On Mishpatim, Feminism and A Caring Community by Ivy Helman.

Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 – 24:18 and 30:11-16) is the Torah portion for February 18, 2023.  Its name, mishpatim, means laws or ordinances, and the portion is essentially just that – a list of laws to be followed.  It is not the easiest parshah to follow as it jumps around, backtracks numerous times, and sometimes contradicts itself, particularly in the sections with Moses. 

That being said, there are two main themes in Mishpatim; both of which I have discussed in past blogs.  First is the death penalty.  There is an overabundance of crimes that result in the death penalty in this parshah.  Way, way too many.  Another theme is idolatry.  In many ways, that is a theme in the Torah itself.  For more on these themes from my feminist perspective, see here: Sh’lach; Ki Tisa; Shofetim ; and on b’tzelem Elohim.

Continue reading “On Mishpatim, Feminism and A Caring Community by Ivy Helman.”

Vayeishev: A Feminist Reflection on the Women in Joseph’s life and Dreams by Ivy Helman.

This week’s Torah portion is Vayeishev, Genesis 37:1-40:23.   The portion covers too much information to address it adequately in one post.  Therefore, in this post, I will examine, from a feminist perspective, Joseph, the women in his life, and dreams. While the women in Vayeishev leave much to be desired, its dreams point to an important connection between humanity, divinity, and nature.

Vayeishev starts with the raw jealousy that some of Jacob’s sons have for Joseph. This jealousy is so great that it sends Joseph all the way to Egypt. As a feminist, I have always found it both comforting and completely realistic the way the Torah delves into emotion.  Since even the lofty patriarchs are jealous, no superhuman behavior is expected of us. Despite this comfort, I am not happy that it is once again men and boys who take centerstage. We know that these men and boys also had women and girls in their lives.  

Continue reading “Vayeishev: A Feminist Reflection on the Women in Joseph’s life and Dreams by Ivy Helman.”

Women, Life, Freedom زن زندگی آزادی : Let’s talk about the protests in Iran by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

Trigger Warning: This post deals with violence towards women, violence towards humans, and egregious abuses of power.

Women, Life, Freedom; Zan, Zendegī, Āzādī;  زن زندگی آزادی has become one of the main slogans for an incredibly important and crucial global protest that is taking place right now. For over 2 months, life and death protests are taking place in Iran. The protests are focusing on the perpetual degradation of human rights with women bearing a large brunt. Many have declared the current state affairs as gender apartheid. We need to be talking more about what is happening with the people of Iran and how best to support them. The protests were started after the brutal murder of a woman due to a portion of her hair being visible outside of her hijab.

Continue reading “Women, Life, Freedom زن زندگی آزادی : Let’s talk about the protests in Iran by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

An ode to the old me: An ode to Roe v. Wade by Chasity Jones, M. Div 

Greetings Feminism and Religion family! It has been soooo long and I have missed you so much!!

I have been working on a few projects that were rudely interrupted by a heartbreaking divorce, decisions of survival, and the subsequent recovery that followed this period. I have spent the past at least 6 months healing from the shame, guilt, pain, and blame that was placed in my lap for the collapse of the marriage. Needless to say, that shit is heavy and it kept me in an endless and perpetual night- not the beautiful mysterious, infinite, expansive darkness that I have come to know but the night that I was afraid of when I was young. No one could save me from the ways that I tormented myself or questioned my womanhood, motherhood in particular. Even more, no one could save me from being an emotional punching bag from my ex-spouse, who also torments himself.

That being said, I am on the mend and am settled in my own apartment furnished with peace, wholeness, and healing for myself and my daughter. As an earth sign, stable ground and a comfortable home in which I can be myself means the world to me. I am a spiritual advisor at a recovery center in Massachusetts and therefore have studied the art of recovery in many ways. Recovery from loss and recovery of self are two procedures that I address in my upcoming book, Black Gold: The Road to Black Infinity!!

Continue reading “An ode to the old me: An ode to Roe v. Wade by Chasity Jones, M. Div “

From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright

The glorious blue and gold summer day permeated by the scent of wild roses faded as the ominous words swirled around my head trying to get in. Roe overturned.

For a moment rebellion – disbelief, NO, something screamed in silent anguish. NO. Then mind flooded with poison… Pure hatred rose in a frightening swell that threatened to overpower my instincts.  But I heard the words: “Go parallel with your hatred –do not give in.” Words that brought me back to my body, to my senses.

My hair caught fire. How did they get away with it again? First Kavanaugh, a credibly accused rapist elected to the Supreme Court – a few years in between and now Roe overturned. Men deciding how women should behave, men insisting that women support ‘life’ at their own expense – rape doesn’t count. Women have lost their most basic human right – the right to have control over their own bodies.

Continue reading “From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright”

Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Along with the words of Justices Sotomayer, Breyer and Kagan.

The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe was expected, but there was nothing that could prepare me (nor likely anyone else) for the devastation of the actual decision. My gut is reeling. I thought it would be useful to survey the landscape through the lens of patriarchy. Thanks to Carol Christ for having always written insightful comments about the roles of patriarchy. This is inspired by her work.

The dissenting judges were quite eloquent, so I will work off their words.

  • “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
  • “After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. The majority accomplishes that result without so much as considering how women have relied on the right to choose or what it means to take that right away. The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.”

My Commentary: Through the eyes of patriarchy here is no need to consider life-altering consequences because it only recognizes two roles for women: madonna or whore. We are never seen as full humans with civil and independent rights. Patriarchy doesn’t just hate the sexual freedom of women, it has spent millennia trying to quash it, make it into something dirty, control it. It’s a love/hate relationship with sex. Rape is really OK (look how hard it is to prosecute). Pedophilia OK too (look at the church). But a woman making her own sexual, reproductive choices . . . a bridge too far. Patriarchy will always force us to pay a price for having sex, for being alluring, for being female.

Continue reading “Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson

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 are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted June 19, 2012. You can visit it to see the original comments here.

I have a beautiful picture of vagina hanging on my wall.  However, for the longest time it was in the back of my closet, with a plastic bag covering it.  I wasn’t ashamed of it but my ex-boyfriend, like most gay men, refused to have it on the wall where he could see it.  He is now long gone; the vagina is now out and proud.

I bid on the picture one fall during a showing of the Vagina Monologues at Claremont School of Theology.  One of my best friends was in the show and I had always loved its powerful message.  I walked out of the theatre, waiting for my friend, and there it was: the picture of the vagina.  I found myself caught up in its beauty.  Its gaze had mesmerized me.  The outlying layers of red, the contours of its shape, they all began to mold into a figure before my eyes.  While I have never thought of myself as a religious person, I realized that at that moment I was no longer looking the old photo but rather I was staring at the outline of the Virgin Mary.  At that moment, I realized that I had to have the picture.

Continue reading “From the Archives:“Vaginas are Everywhere!”: The Power of the Female Reproductive System by John Erickson”

Vayechi’s Take on Fertility, Women and Theodicy by Ivy Helman.

This week’s Torah portion is Vayechi, or Genesis 47:28-50:26.  It is the last part of the Joseph saga (For my thoughts on two other parshot relating to Joseph, see Mikeitz and Vayigash).  While there is much that could be said, there are three aspects of the parshah which I would like to concentrate on for this post: blessings being associated with fertility; verses 50:19-20’s troubling theodicy; and its women.

Let us begin with the last topic: women.  Women are mentioned four times in Vayechi.  Jacob recalls the burial of Rachel in verse 48:7.  Joseph’s beauty is such that women often look at him (49:22). The blessing that Jacob gives to Joseph includes the blessings of both mother and father (49:25-26).  At present, I will focus my commentary on Jacob’s request for burial, the fourth mention of women in this parshah.

Continue reading “Vayechi’s Take on Fertility, Women and Theodicy by Ivy Helman.”

The Treasures of Vayishlach by Ivy Helman

The Torah portion to be read this Shabbat is Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43).  It contains the reunion between Jacob and Esau, the twice-renaming of Jacob to Israel, events relating to Dinah, the mass murder of all of the male inhabitants of Shechem, the birth of Benjamin, the death of Rachel in childbirth, the death from old-age of Isaac, and a long list of the descendants of Esau.  Like every blog, there is too much material on which to comment.  Therefore, I will focus on three examples.  Each of these examples in their own way turns expectations or aspects of the Torah on their heads.   

First, we have the way in which Jacob wholeheartedly avoids war.  This is despite the fact that, in the Torah, war is demanded, normalized, or doled out as a form of punishment.  Rarely does fear factored into the Torah’s discussions of war, yet this parshah starts with Jacob’s fears about war: his brother Esau is going to start a war with him.  To avert this war, Jacob sends, in advance of their meeting, large quantities of gifts, mainly in the form of animals.  In addition, as he approaches his brother, he prostrates himself on the ground seven times.  

Continue reading “The Treasures of Vayishlach by Ivy Helman”

Shofetim: The Divine Feminine, Magic, and the Role of Gender by Ivy Helman.

This post is dedicated to Carol P. Christ. I knew her first as my professor and then my friend for over 15 years. May her memory be a blessing.

This week’s Torah portion is Shofetim (also spelt Shoftim), or Deutoronomy 16:18-21:9.  I have written about this parshah before.   In that post from August of 2018, I reflect on how the patriarchal elements of the portion should not detract from its larger concern for justice, compassion, and peace. Yet, there is more to the parshah.  In fact, I have recently begun exploring Judaism’s connection to all things magical, and interestingly enough, this parshah fits right into my recent inquiries.   Let me share with you some of what I have learned as it relates to this parshah.  

Where Shofetim and magic meet is idolatry.  There are three instances in Shofetim where idolatry is condemned, punished by stoning to death.  All three of these prohibitions involve polytheism, either directly worshiping other deities or participating in practices associated with the worship of those deities.  What are they?

Continue reading “Shofetim: The Divine Feminine, Magic, and the Role of Gender by Ivy Helman.”

Post-Hysterectomy Reflections: Not All Women Bleed by Ivy Helman

Around the age of 8, or maybe 10, I learned my aunt had had a hysterectomy.  I remember visiting her house either shortly before or after the operation.  I can’t remember which, and it doesn’t really matter.  At the time, I don’t think I even knew what a uterus was or that I too had one.  

Just like me, she had suffered from uterine fibroids. This year, at the end of May, after nearly two years of various treatments including a failed myomectomy and ineffective prescription medication, I followed in her footsteps.  It was really the only option for me, although it was not an easy decision.  After surgery, there was the usual post-op pain and restrictions, but luckily my body has been healing well.  

Since the surgery, and as I prepare to teach “Gender and Religion” again in the fall, I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a student the first time I offered the class at Charles University.  We were about to begin discussing the article, “Why Women Need a Feminist Spirituality,” by Judith G. Martin, when a student pressed me on why we weren’t acknowledging that not all women bleed.  What he really wanted was to make sure that in our category of women, we were including transwomen.   Continue reading “Post-Hysterectomy Reflections: Not All Women Bleed by Ivy Helman”

Let’s Talk About Shame by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Disclaimer/Trigger Warning: This post includes content about rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, violence.

The recent, meaningful discussions on this forum about how so many of us feel broken due to our own personal histories have fortified and inspired me. I’ve marveled as women have spoken up so honestly and even brutally about the effects of trauma, rape, cold and dismissive mothers, abusing fathers and so on.

Some of you know my own story. I am a survivor of my father’s childhood abuse and then a rape at knifepoint in my early twenties. I carry a deep and abiding sense of shame. This feeling has always flummoxed me. Why should I feel shame when I didn’t do anything to create my own abuse? Shouldn’t my father have felt the shame? The rapist? Why did I get saddled with it? I was the victim (and survivor), not the perpetrator. But shame is indeed the feeling I carry and I’m not alone. Why is this feeling so pervasive? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some clues about where to look.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Shame by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Sappho’s Poems as an Ethos for Women’s Ritual by Jill Hammer

Photo by: Zac Jaffe

For by my side you put on

many wreaths of roses

and garlands of flowers

around your soft neck


and with precious and royal perfume

you anointed yourself.


On soft beds you satisfied your passion.


And there was no dance

no holy place

from which we were absent.


–Sappho (trans. Julia Dubnoff)


Sappho, the poet from Lesbos (630-570 BCE), was considered one of the greatest poets of her time—one of her epithets was “the tenth Muse.” I discovered the poems of Sappho in my thirties and was utterly captivated.  I had newly embarked on a relationship with a woman and Sappho’s love poetry (though by no means exclusively lesbian) supported the expression of eros between women.  Yet even more than that, Sappho’s poems supported an erotic relationship between self and world—a relationship that included ritual as a form of intimacy.  I’m not a Greek scholar—I experience Sappho’s poems in translation. Yet the translations I read back then were a revelation: a world in which women lived in circle with one another.

Continue reading “Sappho’s Poems as an Ethos for Women’s Ritual by Jill Hammer”

Unpacking the Midterm Elections by Anjeanette LeBoeuf


As the dust is settling, with the mixture of finishing counting ballots and races being conceded, the true realities of what happened in the 2018 Midterm Elections is taking concrete form. From the earliest hours of November 6, numbers showed that both Democrats and Republicans, old and new, were taking to the polls, flexing their democratic rights, and showing the political regimes from local, state, and federal levels that the current state of being is not acceptable.

Continue reading “Unpacking the Midterm Elections by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Lei by Elisabeth Schilling

Mauro Drudi’s installation of LEI (SHE/HER/YOU – formal) in the Chiesa de San Cristoforo on the Sicilian island of Ortigia where I usually take a bus to daily has become the shrine of women I’ve been searching for. Each time I cry, I am glad I can feel something: those tears are a mixture of communion, comfort, and recognition.

When one enters the church, there are two converging walls. On either side, a woman’s face is painted in shadow and light, gazing off toward the light, is reproduced over and over so that the number of women looks almost countless. They are the same face, a reproduction of Antonello da Messina’s “Annunziata” in the mode of pop art. The difference is not in expression. They all wear the same thoughtful, complicated, neutral countenance, holding deep thoughts and experiences of suffering and wise knowing, both acceptance and maybe resistance; they have lived and might be any age, although I see in our connection my own. The difference is between glossy, unblemished surfaces of wood vs. surfaces weathered, slightly ragged, sometimes scribbled on with ink. The former, found on the right when one enters supposedly represents the “positive” woman, the “western woman [. . . representing someone] happy, gorgeous, well-kept.” On the left, about these representations, Drudi says, “Which artist can paint the skin of a woman who has been abused, beaten, exploited, captivated or disfigured with acid? In my opinion, nobody, and so I let the material speak: the wall of a beach hut destroyed by a storm; woods and materials used and abused [. . .]; exhausted panels deriving from carrying tons of goods, tables, packagings, production wastes.”

Continue reading “Lei by Elisabeth Schilling”

Vayeitzei: Rachel and the Practice of Niddah by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThis parshah contains the account of Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel, (who happen to be his cousins) as well as the birth of his 11 sons and one daughter.  It describes the long amounts of time Jacob worked for Laban in order to marry Laban’s daughters, and recounts the trickery of Laban giving first Leah, the older daughter to Jacob, before allowing Jacob to marry who he wanted to, Rachel.

Like the relationship between Hagar and Sarah, there is animosity between Leah and Rachel over Jacob’s love as well as the ability to bear children.  This animosity spreads to the maids of Leah and Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah respectively, as they are used by the sisters to conceive children on their behalf.  One can see also this animosity in how Leah and Rachel name their sons.  Yet, the parshah also contains two aspects that seem at odds with such a patriarchal perspective.  First, there are five named women who play key roles in the goings-on.  Second, Rachel is an active agent.  Continue reading “Vayeitzei: Rachel and the Practice of Niddah by Ivy Helman”

The Women of Lech Lecha by Ivy Helman.

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oThe parshah for this week is Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27).  I’ve actually written about Lech Lecha on this forum before, concentrating on the parental aspects of the divine.  See here.  However, this time I want to look at the Torah portion from a different angle: what happens to the women?

While I’m concentrating on this theme, the parshah is rich with other material on which one could comment.  For example, the Holy One asks Abram to leave his home and all he’s known to travel through and eventually live in a foreign land.  There seems to be much fighting and strife between various rulers in the area through which they travel.  Abram too goes to war when Lot is kidnapped.  The first covenant between G-d and humanity takes place.  The deity promises many blessings (from land and material prosperity to innumerous descendants) for Abram and Sarai if they obey the terms of the covenant.  We also learn of the markers of the covenant: name changes and circumcision. Continue reading “The Women of Lech Lecha by Ivy Helman.”

Gardening through Grief by Marie Cartier

A friend of mine has been in hospice with Alzheimer’s. And she died today. There will be a  day when I write about Barbara… what a great friend she was. How I hate that she is no longer in my life. How I know how hard it is for her spouse to lose her. How hard it is when someone so vibrant leaves your community.

But writing about her was not what I could do today. And today is when I had this blog due.  I decided after I learned that she had passed – to garden. Barbara used to help my wife water the garden. It was something comforting and familiar and useful that she did with us.

Continue reading “Gardening through Grief by Marie Cartier”

Breaking the Silence by Chris Ash

Christy CroftYesterday, Time Magazine announced that its “Person of the Year” for 2017 would be “The Silence Breakers” – the name it has given to those women who helped launch and made headlines in the #metoo movement. This movement was started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 to highlight the sexual abuse of women of color and was sent viral by actor Alyssa Milano in 2017. It speaks volumes that this designation falls exactly one year after Time awarded this honor to Donald Trump for the political shift heralded by his defeat of Hillary Clinton.

This defeat that was fueled, at least in part, by the way Trump’s own normalization of sexism, harassment, and assault played on the fears and bitterness of misogynist voters hell-bent on preserving what racial, gender, and economic privilege they could continue to hoard for themselves and those like them. This defeat, and the ensuing glorification of a sexual predator and rampant misogynist, in turn fueled a movement of people, mostly women, tired of being scared into silence to protect the powerful who abuse. Continue reading “Breaking the Silence by Chris Ash”

Rest and Renewal: Gifts of Women’s Ritual Dance by Laura Shannon

 Samhain is past, and we in the northern hemisphere are once again entering the final outbreath of the solar year. At the winter solstice, light will be reborn. Until then, it is important to embrace the time of rest and renewal which is the great gift of this season. Like the falling leaves and the drying seeds, we too can relax and release old burdens. This is the best way, perhaps the only way, to draw new strength for the next active phase in the ever-changing cycles of our lives.
Many of us no longer follow the rhythms of the year and consequently subsist in an ongoing state of near-exhaustion. But rather than letting our energies get too depleted, we can learn to thrive within the limits of our available resources. As well as vastly improving the quality of our lives, this may lead to solutions for sustainable living in the long term – perhaps the most important skill humanity needs to develop now.  Continue reading “Rest and Renewal: Gifts of Women’s Ritual Dance by Laura Shannon”

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 Made of Fire by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

 climbing-mountains-with-children_webThis was going to be a post about my new life in South Africa; to say what it means for me the return to this country full of wonderful things to do, after an intense and grievous experience in 2015 that pushed me towards a totally introspective period in my life; I was willing to tell you how I managed to put myself together, come back, go out there to face my fears, gather the courage to speak my truth, look for clearance and healing in the same place and with the same people where I was wounded.

But that will be in the next post. Let me talk about my country.

I come from Chile, a country in the southern south of the world, poor in resources and rich in poets. I am Chilean by birth, and I took my first steps on shaking ground. I have survived 3 earthquakes, countless floods, a tsunami and a dictatorship.

I survived to be stronger, more faithful, more free and unbeatably resilient.

During the past 12 days, I have seen, as a distant and impotent witness, my country burning, overwhelmed by fire, in the greatest catastrophe of its kind in the history of the nation.

The fire has advanced more than 700 kilometers away from the first point of ignition, swallowing whole villages, with their houses, public buildings, animals and agricultural land.

I’ve spent these days with tight lips and enclosed in my thoughts, reading news on the Internet, thinking about my family, receiving audios that my sister records for me. My brother was injured protecting his house from the fire, my family is in the area of greatest catastrophe, currently declared “Area Zero.” My concern is huge because the fire is advancing over the city and the assistance seems to go three steps back … I believe in the power of prayer, but I also know the ferocity of nature because as a Chilean I am always expecting to deal with it. Continue reading “Women Made of Fire by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

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.

Religion and the #StateofWomen by Gina Messina

Pledge PhotoThe White House Summit on Women was held this week on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 and it was a great privilege to be among those invited to participate in this inaugural event.  There was an incredible line up of speakers and so much was shared. It proved to be an overwhelming day – in a very good way.  Topics addressed included violence against women, economic empowerment, and education.  In addition to the main event, there were breakout sessions on a myriad of topics presented by the most preeminent authorities in their fields.  I walked away from the day with a sense of urgency to find news ways to engage gender issues and social policy.  However, I also wondered how to bring religion into the dialogue and give greater attention to its impact on women’s issues in the US. Continue reading “Religion and the #StateofWomen by Gina Messina”

Women Missing from the Pope’s Address to US Bishops by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profilePope Francis offered many words of wisdom and discussed key issues in his address to US Bishops in Washington DC.  He acknowledged the sex abuse scandal as a crime and called for bishops to be healers.  He asked that bishops move beyond their own perspectives and be open to dialogue.  And his personal call to act as pastors to immigrants in the US is one that we should all adhere to.  However, I must ask, what about the women?

Noticeably absent from Pope Francis’ address are the many issues that are directly connected poverty and keep women suppressed in the Catholic Church. While he has addressed particular women’s issues on certain occasions, the pope’s comments have been brief and not followed with action. In addition, they do not honor the ongoing struggles women endure as a result of institutional violence that stems from Vatican teaching.

Refusing women’s ordination, denying reproductive rights, and maintaining a theology of complementarity, calling it an “anthropological fact,” continues a culture that perpetuates gender based violence; one that does not offer pastoral care. Continue reading “Women Missing from the Pope’s Address to US Bishops by Gina Messina-Dysert”

A Dance Between Fear and Trust by Jassy Watson

jassy I have been deep in thought about TRUST.

There was a moment of realization recently when I saw clearly how in every moment of every day we place trust in the hands of others, many of whom we do not even know. Every time we step onto a bus, train or plane or take a ride in a taxi, we are doing so in faith that they will get us to our destination safely. Every time we drive a car we trust that all those driving on the road with us are safe drivers. We place trust in schoolteachers and childcare workers to care for our children often without knowing anything of their background. We place trust in doctors and healthcare workers, many of us never even questioning treatments or procedures.

Every moment of our lives requires some level of trust and faith. Of course, I know this – we all do, but I have never really questioned this trust or taken the time to think about how much trust it actually takes just to do the everyday. Our lives are immeasurably built on trust. But what happens when fear and doubt start taking over?  Continue reading “A Dance Between Fear and Trust by Jassy Watson”

Enemy of (H)Islam by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Misogyny in IslamSo, again, you, the most holy and enlightened man of the mosque have pointed your finger at me to declare, noisy and hysterical, that I am an “Enemy of Islam.” Then you, who preaches and recites best, have gone out there slandering me, “eating my flesh,” devotedly.

“Enemy of Islam.” Well, which Islam? Is there one unique Islam? Why is your Islam, THE Islam? There are so many ways to be Muslim, or, didn’t you know?

You seem to follow the principle “you believe like me or you believe against me,” especially when the discussion is about women. In your narrow view, I am an enemy of Islam because I’m a feminist, radical, progressive woman. I am engaged in interfaith dialogue and in political struggle against discrimination instead of “being at home serving [my] husband as a good Muslimah.” Continue reading “Enemy of (H)Islam by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

The Difficult Truth: “Terrorists” are also Human by Hanadi Riyad

Hanadi Riyad cropped

This past month Jordan has witnessed a lot of grief, as well as a certain shift in politics and popular opinion regarding Da’esh and the government’s position towards it. On 3 Feb, Da’esh released a video of the immolation of the Jordanian air force pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.

The ensuing shock, grief, and outrage have only just started to ebb. Immediately after the video release, government officials started issuing statements promising “revenge,” appealing to a largely tribal society where values of revenge and “honor” are defining traits. In a matter of a few hours, a mostly male mass hysteria took hold and demands for “revenge” dominated the streets and the local media.

Chants and slogans about the Jordanian people being “all men” could be heard and seen everywhere including on social media. The only “emotion” present was rage, the only masculine emotion. Hardly any women were present in any of the rallies on that day or after. On social media, Da’esh combatants were called “women” for trying to intimidate the Jordanian forces so as not to have to confront them as “men” would and, conversely, “monsters” and “animals.” Some statements called for the killing of Da’esh “women and children” as well.

Continue reading “The Difficult Truth: “Terrorists” are also Human by Hanadi Riyad”

What is a Crone? By Deanne Quarrie

Deanne QuarrieFirst of all a Crone is a woman. She has lived most of her life already and has accumulated many life experiences and therefore, can relate to those younger than her with greater understanding. She has acquired the wisdom associated with having had those life experiences. She has reached a place in her life when she may be slowing down. She may have retired from her career. She may want to devote more time to herself, serving more as an advisor rather than as the doer. We can read the poem, Warning by Jenny Joseph to get an idea, or watch her read it here or below…

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”

Continue reading “What is a Crone? By Deanne Quarrie”

You Are What You Read by Martha Cecilia Ovadia

10298689_10104523891581853_7256973903379376739_nWhen it comes to my family, I’ve always felt different. One of my earliest memories from when I was really young was being told that I felt things too passionately—that I felt too much. What was never said but was implied was that I felt dissent too much, too often, too vocally. It made people uncomfortable. It made my family uncomfortable. When it came to understanding my faith/religious path, my family and I started diverging early on, never really meeting again—at least not for now.

When I was about five, I remember asking why women could not be priests. My mother brushed it aside and said we could be nuns. She was blind to the inherent misogyny behind the same Church that so many of her female family members had built (we come from a long line of nuns and Jesuits). I thought maybe someday I could be a woman priest. I would change it all. I would be Pope Joan. 

When I was thirteen, I started noticing the wealth involved in the Roman Catholic Church, the opulence of the lived Catholic life. When I asked my parents why the Church did not lead in example and live in poverty using its wealth to actively live the gospel, I was told, “ This wealth is a gift to humanity. It is there for all of us, a patrimony to those who open their hearts.” I wasn’t talking about art, I was talking about the RCC’s gold assets—valued in the billions —but it didn’t matter. I’ve seen my family donate to Church building funds my entire life—buildings that were then sold off to pay for the Church’s offenses later on. Still, I thought if I became more involved, with the “right kind of Catholics”, I would be able to change the Church from within.  Continue reading “You Are What You Read by Martha Cecilia Ovadia”

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