Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Buzz Coil: March 2013

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

The Association for the Study of Women and Mythology: In an undated post (but I know it's recent) on its homepage, ASWM announces that registration is open for its April 20 regional symposium “Lady of Ten Thousand Lakes: Finding Wisdom in Places” in Minneapolis (you don't have to live in the region to attend--it's just that the symposium is held in a different U.S. region each time.) Panels include Methodology, Place Wisdom. Matriarchal Studies, and Art and Artists. Keynote speaker is Arieahn Matamonasa-Bennett, Ph.D., Native American scholar and licensed clinical psychologist on the faculty of DePaul University School for New Learning. 

Way of the Rabbit: In her extraordinary March 20 post, "Equinox: Balance & Crazy Wisdom" blogger Yeshe Rabbit contrasts and works toward reconciling feelings from this year's day before Equinox--which was filled with discussion of rape--with feelings on the Equinox, for her filled with innocence, beauty, sweetness and joy. In the process she shares "one of the definitions of magic," and the Buddhist concept of "crazy wisdom."
Broomstick Chronicles: In a March 20 post in the form of a press release, "Reclaiming Tradition History & Lore Archives,"  M. Macha NightMare (aka Aline O'Brien) announces the transfer of her e-collection related to Reclaiming, as well as the transfer of "early Reclaiming papers."  A founder of Reclaiming, she announced her withdrawal from the tradition last August.

Casa della Dea: In a March 13 post, "Marguerite Rigoglioso e il ritorno delle sacerdotesse," this Goddess blog publishes in Italian American Goddess scholar Marguerite Rigoglioso's account of her recent discovery during her trip to Italy and other European countries that "The Priestesses of Greece and Rome are Returning" (account in English). Among this month's other posts  by Eilantha Redspring on Casa Della Dea is a March 20 post "Un rito per l'Equinozio di Primavera" (Spring Equinox ritual), honoring the return of Kore/Persephone.

PNC-Minnesota Bureau: Cara Schultz's March 21 post,"In Memory: Yana" memorializes a Syrian Pagan woman with whom she was was in contact and who was apparently killed at least in part because of her spiritual path. ("Yana" is a pseudonym Cara uses to protect the woman's friends and family).With link to donate to Doctors Without Borders in Yana's name. [Thanks to HecateDemeter and The Wild Hunt for their info on this.]

Works of Literata: In her March 24 post, "Balancing, moving to the light" blogger Literata tells of her intent to take part in events related to the Supreme Court marriage equality cases, and suggests how to incorporate support into your spiritual intentions. Includes prayers to Goddesses Columbia and Justice.

 Pagan Square: A few from this month's posts on a blog of many bloggers:
After attending a Jewish Passover seder, Byron Ballard writes, in a March 24 post, "Why Pagans Need a 'Passover Seder' of Our Own." 
In a March 21 post, "Equal Light Equal Rights" David Salisbury writes of the relevance of Ostara to the changing attitudes towards same sex marriage and gives info on a "ritual calling upon the guardian Goddess of DC and of the United States, Columbia. We will ask Columbia to bring the sword of victory to our work, leading us in the march to freedom and justice. Before the Tuesday rally, I'll attend an interfaith service with some of my of my coreligionists and people of other faiths. Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be speaking at the service to give a voice from the Pagan perspective."
In a March 8 post, Carolyn Dow shares "Final Thoughts on Yemanja," especially as the Sea Goddess is honored in Brazil.

Feminism and Religion: Just a few of this month's posts on this blog with writers from many paths:
Carol P. Christ, in a March 25 post, explores "What Might It Be Like To Live In A Matriarchal Society Of Peace? Can You Imagine?" Her post is at least partly in response to a comment on her recent series on patriarchy. She writes that behind the comment were the assumptions that "if women are dominated by men in patriarchal societies, then men must have been dominated by women pre-patriarchal societies" and that "there must have been 'a good reason' for the development of patriarchy." 
In a March 24 post, "The Body of the Goddess," Deanne Quarrie writes about interdependence and the Earth as the body of the Goddess. 
Marie Cartier discusses the body of the Goddess from a different perspective, and with a chakra meditation, in her March 22 post,"Your Body is the Body of the Goddess."
Yet another perspective is given on March 1 by Carol P. Christ, who combines prayers and other materials from several religious paths in a new prayer, "Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth." 
On March 23, five bloggers--Samar Esapzai, Shireen Ahmed, Vanessa D. Rivera, Ayesha Asghar, and Hyshyama Hamin--post  "Response to “The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence,”
discussing  a March 5, 2012 Huffington Post post,The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence,” by Qasim Rashid.
In a March 19 post, "Dialogues With Our Children," Kelly Brown Douglas discusses the womanist tradition of mothers having conversations with their children that are "fundamental to helping black children to 'survive and be whole' in a world that looks down on their blackness and attempts to limit their ambitions."
In March 16 and 17 posts, Barbara Ardinger tells a story,"The Child of the Bog". The March 16 post includes an introduction about Isis mythology, to which the story is partly related.
In a March 15 post, Molly Remer asks, "Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?" and provides a thorough and deep exploration of the subject, including the separation early on of political and spiritual feminism. 
In a March 6 post, "Hate Mail and the Privilege of Having a Voice" Gina Messina-Dysert tells about the mail--both favorable and unfavorable--that she received after her appearance on PBS to give her opinion on the new Pope. 
Dawn Morais Webster gives her opinion of Messina-Dysert's presentation in her March 5 post, "Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down."

Veleda: Beginning with a quote about Isis, in her Feb. 28 post, "Raising the Dead: Medicine Women Who Revive and Retrieve Souls I," Max Dashu discusses shamans in a variety of cultures. First of a series.

Hearth Moon Rising's blog: Where do bunnies and eggs (and more) come from? Hearth Moon Rising explains in her March 8 post, "Eostre and the Egg." With bibliography.

Ma Vie en Goddessia: In her March 20 post, blogger The Goddessian writes "Christians call it Easter, I call it Easter. Ostara is a different holiday completely," with plenty of controversial details which she recommends we use a search engine to verify. 

The Belle Jar: I'm adding this on March 31 because the situation and post didn't occur until after I posted this Buzz Coil, and I think it's important to the discussion of spring holidays. A few days ago, a pic of a poster showing Ishtar , along with claims about the relationship of Ishtar and the word "Easter," was posted on a Facebook page of  a foundation headed by Richard Dawkins. The pic (which has since been removed from the foundation's FB page) went somewhat viral, especially among Goddess folk, a number of whom were dismayed. In her March 28 post, "Easter is Not Named After Ishtar And Other Truths I have to Tell You," Anne Therlault refutes the connection.

Return to Mago: A few from this blog of many  guest bloggers:
 In a March 20 post, "The Equinoxes as Story of Redemption: Sacred Balance of Maternal Creativity,"  Glenys Livingstone shows the relationship of the celebration of the equinoxes to one another, and to various spiritual paths within and outside of Paganism.
In a March 13 post, "(Bell Essay 4) The Ancient Korean Bell and Magoism" blog owner Helen Hwang asks what she calls a "dangerous question: How Old is the Symbol of Nine Nipples?" Hwang clarifies: "The question here is the provenance of the nine nipples sculpted on ancient Korean bells. A focus on the female principle that nine nipples represent hurls the inquirer into uncharted territory...." and she takes us there.
On March 9,  Artist Lydia Ruyle posts a reproduction of one of her marvelous banners, a gorgeous depiction of  the Moon Goddess, "Chang E" based on  a fan painting on silk, 1350/1400, late Yuan or early Ming, housed in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Max Dashu's February 27 post is a review of Lesley Hazelton's book, Jezebel: the Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen."
 Panthea: Beginning with a pic of Aphrodite and Adonis and a poem from the Egyptian Hermetica, blogger Lisa's Feb. 25 post, "Truly Sacred Sexuality," explores the influence of patriarchy on conceptions of love and sex, even among Pagans, including "opinions on (supposed) liberated sexuality, pornography, sexual power games such as BDSM, and other cultural phenomena...."
 HecateDemeter: Blogger Hecate continues her DC-based, often humorous, novel-in-progress, A Place Without A Witch, with Chapter 5 and on March 12, and Chapter 6 on March 16. Some smart publisher should pick this up with a contract real quick!

Annelinde's World: Here Annelinde Metzner posts her poems, often Goddess-related. March 15's post, "Forest Floor," is from her previous work, "Voices of Gaia."  

Theapoetics: Blogger talkbirth's March 25 post, "Woodspriestess: Bonewind" begins with a poem and goes on to discuss her lovely Goddess sculptures. With pics.
Journeying to the Goddess: In her March 21 post, "Welcome Freyja!"  Marie Cartier tells of her encounter with the Norse Goddess and its aftermath. 

The Rowdy Goddess: Gail Wood's March 1 post, "Blessed Be My Plan B," isn't about a contraceptive, it's about having alternative plans in ritual work. 

 The Wild Hunt: In his March 14 post, "As Nones Grow, Time to Pay More Attention to the Others," 
Jason Pitzl-Waters takes a look at reports of growing numbers of people in the U. S. counted as "others," that is, claiming to have no religion or not following religions that have their own category. Commenting on the way the data is presented, Jason writes:
The “other” category in religious surveys is lazy and outmoded. It puts a thumb on the demographic scale in favor of Judeo-Christian traditions (and now, having no religion at all), and presents a skewed portrait. “Others” grew, but we have no idea where, or how. Will one of them have to break the magical 1.5% threshold to stop being an other? According to the Pew Forum, Unitarian-Universalists, “liberal” faiths, and “New Age” religions (which includes the Pagans) collectively make up 1.2% of the population, and that was in 2010. We will never get accurate data on these faiths so long as this methodology persists.

Fellowship of Isis Central: A Feb. 21 post announces, "FOI Central" New Website, New Charter." FOI's March 20 post, "Happy Birthday Fellowship of Isis," marks the 37th anniversary of its founding at Spring Equinox.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Events Coil: March 16 - May 5

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. On our list, 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 unless otherwise noted. 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 and events that occur on a regular day each month or week are listed after the dated events. 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.
 [updated March 22, April 7, April 18, April 30]
March 16, time tba, Ritual by Luisah Teish: Sacredness of the Waters of the World, Daughters of the Goddess, Palo Alto CA

March 16, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m., doors lock 7:15 p.m.Temple Holy Day of Maiden Goddess Nanshe, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 16, 8 p.m., Spring Equinox, CAYA, Alameda CA

March 17, doors open 13.00 uur, ceremony begins 14.00 uur, Lente Equinox Ceremonie, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillegom, NEDERLAND

March 17, 10:30 a.m. Service with Jennifer Berezan mini-concert; 12:30 p.m.book reading with Lana Dalbert, plus chanters and drummers, International Women's Day Celebration, HerChurch, San Francisco CA

March 19, time tba, Celebrate Spring Equinox and Hawaiian Goddess Laka, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

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

March 20, 7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Ostara, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

March 22, 8 p.m. Goddess Sabbat: Equinox of the Divine Creatrix CAYA, Blood Root Honey Priestess Tribe , Berkeley CA

March 22-24,  Season of the Tree Celebration, Maetreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

March 23, 7 p.m. Autumn Equinox (Mabon), Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW AUSTRALIA

March 23, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Welcome Spring Festival, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, near Barneveld WI

March 23, 3 p.m. Return of Spring, Return of Persephone, Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

March 23, time tba, International Goddess Spirituality Day, Goddess Temple Inc., Lakewood, OH

March 23, 1 p.m., Spring Equinox Ritual, San Francisco Reclaiming, SF CA

March 23, 3 p.m., Spring Equinox, Sisterhood of the Sacred Circle, Carson City NV

March 24, gather 11:30 a.m., ritual Noon, Spring Equinox/Ostara, Connect DC, Washington DC

March 24, 1 p.m. Ostara Sabbat, Goddess Temple Inc., Lakewood, OH

March 24, time tba, Spring Equinox Ritual, North Bay Reclaiming, Sebastopol CA

March 25, 6:45 p.m., Ritual to bless Supreme Court Trials re: same sex marriage, calling upon Goddesses Columbia and Libertas, near US Supreme Court, Washington DC

March 26, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m., Full Moon Ceremony, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

March 27, 7 p.m. Full Moon Esbat, Goddess Temple Inc., Lakewood, OH

March 27, 7 p.m. Full Moon Celebration, Maetreum of Cybele, Palenville NY

March 27, 7 p.m., Full Moon Circle, Circle Sanctuary, near Barneveld WI

March 27,  7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Community Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 1, Noon, Ceremonial Healing Day, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 4, time tba, Red Tent , Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA 

April 5, 7 p.m. Introduction to Pagaian Cosmology, Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW, AUSTRALIA

April 9, 2 p.m. New Moon Healing, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

April 10, 7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Women's New Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 11-14, Sekhmet Retreat 2013, Daughters of the Goddess, Las Vegas NV 

April 12, 7 p.m., Midwifing Death with Leslene Della Madre,  Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW, AUSTRALIA

April 13-14, Mothering the Dying, with Leslene Della Madre, Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW, AUSTRALIA

April 19, 7 p.m.  Midwifing Death with Leslene Della Madre, Brisbane AUSTRALIA

April 20, 8:30 a.m.-6:15 p.m., "Lady of 10,000 Lakes" Regional Symposium of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, Minneapolis MN

April 20-21, Mothering the Dying, with Leslene Della Madre, Brisbane AUSTRALIA

April 21, 10 - 17:30, "La Chiamata di una Sacerdotessa/Sacerdote della Dea" with Kathy Jones, Priestess of Avalon, Vigonza PD ITALIA

April 21, 7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Earth Day, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 25,  7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Community Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

April 25, time tba,  Celebrate Lunar Beltane and Auge Spanish Goddess of Heat and Fertility, Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco CA

April 26, time tba,  Midwifing Death with Leslene Della Madre, Melbourne AUSTRALIA

April 26,  doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m., Full Moon Ceremony, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

April 26-28, "Women Take Action" with Starhawk, Indigenous Peace Culture Conference, Torino (Torin) ITALIA

April 27-28, Mothering the Dying, with Leslene Della Madre, Melbourne AUSTRALIA

April 27, 12: 30 p.m. Wreath Making, followed by Beltane Ritual, San Francisco Reclaiming, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

April 28 doors open 13.00 uur, ceremony begins 14.00 uur, Beltane Ceremonie, Nederlandse Godinnen Tempel, Hillegom, NEDERLAND

April 28, 4 p.m. Beltane Ritual, North Bay Reclaiming, Sebastopol CA

April 30, 6:30 p.m. "Frontline Spirituality " with Starhawk, Roma ITALIA

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

May 1,  7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. ritual, Beltane, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

May 2, time tba, Red Tent , Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA 

May 3, 8 p.m. Goddess Sabbat: Rite of the Dancing Flowers, CAYA Blood Root Honey Priestess Tribe , Berkeley CA

May 4, 3 p.m. Beltane: Bringing in the May, Mother Grove Goddess Temple, Asheville NC

May 4, 7 p.m. Samhain Celebration, Pagaian Moon Court, Blue Mountains NSW, AUSTRALIA

May 4, time tba, Dark Goddess Workshop, The Goddess House, Adelaide AUSTRALIA

May 5, 11:30 a.m. lecture, Noon ritual, Beltane, Connect DC, Washington DC

May 5, 8 p.m. CAYA Festival of Bliss & Blessing, Alemeda CA 



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.


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.
Carson City, NV, Mondays 6 p.m.,
Women's Spirituality Studies with Mama J, Sisters of the Sacred Circle.Geyserville CA, Daily, Noon, Ritual; Sundays, 2 p.m. Sanctuary Tour, 3 p.m. Transformation: Understanding the 42 Ideals of Ma'at, Isis Oasis.  
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; 1st Saturday of month, Goddess Meetup, 
Maetreum of Cybele.
San Francisco CA, Sundays 10:30 a.m. Liturgy of the Divine Feminine; Wednesdays 7 p.m. Goddess Rosary Meditation; 1st Friday, Friday Night Group for Women, 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. Goddess devotional service; Goddess Temple of Staten Island.
Wisconsin Dells, WI, Mondays 10 a.m., Motherhouse Monday Morning; Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Women's Craft Night; 1st Wednesdays 7 p.m. She Sings!; 2nd Wednesdays, Goddess Book Group; 3rd Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Women's Bardic Circle; 4th Wednesdays 7 p.m. Divination Night;Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess-International.

 "Celebrating Cosmogenesis," for people in both Southern and Northern Hemispheres, with Australian author Glenys Livingstone, originates in NSW, Australia. Join online at any time.
 Women's Thealogical Institute (RCG-I) Athena Online Programs: Cella, Crone, and Guardian.
times tba, "Talking to Goddess," interviews, music, and more from Gaia's Garden, originates in Melbourne, Australia.
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.
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.
Tuesday 8 p.m. CT,
Circle Craft with Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary, Blog Talk Radio

We would 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. 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 email addresses. People should go to the website for that info.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

REVIEW: Thracian Magic by Georgi Mishev

Thracian Magic, past & present by Georgi Mishev, Avalonia (London) 2012, trade paperback, 336 pages. Translated from Bulgarian by Ekaterina Ilieva. Foreword by Prof. Valeria Fol

[update 4/8: After reading this review, please see the author Georgi Mishev's comment to this post.]

I received this book as a gift from someone who knows of my interest in the folk cultures of Bulgaria and other Eastern European and Mediterranean countries. In particular, I’m interested in possible relationships between folk dances still done today that may have roots in ancient ritual, especially if  Goddess-related. Although I didn’t find a lot related to specific dances in this book, there is general explanation of the use of the horo (line or circle dance) in Goddess ritual, such as in the women’s Rite for Guarding the Sourdough, and two dances are mentioned by full name. This book has a large amount of material related to Goddess veneration, particularly in what is now Bulgaria, and contains a generous number illustrations, including artworks by the author, one of which—a wonderful fire- and snake-related deity, “Mother of the Sun,”—is shown in color on the cover and inside in black and white.

The author, Georgi Mishev, is a linguist (German and Russian), historian, and student of magic, and has been a consultant on documentaries produced for Bulgarian National Television, including the Goddess-related, She. (See first video below).  The country that was once Thrace is now an area  shared by Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. In Thracian Magic, Mishev focuses mainly on Bulgarian Thrace and points out that before it was called Thrace the country was named “Perke,” which, he explains, “can be related to the Indo-European root per-, pir, i.e. ‘rock’, which is the symbolic naming of the Great Goddess, called ‘The Mountain Mother’.”

The book begins with background on the syncretic relationship between Thracian folk religion and Christianity. Though this type of merging is common in a number of cultures and spiritual practices, Thracian culture may be one of the few in which the ancient Goddess practices are clearly still practiced and the veneer of Christianity is often quite thin, for example, limited to replacing the names of the ancient deities with saints names as in the spring ritual practice when women and men dance nestinarstvo (sometimes transliterated nestinarsko) horo across coal embers as a form of purification (see second video below). The rite observed between the end of May and the beginning of June originally honored the Great Goddess and her son, the sun (fire) god, and has come to be associated with Sts. Constantine and Helen. Mishev includes a table tracing Thrace in comparison with the rest of the ancient world from the second half of the 5th millennium BCE to 330 CE. He describes the Thracian concept of Goddess as “Everything, the Cosmos, the birth giver of the God....” After going into more detail about ancient Thracian mythology, Mishev discusses the difference between magicians and healers in Thracian culture, and describes a large number of rituals and practices known to be performed by each. He also includes practices/rituals of “witches,” which confused me because I could not understand if “witches” were being included in the category of “magicians,” or in a separate category. This discussion includes a description of the Thracian rite for “Drawing down the Moon,” along with a sketch of skyclad practitioners.  Some of these practices and the rituals discussed later in the book related to Goddess veneration include animal sacrifice, which Mishev describes in detail.

Though there is reference throughout the book to the Goddess, the most specifically Goddess material begins in Chapter 5 (more than a hundred pages). The chapter opens with illustrations of a late Bronze Age Serbian Goddess and Venus of Willendorf (dated here to 27,000 -19,000 BCE). The author then relates the Thracian Goddess to other goddesses, including Hekate and Bendis, and includes many Goddess illustrations. The chapter also includes descriptions of a large number of rituals and practices still common today that carry obvious ancient Goddess material, though sometimes combined with Christian saints and symbols. Mishev writes (or is translated as writing), “I cannot agree that the worship of the Goddess suggests a matriarchal society or that consequently the Goddess became subordinated by the male divinities....I completely agree with...Alexander Fol, that the Goddess gathers the male divinities around her in the late ages.” Yet on the  next page, he continues, “According to Thracian belief the Great Goddess self-conceives and gives birth to her Divine Son and at the end of the cycle takes him back again in herself and gives him new birth....the Thracians maintain her supreme role in their ethnic faith....Thracians honour the Goddess through herself. Temples and sanctuaries are not separated or differentiated from nature....Through the Creation, the Creatrix is honoured.” Given the latter quote, it's hard for me to figure out whether the former quote is a garbled translation
, or if it is the type of disclaimer common among some writers seeking to assure academics that they’re not  feminists or that they don’t buy into “blaming” the patriarchy.

And that brings us to what is for me, this book’s stumbling block: its translation (possibly mixed with inattentive editing). At times words and expressions seem to be translated directly, without attention given to the vernacular or differences in idiomatic expressions between the languages. For some readers, this may lend a welcome “folk” quality to the book, but for me it stood in the way of understanding some of the material. To continue with the quote in the previous paragraph, for instance, the meaning of the phrase, “Goddess gathers the male divinities around her in the late ages” is unclear. What are “the late ages?” In what way does the Goddess gather the male divinities around her? And how does this nullify the assertion that during encroaching patriarchy the Goddess(es) became subordinate to the gods? (Perhaps
we should understand this to mean that only in Bulgaria [or Thrace] the Goddess escaped the subjugation to male deities? If so, I'd like some substantiating evidence, which I don't find in the description of the practices today, including the combination with Christian saints.)

Another example of probable translation difficulty is from a description of a ritual for “Healing of Night Fear”: “A pinch of ash is taken from nine places to be mixed with water and has to be drunk before dawn. As the incantations are made, so the ash is drunk. The piece spends that night on the circle, so it could be seen from what the fear has come.” To what does “the piece” refer? It doesn’t seem possible that it is a synonym for “pinch” as the ash is in nine “pinches,” which the person with fear (I assume, though it may be the healer–since the passive voice is used we don’t know) has consumed by dawn. Is it that one piece apart from the nine pinches is left on the circle and never consumed? Or is there an additional piece of ash? Or is it a piece of something else?

Then there is confusing usage of specific words, the most frequent in this book,  “rationalise” and “rationalisation”. For example in a section describing “Transmitting of Incantation by a Hearth,” is this sentence : “The carrier of the rite doesn’t rationalise the practice in its whole, but following the will of the tradition preserves the separate ritual elements in their very archaic form.” The word “rationalise” here does not make sense to me. I think what is meant is something like explain or understand. Similarly, in a section on “Sacrifice to Mrta–Variation,” in a larger section on the Goddess-related Wolf Days in autumn,  the use of “rationalisation,” in the sentence, “Tracing the ritual actions makes other features become visible, which lend the rite another different rationalisation.” If I were editing this (I have decades of experience as an editor–which is probably why this is bothering me so much), I would have replaced “rationalisation” with something like idea, reason, or explanation. But who knows, maybe something else was meant? I let myself go on about this because I feel that the Mishev’s material contributes a significant amount to our knowledge of the transmission and sustaining of Goddess customs and it deserves translation/editing that will make it more accessible to a larger audience.

In addition to the treasure of information in the main body of the book, the back matter contains some unusually helpful material: an illustrated “Index of Herbs,” an “Index of Images,” a bibliography of books in several languages separated into those in “Latin script” (e.g., English, German) and those in “Cyrillic script” (e.g.,Bulgarian, Greek). Also, throughout the book, citations and other material such as words of songs, are given in both English and Cyrillic.

Thracian Magic contains an enormous amount of material related to Goddess, magic, and how ancient spiritual practices are melded into later religions. I consider the book a worthwhile addition to the libraries of people interested in Bulgarian and other nearby cultures, the development of magical practices and ritual worldwide, and how Goddess practices are brought forward into the present through folk culture.

For those interested in additional information here are two videos and additional links:

Bulgarian National Television documentary, She,  to which Mishev contributed :

Nestinarstvo (ritual dance on embers):

LINKS [updated 3/12]
Nestinarstvo (fire ritual, with dance) 
Another You Tube Video (professional group, you can see dance steps quite clearly, brief[simulated?] trance induction at 1:42, ends with simulated embers--great dancing!)
Another You Tube Video   (more of a village-type dancer; about halfway through, dancer carries children through coals)
Another You Tube Video (similar to previous, but dark, so best viewed full screen)

Bulgarian Dances Nowaday (discussion with another video of the ritual/dance)

Traditional Bulgarian Music and Dance

The Alien Diaries (March 7 post is in honor of International Women's Day)
Balkan Trafik!

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