here are some links:
NY Times article on the ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem, ending with an anecdote about women having to sit in the back of the bus; Library of Congress (LC) 1988 article on Varieties of Israeli Judaism ; a more recent Wikipedia article, Religion in Israel.

Baigent’s investigation of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel begins with an examination of the belief that the existence of a perfect red heifer is necessary before the messiah can appear (and the "end times" proceed). He traces this back to the biblical descriptions of the sacrifice of a red heifer as part of purification rituals. He also relates it to the creation of the forbidden golden calf by the Israelites while waiting for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai. (Some spiritual feminists have for some time wondered whether the golden calf was a Goddess symbol. A "perfect red heifer"–a young cow who hasn’t yet given birth–raises the similar questions about conscious or unconscious connection to what we are now certain was
a history of Goddess worship among the Israelites and Judeans. Asphodel Long has written that the "cow and calf are universally a sign of the mother goddess," and are associated with the Hebrew Goddess Asherah.)

An ultra-Orthodox group in Israel, which Baigent considers fundamentalist, called the Temple Institute, is intent on re-building the Jewish Temple and reinstituting blood sacrifices, which were eliminated by rabbinic Jewry centuries ago. The Temple Institute has been trying to breed a perfect red heifer. In this endeavor they have had with the financial help of fundamentalist Christian groups. They thought they had achieved the feat, but uh-oh, the heifer grew a white tail. Apparently this breeding program continues, including at a least one place in the Louisiana, according to Baigent, but has been unsuccessful. Baigent also looks into other fundamentalist Jewish groups in Israel whose intentions include eliminating the Muslim Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount so that the Jewish Temple can be rebuilt. Baigent notes that despite Islamic contentions to the contrary, "many Jewish people do not share the view of the fundamentalists." Baigent also looks into a number of other groups and individuals he identifies with Jewish fundamentalism, including (and this was a surprise to me) the late American physicist and Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, among whose works are books on Jewish mysticism, including Kabbalah. Baigent thinks the following 1976 quote by Kaplan demonstrates his fundamentalism: "In Jerusalem, the Jewish people will thus become established as the spiritual and moral teachers of all mankind" and the Foundation Stone (now covered by the Dome of the Rock) is "the very center of creation" because it is "the place where all spiritual forces come together to influence the physical world." Baigent says Kaplan's view demonstrates "breathtaking arrogance" because it leave no room for other religions or spiritual systems.

In a chapter on "Armageddon," Baigent begins to look into fundamentalist Christian beliefs, including opposition to the theory of evolution, and the battle of Armageddon. He points out the absurdities in the Creationist arguments and the numerous inconsistencies when Christians try to apply the biblical book, "Revelation," to future occurrences. In the next two chapters, Baigent gives a clear and minute explanation of Revelation–and if you’ve ever wondered what in the world Revelation is all about this material will be very helpful to you. Along the way, he brings into the discussion King Arthur and the Grail legends, Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Islamic beliefs about the "end times." There is also an extensive discussion of the significance of the number 7 in Ancient Near East cultures including not only the Hebrews, but also the Mesopotamians (including mention of Inanna/Ishtar) and Egyptians. Regarding the Revelation description of "A woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, with twelve stars on her head for a crown" (Rev. 12:1), Baigent does not get into any relevance to ancient goddesses but instead relates the image to the Virgin Mary, who, through this description, he says, "assumes the role of mother of the entire messianic community—in other words, the Christians." Baigent also explores Revelation’s dragon, or Leviathan, as being an allusion to a Canaanite creation deity. (Many Goddessians consider that the Leviathan was originally the Goddess Tiamat, who was then demonized as the Leviathan and slain. [See Asphodel P. Long’s In A Chariot Drawn By Lions, and Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology, among others].) Baigent convincingly concludes, after deciphering the number of the Beast (666) that the author of Revelation, whom he calls John of Patmos, didn’t intend his scripture to be a prediction of future events, but rather a tract against the Romans of his own time, and that John meant Revelation to be taken metaphorically, not literally.

What about The Rapture? You know, that time right before Armageddon, when fundamentalist Christians say if you’re one of them, even if you’re dead, you get gathered up bodily, lifted up off the Earth to heaven, while below cars and planes you occupied crash, meals you were cooking boil and burn, etc., and that this comes before Armageddon and the subsequent thousand year rule of Jesus. Baigent finds some possibly-related Christian scriptural material; for example, Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) which says in part:

At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds....
but Baigent finds no specific biblical reference to an event called "the rapture," nor to the sequence of events Christian fundamentalists associate with it. Baigent concludes that origin of the rapture scenario can be traced to the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, and gives what he considers to be the two sources. But he maintains that

the fully formed picture of the rapture with its crashing cars and airplanes and its chosen ones vanishing up to heaven where they can view the horrors from ringside seats...was fashioned as recently as the 1950s and was first launched to a large public audience by Hal Lindsey in 1970 with his book The Late Great Planet Earth.
In the chapters "Fighting for God," and "Planet Rushdoony" Baigent discusses world figures through whom the Armageddon/Rapture scenario has become incorporated into world politics. These include (but are not limited to) US Presidents Reagan, Bush I and II, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, several members of US Congress, various US military higher-ups, Ron Paul, and Sarah Palin. He decodes the code-words some U.S. politicians use to send signals to their fundamentalist base, and claims that a layer of evangelical Christian ministry has been placed on top of the already existing US armed forces military chaplains program. His explanations are fully detailed, as is his discussion of the Christian fundmentalist groups known as Reconstructionists and Dominionists and groups and people related to them. Baigent writes:

Those who have allied themselves with Reconstructionist ideas share in the plan to create, firstly in the United States, a theocratic state where democracy and the rule of manmade law no longer function....They want these laws [based on the 613 laws of Moses] to replace those of the U.S. well as all state law or those determined by the decisions of the Supreme Court....And they want a heavily armed theocracy, since they hold that a crucial task of the U.S. government is to maintain armed forces that are trained to conquer "in the name of Jesus."
What is their rationale for advocating this?

Christian Reconstructionists hold that Jesus will not return until the Christian church has completely taken over all governments and the world has been converted to Christianity.
Baigent writes that the late Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony, founder of the Chaldedon Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group, called for "death without mercy" for idolators (that would be, by their definition, most of us), and quotes others in this movement who have made extremely misogynist and anti-Jewish statements. He compares the Rushdoony mindset to the European Inquisition, discussing Malleus Maleficarum, the justification for killing many women for witchcraft. Baigent describes this text as "written by men who...were completely terrified by women, especially pretty women."

Next, Baigent explains the history of and difference among various factions of mainstream Islam and then zeros in on Islamic fundamentalism which, like Christian fundamentalism is misogynist, anti-democratic and intent on world domination in a time they term the Caliphate, which begins with the appearance of the messiah, whom they call the Mahdi. Baigent gives much detail about the various Islamic fundamentalist groups, their leaders and their beliefs.

He then begins wrapping up the book by comparing the attitudes and beliefs of the three Abrahamic fundamentalist groups and seeking some solace in groups within Abrahamic religions, such as the Sufis, that give hope for a more peaceful, balanced version of these religions. Yet in the closing chapter, "Welcome to the Gods," he wonders if monotheism leads inevitably to the views and actions manifested by religious fundamentalism. It seems to me, though, that the view that monotheism is the culprit is refuted both by his own description of the policies and actions of the polytheistic Romans and by contemporary fundamentalism in polytheistic religions, such as

IMO, the fundamentalism Baigent describes is at root motivated not so much by theology but more by the quest for territory and power, bolstered by tribalism and xenophobia. Theology is used (and twisted) to justify territorial conquest. Fundamentalist theological literalism prospers when people, many of whom have difficulty understanding metaphor, are comforted by easy answers to complicated theological (other other) questions. From its presence in polytheistic religions, I would conclude that fundamentalism is not based on how many deities are worshiped, but the on the nature of the deity(ies). Are the deities warriors or war-like? Do they dominate, or seek to dominate humans? the natural world? one another (if multiple deities)? Is one gender and type of sexuality favored over others? If so, then it matters not whether the religion has one deity or many, it is bound to end up in disputes, wars, and other power struggles. Baigent gets into this a bit, writing:

Surely it is obvious that the concept of "God" has long been misunderstood: this idea of an elderly father god in the sky.
He calls for "a new vision of God" that isn’t a vengeful, jealous warrior. I would have liked to see this lead you know where, but instead it drifts into a brief discussion of the "inner understanding" of various religions including Roman Catholic saints, Greek hero cults and mystery traditions, ancient Egyptian beliefs, and esoteric Christianity and Judaism, including Kabbalah and the Hermetic traditions. He writes:

For the outer popular understanding a god or goddess is important as an authority figure, a source of morality, justice and social harmony, one who can impose fearsome sanctions on those who transgress and promise gifts for those in favor. For the secretive inner understanding, such an authority figure is irrelevant, all gods and goddesses are focusing and symbolizing different expressions of the one divinity.
First, it seems to me his seeing many deities as "different expressions of one divinity," is itself monotheistic. Call me an panentheist, but rather than using the word one, as in "the One" I’m more comfortable with the term "All" as in "the All." Second, not all polytheists, even in "the popular outer understanding," see their deities as authority figures who impose sanctions. Most Goddessians, in particular, have rejected this view. But I see an even more practical problem with his idea: the "inner" trads he enumerates are not likely to be adopted by the people who are involved in fundamentalist religion, and in the instance of Abrahamic "inner understandings," such as the various versions of Kabbalah/Cabala/Qabalah, many of the same problems that lead to fundamentalist thought, such as hierarchy, opposition of the physical and the spiritual, and misogynist representations of feminine/female, still exist (for more on this, see Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century: From Kabbalah to Quantum Physics).

Baigent seems to be suggesting that the problems posed by fundamentalism can be solved on a metaphysical/theoretical/philosophical level. Though this approach may be effective in the long run, I think it is too late in the game to rely on it alone. Rather the resolution, which needs to be as immediate as possible, is best attempted on a pragmatic level. What is needed, imo, is for us to be more aware of the issues and actions surrounding fundamentalism (a good first step is reading this book), to take (hopefully nonviolent) steps to make sure that the belligerent fringe doesn’t gain more political-military power, and to knuckle down and deal with the disputes in a secular, very down-to-earth, concrete manner to insure human rights and equality to all involved.

Despite my quibbles, I consider Racing Toward Armageddon a valuable book, packed with very helpful information, to help us understand the rise of religious fundamentalism and encourage our thinking on how to deal with its most insidious and militant aspects.


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