Issue 14, Summer 2010
Free! by Gaia Orion
Articles & Fiction
The Transmission of Women’s Power and the Demonizing of the Night
by Lauren Kaye Clark
Since the era of female subordination, nighttime has become symbolic of evil, fear, and that which must be heavily resisted in many mainstream ideologies. In the world of academia, it became synonymous with what is ignorant and mentally inferior, and therefore in need of “enlightenment”. Then, spiritually, the night became an aura of what is lost, and the time in which human beings “air” out our most sinful and wicked desires. The inability to see the unseen with the conscious mind was unfortunately interpreted as that which was ignorant and uncivilized. It is no coincidence that with the suppression of ancient female knowledge, wisdom, and spirituality, the night became symbolic of evil, and that which spiritually and intellectually must be resisted.
The darkness of the night establishes a realm of the ability to bring that what cannot exist in rigid conceptions of “reality” because of its limitations, and narrow-minded way of thinking. Its possibilities are endless and create many pathways to practice, and appreciate, the art of imagination (which is often dismissed in favor of oppressive concepts of logic). Furthermore, it motivates us always to inquire into those hidden forces, and senses of consciousness which have yet to be discovered. It is this discovery, of the unknown, and the unseen, which allows for us to become “enlightened” with knowledge. Such understandings and interpretations of the night are those which were heavily intertwined with the sacred feminine. In addition, the night, and its coloration of blackness, was highly celebrated not only because of its infinite power, but also of its connection to the female body.
(Speaking of which, the Russian government, I am told, in desperation, went to consult with the witch Baba Mat, The Wise Old Woman Who Lives In The Land Of Many Tall Trees Beyond The Black Mountains. She is rumored to be an excellent herbalist and the only one who can save Mother Russia.) And while I like to walk in the woods, the plants I find myself using on a daily basis are the weeds right under my feet - in gardens, yards, driveways, playgrounds, hospitals, fence rows, institutions, and campuses. These ordinary plants have abilities that seem miraculous to me.
by Mary Frankland
Around the world, there is a cry of joy: "the Goddess is returning!" I believe that here in the north of England, She never went away but was hidden for a while in one of her secret places. In this article, I hope to take you on an armchair tour of some sites which are or may have been associated with Her.
Arbor Low, Derbyshire
At first glance, you may not think this is as impressive as, say, Castlerigg in Cumbria, but it is a place dear to me as it is the first stone circle I visited many years ago. On a clear day, you can see just about forever, although as this is in the Peak District and 375 metres above sea level, the weather mood can change very quickly.
One Sunday we went to Windsor, where the Queen has lots of swans on the River Thames, and tried picking up feathers from the riverside and underneath the bridge. This was not a raging success, ending up with very few and becoming very muddy and damp in the process.
by Carolyn Lee Boyd
As I’ve gotten older, the distance between the past and present has gotten shorter and become an easier journey. When I was in my 20s and first learned about ancient Goddess-focused cultures, they seemed as if they were so far away that they almost did not exist in the realm of possibility.
Now that I am twice as old, I can count the centuries in fewer of my own lifetimes and milestones between our own time and theirs seem much closer together. Two of my half-century lifetimes ago, women were still in their struggle to get the right to vote and Seneca Falls, the Convention commonly thought of as the birthplace of national women's rights in the U.S., was only a generation in the past. Four lifetimes ago, Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Woman” was relatively new. If you go back only ten or fifteen times the distance between my life and Wollstonecraft’s, the Goddess statues that are being unearthed now were freshly carved or molded.
by Sue Oxley
The beauty of nature is in the circles She creates, the spinning of the galaxies and the twining of the sweet pea, the turning of the seasons and the circle of our lives. 'Nature hates a straight line' my grandmother used to say, 'probably even more than a full-stop'.
Let's dance and move through the Circle of the Goddesses of Time, thinking about the shining reality of each while leaving behind Her clothes, sorting out what is real and valid and what is shimmering mist, as the circle twirls around us.
Persephone, the Child that sings in the meadow, that rolls down the hills through the flowers, that leaves behind the Mother and yet comes back at night when the dark is frightening. Remember the wonder of moving so easily that it is like jumping on the moon, think of the loveliness of no worry, no knowledge of evil and hate, with just the dark to fear.
We pick up the Joy and leave behind the carelessness as we move to Artemis, while shouldering our fear of being alone, of having no apron to hide behind.
by Rachel Mayatt
I’ve come to that age now when my body begins to change again as I make ready to initiate into the time of the crone and it’s a strange sensation sometimes. Thinking about it recently took me back to when I began to change as a young girl, developing hair in odd places, filling out on the hips and developing breasts. I don’t remember it being particularly obvious at the time, apart from the weird sensation that I had two bumps appearing on my chest when at one time it had been smooth.
I hadn’t had any teaching or support from family regarding periods as I came from a fairly repressed kind of family environment. My mother is a strict evangelical Christian and kept things fairly secret about bodily stuff, and when I did finally begin to bleed monthly, it felt more like a dirty secret than a life affirming thing. (But that’s another story I have gone into in a previous article.)
by Zoé d’Ay
A chance conversation on the 8th March reminded me again of something I had been stirred into writing after the last Glastonbury Goddess Conference where the maiden in us and the maidens among us were being lauded and applauded – yet something deep inside my soul, a kind of susurration, a frisson of discomfort, was rising to voice something then inarticulate. I went home after the Conference, the puzzle still on the threshold of consciousness – you know that odd feeling you get when you know you know something – but actually can’t put words to what it is? Well, I woke the following morning and followed the thought until it ran all the way home. It was ME I was sounding. The story unfolded just like this:
Once upon a time the wild maiden danced free and bright over the pathways of the dark hollows following the damp tracks of badger, hedgehog, fox and vole. For the longest time she walked, until she walked right into the fire and the fear; a fugitive, forgetting her future as she lost her past. Fire burnt her motherboard; fear short-circuited her software – and she forgot. Hundreds of years walled up against her and she lost her voice.
A Ritual by Elizabeth A Kaufman
Each year, on August 1st, I begin a series of three rituals honoring the harvest of the year's bounty, whatever that may be, as well as preparing myself for the descent into the waning of the year. In general, my rituals from February through July have focused upon growth and increase. Now, as the first harvest comes in, I gather, give thanks and begin the inner spiritual work of the season.
The gathering of the harvest includes many things, not just food. Creative energies, healing works, spiritual quests are all part of this harvest. We have planted ideas as seeds and now we reap what we have sown. Consider that this is also a time, the waning of the year, where we can go within, below and nourish and feed the sprouted and growing seeds.
A Novel by Clarise Samuels
Brynhild is a goddess from a great literary epic, and she is also a symbol for spirited, strong feminists. Superior to most men but nevertheless greatly affected by the worldly power of men, Brynhild forges ahead and defiantly flies in the face of all male authority, even that of Odin, the Father of the Gods, who evicts her from the heavens for disobedience. She eventually accomplishes her missions at least partially, being forced to make compromises, which she endures with a certain amount of stoicism. Brynhild, in the end, must accept the imperfections she is confronted with on Earth, and more notably, she has to accept that even the heavens are not completely perfect.
The goddess motif in legend and pagan religion is often associated with fertility and maternity, a peaceful goddess emphasizing a society revolving around motherhood and the power of women. But there also developed the warrior goddess, and this is the goddess we see in the form of the Norse Bryhnild—she is supremely trained for battle, she is lustful, and she causes conflict wherever she appears. In this more combative role, the goddess suffers traumas, and we see that Brynhild is evicted, manipulated, and raped. The conflicts arising as a result of her presence are disastrous and can result in annihilation.