I 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.
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.
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.
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