Divinely Feminine Events to Change the World by Caryn MacGrandle

Morning Circle at Midwest Herbal Conference in 2017

In the bathroom at 4am in the morning, I hear the birds start to sing.  Instantly, I am transported back to my tent at Midwest Herbal Conference in Wisconsin to the excitement of starting a new day with the feeling of being in nature with fellow conmadres, amazed at the knowledge and wisdom the women around me hold.  Watching them go into the forest, bend down to see a plant, put it in their mouths and eat it.

Continue reading “Divinely Feminine Events to Change the World by Caryn MacGrandle”

Death and Re-birth through a Project by Elisabeth Schilling

Art by Magdalena_Korzeniewska

For about a year and a half, I have been working on a collection of poetry that I feel is worth something. I have been writing poetry since I scribed pages hidden between my math textbook when I was 9, gone through poetry workshops in graduate school where I produced a creative thesis, and continued to write off-and-on after that. I have an extensive cornucopia of poetry, but it was around last October of 2016, perhaps, that I decided to write my experience.

As a pre-teen, I wrote about what I thought my life could be, fantasizing about being an older woman with mottled relationships, missing opportunities to discuss my fragile relationship with my parents as the only-child-golden-child, my passion and doubts as a religious, my shame at not being more experienced. Even when I was in graduate school for poetry in Ohio, I didn’t think my life was worth excavating. I wrote dreamy, dense poetry that was surreal and symbolic but largely incoherent. I could again have written about my evolving religious beliefs, my curiosities and risks I took living outside of my home state of Oklahoma as a young woman for the first time, my declining relationship with my mother, or my insecurities again, but this time as a lesser-prepared graduate student in comparison with my literary and theory-laden colleagues.

On one hand, some might say the culture I come from is narcissistic and navel-gazing. I would agree, but just like I feel women can sometimes be selfish in a quite necessary and liberating way (as opposed to those around her accusingly saying she is “so selfish” for abandoning them/following her own path/needing a room of her own), I feel the confessional and self-reflective can be the healing and helpful side of the coin. For me, at least in my experience, my “finished” collection feels exactly this way.

Continue reading “Death and Re-birth through a Project by Elisabeth Schilling”

Bless This House: Creating Sacred Space Where You Live, Work & Travel by Mama Donna Henes – A Book Review by Joyce Zonana

“There is no such thing as a bad blessing,” Mama Donna tell us, “no rules . . . no recipes, no prescriptions, no instruction manuals,” no “one-size-fits-all” House Blessing. Yet it’s not so much “anything goes” as “everything matters”: “The only thing you can do wrong in a ritual is to not pay attention to your true intentions.”

jz-headshotDonna Henes, familiarly known as “Mama Donna,” is a national treasure. From her “House of Many Altars” in what she mischievously calls “Exotic Brooklyn,” she serves as an exuberant, irrepressible urban shaman: holding outdoor public rituals at each solstice and equinox for over forty years; blessing and leading New York City’s annual Halloween Parade; creating meaningful, personalized ceremonies for funerals, weddings, new babies, new homes, and new businesses. In 2009, the governor of New York State called on her to bless the fleet during the quadricentennial celebration of Henry Hudson’s voyage to the New World. She is the author of five books, including The Queen of Myself  and Celestially Auspicious Occasionsand publishes a monthly e-newsletter, The Queen’s Chronicles, that offers “meaning, moxie, and magic for midlife women.”

In her most recent book, Bless This House: Creating Sacred Space Where You Live, Work & Travel (Ixia Press, 2018), Mama Donna generously shares her house-blessing “secrets”—revealing that they are not secrets after all. Demystifying the blessing process, the book details everything you need to know to “claim and consecrate” your own house with “authority and aplomb.” Continue reading “Bless This House: Creating Sacred Space Where You Live, Work & Travel by Mama Donna Henes – A Book Review by Joyce Zonana”

Stoneflower by Molly

Molly 180

Like flower growing from rock
the world is full of tiny, perfect mysteries.
Secrets of heart and soul and landscape
guarded tenderly
taking root in hard crevices
stretching forth
in impossible silence.

that all one needs
is a crack in stone
and a seed of possibility…

One spring evening during my year-long woodspriestess experiment , I went for a walk through the woods with my husband and daughter and we discovered something that delighted and thrilled me. It was rock with a small, perfect flower growing out of it and it was a powerful symbol of what I learned from my time in the woods. Continue reading “Stoneflower by Molly”

The Lesbian Bar of “The Lord is With You All…” by Marie Cartier

puerto rico-marie cartierWhile attending the recent National Women’s Studies Conference this past month, I had a unique and –yes—a religious experience.

I was staying with a friend who (luckily for me) owns a home in Puerto Rico. I saw more of Puerto Rico in four days then I believe many might see on a two week vacation! I saw the ocean, swam in the ocean, walked all over Old San Juan with its blue streets, gambled and danced salsa at the famous Hotel San Juan, ate amazing food (especially at my friend’s sister’s restaurant Mom and Dad’s Café) —and of course went to the conference.

And I went to an “old school” lesbian bar. A bar where women loving women gather who were diverse in age—ranging from women in their twenties to women in their fifties and sixties.

My friend said this is the best lesbian bar in Puerto Rico. I brought three friends of mine with me from the conference—wanting to share the wealth of experience that my Puerto Rican friend was allowing me to have with others.

We danced in Spanish to “Last Dance,” danced salsa, ate empanadas—I was already having a somewhat religious experience when I met the owner of the bar—Mildred. Continue reading “The Lesbian Bar of “The Lord is With You All…” by Marie Cartier”

Feminist Bookstores and the Disappearance of Sacred Space by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405In my book Baby, You Are my Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall I talked about the importance of the gay women’s bar (and gay men’s bar) as sacred space for pre-Stonewall homosexuals—how the community space of the gay bar was the only public space for pre-Stonewall homosexuals and how it galvanized and concretized a community that had no other way of connecting. It was “home.”

I was so fortunate to do two readings and signings for People Called Women, the feminist bookstore from Toledo, Ohio — and Ohio’s only feminist bookstore — when they brought their “traveling bookstore” which goes to feminist events (they also have their mortar and brick store in Ohio J which I was thrilled to visit) to Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival last week. I was thrilled that we were able to sell out of all the copies of my book that People Called Women brought “to the land” (Michfest). I was thrilled that so many women showed up to our event, told stories about early bar life, cried, shared hugs and created community — and bought books. It felt radical and “old school” feminist. It felt like something I have missed – that connection with a feminist bookstore–for Los Angeles lost our women’s bookstore in 1999 —15 years ago.

people called women- front of store
Marie Cartier w/ Gina Mercurio, owner of People Called Women, Photo by: Megan Morris

For many of us who came of age post-Stonewall in the mid 70s, 80s and late 90s, the gay women’s bookstores—or rather feminist bookstores — were these sacred “home” spaces. They were our “alternate church,” as I so label the pre-Stonewall bars.

I “came out” as a lesbian and as a feminist — in 1979. One of the first places I visited was New Words Bookstore in Cambridge, MA. New Words really did feel like that—“new words,” like parting the curtain onto a brand new world where I had access to language that finally made sense—a new way of communicating—that is what feminism felt like — like being able to talk and be heard and understood for the very first time. Continue reading “Feminist Bookstores and the Disappearance of Sacred Space by Marie Cartier”

God Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Gay Bars and the Growing Divide Between Sexuality and Spirituality by John Erickson

oes God exist within the LGBTQ community anymore or has the community itself abandoned God for all-night raves, dance clubs, alcohol, and hypersexualized and over commoditized fetishized forms of femininity and masculinity? Oftentimes, I find myself answering yes to the above questions. After surviving hate crime after hate crime and endless batches of newly elected conservative politicians hell bent on ignoring medical and social epidemic plaguing the very country they were elected to serve and protect, why would a community, oftentimes linked to sin itself, believe in a holy entity?

John Erickson, sports, coming out.My good friend and fellow Feminism and Religion Contributor Marie Cartier’s forthcoming book, Baby You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall argues that American butch-femme bar culture of the mid-20th Century should be interpreted as a sacred space.  Specifically, gay bars served as both communal and spiritual gathering spaces where butch-femme women were able to discover and explore not only their sexuality but also their spirituality.  An opus of an academic accomplishment based off of the amount of in-depth interviews she conducted, Professor Cartier explores lived religion in an area that has become all too common within the LGBTQ community: the bar

The Palms, the last local and only lesbian bar to be found in city of West Hollywood, CA is closing its doors and I can’t help but wonder where its patrons or parishioners will now go? Continue reading “God Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Gay Bars and the Growing Divide Between Sexuality and Spirituality by John Erickson”

Unblocking Abundance: A Ritual by Sara Frykenberg

Sara Frykenberg

Rather than release the sadness, heartache and struggle we put into the bowl out into the world, we meditated …to transform what we could of this energy, re-membering the parts of ourselves that had helped to create these blocks and are responsible for transforming them.  We took the transformed energy back into ourselves.

As I have written about many times before, I believe that contemporary Western society operates within a largely abusive paradigm.  I often think of oppression in terms of an abusive cycle.  Theologians like Cater Heyward and Rita Nakashima Brock describe the impact of the theologies that generate such abusiveness, noting how we become smaller to ourselves and smaller to one another.  We do not believe that we are enough, nor are the people or the planet around us ‘enough’ to fill the vacuous alienation that substitutes itself for real relational need in an abusive context.  Judith Shaw wrote eloquently about the environmental impact of conflating need with greed in her Friday post, “Can We Honor Inanna and Her Gifts?”

Shaw writes, “At first glance we appear to be abundant with things, energy, experiences.  But in our mad desire for more and more and always more we neglect the balance of the very earth who provides us with all.”  Many people, particularly in industrialized nations, have been taught to fill the need for a sense of abundance, connection and ‘enough-ness’ with more stuff: more things, more money, more food, more land, etc.  And yet, ironically, this quest for ‘more’ can also prevent us from experiencing the very abundance we seek.  We can create blocks to abundance by trying to fill the vacuum instead of our actual needs: and difficultly, abusive patterns and cycles can prevent us from seeing the difference between the two.  Continue reading “Unblocking Abundance: A Ritual by Sara Frykenberg”

A Room of One’s Own: Sacred Women’s Space by Amy Levin

I normally don’t get too personal in my blog posts. I figure if I’m going to take up space on the blog I might as well offer up something other than me, my voice, my body, and instead some good old fashioned commentary on those categories of feminism and religion “out there.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about sacred space over the past year (occupy wall street, Durkheim, the public sphere, Park51) and only recently have I begun to really think about personal sacred space. This week, I haven’t been able to avoid it. My long-time boyfriend and I recently broke up not-so-amicably. In the past few days he has contacted all of my friends and relatives in order to say “goodbye.” I began receiving a swarm of confused questions from close friends, who informed me of the texts, messages, and phone calls they were receiving. While I won’t dwell on the details, as you can imagine, these acts have intruded on my mental and physical space to the point where space in my immediate world has been temporarily possessed by someone else. As dated as first wave feminism is, Virginia Woolf’s salient message in A Room of One’s Own is exactly what I need. I realize that though my affective, physical, emotional, and mental spaces are conjoined and cajoled by my cultural and material surroundings, it’s vital that I feel that, in some way, these spaces are mine. This is what agency is for me. And I would call it sacred. Continue reading “A Room of One’s Own: Sacred Women’s Space by Amy Levin”

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