Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Memoriam: Layne Redmond, 1952-2013

We mourn the passing of Layne Redmond, author of When The Drummers Were Women, frame drummer and teacher.  Layne died of cancer the morning of Oct. 28 in Asheville NC. She was 61. I feel fortunate to have been able to attend her "Buzz Off" birthday party via live internet streaming August 17, and inspired by her high spirits and openness as death approached. Many tributes are already springing up like flowers on the Internet. At this moment, some of them are:
The Wild Hunt (posted by Jason Pitzl-Waters, written by Wendy Griffin) with 2 videos
One Vibration
Percussive Arts Society
The Witch of Stitches
Layne's Facebook Page
Women Frame Drumming on Facebook
Drum Magazine on Facebook
[updated 11:34 p.m. 10/29]

May she rest in the arms of the Goddess and be renewed.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Buzz Coil: October 2013

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

My Village Witch: Byron Ballard's Oct. 23 post, In the Cool of the Evening, begins with a visit to a bookstore and evolves into poetic thoughts about the autumn in the Appalachian Mountains. Her Oct. 18 post, Days of Bright Wild Leaves, tells of her participation in the recent Southeast Wise Woman Herbal Conference, where, among other things, she taught classes on Appalachian Cove Healing, Rites of Passage and Finding Your Own Myth. 

My Life as a Goddessian: In an Oct. 23 post by Stormy Seaside writes of Of Sweetgum, birds nest and bees ---and gratitude.

WoodsPriestess: In this blog formerly known as Theapoetics, blogger talkbirth's Oct. 21 post, Co-Circling & The Priestess Path, discusses shared responsibility in Circling and invites readers to join her Facebook group "for those interested in the priestess path as a serious commitment/vocation."

Goddess House: In an Oct. 4 post, Sacred Goddess Circles coming to Adelaide, blogger As't Moon tells why women-only Sacred Goddess Circles will begin at the Adelaide, Australia, location in 2014.

Annelinde's World: Annelinde Metzner's Oct. 12 post, a poem, A Prize for Malala, contains quotes from the 16-year old and a photo of her from her book, along with other pics.

Love of the Goddess: In her Oct. 19 post, Samhain Magic, Dumb Supper, blogger Tara offers suggestions about how to conduct this tradition. Her Oct. 11 post is about Berchta, Germanic Goddess of Winter.

Hearth Moon Rising's blog: In her Oct. 11 post, Hearth Moon Rising takes a look at Understanding Halloween, including the relationship to Native American, Mexican, and ancient Celtic celebrations.

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters Oct. 23 post, Everyday (and Everything) is Halloween, discusses the changing treatment of this holiday in the media, especially in TV shows. He writes:
"Like it or not, Halloween has established itself as the dark mirror of Christmas in the Western holiday calendar."
 He gives examples of why he also feels that
 "the figure of the witch is changing dramatically before our very eyes. It is now deeply embedded in our culture that witchcraft is no longer solely malefic..." 

Casa della Dea: This Italian language blog explains the origin of "Halloween" in an Oct. 18 post by Eilantha Redspring, Le vere origini di Halloween...

Broomstick Chronicles: In an Oct. 4 post, Macha NightMare (Aline O'Brien) offers her thoughts on Boundaries & Permeability, Inclusivity & Exclusivity, particularly in the Pagan community.

Works of Literata: Blogger Literata's Oct. 4 post, Columbia, Help us rise, analyzes the recent power struggles in the U.S. government, with particular focus on the Tea Party, writing,
 "...it is terribly dangerous to the functioning of a democracy and the system of representative government for people to elect politicians who proclaim their fundamental mission as NOT governing, politicians who claim that they do not believe that the institution they are going to be part of should exist in its current form and fulfill its current functions."
The post culminates with a prayer to Columbia, and begins with a pic of her statue atop the U.S. Capitol. 

Goddess in a Teapot: In an Oct. 14 post, Carolyn L. Boyd posted Persephone’s Bower: Chapter One, a draft of a novel she's working on, and invites your comments to help her with revisions. Her Oct. 20 post, Living in the Garden of Time, speculates on the relationship of nature and time. 

HecateDemeter: posted Chapter 31 of her fiction (will it be a novel?) "A Place Without a Witch" on Oct. 11.

GoddessChess: In an Oct. 19 post, Oops! Etruscan Man Actually A Woman, blogger Jan, presents an article from Live Science explaining how the error happened and its implications.

Group Blogs

Return to Mago: Some of this month's posts on this Goddess-centered blog of many bloggers:

Lydia Ruyle  treats us to her artistic interpretation of the Mexican ancestor spirit Itzpapalotl in a Oct. 24 post.

A poem in both Spanish and English, Fuerza Ancestral/Ancestral Strength is the Oct. 23 post of Xánath Caraza. With pic of the Goddess Tlazoteótl.

Why the Color of Isis Matters, posted on Oct. 18, is a continuation of an earlier Mago Circle discussion about the use of various colors  in spiritual representations. This part focuses particularly on black.  Participants in this transcript include Nae Ayle Kumari, Max Dashu, Harita Meenee, Glenys Livingstone, and Rick Williams.  

A poem, Red Tent Rising, is the Oct. 8 post of Andrew Guervich. With art.

Blog owner Helen Hwang's Oct. 4 post, Making the Gynocentric Case: Mago, the Great Goddess of East Asia...,  discusses the Budoji (Epic of the Emblem City) as a principal text of Magoism.

Witches and Pagans:  From this blog of many Pagan paths, published by BBI Media:
Byron Ballard's Oct. 23 post, Tending the Tears of Grief, tells about the first ancestor veneration discussion she's held in several years, this one "at Mother Grove's little chapel."

In an Oct. 21 post,  Samhain Approaching..., Joanne van der Hoeven writes about autumn beauty.

Robin Fennelly's Oct. 18 postHecate's Call: The Sorrow of the Mother, is the second of her three posts about this Goddess. It begins with a poetic invocation and goes on to tell of relating to Her at the full moon. The first in the series was posted on Oct. 3.

 "I am a belly dancer and will turn 60 this Christmas," writes Janice Tremeear in her Oct. 14 post, Dancing Crone. She has chosen the "Tribal style" of the dance and writes about its physical advantages and relationship to Goddess. With pics.

In her Oct. 9 post, The Tyranny of Secrecy, Aline "Macha" O'Brien, writes first of secrecy in general and then of secrecy in the Pagan community.

Terence P. Ward writes, in an Oct. 8 post, about a judge's comment, "This sounds like a convent," in a court case involving the Maetreum of Cybele.

In an Oct. 7 post, Susan Harper writes about a campaign, 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal, which was started by pro-choice Christian groups to counter an anti-choice campaign. Part of what Harper writes:
 "For 40 days, I am inviting Pagans of all paths to engage in whatever spellwork, ritual, or spiritual work they choose, with a focus on keeping abortion and reproductive health care safe and legal for all."

An Oct. 7 post, Dear Gaia, by Paola Suarez features her art depicting Gaia plus a letter she wrote to the Goddess while creating the art.

"After years of trying various paths through the forest of life, I finally found the Triple Goddess," writes Ted Czukor  in his October 5 post, This is the Mother's Forest." Czukor explains the significance of the forest in his journey to the Goddess.
Feminism and Religion: From this blog of many paths and many bloggers:

In her Oct 25 post, Janine Canan shares Three Poems from her forthcoming book: "The Visit," "On Her Breath," and "Only Once."

Aimee Hickman's Oct. 22 post, ...Mormons Seeking Women’s Ordination are Turned Away from Priesthood Conference tells of approximately 150 women being turned away from the priesthood session of the LDS church and the activities of an activist Mormon feminist group called, Ordain Women.

In an Oct. 21 post, Women Artists and Ritualists in the Great Caves... Carol P. Christ discusses recent news articles about ancient cave paintings being done by women. Under a pic of Fred Flintstone, she writes:
 "Despite decades of feminist theorizing about caves as the womb of the Great Mother, [Dean] Snow refused to speculate about the meanings 'cave women' might have given to the images within the caves. Could it be that he had never even encountered the idea that the cave symbolizes the womb of Mother Earth?"

Elizabeth Cunningham's Oct. 20 post, Longing for Hermitage   examines "religious solitude," beginning in 4th-5th centuries CE and continuing to her life today.

In her Oct. 16 post, What Would Malala Do?Gina Messina-Dysert discusses the example set by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. With a video clip from Jon Stewart's interview of Malala on the The Daily Show.

In her Oct. 12 post, Painting Holy Women, Angela Yarber explains why she does these paintings and refers to the portraits of several women and goddesses she has painted, and to the work of Carol P. Christ. With several pics of Rev. Dr. Yarber's paintings.

Giving specific examples, Kelly Brown Douglas, in an Oct. 10 post, examines Jesus' words to a woman, “Stand Up Straight,” in light of the mistreatment of women through the centuries to the current day.     

Beginning with quotes from Lisa Raphael and Leslene della-Madre, Molly Remer's Oct. 9 post, Birth Song, Life Song, Death Song, writes about her experience, starting in girlhood,  with rituals for important times in women's lives.

Carolyn Lee Boyd designates Feminism: A 21st Century Goddess of Healing, in an Oct. 7 post. She writes:
 "I had been active in political feminism, especially, since my teens, but suddenly I realized that all these women’s spirits had been so devastated by male-centric religions that the political progress I had set as my goal would never alone make them whole."
She tells of listening to other women's stories and outlines "three means" that she sees at work in the spiritual healing of women.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

REVIEW: Goddess Film by Antero Alli

The Book of Jane, an Antero Alli Film (Vertical Pool 2013), 117 minutes. Written and Directed by Antero Alli; Cinematography by Antero Alli.  Also available as a DVD.

As this intriguing film opens, the wind blows, a raven calls, and a Crone-like woman in black coat, jeans, and dark blue cap walks with the aid of a walking stick made from a tree limb. With a backpack and attached baby doll dressed in red, the woman limps around a college campus,  We may not be sure if what she is saying is coherent, but it is poetic: “The world is a busy place, a very very busy place. The world is in the business of consuming the planet. But the planet has other plans. The world is burning. The world is burning with the business, the busy business of saving the planet. But the world is not the planet and the planet does not need saving….Gaia is calling the shots now….” The woman continues her soliloquy for a bit, and then laughs and laughs.

Possibly related to the word “Book” in its title, this film is divided into chapters. As Chapter 1, “Signs and Omens” proceeds, the woman, Jane (Luna Olcott), speaks of “Mother Rhea” and goes beneath a bridge that spans a brook. As she takes a nap, we share the first of the wonderful dream sequences in this film, this one with music from the beautiful Ad Astra by contemporary composer Marie-Anne Fischer. In Chapter 2, “The Muse and Her Artist,” we meet two blonde women in their apartment, one a few years older than the other. The younger woman reveals a portrait she has just completed and set on what could be considered an altar. The portrait shows the slightly older woman as a crowned Goddess. We are then taken back to Jane sitting on a campus bench. She prays to Morpheus as she takes pain pills and tells of her first-born and only child, Brigit. Elsewhere on the campus, we see the older of the two blonde women sitting on a bench. Jane notices her but at first passes her by to pick up a feather, which she appears to listen to. She then turns around and brings the feather to her lips before speaking to the woman on the bench, who introduces herself as Alice (Marianne Shine). Alice explains she is a professor of comparative religious studies. Jane asks for the topic of her dissertation. At first Alice tries to dodge the question by saying she is busy, but Jane persists, and Alice replies, “Ancient Goddess Mythologies: PreHellenic Era.” As the conversation continues, Alice refers to Jane as “homeless.” But Jane says that she prefers the term “nomadic.” Jane also mentions the pain she’s in is related to the fact that she “can’t shit….it’s all backed up.” Alice continues to alternate between being fascinated with and being impatient with Jane, but eventually is won over by her knowledgeable and wise remarks, which include, “Goddess never advertises.” Though clearly quite intelligent and informed, Jane speaks mostly from the heart. Alice approaches, or tries to approach, matters intellectually. To me this conversation is the start of a theme related to an issue that has interested me for some time: the intellectual approach to Goddess studies compared with the experiential approach to understanding Goddess. Is it a comparison or is it a conflict? Does the intellectual focus on Goddess studies in a university (or other setting), which, though it establishes the legitimacy of anthropology, archeology, and history of Goddess veneration, detract from our deeply experiencing Goddess? Can we have both? This theme continues, often subtly, throughout the film.

Chapter 3,”What Other People Eat,” begins with Jane sitting on an alley pavement, her bare shaved head against a red brick building, thinking about food. The scene then shifts to Alice and her housemate and partner, Colette (Madeline H.D. Brown). In their apartment, Alice tells Colette about meeting Jane, who she describes as being in her 60s and “the most interesting woman.”  The scene then switches back to Jane, who is struggling to walk along the street. She forages for food in the trash, then eats her meal. Alice spots Jane rinsing her eating utensils in the brook. In Chapter 4, “The Conjuring,” Jane is in the woods performing ritual magick. She apparently doesn't notice one of Alice’s students, Tom (Nathan Rosquist), sitting nearby, reading. Alice has been rather impatient with him and has given him additional assignments. As Jane’s ritual work progresses, Tom puts his book aside and begins to take pictures of her activities. In Chapter 5, “I am You in the Future,” (whose title is based on one of Jane's comments to Alice), Jane mulls over the history of Goddess veneration, with an accompanying focus on her Brigit doll. Alice and Jane meet up again on campus and talk about patriarchy and religion and about Alice’s plans to turn her dissertation into a book. Jane asks to see the book treatment proposal and once Alice allows her to hold it, she immediately takes charge, marking it up in red pen and giving Alice additional editorial and linguistic suggestions. In Chapter 6, “The Invitation,” Colette and Alice discuss the pros and cons of inviting Jane over for dinner. Garbed in white, Alice sits for another portrait as Colette paints. The scene shifts to Jane on campus, telling Brigit doll that she needs to go to the hospital for “neuro-electrical stimulation of the sacrum.” After her treatment at the hospital, Jane returns to her place under the bridge, and Alice invites her to dinner.

Chapter 7, “Phantom Queen, Great Queen” begins with another marvelous dream sequence as Jane sleeps. This dream is of the Morrighan (Morpheus Ravenna). When Jane awakes, she confides her interpretation of the  dream to her Brigit doll. At dinner with Alice and Colette, the women discuss whether the three of them could be considered representations of the Triple Goddess, with Jane as Crone, Alice as Mother, and Colette as Maiden. Colette objects, saying that she is no Maiden. Colette’s rather humorous objection may be based on a misunderstanding of the Maiden aspect of the Goddess, but nevertheless I agree with her. And though I can see Jane as Crone, I can’t see Alice as Mother. What I do see is that Jane could represent all three, just as the Morrighan and other goddesses sometimes vary between embodying one Goddess and being a triple Goddess. The most obvious representation for Jane is Crone, but as we get to know her we may also see that she is a Mother is a number of ways, and (since, in Goddess spirituality, the designations Mother, Maiden, Crone don’t necessarily refer to age but rather to personality or function), she can also be seen as Maiden in that she is independent, strong, and has an affection for the forests and woods.

In the next several chapters, the plot evolves in surprising ways that deepen the story—but I’m not going to tell you about them because I want you to be able to experience them fully when you see the film yourself. I will, however, talk about one aspect of a subplot I find puzzling. Relatively late in the film, the character of a landlady with an Asian name is introduced. We never see her. In fact, Alice and Colette say they’ve never seen her. But they don’t like her and consider her a grouch. Their contact with her is through a man who says he is just the apartment manager (Duncan Cook) and messenger from the landlady. I have to ask, what is the purpose of the landlady? If we never see her, why couldn’t the role be a landlord instead, played by the same actor who plays the manager? And why is the landlady given an Asian name? I feel like there’s something I don’t get here. Perhaps we are to surmise that the grouchy Asian landlady doesn’t really exist, and that the manager is just using her supposed existence to mask what are really his own opinions and actions? If you see the film, feel free to leave a comment here about what your interpretation would be.

I  want to express my appreciation for the high quality and variety of the music in the film’s soundtrack, which in addition to Fischer’s contemporary piece, includes baroque and folk genres. Many of its songs are sung and/or composed by Sylvi Alli, who is shown in the film as a street singer.

The World Premiere of The Book of Jane is Nov. 21 at the Berkeley Arts Festival, Berkeley CA. There will be a live performance of songs from film by Sylvi Alli at 7:30; the film begins at 8 p.m. More info about the film is here. Info about Antero Alli and his work is here. And you’ll find his “vision statement” about The Book of Jane, here. The Book of Jane will also be available on DVD.

This review is based on a DVD screener provided by Antero Alli and Vertical Pool Productions.

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