Honoring the Earth in our Rituals of Well-Being by Elisabeth Schilling

plantsMuch of our lives lack the rich culture of ritual that I think would help us repair the relationships we have with our own bodies and with the earth. The Rg Veda is one of the oldest collection of hymns from India. In them, I find a playful and introspective expression of desires and fears that, at first, did not seem to me to hold much wisdom for a modern contemplative. But lately, I have been noticing how the speakers communicate to or about the earth, and how their lives seem centered around trying to take a part in creation. Mostly, these hymns are stories and supplications for rain, cows, victory in battle, and a long life. But there is a deep understanding of the power and divinity in the universe that is the very earth-based wisdom that our humanity-in- crisis needs. If the Qur’an is God calling for humanity to be grateful, the Rg Veda is a model of a humanity that could be nothing else.

I love one incantation, for instance, found in the tenth mandala, that seems to be from a compounding physician, praying to the healing herbs that might make her client well again. I imagine her alone, in a greenhouse pharmacy, on a damp late afternoon, fingering stems and leaves before crushing them with her mortar and pestle to make a bespoke tincture that holds a cure. She knows the plants intimately, and works as if she is on holy ground: Continue reading “Honoring the Earth in our Rituals of Well-Being by Elisabeth Schilling”

Our Enchanted Bosque by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoI live in New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. As a Goddess Worshiper, one of the things I love about New Mexico is the easy access I, a city dweller, have to so much natural beauty. I feel Her beauty and power in the widely varied landscapes of New Mexico.

Continue reading “Our Enchanted Bosque by Judith Shaw”

The Spirit of Capitalism vs. the Spirit of Traditional Rural Life by Carol P. Christ

marika's rakiIn this picture, Marika from Skoteino Crete toasts our group and downs a glass of her homemade raki. Marika, who is best friends with Christina who makes lunch for us, has just returned from her home next door with her gift of a glass of raki for each of us.

Marika, who has little, is eager to give to us. Hers is but one of many gifts from the heart we receive on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Why is it that we who have so much do not give as spontaneously?

One answer is that capitalist individualism has taught us to count our worth by how much we have and to fear for the day when we will have nothing.

These words may be a cliché, but they hold a profound truth nonetheless.

Heide Goettner-Abendroth tells us that in matriarchal societies with small-scale sustainable agricultural economies, people did not hoard or save for a rainy day. With the labors of their bodies and minds, they took only what they needed from the land. When there was a surplus, they gave parties, sharing what they had with others. Even with the coming of patriarchy, ancient matriarchal customs of generosity survived among rural farmers. Continue reading “The Spirit of Capitalism vs. the Spirit of Traditional Rural Life by Carol P. Christ”

Demagogues, Scientists, or Saints: Michael Specter’s Neglected Territory in the Global Food Landscape of Vandana Shiva and the Biotech Industry by Sarah E. Robinson

sarah robinson
Photo credit: Matt Blowers

Written in response to Michael Specter’s article, “Seeds of Doubt: An Activist’s Controversial Crusade against Genetically Modified Crops” in The New Yorker (August 25, 2014). The activist criticized in the essay is Vandana Shiva. This is Part Two – read Part One here

Biodiversity is a crucial feature of a healthy landscape and a resilient foodscape.  Agroecologists and others work to ensure that humanity can lean on our food diversity in hard times, but GMO foods have thrown a wrench into the works.[i] The diversity of our food base increases our potential to continue to eat as we face a variety of weather conditions, droughts, floods, and such.  This is the wisdom behind seed banking, what Vandana Shiva does in her non-profit organization Navdanya.

Despite Specter’s claim that India has not permitted GMO foods, his article appeared a month after India approved a number of genetically modified food plants for field trials.  Field trials involve open-air release of genetically modified foods. GMO food crops cannot be contained once they are released.  An article on the current Indian controversy suggests that biotech companies “hide behind a smokescreen of benevolence.”[ii]

Continue reading “Demagogues, Scientists, or Saints: Michael Specter’s Neglected Territory in the Global Food Landscape of Vandana Shiva and the Biotech Industry by Sarah E. Robinson”

Demagogues, Scientists, or Saints: Michael Specter’s Neglected Territory in the Global Food Landscape of Vandana Shiva and the Biotech Industry by Sarah E. Robinson

sarah robinson
Photo credit: Matt Blowers

Written in response to Michael Specter’s article, “Seeds of Doubt: An Activist’s Controversial Crusade against Genetically Modified Crops” in The New Yorker (August 25, 2014). The activist whose work he criticizes is renowned Indian scientist and ecofeminist Vandana Shiva. This is Part One of two. 

In Michael Specter’s article in The New Yorker, “Seeds of Doubt: An Activist’s Controversial Crusade against Genetically Modified Crops,” the author was remiss in omitting overarching narratives in the global food conversation, as well as vital details to clarify the agricultural and ethical landscape in which food scholar-activist Vandana Shiva works.  In his celebration of genetic innovation, Specter ignores sciences, such as agroecology, that criticize and co-exist with biotechnology.  Most appallingly, Specter repeats a slanderous remark against Shiva without challenging its accuracy.  While I appreciate Specter’s attempt to weigh both sides of an issue, as a non-profit director seeking food security for peasants, Shiva cannot be compared with deep-pocketed agribusinesses, which must first attend to a financial bottom line before meeting any humanitarian goals that may be quite honest, despite the smell of greenwashing.

Specter’s article is dubiously well-timed to belittle the hard work of anti-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) activists and policymakers in Vermont who face legal challenges to a GMO labeling law passed in April 2014.  State-level GMO labeling has become an important political issue in the U.S., as other states prepare ballot measures and similar legislation.  Consumers in the E.U., Australia, China, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the U.K. have already either banned or required labeling of genetically modified foods.  Just like the so-called “debate” over climate change, the conversation on food safety continues with a hefty dose of political maneuvering.  Continue reading “Demagogues, Scientists, or Saints: Michael Specter’s Neglected Territory in the Global Food Landscape of Vandana Shiva and the Biotech Industry by Sarah E. Robinson”

Let’s Begin With Compassion by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonEvery year, several churches in my area set aside a Sunday morning service to celebrate “The Blessing of the Animals.”  Parishioners bring animals (mostly dogs) with them to church.  The service centers around St. Francis, a Catholic friar and preacher (1181-1226), known for giving us the Christmas crèche, an artistic display prominently figuring Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and angels.  St. Francis soon added cows, donkeys, and sheep to his art.  He said, “Surely the animals praised the new Messiah just as the shepherds and angels did.”  The bulletin of one of the local churches participating in the celebration said, “In honor of this blessed saint [St. Francis] of the church we gather today with our animals, here and in spirit–our pets, our service animals, police dogs and horses, zoo animals and all God’s creatures and give thanks for what they do for us and for what they mean to us.”

The collective prayers that followed thanked God for “animals that comfort us, delight us and give us companionship.”  Also, “thank you, Lord, for animals that give us wool and feathers to keep us warm.  We thank you for animals that give us milk, cheese and eggs to help us grow and to keep us healthy.  We thank you for horses, donkeys and oxen that work hard on farms around the world.”  True enough, we do delight in an animal’s companionship.  We also benefit from animal products and their labor.  However, it seems to me that today, in industrialized societies (especially), we view animals predominately for their instrumental use, ignoring their intrinsic value.  In other words, our concerns center around how we can use animals to further our own wealth and well-being.  Isn’t that called exploitation? Continue reading “Let’s Begin With Compassion by Esther Nelson”

Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling by Carol P. Christ

carol christThe mountaintop shrines of Mount Juctas in Archanes, Crete are situated on twin peaks, which may have symbolized breasts. Ancient shrines on the northern peak date from 2200 BCE until at least the end of the Ariadnian (Minoan) period in 1450 BCE. A crevice in the rock was filled with offerings of pottery, clay images of women and men in ritual dress, diseased bodies and body parts, sheep and cattle, and other objects. Excavations to a depth of 13 meters did not reach the bottom layers. Many offerings had been burned, suggesting that the objects were first thrown into fire and then dropped into the crevice. People who climbed the mountain for the festivals would have spilled over both peaks and there may have been shrines as well as fires on both of them.

Goddess Pilgrim on Mount Juctas
Goddess Pilgrim on Mount Juctas

With lack of imagination, archaeologists often write that worship in mountaintop shrines in Crete began when the king ascended the mountain to survey his realm. This ignores the fact that people are like goats and will climb anything if they can. Bones provide evidence of domesticated sheep, goats, and cattle in Crete long before there were kings. Surely shepherds climbed Mount Juctas before any kings did.

The idea that mountains are for kings also ignores the fact that there are no kings in Crete today, no realms to be surveyed, and yet the people of Archanes still ascend the mountain for the summer festival known as the Transfiguration of Christ on August 5th and 6th. A church called Afendis Christos or Christ the Lord on the southern peak of Juctas is the destination of current pilgrims. Today the uneven dirt road recently cut into the mountain is clogged with cars (only) during the festival. Continue reading “Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling by Carol P. Christ”

Eating: Thinking about Bodily Practices, Pt. 1 by Elise M. Edwards

Elise EdwardsI am currently preparing to teach a course on bioethics in the fall. I plan on combining some common, secular materials on biomedical ethics with some theological material and some feminist readings. After all, in a course that centers around practices related to the body, birth, and death, there seems ample opportunity to introduce feminist themes. Some feminist perspective, of course, is typical, like when we will discuss abortion and contraception. (Or at least it is common in my courses where try to present multiple sides of an issue.) Anything related to conception, pregnancy, and birth is easily understood as a “women’s issue” and therefore something that feminists address. I’ve discussed abortion and contraception in previous posts on this forum.

However, I realized in going through readings for this course that I have not focused much on other practices related to the body in my scholarship or personal reflection. Specifically, I have not connected them to theological principles or feminist convictions. Perhaps not everything concerning the body is directly relevant to feminism. But I am sure if I thought about it, I would be able to make the connections. We are physical creatures and the feminist movement generally affirms recognizing our embodiment.

Continue reading “Eating: Thinking about Bodily Practices, Pt. 1 by Elise M. Edwards”

A Love Poem for My Mother, On Earth Day by Candice Rose Valenzuela

Candice Rose Valenzuela teaches English Literature at Castlemont High School in East Oakland, California, and she has been teaching and organizing inner-city youth for the past eight years. She is currently pursuing a Masters in East-West Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies, and desires to bring indigenous healing methodologies into teaching and learning in the inner-city.

I wrote this poem in observance of Earth Day, April 22nd 2014, and it was inspired by the work of Audre Lorde, Starhawk and Christine Hoff Kraemer in their discussion of the powerful erotic pulse underpinning our connection with ourselves and with all beings on Earth. 

as a child, i spent a lot of time wondering what love is.
and this was because

expressions of it around me were unclear, inconsistent, fleeting or unnamed

but mostly because no one

could teach me to see

what they themselves were blind to.

this is for my Mother. To let her know I see.

Continue reading “A Love Poem for My Mother, On Earth Day by Candice Rose Valenzuela”

A Sojourn in Antartica by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia headshotOk, so it’s not Antarctica, it’s Indiana, but it sure feels like Antarctica lately.

At least it’s what I figure Antarctica must feel like: bone chilling wind that can cause hypothermia and frost bite in a matter of minutes; everything as far as the eye can see white—sometimes no horizon, or blue sky, or any distinction between the celestial world and ours. Continue reading “A Sojourn in Antartica by Marcia Mount Shoop”


carol-christOlives are being harvested in the fields outside my town these days.  We have been having the first rains of the season.  The roads are wet and muddy, and the trees are partially shrouded in mist.  The fields are spread with black plastic nets, and people are hard at work, the men hitting the trees to make the olives fall, and the women picking up the olives from the nets.  The harvest will continue throughout the winter.

The olive press is busy. Cars and trucks come and go, unloading heavy bags filled with olives.  These days the bags are white, made of sturdy woven plastic. In Crete this fall several of us bought canvas olive bags, hand-woven by women.  These, along with baskets hand-woven by men, were still in use only a few decades ago.

olive harvest in Lesbos early 20th century by Theofilos Hajimichael
olive harvest in Lesbos early 20th century by Theofilos Hajimichael

A friend who died a few years ago told me that “in the old days” there were no nets. The women and the children had to pick the olives up from the ground, often cutting their hands on thorns and stones.  The nets are a Goddess-send.  Between harvests, the nets are simply folded up and placed in the crotch of the tree. Here no one steals them.

In the fields where I walk some of the trees have enormous trunks. Some of them have two trunks, growing like sisters.  Many of them are 300, some perhaps 500, years old.  A man emerges from a field that has some particularly old trees.  I ask him how old they are. “Older than I am,” he replies. “They were here before I was born.  They will be here after I die.” Continue reading “SACRED RHYTHMS OF THE OLIVE HARVEST by Carol P. Christ”

Water, Activism, and Thirsting for Change by Xochitl Alvizo

XA yellowMike Wilson’s persistent replacement of water sources in the desert for those who may be dying of thirst is part of his affirmation that we are all inextricably connected…the affirmation that our individual well-being cannot be separated from our collective well-being.

I carry two water bottles with me at all times, one for water and one for change – quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies, as well as the occasional dollar bill. I carry the first bottle because, here in the U.S., I have the luxury of accessing potable drinking water, from which I am able to refill my reusable water bottle, almost everywhere I go. I don’t go anywhere without it. Even at a friend’s house or out to eat at a restaurant, when offered a glass of drinking water I simply pull out my water bottle and if needed refill it from the tap. No need to wash an extra cup. I especially find it necessary to have my water bottle with me when I am at conferences or business meetings where the default is to provide people with brand new single-use disposable water bottles that more often than not end up in the trash can instead of the recycling bin – which is often not even available. I carry my water bottle with me at all times.

Sadly (and, criminally, really), people in the U.S., 90% of whom have access to perfectly good drinking water from their tap, are the top consumers of store bought bottled water – and unnecessarily so. The great irony is that 40% of bottled water comes directly from public water supplies – from the city’s public works for which tax-payers are already paying. Meanwhile, in many parts of the world people are literally dying of thirst and access to fresh drinking water continues to be a growing crisis. Single-use bottled water makes me angry, for unless water is being bottled in order to be transported to people in places that have no access to it, buying bottled water is unnecessary, indulgent, and willfully uninformed.blue planet, water crisis, Mike Wilson Continue reading “Water, Activism, and Thirsting for Change by Xochitl Alvizo”


carol-christWangari-Maathai-1September 25, 2013 is the second anniversary of the death of environmental, peace, justice, and democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Muta Maathai.

Wangari Muta was born in 1940 in a round hut in rural tribal Kenya.  Wangari’s tribe considered the fig tree to be holy, and she was taught that one is never to cut a fig tree down or to use its branches for firewood.  Wangari spent many happy childhood hours in the shade of a fig tree that grew by a nearby stream.  Fig trees play an important role in the ecological system of the Rift Valley of Kenya.  Their roots penetrate the hard rock surface of the mountains to find underground water, thus opening channels where the water flows upward to fill streams and rivers.

As an adult Maathai learned that the fig tree she played under had been cut down by a settler with the result that the river had dried up.  This was happening all over Kenya on a massive scale to make room for cash crop plantations.  Rivers were silting up and widespread erosion threatened to turn the fertile Rift Valley into a desert. Crops were failing, animals were starving, there was no wood for cooking fires, and rural people were suffering.

Maathai  says that as she was thinking about this problem “It just came to me: ‘Why not plant trees?’ … This is how the Green Belt Movement began.”  Continue reading “WANGARI MUTA MAATHAI AND SACRED MOUNT KENYA by Carol P. Christ”

Feminism and My Existentialist Leanings by Xochitl Alvizo

In light of so much destruction in our world – from the violence inside individual homes to beyond and between national borders – how is it still possible to hope for and to live toward a vision of beauty and peace for the world?

It was at a community college in LA in my Psychology 4 class that I first formally encountered existentialism. When it came to the time of the semester to teach on that topic, our professor, Eric Fiazi, came alive in a new way, energetically teaching us about existentialism and Jean-Paul Sartre. Professor Fiazi dramatically gestured and sketched on the board as he explained the concept of ‘nothingness’ and Sartre’s well-known proposition that “existence precedes essence.”  Teaching psychology was for him a means of teaching what he truly loved, art and existentialism. He believed these subjects helped expand students’ horizons and helped make them happy and productive members of society. And so these class sessions were his favorite to teach – and mine to experience. Immediately, I was hooked.

I remember the moment he hit the chalk to the board – leaving a speck of a mark – telling us that the tiny little mark left on the great wide chalkboard was like our galaxy, tiny  against the great vastness of the universe; the earth, a particle of chalk-dust in comparison, and our individual lives, imperceptible in its midst (it now reminds me of Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot monologue). Engaging the students, he countered each one of their assertions that humans indeed have an essence, a meaning. “Humans are good by nature” – “Humans are inherently selfish beings” – “Humans are created in the image of god” – “We are each created for a purpose”; for each of these he gave a clear and logical retort. I was fascinated! What would it mean to live a life with no inherent meaning – with no essence to determine or guide our existence? How might it be different to live my life stripped of any assumed or inherited sense of meaning or purpose – to instead give these up and start from a presupposition of nothingness? Continue reading “Feminism and My Existentialist Leanings by Xochitl Alvizo”

For the Love of Gaia by Jassy Watson

For the Love of Gaia Jassy WatsonOn January 26, 2013 a rare, devastating tornado hit our community in Queensland, Australia, a coastal town on this sub-tropical coast. My family experienced nature’s elemental force firsthand and hopefully will never again. The tornado viciously shattered houses, peeled away roofs, uplifted cars and trees, and took down power lines, tearing apart everything in its path. With absolutely no warning, literally out of the blue, it formed over the churning sea, rapidly intensifying before striking land, awakening the vulnerability and fragility of all life in its midst.

When it struck, our four kids and I were waiting in our car while my husband ducked into a mate’s house to borrow a tool. We heard the sound of a roaring jet plane overhead, as my husband came running, screaming at us to get out of the car. Turning to my left, in a vision imprinted forever, a spiral of debris flew toward us. Scrambling, we got the kids out of their harnesses and safely indoors. I lagged behind, taking care of the children first, and fell out of the side door of the van with the wind’s impact. As I got up to run, a large piece of roofing tin flew straight for my head. I dove, seeking safety under the front of our running car. My life flashed before my eyes. All of us in a state of shock, the tornado was gone as quickly as it had come, we were unscathed except for a few minor cuts and bruises. It was only a few moments before the immediate danger passed. We ventured outside to inspect the damage, destruction surrounded us. Continue reading “For the Love of Gaia by Jassy Watson”

Bird Watching and Geology in the Body of Goddess by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 color

The notion of the earth as the body of Goddess has taken on deeper meaning for me in recent years.  I have felt connected to nature all of my life.  Yet often, though not always, I have related to nature in general rather than in specific ways. Some years ago, after reading Hartshorne’s essay “Do Birds Love Singing?” I stopped for the first time in the wetlands of Kalloni, Lesbos, to see the flamingoes that live in the salt pans there.


One thing led to another, and I met someone with whom I spent the next six weeks visiting every pool and puddle where birds were stopping in Lesbos that spring.  Continue reading “Bird Watching and Geology in the Body of Goddess by Carol P. Christ”

Imix: Primal Mother and Dawn of a New Age by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Michele FreyhaufIf you are reading this, then we survived another apocalypse.  People are fixated on end-times; especially predictions, prophecies, etc.  Specials on Nostradamus, the Book of Revelation, TV Evangelists looking for end signs plague television shows, movies, and writings.  Countdown clocks and reminders to repent are all around us.

Original image found at http://www.dwayneedwardrourke.com/Pages/TIMEWAVE0728/page21/page21.html
Original image found at http://www.dwayneedwardrourke.com/Pages/TIMEWAVE0728/page21/page21.html

What is unnerving is how we obsess about the end of the world instead of living in the world we have right now.

I would like to share a Mayan poem that I came across.  It is called “Imix”- a Mayan Oracle Interpretation translated by Ariel Spilsbury and Michael Bruner and I am drawn to it due to the imagery and symbolism:

I Am Imix, Primal Mother.

Still, dark womb of the patterned potential of becoming, sacred, interstellar genesis, I Am.

Nourishing, fertile abyss, I birth you.

Benevolent, my mighty cauldron of primal waters, enveloping the living seed. Eternal is my embrace. Continue reading “Imix: Primal Mother and Dawn of a New Age by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

We’ll Have a Green Christmas… Together! by Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee

Many of us journey through Advent in a culture whose businesses frantically try to capitalize on the hope, peace, joy, and love promised by the season. Although many agree that consumerism contradicts the fundamental teachings of Jesus, I am not here to disparage every last Christmas tradition until we’ve pared our so-called celebrations down to nothing. Yet many of us wish our festivities could better reflect the heart of Jesus’ teachings and ministry. It’s harder to feel quite so celebratory once we understand the ways in which our choices affect our kindred – both human and otherkind, near and far.

Maybe the point is not to have some kind of pure, ideal Christmas. If we can acknowledge the imperfect world we live in yet at the same time lift up our communal journey toward greater healing and justice, we will feel the laughter and songs of the whole Earth intertwine with our own joys at Christmastime. When gifts to our loved ones also help others around the world, the warmth we feel at their own excitement grows deeper and more powerful when we can also sense the joy of our unknown kindred somewhere else. Our appreciation of festive decorations feels more authentic when we know our choices are helping reduce the impacts of climate change, or providing habitats for God’s little sparrows. Our traditions can bring us closer to one another, and help us feel the presence of our family – all of them – throughout the journey toward Christmas. Continue reading “We’ll Have a Green Christmas… Together! by Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee”

To Garden by Kathryn House

My work is transformed when I view the task at hand through verbs I learned through gardening: tend, nurture, sow, dig, weed, share, till, harvest, nourish, rest.

Yesterday was the autumnal equinox, which means that fall is officially here. Right on cue, the first leaves are changing from green to shades of gold and crimson. The air is crisp, and the nights are cooler. In the Northern Hemisphere, fall also marks the beginning of the harvest season. Tending a garden has certainly changed the way I think about food, but it has also given me a lens through which to reflect more broadly on community, justice, faith, and hope. I love that gardening invites me to consider a way of being that is governed by a rhythm all its own. This steady beat brings my tendency to rush without reflecting to a halt. Every garden is unique and every gardener has a different philosophy, of course. For myself and for the housemates with whom I have gardened over the years, these three raised beds have come to constitute a sacred space. A space of hospitality, of nurture and delight, they are a space around which we are reminded of finitude, of beginnings and endings, of gratitude. Continue reading “To Garden by Kathryn House”

Painting Pachamama and Gaia by Angela Yarber

 Pachamama prevails.  Her body is one with the Andes and she births the caverns, canyons, and rivers that sustain the earth.  

This month, the indigenous people of the Andes celebrate a high holy season in Incan mythology, honoring their beloved Pachamama.  Pachamama is venerated as the earth goddess and during August, her followers give her payment (pago) with their central ritual of Challa.  So, I’d like for my monthly article about Holy Women Icons to celebrate this earthy goddess of Peru, along with a similar manifestation of mother earth, Gaia.  Thus far, the biblical dancer, the Shulamite, feminist scholar, Mary Daly, and literary figure, Baby Suggs, have been the icons with a folk feminist twist that I have discussed on Feminism and Religion.  Now, I’d like us to join with our Andean sisters in toasting the holy women icons of mythology: Pachamama and Gaia. Continue reading “Painting Pachamama and Gaia by Angela Yarber”

Soror Mystica: New Myth for a Changing Earth by Gael Belden

Once, when my life collapsed around me, as life is wont to do at times, I began creating clay images, placing them near the headwaters of watersheds around the United States. I called this project 100 Clay Buddha’s and it seemed at the time an incantation and a prayer for water, for the planet.  Later, I came to understand that I was also re-figuring my life, image by image, waterway by waterway.

I was also working at the time with particular koans, myths, and fairy tales because they speak not only to the personal, but to the collective –to the ways things have been over time. The hero’s journey monomyth, although genderless in its most distilled terms, seemed, though its imagery, to speak mostly to the theme of the outer quest (slaying dragons, returning from battle, and whatnot). I felt as a woman, however, my journey had to do with a descent into the Great Below and with that a dying into something new. Continue reading “Soror Mystica: New Myth for a Changing Earth by Gael Belden”

The Way We Are Created: Eco-feminist Explorations of Bodily Hair by Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee

In the last few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about hair. It’s hard to avoid thinking about it when you are the greyest, hairiest woman in your suburban, north shore town.  Myself and the other two ‘all natural’ women in town stand out like beacons among a sea of smooth, streaked, glossy manes of gorgeously cut and styled hair. And each spring, I stare at my shorts and tank top a little longer before wearing them around town. I’ll be perfectly honest – I don’t blame those slaves to fashion one bit. Although I try to avoid what I call the ‘crazy witch woman’ look, there’s no getting around it – smooth legs look slick, and dye smooths out those grey frizzies and takes a good ten years off your age!

So, it got me wondering – what does hair have to teach us as women of faith? Is there something unique about hair that causes us to fixate on it so much? And it occurred to me that hair actually symbolizes so much about our relationship with the Creation. We exist in an interconnected matrix of the living and non-living – as a matter of fact, we rely completely on the abiotic sphere, for life and as the matrix within which relationships occur.  Our bodies exemplify that relational paradigm; our living cells are inseparable from the non-living matrices of our skin, teeth, and hair.  From our living bodies emerges a non-living, interconnected medium, symbolic of the whole ecosphere.

Continue reading “The Way We Are Created: Eco-feminist Explorations of Bodily Hair by Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee”

Why Should We Care About Birds? By Carol P. Christ

I believe that we should we care about birds because it is right to do so.  If we do not, we will contribute to extinction of species, and we will leave a diminished world to those who come after us. We must not give up hope that we can save the world for birds, for other wildlife, and for our children’s children.

On February 2, 2012, the International Day for Wetlands, the Greek government signed into law a Presidental Directive mandating protection of the small wetlands of the Greek islands.  There is no assurance that this law will be enforced.  There are still no measures in effect to protect most of the larger wetlands in Greece, even though this is required by the European law Natura 2000, which requires all of the countries in the European Union to protect bird and wildlife habitats.

When I became a birdwatcher, I could not have told you what a wetland is.  Now I know that wetlands are fragile bodies of water shallow enough for wading birds from flamingoes to sandpipers to stand in “without getting their bottoms wet” while feeding on shrimp, small fish, frogs, and other watery treats.  Wetlands often take the form of pools near the sea, but they also include the deltas at river mouths and seasonally flooded fields.  In the twentieth century and today many wetlands were designated “swamps” and drained. Continue reading “Why Should We Care About Birds? By Carol P. Christ”

Where do Cats Go?: Reflections on Death Post Patriarchal Christianity by Sara Frykenberg

The reason I am speaking about death today is two-fold.  First, I have been somewhat preoccupied with the concept of death since entering a new decade of my life.  I no longer believe in the evangelical vision of heaven I learned about in my youth; but as an uncomfortable “un”-Christian, I also have no satisfactory vision to replace it.  Or rather, there are many visions I find appealing, but none that I “believe in,” as I had believed in heaven.  My family is getting older, my parents have been sick in the last few years, and I often feel that I have more to lose now than I used to.

My second reason for considering death today is that last Wednesday, Mimi, our family cat of 24 years—yes, 24—passed away.  After spending all nine of her lives living, Mimi could no longer eat and was suffering.  My mother had her put down after we all said goodbye; we held a funeral for her and buried her among the lilies in our yard, her home.

My sisters and myself were very, very saddened by Mimi’s passing; but my mother took it hardest of all.  Mimi had been her companion, her friend, her lap warmer, her snuggle buddy, her alarm clock and, we often joked, her favorite child for over two decades.  I wanted to comfort my mother; but my protest that it didn’t matter what the (her) Church said, Mimi was with the God/dess, was maybe, not very helpful.  It perhaps, only reminded her that in her view, I too am not going to heaven.

I remember sitting in church, as a child being told that animals did not have souls and that there was no “kitty heaven.”  That was perhaps, one of the first times in my life that I thought, “that’s just ridiculous,” in a church.  Not just ridiculous, but mean and cruel even.  “What,” I thought, “is the point in saying such a thing?”  Continue reading “Where do Cats Go?: Reflections on Death Post Patriarchal Christianity by Sara Frykenberg”

In the Web of Life — No Exceptions By Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ is a founding mother in the study of women and religion, feminist theology, women’s spirituality, and the Goddess movement.  She teaches in the Women’s Spirituality program at CIIS and through Ariadne Institute offers Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions.

Does God love me more than She loves my doggies? Does She love animals more than She loves trees and flowers? Does She love trees and flowers more than She loved the first cells that formed in the waters of our planet? Did She not also love the atoms and particles of atoms that coalesced to form the earth?

In her books Sacred Gaia and Gaia’s Gift Anne Primavesi questions the notion that the dialogue between God and the world began with “our entry onto the scene.”  Primavesi argues that “human exceptionalism,” the view that the world exists for us, and that we are an “exception” to the world, has been and is the predominant Christian view.  In the stories of Adam and Noah, God gives dominion over the creatures of the earth to man.  Theologians asserted that of all the creatures that inhabit the earth, only man is in the image of God, and the image of God in man is found in his rational intelligence, which is shared with no other creature.  Because he is in the image of God, man will escape death, which is the lot of every other living thing.  Rather than challenging human exceptionalism, modern science furthered it, asserting that “matter” was “dead,” and that therefore it was right and just for man to subdue “nature” through technology and to harness it for his needs.   Continue reading “In the Web of Life — No Exceptions By Carol P. Christ”

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