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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Goddess

It's been one of those weeks where it's been a little hard to see my blessings, and all to easy to see my roadblocks. I'm participating in a community on Facebook where we post three things that we are grateful for each day, and it's helping me to stay focused on all the wonderful things in my life -- even when it seems all I can see are the setbacks and the "what ifs." So I chuckled a little when Changing Woman, The Navajo Goddess of the Corn, came dancing into my life tonight.

b2ap3_thumbnail_estsanatlehi-kris-waldherr.jpg

Changing Woman by Kris Waldherr

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I've spent much of the last month engrossed in Reverend Lauren Artress's Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as Spiritual Practice, about the labyrinth as spiritual movement and spiritual practice. I've been walking the labyrinth since 1998, and within the last few months I've taken what has been a deeply personal practice and begun sharing it with the Women's Spirituality here in Dallas-Fort Worth, through monthly labyrinth walks at some of the public labyrinths in the Metroplex. Artress writes movingly of the Holy Spirit as feminine, and of the way in which the labyrinth helps us reconnect with the Divine Feminine.

So it seems wholly fitting that my Goddess for this week is Sophia -- the spirit of Feminine Wisdom within the Christian tradition.

Sophia asks us to listen to the wisdom of our souls this week.

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I wrote this blog as a contribution to recent discussions of polytheism vs. monotheism on PaganSquare when I noticed several people asserting that "most pagans" are "polytheists."  I do not call myself a polytheist because while I affirm a multiplicity of images, for me they all point to a single divine presence in the world.  I offer the below musings in a spirit of dialogue.  I am interested to hear from those who call themselves "polytheists" whether they are speaking of a plurality of images and stories pointing to a "unity of being" or whether they are also saying that there are a "plurality of (sometimes) conflicting forces" that they would call "divinities."

In Rebirth of the Goddess I noted that monotheists were the ones who defined the term polytheism and wondered if in fact there really were any polytheists in the history of the world. I posed this question because monotheists assert that polytheists not only worship or honor a "diversity of images," but also insist that polytheists believe that there are a "diversity of conflicting and competing powers" in the world.  Monotheists might even go so far as to say that polytheists deny that there is a "unity of being" underlying all of the diversity and difference in the world.

For me the notion that "the world is the body of Goddess" (or divinity) is more primary than multiply elaborated images, names, and stories about divine beings. I am less moved by myths of Goddesses and Gods than I am by images of the Goddess that incorporate plant and animal as well as human qualities. In one sense I am closer to animism than polytheism.  It is the beauty of the world that moves me to reverence.

In recent years monotheism has been attacked as a “totalizing discourse” that justifies the domination of others in the name of a universal truth. In addition, from the Bible to the present day some have used their own definitions of “exclusive monotheism” to disparage the religions of others. Moreover, feminists have come to recognize that monotheism as we know it has been a “male monotheism” that for the most part excludes female symbols and metaphors for God.  With all of this going against monotheism, who would want to affirm it?

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  • Katy Bailey
    Katy Bailey says #
    I believe every religion is right in some way, as people tend to get "results" from each one, if that makes any sense. So it's lik
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thanks for the essay and the dialog it engendered. Forgive me if my experiences and thoughts are tangential to the discourse here
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    I must admit that I am a bit on the fence over the whole definition of Polytheist issue. I don't purport to know the answer as to

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Do Women's Circles Actually Matter?

“We need rituals of memory…because a political movement, the public policy and tactics of our movement, does not come from our ideas, but from the bloody and joyful substance of our lives. We need to be conscious about what our lives have been, to grieve and to honor our strength, in order to break out of the past into the future.” –Minnie Bruce Pratt

Last year, I was feeling depressed and discouraged after reading some really horrifying articles about incredible, unimaginable violence and brutality against women in Papua New Guinea who are accused of being witches as well as a book about human trafficking around the world (I wrote about this book in a post for Pagan Families). Then, I finished listening to David Hillman on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, in which he issued a strong call to action to the pagan community and to “witches” in the U.S. to do something about this violence, essentially stating that it is “your fault” and that rather than spending energy on having rituals to improve one’s love life (for example), modern witches should be taking to the streets and bringing abusers to justice. And, he asserts, the fact that they don’t, shows that they don’t really “believe”—believe in their own powers or in their own Goddess(es).

This brought me back to a conversation I had with a friend before one of our last women’s circle gathering…does it really matter that we do this or is it a self-indulgence? We concluded that it does matter. That actively creating the kind of woman-affirming world we want to live in is a worthy, and even holy, task. I’ve successfully created a women’s subculture for myself and those around me that comes from an ecofeminist worldview. However, is that actually creating change? Or, is that just operating within the confines of a damaging, restrictive, and oppressive social and political structure? Last time I facilitated a Cakes for the Queen of Heaven series, I made a mistake when I was talking and said, “in the land that I come from…” rather than saying, “in my perspective” or “in my worldview.” This is now a joke amongst my circle of friends, we will say, “in my land…that isn’t what happens,” or “let me tell you what it is like in my land.” I have to feel like that DOES make a difference. If we can share “our land” with others, isn’t change possible? Doesn’t “our land” have inherent value that is worth promoting, protecting, and populating?

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Lovely, sensitive, well thought out. As David Hyde Pierce remarked about the current level of funding for Alzheimer's research, "

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It seems somehow appropriate that Isis is my Goddess for the week....

 

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The last few months have been very full -- full of activism around women's reproductive rights here in Texas and nationwide, full of disappointments at the losses and joys at the (few) wins, full of workshops and letter writing and organizing. Full, in short, of the "Feminist" part of my path, but lighter on the "Witchcraft" than I might have liked.

The new year has found me trying to remedy that, by building women's spiritual community here in Dallas/Fort Worth, by launching a new networking initiative called North Texas Nature Spirit and re-launching my Tarot blog, Dakotawitch Divines. My practice is going through some changes as I transition out of old roles and groups, facilitate and join others, develop new practices, and return to those that I have allowed to languish. I hope and plan to share all this will you in the coming months, and to grow in my path through that sharing!

One practice I've been returning to is that of drawing a Goddess Inspiration card for each week, from the Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr. I love this deck so much that I will be sharing my weekly draws with you all, and inviting you to learn from the Goddesses along with me! Keep an eye on this space on Monday, March 3 for your first dose of Goddess wisdom. I hope you'll learn and grow with me this spring!

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    xxx
  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thank you for stopping by! Reading your work is one of the things that brought me to Feminist Craft, and to the decision to stud
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love your post, I too am a Goddess feminist, to me they two belong together. Looking forward to your upcoming blogs.

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I am so grateful for the Goddess gifts that I have received this week! These gifts always come at just the right time. This week I was feeling sad thinking, "Am I really making a difference?", when I puttered down to check the mail and found these pendants from Molly of Brigids Grove waiting for me!

Tree of Life brigids grove etsy crescent moon brigids grove etsy

Their beauty and symbolism really touched me. The tree pendant reminded me that everything has its cycles and Spring is coming. Patience it said to me. Keep sowing the seeds and stay grounded. The crescent moon reminded me to continue connecting to my lunar rhythms-- the ebb and flow of my own energy during the month. Honor where I am in my cycle and acknowledge how that effects my productivity it said to me. Then there was the note from Molly thanking me for offering my circles (New Moon and Full Moon)I could not keep from smiling as I read it. It reminded me that I am making a difference with my offerings. Breathe and trust it is happening it said to me.

Ultimately this is my thank you note for all the Goddess gifts I receive every day. I am grateful for my network of Goddess sisters that inspire and encourage  me and each other. I am grateful for the unexpected little gifts like a text from a friend or a picture of friend's newborn. I am grateful for my partner who surprises me with kisses. I am grateful for all of these tangible and intangible Goddess gifts.

That is the power of  Goddess gifts if we are open to hearing their message. They connect us to our Goddess selves-- where we can find our inspiration, our encouragement and our joy.

♥ What about you sisters? What Goddess gifts have your received lately? ♥

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love that tree pendant.
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Carol--I'd be happy to send you one as a FAR-sisterhood-gift if you PM me with your address.

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Sacred Tattooing : A Brief Introduction

Altering the body as a means of drawing close to our gods, signaling our membership in a religious community, or communicating our beliefs has a long history. Tattooing has a proud place in human religious practices. For thousands of years we have sunk pigments into  our skin in a painful, transformative process. While those of us in the West may often think of tattoos as some combination of art or fad, there have always been those who practice tattooing as part of their spirituality. And among these people, we see a rich history of women tattoo artists and Goddess imagery. 

A recent issue of Archaeology delighted me with an overview of some ancient tattoo practices, including the role that women played in various cultures. I would like to introduce you to some of these ancient tattooers and their work over the course of the next few posts that I make. This will build up to the eventual discussion of spiritually significant tattooing in women's lives today. At some point, I will share with you the experience I went through adding an ancient tattoo image to my own collection of tattoos.

To get started, let's look at a quick assortment of ancient tattoo images.

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Elen - the Wild Spirit

She is with me - I can feel Her as soon as I step out the door.  She calls to me, she pulls me further away from the houses of humanity, deeper into the wilds; the windswept heath, the dark forest, the bright birch glades.  I smile and answer her call with a song in my heart, my footsteps getting lighter and lighter as I head out to meet Her. I walk taller, with more grace, my body flowing and moving without the restrictions that are usually placed upon it.  I feel an almost eldritch tingling in my blood - the awen is awakened.

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  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    I love this so much!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Beautiful. Thank you so much.

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Mary, Mary: Florence is Divine

Ten years ago, I traveled to Italy. I was a newly-minted Goddess girl, plus I’d just read The Da Vinci Code, so I spent the trip searching for the divine feminine hidden in plain sight. In Italy, I didn’t have to look very far; Mother Mary is, quite literally, represented on every street corner throughout Italy.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Sigh, I so love Florence, thanks for reminding me!
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Of course! Thanks for commenting.

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MATRIARCHY: DARING TO USE THE “M” WORD

For me the word “matriarchy” expresses the certainty that “another world” can exist—a world not based in domination and hierarchy or violence and war. 

The word “matriarchy” makes people’s hair stand on end as they imagine the mirror-image of patriarchy: societies in which women dominate men, beat men, rape men, hold men as slaves, and demand obedience from men.  Some who do not protest very loudly or at all against patriarchy are horrified by the very idea of matriarchy. To be fair, most feminists have also been schooled not to use the “m” word.

Early in my academic career, I read “The Myth of Matriarchy” by Joan Bamberger and learned that the idea of matriarchy gone wrong has been used by men to justify patriarchy. From other academics I learned that in matrilineal societies, uncles have a great deal of power—so therefore there never was a matriarchy.  I was also aware that Jungian and other proponents of a “matriarchal stage” in the development of culture have argued that matriarchy had to be succeeded by patriarchy in order for societies to evolve to a “higher” stage. Unlike many of my colleagues I stubbornly held onto the belief that there must have been “a better way” prior to patriarchy.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    There are powerful Goddesses in India, but India is so far from being a matriarchy that your comment does not make sense. Gang rap
  • Constance Tippett Chandler
    Constance Tippett Chandler says #
    So glad you said this. Women, and men need to be educated on this term and understanding what it means. Martriarchy does NOT mean
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    For examples of Matriarchies where women dominate men some would point to Sweden or India. Some would include numerous other plac

Sigyn: Loki's wife by Shirl Sazynski
This essay first appeared at Eternal Haunted Summer last year and is part of an illustrated book on Norse Goddesses I am creating from my journeys as a spaekona (Norse seer).


Butterflies: A Meditation on Sigyn

Motion and color. Orange-flecked wings— flickering, flowing, flying, flexing. So many of them that you cannot see what they rest upon, simply that there is life, a whirr of scaled wings.

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  • Cara Freyasdaughter
    Cara Freyasdaughter says #
    Hi Shirl! This is a lovely picture of Sigyn. It's so nice to see her get some attention. This is a great teaser; I'm really lookin
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    And if more of us talked about these sorts of experiences, the process would be easier on everyone. While all of these encounters
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Hi Kara! Thanks for your response and the compliments. It's why I'm writing things like this; I want to bring humans and the Gods

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Finding Isis: An Anniversary Post

Three years ago, I had a powerful encounter with Isis on Christmas day. I told the story of when I finally heard my Patron call me in issue 83 of Sagewoman magazine (2012: Sanctuary), and I am happy to be able to share this tale here with you know as I celebrate three years in service to Isis.

Finding Isis: Sheltered by Her Wings

 

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The Grail Mysteries

These past few months I have been delving into Grail stories and mythology, looking for their inner messages and healing stories. I have been working with Jenah Telyndru’s Avalon Within: A Sacred Journey of Myth, Mystery and Inner Wisdom since September, and have just finished reading Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Crossing to Avalon: A Woman’s Midlife Pilgrimage.  There is a lot of resonance and wisdom in both these books, that has opened up my eyes to the Grail stories and also the wisdom of Avalon in ways I never could have dreamt of.

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Goddesses in Upper Manhattan

On November 22nd I had the honor of attending Andrea Arroyo’s opening reception for her Memories Interlaced exhibit. Above is the picture Andrea graciously took with me during her busy reception. I was honored to be standing next to a Goddess sister whose art has been featured in The New Yorker, The International Museum of Women, The Smithsonian and countless public exhibits.  Her current exhibit, at The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center, is free and open to the public until January 10th 2014.

Her featured Goddesses line the wall of the center with rich, warm colors that bring out the love within the cloths they are painted on. Andrea chose to paint Goddesses on cloths made by women from around the world. From delicate and powerful lace to an Indian prayer shawl— walking into her exhibit is a chance to be in sacred space with such Goddesses as Hathor and Sarasvati. You also have the opportunity to admire pieces from her Sacred Women series; paintings inspired by female characters from world sacred texts, and influenced by the outlines of sacred architecture.

It gives me hope as a woman who is working on my own ever-evolving Goddess art to see how far Andrea has come with hers. The world needs more art dedicated to the Divine Feminine! Andrea’s artwork creates a space to have conversations about the power and mystery of women, our divinity and strength—our Goddess selves. If you have the chance to visit NYC before January 10th, dance your way to the Goddess temple Andrea has created in Upper Manhattan and bring your sisters!

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Museum Meditations

Do you ever long for an ancient temple to visit or wish that there was a centuries old place full of a rich history of the feminine Divine to tap into? I don't always, but sometimes I do. I love Gaia and do feel that for the most part my worship and meditation is wherever I am; this is especially true for me when I am outdoors. While there are places I could go, temples to visit, and other gatherings, they are not always accessible.

That's when I turn to museums and art galleries to seek out a human expression of the goddess. A few years ago this was limited to the small college art gallery in the tiny town I lived in. This past year I have been fortunate enough to live near a major art museum with a classical collection. Now, I am in the process of moving again, and I don't know what I will find in my new town. So, to tide me over, I took one last trip this year to one of my favorite places, the St. Louis Art Museum.

I want to share some of my favorite images of Goddesses with you, which you can view if you ever find yourself at SLAM.

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  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    This is wonderful--I wish more people would share photos of Goddess statues and other objects from the museums nearest them. Perha
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Thank you! That's a great idea, and the pictures could show the locations, so people would know where to go. Hmmm.. Maybe I can st
The silly story my Goddess self wanted to tell

A part of Goddess work is honoring your imagination and time to be silly. I did not do that two weeks ago. I forced myself to be serious. I told myself I had to make a serious story post for my SageWoman blog. Instead of listening to my inner girl, I forced her into a corner which lead to a total writer’s block. How did I break it? By playing a silly game! My partner and I celebrated our anniversary by playing a storytelling game. With no expectations of being serious or publishing what I shared, my imagination was let loose!

The following story is the one my Goddess self actually wanted to tell instead of the one I was felt needed to be told. Hope you enjoy it sisters!

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Once upon a time a young woman named Sanaa was ostracized from her village along with her mother because the villagers thought them unlucky. Sanaa and her mother were blamed for everything that went wrong. Eventually they were kicked out to live in nearby caves.

One day Sanaa was exploring the caves and found a group of elementals cavorting around a fire. The elementals, each a mixture of different animals, danced and sang about their lucky egg. They sang of hours burning the negativity out of the egg—infusing it with their positive thoughts and intentions. Sanaa was determined to take the egg to her mother. She dressed herself in moss and sticks and confidently strode into the Elementals’ presence. She presented herself as the Queen of Elementals and admired their egg. With a regal nod Sanaa accepted the lucky egg so she could show it off to the surface Elementals. In return she gave them a rock to make another egg.  

Out of the caves, Sanaa took off with her mom and egg. Soon they came upon a group of lost ladies and lords. Using the lucky egg, Sanaa and her mother helped them back to their kingdom. The grateful ladies and lords gifted them with bags of silver and gold. With their riches and the lucky egg, Sanaa and her mother started on their journey.

Months passed before the elementals figured out they had been tricked. They decided to send their “ugliest” Elemental to search for their lucky egg. Ila was a turtle and bird elemental who looked too human for her own good. She was given a wand that at midday always pointed to direction of their lucky egg and got warmer the closer it was. As she followed the wand, a hungry Ila found herself in the middle of deepest and darkest part of forest. In the midst of the forest, she found a decrepit looking hut. When she knocked on the door, a hag answered the door. She had just finished eating two children and was ready to snack on her next visitor.

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Shakespeare's Goddess

The sky is dappled with constellations, and the pillars holding it up could be marble.  My first look inside the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater in London took my breath away, but my second look made me laugh.  Just like the illusion he created in his plays, the Bard’s theater is a cleverly crafted visual game.  The bejeweled sky is the brightly decorated roof over the stage, and the pillars of marble are actually painted wood.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Love it! Hecate is one of my wife's favorites, and we were both professional actors 'way back in the 20th century. I spent 3 years
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Thank you! Did you perform at Stratford, CA? One of my favorite places on earth! Sadly, my only trip to England so far was very s
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, I was an actor with the main stage company in 1971, 1972 and 1973, including a winter tour with the company to Poland and Rus

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     In the middle of lunch, my father looked into my eyes and asked who I was. This question stopped me in my tracks. For a moment, I forgot my father’s illness.   Instead, I remembered that he was responsible for naming me.

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The Women Who Painted in Caves

As the upcoming Mercury retrograde and the natural progression of the seasons here in the Northern Hemisphere takes us on a journey into the Underworld, let us contemplate our deep, ancient ancestors. Fittingly, we will travel into the caves of our past, if only in our minds.

Cave paintings have been presented to us as a masculine narrative. Often, these stunning examples of paleolithic art, have been interpreted as created by male hunters to increase the hunt. Other theories have suggested that the paintings were to communicate something to visitors to the caves, perhaps of religious significance. Intriguingly, these paintings depict both predator and prey animals. However, that’s not all. Cave paintings also sometimes depict voluptuous female figures and symbols for the vulva.

Who painted these images?

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Mills, Thanks for the insight! It helps to illuminate not only the how and the why, but the who, of paleolithic cave art. It

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