The image of the baby born under the rubble of the earthquake in Syria has been haunting me. So has the image in my mind of her mother, giving birth to her baby while trapped after the building, where she, her husband, and their children were sleeping, collapsed. The baby’s uncle, when digging through the debris hoping to reach his brother and family, found the baby alive, her umbilical cord still attached to her mother. When he cut the cord, the baby let out a cry. Tragically, her mother had died after giving birth, as had her father and siblings.Continue reading “Hope Is Giving Birth in the Face of the Dragon by Beth Bartlett”
Category: Feminism and Spirituality
Return to Mountain Mother by Jeanne F. Neath
Mountain Mother, I hear you calling me.
Mountain Mother, we hear your cry.
Mountain Mother, we have come back to you.
Mountain Mother, we hear your sigh.
Lyrics by Carol P. Christ . Sung to the tune of “Ancient Mother.” (origin unknown)
What do a bunch of feminist women do while riding a tour bus around the Mediterranean island of Crete? If they are on the Goddess Pilgrimage started by Carol Christ and continued by Laura Shannon, they sing songs honoring the Goddess. The song that drew me most from the first time I heard it on the fall 2022 Goddess Pilgrimage was “Mountain Mother.” Not surprising since the rocky, sparsely vegetated, yet hauntingly beautiful mountains of Crete surrounded us much of the time as our trusty bus wound its way up and down and around the island.Continue reading “Return to Mountain Mother by Jeanne F. Neath”
Rhiannon by Diane Finkle Perazzo
This poem is dedicated with gratitude to my “Women in the Mabinogi” writing group…
Rhiannon comes to me in my dreams.
She ebbs and flows like the waxing and waning
of the moon.
clop, clop, clop
and then, in a rush of beating wings
leaving a swirl of tiny white petals that spiral like stars.
Women, Blame, and Patriarchy by Mary Gelfand
Last May I had a vision in the shower. It wasn’t the kind of vision I like to have—where the Goddess and I dance across a meadow with flowers springing up as we pass and cool breezes bringing sweet fragrances. This was the kind of vision I’d rather not have, but probably needed to. This is from my journal.
Something happened during my shower recently that feels relevant. As I stepped into the shower, a phrase thrust itself into my mind: “I was forced to watch them die and it was all my fault.” As I ‘stood’ there with water pouring over my body and that statement vibrating in my brain, it attached itself to a scene where I was the spiritual leader of a community that came under attack. I was forced to watch the women and men who believed in what I taught as they were executed. Many of them were friends and relatives. I was restrained and couldn’t intervene to save them, or join them in execution. Having to witness this was part of my punishment. Instead I was carried to a bigger town, publicly humiliated and beaten, and then executed in some painfully unpleasant way I can’t recall–probably because I don’t want to.Continue reading “Women, Blame, and Patriarchy by Mary Gelfand”
Woman’s Sacred Hand – and Handkerchief by Laura Shannon
In my recent post ‘Forty Days After Childbirth, Mary Returns to the World,’ I wrote that ‘the woman’s power to bless and protect, as well as to create, is shown in the symbol of her hand.’ We see expressions of this power in the Orthodox Christian icon of the Three-Handed Madonna, whose third hand is over her womb, and the Hamsa, the hand-shaped talisman common to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. Also known as the Hand of Fatima, Miriam, or Mary, the Hamsa often incorporates eye or vulva motifs, which also offer protection.
Hand, womb, and eye all signify female creative power, personified in the image of Goddess and revered in Neolithic Old Europe. This life-giving principle is expressed in many ways apart from childbearing: as Carol Christ affirms, early technologies of spinning, weaving, pottery, and agriculture, along with Neolithic religion, were most likely invented by women.Continue reading “Woman’s Sacred Hand – and Handkerchief by Laura Shannon”
Seeds of Promise, by Molly Remer
Imbolc brings an invitation into change,
to step into the forge of transformation,
to sink into the holy well of healing,
to open ourselves up to an evolving path
of growth and discovery.
It is now that we remember
we are our own seeds of promise
and while there is time yet
to stay in the waiting place
biding our time
and strengthening our resources
so we have what we need to grow,
soon we will feel the wheel
urging us onward,
the call to set forth
becoming unmistakable and strong.
Let us settle ourselves into center,
nestle into trust and determination,
and extend outward from here
feeling the sweet wind caress us
and the fiery forge beckon us
as we heed the summons to roll on,
the path opening up before us as we move.
Prehistoric Feminine Icons
In this blog post I’d like to take you with me on a recent visit to the special exhibition “Arts and Prehistory”* in the Museum of Mankind (Musée de l’Homme) in Paris.**
Like the Feminine Power in London exhibition I wrote about last year, this is another ode to human imagination and creativity in connection to the mystery of life.
The exhibition features women figurines and cave paintings from dating between 26.000-34.000 years old, and I wonder how these prehistoric icons can inspire us to look at female bodies today…Continue reading “Prehistoric Feminine Icons”
From the Archives: Brigid, Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Smithcraft by Judith Shaw
This was originally posted on January 31, 2013
Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Smithcraft, begins her reign on Imbolic, February 2, the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox. On this day the ancient Celts held their Fire Festival in honor of Brigid and the growing light. In Scotland, as recently as the mid-twentieth century, houses were cleaned and the hearth fires rekindled on February 2, to welcome in Brigid. Remnants of this festival are found in America today on Groundhog Day.
Like the Cailleach, She existed in many places and was known by many names. The Irish called her Brighde; she was Bride in Scotland, Brigantia in Northern Britain, and Brigandu in France. Some called her Brid, Brig or Brighid. Later she was transformed by Christianity into Saint Bridget. Her older name was BREO SAIGHEAD. Her name has various interpretations, many relating to fire – “Power,” “Renown” “Fiery Arrow of Power ” “Bright Arrow”, “The Bright One”, “The Powerful One”, “The High One” and “The Exalted One”.Continue reading “From the Archives: Brigid, Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Smithcraft by Judith Shaw”
Is Sin An Antiquated Concept? by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
I believe many could and would characterize abuse and exploitation as varying degrees of sin, from gossip and verbal intimidation on one end of the spectrum to murder, rape or thievery on the other. Yet, while we’ve normalized some acts that we recognize fall into the categories of abuse and exploitation, if you asked someone if society has normalized sin, I suspect most people would say “of course not.” I believe that cognitive disconnect is proof we’ve become numb and acculturated to many forms of abuse. The concept of sin, and what constitutes sin along with redemption, purification and penance are not on the minds of people today as they once were, despite the rampant abuse and exploitation, aka sin. We accept it like we’ve come to believe greed is good when it once was one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I think prosperity gospels too need to be evaluated for the anti-Jesus message these teachings perpetuate that does little to advance an evolved and compassionate humanity.Continue reading “Is Sin An Antiquated Concept? by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate”
Crawl Across the Sacred Circle and Take My Hand by Caryn MacGrandle
On Winter Solstice, I hosted a Return of the Sun event at the local healing arts center where I do my Circles. We had offerings and presentations all night long. It was the first time I have ever done anything that large or public, so it was a stretch for me.
At the end of the night, a friend said, ‘Oh my, I needed this. Let’s do it once a month.’
And I thought, ‘yea, right.’
And then I thought, ‘Yea. Right.’
I’ve already started thinking about ways we could do it better and things we could change.
I feel a bit like when I first started hosting Circles nine years ago. I’m tired and judging whether or not it was worth the stress and effort.
But this time around I know it’s worth the stress and effort.Continue reading “Crawl Across the Sacred Circle and Take My Hand by Caryn MacGrandle”
Return to the Grandmothers and 2 Other Poems by Annelinde Metzner
This past summer, my family and I lovingly carried my brother’s ashes to a favorite spot of his, in the woods at our grandparents’ Catskill farm. My mind was on the simple, beautiful ritual, each of us stating memories and scattering some of the ashes around the tree, and singing a few songs. It had slipped my mind that this tree grew at the entrance of the very meadow where, at age 11, I felt urgently compelled to create a ritual for myself, just at puberty, where I connected with the Grandmothers of the four directions. No one had taught me this, and I am still in wonder at what we carry with us, undoubtedly from prior lives. I feel that this poem was my self initiating myself into the world of the Goddess, and preparing for my own future.
In this poem, the Grandmothers are speaking to me, with a bit of disdain and fond teasing.Continue reading “Return to the Grandmothers and 2 Other Poems by Annelinde Metzner”
Carol P. Christ: Weaver of Visions by Beth Bartlett
Author’s Note: Today’s post is the 4000th FAR blog post! I first became aware of the Feminism and Religion blog when participating in a symposium honoring the life and work of Carol P. Christ in October 2021. I was inspired to write a piece on Christ’s contribution to ecofeminism, that was posted in the FAR blog a year ago today. I wanted to post another piece on Christ on the anniversary of that first post. I’m delighted that it is the 4000th, and so fitting that it is written in honor of Carol Christ, who was such an important part of the FAR blog.
A while ago, a friend asked me what spiritual reading I’d been doing lately. I told him that I’d been revisiting classics from the past. When he asked me who specifically, the first name I mentioned was Carol Christ. Even though he was a minister, he had never heard of her. Sadly, I suspect the same would be true for the vast majority of ministers, priests, rabbis, theologians, and other religious leaders. Yet, I can think of no one who has had a greater influence on my religious and spiritual thought and beliefs.Continue reading “Carol P. Christ: Weaver of Visions by Beth Bartlett”
Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon
Thirty years ago, Carol P. Christ founded her Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, which she wrote about in her book A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess (original 1995 title Odyssey with the Goddess) and in numerous posts on this site over the years. She led over 40 groups of women Pilgrims to encounter the history and sacred sites of the peaceful, egalitarian civilisation of Bronze Age Crete.
Here, the Goddess-honouring culture of Old Europe survived the longest, when patriarchal Indo-Europeans were taking over in the ‘Kurgan waves’ Marija Gimbutas has described. The sophisticated artworks of ‘Minoan’ Crete show women in positions of honour and authority, and do not depict violence, slavery, or war. People celebrated at ceremonial centres, made offerings at cave and mountain shrines, and worshipped the Goddess in sacred trees and stones.
As many readers know, before Carol passed away, she asked me to take on the leadership of her Goddess Pilgrimage, and to serve as her literary executor and the director of her Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. Deeply moved by her trust in me, and guided by very clear dreams I received around the time of her death, I accepted Carol’s request. In October 2022, after a three-year delay due to the pandemic, the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete was reborn.Continue reading “Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon”
Willful Women, Feminist Killjoys, and Jesus: Reflections on Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life by Liz Cooledge Jenkins
I’ve been thinking about willful women and feminist killjoys—two main guiding images in feminist scholar Sara Ahmed’s book Living a Feminist Life (Duke University Press 2017).
The idea of the willful woman (or willful girl, or willful person) is something I can easily get behind. The way I understand it, it has to do with women getting in touch with our own wills and being willing to speak and act and live out of our wills. Particularly if these wills turn out to exist in opposition to the things other people might will for us.
It’s about learning to stand up for ourselves, learning to affirm our full humanity in a world that often expects…less. It’s a way of consciously, intentionally being willing to be called “willful” as a negative thing—as in, stubborn, selfish, antagonistic, difficult—because the affirmation of our own wills is worth it.
I like all of this and find it helpful. Be willful. Expect pushback and penalties for it. Be willful anyway.Continue reading “Willful Women, Feminist Killjoys, and Jesus: Reflections on Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”
Re-Anointing the Body by Eline Kieft
How ‘at one’ are you with your body, and what reasons might there be if your body-sense got separate(d) from your soul-sense?
This piece starts with the difference between feminine and masculine spirituality, and introduces a few reasons why living in a physical body isn’t always easy.
It then invites a shift to the beloved body and how we can start to re-instate our body as a sacred place and love it from within.Continue reading “Re-Anointing the Body by Eline Kieft”
The Problem of Jehosheba: Reading One Biblical Character in Two Different Feminist Ways by Jill Hammer
Tucked away in II Kings 11 is the story of a mother-daughter feud that is personal, political, and ultimately fatal. Jehu, a charismatic military commander, is anointed by Elisha as the next king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jehu kills the previous king of Israel, Jehoram, and also Jehoram’s mother Jezebel (yes, that Jezebel—the famous/infamous queen). As part of his violent rise to power, Jehu also kills Ahaziah, king of the southern kingdom of Judah. Ahaziah’s death should mean that Athaliah (Atalya), who is queen mother of Judah as well as the daughter of Jezebel, cedes power to a new king and a new queen mother. Instead, according to the Book of Kings, Athaliah has the rest of the king’s sons and grandsons murdered, and seizes the throne for herself.
All seems lost for the Judean line, except that Jehosheba (Yehosheva), wife of the high priest Jehoiada and sister of the murdered King Ahaziah, saves one of Ahaziah’s sons, along with the child’s wetnurse, and hides them both in the Temple. Jehosehba keeps the boy, Joash, and his nurse in the Temple until he is six years old. At that time, Jehosheba’s husband, the high priest, anoints Joash king, stages a coup, and executes Athaliah as a usurper. Jehosheba’s action saves the Davidic line. The collection of Jewish legends known as Otzar Midrashim lists Jehosheba as one of the righteous women of the Jewish people.Continue reading “The Problem of Jehosheba: Reading One Biblical Character in Two Different Feminist Ways by Jill Hammer”
Unsung Heroines: Self-Worth takes Time: The Transformation of Angela di Foligno by Elisabeth Schilling
Angela di Foligno was a 13th century Umbrian Franciscan mystic who began her initiation on the spiritual path when she was almost 40. She was officially declared as saint in October of 2013. Her works were dictated to a relative who was scribe and a Franciscan brother in the church, and so we unfortunately do not have access to the complete depth and intimacies of her ecstatic visions and commentary (both she and her scribe discuss how he was writing in such haste and fear from admonishment from his religious brothers that it is a “short and defective version” of her experience). Nevertheless, as readers, there is still so much for us to gain in terms of inspiration and commiseration.
In “The First Twenty Steps of the Blessed Angela in the Way of Penance and Spiritual Perfection,” the Franciscan saint details the arduous journey of mastering both fear and love, a requirement to evolving in our human consciousness to realize our divine spark and transform shame. I want to discuss three aspects of this journey that relate specifically, as I see it, to the challenges set forth by many women: love for the body, love for one’s relational boundaries, and love for one’s time and space. Most cultures fail to honor women in all of their desires and powers, and so we must learn to honor ourselves and each other. Angela, as we shall see, was fiercely willing to honor herself.Continue reading “Unsung Heroines: Self-Worth takes Time: The Transformation of Angela di Foligno by Elisabeth Schilling”
Witches’ New Year: She is Everywhere by Caryn MacGrandle
Samhain, the Witches ‘New Year’ was a busy time for me. I did a workshop at a local large artist facility Lowe Mill Arts in Huntsville, Alabama. I watched and participated in a releasing burning ceremony the next night at the same artist site. There is so much we are needing to release especially with where we are in the world right now.
And then the following night, I was in charge of a Fire Circle at the Witches Ball at Mill Kat Healing Arts Center where I host my weekly circles.
I admit to some trepidation hosting the very public Fire Circle. I live in the deep south of Alabama most definitely not known for its open mindedness. A friend told me that she shared the Witches Ball event on her facebook page and received the comment, ‘that is how they indoctrinate you.’
But we are not in a time to be deterred by fear. I have been called to share this magic. And people need it.Continue reading “Witches’ New Year: She is Everywhere by Caryn MacGrandle”