From the Archives: Forty Days After Childbirth, Mary Returns to the World by Laura Shannon

This was originally posted on Feb 6, 2021

image of Mosaic of the Nativity

Mosaic of the Nativity

All week we have been warming our spirits at the sacred fire of Candlemas / Imbolc, the Celtic holiday in honour of Brighde, Irish saint and Goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing. Imbolc falls approximately 6 weeks between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, one of the 8 festivals of the Celtic year.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, February 2 is celebrated as Ypopantis, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 40 days after his birth, in accordance with Mosaic law. This day also marks Mary’s ritual return to the world after forty days of postpartum seclusion. This practice was known in the Western Church as ‘churching’ or blessing a new mother after 40 days; Hindu tradition also recommends women spend up to 40 days in rest and isolation after childbirth.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Forty Days After Childbirth, Mary Returns to the World by Laura Shannon”

From the Archives: Miracles Of The Great Mother by Jassy Watson

I was brought up in a household where attitudes to God and church were quite negative. My Nanna, however, was deeply religious, and I can still remember sitting in her dining room as a very young child staring up in awe at a painting of  ‘The Last Supper.’ I was completely mesmerised, there was something haunting about that painting that left a lifelong impression. Art became a passion very early on in life, and whenever I came into contact with images of a religious nature emotions stirred. I was spellbound by divine mystery. The most profound feelings were engendered when I met with images of Mother Mary and the infant Jesus.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Miracles Of The Great Mother by Jassy Watson”

A Christmas Story by Sara Wright

My deeply devout French- Italian Catholic Grandmother held my hand as we walked into the village at dusk. We were going to see the crèche. I recall feeling very excited. I loved the story that she had just told me about Mary birthing Jesus in a manger surrounded by animals and doves while Joseph looked on.

 I was eight years old. Until this Christmas I had never spent any time with my paternal grandmother. This year things were different. My parents were in Europe for a year and I had also been separated from my little brother who was staying with my maternal grandparents while I attended school in the east. My grandparents had sent me back to stay with my great aunts because they didn’t want me to go to Catholic school in California. I missed my little brother so much it hurt. My grandmother’s sisters were kind to me, but I was in a state of perpetual longing…  How I ended up staying with this unknown grandmother remains a mystery to this day.

Continue reading “A Christmas Story by Sara Wright”

The Gate by Sara Wright

Unaccustomed to joy

his kindness

barely torched

 her cells still

under fierce attack

from too

many anti –bodies.

What registered was

quick – silver shining

a clasp so easily undone…

  A golden sun

illuminated two

 leaf strewn paths

 gilded in bronze.

  Welcomed by Hemlocks

  at Mary’s House ,

Continue reading “The Gate by Sara Wright”

Mary’s House by Sara Wright

Feminists have always found holy places in the forest, under trees, near springs or wells or by rivers and streams and this year my refuge has been the forest, where the goddess lives still…I have spent most of the summer visiting in a very special forest, one that has been protected by people who have bought up thousands of acres to protect the land from motorized vehicles and other machines that ruin the earth. Old trees shade an understory that is thick with new growth, ground cover and mushrooms abound. There are beaver ponds and springs, rivers, and bogs. When I enter the narrow winding barely discernable paths I feel as if I am parting a veil to enter a holy place because the trees have been allowed to grow and the forest is so healthy.

Continue reading “Mary’s House by Sara Wright”

How I Learned to Make Maps by Marie Cartier


I went into the unknown world with glasses

that made everything so clear I could

move through this world into the next.

Before I got my glasses…I didn’t see the way I could step to the edge,

put out my hand, split the known world and

go through: into the unknown.

I became someone without history.

Those rooms with my father, those times, those days, then nights.

Those stories …

Incest really is not a word that describes anything.

It does not describe the way the body splinters and then the known world separates and

when the known world separates, when all you know is you splitting,

 all you see is clouds.

So, I got glasses and I walked to the very edge of the flat world and stepped through.

Oh, I said, the world is round… is round is round. I started circling the round world

to find my hero, my Self.

I was alone, but my glasses were sparkling clean.

Continue reading “How I Learned to Make Maps by Marie Cartier”

Forty Days After Childbirth, Mary Returns to the World by Laura Shannon

All week we have been warming our spirits at the sacred fire of Candlemas / Imbolc, the Celtic holiday in honour of Brighde, Irish saint and Goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing. Imbolc falls approximately 6 weeks between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, one of the 8 festivals of the Celtic year.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, February 2 is celebrated as Ypopantis, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 40 days after his birth, in accordance with Mosaic law. This day also marks Mary’s ritual return to the world after forty days of postpartum seclusion. This practice was known in the Western Church as ‘churching’ or blessing a new mother after 40 days; Hindu tradition also recommends women spend up to 40 days in rest and isolation after childbirth.

image of Mosaic of the Nativity
Mosaic of the Nativity

In the west, the customs of confinement and churching have dwindled since the 1960s, but in Greek Orthodox tradition until very recently, these forty days of isolation for mother and child were routine. A special word, lechóna (λεχώνα), from the ancient Greek for ‘bed’ or ‘couch’, denotes a woman in this special time. Continue reading “Forty Days After Childbirth, Mary Returns to the World by Laura Shannon”

Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright

I was in a Mexican store helping someone to choose tiles for the sink and bathroom of a new casita. I have always been drawn to Mexican art because the images tell stories, and many of those stories revolve around images in Nature – usually stylized. The tiles, for example portray flowers, birds, butterflies, and fish in brilliant colors. The child in me loves to see these stories. Artists who work with animal images in a respectful way honoring the spirit of the animal portrayed (either natural or stylized) allows me to bridge the world from animals to people.

Mexican art moves me. The expressive folk images, and the use of natural objects like gourds to create complex designs give me a sense of being at home in the world of people as well as Nature. The former has been my Muse since I was a child. As a life long naturalist I am deeply drawn to the world of animals, I think in part because aside from my brother, animals were my first real friends. Continue reading “Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright”

Mary’s Return by Sara Wright

Yesterday I learned (NPR) that a third of the oak trees in this country will be dead within 50 years; I also read that our sugary harbingers of spring, the Maples, are dying confirming my own observations. I try to imagine what fall will be like without fire on the mountain.

When I heard that pink dolphins, those denizens of the fresh waters of the Amazon are going extinct, I remembered their gift to me, grateful that I had been present as a receiver. On the last day of a three – year research journey (early 90’s) I was with my guide returning to a place on the river that I loved. It was absolutely calm; my guide and I drifted along a serpentine tributary curtained and dripping with scarlet passionflowers, when a circle of pink dolphins surrounded the dugout.

“I love you,” I repeated the words over and over in a trance-like state glued to the rippling brown water.

Round and round they came surfacing inches away from the side of the boat. Flippers splashing shades of pink and gray.

The Circle of Life was being inscribed in the water.

Now, many years later I am saying goodbye to an enduring friendship with a species I adored…

Around the world, and especially here in the ‘United’ (?) States the virus continues to spike and another strain has been identified, more contagious than the first. Two million people are dead…

Continue reading “Mary’s Return by Sara Wright”

Mother – Daughter Betrayal by Sara Wright


Today is my mother’s birthday and although she has been dead for more than a decade I still think of her almost every day. At the time of her death I had not seen her for twelve years. Not by choice. After my father’s sudden demise my mother chose my children, her two adult grandsons to be her protectors, and dismissed me from her life, permanently.

When she died, my mother divided her assets evenly between my children and me, forcing her only daughter to live beneath the poverty level for the remainder of her life.

The final betrayal.

At the time of her death I was teaching Women’s Studies at the University.

Continue reading “Mother – Daughter Betrayal by Sara Wright”

Temple Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham

The Women of Amphissa, 1887, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Since I began writing for FAR in July 2012, I have written about Mary Magdalen, or excerpted a passage from one of my novels, near or on her July 22 Feast Day. For why I made the controversial choice to depict her as a prostitute, see last year’s post. The below excerpt is from The Passion of Mary Magdalen. I made this selection in remembrance of all the refugees in the world today. In this passage, Judith, a Jewish widow whose family was driven from the land by tax collectors, returns to the place where Maeve (my fictional Celtic Magdalen) and her friends have recently founded a Temple to Isis on the outskirts of Magdala. Maeve has just invited Judith to join them. (Edited for brevity.)

She stared at me, her eyes full of anger and longing.

“I will not be a slave and a whore where I was once a wife, the one who made the challah bread, who said the Sabbath prayers over it. This was our place, my husband’s and mine. We brought the best we had to the temple, the finest oil and wine, the unblemished kid—”

“Goats? You kept goats? You know how to make cheese?”

She sat quietly for a moment before she answered. “How can I live here with you?” she wondered. “I don’t understand.”

Continue reading “Temple Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Re-Imaging Three Marys by Janet Sunderland

The recent #metoo movement, along with young women entering Congress, has pointed to an important question. Why, in this 21st Century, are these achievements remarkable? Why has it taken so long for women to be recognized as capable for these positions? One possible reason is the Christian mythology around women. However, to recreate the way women are viewed, we must re-imagine the women who have been standard-bearers for two thousand years.


Continue reading “Re-Imaging Three Marys by Janet Sunderland”

The Gift by Sara Wright

We drifted through

the green

hungrily absorbing

plant souls,

each twig, flower, and tree

has her own story to tell…


Such a joyful way

for me

to spend a

‘mother’s day.’

Being with him

when family

extends sharp claws

is an antidote to suffering.


“This is my church”

He said,

not for the first time.

I nodded.

He and I are almost

always in agreement

when it comes

to plants

and people.

Continue reading “The Gift by Sara Wright”

May is the Month of Mary by Mary Jane Miller

 Mary Icons

There are three classic prototypes of Mary Icons, their collective messages point toward a new contemporary kind of trinity. Perhaps the concept of Mary is still undeveloped, as our society has changed her message is still provocative and meaningful. It has been through contemplating her image, and painting icons of her that I have come to realize a deeper mystical message. Her popular iconography may have the keys to how we are to care for creation and one another in the world.

Mary Icon of the Panagia

Mary looks directly at the viewer, beckoning us towards poised stillness and constant prayer with palms extended outward in total surrender to what she receives. She contains the Creator of the Universe in her womb.

Mary Icons of the Theotokos

She is the feminine energy which tenderly nurtures Jesus to become a teacher, rabbi, master and lord. She is the icon which reminds us to love one another, to love life, and to love creation.

Mary Icons of the Hodegitria

Mary becomes a mystical location where we can be taught to give ourselves to God and one another. There, held by the church tradition, we like Mary are called to release to the world what we most love and cherish.

Continue reading “May is the Month of Mary by Mary Jane Miller”

Dear Mary by Sara Wright

This piece was written in response to Gina Messina’s recent Feminism and Religion piece “Who is God?”

Dear Mary,

When I responded to a post on feminism and religion this morning I wrote that you were my first goddess. As a child I knew little beyond that you were the “Mother of God,” and I found your presence immensely comforting, even seeking you out in secret, entering your rose garden in a local monastery. I needed you so.

Early in adolescence I learned that your life was one of purity, sacrifice, and loss. Your purity left me bereft. How could a young Victorian girl be “good enough” to serve such a figure? I was fierce and passionate – a thorny red rose – with an empty hole in my heart.

Sadly, I released you and chose your sister the whore, the Black Goddess in disguise… but I didn’t know that then; I only knew that the “black” woman succumbed to her flesh as I did, covered herself in shame…What lies Patriarchy tells…

Continue reading “Dear Mary by Sara Wright”

We Might Need to Die by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Last week was the first week of Advent – in my tradition, the week of lighting a candle for Hope. This year has felt uniquely intense as I enter into Advent. Hope, even as headline after headline continues to warn us of the climate crisis. Just this past week alone – the week of Hope – we read:

EPA Rolls Back Coal Rule Despite Climate Change Warnings (CNN)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018 (NY Times)
Climate Change and Marine Mass Extinction (Science Magazine)
David Attenborough Warns Of ‘Collapse Of Civilizations’ At U.N. Climate Meeting (NPR)
The Climate Apocalypse is Now, and it’s Happening to You (Wired)

Hope? In the midst of literally the greatest crisis in the history of the planet? We are facing alarmingly strong odds of annihilation. Hope? Hope for what?

Continue reading “We Might Need to Die by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

La Llorona by Sara Wright

The legend of La Llorona has been a part of Hispanic culture in the Southwest since the days of the conquistadores. Though the tales vary from source to source, the one common thread is that La Llorona is a woman named Maria who is always dressed in a white gown, the spirit of a young Mexican mother who drowned her children in the river in a moment of rage or abandonment by her lover and then took her own life in her deep shame and sorrow. La Llorona’s disembodied spirit is said to haunt the rivers at night – especially the Rio Grande – where she can be heard weeping in remorse for her dead children. Children are cautioned not to go out after dark because La Llorona might murder or drown them too. Because the tale of the Weeping Woman originated with the Patriarchal Spanish conquest I have always been suspicious of the various versions of this story believing that its meaning has been distorted.

Immediately what comes to mind is the Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows, or Mother of Sorrows. All refer to the Virgin Mary, the only goddess left in Christianity. Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows is another name used to refer to this goddess. The Mater Dolorosa is also a key subject for Marian art in the Catholic Church.

Continue reading “La Llorona by Sara Wright”

Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver

In October I had the opportunity to travel to the Louvre Museum on a free day I had from a conference I was attending in Leuven, Belgium.  I went predisposed to consider images of the Madonna as I had been thinking about her representations in art for some time.  In my own painting, I have been developing a version of the Annunciation that depicts Mary as a teenage girl reading a pregnancy test.  Her fear and consternation, coupled by the shock of the event of learning of her pregnancy strikes me as a more accessible telling of the true vulnerability and risk of the unwed child Mary than classic depictions of Mary as a reclining queenly figure quietly receiving the angel’s message.  I likewise had been working on a wood burnt figure of a Black Madonna as a study in both icon making and also understanding the tradition of Black Madonnas found throughout Eastern Europe.

I am deeply aware that representing this figure is a culturally laden task because the Madonna speaks both to some of the deepest spiritual needs and inclinations of many faithful Christians world over, just as she is almost shorthand for division among Christian communities.  Her presentation is tremendously political as it is received by fans and critics simultaneously as at once championing women (and the divine within women) and also condemning real women whose maternity and bodies can never be as morally or physically pristine as Mary’s.  Mary’s skin, clothing, age, gesturing, posture, gaze, and more speak volumes about the social location of her patrons and creators as well as the manner in which the viewer is being invited to receive her.

Continue reading “Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver”

Who is She? an excerpt (edited for brevity) from the 25th anniversary edition of The Return of the Goddess, A Divine Comedy by Elizabeth Cunningham

Introduction by Maeve: Elizabeth’s July post usually features an excerpt from my Chronicles in honor of my feast day, July 22.  This year the excerpt comes from the novel that opened the way for my story.  Ever since a playdough figure took shape spontaneously in her hands, Esther, a minister’s wife,  has been on a quest to find out Who She Is! Here she encounters the Lady as the Virgin Mary. (For my take on the BVM, aka Ma, the scene stealer, see The Passion of Mary Magdalen and Bright Dark Madonna.)

A kitchen, yes. That’s what a sacristy was: a sacred kitchen, Esther mused as she stood in St. Paul’s sacristy, the light strong but thickened by the plain, stained-glass, lead-fitted windows over the sink—the piscina, if you were high church. The walls, an ancient, graying yellow, did what they could to reflect the filtered light in a gallant effort to create an atmosphere intended to be cheery. Continue reading “Who is She? an excerpt (edited for brevity) from the 25th anniversary edition of The Return of the Goddess, A Divine Comedy by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Painting Mary(s), Queering Mary(s) by Angela Yarber

Mary 1

It’s no secret that the holidays are often a difficult time for queer people. Disproportionately estranged from family, we often must create our own family. While these chosen families can be tremendously life-giving, it’s tough not to long for our families of origin during Christmas time. Many still in relationship with family are forced to retreat to the closet for fear of safety or exclusion this season.

Queer folk who have affirming families of origin still experience the twang of heteronormativity in holiday commercials, family events, and church services throughout December. There’s a reason why many refer to it as “Blue Christmas,” because, well, the holidays can leave us feeling pretty blue when our identities are invalidated, excluded, questioned, or marginalized.

In every nativity scene, we see images of a so-called “holy family” that likely doesn’t look very much like the family’s most queer folk create: a straight, cisgender couple, and a baby. This family is lauded by the Church as the quintessential iteration of what family should look like. When our families don’t look anything like this, it’s easy to see how celebrating the birth of Jesus is fraught with emotional and spiritual hardship.

Mary 5
Virgin de la Regla

There is good news, though. We can subvert this narrative of traditional family by queering the story. So, I’d like to talk a bit about the revolutionary power of queering Mary. Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist, Sojourner Truth, said it best at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Convention. Once a slave, Truth questioned the whitewashing done to women of color by white women working only for white women’s right to vote by asking the famed question, “Ain’t I a woman?” In that same speech, she notes that male clergy claim that women “can’t have as much rights as men ‘cause Christ was a man.”

This adage is familiar, not only to women, but also to LGBTQs who have been told that our iterations of family aren’t real or true or right because they don’t reflect the so-called holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. In an act of theological brilliance and subversion, Sojourner Truth poses this question to the male clergy gathered at the convention: “Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him!” Continue reading “Painting Mary(s), Queering Mary(s) by Angela Yarber”

“Tricolor Mary: Encountering Three Faces of the Divine Feminine” by Simone Grace Seol

simone-graceI always felt curiously distant from the figure of Mary. I always sensed that there is so much there and yet, I could never connect to it emotionally.

The foil to Eve, vessel of Love, suffering mother. I wanted to love her, I wanted to feel her, I wanted to feel drawn to the mystery of Marian devotion. But I felt alienated by the vision of the feminine that she seemed to project: the pure, immaculate, virginal, submissive, obedient, quietly suffering.

Most days, I feel like the opposite of every single one of those qualities.

It’s exactly the kind of feminine archetype I don’t really relate to — the kind of person about whom people say, “oh, she’s really nice” as if yielding compliance and non-offensiveness are her primary attributes. The kind of woman who fades into the background, whose worth lies only in her utility to the patriarchal narrative. Continue reading ““Tricolor Mary: Encountering Three Faces of the Divine Feminine” by Simone Grace Seol”

Nobody’s Disciple by Maeve Rhuad aka the Celtic Magdalen via Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham headshot jpegSince beginning her posts for FAR four years ago, Elizabeth has featured an excerpt from my chronicles each July in honor of my feast day on the 22nd.  At least I thought it was my Feast day. It has been brought to our attention that Pope Francis only recently elevated the 22nd to the status of a Feast. Before that, it was merely a Memorial of me as a saint, whether optional or obligatory I am not sure.  The only thing more elevated than a Feast day is a Solemnity.  (Needless to say my mother-in-law, aka the Blessed Virgin Mary, has one of those.)

You may not know me as Maeve, the Celtic Magdalen. Mary Magdalen, who she was (or is) should or could have been is a highly charged subject. Not very much is known about me, really, which is why  legends, novels, and films abound. I’m a storied woman, to borrow Natalie Weaver’s term. There are fourteen references to me in the Gospels. I am associated with the non-canonical Gospel of Mary (I believe the credit for that should go to Mary of Bethany whom many people conflate with me). Pope Gregory is largely responsible for my lugubrious image as a penitent prostitute. Continue reading “Nobody’s Disciple by Maeve Rhuad aka the Celtic Magdalen via Elizabeth Cunningham”

Painting the Virgen de la Caridad, Doing Intersectionality by Angela Yarber

angelaThe most recent Holy Woman Icon with a folk feminist twist that I’ve painted is the Virgen de la Caridad. Like Mary, Guadalupe, La Negrita, and the Virgin of Regla, she was commissioned by a bold and brilliant friend, a scholar who lives, teaches, and does the work of intersectional feminism on a daily basis. As with my beloved friend who taught me so much about Jane Addams last month, this dear friend has taught me so much about feminist understandings of Marian Spirituality and of the need for many secular scholars to keep a connection to their religious roots.

When we discussed her commission, she wanted to make sure that the Virgin of Caridad was the primary focus of the icon, but since she is also often associated with Oshun, she also wanted elements of this Yoruban goddess to shine through. I was thrilled with the opportunity to learn, research, grow, and paint. Little did I know what kind of important learning was in store. Continue reading “Painting the Virgen de la Caridad, Doing Intersectionality by Angela Yarber”

La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran

Jose DuranShe appeared on a hill on December 9, 1531. She spoke to Juan Diego in his native tongue of Nahuatl; the language of the Aztecas. She asked for a church to be built at that very site in honor of her, the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego took the request to the local priest, but his story was not believed. On December 12, following further instructions from La Virgen, Juan Diego was able to find and pick roses not native to Mexico. He rolled them up in his tilma and returned to the priest. When he unrolled his tilma to present the roses, there on the tilma was the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe; she was as dark as the natives themselves.

Natives across Mexico and throughout the Americas endured the brutal realities of conquest, and experienced the relegation to second class citizens during the colonial period in Mexico. In particular, native women experienced oppression two-fold. This is evident in the fact that native men had privileges and opportunities within the public sphere of society which were denied to women, such as holding particular types of public service positions.

So how is it that millions of natives across the continent converted to Catholicism, the religion used by their oppressors to justify the horrors and atrocities inflicted upon them? The appearance of La Virgen to Juan Diego. She is seen as the blending of the Indigenous and European cultures. A Huffington Post article, Everything You Need to Know About la-virgen-de-guadalupe-tilma-de-juan-diegoLa Virgen de Guadalupe, explains, “Her image has been used throughout Mexican history, not only as a religious icon but also as a sign of patriotism.” Indeed, she has appeared as a symbol even in the most pivotal of moments, such as the fight for Mexican independence and the Mexican Revolution. The authors of the study The Evolving Genre of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’: A Feminist Analysis, also note that she has become “. . .the ideal model for womanhood and motherhood.”  Continue reading “La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran”

Painting Our Own Realities in the New Year by Xochitl Alvizo

Incarnation, Goddess spirituality, Xochitl Alvizo, god became fleshA friend of mine once commented that my feminism is evident from the moment you step into my house. In reference to all the female images around my house, she noted that my space reflected a different way of being in the world. I had never thought of it actually, it was not a specifically conscious choice I made to be woman-centered in the books and artwork I displayed, I simply put up what I loved. But once she pointed that out to me, I appreciated the point it raised about what we surround ourselves with and what it reflects about the world we want to live in and help create. What do our spaces evoke for us? for others? Do they help spark the imagination, and if so, what toward?

While I have always been very conscious about how I create my home space, it has not been in the way my friend noted. I am hyper-organized at home. I am one of those people who love the expression “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It can be a difficult characteristic to live with let me tell you, as I tend not to be able to feel at home until things are all “in their place,” which I admit has made for a hard transition in these last few months! I always thought that organization was the most important part of what made a ‘home’ for me – that and having a guest room ready for welcoming visitors. But this last week, as I got a little time to organize my house a bit more, the importance of my artwork came front and center in a new way. Continue reading “Painting Our Own Realities in the New Year by Xochitl Alvizo”

Venus and Mary by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedOf the many things I have read recently, one thing stands out in my mind in high relief. It is the opening of Lucretius’ masterwork on Epicurean philosophy, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). Here Lucretius invokes Venus to help him craft this work, identifying her as the governor of all nature and the one through whose light all else comes into being. With her help, Lucretius trusts that he can write his truths with confidence and ability in defiance of dominant philosophical norms.

Lucretius goes on to extol the great wisdom of that ancient Greek, Epicurus, claiming that the philosopher saved humankind from foully groveling upon the ground by liberating people from religious superstition. Superstition, he goes on to say, is the source of true impiety and criminality, made manifest in Lucretius’ example in the sacrifice of child virgins.

Why do people succumb to religious superstition and such horrible deeds, he queries rhetorically. Because of fear of death, terror at the anticipation of penalties in the afterlife, and the desire to avoid tribulations during life. So great is the fear of suffering that it makes people susceptible to religious exploitation and subordinate to the authority of priests, whose power rests exclusively on superstition. Such a ruinous condition can only be countered by the philosophical examination of nature, including all things celestial and terrestrial, spiritual and material. Having prayerfully introduced his case and the reason for his critique, Lucretius proceeds to explore the basic tenets of Epicurean metaphysics and ethics. Continue reading “Venus and Mary by Natalie Weaver”

Mary Magdalene – A Woman of Power and Vision by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoWho was Mary Magdalene? The first thought of many today is that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. But was she? Until the third century, Mary was considered an “apostle.”

Mary as an apostle posed a threat to the early Church patriarchs who denied women all authority in the Church. In addition, by early in the first century C.E., Mary Magdalene had become associated with Christian thought identified as heretical by the Church. The easiest way to eliminate Mary’s importance was to cast aspersions on her moral character.

Continue reading “Mary Magdalene – A Woman of Power and Vision by Judith Shaw”

The Case of Mary’s Decency by Xochitl Alvizo

Incarnation, Goddess spirituality, Xochitl Alvizo, god became flesh

This post builds on yesterday’s post on Marcella Althaus-Reid’s indecent theology.

In her book, From Feminist Theology to Indecent Theology, Marcella Althaus-Reid states that liberation theology has two dominant characteristics: the familiar ‘preferential option for the poor,’ with its suspicion of class structures and the influence these have on faith and church teachings to perpetuate and preserve its unjust systems of oppression and domination; and  for its praxis of transformation of said unjust systems (FFTIT, 11). Marcella Althaus-Reid credits liberation theology for “systematically and structurally using the concept of ideological formation in order to unveil class economic interests embedded in theology” (FFTIT, 11).

To build on this, Althaus-Reid uses the concepts of ‘decency’ and ‘indecency’ to challenge theology’s obsession to regulate and control “sexual performances, roles and behavioral patterns of people…through a sexually based patriarchal hierarchy based in a particular androcentric understanding of life according to predetermined identities” – in other words, heterosexism. Indecent theology, then, aims to strip away theology’s false claim to sexual neutrality and its obsession to control, and instead aims to develop a theology free from the heterosexism that confines it (FFTIT, 83). One key place in theology she seeks to indecent (she used the word as a verb) is the “legend of Mary” (IT, 40).

Continue reading “The Case of Mary’s Decency by Xochitl Alvizo”

Hail Mary: The Rosary and Why I Keep Praying by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405My mother-in-law is currently in hospice and expected to cross over any time now. My wife is with her. Those two sentences alone—since I am a woman writing this blog—signify historic/herstoric change. I am a woman and I am writing about my mother in law and I am writing that my wife is with her. We are in a sea change regarding gay marriage. I will be allowed bereavement to go with my wife, when the time comes, for the services.

What has not changed in my life is my dependence on traditional prayer. Although I am a witch/Wiccan, have done all kinds of meditation from Transcendental Meditation, and Buddhist chanting, to visualization, spell work, and New Age affirmation—when push comes to shove as they say, I get out the Rosary.

Why? Continue reading “Hail Mary: The Rosary and Why I Keep Praying by Marie Cartier”

Painting La Negrita by Angela Yarber

angelaOne week ago thousands of Costa Ricans made a pilgrimage to visit their patron saint on August 2. Some penitents walked the 22 kilometers on their knees from the capital of San José to the Nuestra Señora de los Angeles Basilica in Cartago where the small statue of La Negrita is now on display. Joining Virginia Woolf , the Shulamite, Mary Daly, Baby Suggs, Pachamama and Gaia, Frida Kahlo, Salome, Guadalupe and Mary, Fatima, Sojourner Truth, Saraswati, Jarena Lee, Isadora Duncan, Miriam, Lilith, Georgia O’Keeffe, Guanyin, Dorothy Day, Sappho, Jephthah’s daughter, Anna Julia Cooper, the Holy Woman Icon archetype, Maya Angelou, Martha Graham, Pauli Murray, and all my other Holy Women Icons with a folk feminist twist is this seemingly small saint who has done big and mighty things: La Negrita.

Also known as La Virgen de los Angeles, the Black Virgin is a very small representation of the Virgin Mary. She was originally discovered by an indigenous woman on August 2, 1635. When the poor indigenous woman tried to take the stone statuette, it miraculously reappeared. The people responded by building a shrine around her. Continue reading “Painting La Negrita by Angela Yarber”

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