Monday, July 19, 2021

Explosive Birthing by Kay Turner

 



I was not quiet when I gave birth. I cursed, shouted, groaned and bellowed. I swore. I was primal, untamed and uninhibited. My VOICE opened in tandem with my womb. SHE WAS HEARD. No one could argue. Everyone looked a little bit afraid.

The power of my body was beyond my control. I felt inhabited, by a force, an energy current, a fire flow, which was unstoppable, relentless and unharnessed. I ripped off my clothes, I was animalistic and predatory.

Childbearing in a state of trauma and dissociation however, mentored and prepared for the experience by mainstream medicine cognitively and physically in an intellectual sense only, meant the three childbirths caused further trauma and somatic desensitisation in an area of my body already impacted by sexual abuse.

I wish I had understood my body and the primordial Feminine like I do now, then. I wish maternity services were trauma informed and trained.

What is happening for me in Perimenopause is a reclamation of birthing. Healing the womb and vulva is part of this, sensitising tissues and going 'back', somatically to labour; the contractions, the crowning, the push, to reconnect to the fire flow and POWER of explosive birthing - safely.

This is happening organically. I did not consciously decide to do it. It is unfolding as I birth creatively and become more internally Self leading and am seen and heard as my authentic self.

If you would like to contribute your trauma and menopause journey with Goddess, Girl God Books is accepting submissions for two Anthologies at the moment; Re-Membering with Goddess: Healing the Patriarchal Perpetuation of Trauma and The Crone Initiation and Invitation. Women speak on the Menopause Journey.

Kay Turner
Education. Evolution. Embodiment.
www.anotherlogonthefire.com

O Sovereign Holy by Iris Eve

 

Art by Andrea Redmond


O Sovereign Holy,

She of No Masters,
Revered Mother Warrior,
Protectress of the Old Ways,
Queen Boudicca the steadfast;

You who stands vigilant
in defiance of oppression,
in the face of sanctioned brutality,
we honor you.

You, who with more courage
than ten thousand Roman soldiers,
stared down a threat the size of militarized religion,
and still came roaring bravely into battle,
dauntless in your defense of the sacred,
we thank you.

So fierce was your fortitude
that even after your foes
destroyed all you held dear,
and burnt everything to the ground,
still they committed your feats
to their own history books.

Chronicled by your enemies
as a formidable warrior indeed,
but also as a woman of strange magic.

So fearsome was your campaign,
so cunning was your power,
your legacy of resistance lives on
in the hearts of your descendants
as our birthright,
and we revere you.

Born of the greatest violation,
into the ashes of a defeated nation,
your granddaughters rise.

Poem and art from the upcoming Girl God Anthology, In Defiance of Oppression—the Legacy of Bouddica


Iris Eve is a poet, singer-songwriter, artist, tarot reader and the founder and curator of “SHE On The Tip Of Her Tongue,” a popular social media site that amplifies the voices and art of women. You can find her at cunningandkeening.com

Friday, July 16, 2021

Obituary of Carol P. Christ (1945-2021

 


Carol Patrice Christ, 1945-2021

“In Goddess religion death is not feared, but is understood to be a part of life, followed by birth and renewal.” -Carol P. Christ

Carol Patrice Christ died peacefully on July 14 from cancer. Carol was and will remain one of the foremothers and most brilliant voices of the Women’s Spirituality movement. At the conference on “The Great Goddess Re-Emerging” at the University of California at Santa Cruz in the spring of 1978, Carol delivered the keynote address, “Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections.” Christ proposed four compelling reasons why women might turn to the Goddess: the affirmation and legitimation of female power as beneficent; affirmation of the female body and its life cycles; affirmation of women’s will; and affirmation of women’s bonds with one another and their positive female heritage (Christ 1979).

Carol graduated from Yale University with a PhD in Religious Studies and went on to teach as a feminist scholar of women and religion, women’s spirituality, and Goddess studies, at institutions including Columbia University, Harvard Divinity School, Pomona College, San Jose State University, and the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she was an adjunct professor since the inception of the Women’s Spirituality, Philosophy and Religion graduate studies program in 1993. Christ published eight profoundly thoughtful and inspiring books, several in collaboration with her friend and colleague Judith Plaskow, whom she met at Yale:
  • Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest (1986)
  • Woman Spirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion, anthology co-edited with Judith Plaskow (1992)
  • Odyssey with the Goddess: A Spiritual Quest in Crete (1995)
  • Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality. Anthology co-edited with Judith Plaskow (1989)
  • Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess (1987)
  • Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality (1998)
  • She Who Changes: Re-imaging the Divine in the World (2004)
  • Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Co-authored with Judith Plaskow (2016)
Christ’s first book, about women writers on spiritual quest, is a book of spiritual feminist literary criticism that focused on feminist authors Kate Chopin, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Adriene Rich, and Ntozake Shange. She discovers four key aspects to women’s spiritual quest: the experience of nothingness; awakening (to the powers that are greater than oneself, often found in nature); insight (into the meaning of one’s life); and a new naming (in one’s own terms). She emphasizes the importance of telling women’s stories in order to move beyond the stories told about women by the male-centered patriarchy. Her concluding chapter speaks of a “Culture of Wholeness,” that encompasses women’s quest for wholeness, and she adds that, for this wholeness to be realized, the personal spiritual quest needs to be combined with the quest for social justice.

After first travelling to Greece in 1981 with the Aegean Women’s Studies Institute led by her friend Ellen Boneparth, Carol fell in love with the country. She chose to live in Greece, first in Molivos on the beautiful island of Lesbos, and then moving recently to Heraklion, Crete. She had a passion for saving the environment and was active in the Green movement in Greece. she also had a love for swimming in the Aegean and sharing Greek food and wine with friends in Greece and from overseas.

Carol’s fascination with Crete, ancient and modern, led her to found the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual, through which she offered an educational tour, “Pilgrimage to the Goddess” twice annually. These tours introduced many to a direct experience of the ancient Earth Mother Goddess in Crete (goddessariadne.org).**

In her most recent article, for the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religion: Faith and Culture, Christ wrote about the Goddess religion and culture of her beloved island of Crete, and the roles women played in that “egalitarian matriarchal” civilization. Her eloquent words speak not only to the Goddess religion of ancient Crete, but also to the spirituality and ethical values she also cherished, which are much needed in our own culture today.

As discerners and guardians of the mysteries, women created rituals to celebrate the Source of Life and to pass the secrets of agriculture, pottery, and weaving down through the generations. The major rituals of the agricultural cycle involved blessing the seeds before planting, offering the first fruits of the harvest to the Goddess, and sharing the bounty of the harvest in communal feasts. These rituals establish that life is a gift of the Goddess and institute gift-giving as a cultural practice. As women controlled the secrets of agriculture, it makes sense that land was held by maternal clans, that kinship and inheritance passed through the maternal line, and that governance and decision-making for the group were in the hands of the elders of the maternal clan. In this context, the intelligence, love, and generosity of mothers and clan mothers would have been understood to reflect the intelligence, love, and generosity of the Goddess.*

*Carol P. Christ, “Crete, Religion and Culture” Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History [2 volumes] edited by Susan de-Gaia | Nov 16, 2018 ABC-Clio Santa Barbara 2019.

Obituary written by Mara Lynn Keller, PhD and Ellen Boneparth, stating, Please feel free to forward to your circles or post to newsletters or to the press.

** Additional information from Laura Shannon:

We are planning to offer an online memorial/celebration of Carol's life on her birthday, December 20, 2021. Details to follow.

Everyone is warmly invited to share memories of Carol, pictures too if you have them. Please email them to Xochitl Alvizo at feminismandreligionblog@gmail.com (the email must include 'blog'). Xochitl will add them to a running tribute post which she has set up on FAR and will update regularly. (Thank you, Xochitl.)

The Goddess Tours to Crete, which Carol led for over twenty years, will resume in Fall 2022, and will be led at Carol's request by Laura Shannon with support from Tina Nevans and Mika Scott, following the template which Carol created. Donations to the Ariadne Scholarship Fund in Carol's memory will be gratefully accepted by the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual, the 501c3 non-profit educational and charitable organization which Carol founded. Donations are tax deductible in the US. Ariadne Institute, P.O. Box 5053, Eugene, Oregon 97405. www.goddessariadne.org

Filmmaker Cheri Gaulke has just posted this beautiful video of an interview she and Anne Gauldin conducted with Carol during her Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete in September 2019, the last tour Carol led. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhbV5ow0SUM

This weekend, Carol had been planning to present her new paper, 'A Working Hypothesis for the Study of Religion in a Minoan Village: Theories of Harriet Boyd Hawes, Marija Gimbutas, and Others' at the Symposium of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology and the Institute of Archaeomythology in honour of the centennial of Marija Gimbutas. Participants will be able to hear a recording of Carol reading this paper, with access to the recording (and all other conference proceedings and materials) for a year. Information and registration at https://symposium.womenandmyth.org

May our beloved Carol, fearless pioneer in feminist thealogy and Goddess studies, rest in peace. She will live on in her writings and in the memories of thousands whose lives she touched and changed through her words and teaching.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Embodied Prayer by Kay Turner

 

Art by Arna Baartz


Hands together. Eyes closed. Our Father, who art in Heaven….’

This is how I was taught to pray at Sunday School, and then at Primary School, where every assembly also ended with a pious repetition of the Lord’s Prayer. Rote recitation of the biblical words, in sing song intonation (actually, thinking about, we collectively narrated this prayer in the same rhythm and tone as our times tables!). Week after week we droned on, with the additional command, as we got older, to be absolutely still too.

I became numb to it all – the words, the meaning, the concept.

So, one day, as I neared the end of this age range, I decided to sway, during the prayer. The rhythm had become anchored into my body, and I wanted to move with it. Feel it. Play with it. I no longer had any cognition ‘online’ with regards to the sentiment of the words. At 10 years old I still didn’t really understand the trespass bit anyway. I just ‘knew’ I had to move the beat of our collective voices through my body.

So, I did. And this is how I began…

‘Our father’ – sway to the right
‘Who art in heaven’ – sway to the left
‘Hallowed be thy name’ – spiral

The spiral movement took hold and became the main theme for the rest of the process (although I really wanted to create a swooshing. fountain movement, raising my arms above my head, but even at the time thought this might be a bit too much).

It turned out it was all a bit too much. I was publicly shamed, immediately after the completion of the prayer, in front of the entire assembly hall, the whole school. I was chastised and told my movement was disrespectful and that I should know better at the age I was, etc, etc.

That was the day, as a child, I lost all contact with the Divine Feminine.

An excerpt from the upcoming Girl God Anthology Re-Membering with Goddess: Healing the Patriarchal Perpetuation of Trauma

Mysteries of the Dark by Kay Turner

 

Photo by Kay Turner


I am Priestess of the Mysteries of the Dark.

I walk with you into and through your shadow lands offering you a cloak of protection for the journey.

I retrieve your blazing heart from the entombment of despair, pain and shame.

I am Holy hell raiser.

I am the one who watches and waits whilst you put on the armour of procrastination, bypassing, denial, gossip, projection, competition, neglect and criticism until you realise it's too heavy to wear.

I am protector of your maiden, mentor of your mother, fuel of your lover and trainer of your huntress.

I am hermit and oracle, lone wolf and guide of the pack.

I am receiver and transmitter, reflective and invisible.

I have no interest in small talk. I am she who sees. I am she who places the mirror in front of you until you see your truth and power. And own them. Fully. And it embodies them. Fully.

I am Mistress of the Goddess. The embodied expression of the gift of new beginnings through living death.

An excerpt from our upcoming anthology: Warrior Queen: Answering the Call of The Morrigan.

Kay Turner has been teaching and working with children and adults in a pastoral and healing capacity since 1996. She graduated from Durham University with a BA (hons) First-Class in Theology in 1995 and went on to study a PGCE in Religious Education at York St John the following year.

Kay worked in Secondary Education as a teacher of RE, Psychology and Health and Social Care, a Curriculum Leader and a Sixth Form Head of Year between 1996 and 2016, apart from a short career break during which she gave birth to three children, completed a counselling qualification, MA in Theology and undertook volunteer pastoral work at a Healing Centre.
 
Since 2016 Kay has qualified as a Wellbeing Coach, Yin Yoga Teacher and a Trainer and Advanced Practitioner in Energy Medicine, Mysticism and Shamanic Healing. She also walks the Priestess Path. Kay works as a Body, Mind & Soul Evolution Practitioner working with clients individually as well as facilitating workshops and retreats. She is an Intuitive, Energy and Shamanic Mentor and Advocate for Sacred Womanhood Growth.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Reversing the Price Tags - Conformity-based Childhood - by Patricia Lynn Reilly

 

Painting by Cheryl Braganza


In graduate school I read a parable that reminds me of poignant reversals of adolescence. It has followed me through the years, finding its way from one journal to the next:

Late at night thieves entered a store and did their work without detection. In the morning the store opened at the appointed time. It was obvious to the clerk that the store had been entered, yet nothing seemed to have been taken. As the day progressed and customers brought merchandise to the counter, the shopkeepers noticed a curious phenomenon. The merchandise of least value wore the tags of greatest value and the items of greatest value carried the tags of least value. By the end of the day the puzzle was solved: the thieves had taken nothing—instead they reversed the price tags.

A conformity-based childhood reverses the price tags. The natural and essential self, a priceless treasure, is criticized and set aside, and the artificial, constructed self grows in value. Image is more valuable than essence; conformity, more priceless than originality; coloring inside the lines, more acceptable than spontaneity. At a certain age we are expected to move beyond “childish” ways and settle into what Rachel Carson called the “boredom and the disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Some may counter: “We’re beyond all that.” I disagree. The illusion we seek to maintain is that we’ve ousted the question “what’s wrong with me” once and for all. After all, Hilary almost became president, Title IX allows us to thrive as athletes, and glass ceilings are occasionally transcended. Yet, infertility plagues us and there’s hardly a woman in the world who doesn’t wake up feeling the need or the demand to cover, starve, alter, mask, or harm her body in some way. Why? Because our bodies are never quite good enough, pretty enough, small enough, young enough, non-distracting enough, no matter what we do.

And we certainly “do” a lot to our bodies to whip them into an acceptable shape. In fact, there has been an intensification, and normalization, of body-violence within the community of women. Women of all ages are injuring their natural body-intelligence and body-shape. In record numbers, we are choosing to have our breasts cut open and augmented, our noses broken and reshaped, our wrinkles eradicated with injections, our faces manipulated and peeled, and our bodies compulsively exercised and starved. We are frantically covering all signs of aging, beginning earlier and earlier in life, as if aging were a plague, a virus, an enemy to conquer. We are at war with our own bodies.

Staying “healthy and fit” has become our justification for being at war with our bodies. When our motivation to be “fit” is shaped by the culture’s image of beauty and our own critical self-scrutiny, we are unable to sustain health and fitness because the image is unreachable. We will never be perfect enough, pretty enough, or fit enough. We will never be able to eradicate the changes that accompany the process of aging. On the other hand, when we react to the culture’s images of beauty and “fitness” by refusing to take care of ourselves, we hurt our bodies and jeopardize our health.

Ironically, we are outraged by the atrocities of foot binding and genital mutilation. Yet these customs were/are done to women. Many of us are choosing to do violence to our own bodies. And sadly, self-loathing trickles down from generation to generation. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, counselors, and teachers, supported by this image-based/woman-scrutinizing/age-phobic society, pass on the necessity of “ornamentalism,” the tyranny of the scale, the fear of food, and the dread of aging to our daughters. All the while, we export these destructive body-critical attitudes to daughters all over the world.

By middle school, our natural body-energy is directed away from body-activity and spontaneity toward body-grooming and control. Groomed to be “ornamental,” we spend inordinate amounts of time and resources twisting our bodies into the acceptable shapes of the culture. “Pretty” becomes a tyrant who requires costumes, masks, and procedures in exchange for a compliment. Pretty becomes our junkie who sells us our fix each morning and stalks us all day with a mirror. Pretty is a distraction who keeps us occupied so we don't make a fuss, start a movement, change the world. Pretty is make believe, yet it holds so much power over us.

In desperation, women ask: “Why is it that men wake up in the morning and are enough? Why is it that we wake up and must mask our faces, adorn our bodies, and cover our scents and roundness in order to be enough, and we still fall short.” Over time, we develop a chronic resentment toward our bodies because they’re always falling short of perfection as defined by the culture, our families, a current lover, and ourselves. They are never quite good enough or young enough, or pretty enough no matter what we do to them.

The price tags successfully reversed on her body capacities, the girl-child becomes alienated from her body. No longer at ease in it, she feels uncomfortable. The urge to cover, starve, or violently alter her body grows within her. By high school, she’s numb and bored, and she waits, usually in front of a mirror, for a savior to come and make life worth living again. ”The promise of beauty, of being desirable,” wrote Madonna Kolbenschlag in Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye, “lulls the young woman into an existential limbo where everything is measured by the expectation of one who is to come. The kiss that Sleeping Beauty waits for, however, is not that of the Prince. She’s waiting for the embrace of her own being.”

-Patricia Lynn Reilly, Excerpt from Love Your Body Regardless

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Celebrating the Divine Girl-Child Ritual by Patricia Lynn Reilly

 



Religion played a major role in my life. The thoughts that filled my mind were shaped in my formative years in a Catholic orphanage and during high school and college in Protestant fundamentalism. Religion’s words and images, like the steady drip of an IV inserted at birth, convinced me that I, as Eve’s daughter, was “other” than god, that my position was secondary, and that my body was blemished.

As I gathered the fragments the girl-child’s story from the margins of religious history, I searched for stories, songs, and affirmations that celebrated her value, body, and life. As I found (or invented) woman-affirming resources, I used them to create healing experiences to offer at retreats, workshops, and religious services.

In the “Celebrating the Divine Girl-Child” transformational experience I invite women to imagine hearing stories of the Divine Girl-Child whose birth was announced and celebrated by angels, whose coming merited visitors and precious gifts, and in whose honor the peoples of the world gather for a yearly retelling of the story of her birth. Imagine if you had heard these words in the synagogue, church, temple, or home of your childhood.

The Birthing

In this hour everything is stillness, there is total silence and awe. We are overwhelmed with a great wonder. We keep vigil. We are expecting the coming of the Divine Child.

In the fullness of time, she is born. She shines like the sun, bright and beautiful. She is delightful to see. She appears as peace, soothing the whole world. The voices of many invisible beings in one voice rejoice: She has arrived. The Divine Child is among us. (Pass the word throughout the audience: “She has arrived. The Divine Child is among us.”)

Become bold. Lean over and look at her. Touch her face. Lift her in your hands with great awe. Look at her more closely. There is no blemish on her. She is splendid to see. Dance with her. Now come to a still place with her. She is laughing a most joyful laugh. She opens her eyes and looks intently at you. Suddenly a great light comes forth from her eyes, like a flash of lightning. The light enters you. She enters you. You begin to live.

____________ is born. The Divine Child is among us! She offers us gifts of light and healing. (Pause as each woman’s name is read. After which, a cheer goes up to celebrate her birth.)

The Prayer

“Sun, Moon, Stars, all that move in the heavens, I bid you hear me. Into your midst has come a new life. Winds, Clouds, Rains, Mist, all that move in the air. Hills, Valleys, Rivers, Lakes, Trees, Grasses, all that are of the earth. Come, one and all. Give your consent, I implore! Make this child’s path smooth. Let her travel beyond the four hills and the four directions of the Wheel of the Universe.” (Adapted from the Plains Indians Prayer)

The Song of Welcome

Hold the baby. Tenderly love her. Hold the baby. Tell her you care.

Verse 1. Welcome her joyfully. Shout with a loud voice:
“You belong here among us. We're glad you're alive!”

Verse 2. Look down upon her. Bless every movement.
She deserves loving-kindness, every day of her life.

Verse 3. Surround her with goodness, safety, and laughter.
She is the Divine Child, come among us this day.

Verse 4. Look at her closely. There is no blemish.
She is a delight, Soothing this world with peace.

Verse 5. Cherish the baby, living among us.
Care for her willingly, every day of her life.

Verse 6. Celebrate the girl-child, born in all ages.
Come to bring us salvation and grace.

-Patricia Lynn Reilly, Excerpt from Love Your Body Regardless