Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poem for Brigid: Contradance by Judith Laura

(video of Contradancing follows poem)

Not squares,
they stand in long lines waiting
for the call.
Women and men
at times outrageously proper but
more often sedately
greeting neighbors,
trail buddies and
even lost cousins
on the way to the top
or bottom
where improper roles reverse.

Swingers all,
they swirl and spin, balanced
for an instant.
Afloat a fiddle tune
hand grasps hand,
clutches waist
quicker than a breath
as faces blur and thought
departs leaving
dancers riding
the cresting wave
of the unchained flow
and laughing.
Copyright 1996 by Judith Laura. First published in Pudding Magazine #30 (June 1996)

Contradancing in the U.S. has "calls" and style similar to those used in New England style square dancing. But the dance is done in long partnered lines. In a "proper" formation, the men are in one line facing the women in the other line. In an "improper" line, the the lines alternate woman, man, woman, man. Here is a recent video from Glen Echo, Maryland, near the Potomac River and the DC line. An earlier contradance there inspired this poem.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Buzz Coil: January 2012

A look at some posts of interest from our blogroll and sometimes beyond:

Blog o’ Gnosis: In her Jan. 25 post, Anne Hill reminds us that it’s time for “Brigid Poetry Festival, Year Seven.” You can post your poetic tribute to Brigid on your blog, as a comment on Anne’s blog post, and on the Brigid Facebook Page . I plan to post a poem on Medusa Coils in the next few days. Anne’s post includes her 1999 “Ancestor Invocation.”

Panthea: In her Jan. 23 post, “The Three Keys: Understanding Goddess, Simplified” blogger Lisa writes that she feels:
All Goddesses are one Goddess...she has thousands of faces, names, and symbols....
Lisa offers a “Three Key System” to learning about Goddess, with questions to keep in mind durng these steps and with a free download worksheet.

Amused Grace: Thalia Took’s Jan. 20 post, “B is for Bastet” tells of working with the Egyptian Goddess Bastet (aka Bast) as she cares for a cat who appeared on her doorstep one day. Soon there were kittens and...with lots of adorable pics of mama cat, her kittens, and grandkittens.

Goddess in a Teapot: In her Jan. 13 post, “Seeing Double: Goddess Pairs Pop Into Popular Culture,” Carolyn L. Boyd explores sister and mother-daughter pairings of goddesses and finds them in some places you might not think of looking.

Feminism and Religion: In this blog of many authors and many paths, the Jan. 27 post of Laura Loomis, comes from her terrific Daily Kos series "How A Woman Becomes A Goddess," which connected Goddesses and current politics, and was originally posted there under a pseudonym a few years ago (we included them in our Buzz Coils in Nov. 2009 and earlier). Her F&R post, "Goddess Meditation: Pattini," is about the Sri Lanka Goddess Pattini and Goddess Devi, which she relates to California's Prop 8.
Carol P. Christ, in a Jan. 23 post, “Body, Nature, Ancestors,” writes that she has come to realize ancestors are “a missing link” between body and nature, between embodiment and “interdependence in the web of life.” She goes on to relate her own family history, which includes a variety of religions.
Barbara Ardinger’s Jan. 22 post, “Does Humor Have a Place in Religion?” explores the presence, absence or potential for humor in “neopaganism,” Abrahamic, and Eastern religions. She writes that “one of the blessings of Goddess religion...is playfulness.”

Hecatedemeter: Blogger Hecate offers “A Spell for 2012" in her strong and beautiful Dec. 31 post, accompanied by a Tracy Chapman video.

The Village Witch:Byron Ballard is participating in an ongoing educational project involving the Buncombe County (NC) schools and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. She explains how this affects the idea of public school sports team chaplains in a Jan. 19 post, “Team Chaplains: Who Knew?” and her Jan. 20 post, “Our Swiftly Turning Planet: Why There Are No Team Chaplains.”

The Wild Hunt: In his Jan. 26 post, “Gay Marriage and Other ‘Pagan Behaviors’,”Jason Pitzl-Waters gives a sharp critique of Newt Gingrich’s attempts to lure Florida Conservative Christians into his primary bed by bad-mouthing what he considers to be “paganism,” and calling same-sex marriage “a fundamental violation of our civilization.” (With links to a Gingrich conference call.) Jason strongly refutes self-proclaimed historian Gingrinch’s version of the history of marriage and offers some astute observations on the religious make-up of Florida and the rest of the US.

COG Interfaith Reports: In a Jan. 16 post, blogger R Watcher, explores “What do Pagans Get From Interfaith Activities?” partly in response to a blogpost by Chas Clifton.

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


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

REVIEW: Patricia Monaghan's Alaskan Creation

Alaska by Heart: Recipes for Independence by Sarah Pagen, a novel created by Patricia Monaghan (McRoy & Blackburn) trade paperback, 186 or so pages.

In a riot of misspellings, malaprops, mixed metaphors, grammatical goofs, garbled history, and screwy science, Alaska by Heart: Recipes for Independence by Sarah Pagen created by Patricia Monaghan presents a sort of autobiography of the FICTIONAL CHARACTER which, according to the back cover of this book, "possessed" Patricia Monaghan , an otherwise mild-mannered (well I actually never met her in person, but I imagine her to be mild-mannered) Ph.D.-holding, university professor and award-winning poet, whom you may know best from her scholarly books on Goddess subjects. I must stress that Alaska by Heart is a work of fiction, as emphasized by the following statement from the book:
Any resemblance to actual persons or events is unsurprising. However, the reader should stand reminded that this is wholly a work of fiction, not intended to portray any real people or situations, and it world be a serious mistake to try to read more into this book. It is not, nor was it intended to be, a rendition of facts.
In other novels, this information, which is usually more boilerplate-y, almost always appears on in small print on the same page as the copyright information (known in the trade as the verso). In this book it appears on the page usually given over to dedications (known in the trade as the recto, in this case the one following the copyright verso) in the same size print as the rest of the book (my guess—11-12 pt).

Before going further, I’d like to explain that I would have had this review done sooner, but it took me twice as long usual for me to get through each page because I spent as much time laughing as I did reading.

The narrator of the book is Sarah Pagen, an Alaskan (did I mention that Patricia Monaghan grew up in Alaska?) who is running for President on the American Independence Party ticket. Ms. Pagen’s married last name was changed from her husband’s Italian family name, Pagani, because, as she tells it, Pagani means
"hicks-from-the-sticks." When we got married I didn’t want anyone to think that I was connected with homosocialist Satan orgies, dancing naked in the woods, and human sacrifice, so we changed the name to Pagen.
Ms. (Mrs.?) Pagen explains that the proper pronunciation of her surname is "Pay-GUN." Say it a few times and you will see that this pronunciation totally prevents any confusion with the word Pagan. To further avoid this confusion, and for brevity’s sake, I will heretofore refer to the protagonist or author, as the case may be, as Ms. GUN (she really does like guns!!! so I hope this makes her happy, fictionally speaking, of course). Ms. GUN lets us in on her Alaskan life leading up to her Presidential campaign, including many intimate details such as her mother’s two marriages and other details of her mother’s (what many would consider) scandalous past; Ms GUN's childhood growing up on JesusHaven where marijuana was one of the crops and which she insists was not a commune; her husband Tommy and her children, including two sets of twins; her fondness for growing vegetables as well as hunting (and killing!!!) animals, and the fact, fictionally speaking, that she has red hair (before I forget, have you ever seen a picture of Patricia Monaghan?). Ms. GUN also tells us about her TV cooking show, and she shares a number of Alaskan recipes (if I were you, which I’m not, I wouldn’t read the recipes immediately before or right after a meal, but don’t miss the one for "Sourdough Vodka," which includes instructions on building a still).

Mixed in with the recipes, family tidbits, and Alaskan history (some of which may be actually be true), and her muddled interpretation of U.S. history, she shares her political views. Possibly to exhibit her American patriotism, Ms. GUN exhibits a strong disaffection for royalty, particularly the British royal family, while asserting that over 20 U.S. Presidents had genealogical ties to that family. She refuses to call the present British Queen by her proper name, instead referring to her variously as "Betty," "Lizzie," Libby Windsor," "Beth Windsor," "Elsie Windsor" and possibly other silly names which I neglected to write down. Ms. GUN also shares with us her campaign promises which include:
–Elimination of the U.S. Department of Transportation (all roads will be privately owned)
–No federally-covered health care (or maybe no health care at all, she doesn’t make this very clear, just says, "Health care? If you were eating right...you don’t need it." )
–Return of U.S. to the gold standard.
–Emphasis on family values ("...the family that preys together, slays together.").
–No platform on foreign affairs because "We won’t have any."
–Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to encourage the arrival of Armageddon.
As the footnote from the "copyeditor" explains, the latter is one of the ideas of Christian Dominionists. Oh, I didn’t tell you about the footnotes yet? The footnotes from the "copyeditor" form a subplot of sorts. (Here I need to note that the "copyeditor" insists on making one word out of what most style guides including the Chicago Manual of Style and AP specify be two words "copy editor," copy modifying editor, telling us what kind of editor this person is—for example, there are also substantive editors, which is what I used to be. However, often individual publishing houses have their own style guides, so I will assume that for the Alaskan publisher of this book, "copyeditor" is its style, plus dictionary.com gives it both ways, so I will use that style in this review henceforth, without the quotes.) The first footnote reads:
The publisher affirms that Sarah Pagen wrote every word in this book with no assistance from ghostwriters. We also affirm that editorial challenges were kept to a minimum and involved only correction of typographical errors with the author’s consent.
The footnotes that follow tell a story of increasing tension between Ms. GUN and the copyeditor, along with Sally from legal and Randy the fact-checker, as they try to get Ms. GUN to correct misuse of words, misspellings, intentionally erroneous or sloppily misunderstood history and science, and a fuzzing of the line between reality and imagination, such as in Ms. GUN’s insistence that John Galt, whom she frequently quotes to back up her political stands and who is a fictional character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, is a real historical person. Ms. GUN refuses to make this and almost all other corrections suggested by copyeditor and other staff, with the exception of their suggestion to, when citing biblical chapter and verse (another thing she does to back up her arguments) that she include the entire quotation. This Ms. GUN mostly did (after the first few such citations) and it is very helpful to those of us who many not have our Bibles handy. There is another aspect to the footnote subplot—one of romance—but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

Alaska by Heart:Recipes for Independence is a total hoot! So funny and so topical that I'd like to suggest the possessed Dr. Monaghan be interviewed about this book on The Daily Show, the Stephen Colbert Show, and even The Rachel Maddow Show (probably on a Friday night, right before the cocktail ritual).

Speaking of Stephen Colbert, did I mention that the book was (and is?) printed in Canada? I wonder if Ms. GUN is aware of this fact. In the book, she uses the term "Canooks," to refer to Canadians even though the copyeditor et al. try to get her to stop this usage which Canadians (and others) consider disparaging. Given her strong feelings of patriotism, for both the U.S. and Alaska, and the high value she places on independence, I wonder what Ms. GUN would think about straying outside their borders to obtain a printer for her book. (In case you weren't aware, though Canada has its own parliamentary system, it is still part of the British Commonwealth and even has the Queen’s picture on it’s twenty dollar bill.) Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, I wonder if Ms.GUN will comment on the printing situation on her campaign blog.

BTW, the official release date for this book is Presidents Day, but if you know where to look , you can probably get it earlier.


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

From Selena Fox: Help for NC Pagans in Church-State Conflict

I received the following by email from Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, who requests that it be shared:

Please send blessings of Protection, Healing & Well-being to Ginger Strivelli of Weaverville, North Carolina & her family.

Ginger is co-founding priestess of The Appalachian Pagan Alliance. Her writings have appeared in CIRCLE Magazine and other publications. She lives with her husband and six children in rural North Carolina near Asheville.

Last month, Ginger challenged the policy that permitted distribution of Gideon Bibles at the local elementary school after her fifth grade son came home with one on December 19, 2011. When the school stated that any religious literature could be available for students to pick up, Ginger brought Pagan books to the school for distribution. However, the school refused to accept these books and have them distributed in the same way they had been distributing the Bibles, indicating that a new policy was being crafted.

This separation of church and state situation has been covered in various media reports for several weeks, and on Thursday was covered by national/global television news:

That evening, Ginger received a death threat phone call while at home with her family. She immediately contacted the police who have begun investigating. A news article has just been published:

Lady Liberty League is among those in the coalition that has formed to provide support to the Strivelli family and the quest for fair and equal treatment of students of all beliefs in the local school system. Byron Ballard, a writer & Wiccan priestess from Asheville, North Carolina, is coordinating the coalition and helping to administer the Strivelli Family Support page on Facebook.


(1) Do prayers, meditations, rituals of Protection, Healing, & Well-being to Ginger Strivelli & her family.
(2) Learn more & Post words of support for Ginger & her family on their support page on Facebook:
(3) Speak out in support of separation of church & state in comments sections of media sites carrying news and editorials about this issue.
(4) Those with interfaith and/or law enforcement contacts in North Carolina interested in working with Lady Liberty League in providing support to the family and this situation should contact:
liberty@circlesanctuary.org as soon as possible.
(5) Share this email & support page link with others - by email, through social networking sites, on blogs & websites.

Selena Fox
Lady Liberty League & Circle Sanctuary
(608) 924-2216
PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507 USA

Saturday, January 21, 2012

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Events Coil: January 20 - February 28

Silver Serpent, whose name usually appears as poster of our Events Coils, will be away from this blog for a presently unknown length of time. She and I usually compile the Events together, as it is a big task. However, in her absence I will be doing this alone. To make this a little easier for me--and possibly even easier for readers--I'm placing under the "Ongoing" section some of the items previously listed in the first, dated, section. These will be events that occur on the same day, same time, whether it be weekly, or bi-weekly, or monthly. Because compiling this monthly list is so time-consuming, among other things, I am curious to know whether Events Coils are important to our readers. Do you rely on them? If you are a member of an organization whose events we list, have people attending your events mentioned that they found out about it through our listing? Have you found events to attend as a result of them being listed on an Events Coil? Or do you just like knowing what's going on? (Nothing wrong with that!) Or do you have enough access to other places with event listings that you could do without this listing? Has it served its purpose but now you find the information you need elsewhere? Or is it just not interesting to you? I would really appreciate comments responding to these questions as well as any other comments you have (you know, leave them at the end of this post :-) Thank you!

And now for our usual blurb: As far 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 USA. All times local. Times for computer/Internet/Web events are given for the place of origin. Events lasting more than 1 day are bolded. When listing events for the same date we try to list those that occur first, taking into account time zone differences. If there is a difference between our listings and the listings on the link, assume their web page is correct as details may have changed since we listed from it. Ongoing events are listed after the dated events. The next Events Coil is planned for mid February and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events through late March. 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.

Jan. 20, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Earth Vigil Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Jan. 23, 2 p.m.
New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Jan 23, 7 p.m., Women's New Moon Sharing Circle, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 28, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. Brigid/Imbolc, San Francisco Reclaiming, SF CA

Jan 28, time tba, Imbolc, Caya Coven, San Francisco, CA

Jan. 28, 7 p.m. Full Moon Ceremony, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Jan. 29, time tba,
Imbolc Ceremonie, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillegom NEDERLAND

Jan. 29, 11 a.m. Brigit, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Jan. 29, Noon PT, 1st Webinar of "Rebel Shamans: Women Confront Empire" with Max Dashu, WORLD WIDE WEB

Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Imbolc Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple,
Glastonbury ENGLAND

Feb. 2, time tba, Lammas/Biderup Sabbat, Gaia's Garden, Kew East, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Feb. 2, 1 p.m. Imbolc, Goddess Temple Inc., Lakewood OH

Feb. 2, 7 p.m. Imbolc Ceremony, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 4, 7 p.m. Lammas Ritual, PaGaian MoonCourt, Blue Mountains, NSW, AUSTRALIA

Feb. 4, Imbolc, Brigid Celebration, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Barneveld WI

Feb. 4, 7 p.m. "Tending the Flame," Celebration of Brigid Of Ireland, Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

Feb. 4, 7 p.m. Women's Sacred Circle: Imbolc/Candlemas, Goddess Temple of Staten Island, Staten Island NY

Feb. 4, 5 p.m. Candlemas Circle, Sisterhood of the Sacred Circle, Carson City NV

Feb. 5, gather 11:30 a.m., ritual Noon, Imbolc/Candlemas, Conncect DC, Washington DC

Feb. 5, doors open 3:30 p.m., ritual 4 p.m., Brigid, North Bay Reclaiming, Sebastopol CA

Feb. 6, 7 p.m., Full Moon Ceremony, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Feb. 7, 7 p.m., Full Moon Ceremony, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 10-12, Candlemas Midwinter Mountain Retreat, Sisterhood of the Sacred Circle, Boulder Creek CA

Feb. 17-20,
Indoor Sacred Fire Circle Intensive, Circle Sanctuary, near Barneveld WI

Feb. 17-20, Pantheacon, San Jose CA

Feb. 21, 2-4 p.m. New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Feb 21, 7 p.m. Women's New Moon Sharing Circle, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Feb. 25, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Orchard and Our Lady of Avalon Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Feb. 26, 10:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Madron Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND


Adelaide, 2nd Tuesday of month, 7:30 p.m. Goddess Devotional Service, The Goddess House.

Glastonbury: Most days except Mondays, Noon-4, Temple Open for personal Prayers; Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. Belly Dancing; Thursdays, 7 p.m. Temple Ritual Dance Class, Priestess/Priest of Avalon Training Program, both in Glastonbury (Avalon) and by correspondence. Glastonbury Goddess Temple.

Solderhamm, weekdays, Noon-6 p.m,Godinne Templet Open; Mondays p.m. meditation, prayer, conversation.

Annapolis MD, Friday of each month closest to full moon, 7 p.m.
Women's Full Moon Circle, UUCA
Asheville NC, Sundays 10 a.m. drumming, 10:30 a.m. Service, Morning Devotionals, Mother Grove Goddess Temple.
Berkeley CA, last Sunday of month, 5 p.m. East Bay Goddess Rosary, University Lutheran Chapel.

Canton CT, Sundays, 10:30 p.m. Services, Women's Temple: In Her Name.
Carson City, NV, Mondays 6 p.m., Women's Spirituality Studies with Mama J, Sisters of the Sacred Circle.
Concord MA, 1st Monday 7-9 p.m.Women's Circles' other ongoing groups include Demeter & Persephone's Circles for mothers and daughters, Council of Mother Dears; Menopause as Spiritual Journey; Menarche for mothers and daughters; Goddess Groove Drum Circle, at Women's Well.

Geyserville CA, Sunday Services 2-4 p.m.
Temple of Isis.
Irvine CA,
Sunday Services, 1st service at 9:30 a.m., inward meditation; 2nd service at 11 a.m.; see dates for Goddesses being honored, guest speakers, and other information about individual services; Wednesdays 6-8 p.m. "Spiritual Services: Goddesses and Heroes," Spiritual Life Club, . Saturdays 12-5 p.m. Temple Open for Women's Meditation, Goddess Temple of Orange County.

Palenville NY, Sundays 5 p.m.training sessions; Sundays 7 p.m. Pagan Circles,
Maetreum of Cybele.
San Francisco CA, Sundays 10:30 a.m. Liturgy of the Divine Feminine; Wednesdays 7 p.m. Goddess Rosary Meditation
Ebenezer/HerChurch Lutheran .
Seattle WA, 2nd Sunday, doors open 10 a.m., Goddess Service 10:30 a.m.,
Gaia's Temple.
Staten Island NY, closest Saturday to full moon 7 p.m. Women's Full Moon Drumming; 3rd Saturday 7 p.m. monthly devotional service; Goddess Temple of Staten Island.

"Celebrating Cosmogenesis," for people in both Southern and Northern Hemispheres, with Australian author Glenys Livingstone, originates in NSW, Australia. Join online at any time.
Podcasts:times tba,
"Talking to Goddess," interviews, music, and more from Gaia's Garden, originates in Melbourne, Australia.
Podcasts: Wednesdays 6 p.m. PT,
"Voices of the Sacred Feminine," interviews with well-known Goddessians and Pagans hosted by Karen Tate, Blog Talk Radio. Originates in California.
Podcasts: 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'd be happy to add your Goddess and spiritual feminist events (and those you know about that are open to th
e public) no matter where in the world they are. Please leave a comment giving: Name of event, sponsoring organization (if any), town, state (if in US), country (if outside of US) 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 eamil addresses. People should go to the website for that info.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

A Goddess 'First' From Australia

In their just-published book, Gaia Emerging: Goddess Beliefs and Practices in Australia, authors Patricia Rose and Tricia Szirom include the results of their large survey of people involved specifically in Goddess spirituality. Patricia Rose was nice enough to let me preview a few pages and I want to tell you about it because, as far as I know, it is the first book to survey this many people--more 300--specifically about their Goddess beliefs and attitudes (there have been reports of surveys of Pagans, sometimes with those in the Goddess movement as a subset, but this survey focuses on Goddessians only.) The authors give both the survey statistics and comments from respondents on such topics as "immanent or transcendent?" "Goddess as Nature/Earth/Cosmos," "Goddess as Life/energy," Goddess as Relational," etc., as well as statistics on the group surveyed, such as gender, age, income, partnered status, nationality (mostly Australian), and amount of time they have been on "their Goddess journey." The book also gives information on "ancient goddess religion" and its suppression, and the emergence of modern Goddess veneration globally, as well as information specific to Australia. Right now, the book, available in both paper and as an ebook, needs to be ordered from Australia. Two web sites currently offer the book: Gaia’s Garden , and the publisher, Gaia’s Ink, a wholly-owned branch of the Goddess Association in Australia (G.A.I.A.) , to which Rose and Szirom have donated the book.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Wonderful Way to Start New Year

Sculpture of Masika Szilagyi, mother of Z Budapest, who wrote the words in the video. Thank you to the videographer, Aphrodisiastes for posting this video from YouTube to Facebook.

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