It seems somehow appropriate that Isis is my Goddess for the week....
It seems somehow appropriate that Isis is my Goddess for the week....
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!...
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!
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? ♥
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....
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....
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....
MATRIARCHY: DARING TO USE THE “M” WORD
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.
Yesterday was the 41stanniversary of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. For those of you who are not familiar, this was the landmark case that made abortion legal.
In the last few years, the U.S. has seen a war against women's access to these sorts of services: personhood bills, trans-vaginal ultrasound laws, laws taking away access to affordable services and care, laws that make it harder and harder for centers like Planned Parenthood to operate, and a rise in support of pregnancy crisis centers that give out false information to pregnant women. And recently, the supreme court has been looking at taking away buffer zones around women’s health clinics, once again possibly taking us back to the days where even walking into a women’s health clinic could be physically unsafe.
This essay first appeared at Eternal Haunted Summer last year and is part of an illustrated book on Norse Goddesses I am creating.
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....
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
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....
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!
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.
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!
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.
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....
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.
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?
I wrote this letter as I worked on my recent drawing of you. As I sat to write this I kept asking myself, “What is my relationship to Gaia?” I know I think of you not as the Goddess of Nature but Nature or the Earth itself. Intellectually I know without you, my life as a human being would not exist. I know that without humans, you would happily exist for millennia.
Oh Gaia, when I briefly lived at the edge of the jungle and beach, I felt you most powerfully in my life. During that time, I felt overwhelmed by you. I knew that I wasn't ready to live so closely to you. I was so at home with the beauty and abundance you offered me Gaia. Yet I felt as though I was pitted against you every second. It was too raw for this aspiring ecofeminist. I was not strong enough.
Oh Gaia, I am still an urban Goddess lover. Though I still hold on to the hope of living closer to you. I want to feel what it means to be Gaia’s partner. As I hold this idea I meet other Goddess sisters that commune with you so well. They walk through the grass being Priestesses meanwhile I run for the comfort of cement. I know it doesn't help to compare Gaia but it’s challenging. Here I am dreaming of a life in an Earthship but can’t keep more than one plant alive in my house!
Oh Gaia, I believe you don’t value humans anymore than any other living being. Living with that belief is sobering. Oddly enough it also makes me want to be with you more . This isn't because it would make me more of a Goddess woman or a better Neopagan. It’s because you force me to be present. I can’t help but be conscious of what is around me-- be it gnats or gorgeous foliage. You make me think of balance, community, and being with the uncomfortable. You help me understand that dirt and bugs are a part of life. I am a part of something bigger. You, Gaia, are where everything dies and is reborn.
I feel as though you are going through the motions of shaking human beings up Gaia. During this difficult time, I want to live in harmony with you as much as I can. So I’m not ready to live in my Earthship right now but I can start taking baby steps. I was thinking of trying to sit on the grass without three layers of cloth. Though please Gaia, can we keep the bug bites to a minimum? :)
These "almond-shaped eyes"
see two worlds.
seeing through both.
a special kind of sight.
and abstract, mystical
their connections seen,
in exquisite dance.
Fishes must swim
in water of life.
Salmon of wisdom
in sacred well,
Engine and lens.
The way is danced,
and flown, and swum
in love and joy
and pain and wisdom.
each of you,
“Vesica Piscis” Lia Hunter, 2012...
As I explore how the Goddess and women made a mark on our shared spiritual heritage, I cannot forget that we are creating a history of Her, here and now. What we make, do, write, and become will be analyzed by future generations. How will we be remembered?
One of the traditions that we are creating now is the celebration of Pagan Pride throughout September. This weekend I attended the new St. Louis Pagan Pride event with the intention of seeking the Goddess. I found her in the faces of the women around me.