Review: “Soul & Shadow: Birthing Motherworld”, by Kathy Jones

Reviewed by Jeri Studebaker

Soul & ShadowIn several ways this book amazed me. First, I was blown away by Kathy Jones’ utter honesty about profoundly personal parts of her life: her deep fears, her screw-ups, her cancers, and her confusions about her own life, motivations and leadership abilities.

Second, whatever she herself felt about it, I was struck by Kathy’s remarkable ability to lead others. The sheer number of outstanding Goddess workshops, classes, presentations, field trips, conferences, plays, and other activities she has led, created and/or organized is overwhelming. After finishing the book I am in awe of her energy, dedication and creativity.

Third, Kathy describes her years-long battle with certain members of the UK Goddess community, her attempts to understand and heal the ancient wounds she feels caused this friction, wounds not only in the others but also in herself. Despite all her painful and laborious work, however, the abuse continued — mostly on social media. What’s amazing to me is that Kathy didn’t give up. At one point, driving in her car, she looked at a wall ahead of her and had thoughts of driving into it. She didn’t, and she didn’t desert the Glastonbury Goddess community, either.

“Dolls”, Fairy Tales, and Ancient Goddess Figurines

by Jeri Studebaker

Vasilisa - by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin (1876-1942)For quite some time I'd known that archaeologists have been digging up thousands of small female figurines from ancient Neolithic archaeological sites, both in southeastern Europe ("Old Europe") and elsewhere around the world. However, I was surprised recently to find two Russian fairy tales that seem to contain the literary equivalents of these ancient figurines. The fairy tales, "Vasilisa the Fair" and "Prince Danilla Govorilla," both contain magical "dolls" that help young fairy-tale women through rough times. After reading these tales, I wondered: do they provide clues about how ancient Europeans might have interacted with their goddess figurines: about what they did with them – and when, and why, and how?

Most Neolithic goddess figurines were sized to fit comfortably in the human hand. Many appear "otherworldly," their ancient makers having given them women's bodies but birds' heads and beaks, for example, or coiled snakes for legs. Since these female figurines are typically accompanied by few if any male figurines, and are inscribed with many of the same symbols found on the walls of associated temples, the renowned Harvard/UCLA archaeologist Marija Gimbutas suggested that they represent goddesses, and that their makers belonged to societies oriented around female deity. Continue reading "“Dolls”, Fairy Tales, and Ancient Goddess Figurines"

The Princess Who Would Not Laugh: The Ancient Goddess as Revealed Through Fairy Tales

by Jeri Studebaker

Nesmeyana
Viktor Vasnetsov: The Unsmiling Tsarevna (Nesmeyana). 1916-1926, oil on canvas

Spellbound, almost hypnotized, you float through magic lands of enchantment with fairy princesses, talking frogs, magic cats and candy houses, with Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and a whole host of others. Was it like this for you when you read fairy tales as a child? It was for me – I was as enchanted as Sleeping Beauty when she dropped off into her 100-year sleep. And the magnificent illustrations of some of those talented old children's book illustrators (Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, Kay Nielsen, et al.), made the journey even more intoxicating.

Now, as an adult with years of research under my belt, I have come to the conclusion that many if not most of these fabulous old fairy tales originated among goddess-oriented Europeans. This is exciting, because it means fairy tales hold secrets about how our ancient pre-patriarchal ancestors viewed goddesses, magic, good and evil, the first humans, and other potentially fascinating aspects of their spirituality -- information we can't really wring out of many other sources.

Although I wish I could take credit for it, the idea that fairy tales are all about goddesses is not mine. Even the Brothers Grimm, back in the early 1800s, wrote that fairy tales originated among pre-Christians. And the German culture historian and goddess scholar Heide Gottner-Abendroth, the great Russian folklorist Vladimir Propp, and one of America's foremost authorities on the fairy tale, Dr. Jack Zipes, all suggest it's not just any old pre-Christians who created European fairy tales – but rather ones whose lives revolved around female deity. In these tales the princesses and even the witches themselves are actually secret code for "goddess." Continue reading "The Princess Who Would Not Laugh: The Ancient Goddess as Revealed Through Fairy Tales"

Raising the Roof – or – is it Time for Revolution Yet?

by Jeri Studebaker

Seated Mother Goddess flanked by two lionesses from Çatalhöyük (Turkey) - from Wikipedia, creative commons Licence, see for details: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

Sit down before you read what I'm about to say. Do not, however, ingest even the tiniest sip of tea (or any other liquid for that matter), because what comes next might very well affect your air-intake system -- and your air-intake system is part of the system that negotiates the progress of tea down one's upper esophageal tract.

Here it comes: The world is in desperate need of a Revolution - and there's no one to lead it but those of us in the Goddess community.

It's time to put our comforting, cozy and contemplative stories about our favorite goddess(es) on a back burner for a while, and get cracking. It's time to recognize that it's not just us, but the world that's in need of the feminine divine. According to our best and most current data, when we humans centered around Guiding Goddesses we basked in "utopia." But when the sky/father/war gods trounced the Goddess, they bumped the world into a "dystopia" we've never fully climbed out of. If we don't pitch the gods and resuscitate the goddesses -- and soon -- my guess is we're doomed as a species.

Continue reading "Raising the Roof – or – is it Time for Revolution Yet?"