From the Archives: The Eldest, Truest Olympians

This was originally posted on June 7, 2020

Scene: A comfy lecture hall in the temple on the summit of Mount Olympus. The feminist historians have taken their seats. The eldest Olympians rise to speak. Let us attend to their words.

I am Hera, Queen of All, Daughter of Gaia, Daughter of the Great Mother, whose body is our holy earth, whose bodily fluids are our springs and oceans, whose mind is our precious air and holy fire. I am Mother of the Fates, Sister of Hestia, protector of homes, and sister of Memory, whose daughters are the Muses, sponsors of our culture. I live in contentment with my wife, Zeusina.

Continue reading “From the Archives: The Eldest, Truest Olympians”

An Experience of the Aphrodisia by Olivia Ciaccia

A warm summer sun smiles down upon the British coastline, the low tide reflecting jewels which are wash up and dispersed upon fine sand. A welcome breeze dances around a gathering of Goddess devotees encircling a small bonfire. Amongst them stands a banner and statue depicting and imitating Botticelli’s Venus and bouquets of roses. Just before the sun sets, those gathered lovingly collect these assembled artifacts, holding them aloft, and begin to process barefoot towards the sea.

Aphrodite-Venus’s banner and sculpted face shines in the low afternoon sunlight. As the procession slowly steps, weaves, and dances, towards the sea to the beat of a drum, the sun reaches further behind the hills, casting a long shadow upon the beach. The Goddess’s image dances with them, banner swaying and statue bobbing with the dance of its carrier. By the time the procession reaches the sea, the sun has dipped behind the now black silhouette of the hills bathing the beach ahead in dusky oranges and brilliant blues. At the shoreline, a priestess steps forward and turns the Goddess’s statue to face the procession, which has now fanning out into a semi-circle.

Continue reading “An Experience of the Aphrodisia by Olivia Ciaccia”

The Eldest, Truest Olympians by Barbara Ardinger

Scene: A comfy lecture hall in the temple on the summit of Mount Olympus. The feminist historians have taken their seats. The eldest Olympians rise to speak. Let us attend to their words.

I am Hera, Queen of All, Daughter of Gaia, Daughter of the Great Mother, whose body is our holy earth, whose bodily fluids are our springs and oceans, whose mind is our precious air and holy fire. I am Mother of the Fates, Sister of Hestia, protector of homes, and sister of Memory, whose daughters are the Muses, sponsors of our culture. I live in contentment with my wife, Zeusina.

I am Zeusina, Co-Queen of All, Wife of Hera, Co-Mother and Sacred Guardian of all lands. You’ve heard the stories of that rapacious lecher who usurped my place? Don’t believe them! That dirty dog stole my throne, my wife, and even my name. Now one of my constant duties is to battle against the armies that are invading our peaceful lands and bringing their thunder-gods to cast us down and stand in dominion over us. The generals of those armies are bringing ruin and desolation to our lands and cities. Another of my tasks is to correct the stories the speakers for the thunder-gods tell. I rescue young women like Leda and Danae and Europa from their greedy fathers, who would sell them to the highest bidders. So many young women have I had to rescue!

I am Poseidis, Queen of Waters. When I was young, I swam and played with mermaids and seals and dolphins and whales. Now I find I must protect them from the ravages of royal navies and ruthless fishermen. I spend my days and nights working to clean up after the careless men who discard their trash in my waters. I yearn to swim and play again. Can you help me clean our waters?

I am Demeter, Queen of Crops and Farmlands. You perhaps know the story of my daughter Persephone. Men have told how she was kidnapped by my little brother, Hades. Don’t believe it! She went to visit the lands beneath the earth because she could hear the crying of souls caught in boredom in the Elysian Fields. She visited them to sing to them and to teach them to protect and fertilize the roots of plants that grow on the surface of the earth. Friends, let us work to save our lands from harm. And let us always celebrate Our Holy Mysteries.

I am Athena, Queen of Holy Wisdom. From my birth among the Amazons of Libya and my childhood among the Amazons who live near the Black Sea, I have sought learning and inspired humans to think and write. You have no doubt heard of my so-called friendship with Odysseus, that hubristic king of such a tiny island. Don’t believe what you’ve read about him! My perpetual chore is to cleanse him of that sneaky cunning and to teach him to be friendlier to the people he meets in his travels. Actually, he needs to stay home with his family.

I am Apolla, Queen of Music and Sunlight. When your day is bright and the sun is shining down upon you, think of me. When you hear a lyre or a lute or a guitar, think of me. I invented all musical instruments, and my greatest joy is the symphony orchestra. Perhaps you’ve heard the tale about how I “conquered” Delphi and took over the oracle? Don’t believe it. Like her sister sibyls, the oracle was growing elderly. I went to help her interpret some obscure riddle and liked that vale so much I bought a timeshare and now spend much of my time there. The oracles and I are aging gracefully together.

I am Ares-ma, Queen of Armies. I am so angry! Warriors should not be mercenaries working for greedy kings. They should be honorable explorers. I am so angry that kings prefer to abandon justice and their goddess-given healing touch and sit on higher and mightier thrones. I am so angry at the armies and their thunder-gods that all I want to do is fight against them and defend our ancient mothers against their burning weapons. I am so angry!

I am Aphrodite, Queen of What Is Best of Love. I am the Great Creatrix of gardens and landscaping. I inspire your poets and bring colors to your world. You’ve no doubt heard about my so-called girdle. Well, it’s really just a fancy golden belt. It’s supposed to strike men and women with profane love, to make women surrender to godlets and men who think they’re gods. Don’t believe it! I use my belt to draw magical borders between peaceful realms and teach humans about compassion and charity.

I am Hephaestia, Queen of Forges and Crafts. I have taught people to fashion metal into works of art…but some turned my lessons inside out and used my forges to create weapons. Oh, shame upon them! Do you engage in any craft? The roots of all crafts lie in my smithy, and I teach humans to do clever things with ordinary materials. We bring beauty to the world.

I am Hermia, Queen of Written Languages, Messenger between the divine worlds and the ordinary ones. You’ve heard the old tales that “Hermes” and his son Autolycus are thieves? Well, maybe they were, but I am not…well, sometimes I borrow things to show to humans and give them pleasure. I am forever speeding with messages between the worlds and lands. So much fun!

I am Dionysia, Drama Queen. Oh, yes, indeedy…I invented drama. Plus tragedy and comedy. That was when someone told me about consensual reality and I found it soooo boring. Let’s have our stories acted and sung and danced on stages (which I also invented). Let’s have elevated reality and great festivals. Hooray for Shakespeare, Moliere, and Chekhov. And the Gershwins and every performer who’s ever stepped on a stage and brought entertainment to the people!


Note: This bit of nonsense woke me up at 4:00 this morning. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t dreaming. Voices in my head? Who could resist? They were telling me that most of the Greek myths we’re familiar with are patriarchal fantasies. So there, Robert Graves—you’ve written the phallocentric versions. Now it’s our turn.  


Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every DayFinding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

Wealth In Imagination by Laurie Goodhart

Artwork and sustainable agriculture are the two threads of my professional life. They mingle fruitfully beneath the surface as I sift through remaining evidence of ancient worlds, trying to sense how people of lost cultures met basic survival needs and also how they responded to the very human hunger for beauty, meaning, and story.

In revisiting the remnants with empathy and wonder, scavenging for resonant clues and forks in the road that we didn’t take, some subtle but significant things continually resurface. For one, various ancient Greek writers  (males, e.g., Plato, Strabo, Euripides) noted that it is “the women” who keep things sacred and maintain spiritually oriented rituals; that without the impetus of women, men would not bother to honor the sacred in everyday life, carrying on without much concern beyond themselves. Continue reading “Wealth In Imagination by Laurie Goodhart”

In A Sacred Grove by Laurie Goodhart

I’ve always been an artist-painter, with an innate drive to explore the mystic and ethereal. Concurrent with artwork I minored in Philosophy as an undergrad, then farmed (certified-organically) with animals and plants for thirty years, all the while accumulating a fine archaeology reference library.  The farming grounded the other endeavors in a way that probably nothing else can. Scraping by in the best of years, and always subject to the vagaries and perils of natural forces, one learns that there is no other way forward than to surrender, constantly alert to the complex nuances of Earth and Life.

Even though no longer farming, I still carry on in this way. A couple of weeks ago I participated in a three-day regional Artist’s Open Studio Tour, hosting the general public during some of the most sweltering days on record in our area. Bringing people into the un-air-conditioned studio to suffer was an awful prospect, so I hung forty large paintings and twenty tiny ones in a large shady area that I’ve thought of as The Sacred Grove, since acquiring this property five years ago.

A sacred grove because it is bordered on its long side by a small stream that emerges from a spring at the uphill end. Further uphill from this area is a columned platform that the previous owners erected and dubbed, The Parthenon.  These wonderful features dovetail exquisitely with the fact that for the past twenty years my artwork has focused on what I call Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite. Continue reading “In A Sacred Grove by Laurie Goodhart”

Three Herstorical Divas to Die For by Mary Sharratt

The Urban Dictionary defines a diva as a woman who exudes great style and confidence and expresses her unique personality without letting others define who she should be. In my mind, a diva is a woman who stands in her sovereignty and blazes a trail for other women. We all need to claim our inner diva to truly dance in our power. And if you’re looking for inspiration, I present three herstorical divas to die for.



  1. Sappho ca. 630 – 580 BCE


Sappho of Lesbos wrote the book on love. Literally. Her searing love poetry addressed to other women gave us the word lesbian. She was the first—and the best!—to describe passion as a visceral experience, in which we are seized and transfixed by Aphrodite, Goddess of love. Though much of her work was destroyed by the patriarchal fun police, the fragments of her poetry that survive are timeless, haunting, and utterly true.

What we must remember is that Sappho’s poetry wasn’t just romantic or erotic–it was sacred, each poem a holy offering to Goddess Aphrodite.

Continue reading “Three Herstorical Divas to Die For by Mary Sharratt”

Notes from A Goddess Pilgrimage by Joyce Zonana


The solar eclipse has had me sensing deep alignment with earth, sea, and sky, with my sisters and brothers and Self. This, then, from my 1995 journal of my first Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ, a trip still engraved in my heart:

June 3  – Yesterday, anointing us with rose, lavender, or olive oil, Jana said, “Your journey has begun.” But for me it is this morning, with the purchase of this journal at the biblio on the square across from the hotel, where I sit now in the lobby, traffic noise outside, our group gathering, preparing for our journey . . . happy to be here . . .

Bleeding at the home of the Panagia, the all holy, the sacred mother, sacred myrtle, ancient tree of Aphrodite, Mary, black-bent nuns: we tie ribbons to the tree, sing, “all manner of things shall be well. Blessed be, walk in beauty.” And I am utterly in tears as I walk on the grounds of this ancient place, the birds singing everywhere, yet there is quiet, stillness, an ancient peace . . . A pilgrimage, a shrine, a very holy place.

Continue reading “Notes from A Goddess Pilgrimage by Joyce Zonana”

Buddhas In Snowflakes, Enlightenment In A Bathtub

Stuart WordPress photoThis year’s Tibet House Benefit Concert coincided with a snowstorm in Manhattan and though snow is not uncommon in Manhattan (especially this past season), it is particularly associated with Tibet and its high, perennially snow covered peaks.  The timing of the snowstorm was thus peculiarly appropriate, leading Robert Thurman, US President of the Tibet House, to muse in his opening remarks about there being Buddhas in the snowflakes.

I was lucky enough to attend that concert thanks to my wife and some of her colleagues being invited by Thurman to attend in appreciation for work they had done on a book consisting of a collection of speeches by the Dalai Lama, My Appeal to the World.  Snow had been a topic of conversation at the dinner we had before the concert not just because of the coincidence of the snowstorm and concert, but also because one person in our group had recently broken her wrist slipping on what was left from an earlier snowstorm.  She was lamenting being sidelined from her yoga practice, at which point I brought up the topic of the therapeutic benefits of bathing.  As is typical of dinner conversations, that quickly morphed into a discussion of other issues; soon it was time for the concert and off we went.

Several weeks later, while taking a bath after my own yoga practice, as I often do, it occurred to me that being in a bathtub was analogous to being in a snowflake–a very large and warmed up snowflake.  The basis for the analogy is that ‘buddha’ is not a name but commonly interpreted to be the past participle of a verb, the primary meaning of which is to awaken.  The roots of Indo-European (IE) verbs only refer to bare existence or an action and as such can ‘belong’ to any noun (person, place or thing) of any gender (female, male or neuter).  Any person of any gender can be ‘awake.’  As a participle ‘buddha’ is a hybrid–part verb and part noun–and thus specifies gender (masculine), but that is an artifact of grammar, a way of speaking, that manifests its interdependence with other elements of language and how that language is used at any particular point in time.

There are a number of fascinating implications in analyzing language in this way (what used to be called ‘speculative grammar’ in Medieval times), but the single most important is that by itself language is not particularly enlightening, but rather quite dependent upon the context in which it is used.  It helps explain why the tradition of rejecting textual authority in favor of direct enlightenment, the ‘moment of zen,’ became particularly prominent in Chinese, Korean and Japanese Buddhism.  The grammatical differences between Sanskrit and Chinese are relatively substantial compared, for example, to those between any one IE language and another IE language.  Grappling with translating and interpreting first Sanskrit and then Chinese and then Korean or Japanese, seems to have heightened the sensitivity to the limitations of language, especially with respect to spiritual beliefs and practices.

This aspect of Buddhism can be readily demonstrated to share roots in an equally ancient tradition of Greek poetic culture.  It seems, however, that the guardians of the text based religious traditions emanating primarily from regions controlled directly or indirectly, at one time or another, by Roman emperors, are more than happy to let that aspect of the Western heritage go unnoticed.  Instead these guardians seem to emulate the command and control tactics of Roman emperors with what can be fairly characterized as intellectual imperialism.

Because of its importance to all such traditions, Song of Songs (Songs) is a useful example to cite.  Only by walling off a substantial amount of evidence is it possible to prevent Songs from being seen to be in part or whole a product of female spirituality that celebrates sexuality in a manner a Buddhist would identify as tantric.  Proof that is exactly what the guardians of the text based religious traditions have been doing is not hard to find, for the fact that few women have authoritative positions within any organization associated with such traditions is an artifact of just such a wall.

Such tactics ironically expose the vulnerability of these traditions to decline and fall.  One way that might happen can be discerned in what happened to Buddhism as it spread east.  It was creatively interpreted in harmony with a far more ancient tradition of nature worship associated with early Taoism, a tradition that privileges individual artistic expression, such as poetry, over textual study or ritualized recitation.  That tradition is comparable to the Western philosophy of nature evidenced, for example, in the poetry of the ancient mystic Greek of Sicily, Empedocles.

Though I have referred to this philosophy in previous posts, I hope to discuss it in more detail in upcoming ones as it relates both to ancient traditions such as Taoism and Buddhism as well as to how spirituality might evolve in the future.  Suffice it for now to say that what is essential is appreciating that experience itself is the ultimate, authoritative a priori of all spirituality.  That can mean doing yoga, meditating upon snowflakes or sloshing about in a tub of water.

Eventually, though, it leads within, to what the poet Holderlin calls ‘Innigkeit,’ a state of inwardness that is itself speechless, but which is the source of poetic/artistic inspiration.  That is in an essay on Empedocles, but given what was then known about him, Holderlin was largely projecting onto Empedocles his own beliefs (shared with his friend Schelling) about nature, with “all her melodies,” as the ultimate source of inspiration.  Decades after that essay was written, Schelling used Innigkeit in a lecture on mythology to translate a key term from the Bhagavad Gita: yoga, a term that as used there many scholars today think betrays Buddhist influence.  Several other translations were then available and it seems likely Schelling’s unprecedented choice of Innigkeit was an homage to Holderlin.

As it happens, substantial new fragments of Empedocles’s poetry were discovered in the 1990s.  In 2004, after piecing together those fragments with many of the other previously discovered ones, Richard Janko suggested Empedocles should be thought of as the Greek equivalent of Buddha.  Be that as it may, there is no question who Empedocles would say is in snowflakes: Aphrodite.

Stuart Dean has a B.A. (Tulane, 1976) and J.D. (Cornell, 1995) and is currently an independent researcher and writer living in New York City.  Previously he worked in a variety of other capacities, including 15 years as a corporate attorney.

November, A Silent Month? by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerNovember, which begins with All Saints Day (yesterday) and All Souls Day (today), gives us a quiet, welcome break between the loud make-believe of Halloween and the incessant caroling of the winter solstice season with its popular holidays. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are noticeably shorter and darker now. Where I grew up, it’s gray, cloudy, and often rainy. It has always seemed to me that people are turning inward and the month is closing in on itself. Even today in southern California, I feel a delicious melancholy composed of silence and rest from hard work.

giant head

For two millennia, the standard-brand churches have admonished women to be silent. As it is written, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2: 11-12).

Let’s say that today is a typically gloomy November day. The sun is lazy and clouds are floating mysteriously across the sky. Look, they’re gathering over there in the east. As clouds often do, they begin to assume shapes. Let’s look closer…and we begin to see a fiery mountain. Above that fiery mountain floats a giant head. Listen! The head is speaking. “I am One, the Great and Powerful. Thou shalt not take My Name in vain. Thou shalt have no other gods before me for I am a jealous God—”

But the silence of this gloomy November day is suddenly broken as the women standing in the mud at the foot of the fiery mountain suddenly begin to shout back at the preaching giant head. “There’s been plenty of gods before you,” one woman shouts. “And even more goddesses came before you,” calls another woman. Continue reading “November, A Silent Month? by Barbara Ardinger”

O Madre Nostra Cara by Kaalii Cargill


My historical novel, DAUGHTERS OF TIME, traces a line of mothers and daughters through 4000 years as they carry the way of the Goddess from ancient Sumer to the present day. In 1926, a daughter in the lineage is born in Southern Italy:

“Marias family had lived in the village and surrounding area for longer than anyone could remember. Like all the girls of her village, she grew up a Catholic, yet on Christmas Eve she gathered with the other women to perform a ritual in the Church that no man was allowed to see. The words she spoke would have been familiar to her many, many times great grandmother, Meh-tan, who once met a Queen in Ursalimmu.It did not occur to Maria that the ritual was not in keeping with the teachings of the Church; it was what her mother and all the mothers before her had done on Christmas Eve to honour the Great Mother.

Five years after writing about my fictional Maria, I stood in the church in Calabria where my grandmother Carmella once met with the other women on Christmas Eve. And the Great Mother was still there – the Madonna del Carmine a Varapodio, whom the people call “O Madre nostra cara.”


The transition from Goddess to Madonna is very tangible in Calabria . . . Continue reading “O Madre Nostra Cara by Kaalii Cargill”

What Is Love? by Jassy Watson

Jassy_Agora1-150x150I asked this question at the family dinner table, on facebook, and by e-mail.  Many heartfelt responses were offered, all insightful. Some spoke of romantic love, sexual love (eros), self-love, spiritual love, the love a parent has for a child, unconditional love (agape), primal love, authentic love, universal love, divine love, the source of love, friendship (philia), love of nature, and love of a pet, while others considered the destructive nature of love. What was demonstrated by these conversations was that not only are the possibilities of love’s expressions endless, but there can ultimately be no right or wrong answer when it comes to the meaning of love. Our cultural, familial, religious and spiritual backgrounds all play a part in the way we think and feel about love.

I was raised in a secular, middle-class, two parent, two children, cat, and sometimes a dog kind of family. Despite the usual ups and downs, our family life was full of love. I remember having feelings of love as a child that were so incredibly overwhelming I would be brought to tears. I loved everything and everybody. Mum still reminds me that if I could have, I would have brought every elderly person along with every stray animal home to look after. After reading about the process view in Carol Christ’s book She Who Changes: Re-Imagining the Divine in the World, I see now that this love I felt was born out of feelings of deep sympathy.

Because we did not have a religious or spiritual background, I had no idea what divine love meant. My idea of the divine was the male, Christian, biblical God that our family rejected. It is said that Christian love is selfless and is best seen in actions such as compassion and kindness. This may be so. But selflessness, compassion and kindness are not limited to Christian values. They are human values. In his book The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama says that “love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive”. All religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions speak of the values of love. They say that love encompass compassion, kindness, selflessness, acceptance, gratitude, sympathy, sharing, grace, justice, charity, and liberation. They also speak of tension, wrath, discomfort, unkindness, loss, and judgement. For me, love is all these things and more.

Ancient myths address these values of love through tales of passion and devotion. Diane Wolkstein celebrates some of these myths in her book The First Love Stories. Each story expresses a distinct aspect of love. For instance: the tale of Isis and Osiris represents love that is stronger than the forces of nature, Innana and Dumuzi expresses the cyclical quality of love; Shiva and Sati reveals the eruption of passion and the taming of the mind; the Song of Songs celebrates love’s yearning; the story of Psyche and Eros portrays the forging of the self. All of these stories emphasize the sacred nature of love.

For me, having children awakened a love so very deep within. When I gazed into the eyes of my first born son at the tender age of 18, I was so overwhelmed by love I thought my heart would burst. I now have four children a husband and a loving extended family and friends who all teach me much about the true nature of love. They teach me above all else that love is patient, non-judgmental, and unconditional. It is through the growing awareness of my spiritual being and my journey with the Goddess that love has become something deeper than I ever thought possible. Love, for me has become a union with something higher than my individual self. My love extends beyond the family to include every living being on this planet and beyond. It is not just all about giving and receiving, but rather it is a state of being. It is personal yet universal and comes from deep within my sub-conscious. Love for me, not unlike the tales woven in ancient myth, is profoundly sacred.

Embodied with love I set out to create my next painting. Out of this portal of love:

Portal of love, WHAT IS LOVE?  by Jassy Watson

Aphrodite, Goddess of love, pleasure and relationships, in all her glory was born. Continue reading “What Is Love? by Jassy Watson”

%d bloggers like this: