Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Buzz Coil: August-September-October

Blessed Samhain/Hallows and Happy Halloween.
Here are some notes about recent posts from blogs on our blogroll:
Annelinde's World: Annelinde Metzner's poems discussed here are all accompanied by illustrations: Oct. 5 post: the poem, "I Feel Like a Big Person" which begins "Dr. Mukwege sews and sews" tells about a surgeon Annelinde writes she was introduced to by Eve Ensler and the relation of his activities to women's power. Annelinde's Sept. 24 posted poem, "Milkweed" is about the warmth of September and its bees, wild strawberries, goldenrod, and the "Sacred Mound." Her Sept 18 posted poem, "She's Still There" tells of a mountain called "Grandfather" by some and "Grandmother" by others, including Annelinde. Her Aug. 11 posted poem "The Holy City" is about a mountain called "Grandmother of North Carolina."

Veleda: Max Dashu's Aug. 5 post, "Serpent Goddess in the Tree" focuses on the representation of the Serpent as a Goddess in the Tree of Wisdom  by European artists from 1200 into the 1600s. With many illustrated examples. Dashu's Aug 2 post, " Furies and Witches" contains historical information about the stories of the Furies, focusing on Tisiphone. Also with many illustrated examples.

HecateDemeter:  Hecate's Oct. 23 post, "Public Magic in Spite of..." opens with a general discussion of her views on Pagans who tell other Pagans that they're doing "it" wrong, and goes on to discuss the U.S. electoral process. I can't resist quoting an excerpt from the paragraph that starts the electoral discussion. Hecate writes:
"One very public act of magic is showing up to vote.  (Your vote is secret, but the fact that you voted is public information — as someone recently had to explain to the moron in the White House.)  And. . . . what I’ve learned is that, when enough of us vote, the magic works."
 Hecate's Oct. 18 post, "In Event of Emergency, Break Window and Perform Spell," illustrated with a beautiful picture of a blue candle flaming white, is a ritual from Michael M. Hughes, centered around the need for a "blue wave."  Hecate's series, "The Magical Battle for America," continues on: Oct. 14 and 7; Sept. 23, 16, 9, and 2; and Aug. 26, 19, 12, and 5.

Pagaian Cosmology: Australian Glenys D. Livingstone's Oct. 18 post, "Beltaine/Samhain Moment @ EarthGaia," explains the astronomical and spiritual significances of these 2 holidays occurring in late October-early November in Earth's Southern and Northern hemispheres. Among her many fascinating statements is "Death is actually the Mother of us all " (yes, in red, and in her post, linked to more info).

Fellowship of Isis Central: The Sept. 26 post of this blog announces the uploading of an FOI liturgy ritual in a translation from English into French.

My Village Witch: When I visited Byron Ballard's blog this time ( c. 10/26-10/29), what I assume is an html (or coding) error made it impossible for me to enter the blog.

Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on the following blogs, we are now suggesting that you visit them and select the posts that interest you most.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.
The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Pagan Square: This blog of many mostly-Pagan paths is sponsored by BBI Media and includes SageWoman blog posts.

The Wild Hunt: Pagan, news-oriented blog that has grown from single blogger to many bloggers


Thursday, October 04, 2018

REVIEW: The Holy Wild by Danielle Dulsky

The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman by Danielle Dulsky, New World Library 2018, Trade Paperback, 292 pages, ISBN 978-1-60868-527-1 (also available as e-book)

In her newest book, Danielle Dulsky writes with a poet’s use of words and a scholar’s structure of material. To give you an idea of the beauty of the writing, with permission of the publisher I will quote here several passages from the author’s Introduction, titled “Her Genesis,” and hope that you will remember that these are only brief glimpses of this beautiful Introduction, which begins:
In the beginning, there was She.
She was nature’s primordial pulse, the pan-elemental alchemy of birth; the fertile void of death; and the mysterious, enduring, and numinous cosmic infinite. All was She, and She was all. Her power pervaded the totality of existence and veiled all potential worlds in the name of holy manifestation. Her steady, purposeful rhythm pounded on, in, and through the stellar fusions, the planet building, and the great galactic swell. The universal dawn was a quantum prayer to Her, and She was dancing for us long before humanity’s blessed inception, long before the glow of the primal feminine was eclipsed by modernity.
“While the rhythm of Her hallowed drum has slowed and quieted to a barely audible, near-whisper beat, while humanity’s spiritual landscape has been overbuilt and hums with man-made hymns, She can never be silenced....

“This book is a five-part ode to Her, to you, and to the yet-to-be-rebuilt bridge between our spirituality and our lived, embodied experience. What you will find here is hearty home-cooked nourishment for the nature-hungry spirit, seasoned with a good deal of feminine ire and served hot. What you will find here is an invitation to descend into the dark with me, to gather up pieces of ourselves we have forgotten, and to rise. The wilds of nature will always be our ancestral home....

“Rise Up, Heathen Priestess: She Lives in the Wilds
....As women of the wild, we deserve our own holy books, our own teaching tales, and our own venerable verses of validation….The her-stories I offer here have merit only in their meeting with your own life; they do not stand alone as immutable truths or a step-by-step path toward any lofty and permanent healing goal, nor do they assert any secret mysteries that I alone am privileged to know....

“The women who have been locked inside the books they called good deserve liberation from their externally imposed immorality. We must unlock the cages in which they have been contained for so long, trapped behind the iron bars of judgment and dismissal…. We share the scars of every woman who has been condemned to ever be spiritually imprisoned, and, in these pages, I offer all the primal feminine technology this Witch has in her toolbox to dismantle the indoctrinated beliefs that continue to limit our spiritual autonomy; divorce our bodies from our spirits; and fence in what is, by nature, untamed, heathen, and wild.

“The roots of the word heathen run far deeper than its derogatory, godless connotation; it is believed to come from the Germanic word meaning “dweller on the heath, one inhabiting uncultivated land.” To be heathen means to belong to the wild, to take our lessons from the natural world, and to be nourished by what we fundamentally are rather than what we are told we must be. Let me distinguish here between Heathenry, a polytheistic neo-Pagan religion for which I have much reverence but to which I do not belong, and the eclectic pre-Christian landscape of our ancestors....

 Find Her in the Dark:
 The Fertile Shadows of the Feminine Path
Heathen Priestess, your bejeweled crown is the same size as mine. I am neither above nor below you, and the round table of the Holy Wild has no structured hierarchy....

“My story is no more significant than yours, and my hope is that you drink in the poetry, feel nourished by the ceremonies, and complete the myths I begin here while constantly affirming your own authority and your own spiritual agency....

“....Sister, we do not always find Her in the light. Sometimes, we find Her in the dark.
“We find Her in the places that terrify us, and we find Her in the places they told us not to look.

“Walking a Wilder Path: Seeking Out the Fringes
You have many names, my love. In this book, I will call you a Priestess to validate your authority over your own spiritual journey. A Priestess looks within for direction and listens to the whispers, whimpers, and guttural groans of her inner wise woman. A Priestess is an elder. A Priestess is a woman who, regardless of linear age, has done the work and earned the right to say who she is and what she believes....
“I will call you a Witch to affirm your birthright as a holy healer, to vindicate those socially rejected women who were hunted — who still are hunted in many parts of the world — in the name of not only patriarchy but also institutionalized racism, classism, and persistent imperialism. I will call you Witch to give a fierce nod to our stolen feminine spirituality and to give your wisdom a real name....

“This path is wild because we cannot possibly predict where it will lead us…. In these pages, I will call this wild path the Red Road, the always-spiraling, unmapped route toward a woman’s spiritual home.”
The Introduction goes on to introduce the 5 sections of The Holy Wild, each called a Book and named after the traditional elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and the not-so-familiar to some—Ether. Each book begins with a chapter of “verses,” that is, poetic writing, and continues with chapters about and of rituals and magick. The Books are related to various Goddess imagery and female/feminine archetypes. It is within these sections that Dulsky’s scholarly structuring is most strongly exhibited. Here are some examples:
The “Book of Earth” is devoted to “The Wild Feminine Archtype: The Priestess of the Wild Earth. Its “Earth Verses,” section asks readers to “envision yourself encircled by your ancestors as you read.” Dulsky then relates the Earth archetype to the “sovereign maiden,” aspect of the Goddess and specifically to the mythology of Lilith, Persephone-Kore, and Inanna. It also includes comments, several related writings including at least one from the Abrahamic (Abrahamic is a term that refers to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, that is, religions that can be traced back to the patriarch Abraham) Bible and a suggestions for the reader’s writing and other assignments. The section on Earth Rituals has 7 rituals including those for “the Everyday Warrioress,” “Forbidden Fruit,” and “Self-Initiation.” Earth Magick includes a 4-part “welcoming” working related to Lilith, and also has 4 other workings.
The Book of Water is devoted to “The Wild Feminine Archetype: The Maiden of the Unbridled Feminine.” It focuses on the women and goddesses Salome, Freya, and Lalita.  The “Water Verses” section’s 10 parts includes “Revisioning Salome,”and “Our Wild Art and Unbridled Sensuality.” In the ritual section you will find rituals for the solstices and equinoxes, and 5 other rituals, including one of dance involving masks and veils and another with 3 parts. Among the 6 workings in the The Water Magic section are “Crafting the Cosmic Egg,”and “Making Holy Water.”
The Books of Fire, Air, and Ether include similar definitions, sections, and workings. The Book of Fire is devoted to the “Prophetess of the Wild Fire” and focuses on the “Dark Goddess,” and more specifically the women and goddesses known as “Mother of Babylon” (Christian Bible), Medusa, Oya, Kali, Brighid, and Hestia. The Book of Air archetype is “Witch of Sacred Love” and/or “Sacred Healer,” which include the women and goddesses Mary Magdalene, Aphrodite, Oshun, and Paravati. The Book of Ether archetype is “The Queen of the Ethereal Divine,” including the Hag or the Crone. It includes the Biblical  Jezebel and the “dark goddesses” Hekate, Baba Yaga, and The Cailleach.”
The last chapter of The Holy Wild is named, “Her Revelation.” Its 2nd paragraph begins: “A woman can certainly bring about the End of Days —the end of the world as we know it….” This relates it to the “Book of Revelation” the last book in the Christian Bible. Yet as in discussions in other parts of the book, Dulsky also departs in her writing from Abrahamic religions and adds other associations, such as “nature-based practices,” contact with Goddess, magick, and other Goddess associations. And the author begins the last section of this book with these words:
“Here in this book I offered you no religion. To be heathen is to predate the spiritual systems that have bound us. To my mind our modern religions have too often, though certainly not always, been a largely male-led dimension of systemized spirituality that is easily spoon-fed to the masses when seasoned with a good deal of fear.”
Though some people may object to this book’s combining Goddess Spirituality with material from the Abrahamic Bible, it may open the way to Goddess for others, particularly those just beginning on this path, for whom the book is especially suitable. It will also be an asset for those seeking to combine Goddess with Christianity or Judaism (a practice becoming increasing common) whether they are just starting on the Goddess path or have been on it for some time. In any case, The Holy Wild is terrific teaching tool and is extraordinarily well written.

The book’s back matter includes an Appendix with sources for further study, divided by the 5 Books of The Holy Wild; Acknowledgements; Notes on the material on the various chapters; Additional Resources for  Kali, Lalita, Oshun, and Oya; and a 14-page index.

Danielle Dulsky is author of 2 books related to Goddess Spirituality. She is also an artist, yoga teacher, energy worker, and founder of Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs. She leads women’s circles, witchcraft workshops, and energy healing trainings and lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. For more information, see her website, DanielleDulsky.com.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Interview With Author Danielle Dulsky

 In preparation for our review of the book which we expect to post tomorrow, we are happy to bring you a slightly excerpted interview with Danielle Dulsky, author of The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman. The interview is provided by the publisher, New World Library, whose format we edited lightly for blog use.
Publisher (abbreviated NWL below):….Can you explain the book’s title?

Danielle Dulsky (abbreviated DD below): I like to the think of the title as a mini-spell of sorts. The words are ordered in a very specific way that is intended to unbind some of the knots that have been tied around nature-based spirituality, women’s stories, and the sacred in general. The word “Heathen” is derived from “dweller on the heath” or those who were living in rural and as-yet un-Christianized areas, so even though the word invokes a visceral response similar to “Witch” or “Pagan,” it simply means living close to nature, close to the “old ways,” and/or in tune with the land and the wilds.

NWL: What do you mean when you use the terms “the wilds” and “untamed”?
DD: When I say “the wilds” and “untamed,” I’m not speaking about being out of control or immature. The wilds are meeting place between nature and our own human psyche. It is a growing landscape that has retained the beauteous balance between sovereignty and interconnectivity, reclaiming the essence of Earth-based traditions. I think all modern spiritual paths that claim a kinship with the natural world — such as Witchcraft, Wicca, and any number of new age spiritualities — could benefit from stripping themselves down from time to time. White neo-pagans in particular, would do well to examine how their practices have evolved with respect to both colonization and capitalism, and to work toward dismantling those systems of oppression to which few contemporary spiritual paths are truly immune. It’s the task of the practitioner to really examine practices and beliefs, dig out what’s not theirs or has been appropriated, and find the connection to nature, which is a deep reverence for the wilds.

NWL: How is the book laid out?
DD: The book is written in five different sections, or chapters — one for each of the elements. Each section is comprised of verses, rituals, and magick. The verses chapters are opportunities for the reader to explore the ways in which the element has manifested in her own story — in her own lived experience — while the rituals and magick chapters are various spells, rituals, and guided meditations for developing a further relationship with that particular element.

NWL: Is this a book only for those who identify as women?
DD: Absolutely not. This book is for anyone who is hungry for the divine feminine, which need not be framed according to deity. Nature is the divine feminine, and Goddess archetypes all over the world reflect this of-the-Earth quality. Because we’re so accustomed to presuming divinity is male, I do use “she/her” pronouns and “woman,” but it’s the suppressed feminine we’re after, not “femaleness.”

NWL: You proudly call yourself a Witch. Can you explain what that means to you?
DD: Being a Witch means very different things to different people. For me, a Witch is anyone, regardless of gender, who both practices Witchcraft and has claimed the name Witch for their own; I say this not to disrespect any lineages or traditions but to validate both solitary practitioners who might have been Witches for decades or longer but never trained as such due to a lack of access, or those hereditary Witches who have no name for their lineage, perhaps, but are certainly no less Witch simply because they don’t have a particular label for what they do….. To my mind, Witches don’t want to conform to those same hierarchical systems that have defined, and indeed confined, religions over the years, so we must retain some resistance to systemic organization. At the same time, we must also support those who are new to the Craft and encourage safe and skilled mentorships that empower the new practitioner.

NWL: What if you live in a city or urban area? Can you still be a Witch?
DD: Of course. I actually address this in the book, so readers living in a variety of urban places can still connect with their nature magick. Firstly, as an urban Witch, you have innumerable resources that a rural Witch might not have, including community and circle. Secondly, nature is everywhere. We can always see the sky, feel the wind on our faces and the ground under our feet.

NWL:A significant part of the book offers the reader a chance to write their own “verses” and stories. Why is this so important?

DD: I’m a huge fan of personal myth-writing as a means of making sense of life’s experiences. When we write and tell our own stories in an intentionally new way, we almost always glean some important piece of knowledge or wisdom we may not have noticed before. When we do this, we find that many of the answers we’re looking for are right there in our own lived experiences, and I think that any truly “holy book” will permit those who read it a chance to become a part of it. This is the “embodied spiritual,” or the practice of feeling, sensing, and naming the sacred with the body rather than merely the mind.

NWL: Who did you write this book for?
DD: This book is for anyone searching for the sacred within their own experiences. You don’t need to consider yourself a woman, a Witch, or even “wild” to read it, though it’s helpful to not be offended by those terms. What you do need to have is a sense of some bit of the sacred within the world around you — within the Holy Wild of your life.

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