Issue 5, Winter 2007
Silbury Hill, by Peter Greenhalf
Articles & Fiction
by Harita Meenee
If there ever was an intimate connection between state and religion, we can see it quite clearly in ancient Athens. The very name of the city is attributed to a goddess—Athena, its protectress and guardian. There are different versions of how this came to be as she competed against Poseidon, the angry god of the sea and earthquakes. A fascinating story about this fight comes surprisingly from a Christian writer, St. Augustine:
At the time of Kekrops [legendary king of Athens] an olive tree suddenly sprung up on the hill of the Akropolis and a spring gushed out near that spot. Kekrops asked the oracle for advice and received the response that the spring suggested Neptune [Poseidon], while the olive tree pointed to Minerva [Athena]. Kekrops called an assembly of all the citizens, male and female, to vote on the question; for at that time and in that place the custom was that women as well as men should take part in discussions about the affairs of state.
by Michael Bland
the Modern Failure to Recognise the Iconology of the Palaeolithic Female Figures and Figurines, Viewed in the Light of Insanity
I know of only one occasion where Ludwig Wittgenstein specifically mentions self-deception (Selbsttäuschung or Selbstbetrug) in his writings: simply this isolated remark (written in 1938): “Nichts ist so schwer, als sich nicht betrügen” (Wittgenstein 1977, 34) – ie. “Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.” Famously, however, he also wrote this:
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.
(Wittgenstein 1953, para.109)
And certainly we know that we human adults can sometimes deceive and delude ourselves, sometimes even en masse. (All normal adults surely know this, whatever they might sometimes deludedly say.)16 And the means of language is after all a mass, cultural means. Moreover, there are key features of human thought and language which are evidently intercultural17 – as in the case of the the material example of this article (especially as regards the apparently imitative origin of the Indo-European root *mā-, ‘mother’). First and foremost in this article, through reference to a highly symbolic yet perfectly material example, I have been illustrating the bewitchment of human intelligence by means of language. But I believe I have also been demonstrating the remedy.
However the success of the remedy depends ultimately on the will of the patient. And in that regard, according to Wittgenstein (writing in 1931), there is a very substantial difficulty to be overcome:
by Theresa Curtis-Diggs
There is a small house that sits on a plot of land in which I live. It is a chunk of earth and I think I own it. There is a patch of Garden in which nothing grows; in fact this Garden can be defined by the paradox of her absence of green, resistant and rebellious within an ocean of life.
She does not respond to my gardening demands; it seems she has another agenda. This is certainly curious. So, plopping down on her soft skin I begin to wonder and while sitting there in reverie I ponder her and her Earth language. Can we translate the song with which she calls us …is this possible or am I nuts? I request a conversation with her about her stubborn barrenness, and somehow believe she has something she wants to say. In which tongue-less language might she dialogue? I realize that we cannot endlessly identify her with measurements and reductionism any longer if she is to agree to befriend us. I wish us to settle into accepting more primitive and receptive ways of recognizing life and thereby come to honor all Otherness more intimately. Who is she, this gardenless garden; what does she need or want? I will lie here on her gentle belly, and listen. Listen.
by Liz Perkins
Many of us who walk the Goddess path have come to it from other spiritual traditions, the most likely being Christianity. For some, this is a past to be left behind; some religious groups make it harder than others for those who want to move on, or we may have had difficult experiences as children. For others, the traditions in which we were brought up, or which we embraced in our earlier years, still have meaning and resonance for us, even as we recognise a new way opening up. This dilemma is not easy to resolve, and those who honour it may do so in solitude – it can, after all, feel like a very individual problem, not amenable to sharing.
by Jacqui Woodward-Smith
In memory of Ronald Henry Smith, 14th September 1929 to 17th August 2007 and for ‘She who births us, and waits for us at the end of a life, to take us to another shore’1
And when life can no longer hold you let the red and white springs sing you home …2
I thought long and hard about whether to write this article; death is such an intimate, personal thing that I thought perhaps it would be a betrayal of my father, who I loved more dearly than I can ever say. And yet, when I think about the days and months before his death, about the honesty, openness, dignity, and humour with which he approached his final moment I know that he would say that it was ok. That if it helped others to be less afraid then his death should be shared. Ultimately, his final journey was his alone, and I can only relate my experience of it, so perhaps there can be no betrayal after all. The secrets of that journey have gone with him and I can only share what I know. From my own perspective I do know that death should not be hidden, as is so encouraged in our society, and that the strongest memory I have of those last hours, and the days following it, are of the savage beauty and fierce love to be found at the heart of the Crone.
by Rev. Karen Tate, Media Director
Temple of the Goddess
As the Media Director of Temple of the Goddess, I recently accompanied its Foundress and Director, Xia, to a presentation hosted by a cable television network, Charter Media. Charter had put out a call to a diverse range of religious organizations in the city to invite them to participate in a new cable program they were initiating called Faith. As we sat there listening to the intention of Charter, to bring spiritually uplifting messages to the airwaves, from all religious corners of southern California, we realized our dream and vision, years in the making, might soon be a reality. But were we really ready to fully step into the public spotlight?
by Theresa C. Dintino
Because we forgot how to console ourselves, because we forgot our connection to the earth, to the sky, to the smallest cell within us, the most encompassing black hole surrounding us—because of this, we know despair.
Once, we walked to Newgrange. Once we knew, the snow crunching for miles beneath our feet, we knew how important it is to remember —to remind ourselves, to experience rebirth and so, believe again.
I laughed when I wrote this. I, who had only just decided to walk into the river. I who was so cold, so cold—so alone—that to me, the water felt warm.
by Judith Laura
On a dark autumn night with only a waning crescent moon lighting the sky, Cora made her way up from the subway and onto the streets of the city. She feared going out at night. But her desire to attend the meeting of her women's political action group was stronger than her fear.
Her confidence boosted by the high pitched emergency whistle she wore around her neck, the canister of chemical spray in her purse, and her recently completed beginner's course in Karate, Cora weaved her way among the men congregating on corners and the homeless shivering against the buildings and lying on top of the subway grates.