From the Archives: Still Practicing Her Presence By Barbara Ardinger

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We have created this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted May 27, 2012. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

In my blog of May 11 about practicing the presence of the Goddess, I explained how Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection inspired me. Many thanks to everyone who read that blog and commented on it. One comment came via email from a friend, who said, “I kept thinking as I read about that expression ‘walking one’s talk.’” But of course. It would be lovely if anyone outside a nunnery or monastery could be as filled with their god or goddess as Brother Lawrence was. Though we try to be as mindful as we can, we obviously don’t always succeed as well as we’d like. But surely it’s better to have a positive intention than a negative one.

So let’s get practical. Instead of filling our heads with what’s been called monkey-chatter, let’s fill ourselves with the Goddess so that our thoughts of Her can go on autopilot. Instead of obsessing over, say, if the Lakers, Packers, or Cardinals are going to win their next whatever-they-play or who’s gonna win this week on Dancing With the Stars, let’s set our minds on the Goddess so our thoughts go to Her when we don’t have to concentrate on some specific, important task at hand.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Still Practicing Her Presence By Barbara Ardinger”

Happy Birthday Isis: Isis Isis…Ra! Ra! Ra! by Karen Tate

I wanted to pull myself away from the ugliness out there and take time to honor the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, as Her birthday is recognized to be in the latter part of July.  My husband, Roy, and I formed the Isis Ancient Cultures Society and the Iseum of Isis Navigatum, in Los Angeles, sometime ago and for more than a decade, in Her name, we sponsored Moon Circles to promote diversity, Salons to teach, and we put out a quarterly newsletter when you still had to fold and mail them – remember that?  But the premier events every  year were the Isis Birthday Tea and the Isis Navigatum or Festival of Isis, every March.    Our aim was to reconstruct Isis rituals in a modern context and make them relevant  for today.

We put on the Isis Tea in prestigious locations like aboard the Queen Mary and the Isis Navigatum in various public locations including The Japanese Gardens, in the San Fernando Valley, and on the beach on Point Dume, in Malibu, California.  So detailed were our events, sometimes the public joined us thinking we were a movie crew and our organization was written about by a anthropologist/folklorist citing the detail and depth of the material culture of contemporary Isian devotees.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday Isis: Isis Isis…Ra! Ra! Ra! by Karen Tate”

Did You Have to Make Her a Prostitute? by Elizabeth Cunningham

When I toured with The Passion of Mary Magdalen, opening by belting out the first paragraphs of the novel’s prologue in song, (ending with the line “when only a whore is awake!”) that question almost always came up.  In celebration of Mary Magdalen’s feast day, I’d like to offer answers that continue to evolve.

There is no scriptural evidence that Mary Magdalen was a prostitute. In a sermon, 6th century Pope Gregory I gave as his opinion: “This woman, whom Luke calls a sinner and John calls Mary, I think is the Mary from whom Mark reports that seven demons were cast out.” (This confusion and proliferation of Marys inspired me to make a joke. Q: How many holy Marys does it take to change a lightbulb? A: I don’t know. I keep losing count.)

In fact, very little is known about Mary Magdalen. There are fourteen references to her in the Gospels, then she disappears from the New Testament. The possibly Gnostic gospel of Mary dates to the 2nd century CE, and there is no scholarly consensus as to which Mary is the source of the tradition. Early on Mary Magdalen gave history the slip and took on an extended life in legends, which take her to Ephesus as well as to France where her alleged fingernails, bones, and skull reside and continue to be venerated.

Continue reading “Did You Have to Make Her a Prostitute? by Elizabeth Cunningham”

My Name is Isis BOOK REVIEW by Kate Brunner

My Name Is Isis by Susan Morgaine is the fourth book in the My Name Is series from The Girl God; a series of picture books for children. The series serves as a child’s gentle & colorful introduction to one particular Goddess per book.

In My Name is Isis, Susan Morgaine invites her young readers into a dialogue with the Goddess. For example, when sharing Her role as Great Mother & Protector, Isis asks “Do you have brothers or sisters — or a pet — that you help take care of?” inviting the reader to consider what it means to be nurturing and protective of someone they love. The conversational style is engaging and creates an opportunity for a child to see characteristics of the Divine within themselves.

The cover art and design of this particular book is not my favorite in the My Name is series. I find this one unappealing to children in comparison to the earlier volumes. However, the illustrations inside the book are luminous and include many beautiful examples of women’s bodies that serve to normalizing the sacred nature of diverse feminine forms. Many of the symbols, animals, and features associated with Isis are also depicted, such as Isis as a kite, searching the world for Her missing husband.

Parents should be aware that as a part of exploring Her story, the text does touch on death & the loss of loved ones. It does so gently and encourages children to know that their deceased loved ones live on in their hearts. Sensitive children who struggle with the concepts of death, dying, or grief may need help processing these few pages.

I especially loved the pages about Isis as Teacher and her firm, loving admonishments to “treat your teachers with honor and respect as they show you the things you must learn.” Teachers need a Great Goddess looking out for them and the incredible work they do every day. So, this was a sweet addition to the aspects of the Goddess Susan explores and the lessons she and Isis convey to their audience.

Overall, this truly is a lovely picture book that Pagan/Goddess parents could use to introduce young children to Isis as Great Mother, Teacher, & Healer. Hopefully, Susan Morgaine will write more future volumes in the series, bringing young Pagan children into conversation with more Goddesses. Continue reading “My Name is Isis BOOK REVIEW by Kate Brunner”

Festival of the Goddess by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne Quarrie, D.Min.
In late August, I wrote an article about the Tjet or the Knot of Isis, also called the Blood of Isis. I thought it a good idea to come back and write about the festival, now ended. We gathered in the live oaks and ashe-juniper trees, just outside of Dripping Springs, Texas. It is private land where we could be free in our choices of clothing, or not. The Festival of the Goddess is in its 24th year and going strong. We had close to 100 women and 28 little girls. Our Goddess this year was Isis, Goddess of 10,000 names.  We came with the intent to reclaim Her name from the hatred and violence perpetrated by those the media calls by Her name.
tyet2hhFriday night, I served as co-priestess in the opening rite which amazingly elevated every woman there. We called the Quarters, invoked the Elements and tied the Knot of Isis, with nine-foot-long, red sashes, on to bamboo poles cut with a cross bar, made to resemble ankhs. Each woman invoked her Element and the Power and Magic of Isis to guard and protect the space where we were gathered. We then called to Isis to join us. With doumbeks playing, Isis – yes, a real live Isis – walked into our Circle. She had two escorts who assisted Her up onto a platform where She spoke to everyone present.

isisShe was dressed, as you can imagine, in Egyptian robes with Her regal crown of horns and sun. On Her arms were Her beautiful wings. They were made by sewing men’s ties together with the small ends flapping in the breeze at the back. They stretched from Her shoulders to Her finger tips. Every woman and maiden there was able to come forward to receive a blessing from Isis. Many were enfolded in Her wings. Our Isis was a beautiful African American woman with long black hair, braided in knots. She completely embodied the spirit of Isis. This was her first time to ever come to a Goddess festival and I am sure when she agreed to her role in the ritual she thought it was going to be like a theatrical performance but she truly aspected Isis. It was amazing. I talked to her later and she told me that she never anticipated the intense emotional experience she had.

Once the blessings were completed, the women at the Quarters brought their Tjet-tied, bamboo poles to the center where a large piece of fabric was tied at the corner of each pole and then lifted to be carried over Isis as they processed up the hill to the Temple where She then moved to sit on Her throne.

We placed a basin of water at Her feet in which were the Waters of the World and asked for the blessings of Isis to purify and bless all of our waters, so polluted by mankind and to help all become more mindful of how important it is for our waters to be clean. From there we installed the four poles, knotted with the Blood of Isis, to stand guard at the Temple.

Everyone went from there to the large fire circle for drumming and merriment. (I went to bed.) Later, in the dark of night when no one was in the Temple, a life sized Isis was placed on the Throne. She was made with a wire frame, stuffed and dressed. Her Styrofoam head was painted to have dark skin and her hair and headdress were identical to those of our “live” Isis. She was amazing!

The next day I offered a Croning Rite, to mark that Passage for eight women, ready to be known as Crones. I was assisted in the ritual by the women who were serving as Crone Guardians for the weekend. I took them on a spiral of their lives from Girlhood, to Maiden, to Mother and to Crone. We all cried together with all the memories shared! That afternoon I did two workshops, back-to-back. The first was Yoni Printing and the other, to share what the Tjet means, as well as to teach women how to tie it. There were many other workshops – Intuitive Tarot – Breast Casting – Sacred Dance – Tara Dancing, to name just a few.

Once my part of the day was completed, I sat with good friends in the Crone Camp to enjoy the beautiful land, the shade and cool breeze – and to rest.  My old bones were tired!

Saturday night was the big talent show. This festival started out 24 years ago for women to come together and share their talents – artistic (as vendors) singers, dancers and musicians – to perform for their Sisters in a safe and beautiful environment. When we first started this it was held on a piece of property owned by Genevieve Vaughn who gifted the use of the land to us. It was an incredible space that even had indoor accommodation for women who needed beds. All of the performances Saturday night were wonderful. I will have to say that I enjoyed what the maidens offered the best of all. Such amazing talent – and those little girls up on the stage – fearless!

Sunday, I once more served as co-priestess to offer a closing ritual in which we honored all Women’s Blood Mysteries by asking Maidens who started their moon cycles this past year to come forward for a blessing. Then all who had carried a child in the past year and finally all who had stopped bleeding.
We offered our gratitude to all who had organized and made this festival such a success. It certainly does take a village! One of the women on the Planning Circle made a small ceramic Knot of Isis made into a necklace with cording, for every woman who came to the festival.

20161007_140333My own part, in addition to what I did on-site, was to take all incoming email messages with questions and respond with answers. I organized the first Crone Camp ever. We offered a tent already in place as well as cots to sleep on. It was the first time since we moved from Stonehaven that beds were offered. Our Crone Guardians helped by erecting and taking down our large tent. They were also there to help when needed. I also got to be the one who took care of all the women seeking scholarships. I told everyone that I definitely had the best job in the Planning Circle as I got to speak to so many marvelous women! I came home with new friends and a happy glow from being surrounded by so much love.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of the Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, Northern European Witchcraft and Druidism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

The Blood of Isis by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne Quarrietyet1Over the years I have seen the image of the amulet called the Knot of Isis but in all honesty, never paid it much attention. I am on the organizing committee for our annual Goddess Festival here in Austin this year and we have chosen Isis as our Goddess to honor. The intent is to reclaim the Sacred Name of Isis and celebrate Her power, especially for women.

I was supposed to go to Brazil this summer to speak. One thing that was to have happened on my trip was to be my ordination as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis. However, because I became very ill and was hospitalized, I had to cancel my trip. In preparation for this ordination, I created an altar for Her and began to get to know Her. I have always had special affinity for Hathor and Sekhmet or as I call them together, HetHeru. And so, began my relationship with Isis. Continue reading “The Blood of Isis by Deanne Quarrie”

ISIS and Authority by Kecia Ali

Kecia Ali Bio pic officeLast week, Graeme Wood caused quite a stir with his article “What ISIS Really Wants.” It focused on the apocalyptic religious vision of the group and contended that ISIS was, as a scholar quoted in the article put it, “smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” including on the things most shock and repulse observers, such as slavery.

Though Wood grants that most Muslims do not support ISIS, and acknowledges in passing the role of interpretation in formulating its doctrines, the overall impression conveyed by the article was that Muslims who deny that ISIS is a fair representation of Islam are either apologists or simply do not really know anything about Islam. Others have offered rebuttals of many of the points in the article, and Bernard Haykel, the scholar quoted, has offered a more nuanced articulation of his views. More than one commentator has pointed out that by treating ISIS as a legitimate representative of the Islamic tradition, seriously religious and dedicated to the texts “shared by all Sunni Muslims,” it fosters an unholy convergence of interests between extremist Muslims and Islamophobes. Continue reading “ISIS and Authority by Kecia Ali”

President Obama, Angelina Jolie, and the State of the Yazidi Genocide by Michele Buscher

Michele BuscherA few months ago, I wrote a piece about the Yazidi Genocide in Iraq, quoting an official spokesperson for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry who asserted in August that he believed “the terrorists by now consider [the women] sex slaves and they have vicious plans for them…these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the [sic] human and Islamic values….”  Simply put, he was right.

Six months later, the war waged by ISIS against the Yazidi and other marginalized religious groups in Iraq and Syria has reached a whole new level of violence.  The violence that started in a remote region of Iraq, in and around Mt. Sinjar, has spread across most of the country, moving now into large sections of Syria.  ISIS continues to expand its borders as refugees look for safety in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.  Included here is an interactive map with several pictures and graphs that demonstrate clearly ISIS’s takeover of Iraq and Syria, with no sign of halting their expansion.  Continue reading “President Obama, Angelina Jolie, and the State of the Yazidi Genocide by Michele Buscher”

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”

ISIS and the Larger Muslim Crisis by Hanadi Riyad

Hanadi Riyad croppedIt is heartening to hear the many condemnations Muslim scholars have issued of ISIS and its methods and actions. One of the latest attempts comes in the form of an open letter addressed by a coalition of one hundred and twenty six Muslim “scholars” from across the world to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and ISIS followers and supporters. The seventeen page letter is one of the most detailed responses to ISIS I have read. However, just like other responses, it fell short of my expectations as a Muslim woman. I checked the list of the signatories and I could not find any women amongst them.

I am saddened to note that the authors of the letter fall into the same mistake they accuse ISIS of: they quote some Quraanic verses and Hadiths selectively, out of context, and portray them as sufficient rebuttal against ISIS actions, never mind the sources, verses, and Hadiths ISIS has been quoting just as selectively to justify its crimes. The letter explains about the methodology of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) that it stipulates “to consider everything that has been revealed relating to a particular question in its entirety, without depending on only parts of it, and then to judge if one is qualified based on all available scriptural sources.” There’s no explicit logical explanation for why the parts of the scripture and interpretations quoted by the writers of the letter should be given precedence over the ones quoted by ISIS.

The implicit reason, however, resides in the authors’ assertion of their authority as Sunni “scholars”  and their opinion as “a scholarly opinion.” We should take their word because they have the authority that ISIS does not. The assumption that ISIS cannot count amongst its ranks scholars is neither explained nor defended. The doctrinal connection between ISIS and Wahhabi ideology upheld by many Saudi scholars – like ibn Baz and his disciples— goes unacknowledged. Continue reading “ISIS and the Larger Muslim Crisis by Hanadi Riyad”

The Yazidi Genocide in Iraq by Michele Buscher

Michele BuscherRoughly seven hours prior to my composing this blog, a report was disseminated across the Internet offering what is being called a first-hand account of Mosul women’s prison currently in Iraq where possibly thousands of Yazidi, Christian and Muslim women are being held.  After these women are rounded up and sent to various prisons across Iraq and parts of Syria, they are given a choice to either abandon their religious tradition and convert to Islam or be sold to ISIS soldiers for roughly 30 dollars whereafter they will be raped, forced into marriage, and in some cases will later be tortured to death.  After the women have been sold they are forced to call their families and offer detailed descriptions of what has just occurred.  This sort of psychological warfare is why many UN aid workers are calling ISIS more diabolical than al-Qaeda.

Let me back up here. A couple of years ago, while researching religious freedom abuses in Iraq, I came across a small religious group called the Yazidi.  Having never heard of this religious sect before, I took interest in why the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF, was highlighting specifically this group, naming religious persecution by Sunni militants in Iraq against the Yazidi as a reason for citing Iraq as a CPC, or Country of Particular Concern, making Iraq uniquely vulnerable to U.S. government sanctions.  The Yazidi have been given the unfortunate nickname, “Devil Worshippers” in Iraq because their God is known as both Malak Taus and Shayton (or Shaitan), the latter meaning Devil in Arabic.  The Yazidi are known to be highly secretive regarding their religious praxis which allegedly incorporates elements of Islam, Judaism and Christianity; hence, there is much confusion about who the Yazidi are and what they stand for.  Articles from the BBC’s World Report and the Daily Mail in the UK have both pointed out that one of the few known cornerstones of the Yazidi faith is that one cannot be converted to the faith – one must be born a Yazidi and one may not ever denounce one’s faith.  If a Yazidi woman were to claim another religion, she would be expelled from her community not only for the rest of her life, but eternally.  This should help elucidate why imprisoned Yazidi women refuse to convert, choosing instead rape, slavery and ultimately death.

Now, who and what is ISIS and why is ISIS targeting the Yazidi among other minority groups in Iraq and Syria?  ISIS or IS represents the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  The leader of this militia goes by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  A religious fundamentalist, al-Baghdadi is fighting for the systematic removal of the Yazidi along with all other religious minority groups in Iraq and Syria.  ISIS controls major cities on both sides of the Iraqi border which have allowed them to mobilize and procure enough weaponry to arm their fight across the entire region.  The Huffington Post has reported several incidents of Sunni Muslim insurgents celebrating mass murders of the Yazidi and other minority religious groups by shooting massive weaponry in the air and parading through the streets.

The United Nations, along with Human Rights Watch, released a statement calling the current systematic murder of Yazidi men and the imprisonment and rape of Yazidi women, “religious extermination” and an “ongoing genocide”.  An official spokesperson for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry has said that, “the terrorists by now consider [the women] sex slaves and they have vicious plans for them…these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the [sic] human and Islamic values.”    The U.S. and France have been delivering aid to those minority groups that have fled to and are attempting to survive the harsh Mt. Sinjar climate.  U.S. drone attacks along with missile strikes have flooded the areas where the ISIS militia is fighting.  But is this enough?

The U.S. has an inarguably complicated political history with Iraq and many, including some UN representatives, wonder if the U.S. and its allies are truly doing enough to help the Yazidi women. There are multiple reports across social media, claiming family members in Iraq and in the U.S. are receiving phone calls from female relatives who have managed somehow to retain their cell phones.  The women detail similar accounts of being captured, separated from their husbands and children, forced onto trucks and taken to abandoned schools and mosques.  Some have witnessed other women being sold in the marketplace to ISIS men.  One woman describes witnessing a pregnant woman being shot on sight for refusing to get into a truck headed to the now infamous Mosul prison.  Certainly, the U.S. has many decisions to make regarding how and to what extent the U.S. government should help the plight of a religious minority in Iraq.  The Yazidi community is being targeted directly, but so are many other religious minority groups in Iraq.  The Yazidi specifically have been targeted by Islamic extremists for centuries in Iraq and many Yazidi have found refuge in Syria, until now.  Women are undoubtedly being targeted by ISIS in this genocide as women are so often the target in religious conflict across the globe.

The USCIRF has named Iraq a CPC since 2008 and has detailed the ongoing Yazidi religious persecution in almost every annual report.  What more can the U.S. government and U.S. allies do for the minority citizens of Iraq?  They must take the threat of religious persecution seriously and understand that when religious freedom is not equally protected and valued by the government then basic, universal human rights are equally disvalued.  When women’s rights are not protected, basic human rights are not protected.

Michele Buscher, PhD, received her degree from the Claremont Graduate University in 2013. Her PhD is in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Theology, Ethics and Culture.  Her dissertation titled, Commission Impossible: The International Religious Freedom Act and its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy with Particular Reference to Iraq and Burma, 1999-2012 explores the relationship between the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and current U.S. foreign policy abroad.  She is interested in the role religion plays in the development of U.S. foreign policy particularly in the Middle East and how this contributes to human rights.  Additionally, her scholarly interests include Feminist Theologies and Modern Catholic Studies.  She received her BA from Seattle University in Creative Writing and her MA from Union Theological Seminary in Theological Studies.  Michele works at Pitzer College as the Language & Cultural Lab Coordinator, Instructor for the International Fellows Program and Program Coordinator for the Kobe Women’s University visiting Cultural Program.

Community: A Guided Meditation by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerAs I read the blogs posted here, I’m more and more interested in the comments. They show that we and our readers are turning into a real community. For this reason, I’ve decided it might be fun to reconstruct a guided meditation on community from my book Goddess Meditations, which was published in 1999. Goddess Meditations was the first book I wrote after I moved to Long Beach in 1996. I’m rewriting the meditation because I know more now and writer better than I did back then.

Yes, we here at Feminism and Religion are a community, and in my opinion there’s nothing better than community. Individuals come together to form small communities. Small communities come together to form larger communities. And so it goes. Hopefully we’re building up to a world-wide community.

netLet’s begin. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take several deep, easy breaths. When you feel relaxed, call into your mind the familiar image of a fishing net. See a vast net that stretches up and down as far as you can see, every knot a sparkling star. See yourself in the center of this shining net, but know that each of us stands at his or her own center of the net. The stars revolve around each of us, they shine for each of us. This net has as many centers as it has knots that are shining stars. This net is our community. The Weaver of our net is the Great Goddess. Continue reading “Community: A Guided Meditation by Barbara Ardinger”

Muslim Separatists and The Idea of an “Islamic” State by amina wadud

amina 2014 - croppedThe other day, someone on twitter said she would not allow ISIS (known as the Islamic State of the Levant) use the name of “her” religion.  In fact, scholars in Egypt had proposed that they be called “the Separatist movement” and take the word “Islam” out of it. This question raised here is: what exactly is “Islamic” about what they are doing and how they are doing it?

I have contended for at least 2 decades that people use the word “Islam” anyway they want to make any point they want.  More importantly, whoever has the power to assert their definition of the word “Islam” controls how it is used. I say the past 2 decades because I used to think I could somehow determine “pure” “Islam”—as opposed to cultural reflections, human imperfections, and intellectual genuflections.  I came instead to see that everyone has a definition of Islam and whose definitions held sway was less a matter of epistemology and more a matter of power.

So, I followed one of my intellectual mentors and agreed that for any discourse about Islam, a definition had to be established, agreed upon, and then consistently maintained. He suggested that a simple criteria referent be applied based on Islam’s two primary sacred sources: the text of the Qur’an and the normative practices of the Prophet Muhammad, called sunnah.  He juxtaposed these to “little traditions” in the multiple ways Muslims experience or live out their understandings of these two.

Part of the methodology of Islamic feminism and reformed Islamic thought has been to demonstrate a direct link to the two primary sources but with a different paradigm about key principles espoused there in- like justice, human dignity, and compassion.  From that point forward, I tend to provide my definition of Islam, give evidence to support that definition from the primary sources and then elaborate how it would work in application to whatever issue is at hand.  Continue reading “Muslim Separatists and The Idea of an “Islamic” State by amina wadud”

Almighty Isis by Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham headshot jpegWhen the press began using I.S.I.S. as a perhaps inaccurate and now obsolete acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, diverse groups made a connection with the Egyptian goddess who was once worshiped all over the Greco- Roman empire. A pagan organization protested the appropriation of the goddess’s name. Others took it as a sign that the self-declared Islamic State represented the anti-Christ or confirmed a conspiracy by the Illuminati. (Divinity of any kind seems to attract human projection.)

When I was doing research for my novel, The Passion of Mary Magdalen, Isis found a special place in my heart. A lover and mother goddess, later associated with both Mary Magdalen and the Virgin Mary, Isis appealed to people from all classes and cultures, especially to women, respectable Roman matrons and prostitutes alike. Continue reading “Almighty Isis by Elizabeth Cunningham”

The Child of the Bog (continued) By Barbara Ardinger

The story so far. In the ancient land beside the river, the God-King lies in what appears to be death. No one can awaken him. In the house of a court Magician, the peasant girl Ubastet is dusting and conversing with a magical stork when two minor miracles occur. The Magician consults the Hierophant, but they cannot explain the miracles. Now the Queen has come into the room. She is determined to figure out what’s going on. (Where do they fly to? Romania, another land of great enchantment.)

Before the sun set that day, the Queen of the golden land called a convention of priests and wizards and magicians and astrologers and seers and prophets and physicians. When they had all assembled in the throne room, she set the matter before them. Day after day, the learned ones debated, night after night, they performed their high magics and gorgeous rituals. In their secret places, the animals gathered together as well and performed their own rituals. But the mirror, whose thousand pieces had been gathered up and cleansed and set back into the frame in a sublime mosaic, the mirror refused to speak again. The golden beetle remained cold and silent.

child of the bog, barbara ardinger

Continue reading “The Child of the Bog (continued) By Barbara Ardinger”

The Child of the Bog By Barbara Ardinger

Isis, She of Ten Thousand Names, was worshipped in ancient days for longer than any other deity. What is sometimes called her cult (remember, if it’s ours it’s a true religion; if it’s theirs, it’s only a cult) can be traced back six thousand years. Her worship spread throughout the lands around the Mediterranean and the Roman Empire, going as far north as London. The last temple of Isis was razed by fanatical Christians in the 6th century. But Isis did not die! As we can see in any representation of the Madonna and Child, the iconography of Isis—a mother nursing her son—was adopted by the early Christian church. Worship of Isis was reborn in the 20th century with the establishment in 1976 of the Fellowship of Isis to renew worship of the Great Goddess in modern times. Another temple of Isis, established in 1996, is located at the Isis Oasis in Geyserville, California. It is a legally recognized religion in California.

The name Isis is the Hellenized version of her Egyptian name, approximately Auset. If you want to know more, read The Golden Ass by the Roman author Apuleius (translated by Robert Graves) and Plutarch’s Of Isis and Osiris.

The story below is partly based on the myths of Isis and Osiris and partly on European fairy tales (which almost never have fairies in them) and comes from my imagination, although the motifs are, of course, common ones. Talking animals and miraculous births are common in fairy tales, and the animal gods of Egypt are well known, and storks and other birds are held to be sacred by many cultures. 

Continue reading “The Child of the Bog By Barbara Ardinger”

Why are We Drawn to the Black Madonna? by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoOnce the opportunity came my way to spend two weeks with my sister in Paris, I knew I had to visit the Black Madonnas at Chartres.  I had been to Chartres many years ago,  before I knew about the Black Madonnas scattered throughout Europe.  I felt the power of the site at that time, but had little understanding of where that power came from.

History of the Black Madonna 


The indigenous goddess worship of Europe, was influenced by Phoenician traders who introduced statues of dark skinned African and Middle Eastern goddesses such as Isis, Inanna, and others to the European continent from 1550BC to about 300BCE.  The worship of these goddesses continued  with The Roman invasion of Gaul (France) and other parts of Europe.

Once Christianity took hold in Europe, churches were built on top of sacred pagan sites. But old ways die hard; many of these dark skinned goddesses were incorporated into the newly built Christian churches.  Today there are more than 500 known Black Madonna statues and paintings throughout the world, the majority in France. Continue reading “Why are We Drawn to the Black Madonna? by Judith Shaw”

Still Practicing Her Presence By Barbara Ardinger

In my blog of May 11 about practicing the presence of the Goddess, I explained how Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection inspired me. Many thanks to everyone who read that blog and commented on it. One comment came via email from a friend, who said, “I kept thinking as I read about that expression ‘walking one’s talk.’” But of course. It would be lovely if anyone outside a nunnery or monastery could be as filled with their god or goddess as Brother Lawrence was. Though we try to be as mindful as we can, we obviously don’t always succeed as well as we’d like. But surely it’s better to have a positive intention than a negative one.

So let’s get practical. Instead of filling our heads with what’s been called monkey-chatter, let’s fill ourselves with the Goddess so that our thoughts of Her can go on autopilot. Instead of obsessing over, say, if the Lakers, Packers, or Cardinals are going to win their next whatever-they-play or who’s gonna win this week on Dancing With the Stars, let’s set our minds on the Goddess so our thoughts go to Her when we don’t have to concentrate on some specific, important task at hand.

Stop reading now. Listen to the Goddess Chant. Turn on your sound and click here:

  Continue reading “Still Practicing Her Presence By Barbara Ardinger”

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