Women’s Circles Need Well-Established Structures to Ensure that Everyone’s Voice Is Heard by Carol P. Christ

In a recent blog on Feminism and Religion, “Insights on Sisterhood,” Eirini Delaki opened a dialogue about problems that arise in women’s circles. According to her, many of us are reacting against the poisonous pedagogy of control which is all too familiar in patriarchal families and patriarchal cultural, religious, and economic institutions. Desiring to be free of hierarchical structures that inhibit our growth and happiness, we often react against all structures.

We imagine that groups without structure will provide a space where we can learn and grow together. We begin with a vision of sisterhood in which everyone’s voice will be heard. In practice, however, groups without structure usually end up being dominated by those with the loudest voices and the biggest egos. The quieter and less sure members of the group find themselves dominated again. When the vision of sisterhood is not realized, the group is likely to dissolve. Continue reading “Women’s Circles Need Well-Established Structures to Ensure that Everyone’s Voice Is Heard by Carol P. Christ”

Insights on Sisterhood: An Offering to the Great Goddess by Eirini Delaki

I have been facilitating women’s circles in Europe since 2006. This has involved years of deep, challenging, thankful, and fun teaching and learning. During that time, I have collaborated with different facilitators in the fields of art and spirituality and connected with different cultures, experiences that have reinforced a vision of SISTERHOOD.

Let me clarify that in no manner am I excluding men from these reflections. On the contrary, I believe that many dysfunctional and suffering men have been shaped by women who haven’t managed to stand up for themselves. They harm their children through manipulation while not directly challenging an oppressive system out of fear or a need to feel accepted and to belong.

My students and I are going through an important transition. Most of us come from parents who have spent their lives seeking material possessions, safety, comfort, and success in terms of competition enforced through harsh discipline. Then we moved to the other extreme: we have a reactive attitude towards the previous patterns that is manifested as procrastination, avoidance of tasks that involve responsibility towards ourselves and others, being too permissive, confusing freedom with doing whatever feels right at the moment, and so on. Continue reading “Insights on Sisterhood: An Offering to the Great Goddess by Eirini Delaki”

Insect Conversations by Barbara Ardinger

“She’s doing it again,” Mrs. Cockroach is saying to her friend Old Mrs. Spider. “You know? The giant? She’s been blowing on me and telling me to live somewhere else. Like, I’d leave a good home?”




Old Mrs. Spider looks up from her weaving. “Yes,” she says in a weary voice. “But you know she’s not a giant. She’s just a normal human being, well, overweight, as I understand humans measure their bodies. And if she’s going to blow on us and ask us to live somewhere else, well…..I think she needs to brush her teeth.”

Mrs. Cockroach chuckles. “Indeed. We insects, maybe with the exceptions of fleas and termites, we don’t have bad breath. Blood-breath and wood-breath are sour! I was sitting on the wall in her bathroom, keeping an eye on things and telling the termites to get away from the window, and she just walks up. Doesn’t she know we insects and arachnids are protecting her house?”

Continue reading “Insect Conversations by Barbara Ardinger”

Toxic Masculinity: We Need to Talk

Judy Chicago, The Three Faces of Man from Power Play, 1985



On December 1, 2018, I most reluctantly moved off a stable yard where I had kept my beloved mare Boo, aka Queen Boodicca, for ten years. I loved the place. It was horsey heaven. Unlike many other local stable yards, the horses were allowed to go out in the pastures 365 days a year. Previously I’d kept my mare on a yard where they could only go out three days a week in winter, which was not at all good for horses’ physical or mental well-being. But here, on my dream yard, Boo was turned out in a 24 acre mares’ field with 360 degree panoramic views of the rugged East Lancashire landscape, including stunning views of Pendle Hill. Even the most traumatized, wound up horses chilled out in those big pastures. Our only worry was not letting them get too fat on the rich summer grass.

Queen Boodicca in action

I had nothing but respect for the older woman who owned the yard and ruled it like a matriarch, keeping prices low because she was more interested in accommodating suitable horse owners, regardless of their income, than in making a profit. The other women horse owners were wonderful and supportive. They was hardly any of the snobbery or competitiveness that can spoil other stable yards. Continue reading “Toxic Masculinity: We Need to Talk”

Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


I am a woman, a feminist, a Muslim. These three things are me, they are things that I have become, in that order. One is born with feminine sex, but it is only a biological determinism. I was born female and I have chosen to continue living as a woman. I decided to be and live as a feminist. I felt called to be a Muslim and I chose to listen to that call.

I love to be a woman, even in a world that hates me. The woman that I am, with my way of thinking, acting and feeling, my way of seeing the world and myself, is not a product of my sex, but of the story that I have gone through since I left my mother’s womb. The same goes for all women. Even beings born in the same country, city, year, even those who are sisters of blood, do not have the exact same story.

Continue reading “Some Thoughts from Experience by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Kintsugi for the Soul – Part II – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Continued from Part 1.

How do you start to put the pieces together? For me, it was imperative to keep a space to express emotions without self-censorship or self-prejudice, to identify exactly what was hurting me. It was not the What, but the How. A split is always sad, but part of life. I could have been the “ungrateful” partner.

What aches …

Well, just to mention some, it was not the obstacles of a relationship between two people used to singleness, with different cultural backgrounds and family styles, but the neglecting, insults, and public belittling, leading to my progressive invisibility and objectification in the daily life. It was not his one night stand a few years ago with an Islamic feminist I know. Every adult has a sexual past, that is not a problem, but discovering that past was quite current (thanks Whatssap) is the problem. Someone decided I was not smart enough to understand it, so triangulation and lies were employed, with the consequent mind games, an emotional roller coaster that included gaslighting and violation of trust.

Continue reading “Kintsugi for the Soul – Part II – by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Sisterhood, Service, Sovereignty: The Living Spirit of Avalon by Elizabeth Cunningham

Like so many women, I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and got caught up in her vision of the Holy Isle and the priestesses who knew how to navigate those mists and travel between the worlds. Like so many women, I wished Avalon existed still.

In fact, Avalon does exist, because Jhenah Telyndru did more than wish. In 1995 she founded The Sisterhood of Avalon. Twenty-two years later, the Sisterhood is going strong and growing, attracting members from all over the world. I urge you to explore their website where the Sisters speak eloquently about their vision, structure, and purpose.

Continue reading “Sisterhood, Service, Sovereignty: The Living Spirit of Avalon by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Women and the Ethics of Conflict by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Cholitas wrestling

Some time ago, trans-activist F.  was the target of bullying and harassment via social networks that lasted months and included defamation on Twitter and Facebook, articles in feminist blogs and web sites, and letters to women’s organizations and public institutions to request they ban the presence of F. from feminists spaces. Who did this? Feminists who had been F. friends. Why? For a disagreement with F.

In fact, F. was obliterated from women’s movements and even lost job opportunities. The most serious, perhaps, was the deep depression that affected her and the loneliness in which she had to live this experience.

Cases like these are examples of a behavior that is not strange, but instead is pitiful and very harmful — the destructive socialization of females to please patriarchy and to reproduce patriarchy and oppression at the expense of our integrity as women.

Women fight with the guns of patriarchy

We have been domesticated, trained to obtain the approval of a man and of the patriarchal system at any cost, to do whatever it takes to have a place at his side. We are the result of centuries of pedagogy that creates mistrust between women, and the validation and reproduction of our oppression and conditioning towards mutual competition. This is the root of our inability to deal with conflicts between us in a constructive and non-dehumanizing way. We can only give of what we have and as long as we have an identity as objects instead of individual people, women will be expert agents of misogyny.

Being a feminist, an scholar in gender studies doesn’t excuse or free anyone from this, at all. Continue reading “Women and the Ethics of Conflict by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

What If…She’s Stronger than She Knows…by Molly Remer

“When I dare to be powerful–to use my strength in the service of my vision–then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Audre Lorde

“The purpose of life is not to maintain personal comfort; it’s to grow the soul.”

–Christina Baldwin

When teaching childbirth classes, I would speak to my clients about shifting the common fear-based “what if” cultural dialog of birth to “positive” anticipation rather than fears, encouraging them to ask themselves questions like: “what if I give birth and it is one of the most powerful, thrilling moments of my life?” While I stand by this practice, I also think about the what ifs that crawl out of our dark places and lodge in our hearts. The what ifs that snake around the edges of our consciousness in the early hours of the morning. The what ifs we try to push down, down, down and away. The what ifs that stalk us. The what ifs so very awful that we fear in giving voice to them, we might give life to them as well.

We may feel guilty, ashamed, negative, and apologetic about our deepest “what ifs.” We worry that if we speak of them, they might come true. We worry that in voicing them, we might make ourselves, our families, our communities, our work, or philosophies, our faiths, or whatever look bad. We want to be positive. We want to be blissfully empowered, confident, and courageous. And, guess what? We are. Sometimes that courage comes from looking the “what ifs” right in the eye. Sometimes it comes from living through them. My most powerful gift from my pregnancy with my daughter, my pregnancy-after-loss baby, was to watch myself feel the fear and do it anyway. I was brave. And, it changed me to learn that.

What if we can learn more from our shadows than we ever thought possible? There is power in thinking what if I can’t do this and then discovering that you CAN.

Continue reading “What If…She’s Stronger than She Knows…by Molly Remer”

Sisterhood is . . . (Well) Complicated by Carol P. Christ

When I wasCarol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2 a girl, the women in the neighborhood looked out for each other, and my mother had a wide circle of women friends. My grandmother lived nearby, and she and my mother spoke on the telephone nearly every day. My mother and I had a close relationship cemented by caring together for my baby brother.

In graduate school when I was one of a few women in a male-dominated field in a hostile environment, I discovered that “sisterhood is powerful” when I joined a group of women who came together to share experiences and change our lives. Having grown up in a community in which women supported each other, I found it relatively easy to support and seek support from women in a feminist environment.

At the same time, my newfound feminist identity deepened a rift that had opened in my relationship with my mother when I decided to go to graduate school. Continue reading “Sisterhood is . . . (Well) Complicated by Carol P. Christ”

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”

The Ocean Refuses No River: Building Our Spiritual Home by Carolyn Lee Boyd

carolyn portrait

 Every day when I drive past one of New England’s ubiquitous small white wooden churches, I am reminded of how in the 17th and 18th century, these simple buildings were the first to be constructed in the center of a new town. They were the focal point of the community, the people’s “spiritual home.” Over the years I have also yearned for and found spiritual homes in the Congregational church I grew up in, the Unitarian Universalist church I attended in my 20s, and the space holding women’s spirituality circles I attended for a decade.

These are all places where I and my spiritual life have been nurtured and affirmed, where I have been both comfortable and challenged. Each has been unique, and perhaps one benefit of being a “wanderer” among spiritual places is gleaning the lessons and virtues of many “homes.”  Yet, each of these is only a reflection of the one truest “home” not yet discovered, but yet still perceived, that is a deep well connecting the infinity of universal spirit to who I most essentially am as I live my everyday life.

Continue reading “The Ocean Refuses No River: Building Our Spiritual Home by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Witch’s Night In by Kate Brunner

Kate BrunnerThere is doctrine. There is tradition, liturgy, scripture, & exegesis.

And then sometimes, there is simply real life.

There is the precious gift of spending time engaged in deep communication with everyday women living spiritual lives the best they can while also caring for families, pursuing careers, celebrating victories, mourning sorrows, and some days, just doing the best they can to remember to breathe in and out from the first buzz of the alarm clock till the moment their heads hit the pillow at the end of a very long day. Continue reading “Witch’s Night In by Kate Brunner”

My Afternoon with Amina Wadud: Some Pearls of Wisdom for a Warm Autumn in Santiago by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Amina WadudAlbert Einstein said that there are two ways for understanding life: One, to believe nothing is a miracle; the other, to believe everything is a miracle. I think life is a bit of both. There are experiences that result from a chain of events we can easily recognize. Others are just a gift. My meeting with Amina Wadud was of the second kind – a beautiful gift from life in the beginning of the autumn in Santiago of Chile.

Meeting The Lady

Since I converted to Islam, around 5 years ago, and started my path now as a feminist Muslim, it is not possible to explain one without the other in my life history- the presence, words and activities of Amina Wadud have been a source of inspiration for me.

Her book, Quran and Woman, was the first approach to and basis for an Islamic Feminism that stands with strong feet against misogyny and fundamentalism in the name of religion. Her courage when she dared to preach a jutba (sermon) and lead a mix prayer – something still forbidden officially for women in Islam – led us to question our  physical place and its symbolic meaning in the mosque. Her vocation as a globetrotter, talking, meeting, and encouraging people in the world to build new meanings and communities based in freedom of spirit, made me understand that the message of Islam and its different reading on gender, is not only on behalf of Muslim women or Muslims in general, but is on behalf of all humankind, like a whole family looking for social justice and freedom, passengers in this big mosque and madrassa that is Allah’s creation.

Continue reading “My Afternoon with Amina Wadud: Some Pearls of Wisdom for a Warm Autumn in Santiago by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Three Sisters by Deanne Quarrie

From time to time I dive into the idea of seeing the Triple Goddess as Sisters rather than Mother, Maiden, Crone.  I have to confess that the idea of Sister Goddesses, complete in their familial connectedness, representing unity, connection, and interdependency, is very appealing.  We, who practice Goddess Spirituality, strive in our relationships to reflect this in our work together.  Shared power!

If I were to look at the sisterhoods individually, I enjoy the Ananke and the Moirae from Greek mythology.  I like them because they represent a balance.  One side setting the standards and the other, enforcing them!  A perfect example of the laws of cause and effect! Continue reading “Three Sisters by Deanne Quarrie”

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