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.

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Weekly Goddess Inspiration: Tara

Tara, Goddess of Inspiration, sometimes known as The Liberator, brings her message that we are not alone. She encourages us to remember that we can always ask for help, and it is through asking for help that our wishes can be granted and our troubles surmounted. Tara's message is especially powerful for women -- our culture encourages us to see ourselves as weak if we need to ask for help or if we are unable to handle all of our various tasks, obligations, and burdens alone. I know I have certainly fallen prey to the Superwoman syndrome throughout my own life, and have been struggling with feeling like my life was unmanageable on a practical level of late. And yet I have been afraid to ask for help -- even as I find myself resentful of the fact that no one's helping!. Tara comes dancing into my life right now to remind me that I have help available, human as well as Divine, if only I will ask for it. 

Tara appears in many forms in Buddhist cosmology -- White Tara is the sacred star, the liberator and wish granter; Green Tara, the Buddha of enlightened activity; Blue Tara, the transmuter of anger; Red Tara, whose power magnetizes all good things; Black Tara, who helps us access our power; and Yellow Tara, who brings prosperity and wealth. While the card depicts White Tara -- and my sense is that I myself will be walking with White Tara this week -- you may find that another one of these Taras calls to you. In the Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr, Tara takes the place of The Fool in the Major Arcana and is called Beginnings. I love this idea, that when Tara comes dancing into our lives, she is inviting us on a journey towards enlightenment, towards joy, towards our power -- and also reminding us that we do not walk alone. She is always with us.

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Why I Still Need "Why Women Need the Goddess"

When I was a young woman in my early 20s, newly on a Pagan path, someone -- I no longer remember who -- put in my hands a copy of WomanSpirit Rising, edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow. I had discovered Goddess-centered Craft a year or so before, when I attended a Spring Equinox celebration and was slightly confused (and then elated) when no male Godhead was invoked. The idea of an explicitly feminist, overtly political, Goddess-centered spirituality excited me -- a young activist who was really coming into her own political consciousness and who had begun to heal the deep wounds left by a childhood spent in the Church of Christ, with its punishing Father God. 

Each essay in WomanSpirit Rising stirred me, but thenI got to Carol P. Christ's "Why Women Need the Goddess," and I read the words

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Thanks Susan. It is amazing how many people's lives have been changed by that little essay.
Weekly Goddess Inspiration: Ajysit

Among the Yakut people of Siberia, Ajysit is known as the Comforting Mother Goddess of Childbirth and Fate. It is she who guides children into the world through the process of birth, who comforts and assists with labor and birth, and who writes down the name of each newly born child in her Golden Book of Fate. It is said that calling out to Ajysit helps to ease the pain of labor contractions. She is also said to bless breastmilk so that it will be nourishing to the newly born.

While I have never had children of my own body and do not plan to, I spend a good deal of my time surrounded by midwives, doulas, and other birth professionals. (I joke that I spend a lot of time with a lot of people who spend a lot of time looking at other people's vaginas in a professional context, but I digress.) In working with, worshiping with, and simply knowing and loving people whose primary job it is to support labor and birth, I've come to believe that there are many times in our lives when we need a midwife -- not just when we are birthing a human child. In fact, one of my dear midwife friends calls me a "storycatcher" -- as she said once, "You know how I catch babies? You catch stories. You stay with people while they labor to get their stories out, and make it safe for them to birth them into the world." And so I do my own type of midwifery as a priestess, helping people, especially women, birth themselves into being. 

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Full Moon in Scorpio: Great! Another F*cking Opportunity for Personal Growth!

It's been an intense week as the Scorpio Moon approaches, Beltaine is in the air, and seemingly all the planets (well, ok, just four, but Mercury's warming up to do his own tap dance next week) doing the backwards boogie of retrograde. Saturn, the King of Karma, has been dancing backwards for a few weeks, bringing to light all sorts of things that we thought were long ago dead and buried. Mars retrograde has many of us feeling extra combative and raw. The Scorpio Moon asks to us focus unwaveringly on our target, our object of desire, and through that focus, draw our desires to us. And the Sun moving into steady Taurus means we may be torn between the known, the status quo, and all that which we truly desire even it obtaining it means shaking our world to its foundations.

As a former therapist of mine once said, Oh great. Another fucking opportunity for personal growth. Or, to put perhaps a more positive spin on it, What an opportunity to really heal some old shit.

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  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad I add a little laughter and magick to your Full Moon!
  • Natalie Zaman
    Natalie Zaman says #
    Brilliant. And you made me laugh too which was much needed today. I'm printing this out so I can write out my answers... thanks an
Weekly Goddess Inspiration: Kali Ma

Sex and Death! Sex and Death! 

That's the running joke whenever anyone in my circle pulls Kali Ma from one of my Goddess Oracle decks. Kali evokes a sense of simultaneous awe and revulsion, devotion and recoiling, from many people. The Hindu Dark Mother embodies so much that seems paradoxical -- endings and beginnings, creation and destruction, nurturing and punishment, love and hate, and -- yes -- Sex and Death. Her fearsome visage, her girdle of severed arms, her necklace of skulls all draw on our darkest fears. And yet the ultimate lesson of Kali Ma, it so often seems, is for us to be willing to find beauty in the horrific, to find the love in the dark nights of the soul, to find the new beginning in the fiery ending. 

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Weekly Goddess Inspiration: Haltia

One of the things I love most about the Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr is that it includes many lesser-known and even obscure Goddess alongside those that are familiar to me. I appreciate the chance to learn about Goddesses who may have been overlooked in my mythological education, and to find connections with Goddesses from pantheons or cultures I may know little about. 

This week brings the Baltic Goddess Haltia, Goddess of the Hearth and Home. She has much in common with the Estonia Goddess Holdja, and with Hearth Goddesses more generally. Honored among the Baltic Finns as the guardian of the hearth and hearthfire, Haltia lives on today as a general name for the house faeries or spirits who guard homes, water, graveyards and other places where humans dwell and carry out our daily activities.

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This month's Full Moon brings us a lunar eclipse as well, and arrives hot on the heels of the Spring Equinox. Known variously as the Worm Moon, the Sap Moon, or the Crow Moon, March's Full Moon calls us to seek out the areas of balance and imbalance in our lives. It is very much in harmony with the overall energies of the Spring Equinox -- the time when we begin to turn from the inner work of the Winter to the outer work of Spring and Summer, when we move from contemplation to action. This Full Moon propels us to action, but gently so -- inviting us to examine the areas where we are still in need of nurturance and healing, where we have gotten out of balance and harmony with ourselves and our world. 

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