A lot of my work focuses on women and has for many years. I don’t actually feel any particular need to rationalize, explain, or justify this—working with women is something that has held deep meaning, relevance, enjoyment, passion, and purpose for me ever since I started working in a battered women’s shelter as a volunteer when I was seventeen years old. My age has since doubled and the type of work I do with women has morphed, expanded, shifted, and changed texture over time, but it is a strong, defining, consistent thread that is tightly woven through my professional life, my academic work, my volunteer work, my teaching, and my spiritual path. I’ve noticed, however, that people occasionally misinterpret my focus on women and my enjoyment in creating rituals for women, for honoring “women’s mysteries,” and for exploring thealogy and the Goddess, as well as helping women with birth and breastfeeding, somehow indicates that I don’t value men. My enjoyment of priestessing women’s circles is not a statement about men, it is a statement about something I like to do with my time and life energy. I also value and appreciate my husband, my sons, my dad, and the other men in my life. I have family full moon rituals each month with my husband and our kids (two sons, one daughter). My dad, husband, and sons enjoy our annual family winter solstice ritual. My husband and I work together making our goddess jewelry and I love that this collaborative project represents a harmonizing of our energies, efforts, and time.
I agree with Melissa Raphael’s remark that, “Thealogy has no wish to simply reproduce the masculinist account of divine sovereignty and redemptive power in feminized form” (p. 201). To me this is one of the most beneficial and beautiful elements of Goddess feminism.” And, from Judith Laura’s book, Goddess Matters, she describes Goddess as “she who flows through all” and contrasts this with “God as manipulator.” Goddess is “She what connects us, not only like a link in a chain but also like an electrical current.”
These things said, I’ve been meaning for several months now to give a shout-out to the male bloggers that I very much enjoy. I subscribe to a lot of blogs. I like a lot of writers, but there are only a handful from whom I read every post they write as soon as they post it. These three guys definitely make that list:
- John Beckett writes Under the Ancient Oaks on Patheos. He initially appealed to me because he is associated with a UU church and we have that in common. I continued to read him though because he is very logical, solid, practical, and even-handed in his writing and interaction with others, with a nice dash of interesting polytheistic stuff thrown in. One of his recent posts about pagan unity is a good example of the practical style I find so appealing about his blog:
I prefer a Big Tent approach to Paganism – a big tent with four main posts. Some of us are right in the middle, some cling tightly to only one post, while others are in one of the corners. Some people are close enough for me to see them but not close enough for me to tell if they’re actually under the tent or if they’re standing outside. What about Green Christians? I think they’re outside, but their fundamentalist brethren over in the next camp think they’re standing right in the middle of us. What about the Kabbalists? I think they’re in, but many of them say they’re only in the Jewish tent. The Hindus are over in that corner – some of them are insistent they’re in our tent and others are just as insistent they’re not.
Complicated? Yep. Messy? Sure is. Living, growing, reproducing organisms are like that.
The problem with big tents is, well, they’re big. Try to embrace the whole tent and you can find yourself bouncing back and forth between pouring libations to Zeus, protesting fracking, organizing the Beltane picnic and meditating on The Fool. Those are all worthwhile things to do, but they can lead to a personal religion that is the proverbial mile wide and an inch deep. That’s a problem – if you’ve been reading Under the Ancient Oaks for any time at all you know one of my favorite soapboxes is the need for spiritual depth.
via Pagan Unity.
- John Halstead writes The Allergic Pagan (as well as another blog at Witches and Pagans and for Humanistic Paganism). He’s willing to tackle somewhat controversial issues and engage in intelligent conversation and debate. He never fails to make me think and is just a really smart guy with a lot of interesting stuff to say. I recently shared this quote in a different post, but trust me that he has lots of posts that rank as thought-provoking favorites:
This is your Goddess,” my wife said to me smiling.
“It’s the slimy side of her,” I responded.
“This is life,” she replied.
It’s strange when a seemingly mundane moment is transformed into a sacred one. I looked at my Mormon wife standing in the ocean, holding a shell, and I heard her speak the words of a true priestess: “This is your Goddess. This is life.”
via My Goddess is gross.
- Jason Mankey is the often light-hearted and funny, but not afraid to be serious and occasionally blunt, author of Raise the Horns at Patheos. I love the way he writes about ritual, modern paganism, personal practices, and the way he digs into holiday origins. One of his recent posts that really spoke to me was this one:
In our own practice becoming a High Priestess and Priest was not something we aspired to. It came about because people viewed the two of us that way. I’ll admit to even being uncomfortable with the title on occasion. I have a thirst for knowledge and history and write pretty good rituals, but there are many Witches and Pagans who know so much more than I ever will. That a few people think of me in such august company is flattering, but I often feel like I don’t belong. (I got weirded out when one of our coven members referred to me as “a spiritual leader,” I’m much more comfortable just being the guy who drinks cider and listens to 80′s hair metal.)
Even with my occasional reservations about the title I feel like I’ve earned it, and I know my wife has earned her title of High Priestess. How do you know you’ve earned the right to call yourself a High Priestess or High Priest? You’ve earned the title when someone asks you to officiate their handfasting or wedding. You’ve earned the title when every eye in the circle glances your way looking for instruction or guidance. You’ve earned the title when your High Priestess deems you ready for elevation. It’s an honor that finds you, and it finds you when you are ready.
When I first began writing this post back in October, Teo Bishop would definitely have been on my list as well. I really enjoyed his contemplative, gentle, personal, enriching style of writing. If you follow pagan bloggers at all, you’ve probably surmised that something happened and it involved Teo Bishop. If you follow me and read my other blog, you also know that I, personally, spend virtually zero time talking about “current events” and/or controversies within either of my primary fields. I call this dissecting of current events a “putting out fires” mode of blogging and I just don’t like to do it myself. It seems reactive in a way that bothers me, and reminds me a bit too much of the dominating, semi-oppressive energy that can spread so fast in other areas/topics (dare I mention Miley Cyrus, for example?). So, I’ll just say that I read Teo’s blog Bishop in the Grove for at least two years. This month he decided to discontinue Bishop in the Grove as he moves in a different direction with his spiritual path. His new path doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me, though his same contemplative writing style is still engaging, he’s no longer speaking in a spiritual language that I find compelling. He should still get a shout-out though, because I’m pretty sure it was his blog that introduced me to interesting pagan men’s blogs I love to read and learn from.
In keeping with the collaborative energy with my husband that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’ve been painstakingly finishing up our first ever free-standing pewter casting that is male! While I made a polymer clay “daddy goddess” sculpture before when requested by my toddler daughter, most of my artwork is Goddess/female-centric. After one night of full-moon drumming with my husband and boys, I knew the time had come to introduce some masculine energy into my art and the result was this little drumming team:
The casts are still on the rough side and we’re having a terrible time getting their hands to work correctly. Many, many, many of these little guys have been plopped back into the melting pot for another rebirth (my husband often turns them face down, so he doesn’t have to watch their little “faces” looking up at him as they dissolve). We’re keeping these two sets, but probably need to start over with another sculpt altogether as well as a fresh mold because we do anything more with this design idea. I felt like they were a symbol of our own work together, as well as the harmony possible between men and women in the rest of the world.
This morning when I went to the woods to take these pictures, the cinnamon sticks I offered up last night were sitting there on the rock in this arrangement evocative of an “equal” sign. I thought that was pretty cosmic.