Desperately Seeking Persephone: A Shamanic Journey Through the Underworld by Janet Rudolph weaves together a healing journey from abuse and rape, a deep personal connection with the goddesses Inanna and Persephone, and the ups and downs of a long-term shamanic apprenticeship. These strands could have easily filled three separate books, but Janet masterfully crafts an integrated tapestry of personal and mythical strands. She integrates everyday life experiences, liminal space and the archetypal realms until something new emerges that is more than personal story, more than myth, and more than a description of discovering a shamanic path.
The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph
I suppose no one is all that surprised but it is still stunning how quickly certain politicians are rushing to pull back women’s rights. It’s become a race to regulate women’s bodies of with draconian and cruel laws.
Each law is more extreme than the next. In South Carolina it has even been proposed to make abortion a crime subject to the death penalty.
Commentators say the bill isn’t going anywhere. But it was still proposed. It is now in the eco-system of abortion politics. It is being imagined and that opens up all possibilities of where it can go from here. We never thought, after all, that Roe would be overturned.Continue reading “The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
ClubQ…. #702 by Marie Cartier
I have written about this before
And, no doubt, I will write about it again.
This morning we woke to the news of
Another mass shooting, a mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot in a single violent outburst.
So, this time last night there were five killed, and eighteen injured—a mass shooting
Last night at a gay bar in Colorado Springs, ClubQ
The only place, so described by its patrons, for anyone queer in Colorado Springs to go.
I am visiting Denver for a conference and to see friends.
I don’t live here anymore.
But I know that gay bar without ever entering it.
The sense of being me, being here, I could have gone
There last night and screamed in joy for the drag queens…made it rain with compliments and dollar bills for one of them named Del Lusional….and others.
I could have been happy in that club with chosen family that I had never met before
And I could have been one of those who screamed as I watched someone die, or as I was shot.
I wasn’t there last night. But I know that bar without ever having entered it.
I know those people and how they would have made me feel welcome. How they would have made me feel
Part of things. How they would have made me family.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, says the GOP narrative.
But no one with a gun stopped the guy at ClubQ
I am a woman with a pen and a notebook. Age sixty. With queer friends crying and angry Because we’ve been here before: Pulse where 49 were killed and the only thing stopping this from being another Pulse was a good guy without a gun.
The GOP has ramped up its hate on the gay population- let’s take down gay marriage, and even a politician who advocates execution for gays.
And so here we are: an assailant with an assault rifle in a gay bar. He had a history of violence on his own mother
And yet, here he is entering a queer club with a gun.
In Colorado my friends mark themselves safe from the mass shooting at Colorado Springs
But are we …?
Can I mark myself safe from gun violence? homophobia?
From the random and now expected crazy cycle of hate.
Today was Trans Remembrance Day in Colorado Springs and because of the shooting last night “the only place to go” is shuttered today.
But nobody is more resilient says my friend, than gays, than drag queens, than trans kids, than butch dykes,
The queer community has a history of resistance, my friend says… I say we have a history of claiming geography in contested spaces. We will do it again and again we both say.
I let hope flutter. There will be a vigil in California where I live. There will be a vigil in Colorado. There will be vigils. There will be prayers. And thoughts.
There were 38,000 gun-related deaths in the US this year. The GOP passed no gun control laws There were 2 instances of voter fraud. The GOP passed 361 voter suppression laws.
This is America.
What’s it gonna take? Asks most of Americans who support gun control.
The GOP opposes gun control overandoverandover and here we are: the not so new anymore normal.
And make no mistake: this is normal now. This is America
Where a public space is defined by
Where are we gonna go now? Asks the queer folk of Colorado Springs and indeed we can all ask that—where are we gonna go now?
Where are we gonna go now? Asks a drag performer on the news who hid in the dressing room with the door locked and two friends. They threw themselves on the floor. They saved themselves just in time.
Because five people were murdered in the five minutes that the gunman opened fire on a crowded dance club before two people took him down. A former vet and a performer in high heels. A veteran of several wars, a military guy there with his family to watch his daughter’s friend do drag. He tackled the assailant and took him down. And told the performer to kick the assailant with her high heels.
How I love queer community and our allies. How I love how we love.
And…in five minutes before he rushed the guy five people died.
Where are we gonna go now?
There is no safe place for us now, says another performer on the news.
And my friend who I am visiting says, if someone can kill twenty-five children in a classroom in Sandy Hook and… it. Has. Only. Gotten. Worse. I mean, she says, what’s it gonna take?
If that’s where we are—where are we gonna go now?
It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, the end of November.
It’s number 702 in terms of mass shootings this year.
Is that it, America? Are we done?
What’s it gonna take? Is this really our new, not so new, normal?
Number 702… is that it, America, for this year?
There were 702 as I write this poem, but as I edit it I look up the number and now…there are 706. Can we get to a point where we answer- that’s it. We are not 706 and counting.
We are 706…and done.
For now, I mark myself safe– from despair.
And…I mark myself lucky to be alive. And…
I mark myself loved. I mark myself part of this chosen family.
There is nothing this kid with a gun could do to make me change who I am, says my friend.
I look for the rainbow.
And I agree.
And I mark myself
November 21, 2022
Denver , Colorado
Number of Mass Shootings in America This Year Compared to Past Years (insider.com)
Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.
Mother of All Fears by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir
This time of year, the general public tends to pay more attention than usual to witches. Much of it is lighthearted – halloween costumes and memes about where to park your broom. Some of it is spiritual – adherents of the modern religions of Wicca and neopaganism discussing symbolic and supernatural beliefs. And some of it is historical – analyzing the witch trials of past centuries and wondering how they apply, ethically, to modern day intolerance and violence.
Within all these discussions, usually unnamed and unexamined, is the framing metaquestion: what should we fear? And what should we do about that which we fear?
Historic witch trials (from a time when witches were believed to be evil agents of Satan) reveals how we humans always try to externalize badness and goodness, so we can exterminate badness and excuse ourselves for our lack of goodness. So we have heroes and villains, neither of them very human, but rather idols and symbols of our fears. I honestly think the patriarchy’s fear of females is as strong as it ever was. When the most popular videos on the most popular internet porn sites are of ****TRIGGER WARNING RAPE, INCEST**** raping a stepsister, or doctors raping a teenage girl in the hospital for cancer, or of border agents raping a pregnant young refugee, and these sites are visited by 98% of the men in our society, what does that say about us as a species? Or a culture? As Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee says, “Scary, scary vaginas!”
Continue reading “Mother of All Fears by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”
What to Do About Bullies by Deanne Quarrie
I could probably go on and on about this topic, so in the interest of education I offer the following information gathered in my own recovery. Why would I write about bullying at all? Are we not Goddess lovers, one and all? How would such behavior ever come into a spiritual path that believes all life is sacred?
Well, we all come to this path with all our old baggage. That baggage may include jealousy, fear, and a desire for the wrong kind of power, that which attempts to control others.
Bullying is not merely, as many believe, an occasional stinging comment made by a significant other at the breakfast table, a bad day with the boss, or children wrestling on the playground.
Bullying is cruelty deliberately aimed at others with the intent of gaining power by inflicting psychological and/or physical pain.
Bullying behaviors are varied: name calling, humiliation, spreading rumors, gossiping, public ridicule, scape-goating or blaming, isolating, assigning poor work conditions and job assignments, or denying holiday and vacation time in the workplace, or more obvious punching, hitting, kicking, taunting, ostracizing, sexualizing, or making ethnic or gender slurs, etc.
Continue reading “What to Do About Bullies by Deanne Quarrie”
Inner Garbage (Fear) vs. Inner Goddess (Love) by Vanessa Soriano
I’m sitting on my meditation pillow for the thousandth time searching for clarity. Initially, going within feels like traversing a jungle; swinging from one thought branch to another. I’m itching for some peace and I’m almost certain this isn’t the way to it. But, I’ve been here before and I won’t quit breathing through the discomfort. I know I will greet the inner goddess soon enough. Getting past the noise is part of accessing her wisdom. The noise teaches me discernment (if I allow it to).
Eventually, the monkey mind gathers up all the branches and turns them into a prodigious figure that blocks the sun inside. Hello darkness my old friend. Inner garbage (fear) makes her entrance. I’m still breathing. Eyes closed. Determined through slow, rhythmic breaths, to move past her. I know I cannot run from her. She’s faster and outwits me every time. Continue reading “Inner Garbage (Fear) vs. Inner Goddess (Love) by Vanessa Soriano”
The Doubt of the Empty Tomb and the Hope for Tomorrow by Katie M. Deaver
I recently had the opportunity to travel to my undergrad institution on a student recruitment trip. During this trip I was able to preach during the college’s weekday chapel service. Despite the fact that I have lived, studied, and worked within a seminary community for the last seven years I had not actually written (not to mention preached!) a sermon since I was a senior at this very college… to say the least I was a bit nervous. As it turned out the sermon writing went well, and I also felt positively about the preaching experience. But even though the writing and preaching are over I can’t stop thinking about the topics I choose to speak about.
The scripture lesson I used was Luke chapter 24 verses 22-24 “Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”
These verses offer a quick recap of the Easter story that comes earlier in chapter 24 of Luke. The women go to the tomb with the spices that they have prepared, but when they arrive they discover that the stone has been rolled away and the body of their friend and teacher is not there. Instead, there are two men in dazzling clothes who ask the women “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Continue reading “The Doubt of the Empty Tomb and the Hope for Tomorrow by Katie M. Deaver”
Just South of Ventura by Sara Frykenberg
For those of us living in Southern California, it has been a tense week to say the least: flames ravaging up and down the coast, homes lost, thousands displaced, freeway and school closures, smoke thick in the air, and ash raining from the sky.
And the fires are still raging.
Whether or not one is directly impacted by the wildfires here in Ventura and Los Angeles County, you can’t walk through the grocery store, turn on the radio, or get a cup of coffee without engaging the fear and concern, or hearing about the devastation left behind. We are sharing a trauma, howbeit differently, and with different levels of need.
I have been lucky during the fires. I live just south of Ventura. My work is on the Getty side of the 405: it was threatened, but not in flames. I spent the week checking in with family and friends, offering my home, and breathing the toxic air. I also made dinner, picked my brother up from the airport, attended a baby shower, and graded papers. … This is a strange juxtaposition, and like many Californians, I have had a hard time processing what’s going on.
On Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the unnatural darkness of an ash filled sky while traveling down the 101 freeway, I wrote the following. This is my effort to make sense. And I offer it to you all here, in case this helps you make sense too. Continue reading “Just South of Ventura by Sara Frykenberg”
Finding Peace in the Wait by Katey Zeh
Have you ever tried to download a number of large files to your computer at the same time? If you’ve purchased a TV series through iTunes or received high-resolution pictures from an important event that you couldn’t wait to view, you can probably identify with this scenario.
You sit impatiently as the progress bar barely creeps toward completion—one painful percentage point by painful percentage point. Maybe you get up from your chair, spend a few minutes doing something to take your mind off of the files, and return a bit later only to find that not a single file is complete yet. Argh! If you can manage somehow to sit long enough to watch this mind-numbing process, one file eventually finishes. Hurrah! Then another. And another. Soon enough the progress accelerates as fewer files remain in the queue and eventually the download is complete. The waiting is over.
Lately my life has been feeling like a collection of slow simultaneous computer downloads. My “files” include a book, a podcast, a new professional website, a training, and a number of consulting ventures. Although I’m disciplined enough to work on each of them at least semi-regularly, each effort gets a much smaller portion of my attention than if I were to focus on a single project. Even if I were able to shift my energies to completing only one of these at a time, all of them are collaborative endeavors involving other people. In the end a lot of the progress is beyond my control.
Over the last several months I’ve wasted a lot of energy feeling annoyed with this overall lack of progress in my life. Some of these projects have been going on for years at this point, those pesky “to do” items that I can never cross off my list. I can’t count how many times I’ve expressed to others, “I just want one of these to be done!” Like painfully watching the slowly downloading files, I’ve been sitting anxiously with an inner sense of dread: this process will never, ever be over.
Sometimes I find it somewhat amusing if not entirely useful to entertain briefly the worst-case scenario brought to the surface by my anxiety du jour. What will happen if every single one of these efforts fails? If my book is never published, how will I feel? If my new website is never launched, what will that mean for my life?
I keep coming back to this hard reality: I’ve got big stakes in a future that I have no control over. As long as I believe my self-worth lies in what is beyond my ability to shape, I am destined for a lifetime of suffering.
My go-to coping strategy in these situations is to make myself busy and do a bunch of stuff to make me feel like I’m holding everything together. This time I’m trying something different.
With the guidance and encouragement of wise women in my life, I have been attempting to shift my perspective on this period of anticipation and waiting. Rather than spin my wheels trying to find another strategy to try or project to start, I am beginning to experiment with doing less. Releasing expectations. Holding with curiosity and gentle attention the anxiety and fear of not measuring up to my perfectionistic standards. Instead of doing something to distract myself from them, I’m holding them in my heart with love—or at least tolerance.
Inhale. Breathe in compassion. Exhale. Breathe out love.
My perfectionism runs deep, but the Spirit of love runs deeper.
Katey Zeh, M.Div is a strategist, writer, and educator who inspires communities to create a more just, compassionate world. She has written for outlets including Huffington Post, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, Response magazine, the Good Mother Project, the Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion, and the United Methodist News Service. Her book Women Rise Up will be published by the FAR Press in March of 2018. Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com.
The Whence of the Isms of (the) U(nited)S(tates)… by Marcia Mount Shoop
Thus, when enemies or friends
Are seen to act improperly,
Be calm and call to mind
That everything arises from conditions.
The early Indian teacher, Shantideva, calls humanity to a deeper exploration of the people and situations we encounter. While it may sound simple, his invitation can be very difficult for American mentalities. He is asking us to look at something more complicated than the individual who acts; he is pointing us toward the causes and conditions that give rise to every person, to every situation, to every moment. Continue reading “The Whence of the Isms of (the) U(nited)S(tates)… by Marcia Mount Shoop”
Culture Shock by Kate Brunner
“I returned to the Land of the Free only to feel like I am giving up my bits of my freedom,” I told a friend over coffee last week.
I’m back in the US after three years in Australia.
I’ve returned to a place where I never know if new people I meet will judge me and my family as too….. something to associate with politely. If the parents of the neighborhood kids my children are quickly befriending find out about my spiritual beliefs & practices, my progressive voting record, my sexuality, my feminism, my ally-ships & activism, or any other bit or bob that makes up the whole that is me, will they still allow our children to play together? Will they still welcome my family to the neighborhood? Can I still borrow the occasional cup of sugar?
I wish I could say. But the truth of it is I just don’t know.
I can pass—visually, but also conversationally. Years of practice playing Corporate Wife at shmoozey dinner parties. And as much as I would like to say that I’ll put myself out there, neighborhood judgment be damned, the reality is that I probably won’t. I hear myself beginning to justify putting pieces of who I am back in the closet. I feel myself, as much as I abhor it, struggling with re-chaining myself to (acceptably) American behavior and a compulsive need to blend in. Continue reading “Culture Shock by Kate Brunner”
Being Scared: Fear and Authenticity by Ivy Helman
My partner is a lawyer who works with asylum seekers and other immigrants here in the Czech Republic (ČR). She’s amazing at her job and I’m constantly in awe of her passion and commitment along with her righteous anger at systematic injustices. In fact just last week, her workplace, together with a consortium of other immigration organizations in the ČR, helped organize a demonstration in the center of Prague to protest the Czech Republic’s refusal to admit Syrian children and their families into the country. She invited me to attend the event with her. I went.
It was my first time attending a public demonstration in Europe. It was moving to see many of her co-workers there and inspiring to listen to the passionate speeches against xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, the plight of the Roma people as well as the need to come together and welcome diversity. In addition, there were signs in Czech, German and English saying “No One is Illegal,” “End Xenophobia,” “Do Syrian Children Have to Wait for their (Nicholas) Winton?” “I want to have a Syrian Friend!” and “Refugees Welcome!” I wanted to hold each one of those signs! Continue reading “Being Scared: Fear and Authenticity by Ivy Helman”
Safety and Vulnerability in a Dangerous and Fertile World: A Meditation on Incarnation
Feeling safe again is often the healing and elusive aspiration of a person like me.
I have been living with the deep and cellular residuum of sexual trauma for most of my life—over thirty of my going-on forty-six years.
For many years, the grief and shame of losing my innocence cultivated an intense orientation to life’s doing. Safety for me back then was activity, noise, frenetic schedules, and a constant soundtrack to my life that meant I never had to be quiet with myself. Safety was in the predictable metrics of success that I could use to measure my self worth. I never had to stop and admit that I didn’t feel safe, ever.
I got a lot done all those frenetic years and my diligent efforts were affirmed with everything from scholarships to awards to pay raises.
But, trauma does not allow itself to be ignored. It demands attention. Its cellular ghosts haunt their host. They must be acknowledged, sometimes cast out, sometimes befriended, other times adapted or transformed. My trauma is tethered to the violence of a dangerous world, a world that knows no boundaries when it comes to annihilating innocence.
How can I be safe in this kind of world? How can any of us? Continue reading “Safety and Vulnerability in a Dangerous and Fertile World: A Meditation on Incarnation”
Bringing Back the Boon: Life After Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner
I made it. Last month, I actually made it from Australia to Wales and back on an official Sisterhood of Avalon/Mythic Seeker Pilgrimage called The Priestess and the Healer. I also overnighted in Brisbane, passed through the Netherlands for a couple of days to see an old friend, and even managed to squeeze in a day trip to Glastonbury, England, in addition to my itinerary that had me trekking all over Wales. But all of it- every stop- turned out to be an integral part of my Pilgrimage experience. Much more so than I could have predicted when I first set out. And now I’m back. Back home with my children and my partner. Back at work with my writing. Back to chores, bills, & daily rounds where life is bright, loud, and busy– even as it is joyful & beautiful. What now, then? While the life I’ve returned to is virtually unchanged, something has subtly shifted under my feet in the fortnight it took me to tread those distant lands.
Traveling is always a great learning experience for me, but a mindfully undertaken Pilgrimage is a different creature than a casual holiday. In his fantastic work, The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau breaks down the pilgrim’s journey into phases: the Call, the Departure, the Arrival, & the Return. He relates this journey to the walking of a labyrinth, something Dr. Lauren Artress also explores at length in her book, Walking a Sacred Path. My experience resonates strongly with this metaphor. In retrospect, I can indeed pinpoint the moment of Arrival. (I sat down to eat a nourishing meal at a long, wooden table full of fellow Avalonian pilgrims in front of a window looking out on a late summer sunset in Dyffryn Nantlle.) The realization of that moment, small and simple as is was, shifted and opened my experience even deeper. The ritual of a labyrinth within a physical Pilgrimage is a special encounter. Those who manage to carve out the resources to engage in it undergo an intense experience, whatever their spiritual tradition or destination. But what happens when it’s over? What comes next? This is where I am left now. Continue reading “Bringing Back the Boon: Life After Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner”
Invoking the Blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Tara through Chanting Her Mantra to Overcome Fear by Karen Nelson Villanueva
Of all the graduate institutions in the world, I chose the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco because of its unique program in Women’s Spirituality. Only here could I integrate my love of the Goddess Tara, my spiritual practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and my passion to chant into a scholarly study titled “Invoking the Blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Tara Through Chanting Her Mantra to Overcome Fear.”
I conducted my research in the summer of 2008. Fortunately, I was able to draw from the many academic, contemplative, and spiritual groups of my acquaintance in the San Francisco Bay Area to solicit study co-participants. Over the course of three months, we convened on six occasions to meditate, pray, and chant to Tara with the intention of overcoming a particular fear. Between our meetings, we chanted on our own and kept a journal about what we were experiencing. Continue reading “Invoking the Blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Tara through Chanting Her Mantra to Overcome Fear by Karen Nelson Villanueva”
Purim and the Value of Courage by Ivy Helman
The Jewish Festival of Purim and the book of Esther offer us an opportunity to reflect on the value of courage from a feminist perspective. The online Webster’s Dictionary defines courage as, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” In religious discourse, courage is often categorized as a virtue or a moral principle. Aristotle (384BCE – 322BCE), one of the most famous of the virtue ethicists, believed a virtue like courage should be practiced according to the mean or the right amount. Too much courage leaves one rash, possibly too reactionary and hot-headed while too little makes one cowardly and weak, but just the right amount in a given situation leads to moral behavior. Virtuous living leads to happiness, or perhaps is itself happiness, for Aristotle. Yet, as a feminist, I understand the worth of courage differently. To me, the value of courage lies not in individualistic gains nor in personal happiness but in its use toward achieving justice and equality in society.
In the book of Esther, we read about Queen Vashti and Esther both of whom demonstrate courage. (There are many feminist commentaries on the inherent sexism of the book of Esther. While I acknowledge the need for such critique, I am not approaching Esther from this perspective as much as I am approaching it from what we can gain from the actions of the women in the story.) As the book opens, King Achashverosh asks Queen Vashti to parade her beauty at a feast for him and his guests. She refuses to be paraded and thus objectified. Men in the king’s royal court react harshly telling the king that if he lets her get away with such disobedience other women will surely follow suit. This is surely problematic for the kingdom as well as their households. Vashti is replaced as punishment. Continue reading “Purim and the Value of Courage by Ivy Helman”