Issue 2, Spring 2007
Nearing, by Jill Smith
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Articles & Fiction
by Jacqui Woodward-Smith
Brigit of the mantles,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit of the twining hair
When, in my early and mid-20s, I journeyed to the Underworld in the midst of a dark depression the urge that I most had to fight against was one to cut my hair; not to have it trimmed, or shaped, or styled to make me feel better, but to hack at it, cut chunks out of it, shave my head, make it ugly, destroy it. Somehow my hair was a symbol of my inner self and I felt that if I could make it look the way that I felt inside everyone would understand the dark place that I was in and I would never have to explain it, or hide it, again. Yet it wasn’t a considered thought, it was a barely understood visceral urge that I battled against almost every day, and I have since heard other women describe similar feelings. I think that that’s when I really started to think about hair…
…and the more that I thought about hair the more that I noticed references to it in the Goddess-centred books that I was reading and the stories that I heard. It became clear to me that, for women at least, our hair is a symbol of something deep and primal; a symbol of our wild, and yet often rejected or hidden, inner selves and it is, yet another, example of a symbol that has been taken from us and controlled, possibly to the point where it’s original meaning and power has been destroyed completely…but perhaps in everything there is a glimmer that can be reclaimed?
Max Dashu, the Suppressed Histories Archives
So much confusion has been sown about goddess veneration. Resistance to seeing any sacral value in ancient female icons has been a particular sticking point in academia. There, emphasis is usually placed on theoretical frameworks that seem to ignore the sense of sacredness that pervades aboriginal cultures. And there has been fundamental misunderstanding of what the Women’s Spirituality movement means when we speak of Goddess or goddesses. These are some of my reflections on these gaps and what needs to be clarified.
Goddess is a contested word today. In popular culture it has been totally desacralized, disrespected, stripped down and trivialized. People talk about a sex goddess (movie star) or a diva, which is Italian for “goddess”— but used mostly to describe singers with overinflated egos. It’s hardly a reverent term. It has no cultural standing of its own in mainstream society.
by Barbara Ardinger
Our Found Goddesses are the ones we make up. Sure, we can appeal to Aphrodite for love and Ops when our bank account is running dry and Frigga to get our house in order, but which of the traditional goddesses is in charge of computers? We Find new goddesses to deal with modern issues.
The guys on the Y2K Project used to laugh at me when I explained how computers work. It’s gerbils. With flashcards. See for yourself if I’m not right. Turn on your computer and listen to the noises the CPU makes as it boots up. Watch the screens. When Windows comes up, that’s the signal that the gerbils have gone back to sleep and the various computer goddesses are now assuming control of your system. But the faithful and industrious gerbils were there when we needed them.
by Claire Hamilton
My festival is Imbolc ‘in womb’ time, so besides being the Maiden, I am also the Mother who bears the burden of the coming spring.
This is my lineage. I am the daughter of the Dagda, the Good God, king of the Tuatha de Danaan, the faerie people. With them I came, blown in a magic mist across the sea to Erin . But the mist was the far-furled smoke of our ships as we burned them on the western shores of Connemara . For we pledged ourselves to that land and swore we would never turn our faces towards the sea again. And so we shared that land with the Fomorians, the ancient giant race who lived there.
by Cheryl Straffon
In rural areas, especially in the Celtic enclaves of Ireland and Scotland, a great number of customs grew up around this time, most associated with the Goddess whose festival this became, Bridget or Bride (pronounced Breed). When Christianity eventually took over, it found that such an important festival and its much-loved Goddess could not be ignored, so they changed the name to Candlemass, which still takes place in the Christian church on February 2nd, the festival of the purification of the virgin. The all-loving and nurturing Goddess, protectress of women and of childbirth, was turned into a festival in which the mother of Christ (who was still considered to be a virgin) had somehow to be cleansed of the process of giving birth, as if it were somehow unclean or shameful.
by Rev. Karen Tate
Dan Brown's bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, piqued the curiosity of millions of all faiths with his accounts of the Sacred Feminine. With nearly 50 million books sold, the long anticipated film version of Brown’s story hit the screen in May associated with such a hotbed of controversy the likes of which the film industry had not seen since The Passion of the Christ. With the release of The Da Vinci Code dvd, this theme of the partnership of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and the glimpse into the true herstory of Goddess will no doubt continue to be in the hearts, minds and living rooms of millions more for sometime to come despite Church disdain for the theme. Yet, their subsequent call for a boycott of the movie did not dampen enthusiasm, perhaps proving there is a hunger for these new ideas as readers and movie-goers alike let their wallets speak. But post-Da Vinci, what will those new to this alternative version of history be asking? Phone calls into The Temple of the Goddess and to some of the people associated with this Church have been learning the answers first hand. Among the inquiries are, “Who are these people advocating for the return to veneration or ideals of a female face of God?” “What would that mean for society?” and “Who is the Goddess?” “Why didn’t I know about Her?” The answer might best be answered by looking back before we look ahead.
by Helen Carmichael
The first time our fingers touched it was like butterflies – profound. I was busy crawling towards something, a new job…or something irretrievably forgotten on the shopping list in my jacket pocket in the lockers that sweat behind the fake palm trees near the lifeguard.
And she came through. Feet churning, hips like a belly dancer, face alabaster, a trail of flames for hair and bubbles streaming from her mouth – five beautiful elements in the fast lane. I was disconcerted, floundering slightly and swallowed a little chlorinated water, enhanced with the sweat of my community and the faint odour of cheap perfume perpetrated by a plump lady keeping her chin well above water to safeguard her permanent wave. I’m always impressed by anyone who puts on mascara before entering the water.