Third Wave Witch: Feminist Spirituality, Spiritual Feminism

Third Wave Witchcraft explores the intersection of feminism, Witchcraft, Goddess Spirituality, and feminist activism. A place to explore how to make our spirituality more feminist, our feminism more spiritual, and our world more just.

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Susan Harper

Susan Harper

Susan Harper is an eclectic solitary Feminist Witch from Irving, Texas. She is a professor of Anthropology, Sociology, and Women's Studies, with a focus on gender, religion, and sexuality. She is also an activist, community educator, and writer. When she's not making magick or fomenting social change, Susan is the head soapmaker, herbalist, and aromatherapist for Dreaming Priestess Creations. She shares her life with her partner, Stephanie, five cats, and two guinea pigs.

The rains continue to pour in North Texas, keeping me inside rather than planting my container garden, swimming in my pool, or enjoying what is usually one of the most beautiful times of the year. Twenty years of living in an area plagued by drought have taught me to never, ever wish for the rain to stop -- the memories of watching cattle die in the fields just a few years ago are too fresh for me to do anything but revel in the power of the storms and the swollen rivers. Though my thoughts are also with those who are seeing their homes washed out, and I hope that the rains slow down a bit soon to let Mother Earth absorb the much-needed moisture.

Even though I've had to pursue indoor fun the last few weeks, this is still a playful time for me. I'm between classes right now, and my freelance work has slowed down, allowing me a much needed break. Much of my focus has been on job applications, but I've found time for relaxation and recovery from a long, emotionally draining semester. The Universe itself seems to be also feeling the playful vibe, as it has sent the Hindu goddess Lalita to frolick with me in the spring rains.

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This is one of my favorite times of year. Spring is in full swing here in Texas, finals are over and I've finished grading the mounds of papers and exams, and I have a little respite before my next round of classes start for summer school. I celebrated this past weekend by taking a trip home to South Dakota to see my youngest niece graduate from high school. As always when I return home, I am struck by the way that the Sacred is close enough to touch there -- in the wildlife that approaches almost without fear, in the early morning quiet and birdsong, in the plants and animals I can identify almost by instinct. While I firmly believe that Goddess is everywhere, in a busy city She can be a bit harder to find sometimes. Trips home nourish my soul and help me remember how to see Her everywhere.

I'm clearly destined to spend more time remembering how to see the Sacred in my everyday, as Maia has come to be my guide for the week. This Greek Goddess is one of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades, and is also the mother of Hermes. She encourages us to see the magick in our everyday worlds and to use it to help us bloom.

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I spent this weekend celebrating Beltaine, the arrival of the season of fertility and growth, with my local community here in Dallas-Fort Worth. While it's been spring for a while here in Texas, it's been a mild and wet spring -- but this past week has brought the first real days of springtime sunshine. The landscape is vivid green punctuated with our signature wildflowers -- bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, primroses, and Queen Anne's lace. The open community ritual I attended (presented by the Texas Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess) took place in a sun-dappled grove of trees, and was followed by community feasting and socializing. Things have certainly begun stirring beneath the Earth, and within me, which are bursting to be born into the light.

These past months have seen me spending a great deal of time reflecting on the directions in which I'd like to grow, particularly in my career. As an adjunct professor, I am part of a chronically and drastically underpaid workforce. The work I do feeds my soul and feels like a calling, but often leaves me (and people like me) struggling just to pay our bills. This winter has been a season of confronting my feelings about poverty and lack, about my work, and about what I want the next phase of my life to bring -- in terms of work, relationships, spirituality, and more. (Why yes, I did just turn 40. Why do you ask?)

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    Anthony Gresham says #
    I once dreamed of Hathor. She appeared as a cow-headed woman seated and wearing ancient Egyptian clothes. She was smiling at me

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For the second time in just a few weeks, a Goddess carrying a message of embracing my anger has come to visit. While it's a bit jarring, after spending last week contemplating inspiring art, just a little reflection made it clear to me that my anger often is the source of my inspiration. As an activist and advocate for a variety of social justice causes, it is often anger at injustice that sparks me to words and action. This in so many ways does not square with what we are taught about being "good women." After all, a "good woman" is never angry, takes things in stride, is always smiling and compliant. One of the biggest strawman arguments in the world is that of the "Angry Feminist" who is humorless and always raging incoherently at the latest imagined slight. What this ignores, of course, is that women and other marginalized groups often have very real, valid reasons for our anger, and have the right to express it. Anger, in short, is not always a negative emotion -- it can spur us to positive action, open dialogue, and facilitate healing when we learn how to work with it.

And so it is that Pele, Hawaiian volcano Goddess, comes dancing into my life this week, from the cards of my Goddess Inspiration Oracle:

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I was so happy to see The Muses come dancing into my life this week when I did my weekly draw from the Goddess Inspiration Oracle. I've been struggling off and on with writer's blocks for much of the last five years, and increasingly I am feeling, as Maya Angelou would have said, the weight of the untold stories inside me. I find myself longing to write more and more often, and frustrated by the things that get in the way -- or, perhaps, the things I let get in the way. I've been reading Christina Baldwin's Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest for the last several weeks, and am finding that it's inspiring me not only to think about my journalling practice, but about the craft of writing and finding purpose more generally. I am excited to see what The Muses' energy infuses into these ponderings and into my work this week!

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I am just returned from three amazing days in the Texas Hill Country, where I attended Texas SpringFest, a Goddess spirituality event. I am refreshed and renewed after spending time in a woman-centered, explicitly feminist space, communing with my Goddess and my sisterhood and the reawakening Earth. I'll be writing more about SpringFest in the next days, as I slowly return to my regular life rhythms.

I did, however, take the time to pull this week's Goddess Inspiration Oracle card, and was surprised to find Sekhmet greeting me from the deck. The Egyptian Goddess of war (among other things), Sekhmet rules our darker emotions. Known as The Mighty One, Sekhmet asks us to examine those feelings that we -- especially those of us who are women -- are encouraged to keep hidden, out of sight, out of mind. Those emotions that we are told that "nice girls" don't feel -- anger, rage, righteousness, fury.

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It seems like themes of sexuality and pleasure have taken on an increasingly important role in my life over the last year. A few years ago, I took a last-minute job teaching a course on the Anthropology of Sexuality, a topic in which I had grounding but did not consider myself an expert. In the intervening three years, I have increasingly been called on to teach similar courses and to speak on issues of sex, sexuality, sex education, and sexual empowerment. I have come to think of myself as a Sexuality Educator, rather than simply as someone who teaches courses that deal with the topic of sex. And I've become increasingly passionate about medically accurate, comprehensive sex education, as well as about sexual empowerment more generally. This past spring, I started my Internet radio show, All Acts of Love and Pleasure, which examines love, sex, sexuality, eroticism, and relationships in a Pagan context. I have become, in a very real way, passionate about pleasure.

Running alongside these themes has been the overarching theme of trying to find and live my passion. My career has been in flux, in various ways, for the last couple of years. I've been working to discover the passions that drive me, and to make my life and my living doing those things. This work has been some of the most difficult of my life, as it asks me to plumb my deepest depths and be unflinchingly honest with myself about my wants, my desires, my fears, and my expectations of myself -- as well as my Divine right to live a life that fills me up and feels good. I have been working to embrace the Divine Yes.

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