A Wish-Fulfillment Dream by Barbara Ardinger

Rest awhile, Dear Reader, and dream along with me. We’re standing on a corner, call it Main Street, Any City, USA. We’re chatting, passing the time of day, being happy we can stand among other people without the fear of a giant virus jumping out of someone’s breath and attacking us. It’s a nice day here on the street. Not much traffic.

Oh, look—there’s a huge box in the middle of the intersection. It’s shabby, looks to be made of old, thin wood loosely clamped together. The box starts shaking, rocking back and forth. What’s in there? Something is obviously trying to get out. As we watch, an orange mist starts seeping out through the cracks in the box. More shaking. Now the box seems to be jumping. More orange mist. And the box shatters. An orange form—is it human? It’s fat. It’s shaking an iPhone. Or is that a golf club? The orange one speaks. “Do you miss me yet?” “Stand back and stand by.” “I’ll be baa-ack.”

Continue reading “A Wish-Fulfillment Dream by Barbara Ardinger”

On Snakes by Ivy Helman

imageIn the ancient world, snakes represented fertility, creativity, rebirth, wisdom and, even, death.  They were often closely connected to female goddesses, priestesses and powerful human females who were the embodiment of such powers.    For example, there is the Minoan goddess/priestess holding the two snakes in her outstretched arms.  She is closely linked with fertility and domesticity.  Similar figurines, with similar associations and dating to approximately 1200 BCE, have also been founded in the land of what once was Canaan, where Israelites also lived.  Medusa, in whose hair lived venomous snakes, turned men who looked at her to stone.  Ovid’s account of the creation of Medusa credits the Greek goddess Athena with Medusa’s lively hair.  Another Greek legend says Perseus, after killing Medusa, gave her head to Athena who incorporated it into her shield.  Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is portrayed often with snakes wrapped around her as a belt and/or on the floor next to her. Continue reading “On Snakes by Ivy Helman”

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”

Fear and Loathing in Discussions of Female Power in the Academy by Carol P. Christ

Carol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2No matter how carefully developed they are, theories of female power in pre-patriarchal societies are dismissed in academic circles as “romantic fantasies” of a “golden age” based in “emotional longings” with “no basis in fact.” I was reminded of this while reviewing three books about the Goddess last week.

In one of the books, the co-authors, who define themselves as feminists, summarily dismiss theories about the origins of Goddess worship in pre-patriarchal prehistory. In another, the author traces the origin of certain Goddess stories and symbols found in recent folklore back to the beginnings of agriculture. Inexplicably, she stops there, not even mentioning the theory that women invented agriculture. Considering that possibility might have suggested that the symbols and stories the she was investigating were developed by women as part of rituals connected to the agricultural cycle. To ask these questions would have raised a further one: the question of female power in prehistory. And this it seems is a question that cannot be asked. This question was addressed in the third (very scholarly) book, which I fear will simply be ignored. Continue reading “Fear and Loathing in Discussions of Female Power in the Academy by Carol P. Christ”

When Baby Girls and Old Crones Ruled by Jeri Studebaker

Jeri Studebaker

The data came as somewhat of a shock to me.  I stumbled across it one day in The Civilization of the Goddess, a mammoth book by the late Lithuanian-American archaeologist Marija Gimbutas about what Gimbutas dubbed “Old Europe” – a culture area in southeastern Neolithic Europe that she maintains was centered around female deity.

Until she had the temerity to suggest that people at some point in the past might have worshipped goddesses rather than gods, Gimbutas had a sterling reputation among academics, even being hired to teach at two of the most prestigious of all  American archaeology departments, Harvard’s and UCLA’s.  After presenting her goddess theory of Old Europe, however, Gimbutas came under attack by a few powerful male archaeologists, after which her reputation among academics began to plummet (see Spretnak 2011 for a good accounting of Gimbutas’ fall from grace).

Marija Gimbutas
Marija Gimbutas

Before I get to the data that so startled me, I need to tell you a bit about archaeologists.  Like the members of many academic disciplines, they disagree with each other – sometimes vehemently (and perhaps even somewhat more vehemently than scholars in other disciplines).  One thing however they all agree on is this: the higher the quality and quantity of grave goods buried with an individual, the higher that individual’s status in her or his society. Continue reading “When Baby Girls and Old Crones Ruled by Jeri Studebaker”

Practicing the Presence of the Goddess by Barbara Ardinger

Practicing the presence of the Goddess is a term I invented in the early 1990s when I started teaching a class with that name. It started out as a class where I taught women about the goddesses of the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Norse pantheons and gradually turned into lessons on modern paganism, then into a class on creating effective rituals and doing magic, and finally evolved into being in the world—practicing Her presence.

When I wrote about ways of being in the world on April 29, I went past mere existentialism and suggested that benevolence is a good way to be in the world. Be kind to people. Be polite. (Or as kind and polite as it’s possible to be in a world that is markedly unkind and impolite.) What benevolence really is, is one element of what I call practicing the presence of the Goddess. Continue reading “Practicing the Presence of the Goddess by Barbara Ardinger”

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