Issue 9, Winter 2008
Gaia, by Suzanne Cheryl Gardner
Articles & Fiction
by Glenys Livingstone
“Gender” might be described as “one’s perception of oneself” as being either female or male, and “sex” as “the physical appearance of one’s body” as either female or male1. The “sex” of a body is commonly understood necessarily to be able to fall into one or the other designation, and if it does not then life, within many cultures, is almost certain to be traumatic for the being involved.
Within Western culture of more recent centuries at least, and within many other global social/religious contexts, no shades of “grey” have been allowed in this matter, no kaleidoscope - as is allowed in almost all other dualities. This rigid polarization of sex has not been so for many indigenous traditions - even still today: there is often much more fluidity about the significance of sexual physical appearance. Within my own Western culture, “gender” is commonly understood to “ideally” be in alignment with the “sex” of one’s body, and that’s where categories such as “feminine” and “masculine” are entered into.
By Laura Nutley (Cariad)
As many of us know, Samhain, or Calan Gaeaf (the Welsh name for the sabbat) is a time of introspection and self examination. At this time of year the path to Avalon takes on a particular resonance through the shared themes of transformation, regeneration and inspiration.
I have been drawn to the Avalonian tradition for some time and am fortunate enough to live near Glastonbury, which has been a place of pilgrimage for me for many years. Glastonbury is widely believed to be the physical world’s representation of Avalon. A portal to a place of many names: the Isle of Women and the Isle of the Dead. It is also a gateway to Annwn, the Otherworld of Welsh mythology: a place where two realities co-exist side by side and where the energies of Avalon permeate the landscape and touch those who visit there. Glastonbury, and all that is associated with it, is therefore especially relevant to this time of year and the festival of Samhain. The themes of thresholds to be faced and traversed and of regenerating yourself for the year to come through inner transformation are inextricably woven into both.
by Susun S. Weed
The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest known healing tradition on our planet. It offers a unique view of health that is woman-centered and deeply empowering to women. This is in stark contrast to orthodox - and most alternative - healing traditions, which are based on male viewpoints which disempower women.
The medicine I learned in school was based on a linear, scientific, male worldview whose truth I did not question. When this medicine failed me, as a woman and a mother, I sought alternatives. Herbs helped me take care of myself and my family, simply and safely, but I questioned the assumptions behind what I was taught. It was clear to me that alternative health care disempowers women as much, or more than, orthodox medicine does. They both actively assume that the norm on which assessment of health is to be based is masculine in gender.
by Heide Goettner-Abendroth
The meaning of “matri-archy”
Non-patriarchal societies have different social structures than patriarchal ones; these structures distinguished by certain characteristics that are called “matriarchal”. In no way do they validate the common misapprehension that women have the last word in matriarchies, or that they rule over others. No serious researcher has ever expressed anything like this. Instead, these prejudices reflect the unexamined assumption that matriarchal societies would be organised just like patriarchal ones, but with women, instead of men, in the central roles.
by John Constable - aka John Crow
The hermetic teachings comprising The Southwark Mysteries were first revealed to my shamanic familiar John Crow on the night of 23rd November 1996, at Cross Bones Graveyard in south London, by the spirit of The Goose.
Goose, as in Winchester Goose. A medieval whore from the Liberty of the Clink, outside the law of the City of London. Licensed by the church, by the Bishop of Winchester, yet allegedly buried in unconsecrated ground. Her bones unearthed when London Underground dug up Cross Bones, the ancient burial ground for prostitutes and paupers.
Her ‘Secret History’ was revealed in Her astral journeys and conversations with John Crow. The ‘Constable’ part of me was merely a witness and scribe, recording the archaic verses in a form of channelled writing. Yet I also journeyed with them, in body, up Redcross Way to the rusty iron gates of the works depot, where the spirit voices became more insistent:
by Jill Smith
A point which Geraldine brought up in Issue 7 gave me much food for thought. She expressed concern about importing Celtic Goddesses into lands in the Southern Hemisphere, if this is indeed happening.
This is a topic which has long bothered me, but with an even broader spectrum of concern.
There are many different concepts amongst us of what “Goddess” is; what "a" goddess is; "the" goddess is ...
I do not have “a” goddess like a female version of “God”. My goddesses are pretty well all in some way or other manifestations of the spirit of place. This includes an awful lot: aspects of the seasons - very much related to place, weather, landscape on many levels - the depth and quality of rock and all the ancient and current forces which created it, its earth, its plants, its animals and the quality of life of the people who have grown from and made their living upon it.
The Cyclical Nature of Life
Because I’m a woman and my body has taught me this, I take the view that life on this planet moves in cycles. There are Lunar cycles, Solar cycles and cycles that take thousands of years. We have our own personal development cycles and we are also always involved with the collective cycle.In modern Western culture, I believe, we are at a stage in the present cycle where weare once again ushering in the Sacred Feminine. In a culture where spirituality (if it’s considered at all) is still only equated with masculine values, we are being asked to be the birth canal for Women’s Spirituality in this country.
To me, spirituality is about wholeness/holiness/alignment in the emotional, intellectual, psychic and physical self. And Women’s Spirituality is that which comes of being within the body of a woman. It values life, creativity, empathy, receptivity, diversity and the natural cycles that ensure constant change. It values the ordinary daily rhythms of living. Above all, as with the nature of a woman’s body, the most valued and important focal point, the source of all power and life, is hidden deep within. For this very reason Women’s Spirituality brings a totally different perspective from that of all the mainstream spiritualities. As women, we need to reclaim what has always been our birthright - our own spirituality. As we reclaim this we can envision a world where we bring a way of being that redresses the balance in a very out of balance world.
By Suzanne Cheryl Gardner
Why am I here? What am I doing with my life? What is the purpose of life? These were all questions that led me to search for the Goddess, or what I would later discover to be “The Great Mother” who began to call to me through my art. Additionally, the message that I was to nurture my feminine side more came to me through psychic readings, spiritual counseling, books, and articles I found interest in. Then I began to ask myself, “What IS my feminine side, and what is the meaning of this thing called Goddess?”
My search for the history of the Goddess had begun.
Heart of the Dragon came from my heart’s whisperings and deepest political and spiritual beliefs. If it helps towards our collective understanding of what we Goddessy people are attempting to do and why, then I shall be glad.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Oh - you should know: I am a storyteller.