Max Dashu: Feminist Scholar, Author, Historian, Artist by Jassy Watson


JassyI had the honour of hosting Max Dashu, Feminist Scholar, Historian and Artist here at Goddesses Studio this weekend past. Max is currently on her second Australian tour and we were blessed for her to come on quite the journey to present to an intimate group of Wide bay Goddesses, “Rebel Woman Shamans: Women Confront Empire” and “Deasophy: Goddess Wisdom” with a little “Female Iconography” thrown in.

Max’s knowledge and gift of story-telling is inspirational. “Rebel Woman Shamans: Woman Confront Empire” looked at holy women and female prophets who led many rebellions to resist conquest, slavery, and colonization. These women visionaries, priestesses, diviners and medicine women challenged systems of domination on multiple levels and drew on their cultural traditions to resist empire. It was their direct access to transformative power that these women had, that makes the spiritual political, as they act to lead, defend, and protect their peoples.

There were many names I had never heard of, their stories of oppression and violence distressing, yet their spirit and courage in standing for what they believed, even in the face of such adversity, is empowering to say the least:

Veleda of the Bructerii (Netherlands), Teresa (Mexico), Dahia al-Kahina (Tunisia), the Kumaria of Taleju (Nepal), Tang Saier (China), Queen Nanny of the Maroons (Jamaica), Lozen (Apache Nation)…and the list went on.

 

Nanny of the Maroons, The Mother of  Jamaica

Nanny of the Maroons, The Mother of Jamaica features on the $5oo note

 

Deasophy: Goddess Wisdom and Female Iconography

Was a visual journey into female Divinity: as Mother, as Snake, Waters, Sun; as Spider and Tree and Corn, as Earth or Heavens. As Creatrix, Holy Wisdom, Tao, the Fates: the numinous, primal Mystery. We viewed ancient figurines in clay, stone and ivory; statues, seals, ceramics, rock art, megaliths, codices, ancestor carvings and masks. Ranging from Ecuador to Zimbabwe to Iran and China and the Balkans, to Spain, Nigeria, Mexico, Eurasia and Indiana. This show drew on the impressive collection of the Suppressed Histories Archives.

Teotihuacan Spider Woman

Teotihuacan Spider Woman – a goddess of the Pre-Columbian Teotihuacan civilisation, Maya.

 

The work that Max is doing is crucial to the restoration of women to cultural memory. She founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document women’s history from an international perspective. With over 15,000 slides and 100 slideshows on female power and heritages transhistorically, Max is bridging the gap between academia and grassroots education. She has presented at libraries, universities and conferences all over the world.

Max is also known for her expertise on ancient female iconography in world archaeology, goddess traditions, witches and witch hunts, and women shamans. She has done extensive research on mother-right cultures, patriarchies and the origins of domination. Her work foregrounds indigenous women passed over by standard histories and highlights female spheres of power retained even in patriarchal societies.

History has been largely written by men, for men; but it is women like Max who are dedicated, committed and passionate about women’s rights and issues who are helping to bring about the much needed changes and to also remind us of the physical, political, social and spiritual power we as women have held throughout history. This is certainly not the history you get taught at school. It’s essential that the history of women is reclaimed and remembered. Max, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are eternally grateful for the work you are doing.

Max is still on tour in Australia and will be presenting a number of shows in Melbourne. You can see the details HERE.

I did the following painting prior to Max’s visit, however I believe she carries the spirit of the Wild, Rebel, Medicine woman – akin to those we explored in Max’s presentation. Not only is it essential to reclaim this ancient heritage, but it is important for us to re-imagine and recognise the continuity of the qualities and archetypes of Seer, Diviner, Prophetess, Medicine Woman, Wild Woman and Shawoman in modern culture.  Creating images of woman as this, empowers and inspires.

Shaman Woman - Connected to the cycles of life, the 'river beneath the river' runs through her body.

Shaman Woman – Connected to the cycles of life, the ‘river beneath the river’ runs through her body.

 

Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Visionary Artist, Teacher, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Goddesses Garden, Studio & Gallery; a school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person and online based around themes that explore the feminine. Regular creative events and presentations are also held that have included visits from international scholars, artists and musicians. Jassy is passionate about helping women awaken to their creative potential and building community through creativity. Jassy will be holding a workshop ‘Painting a Female Icon’ inspired by Max’s presentation in early 2015.   Visit her website www.goddessesgardenandstudio.com

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Categories: Activism, Art, General, Goddess, Goddess Movement, Herstory, Major Feminist Thinkers in Religion

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18 replies

  1. Max’s work is amazing, so is yours, thanks for sharing both!

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  2. Amazing and Brilliant – Wonderful Host and interview!

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  3. Thank you Jassy! and i love your Shaman Woman painting — beautiful!

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  4. What a treasure you have found for us! Will speak to my local librarian forthwith…

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  5. I’ve known Max for a long time and have also hosted her when she’s come to Long Beach. I think she knows more about the Goddess and goddesses than anyone else on the planet. One time while she was here, she tried to read her way straight across the books on one of my shelves, which endeavor led to some mighty interesting conversations. I’m also proud that some of her work hangs on my walls.

    A note to anyone who reads these blogs: invite Max to present one of her slideshows at your house of worship and be astonished at what you and your guests will learn from her!

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    • Yes Barbara – a gift for speed reading!! I was so blessed to have had part of a day in my studio painting with Max as well. My 7 year old daughter painted along too and was also present at her show. It is so important our young girls have these experiences, to think how they may impact her life is a satisfying feeling. And yes, I think she knows more about goddesses than anyone on the planet too! LOL

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  6. Thanks Jassy, delightful post, followed the link to SUPPRESSED HISTORIES, what a fascinating website!! Your painting too is gorgeous! And what’s that fox looking at over there on the sidelines? Such an Intriguing glance!!

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    • Sarah, I was waiting for someone to mention the foxes gaze….I am not sure…it’s just how it ended up and I am not sure if it will stay like that – however there is a sense of defeat here, the fox is symbolic of something in my view currently….someone lurking on the outer….so perhaps the fox is even looking at them. I need to listen in some more to find out.

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  7. Such a timely post for me, Jassy. I’m loving Max’s “Secret History of the Witches” class, in which I enrolled in September. It’s totally fascinating. The class is filled with intriguing, detailed descriptions of goddess spirituality through the ages. I agree with Barbara A. that Max knows more than anyone on the planet about goddesses from all over the world, and her collection of images is bigger than anyone’s. I was one of many women who wanted to make sure that her “slide show” — the Suppressed History Archives — was digitized, i.e. scanned, labeled, formatted, and archived. Max started an Indiegogo campaign to do that at the end of January and reached her goal by the end of March, 2014. Yay, Max!! With a little help from your friends, you’re making sure that women don’t lose our history again.

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  8. Max Dashu, what kind of sponsorship could get you to the UK? How have other women helped organize this for you?

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    • I need travel money, a place to stay, and an honorarium (often that part earned by admission at the door). This is my only livelihood so i have to earn something. University sponsorship is one way to go, with a fee that helps cover the pond hop (or just covers it!). There has to be someone or some group who books the hall, does publicity, runs the event, including getting a digital projector, mic, screen (if the venue has none). It would be best to have events in several cities to make it easier to cover the travel costs. The biggest of which is travel US to Europe. Once i’m over there, i can get events in other countries as well. Sometimes women raise money from many individuals in advance to ensure the airfare is covered. http://www.suppressedhistories.net/presentations/2014shows.html

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      • Thank you so much for this and sorry for the belated reply. I was away. I really wish I was connected to an academic institution with the funds to bring you over. I am a huge admirer of your work!

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  9. Beautiful painting and great intro to Max’s work. Thank Goddess for you and Max and all the wonderful women who are working to bring the positive power of women to the forefront. Our world needs it.

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  10. Max needs thousands of dollars in donations to continue her work. She works barely making ends meet, and has done this as a working class lesbian for decades. Send her money, lots of it. Women need to really step up, hey hetero women, send lesbians money for a change, support our projects and scholarships, we have most certainly done loads of political work for your causes. Send Max money!!! Do it now!!!

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