Tuesday, May 02, 2017

New Issue of Goddess Pages Published

Issue 30, Spring-Summer 2017 of Goddess Pages is just out! Usually I list the articles and poems, etc., in this wonderful publication, but at this time I want to draw your attention to Editor Geraldine Charles’ editorial, which has this information plus news of upcoming changes to the publication you’ll want to know about. Oh, and I can’t resist telling you that the first chapter of my book, Goddess Matters, titled “At the Crossroads,” is one of the contributions to this issue.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Beltane Meditation

This meditation is from my audiobook (which I also narrate) and e-book, Goddess Guided Meditations.

 Beltane/May Eve
Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax......Beltane is a happy celebration of love and life. Love in our own lives, and new life in our own lives and in the world around us. In your mind’s eye, see grass growing, the flowers and trees in bloom, the vegetables beginning to grow, some of them still beneath the soil. What else do you see on this spring day?.....Let this vision fill you with happiness….

Now turn your attention to your own life. To love in your life, love that involves physical pleasure. If you are involved in a relationship now, see your loved one in front of you. If you are not involved in a relationship and you want to be, ask to see one who might become your lover ....What is your loved one doing? Is your loved one saying anything? Is there anything you want to say to your loved one? If so, in your mind, say it now.....If you are not now involved in a relationship, and you want to be, affirm now that a relationship will manifest for you that is for the greater good of both of you and of all concerned. If your new love has not already appeared to you in your mind’s eye, take a moment to see if this person appears now, or if you can sense this person now…..

If your loved one is with you in your mind’s eye, reach out and take hands. Do you hear the music? It may be in the distance and very faint at first, but it’s getting a little louder now. What kind of music do you hear? Are there instruments playing? Are there people singing? Can you hear the words? As the music becomes a bit louder, it may also become a bit more boisterous. As it does this, move as close to your partner as you want and begin to dance. If you don’t presently have a partner, begin dancing alone. A partner—or many partners—may join you now. Or you may continue to dance alone. Notice that others are also dancing alone, but that all of you—with partners and without—are dancing together in this dance of life….
Now the music slows, becomes softer, until you may no longer be able to hear it distinctly although a melody may linger in your mind. If you are dancing with a partner, you let go of your partner’s hand. You say goodbye—for now—to your partner and to others in the dance, and you come back to this place and time. And when you are ready, open your eyes.

Copyright 2013 by Judith Laura. Permission given for use in spiritual work, but not for republishing it elsewhere.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Buzz Coil: April 2017

Here are some recent posts from blogs on our blogroll (please note, we don't knowingly list posts in Buzz Coil that have been published previously by the blogger elsewhere or on the same blog) [editor's note: I have tried about 10 times to get the item about HecateDemeter's posts the same font as the rest of this, but I cannot (I am transferring it from WORD, as I did the others.) Please excuse the difference in font.]

Annelinde’s World: Annelinde Metzner offers her April 21 post, the poem,“I Have Sworn to Protect Her,” as a prayer “especially for those traveling to the Climate Change March in DC” on April 22.
 Her April 13 poem, “Praise House,” begins:
“Blessed with a tour of the Gullah homeland,
St. Helena’s Island, where freed slaves
were given each ten acres upon emancipation…”
In a rare-for-her prose post, “Erna’s Ark” on March 31 is a eulogy for her mother written in 2001, whose importance she still feels. All posts with pics.

HecateDemeter: Blogger Hecate’s posts on April 1 and April 22 are (at this writing) the most recent in her series “The Magical Battle for America,” which offers spiritual work we can do for these times. Her April 11 post is a prayer to Baba Yaga, which is titled with its first two lines:
“This is a prayer to Baba Yaga.This is a prayer for Resistance.”
The prayer continues:
“This is a prayer for the magic of chicken feet, the heat of old hates, the way old bones hurt. This is a prayer for Resistance.”

Hearth Moon Rising’s blog: Marking the 27th anniversary of her ordination as a priestess of Ishtar, Hearth Moon’s March 24 post, “Queen of Heaven and Earth,” begins with a poetic invocation of which the first few words are:
“Ishtar amongst the gods, extraordinary is her station
Respected is her word, it is supreme.”
Broomstick Chronicles: Aline O’Brien (aka M. Macha NightMare) shares her experiences at a MIC Clergy Luncheon on Diversity and Inclusion,” in an March 20 post.

My Village Witch: In an April 10 post, Byron Ballard tells how she how she became involved in editing an anthology of travel writings titled “My Wandering Uterus” and provides a link (from a photo) to submission guidelines. Her April 4 post, “What I Do When I’m Not Here,” focuses on one of her eventful weekends.
 Pagaian Cosmology: Glenys Livingstone’s April 13 post, “Samhain/Beltaine Moment EarthGaia May 2017 C.E.” gives details first on this May’s Samhain celebration in the Southern Hemisphere , including Australia where she lives, and then discusses the relationship between this holiday and Beltaine, being celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere.
Large Goddess/Spiritual Feminist Blogs
Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on these blogs, we are now suggesting that you visit them and select the posts that interest you most.

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

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.

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


Monday, April 17, 2017

Nov.9-19 Women's Trip to Israel to Include 'Divine Feminine'

The following information is from Rabbi Rayzel Raphael, who gave us permission to post it here:

"Dear Friends, and colleagues and sisters of spirit,
In honor of Miriam crossing the Red Sea, I’m excited that the details have finally come together for my women's trip to Israel this fall.  It's a peace mission/spirituality journey with emphasis on interaction with various local Israeli cultures.  This is a great trip for Asherah fans as we will be going to the roots of worship of the Divine Feminine in ancient Israel, as well as meeting contemporary manifestations of Her Presence.
"We invite you to join a women’s INTERACTIVE trip to Israel, embracing the land, people, and promise of peace. This 11-day trip from November 9 to 19, 2017 is equally appropriate for those who have never been to Israel as it is for those who have been in other contexts but want a deeper richer experience with a focus on the women of the land. 
 "Each day’s itinerary was crafted and featured speakers were selected using the template of the heroines’ journey of transformation.  Our intention for this trip was to explore the ancient roots of Jewish women’s spirituality. We will visit archeology sites and receive an overview about matriarchal worship in ancient Israel at the Israel Museum. Our journey then follows this path of growth and blossoming from these roots. We will visit feminist change makers, secular and religious. Weaving between layers of history, we will find the thread of connection, women-to-women, through herstory. Our hope is that each participant also finds their own place on the path of the Divine Feminine as we travel -  adding her voice to this ongoing tradition.
 "One exciting feature is that we have included an optional culinary package to engage with Arab and Israeli women cooks and sample creations from various cultures in Israel.  
 "We have tried to make it economical- we are staying at good - but modest accommodations- because we felt location and convenience trumped luxury. We have included a number of meals, but have not covered all meals, as we know some folks like to wander on their own.  We also priced the trip without credit card fees to give you the choice to save a few bucks if you pay by check. Our guides, driver, speakers are all paid in line with fair wages.
"Please share this widely with those who you think would like this.
Geela Rayzel"

"A Woman's Journey of Spiritual Transformation in Israel
Roots of Shechinah, Branches of Peace
There is no setting like Israel for profound spiritual transformation. This trip is designed for women who are seeking a rich, deep, yet fun journey.
 We will learn with top-notch women scholars, activists, artists, musicians, and peacemakers and pray with Women of the Wall. The itinerary combines touring with activities that engage the senses. We will taste the fruits of the land through the hands of women cooks from various cultural backgrounds. We will experience the Kabbalistic elements of Israel: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Archeology will ground us, Biblical women, contemporary mystics and prophetesses will inspire us… and then the gates to the other worlds will open in order that we may receive personal guidance on our own path.  Drawing on the power of some of Israel’s holiest sites, we will open to the mystery of our encounter.  Fun, food and frolic are of course, part of the adventure.
Come for the tour leave with transformation.
 Registration deadline: July 20, 2017"

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: The Mythic Dimension by Joseph Campbell

The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959 – 1987 by Joseph Campbell (edited by Anthony Van Couvering). New World Library, 2017, in conjunction with the Joseph Campbell Foundation, 348 pages trade paperback. (Hardback published in 2008.)

This book is part of a series of “Collected Works” by Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) being published by New World Library. We have previously featured two other books in this series. Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine and Romance of the Grail: the Magic and Mystery of Authurian Myth.

The Mythic Dimension has one chapter about the Goddess and touches on the subject in several other chapters. In his Foreword to the book, the editor, Anthony Van Couvering, points out that the essays in the book are in two categories (which he has given section headings): “Mythology and History” and “Mythology and the Arts.” He also notes that the essays are presented “with a minimum of editorial change.” I noticed that this apparently included leaving in Campbell’s use of the generic “Man” (sometimes with initial cap, sometimes not) and “men” for what most of us today would term humans — or more simply, people — as well as other male generics such as “mankind” when humanity or humankind would be more appropriate, and “fathers” instead of parents. I don’t know if this outdated usage will bother many readers, but it will probably come as no surprise to you that it bothered me, at times diverting me from the other content of the book, which contains a huge amount of material often of great historical and mythological interest. Although the use of the male generic occurs throughout the book, the use of “Man” is particularly curious in the first chapter (“Comparative Mythology as an Introduction to Cross-Cultural Studies”), an essay by Campbell about how he developed a course for his students—all women—at Sarah Lawrence College beginning in 1939. This course eventually became a series of lectures on television, beginning in 1963.
Thanks to permission from the publisher, here is an excerpt from the third section of the chapter on Goddess. The title of the chapter is “The Mystery Number of the Goddess.” It is the last of 4 chapters in the first of the section titled “Mythology and History.” This excerpt is from material under the heading “Māyā–Śakti–Devī.” Campbell writes:
The earliest and richest aggregate of testimonials to the character and functionality of this all-embracing and supporting, universal divinity in the earliest period and theater of her preeminency is that illustrated and expounded in Marija Gimbutas’s unprecedented exposition. And the fundamental original trait of the Goddess there represented at the opening of her historic career is that she was at that time bisexual, absolute, and single in her generative role. “As a supreme Creator who creates from her own substance, she is the primary goddess,” Gimbutas declares, “of the Old European pantheon. In this she contrasts with the Indo-European Earth Mother, who is the impalpable sacred earth-spirit and is not in herself a creative principle; only through the interaction of the sky god does she become pregnant.”
The idea is equivalent to that which in India is implicit in the compound noun māyā–śakti–devī, the “goddess” (devī), as at once the “moving energy” (śakti) and the “illusion” (māyā) of phenomenality. For according to this nondualistic type of cosmogonic metaphor, the universe as māyā is Brahman, the Imperishable, as perceived. ….
An outstanding characteristic of many of the artworks illustrated in Gimbutas’s volume is the abstract formality of their symbolically adorned and proportioned form….
Painted or inscribed upon these symbolically composed little revelations of powers intuited as informing and moving the whole spectacle of nature were a number of characteristic signs or ideograms….
Statuettes of the Goddess in many forms…identify her with every one of these tokens of the structuring force of a universe of which she… is at once the source and the substance….
[end of excerpt]

 Other sections of this chapter are “All Things Anew,” which discusses a number over 100,000 (I don’t want to give it away if you don’t already know it), which relates to a “cycle of time.” Campbell puzzles over the fact that the number of years appears not only in writings about the mythology of “recurrent cycles of time” from India, but also in writings of similar subject from Iceland. He continues with related numerology from various other sources, bringing him to the next section, “The Goddess Universe,” which begins with a discussion of various Flood texts, continues with discussion of the relationship of mythologies among various cultures, and leads up to the appearance “everywhere” of a “paramount divinity” that is a “metaphoric apparition of life that outlives death who became in later centuries venerated as the Goddess of Many Names.” The chapter after “Māyā–Śakti–Devī” is titled “The Pulse of Being” and discusses the dates given by Gimbutas of the appearance of the Goddess in various cultures and their relationship to the special number with which Campbell is concerned. The next two sections discuss the Goddess-related forms, “Creatress and Redemptress,” and “The Muses Nine,” after which Campbell moves on to sections titled, “Of Harmony and of Discord,” and “Ragnorok,” about other Goddess roles and relationships. In all, “The Mystery of Number of the Goddess” spans about 65 pages, one of the longer chapters in the book. It is preceded in the Mythology and History section by “The Historical Development of Mythology,” “Renewal Myths and Rites,” and “Johann Jacob Bachoften.”
In the section, Mythology and the Arts, chapters are “Creativity,” “The Interpretation of Symbolic Forms,” “Mythological Themes in Creative Literature and Art,” “The Occult in Myth and Literature,” and “Erotic Irony and Mythic Forms in the Art of Thomas Mann.” The back matter includes the Sarah Lawrence course reading list, notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Though a serious, scholarly, book, The Mythic Dimension is not without its humor. For example, in the first chapter of Mythology and History Campbell writes: “… for six days a week we honor the humanistic values of Greece and Rome and on the seventh for half an hour or so, confess guilt before a jealous Levantine god. Then we wonder why so many of us must repair to the psychoanalyst.”

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Buzz Coil: Feb.-March 2017

Here are some recent posts from blogs on our blogroll (please note, we don't knowingly list posts in Buzz Coil that have been published previously by the blogger elsewhere or on the same blog):

HecateDemeter: Blogger Hecate’s March 14 post, “On Purchasing Armour” is a thank-you to readers responding to her posts about “The Magical Battle for America,” (most recently March 11 and Feb. 25) as well as suggestions for protecting oneself when doing this work. Her March 21 post is her poem “This Is a Prayer to Aphrodite. This Is a Prayer for Resistance,” which begins (double space retained from original):

“This is a prayer to Aphrodite. This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for love and beauty. This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for wine and roses. This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for orgasm. This is a prayer for Resistance.”

The Goddess House: In a February 27 post, “Opening at Port Adelaide,” Frances Billinghurst announces that starting the end of March The Goddess House in Adelaide, Australia, will be holding events at the both a location on Kyle Place in Port Adelaide and the Isian Center of Metaphysics. She gives an annotated schedule of events at the Kyle Place location through May and a link to the Isian Center’s information.

Pagaian Cosmology: In a March 10 post, “Red Threads of Autumn Equinox,” Glenys D. Livingstone writes that each Autumn in Australia, where she lives, she remembers “the passing of my ceremonial circle’s sister-friend.” She goes on to write about death in general and about the danger that planet Earth is experiencing due to climate change. She then includes some mythological and ritual-related material, as well as the relevance of other of her personal relationships. In a March 5 post, “Mother Medusa: Regenerative One,” she compares “Society’s” view of Medusa to her own views and experiences.

Annelinde’s World: Annelinde Metzger’s Feb 12 post, her poem, “At the Labyrinth,” begins:
“Ever, ever, She pulsates, warm beneath our feet,
our Mother the precious Earth.
Will She ever let us go?”

Casa della Dea: This blog’s first post in a long time was published on Feb. 1. “Canto per Brighde,” the lyrics of a traditional Irish song presented previously by Caitlin Matthews in English and translated into Italian by Anna Bordin.

Hearth Moon Rising’s blog: Hearth Moon’s March 10 post, “Great Gray Owl,” is about the significance of the appearance of this large owl in her neck of the woods.

The Rowdy Goddess: On February 21, in her first post in a long time, Gail Wood tells about the threads of “Yoga, Equanimity, Tarot , and more!” coming together for her.

Large Goddess/Spiritual Feminist Blogs

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

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.

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. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Goddess Temple of Ashland Priestess Convergence

Early registration for the 3rd annual Goddess Temple of Ashland (Oregon) Priestess Convergence ends April 1. The event is scheduled for Sept. 14-17 and plans include: Ritual Immersion in the Sacred Spring (Mikvah); Honoring Ceremony for the Trusted Men of the Temple; Priestess Arts; Serpent Initiation; Holy Bee Medicine; Oracular Attunement; and omni-faith, all-generations Sisterhood. For registration information, go to the Convergence page on the Temple's Website  and scroll down to the registration information under the photos of last year's convergence.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: Sheela na gig, a book by Starr Goode

Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power by Starr Goode, Inner Traditions 2016, 8” x 10”, 2.4 lbs., 384 pages. Also available as an ebook.

Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power is a large, beautiful book in which the author, Starr Goode, delves into the art, history, and mystery of one of the most sexually assertive and explicit figures honored by those who revere Goddesses and a subject studied by researchers of ancient artifacts. As you might guess from its dimensions, the book is illustration-intensive with a total of 151 excellent black and white illustrations—mostly images—of Sheelas or related deities, such as Baubo. The images come from various time periods (most recently dated back to at least 9600-800 BCE) and various cultures, and can still be seen on churches in the UK, including Ireland. In exploring them Goode, who teaches writing and literature at Santa Monica College and produced and moderated the cable TV series “The Goddess in Art,” travels back to the Neolithic and forward to art in our own time. The latter features contemporary interpretations of Sheela. A number of the photos were taken by the author, others are from the work of Marija Gimbutas and from other well-known sources. The seven chapters of Part I, “History,” contain 73 illustrations; the two chapters of Part II “Journeys,” 30 illustrations; and the four chapters of Part III, “Image,” 48 illustrations.
This scholarly book about the “displaying” (holding apart vulva lips) female figure begins with a historical overview that includes agreements and disagreements about Sheelas’ origins and significance. Today, there is apparently no agreement on the meaning of Sheela na gig’s name, nor her significance at various times in history, nor even when She first appeared historically. Goode discusses various theories of origin, such as Neolithic, early Pagan, Romanesque, and even later. She includes the role that Romanesque architecture played in the popularization of Sheela representation and the relationship of the transfer of Irish and other goddesses to Christian saints, which resulted in the probable transfer of symbolism that occurred when displaying Sheelas were placed on churches and castles—where many remain today.
In her discussion of Sheela symbolism Goode considers several possibilities, including as “a regenerative symbol for the cycle of life, representing fecundity, decay, and renewal.” She writes, “Certainly, the mysteries of sex, death, and rebirth, have accrued around the image of the vulva. It is an open invitation to sex, a birth canal, and, paradoxically, a symbolic return to Mother Earth following death.” In Christianity, Goode writes, the displaying figures became “a warning against lust.” Later their symbolism became more protective and powerful. One of the strongest and longest associations with Sheelas is “apotropaic” power, in which the displaying female genitals have the power to avert negative influences or bad luck. For example, people used Sheelas to guard against the “evil eye.” Related are various titles that have been given to Sheelas by different cultures, such as “Evil Eye Stone” and “the Witch.” Citing the German writer Georg Kohl, Goode also discusses “human Sheelas,” living women who, in Ireland, were and are still called “Shila na Gigh” and who help people’s luck to change from bad to good by “lifting their skirts to display their female nakedness.” Goode also discusses why and when stone Sheelas become less prominent in Ireland, including through their mutilation. Goode explains that in medieval times, Christian clergy considered Sheelas “the devil” and ordered them to be “burned as witches even though they were made of stone, not flesh….in later centuries and to this day, many are being recovered from where they were sometimes tossed into rivers or buried deep beneath castles. Other carvings had their vulvas hacked away....”

 In sections on the Sheela’s “forebears,” the author discusses the relationship of other figures to Sheela , such as Baubo (as in the Demeter-Persephone myth/Eleusinian Mysteries); Medusa; and the Frog Goddess. One of the sections that was especially interesting to me (because I was involved in Eastern European folk dance groups for many years and came to feel that many of them had Pagan and/or Goddess roots), is Goode’s discussion of a Bulgarian women’s ritual with dances related to the Frog Goddess. The dance, which is still done today, is a spring rain dance called Peperouda, While the dance is related to power of frogs, its name is translated “Butterfly” on You Tube videos (butterflies of course also have a springtime association.) I have placed three videos of different (though similar) versions of this ritual dance the end of this review.
Part I of the book also includes a section on “Male Interpretive Bias.” Part II looks more deeply into what Goode learned from her travels to Sheela sites, especially in Ireland and England. Part III focuses on images of Sheelas and deities that resemble Sheela, such as some versions of Kali, and includes contemporary artists’ Sheela interpretations. The back matter includes both Footenotes and Endnotes, plus a Bibiography.

Both the large number of excellent illustrations and the details and depth of Goode’s discussion make Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power an extremely valuable book that many Goddess folks and students of the mythology — as well as others — will treasure.
 Peperouda Videos

Full ritual with dance in the village of Tsar Samuil, municipality of Tutrakan in northeastern Bulgaria. Features “frog girl” surrounded by older women (The word in the You Tube link  “German” refers to another dance on the same video group, not the location of the ritual of this Peperouda ritual, which appears at the very beginning of the video):


Children in Radost Folk Ensemble with some adult women:

More choreographed version, Bulgarian women’s group, you can see similarities in waving of hands, and headdresses of 2 of  the women:


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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Buzz Coil: Jan. 2017

Here are some recent posts from blogs on our blogroll (please note, we don't knowingly list posts in Buzz Coil that have been published previously by the blogger elsewhere or on the same blog):
Shakti Warrior: In her January 17 post, “Spiritual Warrior Woman,” Susan Morgaine writes of the relationship of the U.S. election to her spiritual path, noting “These are the times that our faith in the Goddess comes to the fore.”

 My Village Witch: Byron Ballard, headlining her January 25 post, asks, “Now What?” and tells why our current approach should be:
(alternating “Sense” with “Intuit.”)
And ends with a question for you.

HecateDemeter: In a January 10 post, “She Who Hears the Cries of the World Potpourri,”  blogger Hecate offers a video and a collection of links with of suggestions for our times.

Association for the Study of Women & Mythology: In a January 25 post, “Growing the Groundswell…” ASWM announces the opening of registration for its 2017 symposium in Philadelphia on March 25. Early-bird registration ends February 15; all registration cut-off in March 3. Presenters include Peggy Reeves Sanday, Annie Finch, Lucia Birnbaum & Cristina Biaggi, Lisa Levant, and the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir. The full symposium schedule is posted on January 25. In its December 27 post, ASWM announces its first publication, a conference and proceedings anthology, Myths Shattered and Restored.

Veleda: In her January 17 post, “Resources and publications,” Max Dashu tells why this is her first post in a long time. She then gives a history of the Suppressed Histories Archives, and information about the publication of her book, Witches and Pagans, her courses and more.

Hearth Moon Rising’s blog: In her January 6 post, “Five Year Anniversary Post,” blogger Hearth Moon tells of the changes she plans to make in her blog during 2017.

PaGaian Cosmology: Glenys Livingstone’s January 23 post, “Lammas/Imbolc @ EarthGaia Feb. 2017” is about celebrating Lammas in February in Australia, where she lives, and about its relationship to the celebration at the same time in the Northern hemisphere of “Imbolc/Early Spring.”

Broomstick Chronicles: In an unsigned December 29 post, which I assume is by Aline O’Brien (aka Macha NightMare) (and when I visited the blog was the only post on it—reflecting technical problems?) she writes about “Annual Thanksgiving Eve Service and Homeless Persons Memorial Day,” in which she participated as clergy.

Annelinde's World: Annelinde Metzner's January 28 post is her poem "I save the world by loving Her," a tribute to Gaia, with many pics.

The Goddess HouseOn January 5, Frances Billinghurst writes of celebrating the “Yemaya Blessing of the Water Event” in Australia and invites people to this year’s celebration, which took place. January 12.

Large Goddess/Spiritual Feminist Blogs

Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on these 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.
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.

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review: The Goddess in America

The Goddess in America: the Divine Feminine in Cultural Context, an anthology edited by Trevor Greenfield, Introduction by Jhenah Telyndru, (Moon Books, 2016) 192 pages, trade paperback 5.5” x 8.5”. Also available in e-book format.

The Goddess in America looks at the American Goddess movement, sometimes also called Goddess spirituality or, more recently, Goddess religion(s), from several different perspectives. The anthology includes discussions of the influence of Native American thought and practice; influences of religions that immigrants from three other continents brought with them; “relational” factors such as feminism, shamanism, Christianity, psychology, and Witchcraft; and ways the Goddess is viewed at the present time.

In her introduction, Jhenah Telyndru, founder of the Sisterhood of Avalon , which has groups in US, UK, and online, sets the stage for the rest of the book. Telyndru notes that “those of us who dwell in North America are both blessed and burdened by the spiritual legacies of the indigenous peoples...the spiritual traditions of the lands from which our ancestors may have immigrated, and the call to create new iterations of spirituality….” She takes a look at related difficulties some American Pagans may be having, and mentions the Statue of Liberty as a Goddess representation.
The book has four parts. Parts 1 and 2 each begin with an overall look at the part’s subject matter, followed by several chapters taking a closer look at some of the topics of that part. Part 1, “The Native Goddess,” opens with an essay by Hearth Moon Rising, an American with both European and Native American ancestry, who currently lives in New York state. In “The influence of Matriarchal Tribes on the Goddess Movement” she defines and discusses “the Goddess movement” in general, some terms that are used by those in the movement including Goddessian, and matriarchy, and delves into contributions of the Native American cultures as well as political feminism. She notes that “the Goddess movement is no longer an American, or even a Western phenomenon. It has spread around the world and gained a foothold in places, including India, Nigeria and South Korea.” Rising adds that “matriarchal cultures” are being studied in places outside of the Americas and criticizes some scholars in academia who deny the evidence that matriarchy existed and still exists in some cultures. The rest of the chapters take closer looks at three Nations: Cherokee, discussed by Michele Sauter Warch (identified as Michele L.Warch in the attribution with her bio at the end of the chapter), Hopi by Laurie Martin Gardner, and Maya by Heather Lee Marano. (Apparently an editorial decision was made not to put each author’s name at the beginning of each chapter or in the running heads which usually appear in books in a distinguishing font at the top of each page and in anthologies commonly contain the name of the author of each contribution [see for example, Weaving the Visions, Womanspirit Rising]. In The Goddess in America, authors’ names appear only in the table of contents and at the end of each essay, with a short bio. There are 19 contributing authors. To see names of all topics and contributors go to the book’s page on Amazon [linked to on its cover above], click on “Look Inside” and click on the Contents link [and yes, I looked for it on publisher’s website first but couldn’t find it there].

 In Part 2, “The Migrant Goddess,” an introductory chapter is written by Telyndru. She discusses what she considers “unique challenges” confronting American “Goddess Worshipers and Pagans” and introduces her four-part “Philosophy of Engagement” related to multicultural issues and divinities. Concluding, she writes, “One’s blood or DNA, in my opinion, is less important than how one actively engages with the culture, tradition, and societal mores of the nations from which one’s Goddesses arise…. one’s spiritual homeland is found nowhere but within one’s own heart….” Other chapters in this part focus on Irish, African and Creole, Greek (especially Cretan and Minoan), and Hebrew Goddesses. In her chapter on Irish Goddesses, Morgan Daimler explores “whether the Irish Gods travel with the people who worship them or whether they are…bound to specific places.” Sherrie Almes, in her essay, “African Goddesses and Creole Voodoo,” gives a clear distinction among the terms Voodoo, Voudou, and Hoodoo, and among their great variety of deities. In her chapter about the Goddess Ariadne, Laura Perry first includes information about her ancestry and journey with other European goddesses, then writes, “In my lifetime I’ve seen women break many societal bonds, but we still have a long way to go toward true equality. I’d like to think Ariadne and her tribe have our backs as we march forward.” In her chapter on the Hebrew Goddess, Elisheva Nester of AMHA (Primitive Hebrew Assembly USA), gives background on the difference between monotheistic rabbinic Judaism and the polytheistic “Hebrew earth tradition” whose roots are pre-rabbinic and probably also pre-biblical. Nester, a native Israeli who now lives in the United States, focuses on two Goddesses in her essay: Ashera and the considerably lesser known Rahmay.

Part 3, “The Relational Goddess,” has chapter headings that all begin with “The Goddess and the…,” the first chapter ends with the word “Feminist.” In it, Susan Harper writes, “The question of whether or not a Goddess-centered spirituality is inherently feminist is a fraught one.” In exploring this, she refers to the work of a number of Goddess and spiritual feminists, including Carol P. Christ, Z. Budapest, Starhawk, Anita Diamant, and Ruth Barrett. In the second chapter of this part, which ends with the word, “Shaman,” Dorothy Abrams focuses on her own shamanic journeys and tells of her relationship with Spider Woman and spiritual helpers and messengers. The author of the third chapter, which ends with the word, “Christianity,” is identified as Byron Ballard in the table of contents and H. Byron Ballard in the identification at the end that appears with her bio. Ballard is priestess and founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, NC.  In this essay, she explores the relationship between her Goddess Temple and local Christian churches, Christianity and Goddess spirituality, as well as among Goddesses and Christian saints and other figures. She writes, “As we experience the escalation of Goddess worship and its growing cultures— especially in the West— there is a kind of cold comfort in the preservation of the Divine Feminine through the machinations of Christianity.” Expanding on the irony, she goes on to conclude:“… we come back to the notion of the unveiling of the Goddess and how she has been obscured in the belly of Christianity.” The fourth chapter in this part, written by Tiffany Lazic, ends with the word, “Psychologist,” and focuses on using Goddess archetypes as a therapeutic psychological tool. The last chapter in this part ends with the word, “Witch.” In it, modern Witchcraft in the US is explained and explored by Laurie Martin-Gardner (name given without hyphenation in table of contents, with hyphen in the ending identification) as beginning with Gardnerian Wicca and developing into a myriad of types: “a spectrum” with reconstructionism at one end and eclecticism at the other end. Their common threads, Martin-Gardner points out, are Goddess and connections to a great number of cultures.

Part 4, “The Contemporary Goddess,” begins with a chapter by Phoenix Love about the pros and cons of “pop goddesses” and the difference between these humans and Goddesses who are divinities. Among the women the author classifies as pop goddesses are Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Melissa McCarthy, and Halle Berry. Love goes on to discuss Goddesses or Goddess-like characters in movies and TV shows as well as books advising women on “how to bring out their ‘inner goddess’.” On the pop trend in general, she comments, “Those who take what they want from bits of information…without truly understanding what it means to worship THE Goddess or even A goddess cheapen what is important: reverence and understanding, respect for the Goddess and what she represents….” The author of the second chapter of Part 4 is identified as Salem Margot Pierce in the table of contents but as Margo Wolfe with her bio at the chapter’s end (according to a personal communication, the latter is the name she now prefers). She is a member of the Sisters of Avalon. She begins the second chapter in Part 4, “Rewriting the Goddess,” with the claim, “Americans don’t really have their own Goddesses.” Wolfe goes on to discuss changes Americans have made in Goddess figures and practices. The third chapter delves into the practices, rituals, classes, activism community, and probable future of the well-known Witchcraft tradition, Reclaiming. It is by written by a Reclaiming Witch, Irisanya. The fourth chapter of this part, written by Kate Brunner, a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon, poses a number of questions in exploring the return of the “wise woman” tradition, which includes her roles as healer, protector, advocate, ritualist, and “conduit of a community.” In the next chapter, Michele Leigh Warch (name per attribution with bio at end, but identified in the table of contents as Michele Sauter Warch both for this chapter and for her essay in part 1) writes about “The Goth Goddess,” first discussing a number of “dark” Goddesses of various cultures and traditions and what they have in common. She then discusses the development of “Goth” in American culture. The last chapter of the book, by Vivienne Moss, relates the Goddess to “The Role of Women in America Today.” She chooses nine “ladies to grace this essay” and recommends ways to honor them. I’ll let you discover who Moss says they are yourself but will reveal the titles she gives them: Queen of Beauty, Lady Justice, Queen of Adventure, Lady Freedom, Our Lady of the Sacred Feminine, The Warrior Queen, Our Lady of Song, Earth Warrior, The First Lady.

In addition to the author name inconsistencies, an aspect of the book that disturbed me was the use, though scattered, of male generic language. For example, in one chapter the terms “man” and “mankind” are used when both male and female is meant and preferred words for some time have been “people,” “humans,” “humanity,” “humankind” and other non-gendered terms. In another chapter, the author begins using the term “Gods,” when it seems she is referring to both female and male deities. Later in the chapter she switches to “Goddesses and Gods.” It is not clear to me whether this was an editorial inconsistency, a compromise between the writer and editor, or an editorial decision to retain the way that the author wrote a term even if it differed among authors. Since this inconsistency continues through the book, I’d bet on the last. (There is a similar inconsistency in whether or not “Pagan” is given an initial cap.) In any case, I find referring to humanity as “mankind” and humans as “man,” as well as Goddesses and Gods as “Gods” to be a throwback to language objected to and rejected by second wave feminists at least 40 years ago but which now has begun to recur elsewhere as well as in this book. In my view, such outdated language is part of anti-feminist/anti-woman activities that “disappear” or erase women and female-ness. And yes, rather an oddity in a book about Goddess.

My editorial observations aside, The Goddess in America is a wide-ranging exploration of American Goddess spirituality that is likely to interest both those new to the subject as well as those who, like me, have been involved in it for decades. It provides a welcome variety of information and points of view. Many readers, both in America and elsewhere, will find it a relevant and valuable book.

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