Grown Up World: Sit in the Contradiction by Caryn MacGrandle

It occurred to me this morning in meditation that evidence of maturity and balance is being able to sit in the contradictions of this world.

We’re not all good. We’re not all bad. People can have good intentions and be bad for you. People can have bad intentions and be good for you.

‘All is well. Wellness abounds.’ Source (Abraham Hicks) says.

No it’s not. You respond.

Yes it is.

That is our task. To get back to ‘yes it is’ no matter what is going on in your life.

Continue reading “Grown Up World: Sit in the Contradiction by Caryn MacGrandle”

Crane – Guide to Royalty, Longevity and Balance by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoCranes, seen gliding over the water, searching for food in muddy wetlands and flying overhead in beautiful formations, are graceful, elegant birds – masters of three worlds – air, land and water.

Continue reading “Crane – Guide to Royalty, Longevity and Balance by Judith Shaw”

Lion – Guide to the Power that Resides Within, by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoLion, ancient symbol of strength and courage, is found in cave art from our early days. From the Egyptians to the Medieval Christians, lion could represent danger and chaos or protection and triumph over chaos. But through it all lion’s traits of strength and courage – power and vitality –  remain at the core.

Continue reading “Lion – Guide to the Power that Resides Within, by Judith Shaw”

Hare Spirit Guide – Fertility and Renewal, by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoHare, important to humans since our early days, is known everywhere as a symbol of fertility, balance, and transformation. Although rare, cave paintings of Hare have been found. With Hare comes the Spring promise of the eternal renewal of life. 


Continue reading “Hare Spirit Guide – Fertility and Renewal, by Judith Shaw”

The Internet and the Divine? by Ivy Helman

studyWhen my dad was in town for the wedding, he asked me a question about Prague.  I didn’t know the answer.  So, I said, “let me look on my all-knowing phone.”  I googled the question, found a reliable website and told him what it said.

I used to only mention the qualifier all-knowing, or omniscient, in relation to theology, often in discussions of theodicy: who is the divine in the midst of evil and suffering?  If we presume that G-d is all-knowing, does that mean that the divine has competition?  Perhaps that is a crass remark, but I also think there is a measure of truth to the idea.  In reality, the phone is not a divine competitor, but the internet might be.  And, maybe, then the phone is our intermediary or our way to access the divine.  Computers belong to this distinction as well.

This concept of technology taking the place of the divine is not new.  The television set has been accused of being an altar.  That is clearly not a compliment.  Continue reading “The Internet and the Divine? by Ivy Helman”

Holding Two Truths by Chris Ash

Christy CroftLast month, I attended a series of workshops on self-care, family dynamics, and recovery from complex trauma. In one session, someone asked the facilitator, a counselor with over 30 years of experience in mental health fields, how to balance faith, confidence, and belief in recovery with the reality that sometimes healing can be a rocky road, with missteps, false starts, and restarts. The counselor noted that one of the key concepts he’s reinforced in working with people on their recoveries is that to keep moving forward – to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes, to not give up on ourselves when old patterns resurface, to sustain the energy needed to continue The Work in the face of obstacles, doubt, and fear – we need to be able to hold two truths at once. We need to expand ourselves such that we can hold two realities – that our hope in ourselves is not misplaced, that we are strong and can overcome adversity, and that we can move through our lives with grace and skill; and also that we may slip up and fall short of our ideals, that we sometimes may feel fragile and overwhelmed, and that recovery (from trauma, grief, substance abuse, or illness) may include steps backward intermixed with the forward movement.

This concept was especially powerful for me. As someone who spent my childhood and young adult years mired in black-or-white thinking, my personal healing and much of my spiritual practice has been built around reconciling seeming opposites, not by blurring difference such that the unlike becomes like, but by digging into the ways in which the tension between opposites is itself fertile soil for the activity of creation and growth, art and brilliance. Since creation is, for me, the sacred in action, and understanding of self in the context of the cosmos is sacred practice, this gives the tension of two truths a spiritual meaning and the fluid give-and-take that holds them in balance a spiritual wisdom. Continue reading “Holding Two Truths by Chris Ash”

Living Out the Tension: Spirituality, Self-Care, & Activism in Action by Chris Ash

“Great art is not a matter of presenting one side or another,
but presenting a picture so full of the contradictions, tragedies, [and] insights of the period
that the impact is at once disturbing and satisfying.” – Pauli Murray

 Christy CroftMy spirituality is inherently creative. Deep in the creative process, I open more fully to awareness of what is flowing around and in and through me. When I can get there – to that place of fully giving myself over to Spirit as a channel, vessel, and embodiment – creation itself becomes an act of prayer, of devotion, of intense ecstatic ritual to honor, grieve with, or celebrate the Ground of Being behind all expression. I craft, dig, carve, build, dance, drum, and sing. Mostly, my art involves words – spoken and written – to create moments, spark feelings, paint pictures, or shape ideas. Words carry tremendous meaning, unconsciously as well as when we use them consciously, with intention.

My spirituality is inherently personal. While I’m a mystical thinker prone to the kind of abstraction that finds beauty in universal connections and layers of thought and cosmos, the questions that always draw me back into Self are these: How does this grow me? What am I learning that helps me be a better person for myself, my family, my community? How does this enhance my well-being, bring me contentment, or give me tools or strength to expand beyond the trauma, grief, and sadness of paying attention – really paying attention – to the world around me? Does this fill me with more to spill out into the world? More love, more beauty, more passion and fight and solidarity?

Canvassing against NC's Amendment One in 2011
Canvassing against North Carolina’s Amendment One in 2011

My spirituality is also inherently political. Continue reading “Living Out the Tension: Spirituality, Self-Care, & Activism in Action by Chris Ash”

Balance and the Autumn Equinox by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne QuarrieWe are in the season of the Autumn Equinox.  The Autumn Equinox occurs on a specific day each year, as does the Spring Equinox. While it may be a precise moment in time, it is also a season. Nothing happens quickly in time and space. Without getting scientific as an explanation of what happens at both, here is a quick one – the name ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin aequus,  meaning equal and nox, meaning night. Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally at the equinoxes. This causes night and day to be approximately equal in length. Continue reading “Balance and the Autumn Equinox by Deanne Quarrie”

An Equinoctial Ritual for Balance by Barbara Ardinger

Day and night are in balance twice a year, at the spring and fall equinoxes. (The word “equinox,” of course, comes from Latin words meaning “equal” and “night.) I think most of us will agree that balance is a good thing—after all, many of us are writing these blogs at Feminism and Religion to bring some balance to the ideas and institutions of religion. Many spiritual teachers in many faiths tell us that it’s good to bring ourselves into balance—our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies are healthier and we’re happier when they’re in balance. This is one reason we try to live healthy lives. Note that the fall equinox is also the day the sun moves into the astrological sign Libra, the symbol of which is the scale with its balance pans.

Working on achieving personal balance is a way we can act locally as we think globally. If we can get ourselves into balance, then maybe our personal balance will ripple out into our family, our extended family, our community, our church, our workplace…heck, maybe eventually into local, state, and federal governments. In this age of civil wars, terrorists, drones, and what seems like universal spying, balance is something devoutly to be wished for. And worked for. To celebrate the equinox (September 22), therefore, let’s do a modest ritual of balance. Continue reading “An Equinoctial Ritual for Balance by Barbara Ardinger”

Reflections on My Spiritual Journey: Claiming Judaism By Ivy Helman

“Is Ivy Helman Jewish?”   This question and knowing that eventually I’d have to respond one way or another to it has caused me many sleepless nights.  At the same time my faith journey has become integral to who I am and I would like to spend some time today sharing it with you.

Why share this and why now?  Well, first, I have not been ready until now.  In addition, external forces which I will talk about in a minute are making my spiritual path an issue.  So I share my story with a measure of concern about its possible effects but also with a great deal of joy about the ways in which my faith journey has challenged me to grow, reflect and change.

Margaret Farley emailed me about two weeks ago asking me how I identified religiously.  Someone had emailed her asking if I was Jewish because this person had read one of my past blogs in which I wrote “my rabbi” on  This same person is reviewing my book: Women and the Vatican: An Exploration of Official Documents.   Here is how I answered Margaret: “Hi Margaret, I’m Catholic although I do attend services at a Jewish synagogue on occasion since I was raised in essentially a multi-faith home.  On that blog, there really is no Jewish voice, so I try to comment on ideas from that tradition as much as I can.  Ivy.”  I felt unauthentic sending that email.  But, I did.

Still troubled by that answer and rather than put my friends and colleagues in the middle of questions about my faith, I feel that this has now become a public issue that I must address.  It is a question I have known I would have to answer at some point.  Nevertheless, this is not a decision that came easily or quickly.  I’ve literally agonized over it now for months.  During the time, I’ve never questioned my resolve to be Jewish and to continue to follow that spiritual journey in my life; I’ve worried more about how other people will respond and how their responses will affect my career in academia.   If I were allowed to rewrite that email to Margaret, then this is what I would say. Continue reading “Reflections on My Spiritual Journey: Claiming Judaism By Ivy Helman”


Taoism is a philosophy that, for me, has been around so long because it is meant to move and change with society…

Acupuncturist, healer and friend, Elisa Fon and I began a discussion of Taoism and feminism in Part 1 of this interview.  Elisa defined her vision of feminism and Taoism, explained Taoism’s relational and yet, individual emphasis on what is particular in each of our experiences and considered the basic relationship of yang and yin.  Part 2 picks up where she and I left off, returning to the discussion of yin, yang and supposed dualisms.

Sara: I was wondering if you could talk a little about the complementarity of yin and yang?

Elisa:  In Taoism any type of imbalance should be adjusted.  So any major abundance or deficiency of yin or yang would be considered unhealthy. Yin and yang are interrelated: without one aspect of this relationship the other couldn’t exist. Day comes and it brings certain dynamic energy with it: the light is transformed to energy for plants.  But night is equally valuable, the nurturing yin, where things fall asleep, heal themselves and prepare to go forward again in the morning.  They are considered mutually interchangeable too.  If you had an over excess of yin at some point it would actually become yang.  It’s a fluid cycle.  Like we see in the yin/yang Taiji symbol, there is yin found within yang and yang within yin at all times. Continue reading “A FEMINIST TAOIST VOICE PART 2: MY DIALOGUE WITH ELISA FON, ACUPUNCTURIST, TAOIST, FEMINIST AND FRIEND by Sara Frykenberg”

%d bloggers like this: