Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grandmothers know we are rooted and ringed with memory by Danica Anderson

Blood & Honey - Herstory Grandmothers’ Poetic Colleges and the kolo, the circle and to dance, trace the origins and the roots of our being. Grandmothers know we are rooted and ringed with memory just like the sister kinship of the trees.

The kolo danced or activated within the circle has the memories of the past with ancient grandmother’s memories.

If former Yugoslavs and Slavs felt their m...atrilineal heritage and felt the essence of the archetypal energies of the kolo, the circle or to dance it would bring them face to face with ‘matter’ –earth our the Goddess. With the excavation of the kolo we are peering at a reflection in the mirror through the kolo of our first mother.

In recent study revelations about how grandmothers hold a systems of wisdom is coming to light in the scientific field.

Already warped by the androcentric world, grandmothers have been regulated to the sidelines and to menial duties at best. With their stooped postures and sitting positions, these grandmothers observe the world at sub-atomic particle levels.

South Slavic stari Babas-Grandmothers- knew the outcomes of a ‘rat study’ where it was documented how rats can “grasp the relationship between seeing and doing," and how these influence events differently.” Despite many of the South Slavic Grandmothers lack of any formal education, their wisdom in using the kolo- the dance or the circle- is a form of seeing and doing. ‘Seeing and doing’ is the ancient wisdom of how to model native knowing through observation of small acts.

Seeing & doing once honored is translated with embodying acts such as the kolo or being in a circle. The same acts of observing and doing in the kolo transcends time into the moment manifesting eternal communities and peaceful families.

The research of Anna Ilieva and Anna Shturbanova, Senior Research Fellow/Scientific Researcher, institute of Folklore, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria, experiences the virginal female wisdom and truth. “Our research is based on material that, until the mid-twentieth century, was still in existence as a festive and ritual system and that is still alive in the memory of our informants. We can trace the stability of Old European Symbolism even in such a ‘living,’ immaterial cultural forms the folk dance, which developed in Old Europe and has continued to exist in patriarchal agrarian society.”

With observation comes the recording of memories both ancient and modern. Grandmothers are experts at mental time travel with their memories. Endel Tulving researched how humans can recreate the brain pattern activity when an event first occurred and discovered that most of us do this time traveling before the memory is activated to the parts of the brain where we can discuss it.

If you can share your present moment, it is an image of the future according to the Bosnian grandmothers. I often ask my elder wise women what is the future in their present moment.

I ask you to share what is the future told in your present moment, now in your life?

By Danica Anderson, shared with permission

Be sure to check out Danica's Blood & Honey Icons: Biosemiotics & Bioculinary page on Facebook and The Kolo website.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Who Was She?

After the great experience with the Who Was Anne Frank? book, I decided to check out what else there is in the series.

It looks like there are a growing number of books, primarily about men.  These are the books about women that I was able to find:

Who Was Amelia Earhart?
Who Was Annie Oakley?
Who Was Rosa Parks?
Who Was Eleanor Roosevelt?
Who Was Harriet Tubman?
Who Was Susan B. Anthony?
Who Was Helen Keller?
Who Was Maria Tallchief?
Was Was Rachel Carson
Who Was Sacagawea?
Who Was Frida Kahlo?
Who Was Clara Barton?
Who Was Sally Ride?
Who Was Abigail Adams?
Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Who Is Jane Goodall?
Who is J.K. Rowling?  
Who Was Marie Curie?  
Who Was Queen Elizabeth?  
Who Is Michelle Obama? 
Who Is Dolly Parton? 
Who Was Betsy Ross?  
Who Was Sojourner Truth? (in the works)

We'll be working our way through them all!  It looks like many are also available in Spanish.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Too Much"

“No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much.” Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’…No woman has ever written enough.” – bell hooks

Who Was Anne Frank?

I started this remarkable book with my daughter over the weekend.  I imagine it could be read with parents by children as young as five, and depending on the reading level, enjoyed by girls up to 12 on their own.

My daughter DID not want to read the book, as she didn't know the story behind it. However, as we read it together, the book thoroughly held her attention and her imagination.  She loved that Anne also liked to play pranks - and missed many days of school like her, due to illness.  She found a lot of similarities between herself and Anne Frank.  She enjoyed the maps and information in the book - and was filled with questions about WWI and WWII.

I hope to post more about this later, but I will definitely be looking for more books by this author.  My daughter said, "I love this book!" many times while reading it - which was a first for her.  I have finally found a HERstory (aside from Goddess books, which she also loves) that she can fully identify with and enjoy.

Who Was Anne Frank by Ann Abramson. Illustrated by Nancy Harrison (the illustrations add so much to this detailed account in terms of allowing the child to wrap her head around the story.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture

All these decades later, our history books are filled with myths and mistruths. It is time for a true reckoning

by via Salon

We still lie about slavery: Here's the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture
The Shores family, near Westerville, Neb., in 1887. Jerry Shores was one of a number of former slaves to settle in Custer County. (Credit: AP/Solomon D. Butcher)

Excerpted from "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism"

"By the early twentieth century, America’s first generation of professional historians were justifying the exclusions of Jim Crow and disfranchisement by telling a story about the nation’s past of slavery and civil war that seemed to confirm, for many white Americans, that white supremacy was just and necessary. Above all, the historians of a reunified white nation insisted that slavery was a premodern institution that was not committed to profit-seeking. In so doing, historians were to some extent only repeating pre–Civil War debates: abolitionists had depicted slavery not only as a psychopathic realm of whipping, rape, and family separation, but also as a flawed economic system that was inherently less efficient than the free- labor capitalism developing in the North. Proslavery writers disagreed about the psychopathy, but by the 1850s they agreed that enslavers were first and foremost not profit-seekers. For them, planters were caring masters who considered their slaves to be inferior family members. So although anti- and proslavery conclusions about slavery’s morality were different, their premises about slavery-as- a-business model matched. Both agreed that slavery was inherently unprofitable. It was an old, static system that belonged to an earlier time. Slave labor was inefficient to begin with, slave productivity did not increase to keep pace with industrialization, and enslavers did not act like modern profit- seeking businessmen. As a system, slavery had never adapted or changed to thrive in the new industrial economy—let alone to play a premier role as a driver of economic expansion—and had been little more than a drag on the explosive growth that had built the modern United States. In fact, during the Civil War, northerners were so convinced of these points that they believed that shifting from slave labor to free labor would dramatically increase cotton productivity."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


On the recent Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, I visited the Historical Museum in Heraklion where I saw a beautiful embroidered silk panel of a mermaid identified only as having come from Koustogerako, a village in western Crete. As it is unlikely that a man in a Cretan village would have been talented in embroidery, in this case “Anonymous” most definitely “was a woman.”

In this thread painting a mermaid surrounded by fish is holding the anchor of a ship in one hand and a fish in the other. In Greece the mermaid is the protectress of sailors. In a well-known legend, a mermaid said to be the sister of Alexander the Great, emerges from the sea in front of a ship during a storm and asks: “Is Alexander the Great still living?” If the sailors answer, “Yes, he lives and reigns,” the ship is saved.

In this image the mermaid–who does not much resemble “the little mermaid” of recent lore—is identified by the woman who embroidered her as: “GORGONA, H THEA TIS THALASSIS,” MERMAID GODDESS OF THE SEA.” Assuming that the woman who created this embroidery was probably a Christian, I was surprised to see that she nonetheless referred to the mermaid as a Goddess. Was this phrase passed on to her down to her from pre-Christian times? Did she see any contradiction between her Christian beliefs and the “Goddess of the Sea?”

Looking more closely at the image, one can see that the scales of both the mermaid and the fish are portrayed as diamond shapes with a circle in the center. According to Marija Gimbutas, in the language of the Goddess, the widely repeated diamond shape, which she calls a “lozenge,” is a symbol of the vulva, while the circle or dot represents the opening of the womb and the seed of life. The tassel on the apron of the mermaid, a red “V” shape outlined in black and crowned by a red circle, can be read as vulva and womb.

At the church of the Panagia Kera in Kritsa, Crete, in a fresco painting, Mother Earth, portrayed as a Byzantine Queen, gives up the dead buried in her body for the Last Judgment. Across from her the Mermaid gives up the bodies of those who died in her realm, the Sea. I have always marveled at how in these two paintings, Christian beliefs are melded with older religious ideas. Though Christ the Judge is clearly to have the last word, the artist portrays Mother Earth and Mother Sea as beautiful queens—not as evil temptresses. When I look at these images I cannot help wonder if others have asked: ‘Who do you prefer: Mother Earth and Mother Sea who accept everyone into their bodies, or Christ the Judge who redeems only those who believe in Him and who condemns many to the everlasting torment that is vividly portrayed on the walls of the church?’

Western Europeans have been taught to picture the mermaid as a tragic figure who falls in love with a human man but cannot live on land. This figure is often blonde and very young. In my childhood imagination mermaids were classed along with fairies as beautiful images of soft femininity that I did not associate with the strong powers of Mother Earth and Mother Sea.

The Greek woman who created the embroidered painting of the mermaid knew more than I did. She perhaps knew that her forebears called Aphrodite (or Venus) the Goddess of the Sea. She may not have known that Homer portrayed a defeated Aphrodite limping off the battlefield. She would not have been told that the defeat of the Goddess of the Sea is widely repeated in Mediterranean cultures. She would not have learned that Tiamat was the Mesopotamian Goddess of the Salt Sea Waters and that the Gods Anu, Enlil, and Marduk established supremacy by slaying her and cutting her body into pieces.

For “Anonymous,” the artist who created the mermaid embroidered on silk preserved in the museum in Heraklion, the Goddess of the Sea lived and reigned.

By Carol P. Christ, shared with permission from the author. Originally published on feminismandreligion.com

Carol is looking forward to the fall Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete–$150 discount for the next two women to sign up for the fall 2014 tour–www.goddessariadne.org. Carol can be heard in a recent interviews on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Goddess Alive Radio, and Voices of Women. Carol is a founding voice in feminism and religion and Goddess spirituality. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Follow Carol on GoddessCrete on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dominique Christina & Denice Frohman - "No Child Left Behind"

"The first time I read a book by a Latina author was in college. The wind in my chest stood up.  It had been 18 long years of text books filled with everything but me. For the first time my body knew a world that could hold it.  See, the quickest way to silence a mouth is to treat it as if none had come before." - Denice Froham

"There are thousands of unreported lynching's that happen in American classrooms each year. The victims are between the ages of five and 19.  They are black and brown and gay and poor and different and other and not enough and too much." - Dominique Christina

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"I don't read his-story because they had to burn her-story to write it." - Anonymous

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How does that erase females from the human race? by Danica Anderson

Add captionKostenki Venus, 20,000 years old.   

In the upper Paleolithic the Pregnant Moist Mother Earth figurines were nude and often with her hands on her round belly. The womb is iconic for the caves in this period.

Gimbutas revealed in her archeological research of ‘Old Europe’ that the Pregnant Goddess was accompanied by vital energy symbols of the spiral, snakes, and two line and four-corner signs. Additionally, she pointed out the surviving Slavic belief that striking the earth or spitting upon her would make her weep and how the Moist Mother Earth must be partnered in the growth of new life.

Pregnant Moist Mother Earth Goddesses-pigs was revered as mother to the plants, animals and in partnership to the rich lush landscapes- Mother Nature forces in the mountains, rocks, trees. With sows, the social ecology mirrors the moist mother from breast feeding to childbirth.

For Slavs amulets of the Boar or Sow have been since time immemorial. Amulets or charms attest to the ancient perspective of social relationships and interrelationships of their communities to that of the Moist Mother Earth. The Karanovo Culture in what is known geographical as Central Bulgaria, Nova Zagora region, is in the land of blood and honey- fertile soils for agriculture.

The various divinities represented in the Neolithic Slav art forms associated as the attendant of the Pregnant Goddess, herself, is evidenced in the Cucuteni period (mid-4th millennium BCE) with images of zoomorphic figures and vases. The sow is shown among the animal sculptures with some extremely schematized artifacts as well.

Found with the Pregnant Goddess are stiff nudes- sometimes with round masks interned in graves in groups of three. What is interesting to note with the Proto-Slavs in Neolithic Old Europe is that male figurines are extremely rare. If present, the male figures are supporting or protectors of the Pregnant Goddess.

Remnants of the Pregnant Mother Earth and the association with the Pig for Slavs- both former Yugoslavs and Russians- can be found in current church liturgy songs. The following are translations of a prayer and a song.

Mother Earth, giving suck from bountiful breasts to countless children. When the peasants spoke of Matushka Zemlia, their eyes, usually dull and expressionless, were flooded with love, like the eyes of children who see their mother at a distance.

If you don't give us a tart - We'll take your cow by the horns.
If you don't give us a sausage - We'll grab your pig by the head.
If you don't give us a bliny - We'll give the host a kick.

Erin Hilleary paints a sprial on her pregnant belly

 When was the last time you experienced in a group – a feeling of oneness?

Do not note concerts or mass gatherings, let alone patriotic duty where every individual is isolated and do not relate to each other and/or involve killing, mayhem, gossip, character assignation, targeting and blame.

Do you know of any female leaders of nations, organizations, or groups that are not a part of the hierarchal system or think?

Do movies, script writers, media writers, radio/audio adhere to female stereotypes?

Do you know female humanities, female civilization of the ancient past or have an interest in having that in schools and media? Note the curricula and media are mostly all based on male authors, male heroes, and male leaders and use the terminology “mankind.” Do you accept the term mankind as meaning women, too? How does that erase females from the human race? What stereotypes and labels occur?

-Danica Anderson, Blood & Honey Icons Herstories (2nd book not yet published)

Be sure to check out Danica's Blood & Honey Icons: Biosemiotics & Bioculinary page on Facebook and The Kolo website

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arundhati Roy accuses Mahatma Gandhi of discrimination

Indian writer and political activist Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize winning author, has accused Mahatma Gandhi of discrimination and called for institutions bearing his name to be renamed.

Speaking at Kerala University in the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram, Roy, 52, described the generally accepted image of Gandhi as a lie.

"It is time to unveil a few truths about a person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on the acceptance of a most brutal social hierarchy ever known, the caste system … Do we really need to name our universities after him?" Roy said.

Read the rest at theguardian.com

Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Raised Voice: How Nina Simone turned the movement into music by Claudia Roth Pierpont

Simone with James Baldwin in the early sixties. Her intelligence and restless force attracted African-American culture’s finest minds.
Simone with James Baldwin in the early sixties. Her intelligence and restless force attracted African-American culture’s finest minds. Credit Courtesy New York Public Library.

My skin is black,” the first woman’s story begins, “my arms are long.” And, to a slow and steady beat, “my hair is woolly, my back is strong.” Singing in a club in Holland, in 1965, Nina Simone introduced a song she had written about what she called “four Negro women” to a young, homogeneously white, and transfixed crowd. “And one of the women’s hair,” she instructed, brushing her hand lightly across her own woolly Afro, “is like mine.” Every performance of “Four Women” caught on film (as here) or disk is different. Sometimes Simone coolly chants the first three women’s parts—the effect is of resigned weariness—and at other times, as on this particular night, she gives each woman an individual, sharply dramatized voice. All four have names. Aunt Sarah is old, and her strong back has allowed her only “to take the pain inflicted again and again.” Sephronia’s yellow skin and long hair are the result of her rich white father having raped her mother—“Between two worlds I do belong”—and Sweet Thing, a prostitute, has tan skin and a smiling bravado that seduced at least some of the eager Dutch listeners into the mistake of smiling, too. And then Simone hit them with the last and most resolutely up to date of the women, improbably named Peaches. “My skin is brown,” she growled ferociously, “my manner is tough. I’ll kill the first mother I see. ’Cause my life has been rough.” (One has to wonder what the Dutch made of killing that “mother.”) If Simone’s song suggests a history of black women in America, it is also a history of long-suppressed and finally uncontainable anger.

A lot of black women have been openly angry these days over a new movie about Simone’s life, and it hasn’t even been released. The issue is color, and what it meant to Simone to be not only categorically African-American but specifically African in her features and her very dark skin. Is it possible to separate Simone’s physical characteristics, and what they cost her in this country, from the woman she became? Can she be played by an actress with less distinctively African features, or a lighter skin tone? Should she be played by such an actress? The casting of Zoe Saldana, a movie star of Dominican descent and a light-skinned beauty along European lines, has caused these questions—rarely phrased as questions—to dog the production of “Nina,” from the moment Saldana’s casting was announced to the completed film’s d├ębut, at Cannes, in May, at a screening confined to possible distributors. No reviewers have seen it. The film’s director, Cynthia Mort, has been stalwart in her defense of Saldana’s rightness for the role, citing not only the obvious relevance of acting skills but Simone’s inclusion of a range of colors among her own “Four Women”—which is a fair point. None of the women in Simone’s most personal and searing song escape the damage and degradation accorded to their race.

Ironically, “Four Women” was charged with being insulting to black women and was banned on a couple of radio stations in New York and Philadelphia soon after the recording was released, in 1966. The ban was lifted, however, when it produced more outrage than the song. Simone’s husband, Andrew Stroud, who was also her manager, worried about the dangers that the controversy might have for her career, although this was hardly a new problem. Simone had been singing out loud and clear about civil rights since 1963—well after the heroic stand of figures like Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis, Jr., but still at a time when many black performers felt trapped between the rules of commercial success and the increasing pressure for racial confrontation. At Motown, in the early sixties, the wildly popular performers of a stream of crossover hits became models of black achievement but had virtually no contact with the movement at all.

Read the rest at The New Yorker

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where we are now: the role and future of feminist research


Scholarly research, like many things, comes inbuilt with certain assumptions, biases and omissions.

Take history and historical research. Yawning over centuries and straddling continents, so often the history recorded, studied and researched is a history of the accomplishments, milestones and experiences of men.

It is the history of royal bloodlines, religions, battlefields, explorers and scientists. Women have often been reduced to the footnoted wife or mother of a notable historical figure.
However, this account of history often poses as neutral, and just the way things happened.

Feminist academic and researcher Professor Sheila Jeffreys says much research in the social sciences does not notice or mention women.”

Read more here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why a Goddess Pilgrimage? by Carol P. Christ

What is a Goddess Pilgrimage and why are so many US, Canadian, and Australian women making pilgrimages to ancient holy places in Europe and Asia? The simple answer is that women are seeking to connect themselves to sources of female spiritual power that they do not find at home.

Traditionally pilgrims leave home in order to journey to a place associated with spiritual power. “Leaving home” means leaving familiar physical spaces, interrupting the routines of work and daily life, and leaving friends and family behind. For the pilgrim, “home” is a place that has provided both comfort and a degree of discomfort that provokes the desire to embark on a journey. The space of pilgrimage is a “liminal” or threshold space in which the supports systems of ordinary life are suspended, as Victor Turner said. A pilgrim chooses to leave the familiar behind in order to open herself to the unfamiliar—in hopes that she will return with new insight into the meaning of her life.

For feminist pilgrims, “home” inevitably involves the institutions of patriarchy that frequently intrude into personal relationships, structure the conditions of work, and deform the spirit. The feminist spiritual seeker desires to leave patriarchy behind. She sets off hoping to find a pre- or post- patriarchal world, a world in which female power is honored, and she is seeking the Goddess.

Because pilgrims generally leave home alone, it may seem surprising that Victor Turner named “communitas” as a central element in pilgrimage. In The Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims travelling together tell their stories. So too, on feminist spiritual pilgrimages, women tell stories. For some, the feminist community that emerges on the pilgrimage is the first they have known in which their stories, their questions, and the unspoken desires of their hearts are acknowledged. Even for those who have been part of feminist spiritual communities at home, a pilgrimage community is different. In the luminal space of the pilgrimage no one has to take a call from work or to leave early in order to tend to the needs of family members. Pilgrims have “set aside” time and space to focus on spiritual questions. They tell their stories to each other not to “pass the time” or to “fill in space,” but rather to search out the meaning of the story.

Place is an important aspect of pilgrimage. Pilgrims leave home, not only because they are seeking “something more,” but also because they think they know where they may find it. Shrines of saints are said to be places of extraordinary power. North American and Australian women have been cut off from their ancestral connections to sacred places, and do not yet have traditions that connect them to the sacrality of their adopted lands. They are drawn to places where others have experienced the sacred as female—sacred caves and mountaintops, Goddess temples, shrines of the Black Madonna. Visiting sacred places of the Goddess while inhabiting luminal space, in the company of like-minded women, feminist pilgrims open themselves to revelation. As they walk on ancient paths, climb into the womblike spaces of sacred caves, and set their offerings on ancient altars, a knowing that had been intellectual enters into the cells of their bodies. Some receive insights that come in a flash. For others, the meaning of the journey unfolds over time. Few are disappointed. She is there.

By Carol P. Christ, shared with permission from the author. Originally published on feminismandreligion.com

Carol is looking forward to the fall Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete–$150 discount for the next two women to sign up for the fall 2014 tour–www.goddessariadne.org. Carol can be heard in a recent interviews on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Goddess Alive Radio, and Voices of Women. Carol is a founding voice in feminism and religion and Goddess spirituality. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Follow Carol on GoddessCrete on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Women Poets and Female Troubadours of Al-Andalus

an excerpt from a review of :

Classical Poems by Arab Women
A Bilingual Anthology

compiled and translated by Abdullah al-Udhari

London: Saqi Books, 1999.
ISBN: hardback: 086356-096-2; paperback: 086356-047-4

by Moris Farhi (London)

via Modern Poetry in Translation

The Abbasid period, stretching from 750 to 1258 – with Baghdad as its capital – saw the Arabs reach the peak of their political, economic and cultural grandeur.

This epoch, defined by many Arab historians as a Golden Age – one only to be rivalled by the Golden Age in Andalus where the Umayyad remained in power –, created a liberal, but elite, society keen to enjoy Allah’s earthly gifts.

Here is Ulayya bint al-Mahdi (777-825), poet, singer and composer :

Lord, it’s not a crime to long for Raib
who stokes my heart with love
and makes me cry . . .

. . . May Allah curse the ungiving even if he fasts and prays . .

And Safiyya al-Baghdadiyya (twelfth century):

I am the wonder of the world,
the ravisher of hearts and minds.

Once you’ve seen my stunning looks,
you’re a fallen man.

And, naturally, the freedoms of a liberated society urge the mind to seek other freedoms, intangible freedoms.

Thus hedonism leads to spiritual exploration and deep mysticism; lust for life demands sanctity for life and the suffrage of all its rights.

Here is Raabi’a al-Adwiyya (714-801), an early and major figure in the history of Sufism :

I put You in my heart to keep me company
and leave my body
to whoever wants to sit with me . . .
. . . I love You passionately
and I love You for Yourself . . .

However, it was in Al-Andalus, in the Iberian Peninsula, that Arab poetry in general and the works of women poets in particular attained the highest level of liberation.

Separated from Arabia by the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean and by the particular heritages of both Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms, Andalusia developed its very own dazzling civilization.

Before long, the Koran’s paradisal world was translated into everyday life and the Iberian Peninsula transformed into an earthly Eden.

The freedoms of the early Umayyad and Abbasid periods were reclaimed.

Whilst in the eastern stretches of the Empire women found themselves gradually stripped of their freedom and equality – or, as in the aftermath of the mass rape conducted by Tamerlane’s hordes in Damascus, became chattels to be protected behind veils and walls –, in Andalusia, they lived insouciant of taboos.

By the eleventh century the women poets were reflecting this carefree atmosphere where life’s meaning was invariably found in love and passion.

Here is Hafsa bint Hamdun (tenth century):

I have a lover who thinks the world of himself, and when he sees me off
he cocks up : ‘You couldn’t have had a better man.’
And I throw back : ‘Do you know of a better woman ?’

And the Jewish poet, Qasmuna bint Isma’il ibn Yusuf ibn Annaghrila
(eleventh century) said this of herself on reaching sexual maturity:

I see a garden ripe for picking,
but no picker’s hand reaching for it.

It’s painful to watch my youth passing me by,
leaving the unmentionable untouched.

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi (eleventh century), daughter of the Umayyad Caliph Mustakfi and one of the most beautiful women of her time, poured scorn on her man’s infidelity, almost with glee:

If you were faithful to our love
you wouldn’t have lost your head over my maid.

You dropped a branch in full bloom for a lifeless twig.
You know I am the moon yet you fell for a tiddly star.

And I’timad Arrumaikiyya (eleventh century) implored her lover with no compunction:

I urge you to come faster than the wind
to mount my breast and firmly dig
and plough my body,
and don’t let go until you’ve flushed me thrice.

And here is Hafsa bint al-Hajj Arrakuniyya (twelfth century), possibly the greatest woman poet, freely eulogizing the joys of carnal love:

If I keep you in my eyes until the world blows up I’d still want you more . . .
I know too well those marvellous lips.

By Allah, I’m not lying if I say I love sipping their finer-than-wine
delicious dew . . .

When you break at noon you’ll need a drink and you’ll find my mouth
a bubbling spring and my hair a refuge-shade.

Needless to say, the collection transcends love and liberation.

For those readers who might seek parallels or wish to make comparisons, there is fertile ground.

The discerning ear will pick up fragments which attain the lyricism of Sappho, the vulnerable intelligence of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the simmering spirituality of Sor Juana, the poised but impassioned directness of Emily Dickinson.

And the exquisite drawings by Laura Maggi provide yet another reason to treasure this book.

Moris Farhi



Modern Poetry in Translation
New Series No. 17 - 2001


via Yunus Emrys

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We Could Have Been Canadians and Other Thoughts about My New England Colonial Heritage by Carol P. Christ

carol mitzi sarah

My 2x great-grandparents Nathaniel Searing and Louisa Caroline Martin were pioneers who cleared the land and built a log cabin in Lyons, Michigan in 1840. They were descended from English Puritan Colonial settlers in New England. At least two of my ancestors are recognized by the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolutions. Other members of my family who were Quakers proudly refused to take part in the Revolutionary War.

My great-grandfather James Augustus married a woman of German descent, his daughter Lena Marie married a Swede, and my mother married a man who was German, Irish, and Scottish. As the descendants of Nathaniel Searing and Louisa Caroline Martin moved around the United States and married into the families of newer immigrants, the succeeding generations also lost touch with their history. Our family’s connections to the New England Colonists were not even mentioned at Thanksgiving!

I would wager that few of the descendants of Nathaniel and Louisa Caroline were told they had ancestors in the Colonies. I read my great-uncle Emery’s history of the Searing branch of our family’s colonial ancestors as a child, but the import of his findings was not made clear to me. No one ever said, “This means you are related to the original New England Colonists.”

When I moved back East and studied at Yale in New Haven, I took an annual drive with a friend to Litchfield (where some of my ancestors had lived) when the fall leaves were in color, visited Hempstead, Long Island (where some of my ancestors settled the Hempstead Colony) to visit my father’s relatives who lived there, and lived in Oyster Bay, Long Island (which other ancestors settled) for two summers as a research assistant; during all of those times, the idea that parts of my family’s history were to be found in those very places never even crossed my mind.

My journey into my Colonial past has helped me to understand that I have deep roots in the early history of America, in both the good and the evil that was done. I take strength from the courage and spirit of ancestors who came to the Colonies to escape religious persecution and to make better lives for themselves and their children. I admire their serious commitment to the ideas they held dear, as this is a character trait I have inherited from them. I am proud that some of my ancestors rejected the negative aspects of Puritanism, including rule by the clergy, intolerance, and the doctrine of predestination.

I am happy to claim my Quaker heritage (which I am only now learning about), as I too oppose war and slavery and affirm women’s rights. Like the Quakers, I believe that each of us has an “inner light.” I stand in awe of pioneers who cleared forests, built homes, and ploughed fields with their own hands—and in even more awe of the women who did all of that while bearing and raising large numbers of children.

When I began the journey to find my New England Colonial heritage, I naively hoped that my ancestors’ relationships with the Indians were positive. I took heart when I read that the founders of the Hempstead Colony “purchased” their land from the Indians. But as I dug further into the history of the Hempstead Colony, I found evidence of the violence that (to be truthful I already knew) accompanied the “claiming” and “seizing” of lands that were inhabited by other human beings. And then I discovered the even more violent history of the Indian Wars in Massachusetts and Connecticut—stories that made me wish this “history” was not mine.

I did not expect to discover that Quaker members of my family held slaves in New York. Though I acknowledge and fight against the racism that has structured American life, I had assumed that the beginning of this story was in “the South.” Nor would I ever have imagined that I might be related to some of the English Pershall/Pearsall shipowners who were “architects” of the “slave triangle” by means of which slaves from Africa were brought to America, while sugar, cotton, and tobacco were carried back to in England.

What does the knowledge that “my ancestors” traded and held slaves and killed Indians in order to take their land mean to me? It means that I can no longer view myself as innocent in relation to great struggles that are not over: the struggle of the Native Americans to reclaim their dignity and to find new ways to flourish in the land they now must share with others; and the struggle of former slaves to overcome the racism that has structured their lives and limited their opportunities in the country they helped to build.

I think both groups deserve an apologies and for past wrongs and ongoing harm, and reparations in the form of opportunities (for example, grants for for education, training, and home and small business ownership, as well as grants to groups) that will enable them to take their rightful places within the larger American community.

In the course of this journey I read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and watched his lecture on Three Holy Wars on YouTube. Although I have opposed war all of my adult life, I had never asked whether or not the Revolutionary War had to be fought. Yet, as Zinn said, “We could have been Canadians.” Had we been Canadians, we might not feel we need to “fight” with soldiers, armies, and weapons in order to achieve “freedom” in our own country or and around the world.

After pondering Zinn’s argument deeply, I was pleased to find that most of the Quakers held firm to their principles and refused to take part in the Revolutionary War. I agree with them that the harm that is created by war is greater than any good that can ever come of it. I would be prouder to claim myself as a “Daughter of the Resistance to the American Revolution” if such a group existed, than to claim the membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution which is also my right.

Recently a series of platitudes about the American Revolution spoken by Chris Matthews have been appearing on my screen when I watch MSNBC news programs. Matthews assumes that the notion that “all men are created equal” is worth “fighting for.” But is it? One of the legacies of the American Revolution is the so-called “right to bear arms” enshrined in the second amendment to the Constitution that is troubling America today. Another is the notion that as the inheritors of the Revolution, Americans are authorized and required to “fight for freedom” around the world. But are we? And should we? Or were the Quakers right that war can never have a “good” outcome?

We must acknowledge all of our history—the parts we like and the parts we don’t. To do anything else is to tell a false story. But then we can decide which strands of our history we wish to affirm, which we wish to reject, and which we can still try to heal or repair.

We remember some parts of our ancestors’ stories for the strength and grounding the knowledge of their stories can give us. But with knowledge, there is also responsibility. We cannot change history, but we try to change the world we have inherited.

By Carol P. Christ, shared with permission from the author. Originally published on feminismandreligion.com

Carol is looking forward to the fall Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete–$150 discount for the next two women to sign up for the fall 2014 tour–www.goddessariadne.org. Carol can be heard in a recent interviews on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Goddess Alive Radio, and Voices of Women. Carol is a founding voice in feminism and religion and Goddess spirituality. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Follow Carol on GoddessCrete on Twitter.

Monday, September 8, 2014

10 intriguing female revolutionaries that you didn’t learn about in history class


We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Read at whizzpast.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Dinner Party Curriculum Project

The Dinner Party Curriculum Project

The rich content of The Dinner Party—women’s achievements throughout history and curricular applications for K-12 art education settings is examined by The Dinner Party Curriculum Project. While the Curriculum was developed by and for art educators, its teachings about the relevance of women’s achievements apply to many other fields as well.

Launched by Through the Flower in 2009, The Dinner Party Curriculum was created by a team of writers spearheaded by Dr. Marilyn Stewart (with Dr. Constance Bumgarner Gee, Dr. Peg Spiers and Dr. Carrie Nordlund) in collaboration with Judy Chicago. Through a series of free, downloadable pdf files, teachers can learn how to integrate The Dinner Party into their classrooms so as to teach a wide audience about women’s rich and empowering history through art. The official launch of The Dinner Party Curriculum Project took place on May 1, 2009 at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe and was attended by state officials, museum professionals, curators, art teachers from around the state and the entire board of Through the Flower.
In 2011, Through the Flower gifted and endowed the Curriculum to Penn State where it continues to be integrated into their art education and other programs and maintained online in perpetuity. This Curriculum is now an in-perpetuity “living curriculum” and can be found on the website of Penn State University, one of the leading art education institutions in the country. Penn State also houses the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection, gifted by Judy Chicago; regarded as one of the most important private collections of archival materials on feminist art education, it encompasses videos, photographs, and notes on Chicago’s teaching projects. Through the Flower’s endowments to Penn State will ensure the continued development, support and promotion of the Collection, and of the Curriculum for future generations.

via Through the Flower

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

Photo: I have been looking through 'The Dinner Party' with my daughter this morning.  She asked, "Can I have a seat at that table?!"

This is a beautiful book that I've been enjoying for years -- until I am able to go in person with my kids.  I noticed it's also on sale on Amazon now.  HIGHLY recommended!

I spent some time looking through 'The Dinner Party' with my daughter before the school year started yesterday. She asked, "Can I have a seat at that table?!"

For those who don't know, table sat 39 women from pre-history with specific place settings. It also features the name of 999 women.  The book contains detailed information on each. It's a fantastic addition to the library of anyone who is interested in herstory.

This is a beautiful book that I've been enjoying for years -- until I am able to go in person with my kids. I noticed it's also on sale on Amazon now. HIGHLY recommended!

Judy Chicago
also has a remarkable Curriculum Project that I will blog about later.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Recreating Herstory by Danica Anderson

"The Bosnian kilms filled with signs, symbolic representations are exactingly shaped like the “Old Europe” Danube signs and scripts some four thousand years old. Yet, I know the Srebrenica widows, who never worked outside the home, learned to drive or finished school or would not have opened a book with the archeological inscriptions. Srebrenica ...widows are teaching me that the past are memories that are not mobile. Since memories are static, memories are easily accessed in the moment, simply by their loom and their survival of war crimes. We see this with Post Traumatic Stress flashbacks of what appears as live memories unwilling to die in those who survive.
At the same time, with the past memories evoked from the air, the Srebrenica widows held a vision of their kilms’ design and ethnochoreology of their grief to view the future as herstory. With each kilm the Srebrenica widows were shifting of the past memories to recreate herstory with a new sense of purposeful meaningful living. In other words, their creative acts of the simple loom will live on long after their deaths. "

-Danica Anderson, Blood & Honey Icons: Biosemiotics & Bioculinary: The Pedagogy of South Slavic Women War