Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Buzz Coil: August 2013

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

Jagadama -the Primal Goddess: is a blog that just started publishing this month. The name of the blogger is not given (at least as far as I could see). I'm not going to link to any specific posts for this first mention, but encourage you to look at all of them.  They are accompanied by wonderful art. Most this month are about Indian goddesses, including Durga (one of several has a video with hymn), Kamakhya, Saraswati, Ganga, Vak, and Adya Shakti. There are also posts about goddesses of other cultures, such as Inanna and Matar Kubileya (aka Cybele), a feature called "Images of Her," poetry, and general articles such as one on Witchcraft and an introductory post, "She Stirs in Us." 
Harita Meenee: In an August 20 post, Isis and Current Politics: Rediscovering the Revolution, Harita Meenee writes about the current situation in Egypt, and asks:
where Isis fits in this picture. How could she possibly be relevant to these horrors? Her images no longer lie in the looted museum, that’s for sure. But remember that Isis was identified with the fertile land of Egypt, its very heart, where people could live and create the marvels of their civilization. In a sense, Isis is Egypt, the main Kemetic goddess, the soul of this ancient country. She’s also the earth that receives the blood and bodies of those massacred.
Yet again you could say that the people of Egypt have long abandoned the worship of Isis, the archetypal Mother—or perhaps they were forced to abandon it. One way or another, I doubt that a mother would forsake her children because of their religious beliefs or their misguided politics....."

Feminism and Religion: Among this month's posts in this blog of many paths and bloggers:
Carol P. Christ's Aug. 26 post, Neo-Orthodoxy: The Apotheosis* of Power as Power Over, begins:
Recently I have been thinking about Neo-Orthodoxy, the leading Protestant theological movement of the twentieth century, as a deification of male power as power over.  In the language of the schoolyard, this translates as “mine is bigger than yours.”  Or more precisely:  “God’s is bigger than yours.” 
She goes on to give a definition and historical background of Neo-Orthodoxy, along with insights into its theology. She then asks:
 How did Neo-Orthodox theologians manage to claim all the power for themselves while asserting that God has all the power?  How did this theological sleight of hand occur?  You tell me.
Concluding with some humor, she suggests several choices.
In an Aug. 19 post, Coming Together to Honor the Mother, Carol tells of a taking part in  pilgrimage in Greece to the "Holy Rock of Petra to honor the Panagia—She Who Is All Holy." In a conversation later about bullying among the group she had come with, Carol feels a healing take place.
In an Aug. 5 post, Goddess and Sacred Cow: A Re-examination Of The Mythology Of The Sacred Bull, Carol turns a usual assumption on its head.
Carolyn Lee Boyd opens her Aug. 22 post, Matriarchal Societies of Peace Make Sound Social Policy with a quote from Carol P. Christ, and then goes to discuss how adopting views and practices from "matriarchal" societies might help us today.
Gina Messina-Dysert's Aug. 21 post, Feminism vs. Humanism: Continuing to Claim a Feminist Identity  begins by quoting Susan Sarandon's disturbing statement in which she backtracks from feminism and claims she is instead a "humanist." Messina-Dysert goes on to give a background on humanism, quoting the definition of humanism given by the World Humanist Congress.
Karen Nelson Villanueva, in an Aug. 18 post, Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Take First Round of Geshema Exams, tells of the fulfilling feeling that comes with being able to make a difference by supporting another woman's religious studies. She writes:
By supporting a nun through the Tibetan Nun’s Project, I can repay the kindness of what I have received from many Dharma teachers; I can help support my sisters as they struggle to thrive in another part of the world.
She also explains how the way was open for Tibetan Buddhist women to become Geshe.
Kile Jones explores 5 Interesting Facts About Women and Religion in an August 3 post, including "differences in 'gender' and 'sex' as they relate to religious beliefs and observances."
Orabala, writing in an Aug. 2 post, explains "Why I am an Islamic Feminist."
Barbara Ardinger tells about her "made-up goddesses," especially the triple goddess Caloria, in an Aug. 1 post, The Found Goddesses of Good Eats  .

Annelinde's World: Annelinde Metzner's July 26 post,  Magdala, Tower is a poem for Mary Magdalene. It begins:
"Magdala, Tower, queen of my days,
You are not Spirit, not Ether, not Will ‘o the Wisp.
but flesh and blood, a woman like me,
and my teacher."
Annelinde's August 2 post, Shout!, is poetry and prose about the current political situation in North Carolina, where she lives. Her August  12 post, Retreat at Owl's Nest, is a poem in response being awarded a week-long retreat to write poetry and music at Wildacres Conference Center. All posts with pics.
Living Inside Gaia: Blogger Stormy Seaside's Aug. 15 post, Hark, My Lady Rises, begins with a dream and goes on to describe celebrating the Nemoralia Festival, which honors the Goddess Diana. With pics, including one of the altar Stormy made for the occasion.

Alchemy of Clay: In her August 9 post, Meaningfulness, Barbara Rogers asks herself several questions, then tells of reconnecting with the Yoruban Goddess Oya.

Love of the Goddess: In her Aug. 10 post, blogger Tara writes of Nemesis, Greek Goddess of Justice and Balance. She writes that Nemesis "sees that justice is served for those who have acquired things in a malicious way."  Tara also shares some of mythology and symbolism associated with this Goddess.

The Goddess House: Blogger As't Moon delves into the mythology of the Morrighan in her Aug. 3 post, Hail to the Great Phantom Queen. At the end of the post is a link to a call for anthology submissions.

Fellowship of Isis Central: An Aug. 10 post by ArchDeaconess Minette Quick, Lugnasadh Seasonal Festival Report, describes the celebration procession to various clan homes, into the Temple and to the Gate into the Shrine of Brigid na Mara.  The post continues with details of the ritual. With beautiful pic of the high altar.

The Wild Hunt: Heather Greene's August 23, Facebook, Witch-Hunts and the Stand for Human Rights, gives an in-depth look at offensive pages on Facebook that many people and groups in the Pagan community, including Lady Liberty League and Covenant of the Goddess, have been protesting. Facebook took down the pages on August 22 but at least one reappeared on Aug. 26. 

My Village Witch: In her Aug. 19 post, I’m Being Followed by a Moon Shadow, Byron Ballard ponders the lure of  "our beloved satellite" as she waxes near full. With Earth Moony pic.

Casa della Dea: Eilantha Redspring's Italian language blog published a Lammas ritual on July 31,  and throughout August has been posting prayers, with instructions and pics, for specific crops including: orzo (barley), grano saraceno (buckwheat), frumento (wheat), segale (rye), avena (oats), mais (corn). [Translations per Google Translate.]

HecateDemeter:  On Aug. 3, in Chapter 24 of blogger Hecate's ongoing fiction series, "A Place Without a Witch," Gemmy arrives at the Courthouse Metro stop in Arlington, tucks her ID badge from the U.S. Department of Interior where it can't be seen, and enters the courthouse to take care of some personal business involving a bottle of water and during which she reveals her full name. Other chapters posted this month  (as of 8/28) are 25, on Aug. 10, in which Gemmy makes a date with Paris, a fellow who works in a garden store; 26 on Aug. 14, in which Gemmy does some magic down by the Tidal Basin and later notices "The People Who Keep Showing Up"; and 27 on Aug. 16, with Gemmy planning to check WitchVox in her search for a "new circle," and then embarking on a Beltane date with Paris.

Goddess in a Teapot: Carolyn L. Boyd invites you to take part in writing her next novel, in an Aug. 4 post, Persephone’s Bower: Prologue.   

Theapoetics: In her Aug. 27 post, Summer's Surrender, blogger talkbirth begins with a poem about "tiny flowers of summer" and then explains more in prose. She then shows us the flowers in many pics--and then they emerge on goddesses she has crafted.

Return to Mago: Some of the posts this on this Goddess-centered blog with multiple bloggers:
Hearth Moon Rising posted The Animal Mother Goddess, an excerpt from her book, Invoking Animal Magic, on Aug. 26.
Blog owner Helen Hwang's Aug. 23 post, Report of the First Mago Pilgrimage to Korea, is part 2 in a series.
On Aug. 19, Mary Saracino posted an excerpt from the first chapter of her novel, The Singing of Swans.
Leslene della Madre's Aug. 16 post, Sisterhood in OZ, is a photo-journal of her recent trip to the continent/country she calls "Awe/stralia."
In an Aug. 9 post, Donna Snyder reviews Danica Anderson's book Blood and Honey Icons.
Max Dashu's Aug. 2 post, The Midsummer Dancers, discusses ecstatic dancing that was part of midsummer observances in various European cultures in the 14th to 16th centuries CE.

Broomstick Chronicles: In her Aug. 10 post, Anniversary Reflections, Macha NightMare reflects upon the effects of disaffiliating herself from the Reclaiming tradition a year ago.  In her Aug. 15 post, Further Reflections on Altars, she shares her experience with altars, focusing on their purpose. She writes that she is planning another installment in this series, on "idols and idolatry." Macha's Aug. 16 post, The Times They Are a Changin', compares today's relatively "out" Pagan population, to bygone days "when Witches (and Wiccans) kept deep within the broom closet, for all manner of reasons."

 At Brigid's Forge: Lunaea Weatherstone announces "A New Look" for her website, as well as a new website called, "The Goddess Path," in her Aug. 21 post. With links so you can take a look. She also reveals a bit of her future plans.

Pagan Square: These are just some of the many posts by various bloggers this month in this multi-trad blog:
In an Aug. 24 SageWoman channel post, Betwixt & Between with Bee in Tuatha dé Danaan Land, Bee Smith writes of finding the Goddess Danu, with references to Brigit and William Butler Yeats.
Jen McConnel's Aug. 23 post in the SageWoman channel, Athena's American City, tells of attending a conference in Nashville, Tennessee and planning to visit the reconstructed Parthenon to visit Athena. But then....
In an Aug. 18 fiction post, Wounded to Heal, in the SageWoman channel, Paolo Suarez tells of the initiation of a woman named Anima.
Blogger Hec's Aug. 18 post, with references to the Goddess Maat, suggests A Spell for Egypt to help settle the situation there.
In an Aug. 16 post in the SageWoman channel, Goddess Body, World Body, blogger Molly begins by quoting Robin Morgan's revision of a Christian prayer, and a passage from Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor's, The Great Cosmic Mother. Molly tells of working on a thesis about birth as a spiritual experience and gives background on "patriarchal creation myths" that gender-reverse the biological birth process.
In her Aug. 3 post, Hekate's crossroads, Elani Temperance gives her interpretation of the mythology and symbols associated with the  Goddess Hecate.
In his Aug. 2 post, The Why Of Within, Ivo Dominguez Jr. concludes a 4-part series on "meditation and contemplative practices in Paganism."
In an Aug. 1 post, Political Sacrifice, Hec contemplates the role of sacrifice "in our magical/political lives."  


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Women's Equality Day Challenges

The celebration of Women’s Equality Day in the U.S. tomorrow comes with a special urgency this year, 2013. Women’s rights are under attack, especially from the right wing of the Republican party, with their so-called reasoning often based in religious doctrine.

The U.S. has been marking Women’s Equality Day since 1971 when, at the urging of the late Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), a Congressional and then Presidential proclamation was issued designating Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 that gave women the right to vote. The Day's purpose is also to continue a focus on women’s issues. Every President since 1971 has issued a Women’s Equality Day proclamation,  including this year’s proclamation by President Obama.

 On this Women’s Equality Day, both the right to vote and women’s health care are among the issues backtracking to what seems to me like the middle ages, but is probably more accurately the early 20th century for voting and the mid-20th century for health care. In the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act, Republican-led State actions, such as curbing voting hours and requiring photo IDS, impact not only minorities and university students but also women. In addition—and more specific in its aim—health care for women is increasingly imperiled by a growing number of laws in a growing number of States aiming to get around the 1973 Roe v.Wade SCOTUS legalization of abortion. Among other things, these State actions set up impossible-to-meet requirements that result in the closing clinics which include safe and legal abortion in the health care they provide to women. The anti-abortion advocates often give biblical scripture as source for their sometimes violent actions, and for the imposition of tests such as transvaginal ultrasound, which, when performed without the patient’s consent as these proposals require, fits the definition of rape. In general, this maltreatment of women can be seen as an outcome of the interpretations and doctrines particularly in fundamentalist religions that give men dominion over women, and insist on speaking of deity in masculine/male-only language. The impact of fundamentalist religion has caused a backtracking on a trend to more egalitarian language in public prayer and references to deity. For example, I don’t remember ever hearing William Jefferson Clinton, while president, referring to deity by gender. He used the term God, but did not combine it with “he” or “Lord” or any other gendered term. This is not true of President Obama, whom I have heard use masculine pronouns when speaking of deity when he could have easily just left off the pronouns. Others seem to be following the President's example. Yesterday, in the speeches at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Civil Rights, in the prayers I heard, all god-language was male/masculine, including prayers by women. This use of exclusively masculine-gendered words for deity reinforces, empowers, enables the ongoing political actions imperiling women’s rights.

The backtracking-on-women’s-issues trend has made its way into parts of the Pagan community. A number Pagans, both women and men, use the supposedly generic term “gods” when referring to both male and female deities. Pagans can’t even make the argument that these deities are ungendered as those in Abrahamic religion try to do when they use the word God (followed by “He.”) When you use “gods” to include female deities, it disappears the female deities; a god in Paganism is widely understood to be male. This is just one of the ways that fundamentalism or right-wing thinking is influencing Pagan thought and practices among some Pagans—and again, I’m not just talking about men. I think, for the most part, this is not intentional, it is just that we are influenced by the dominant culture we live in and unconsciously adopt its practices and sometimes beliefs, though they may be somewhat disguised so that the bias is not easily recognized. It is, however, easily remedied (and I know you want to remedy this, right?) by using “gods and goddesses” alternating with “goddesses and gods”; or, when writing, god/dess; or using inclusive terms such as deities and divinities.

This Women’s Equality Day, let’s see if we can become conscious of practices in our communities that go counter to equal treatment of women. Maybe we can call it Pagan consciousness-raising—a first step to restored equality.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lammas Issue of Seasonal Salon

The Lammas issue of Seasonal Salon, the online publication of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess International, opens with a Letter from the Editor, Nancy VanArdsdall. In this piece, VanArdsdall recalls the late Kay Gardner's contributions to Goddess spirituality, and writes about the significance of Lammas, both spiritual and political, including that:
"We are being challenged to protect and defend what is both being threatened and destroyed by patriarchy.
In this issue of Seasonal Salon, we are not only reminded to honor the Amazons who fought on those frontiers, we are being challenged as Amazons to protect, to defend what patriarchy is threatening and in too many cases, such as in Texas, is destroying: our harvest—the inherent rights that belong to us women."

Barb Lutz/Tribas presents Lammas Altar art, and writes about the Goddess women who inspired it as well as the significance of both Lammas and Imbolc.

In her article on participating in the pro-choice activism in response to recent anti-choice actions by the Texas legislature, Renee Rabb reports on the filibuster by State Sen. Wendy Davis and also delves into the motivation and convictions of women who participated in the demonstrations against the Texas Senate Republican majority's sneak attack on women's rights (previous five words my description). Rabb then interviews a number of women about their opinions on the relationship of spirituality and political action.

Jane Danko presents and discusses  her art depicting Castro Field in Spain and the thorny gorse bush. This is followed by Danko's poem, "Castro Field."

In "The Fruits of Our World," Roisin Fandel writes her response to
 a Cella weekend where the convening advisor hung sheets of paper on which womyns’ names were written who, across the years, had worked to change the status of womyn. Reading the names of those I did not know brought me up against the totality of how little information about womyn’s achievement is actually ever mentioned.
Fandel goes on to discuss a number of the women she honors and remembers at Lammas.

Nano Boye Nagle offers a beautifully poetic and ritualistic "Harvest Call."

A feature called "From the Archives," shares an article by Lynnie and Jade that first appeared in the print journal, Of A Like Mind, Candlemas 9996.  It discusses the establishment of RCGI's Women's Thealogical Institute, which they describe as
one of the first leadership development programs for Goddess women since the fall of the great temples, training women for leadership/service and the duties of Priestesses.
 The article also discusses the naming--and meaning of the name--of the Cella program.

"Demeter Brings the Grain," is art by Nancy Rutherford.

The issue closes with Sally Jo Fussell's recollection of a past experience in "Personal Ritual for Lammas."       

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hearth Moon Rising's Book About Animals and Goddesses

Invoking Animal Magic: A Guide for the Pagan Priestess by Hearth Moon Rising (Moon Books/John Hunt Publishing 2013) trade paperback, 341 pages.

Invoking Animal Magic is an extraordinary book, richly written and chock full of information and inspiration related to goddesses (and some gods) and the creatures with which they’re associated. The author, Hearth Moon Rising, is a Dianic priestess and is also ordained by the Fellowship of Isis. She lives in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where she teaches magic.

Hearth begins the book, not with the usual Introduction, but by jumping right into the mythological/mystical/magical substance of the book with the first section of Chapter 1: Creatures of the Underworld. This initial section, titled "Snake Dreams," is about living with snakes and relates them and their symbolism to the goddesses of various cultures including (but not limited to) Roman, Greek, Cretan, Minoan, and Maltese. The next two sections, "The Hag and the Serpent" (about Cailleach) and "The Transformation of the Seer," (about Athena and Tiresias) are stories Hearth has written, drawing from mythology. This is followed by a "Snake Review," useful particularly for people studying this material on their own as well as for those who may teach this material. The next section, "Approaching Animal Magic," contains what I would consider an overall introduction to the material in this book (in this review, I will refer to similar sections as "explanatory sections"). In it, Hearth writes: "This guide is designed to help you get a better ‘feel’ for the subject....Instead of memorizing, categorizing, and referencing, you will need to concentrate on experiencing, understanding and imagining." To me, this explains why she placed the mythical and mystical material before what we might call the intellectual material that appears in this section, and it certainly works for me. What a breath of fresh air to experience–feel–before we intellectualize. Certainly it is appropriate for this book. She also recommends that you have within reach while reading the book "a pencil with a good eraser," and remarks that "you might find a highlighter useful." Definitely. You should see my highlighting in this book—in some places it’s hard to see a non-highlighted line. This chapter’s next section, "Such A Deal," retells a legend about sibyls. The final section of the first chapter, "Musings on a Multi-Patterned Scale," contains exercises related to ritual and magical work.

There are 7 sections in each of the the book’s 9 chapters, and the structure of each chapter is similar: mythological/mystical section about Goddesses and animals, followed by retelling of myths, followed by a review of the material up to that point, followed by an explanatory section (always the third from the last), followed by other myths or legends, and ending with a "Musings" section. Chapter 2: Creatures of the Womb focuses on bats; its explanatory section is "The Animal Mother Goddess." Chapter 3: Creatures of the Soil focuses on mice (including Mickey Mouse) and ants. Its explanatory chapter is "What is a Magical Animal?" In answering this question, Hearth writes: "In plain speaking, an animal is any mammal that isn't human. Pagan magic accepts and expands the biological definition of animal, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, non-human mammals, and humans...along with mermaids, unicorns and dragons."

Chapter 4, Creatures of the Dream World focuses on bears (including Yogi Bear). Its explanatory chapter is "The Animal Guided Meditation, part one," which gives instructions for an audio guided meditation that can be found here. "The Animal Guided Meditation, part two," is the explanatory section of the Chapter 5 and contains suggestions for making the most of the meditation. These suggestions may be applicable to expanding your work with other meditations as well. This chapter, titled Creatures of the Night, focuses mainly on owls. Chapter 6: Creatures of the Long Journey focuses mainly on toads and frogs; its explanatory chapter is "What Kind of Animal Are You?" Chapter 7: Creatures of Silence focuses mainly on spiders. Its explanatory chapter is "Them Lyin’ Critters."  Chapter 8: Creatures of Transformation focuses on hares and rabbits (including Bugs Bunny), with a few nods to tortoises and cows. Its explanatory section is, "If it looks like a Duck, It Could Still Be a Witch." Chapter 9: Creatures of the Otherworld focuses on dogs, wolves and werewolves. Its explanatory chapter is "Wolf Bane, Wolf Brew."

Although each chapter highlights particular animals, the book is not limited to them; among the animals also appearing in this book are bees, birds, cattle, dolphins, horses, fish, deer, foxes, horses, jackals, lions, sheep, and lambs. The book also discusses mythical creatures and many many goddesses. It is illustrated with black and white pictures throughout. The after-matter includes very helpful appendixes on "Heroes and Deities", and "Ancient People and Places," followed by one page of Notes and then an extensive bibliography, filmography, and a very adequate index.

Invoking Animal Magic appears to be Hearth Moon Rising’s first book. It is extremely well written, clear yet with depth and humor. Its writing appears effortless (though usually writing that appears effortless has taken a lot of thought)—certainly it is easy to read, with its fine organization adding to the reader’s enjoyment. I hope we will be seeing more books from Hearth! In the meantime, we have her blog.

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Monday, August 05, 2013

SageWoman Lists Goddess Spirituality 'Wisdom Keepers'

The Summer Into Fall issue (Issue 84) of SageWoman magazine just out contains an article, "Tapestry of Voices: Wisdom Keepers of the Goddess Spirituality Movement," by Hayley Arrington, who prefaces the article by explaining that it was undertaken in response to "a number of 'Top Pagan Leaders' articles that recently appeared in the Pagan blogosphere....Many such lists omit important figures in the women's spirituality movement. This piece is intended to remedy that lack."

The article contains an annotated list with 78 entries (not limited to Pagans), divided into three sections: "Pioneers 19th to mid-20th Century"; "Popularizers: 1970s and 1980s"; "Remodelers and Renewers: 1990-Present."   Most of the entries are about individuals (most --but not all--of them women), but there are also entries about organizations (such as the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers), courses (such as Cakes for the Queen of Heaven), and magazines (such as Of A Like Mind). 

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