A Bombshell, Bogotá Style – Part 2 by Laura Montoya

The events of sexual harassment I shared with you in Part 1 of this post happened in my first paid-job experience. Just like Margo Robbie’s character in the movie Bombshell, my encounter with Mr. M. was like hitting the wall of the harsh world’s reality. It was a tough welcome  to the adult workplace. After my first experience of harassment, I thought that feeling uncomfortable and guilty due to a man’s behavior wouldn’t happen to me again; especially since my second job was in a Christian organization. Bombshell!

I grew up in a very conservative Christian family in the Pentecostal tradition. In my teenage years I was an active member and leader in a church in Bogotá’s downtown. After that, I was a student leader in a Christian group in my university for seven years. After leaving the first job, I was a very-VERY- Pentecostal girl in my twenties, ready to take on the world again! The main requirements for my new job with the Christian organization were to know the Pentecostal culture and to have experience leading groups in peace-building projects. I was proficient in both, so, hurray – welcome job number two into my life! But what I didn’t realize was that this job would require me to welcome this new boss to it too.

Continue reading “A Bombshell, Bogotá Style – Part 2 by Laura Montoya”

Suffrage is Unfinished Business—On The 101 Anniversary of the 19th Amendment by Marie Cartier

Dear FAR readers – please find photos from a celebration of the 101 anniversary of women’s suffrage, the 19th Amendment, that I attended August 26, 2021. That day marks the end of the 100th year of women having the right to vote.

I have been proud to be a part of, these past few years, a group calling themselves Suffrage in California – LBSuffrage100 Suffrage 100. We have met continuously in person and on line for two years now, stymied by the pandemic, but still pushing forward throughout this year with actions at the Democratic Convention, Long Beach Suffrage 100 celebrates in silence for centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment – Press Telegram, standing in silence as the original suffragettes did outside the White House. We also of course marked the 100th anniversary of suffrage, and at that time switched focus during the election to lobby for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, part of the “unfinished business” of suffrage.  Text – H.R.4 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress which seeks to expand federal ability to challenge discriminatory election rules.

Continue reading “Suffrage is Unfinished Business—On The 101 Anniversary of the 19th Amendment by Marie Cartier”

A Bombshell, Bogotá style – Part 1 by Laura Montoya

Last weekend I watched the 2019 movie Bombshell. I had not heard about it, and I ended up seeing it for the suggestion of Prime’s “you might enjoy this” algorithm. I had no idea about the story of Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly’s legal battle for sexual harassment against Fox News’ master Roger Ailes. The movie was not very long, but it was intense. It portrayed really well the misogyny expected to be found in such a workplace led by a mighty, egotistic man like Roger Ailes.

Bombshell – 2019

A good part of the movie, we join Kayla Pospisil, Margot Robbie’s fictional character, in her quest to become a host in the news. So we go with her into Roger’s office and witness what an interview with that man was. It was about “loyalty” and intended to “prove” that she had what it took to earn a place in one of the most competitive work environments. **Content warning: description of workplace sexual harassment to follow** Obviously, it meant that she had to sleep with him because how else could a woman with a hot body prove she is competent? Immediately she was forced to show him her legs because legs sell good on T.V., and then we get to see her underwear because he was too turned on and couldn’t stop himself. **End Content Warning** Thanks to Robbie, we also feel the panic, surprise, and horror of a naïve girl trying to get a dream job in the real world.  

Continue reading “A Bombshell, Bogotá style – Part 1 by Laura Montoya”

Teacher Appreciation Week & Appreciating Teaching by Sara Frykenberg

Part of discovering my love for teaching and moving through my anxiety involved reconsidering my “ideals” of teaching, which were numerous and high minded.

I always wanted to be a teacher. Sure, I had other career dreams as a child too. I wanted to be a model, because I wanted to be pretty like a model. I wanted to be a flying missionary to please my father—you see, it was not quite enough just to do missions. I also needed “save” (pun intended) people with my daring airplane recuses. And in moments of practical mindedness, I thought I should definitely be a “cleaning lady” (aka a housekeeper), because I was very good at cleaning, which was a way of life and survival in my home. But “teacher” was a persistent calling, so I followed in my teacher-mother’s footsteps AND tried to satisfy paternal aggrandizement by becoming a professor.

It occurred to me recently that I have actually been teaching now for nine years. I’ve also discovered in the last few years that I like teaching. And no, I didn’t always know this. I always wanted to like teaching; and sometimes I was sure that I did indeed like teaching. But non-teaching associated trauma during my early career and my social anxiety also sometimes made (and makes) the process excruciating. (Neo-liberal and late-capitalist academic practice, politics and policy don’t help either.) Part of discovering my love for teaching and moving through my anxiety involved reconsidering my “ideals” of teaching, which were numerous and high minded.

Continue reading “Teacher Appreciation Week & Appreciating Teaching by Sara Frykenberg”

A Problem of Design by Laura Casasbuenas

When I was invited to create this post, a number of topics came to mind. But I decided to start our conversation with my response to the question: why do I write?

I am a Colombian woman designer who promotes venture projects in a region in which it is difficult to grow a business. In my daily work life, I ask entrepreneurs why they do what they do; why do they take the risk of possible failure? Usually, once we know the why, finding the how is much easier.

Continue reading “A Problem of Design by Laura Casasbuenas”

Another Bow to Hestia by Carol P. Christ

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, but this year I have vowed to change one of my habits. I have always been house-proud and love using my artistic flair to decorate my home in beauty. I have had a cleaning lady most of the time for many years, so my homes have been relatively clean. The living room and dining room have always been ready to receive guests. But I didn’t always do the dishes or clean the surfaces in the kitchen right away, clothes I had worn often sat on chairs before I hung them up, and I didn’t make the bed every day.

Now that I think about it, this habit goes back to my childhood and teen-age years, when my not picking up things in my bedroom was a bone of contention between me and my mother. Joyce Zonana wrote recently about how she rejected her mother’s role as homemaker and “dutiful” wife when she was young. Only now during the Covid crisis, she writes, is she beginning to enjoy the traditional women’s work of cooking regularly and knitting.

When I was a teen-ager, I sewed all of my clothes (both because we didn’t have a lot of money and because, as I was very tall and very skinny, most ready-made clothes didn’t fit). I was a second mother to my baby brother. For me, those were the fun parts of women’s work. But I hated washing dishes and cleaning the house, and I did not learn how to cook. I suppose I recoiled from the repetitiveness of those tasks. I was also aware that my father ruled the roost, and though I would never have criticized him, I knew that one of my mother’s jobs was to please him. Laura Montoya’s meditation on her grandmother’s life in a recent blog reminds us that the failure of homemakers to meet their husbands needs or wants can lead to violence.

When I went away to college, I learned to disparage all of women’s work, including the parts of it I had loved. I was taught that the “life of the mind” was the highest pursuit and that the “life of the body” was secondary. I now see this aspect of university culture as brainwashing of the highest order. Continue reading “Another Bow to Hestia by Carol P. Christ”

Restoration by Molly Remer

In 2014, I sat on a low wooden bench nursing my 6 week old baby boy while wet plaster strips were laid across my face to create a mask. The final activity of the Rise Up and Call Her Name program, a women’s spirituality curriculum by Elizabeth Fisher that I’d been guiding over the course of an entire year, I had shown all of the women in my living room how to make masks and now it was my turn to have the mask material applied. My back was sore and I felt tired and lonely within my plaster shell. As my face faded from view, the women began to talk around me as if I suddenly wasn’t there and as my lips were covered, I became voiceless and closed in, shrouded and silent. When the plaster dried and I emerged again, I saw a dear friend sitting in the recliner drinking tea. While I was not sorry to have finished my commitment to the group and to have closed out the year-long program, I was suddenly awash with a deep longing for rest, a deep longing to be the one in the chair being brought tea, instead of the one to lead the group, baby dangling from her breast, tugged in a million directions by questions and needs.

This moment, this snapshot of maternal priestessing, has recurred for me many times over the last few years, a wondering of why I could not permit myself to be the tea-drinker instead of the hostess, the person to enjoy instead of the person to teach, the person to rest instead of the person to create experiences. Continue reading “Restoration by Molly Remer”

Women’s Spiritual Power Is All Around Us by Carolyn Lee Boyd


Carolyn Lee Boyd

In this most challenging time, women are showing the world what women’s spiritual power can do. They are guiding nations, states, and communities through the pandemic and towards environmental sanity; feeding the hungry bodies and spirits of their neighbors by organizing community assistance projects; offering hope and care to vulnerable family members; and leading and healing in so many other ways. They are calling on their inherent, profound belief in their own sacredness and that of others to gain access to the strength and clarity that leads to wisdom and effective action.

Yet, finding and using your spiritual power is easier when it is affirmed by the people and subtle messages you experience every day.  In our society, too often girls and women may struggle to find encouragement to identify and use their spiritual power, whether because of present or past experiences or the sheer overwhelming nature of our individual and societal challenges.  Yet, symbols of women’s spiritual power are all around us, everyday, and can help guide us to that deep well within we have all carried since birth.

Continue reading “Women’s Spiritual Power Is All Around Us by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Feminist Parenting Part 3—Les Misérable Mothers, why is this so %$@# haaaaard?! by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Life has been challenging lately – I’m sure you can relate. Normal emotional and financial stress are worsened by COVID-19 and the election— and I’ve often said that there’s nothing like motherhood for making us feel like failures…  It’s as though our brains are incapable of seeing anything but the things we have left undone or done badly. And it is often excruciatingly hard to be a calm, patient parent when the kids start getting wild, or someone breaks something, or the <expletive> online form won’t <expletive> work on my <expletive> phone.

…Why is it so hard to feel “good enough?” Could it be because patriarchy benefits from making the female class feel constantly insecure and unworthy? Continue reading “Feminist Parenting Part 3—Les Misérable Mothers, why is this so %$@# haaaaard?! by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

May Her Memory Be A Revolution by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath and the start of Rosh Hashanah, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last breath. She was 87. She fought so hard for so long. She is an American patriot, hero, champion for women’s rights, and for many she was the stalwart bastion of justice and ‘liberal’ rulings. She was a Supreme Court Justice for 27 years. Her life has been put into books, a movie, and the most notorious memes around. She became known for elaborate collars over her Justice robes. We mourn the lost of her, we celebrate her memory, and we must pull up our boots and continue the fight.

Continue reading “May Her Memory Be A Revolution by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Kamala Harris, the Democratic Vice President for 2020 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

August 11th saw Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden announce his pick for Vice President. This pick broke open the history books; California US Senator Kamala Harris. Kamala has been steadily rising as a political force for over ten years. Her nomination is groundbreaking on so many levels. So, let us talk about Senator Harris.

Continue reading “Kamala Harris, the Democratic Vice President for 2020 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Poem:  An Ode for Nurses during a Pandemic by Marie Cartier

     — for Alex, a nurse I met who is also a poet, and all nurses

I heard that you are a poet
and a nurse. I imagine all the nurses who also
are something else—a chef, a Mom, a painter… a race car driver.
I want to image your life, this poet – and a nurse, in the middle of a pandemic.
I want to appreciate your life—and your stewardship of life and earth and what is in between.

I never knew nurses took an oath.
And I was a friend’s nurse graduation
at Royce Hall at UCLA, where we had both been to school, and when the
graduating class read the oath for nurses,
all throughout the auditorium nurses
stood up and said the oath with them. So, moving. So surprising.
I loved those nurses, nurses rising, and committing to their oath again.
And again, at every graduation they go to, they say the oath.
Bless those nurses, I thought. So grateful for your service. Continue reading “Poem:  An Ode for Nurses during a Pandemic by Marie Cartier”

Splitting (Grey) Hairs by Karen Leslie Hernandez

We’ve all seen it on Social Media – the hair. Wild hair. Unkempt hair. Grey hair. #Quarantinehairdontcare. Covid19 has changed it all up. No more regular hair appointments and in turn, hair around the world is out of control.

I’ve been fighting my grey hair for a long time. For about 15 years, in fact. I wish I could stick a rolling eye emoji right there, because, how ridiculous is it that I have put, what some say, cancer causing agents on my scalp for 15 years now. The reality is, I am in ministry. As a public facing person, a public theologian, and job(s) where I am continually standing up in front of, many times, men from several different faith and cultural traditions from around the world, I feel that I need to look good. Does that mean grey hair doesn’t look good? I guess it depends on who you ask. Yet, as I am certain we all are, I am always asking myself – Who sets the standards on if a woman looks good or not? Who says grey hair means “old?” If you said, “Men say that!” of course, you are right. But, the reality is, women descend upon each other all the time too. Whether we like to admit it or not, we compete with each other, especially when it comes to how we look. Continue reading “Splitting (Grey) Hairs by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

The Practice of Bearing Witness by Stephanie Arel

She looked away and stared out the window, trying to hold back the tears in her eyes. “The tents,” she said and shook her head looking down at the ground. The tears were coming, but softly. I asked her what the tents represent. She shrugged her shoulders and said into the camera phone: “The bodies I guess. They don’t have enough room for the bodies.”

In this time of the coronavirus, as in Italy and Spain, New York City has room neither in the hospitals nor the morgue for the bodies that are dying. Up from 25 a week, to 24 a day, bodies are being buried on Hart Island, or City Cemetery, where the unclaimed and unidentified have been interred for decades. Others are waiting in refrigerated trucks for friends and family members to collect them. This New Yorker along with thousands of others have seen the stark reality, one that left even Trump sick at heart.

We are witnessing a global pandemic. Evidence of the ravages of the coronavirus lies all around us. The response to the virus has made physiological, economic, and psychological impacts on our lives. We have changed our working styles, dealt with lowered income, or lost our jobs. Staying secluded at home, we have taken on new roles for which we were not prepared; many of us have become sick, and some have died. We are together witnessing a major world disaster.

What does it mean to be a witness? What will it mean to carry that witnessing forward to future generations to mark this historic event so that when something like it happens again, future generations will have the tools they need to respond more quickly, adapt more easily, recover more rapidly? For this generation, just as those who researched and learned from the Spanish Flu, we bear witness. Continue reading “The Practice of Bearing Witness by Stephanie Arel”

I Hope “This Changes Everything” by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsLast week, I attended a film festival in Waco, Texas that showed the 2019 documentary This Changes Everything. Spending Friday evening at a film festival seemed like an enjoyable and appropriate way to kick off a weekend that would culminate with the Academy Awards (the Oscars).  I had no idea that this film would inform the way I viewed the movie industry and its most celebrated awards show.  It did change everything for me.

This Changes Everything is about the representation of women in film, particularly their underrepresentation and misrepresentation on screen and in the film- and television-making process.  It is not the first time this theme has been explored in a documentary. What struck me at this viewing, though, was the way the film portrayed patterns that resonated with my experiences in academia and in religious communities.  There are parallels between the way sexism manifests in entertainment and  I, along with other members in the (predominantly female) audience, couldn’t help but see parallels in Hollywood’s patterns of exclusion and the discriminatory conditions we confront in numerous other industries and professions.  What were these patterns?

Continue reading “I Hope “This Changes Everything” by Elise M. Edwards”

Mini-Reunion by Esther Nelson

A couple of weekends ago, Nancy, one of my classmates from nursing school, organized what she called a “mini-reunion” at her home in New Jersey.  Seven of us gathered together to well, reunite.  Our graduating class (Muhlenberg Hospital School of Nursing, Plainfield, N.J.) was small.  We started out with forty students—all women.  Only twenty of us made it to the finish line.  One of our fellow graduates, Marcia, died a few years ago.  Two or three of the initial forty students dropped out due to health problems, but were able to graduate a year later with the following year’s class.  Some students were asked to leave the program because they could not cut it academically or clinically.  Others decided they didn’t “belong” in nursing and quit.

These are the nurses that gathered for the “mini-reunion.”  Starting at the left: Lois, May, Esther, Carol Lee, Nancy, Chris, and Joyce. Continue reading “Mini-Reunion by Esther Nelson”

FAR Project Intern Applications Due Sept. 15, 2019

It’s about every three years when we at Feminism and Religions put out a solicitation for a new intern to join our team. Back in 2013 we had the great privilege of having Kate Brunner join us. She came on as an intern and stayed to become one of our permanent co-weavers who help run the day-to-day behind-the-scenes of this collaborative project. She reorganized the structure and rhythm of how we run things and made it easier for us to bring in the next person. Enter Katie M. Deaver at the end of 2016. She is the superhero who so smoothly swooped in as Kate stepped back to attend grad school. Katie shared all the values and ethos of FAR – it was the most organic match we could have hoped for. Truly FAR couldn’t have survived without each of them.

FAR is an all-volunteer effort and now, again three years later, we are looking to bring on a next team member. From the very start, we have been of the mindset that the more voices and perspectives we can bring into constructive, community-building dialogue, the better. So…might you be up and ready to contribute to this collaborative feminist task? Continue reading “FAR Project Intern Applications Due Sept. 15, 2019”

FAR Project Intern – Application Window Extended to Sept. 15, 2019

It’s about every three years when we at Feminism and Religions put out a solicitation for a new intern to join our team. Back in 2013 we had the great privilege of having Kate Brunner join us. She came on as an intern and stayed to become one of our permanent co-weavers who help run the day-to-day behind-the-scenes of this collaborative project. She reorganized the structure and rhythm of how we run things and made it easier for us to bring in the next person. Enter Katie M. Deaver at the end of 2016. She is the superhero who so smoothly swooped in as Kate stepped back to attend grad school. Katie shared all the values and ethos of FAR – it was the most organic match we could have hoped for. Truly FAR couldn’t have survived without each of them.

FAR is an all-volunteer effort and now, again three years later, we are looking to bring on a next team member. From the very start, we have been of the mindset that the more voices and perspectives we can bring into constructive, community-building dialogue, the better. So…might you be up and ready to contribute to this collaborative feminist task? Continue reading “FAR Project Intern – Application Window Extended to Sept. 15, 2019”

FAR Project Intern – Join Us!

It’s about every three years when we at Feminism and Religions put out a solicitation for a new intern to join our team. Back in 2013 we had the great privilege of having Kate Brunner join us. She came on as an intern and stayed to become one of our permanent co-weavers who help run the day-to-day behind-the-scenes of this collaborative project. She reorganized the structure and rhythm of how we run things and made it easier for us to bring in the next person. Enter Katie M. Deaver at the end of 2016. She is the superhero who so smoothly swooped in as Kate stepped back to attend grad school. Katie shared all the values and ethos of FAR – it was the most organic match we could have hoped for. Truly FAR couldn’t have survived without each of them.

FAR is an all-volunteer effort and now, again three years later, we are looking to bring on a next team member. From the very start, we have been of the mindset that the more voices and perspectives we can bring into constructive, community-building dialogue, the better. So…might you be up and ready to contribute to this collaborative feminist task? Continue reading “FAR Project Intern – Join Us!”

Nourishing Your Caring, by Molly Remer

Take time 60107979_2326071390938403_2921363486892097536_o
to nourish
your caring.
It is needed.

Last month it was raining heavily on a Saturday morning and I spent time coloring letters to fairies with my younger children and baking a cake. Before I knew it, the day had slipped away into the rain and I didn’t get to make my daily visit to the woods behind my house as I like to do in the morning. While the things I did instead were fun and loving, I found myself telling my husband, once again, that I am feeling burned out in my life in general and like I’ve lost my caring. I sometimes worry that I don’t care anymore, that I’ve used up my care, my inspiration, my passion, that I’ve fueled magic for others for so long, that my own has evaporated and I’m finished, extinguished. I listed off the things I need to refuel my soul and restore my care so that I can be there for others, for our work. My list was simple and short and my husband pointed out that I get the things on it almost every day:

  1. Go to the woods.
  2. Write and journal.
  3. Walk and discover things.
  4. Create/draw/take pictures.
  5. Read.

I need to nourish my care, I tell him, because I can’t stop caring.

Caring is what holds life together.

What do you need to nourish your caring?

This year, I have found myself struggling with recurrent episodes of feeling like I don’t care. I feel careworn, care-overloaded, care-burned out, care used-up. Sometimes I even feel like I actually can’t care anymore, like all my care is used up, spent, extinguished, exhausted. I have also found myself feeling a little sad and wistful remembering how much I used to care, about everything, but at times I also feel liberated by owning the “don’t care” sensation. Sometimes it sets me free. The world is stained, strained, and brittle from so much lack of care from so many people. We must keep caring, we must care, even when it is a strain. I suppose the secret may be not to care too much about things that don’t require our care, not to overload ourselves with cares that are not our own, or that don’t actually require our attention and are, frankly, quite fine without us and our meddling.

After the month’s Pink Tent ritual with my local circle, a friend tells me that she has been 58639012_2319362924942583_1704575264542949376_o(1)going to yoga class and every time she lies on the floor at the end of class, she thinks of me. I consider this a compliment. If I could be known as a lay-down revolutionary, that would please me. At least two years ago, I put on my list of “100 Things to Do this Year,” to lie on the floor for at least three minutes every day. I have kept this up more or less every day since then, even setting my phone timer for three minutes at the end of my personal yoga practice each morning, so I know I’m actually giving this to myself. I wonder what might change for many of us if we allowed ourselves three minutes a day to lie on the floor? Ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? One hour? Another friend tells me she needs a time out to refill herself until she is overflowing, instead of just refilling her cup a tiny bit and then draining it over and over again. I feel this too. I have the sensation that I been coasting on my reserve tank for at least a year and my reserves are now becoming depleted too. It takes more than three minutes to fill the tank, so that it carries sustained and lasting energy to fuel my soul.

In the woods the next day, I sit with my eyes closed in the sunshine, basking in the warmth. I hear the sound of birds from each side of me, ping-ponging off of one another into the sparkling green air. I listen to them until my mind softens and I am no longer tormenting myself with questions of how to be better, be more, fix it all. I am very still on the rock and when I open my eyes, I see a vulture coasting towards me. It swoops very low, skimming the treetops, possibly checking to see if I am actually breathing there on the stone, it circles once, twice, three times, above my head, at each pass coming very low, low enough that I can see its red head turn from side to side, looking at me.

Hey, buddy, I say. Yes, I’m still breathing!

My floor-lying friend has spent the night at my parents lodge and I go to visit her and to paint with my mom, my daughter, and my friend and her family. My head is throbbing with the headache I often get following an intense ritual and I don’t feel very present, but we paint anyway, the colors swirling and mixing and the freeform nature of the pour painting meaning there are no mistakes, only magic. When we finish, I help her load a weaving loom into her car and we speak briefly about group dynamics and ritual etiquette, and priestessing energetics. As we speak, I look up to see nine vultures this time, circling in the wide sky above the large open field surrounding the lodge building. They dance in the air and they whisper, It is okay to let go. It is okay to soar. It is okay to be free. It is okay to clean things out and away. That is how you can keep caring.

Recipe for Rebuilding a Soul:

1 weary heart61445954_2342336385978570_2975037873578835968_o(1)
2 open arms
1 large flat rock
As many tall pine trees
as you can find
1 empty book
Many pens
Lots of water
2 scoops of sunlight
An infinity of starshine.

Mix together patiently and wait in the shadows. Let rise in the sun. Let rise with the moon. Check for delight. If still soggy and deflated, expose on a hillside or soak in the ocean. Sprinkle with laughter.

Submerge beneath a stream of inspiration.
Drizzle with dreams and a generous helping of time.
Steep with incredible slowness.
Dust with flowers and need well.
Let become exquisitely tender and soft.

When fully risen, warmed throughout, and glowing with strength and satisfaction, enjoy with a tall glass of moonlight, a side of magic, and a handful of enchantment.

Create regularly for best results.

Additional audio poem: Careworn Soul

This essay is excerpted from my book in progress, The Magic of Place: Rebuilding the Soul Where and How You Are.

Molly Remer has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, and 61538890_2344169199128622_8199673458095816704_oshare since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, mini goddesses, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayerShe Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon and at Brigid’s Grove.

Embracing Lost Vocation: Painting Mother Goddess by Angela Yarber

The awakening occurred at 1:27am with the pterodactyl-cry only uttered by toddlers. It continued around 2am when said pterodactyl joined weary moms in bed. Stinging tears splattered pillows with a swift headbutt to my nose, later accompanied by footied talons jabbing my ribcage as this tiny person became the human crossbar of a giant “H,” vertical moms arching precariously on either edge of the overstuffed bed. 5:30am came all too soon as both children arose, crows louder than any rooster, tired moms stretching their aching backs. Navigating this whole feminist parenting thing is complicated, y’all. As an artist, author, activist, and academic, I thought I had a handle on my identity and vocation; now I feel like motherhood is the only moniker defining my exhausted reality.

I was recently given the opportunity to speak at a conference for artists, academics, and activists, the so-called spiritual weirdos who think and create and do at the intersections of art, scholarship, spirituality, and social justice. It was enlivening and inspiring. What struck me, though, were the asides that often occurred when anyone asked whether I had children, and if so, what ages. Throughout my travels and during the conference, the consistent reaction upon sharing that I’m a mother of a two and five-year-old was, “Woah. You’re in the thick of it.” “Don’t worry. It gets easier.” “This, too, shall pass.” Rarely have I felt so validated. Continue reading “Embracing Lost Vocation: Painting Mother Goddess by Angela Yarber”

Magical Women by Elisabeth S.

Are Women’s Bodies too Magical for Professionalism?

I feel I’m at times strategizing ways to hide my magic. I contemplate, for instance, whether that college in [conservative state] is going to like that I had a poem published in a lit mag called Pussy Magic (they call their staff a “coven,” which I adore – I’m quite proud to be in this magazine – I think I have a crush on the entire staff). Sometimes, I’m so used to asking questions such as this, that I find myself surprised and unprepared for when other people manage to, admirably, give fewer fucks.

For instance, I was watching an old YouTube clip the other day of Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show about her preparation for being sworn in.

Colbert was asking her about her experience, and she was asked to explain the story behind her nails (good question because it is a good story). She told him that when Sonia Sotomayor was being sworn in, she was advised to choose a neutral color of nail polish because something like red would bring in too much scrutiny and comments. Continue reading “Magical Women by Elisabeth S.”

Exercising Women’s Religious Voice and Authority – Why is this Still an Issue? by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsOver the past few days, I’ve been spending time at a church in Alexandria, Virginia conducting oral history interviews.  I’m doing research for a project about the arts and the church that has me diving deep into the church’s congregants’ and leaders’ experiences. Yesterday’s conversations offered insight about many theological topics that interest me, but what was particularly encouraging was what I witnessed concerning women in ministry.  That’s not what I was looking for, but it is what I needed to see.

Before beginning these interviews, I had already been thinking about the ways women’s authority and voice are often challenged.  This past weekend, I attended a regional religion conference where I assumed a leadership position and my voice was sought out for advice and insight.  I had great conversations with other women in academia about wellness and success while I was there.  Attending the conference provoked fond memories of a similar conference many years ago, when I connected with many colleagues in this FAR community and we discussed the theme of “Women and Authority.” Those were positive experiences.  But I had an unpleasant encounter, too, when I was on the receiving end of a male colleague’s condescending remarks.  I was also made aware of a disturbing incident in which a woman of color was publicly disrespected while speaking at a university event and subsequently trolled.  Those experiences triggered anger and deep sadness. To be honest, I also felt a sense of resignation and defeat.  Patriarchy is just so persistent.

Continue reading “Exercising Women’s Religious Voice and Authority – Why is this Still an Issue? by Elise M. Edwards”

Integrity of the Self by Natalie Weaver

I sat in a frigid moot court room at a conference on the morning of March 8, trying to concentrate. Within an hour of the program’s opening keynote, my underarms had become damp with that weird cold sweat that happens when you are at once freezing and yet decidedly overwarm in your wool overcoat. I was distracted, trying to decide whether I was sick, menstruant, nervous, or inappropriately dressed.  My coat was long and fitted over my suit coat, and I was vaguely worried about bleeding through or around what had become a misaligned feminine product.  Sitting straight in all those stiff layers for several hours felt, I imagined, something like the confinement of a full body corset.

The collar was taut around my neck, which made me feel sort of protected, but my presently over-long hair was caught up in a bun that kept bumping against the back of that same collar.  My glasses were smudged, and I can barely see out of them anyway at present, so I pushed them on top of my head.  However, my piled up, giant-feeling hair kept rocking them off center, so they sat at a precarious tilt on their perch.  Every time I leaned to get something from my purse, they would clumsily tumble forward off my head and onto the floor.  My pulled-back hair was giving me hair headache (which is just hard to explain if you’ve never had it – maybe something like a toothache in your hair follicles), and my left eye was working a sty that made my left eyelid twice the size of the right one.  My eyes are naturally a little unevenly sized, and it is especially apparent when I am tired, so with the sty, I was rocking a sort of partial Peter Lori look. Continue reading “Integrity of the Self by Natalie Weaver”

On Tetzaveh by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThe Torah parshah for this week is Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10).  Mostly it describes the priesthood, both of Aaron and his sons. It details how they should be consecrated, what they should wear, the difference between the garb of the high priest and the others, institutes the daily burnt offerings of rams, and provides instructions for the construction of an altar for locally-sourced incense.  

The parshah works to establish differences between members of the Israelite community through consecration as well as in function and in dress by decreeing the institutionalized of the priesthood.  Priests undergo an elaborate consecration ceremony which includes the sacrifice of animals, the smearing of their blood, the waving of various animals parts into the air and the burning/cooking of the sacrificed animals’ flesh.  In addition to the blood smearing and animal sacrifices, the priests are also anointed with oil and offer oil and grain offerings to the divine. In terms of function, priests should offer daily sacrifices to the divine in the form of two rams (one in the morning and one in the evening).  Also, all priests have four items of similar clothing: tunic, girdle, turban and short pants. However, the high priest has four special items only he wears, like the breastplate and a golden forehead piece. His clothes are laden with gold, precious stones, and royal dyes.   Continue reading “On Tetzaveh by Ivy Helman”

Honoring the Completion of the Year, by Molly Remer

“Beginnings and endings are so very sacred, to give honor to all that has transpired, every experience, every joy, every pain, is a doorway to the magical. Hold your entire year between your hands, every day, every thought, every breath. Now bless it with gratitude, love and humility. You have done more to transform this new year than a thousand resolutions.” 

 –K. Allen Kay

Two years ago, at the end of the year, I was supposed to hold a closing ceremony for a year-long Ariadne’s Thread study group I had been guiding throughout the year. Every member of the circle ended up backing out of the closing circle at the last minute, but I held the ceremony in full anyway, alone in my front yard, just for myself, and expanding it to include acknowledging and appreciating all the work I had completed in 2016, including my D.Min degree. People’s reasons for backing out of the ceremony were very valid and while on a cognitive level I understood why they couldn’t come, on an emotional level I still felt let down and disappointed at being “abandoned” by them. Holding the closing ceremony for myself anyway and acknowledging that I kept my own commitment to doing a full year of this work in circle, felt like a powerful declaration and affirmation of my own worth. In fact, it was such a validating and powerful experience that I continued the practice with a personal year-end closing ceremony for 2017 as well and I will do the same for myself this year too. Continue reading “Honoring the Completion of the Year, by Molly Remer”

LeBron James and Loads of Baskets by Natalie Weaver

On June 8, Cleveland watched the Cavaliers lose the NBA championship.  Outside of Cleveland, according to the commentators I heard, no one really expected our guys to pull it off.  But, here in Cleveland, we felt otherwise. Up until the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Herculean LeBron took the bench, we were still thinking something magical could happen.  When he stopped, the game ended.  We lost. And, the city, once again, had to recast its disappointment, redirect its energies, and rediscover the eschatological hope that is the core of Cleveland’s athletic grit: “there’s always next year!”

Over the past few years, I have noticed t-shirts popping up around the city that say things such as, “I liked Cleveland before it was cool;” “216;” and even one that details the geometric shape and geographic coordinates of a Bernie Kosar winning touchdown pass.   Ohio love is blooming in the rust; things are green in our urban gardens, and progressive real estate is making of bombed out warehouses cool art studios, breweries, and theater houses for budding local talent. Continue reading “LeBron James and Loads of Baskets by Natalie Weaver”

Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham

Recently I traveled in India with my husband who did doctoral research there 48 years ago. I had no goals of my own other than to be open. Back only a short while, I am still pondering the journey. Here are glimpses of the women I saw, often only from a distance, with gratitude for so much kindness.

“Welcome to the City of Joy,” says our guide when we step out of the airport into the warm Calcutta night.  “You have arrived on Maha Shivaratri, the Great night of Shiva. This is especially a holiday for women. Every woman wants a husband like Shiva.”

Source: Alamy; used with permission

Continue reading “Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Walking Away from the Ivory Wall by Vanessa Soriano

Reading the brilliant post Another Brick in the Ivory Wall by Natalie Weaver brought back some old feelings about being an ex-academic who finally let go of the search.  While the wound reopened a bit, I can honestly say that I’ve come to a calm peace about walking away from my goal of becoming a professor.  This was a messy, emotional process, but through the muck, a lotus emerged within me nurtured by equanimity, humility, peaceful detachment, trust, and surrender.  Here’s my story.

When I completed my Ph.D. in Women’s Spirituality in 2015, I was on a MISSION to become a professor and finally become credible in the eyes of the world (or, maybe just my father).  From the Bachelors to the Ph.D., I had 15 years of schooling under my belt.  Throughout the entire journey, I was told that I would probably never secure a position as a professor in Religious Studies or Women’s Studies for a myriad of reasons (e.g., those topics aren’t relevant anymore, there isn’t any money in academia to fund those fields, they only hire from within, etc.).  Of course, the scared parts of me believed them, but nevertheless, I persisted, because truth be told, I was called to study religion, spirituality, gender, god/dess, female-centric philosophies, and diverse ethnic worldviews (everything my degree exposed me to).  It wasn’t necessarily a choice to study; I felt called to from a soul level. Continue reading “Walking Away from the Ivory Wall by Vanessa Soriano”

Teachers by Valentina Khan

I recently told my 4-year-old son the following, “son, I pray you fall in love with someone you call your best friend. I pray you both never cross the line and say mean and terrible things to each other, I pray you are not constantly apologizing for your bad behavior, I pray you will complement and enhance each other’s best qualities, and lastly, I really hope you fall in love with a teacher!”

A teacher? Of course, a teacher! I have always loved my teachers growing up. I never had one bad teacher. Teachers are caregivers and authority figures children experience separate from their own parents. Each teacher brings his or her unique love of learning and educating to the students. I was influenced so much by the vibe of teachers. And in the journey to my “career,” I became one myself….a yoga teacher.

A yoga teacher? Yes, a yoga teacher, which eventually led me to coming a ballet barre instructor. This all happened when, after a tedious and challenging few years of getting myself through law school, I rewarded myself with an entire summer off to become certified to teach yoga. Yoga got me through sticky times in my young adulthood, from soured relationships, to poor scores on my legal exams. It also kept my feet on the ground when I was flying high, whether from planning my wedding or completing my studies. Yoga was the antidote in my life. I cherished not requiring medication for all the different feelings I’ve had throughout my adult life; whether it was anxiety, depression, loss of focus, too much energy, or the run of the mill aches and pains, I always turned to yoga. The feeling of stretching and flushing out toxins, negative energy, frustration, while building strength and teaching myself how to breath, were all things I wanted to learn in more depth and, eventually, to teach. Continue reading “Teachers by Valentina Khan”

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