Hooray! The Holiday Season Is At Hand! by Barbara Ardinger

December seems to have more holidays than the rest of the year put together. Days to honor Ix Chel, the Virgin of Guadalupe, St. Lucy (aka Santa Lucia), the Declaration of Human Rights, and the publication of the Rider-Waite Tarot. Saturnalia. Hanukkah. Christmas. Kwanza. Yule. Innumerable reasons to go shopping for gifts and banquets. Here, to help you survive the holiday season, are two Found Goddesses.

Who, you may ask, is a Found Goddess? The term comes from Found Goddesses, published in 1988 by Morgan Grey and Julia Penelope. Found Goddesses are modern ones that we invent to deal with modern issues that the classical pantheons can probably not cope with. Like going to the mall and cleaning our houses before our guests arrive. (Note that I’ve rewritten these pieces a bit to bring them more or less up to date.)

Continue reading “Hooray! The Holiday Season Is At Hand! by Barbara Ardinger”

Happy New Year by Barbara Ardinger

Here we are, beginning a new year. Let’s hope it’s a good new year. I grew up in a working-class family in St. Louis. We were Calvinist and Republican. I’ve escaped from the last two, but I still claim my working class background. My father was a lithographer, my mother, a housewife. And I will never forget the advice given every year (actually, more than once every year) by my Dutch grandmother: Whenever you start something new, start clean. Take a bath, brush your teeth, wash your hair. More than that, she meant clean your house. Wash dishes. Dust. Vacuum. Pick up stray books and pet toys. Gramma put the fear of god in me, at least about cleaning. Every time she took the bus down to visit me while I was in graduate school, I spent two days cleaning my apartment.

It’s thanks to Gramma that when I wrote a daybook titled Pagan Every Day, I started the year writing about home. Here’s the page for January 1:

Usually, we invoke Janus on this first day of the year. He was the Roman two-faced god of the doorway (ianus), the transition point between the safe indoors and the outside world, where anything could happen. Roman weren’t alone in believing that this opening needed to be protected. The mezuzah, which holds verses from Deuteronomy, is affixed to doors of Jewish houses, the façade around the doorway of a medieval cathedral is as elaborate as the altar, and nearly every pagan is taught to cut a “doorway” into the energy of the circle. As the doorway stands between inside and outside, so does the turning year stand between an old year we knew and a new year we don’t yet know. Janus gave his name to January and the Romans honored him all month. Before he came to the city, however, he was Dioanus, an Italian oak god whose consort was the woodland goddess, Diana. Continue reading “Happy New Year by Barbara Ardinger”

Who Are the Pagans? by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerIt has occurred to me that it’s possible that some of the bloggers and readers of this site may not know very much about pagans, so here’s a little New Year’s lesson. The first thing to know is that pagans are almost by definition rebels. That means any generalization anyone may make will almost certainly have a thousand exceptions. You may have heard what Will Rogers wrote in 1932: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Well, the same goes for pagans: many of us joke that we don’t belong to an organized religion. “Pagan,” by the way, is the generic term. Witches, Wiccans, and eclectics (among others, see below) are specific terms. Many of us belong to what are called traditions, which are somewhat analogous to the Protestant denominations. Some traditions are said to go back to the Middle Ages (or further back), but this is generally nonsense. Paganism as it is practiced today is a modern religion looking for (and—voilà! finding!) roots in the ancient and classical pantheons or in Old Europe, where archaeology shows us that the Goddess was worshipped thousands of years before Abraham met his god, ca. 2000 BCE (see Marija Gimbutas’ text for more information on this). Continue reading “Who Are the Pagans? by Barbara Ardinger”

The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger

August 1—Lughnasadh (pronounced LOON-us-uh) or Lammas—is the first of the three traditional harvest festivals of the traditional Celtic calendar that most pagans follow today. And what naturally follows harvest? Feasting, fairs, and festivals. To help us celebrate the season, here are two Found Goddesses of good eating. The term “found goddesses” was created in 1987 by Morgan Grey and Julia Penelope, authors of a hilarious book titled Found Goddesses. After reading this book and having never met a pun I didn’t instantly love and being of a naturally satirical state of mind, I started Finding—i.e., inventing—my own goddesses shortly before the turn of the century. After I found a hundred of them, they were published in 2003 in my book, Finding New Goddesses.

When Xochitl Alvizo wrote here about the philosophy of vegetarianism and veganism in late June, I was inspired to contribute to the conversation. Although I understand the philosophy of not eating meat, I’m still a meat eater. (Though I don’t go quite as far as the so-called paleo diet.) Yes, it’s an issue of consciousness. I admit it. I just refuse to think about cows and sheep and chickens when I’m eating. But I refuse to eat lobster (because they’re cooked alive) or veal (because of how the calves are treated). I guess I’m not very consistent, and I suspect I’ve just settled for the hungry coward’s way out of the diet dilemma. Continue reading “The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger”

Does Terpsichore Tapdance? By Barbara Ardinger

Goddesses of art and inspiration, the Muses gave their name to our museums, where they are (or should be) worshipped. I feel a special devotion to them. … The ones I really like, though, are the theatrical Muses—Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, and Terpsichore, plus maybe Calliope and Errato. I was a drama major (and possibly a drama queen) in college…. Today, I go to the theater as often as I can.

Although my greatest devotion is to the Great Goddess, who is said to have ten thousand names, I find myself more and more adoring the Muses: 

  • Clio, “Fame-giver,” ruler of history and shown with an open scroll
  • Euterpe, “Joy-giver,” the lyric Muse who plays the flute
  • Thalia, famous for her comic mask and wreaths of ivy
  • Melpomene, wearer of the tragic mask and vine leaves
  • Terpsichore, “Lover of dancing,” who carried a lyre and ruled choral music as well as dance
  • Errato, “Awakener of desire,” ruler of erotic poetry
  • Polyhymnia, “Many hymns,” shown as the meditating inspirer of hymns
  • Urania, “Heavenly,” ruler of astronomy who carries a globe
  • Calliope, “Beautiful-voiced,” ruler of epic poetry who carries a tablet and a pen[1] Continue reading “Does Terpsichore Tapdance? By Barbara Ardinger”

Where Did the Gods Come From? by Barbara Ardinger

A man in the group leaned forward and asked, “But how did the Goddess get overcome?” So I told him. Young “warrior heroes” came galloping out of the Russian steppes and the Caucasus Mountains, including Afghanistan, which no one (not even Alexander the so-called Great) has ever conquered. The boys were carrying their thunder-solar-sky gods with them.

I attended a book club at a beautiful metaphysical bookstore a few weeks ago where we discussed the conquest of matrilineal civilizations by the patriarchy. A man in the group leaned forward and asked, “But how did the Goddess get overcome?” So I told him. As my friend Miriam Robbins Dexter writes in her essay in The Rule of Mars, young “warrior heroes” came galloping out of the Russian steppes and the Caucasus Mountains, including Afghanistan, which no one (not even Alexander the so-called Great) has ever conquered. The boys were carrying their thunder-solar-sky gods with them. Those gods included Jehovah, Zeus, Jupiter, and Ares. (Allah arrived later.) Some of these young “heroes” were outlaws “who live[d] at the edge of society and are connected in legend and myth to wolves, dogs, or other animals.”[1] Dexter does not use the term “biker gangs,” but that’s what they were. Testosterone-crazed invaders out to have a good time. They ran over every goddess and temple in their path, and to make themselves seem more legitimate, they “married” former Great Goddesses (like Hera) to their thunder gods (Zeus). Their gods are famous for hurling lightning bolts, enticing their generals to invade peaceful, Goddess-worshipping lands (like Canaan), and populating their new turf via rape, which is how the innumerable sons of Zeus were conceived. More recently, during the last two or three millennia, one of those gods has inspired his prophets and preachers to roar about sin and hell and idol-worship and punishment. The new gods and their carriers thus planted the seeds of warfare in society and its literature. I describe one such invasion in the prologue of Secret Lives, where after a horrific vision that causes her the blind herself, the shaman sends her people out into the world to escape the coming hooligans on their horses and become the secretive, dark “little people” of Europe. Continue reading “Where Did the Gods Come From? by Barbara Ardinger”

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