Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

Archive for the ‘Women’s Myth and History’ Category

Goddess Booklist–recommended reading

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What follows is a short list of books and web sites that I found most useful so far, on my quest for the Goddess.Carol C. Christ, LAUGHTER OF APHRODITE

———-, ODYSSEY WITH THE GODDESS (Continuum, 1995)

———-, REBIRTH OF THE GODDESS

———-, SHE WHO CHANGES (Palgrave MacMillan, 2003)

—Carol C. Christ has written a series of books charting her growth and experiences with Goddess spirituality. While the first 2 show her move from God to Goddess, Rebirth of the Goddess is the first systematic feminist theology of the Goddess. She Who Changes outlines the intellectual underpinnings upon which her theology is based. Obviously the first 2 titles above are the easiest to read, although the latter are not difficult given Carol’s wonderful ability to make a difficult subject accessible. I would highly recommend any and all of these books as a way into the whole area of Goddess spirituality and theology.

Tikva Frymer-Kensky, IN THE WAKE OF THE GODDESS (Fawcett Columbine, 1992)

—This is a book of feminist scholarship on the subject of ancient pagan goddesses and how they were gradually overthrown by male gods, and ultimately by the biblical god. Not your average bedtime reading, but worth it all the same!

Caitlin Matthews, SOPHIA, GODDESS OF WISDOM, BRIDE OF GOD (Quest Books, 2001)

—A book written by a well known teacher of Celtic spirituality about the many faces of the Goddess as She has been manifested in the Western tradition as Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom. One such manifestation looked at is the Black Madonna.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, GODDESSES AND THE DIVINE FEMININE (University of California Press, 2005)

—This would be an essential book as far as I am concerned! Rosemary is a feminist theologian long engaged in theological enquiry in feminist, environmental and related issues. Here she presents the definitive account of goddesses from prehistoric times to contemporary interpretations. However be warned–she examines the mythology carefully resulting in the rejection of certain premises that would be considered almost sacrosanct in some goddess circles, eg the myth of a peaceful matriarchal society that predated patriarchy. Personally I would consider that while such myths are very consoling, it is always better to be open to the truth whatever the ‘truth’ is understood to be at a particular point in time.

China Galland, LONGING FOR DARKNESS: TARA AND THE BLACK MADONNA (Penguin, 1991)

——–, THE BOND BETWEEN WOMEN (Riverhead Books, 1998)

—One woman’s search for the Sacred Feminine and where the search brought her, including the goddesses she ‘met‘ on her journey. Both books very easy to read as well as being informative. Recommended.

Sue Monk Kidd, THE DANCE OF THE DISSIDENT DAUGHTER (Harper Collins, 2002)

—Absolutely essential reading for anyone either on the journey, or about to embark on the quest for the Sacred Feminine. Refers to goddesses in the context of her personal search.

GODDESS WEBSITES

http://spiralgoddess.com—A wonderful site with enough to keep you entertained and amused for a long time! Pour yourself a cup of coffee or herbal tea, pull up your seat and enjoy!!

http://www.imagesofdivinity.org—This is China Galland’s web site. Wonderful images of the Black Madonna.

http://sagewoman.com—A goddess based magazine. Interesting reading.

Written by Edith

August 26, 2006 at 4:33 pm

A Chance Meeting at the Apothecary Shop

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It was “Mojito Week” at Il Taverna di Muse, and the Proprietress sent me to the Apothecary Shop to purchase bundles of fresh mint leaves, an essential ingredient for the drink. I was excited to make my first visit to the Shop as I had heard it was an extraordinary sensory experience.

The moment the door chimes announced my entrance into the Shop I was assaulted by the pungent scent of spices, the earthy smell of fresh clipped herbs, bundled and hanging from the rafters, and the warm, inviting aromas of tea and fresh baked pastries.

Besides providing apothecary services to the neighborhood, the Shop was also a place for writers and craftspeople to gather who preferred a quieter, less frenetic environment. There were some tables and chairs near the pastry section and in the back was the Stitching Room were some textile artists were piecing together a quilt.

After I made my purchase and was heading toward the door with the wrapped bundle of mint under my arm, I noticed a middle-aged woman in a Victorian-style dress, black silk with starched white lace around the collar. Her hair was pulled high and she balanced a pair of wire glasses on her nose. She was busy reading a book. I stopped and stared for a moment. She was so familiar. Then I knew—it was her!

The woman became aware of me and looked up. “May I be of assistance?” she said with a prim clip.

“Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to stare… you look just like…. I mean…. Oh what am I trying to say….Maam, are you Miss Alcott? Louisa May Alcott?”

“I am she.”

“Oh, this is such an honor, Miss Alcott! I’ve enjoyed your work so much.”

“Thank you, my dear. I am gratified that my little women mean so much to you.”

“Maam, I wasn’t referring to Little Women—I mean, don’t misunderstand me, Little Women was wonderful, but I was referring to your…your…..”

“Potboilers? Blood and Thunder stories?”

“Well, yeah.” I sheepishly smiled.

“Please, have a seat, my dear.” She smiled. “Most of my readers don’t know about those stories.”

“And it’s a shame—Pauline’s Passion and Punishment, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, and my favorite, A Modern Mephistopheles—they were innovative, way ahead of their time.”

“Their time?”

“Oh, yes, well, you see, I’m from your future. It’s a little strange, I know.”

“Strange? My dear, this is Lemuria. Everything is strange in Lemuria.”

“Yes, maam.”

“So you read my potboilers?”

“Yes, maam, as part of a research project.”

“My works will be researched? “

“Yes, indeed. You were, er, ARE, one of the first feminists. Your women’s suffrage work is well documented and your literary works reflect this as well.”

“Feminist?”

“Yes, a person who supports women’s rights and strives for justice and social equality.”

“I see. And you see this in my writings?”

“Yes. Your female characters are fiery, independent women, most particularly in your potboilers, but even in Little Women—Jo for example.”

Miss Alcott chuckled. “May I share a secret with you, uh…..”

“Lori.”

“Lori, the fact of the matter is….” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I wasn’t very eager to write Little Women.

I suppressed a smile. I already knew that her publisher pushed her to write this simple moral tale for children. “Really!” I said.

“No, I didn’t really want to write it. Very dull and ordinary.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I very much enjoyed writing my potboilers. They are so …lurid.” I believe Miss Alcott was beginning to blush. She continued, “The women in those stories were far more interesting and….and….” She struggled for a word.

“…More real?” I said.

“Yes, indeed. More real.”

I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Is that the time?! Miss Alcott, I don’t want to be rude but I really need to get back to the Tavern.”

“Of course, dear. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance.”

“Likewise, Miss Alcott.” I headed towards the door.

“Miss Lori.”

“Yes, maam?”

“Did women ever get the right to vote, in the future, I mean?”

“Yes, maam, we did.”

Miss Alcott picked up her book and resumed her reading.

“Outstanding” she muttered with a smile.

Lori Gloyd © 2006

Written by Pelican1

August 21, 2006 at 1:36 am

Mira Bai

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My evenings working in the Taverna were filled with fun and laughter. The Proprietress and some of the patrons quickly brought me up to speed on how to mix their favorite drinks. I did not make too many mistakes, but once I did spill a glass of beer on the gentleman who always sits in the corner. I learned a new word that night: “vexsom.”

I was tending bar last night when the tribal dancer Mira Bai made her weekly performance. When she finished her act, she glided to a table of patrons who were applauding her with enthusiasm. She greeted them all with laughter, hugs, and kisses. She glanced towards me and motioned.

The Proprietress nudged me. “A round of sherry—the good Jerez for the Professor and her friends.”

“Professor?”

“Yes. Dr. Millicent Fairbanks, Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Mouseion. Her specialty is tribal fusion dance. Has a standing act every Thursday night. Mira Bai is just her stage name.”

“Really!”

“Yes. Interesting character that Millicent. She’s the daughter of a wealthy silk merchant from the Mulberry Highlands. Life of total privilege and luxury. Chucked it all to study dance at the Mouseion. That’s why she chose the name ‘Mira Bai.’”.

“I don’t understand. Who was Mira Bai?”

“No time to explain. They’re waiting for their drinks. Go!”

We were so busy that evening that I never got a chance to ask again about Mira Bai. I had planned to go to the Mouseion the next day to do some research on Lemurian butterflies for a poem I was writing, so I took the opportunity while there to ask the Librarian for some material on Mira Bai. While she went off to look for the material, I made myself comfortable in a study carrel. A few minutes passed when someone approached me.

“Well, my dear, the Librarian told me you were asking about Mira Bai. I thought I’d say hello.”

With a start, I looked up from my texts to see Dr. Fairbanks standing over me. She looked utterly different in ordinary clothes. Instead of a sultry, exotic dancer, here was a stern-looking academic.

“Uh, yes. ….Dr. Fairbanks…… What an honor…. Yes, I was curious about your stage name. It’s a very pretty name,” I stammered.

“Indeed.”

“The Proprietress said something that made me curious about the name.”

“She did now” Dr. Fairbanks chuckled and softened a bit. She pulled up a chair and sat next to me. “Let me tell you a little bit about Mira Bai.”

“Centuries ago in the land of India in what you call ‘The Real World’ a child was born to a noble family. Her parents named her Mira Bai. The child lacked nothing and in her world of gilded tile and marbled halls, she was raised with the singular purpose of doing her ‘duty’ to her family and her people. But Mira Bai was different—she did not play like other children; rather she spent her days in the temple of her god, dancing, singing, and composing poems of worship.

“It wasn’t that she didn’t want to do her duty—in fact, when she was of age, she was married to the Ruler of Chittor as had been arranged years earlier by their families. And as duty dictated, she went with her husband to his palace and lived with her in-laws. To the dismay of her in-laws, however, she did not attend to her duties as required by her rank and station. Again she went off to the temple to worship in song and ecstatic dance. Her family thought she was mad. And, to the horror of her in-laws, she even consorted with people in the temple who were outside her caste—down to the lowest of the Untouchables.

“Then, one day, her husband died and according to the custom of the people, Mira Bai’s duty was to allow herself to be set afire and burned along with her husband’s body.

“Mira Bai refused.

“Her in-laws were furious and drove her from the palace. Her own family barred her return to her childhood home. So Mira Bai spent the rest of her life wandering from temple to temple, singing her poetry and dancing before the god she adored.”

“That’s so sad,” I said.

“Sad? No, my dear. She was victorious! She led her own life, the life she wanted.”

I hesitated, then said “Is that the life YOU wanted?” I immediately cringed from my own brazenness.

Dr. Fairbanks laughed. “Yes, to a certain extent, but it was mostly to honor this amazing woman.”

“Yes, she is such an inspiration. We should all follow her example,” I gushed.

Dr. Fairbanks became serious again. “Are you sure about that? As writers, artists, dancers, musicians, we are often not understood, not even by our own families. Losing them….. that is a very high price to pay.”

She rose from her chair. “Is that a price YOU are willing to pay?” Then she turned and walked away.

I was left with an unsettled feeling that followed me all the way home that night.

————————

A poem by Mira Bai:

Drink The Nectar
Drink the nectar of the Divine Name,
O human! Drink the nectar of the Divine Name!
Leave the bad company,
always sit among righteous company.
Hearken to the mention of God (for your own sake).
Concupiscence, anger, pride, greed, attachment:
wash these out of your consciousness.
Mira’s Lord is the Mountain-Holder,
the suave lover.
Soak yourself in the dye of His colour.

Text: Lori Gloyd © 2006

Written by Pelican1

August 13, 2006 at 11:27 pm

Troubadours Perform for the Ladies

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Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most significant historical figures of the middle ages. In 1137, at the age of fifteen, she inherited the duchy of Aquitaine, which comprised nearly one-third of France; this ensured her a unique existence as a politically powerful woman of the middle ages. By the time of her death in 1204, she was a former queen of France functioning as regent queen of England, and had firmly established the blood line of the future English monarchy through her children. This historical importance is profound; yet, underlying her vast political influence was a social one of innumerable value to Western Art. Her lifelong patronage of the troubadour music of her home region directly resulted in the introduction of this oldest known genre of medieval secular music throughout France, and to a lesser extent, the Norman court of England. In addition, she indirectly influenced the formation of the next influentional secular genre, the music of the trouveres.

These trouveres are playing the love song Flow My Tears

Written by Heather Blakey

August 12, 2006 at 7:03 am

Tavern Recital – Round Dance – Red Book of Montserrat

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This piece, found in the library was written for festivities in early Medieval Spain.  The whole town would involve themselves in these events, which would usually last for days at a time.  The text dates from around 1100, so is interesting to relate to as a part of history, and it made me think of ancient cities and who must have lived there.

Red Book of Montserrat – Round Dance

Resplendent star on the mountain, like a sunbeam miraculously glowing, hear the people.

All joyous people come together: rich and poor, young and old,
climb the mountain to see with their own eyes, and return from it filled with grace.

Rulers and magnates of royal stripes, the mighty of the world, possessing grace,
proclaim their sins, beating their breast, and call on bended knee: Ave Maria.

Prelates and barons with their noble suite, all monks and also priests,
soldiers, merchands, citizens, sailors, townspeople and fishermen are praising here.

Peasants, ploughmen and also scribes, advocates, stone-masons and all carpenters,
tailors and shoemakers and also weavers, all craftsmen thank here.

Queens, countesses, illustrious ladies of power and maidens, young girls,
virgins and old women and widows, climb the mountain, and also nuns.

The community is gathered here to make a vow, to give thanks and to fulfil the vow for the glory of this place,
so that all may see and return in joy, partaking of salvation.

We shall all – of both sexes – pray, and full of humility confess our sins to the glorious virgin,
mother of clemency, so that in heaven we may be with the merciful.

(Full lyrics are available through a Google search.)

Written by imogen88

August 11, 2006 at 3:09 pm

Priestesses of the Sacred

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As the product of an Irish Catholic upbringing I have been well steeped in the lives of virtuous female saints whom I and every other girl was supposed to emulate. Years later and with many feminist theological and spiritual books read in the interim I have finally realised that sainthood is not, and never has been about perfection. Instead the common link between all the saints has been the simple one of seeking the face of God/dess wherever that may be found. It is about facing our shadow side, and acknowledging it’s presence, and then learning from it so that we can extend the compassion we show ourselves to others. Sainthood is about illuminating the face of God/dess in the manifestation unique to the individual. Saints are role models, heroines if you like. And that is what my ‘circle of beauty, and wall of strength’ are to me — my own very particular and special group of female heroines who are always there for me. All I have to do is to call their names and I can feel their presence hovering nearby.

My initial study of this group of female saints, mostly medieval mystics, was to read as much as I could possibly find about them. The more I read and discovered, the more I loved them. The next stage was to incorporate them into my daily meditations and visualizations, and this practice has been invaluable in bringing them to life for me, so that I can feel them resonate in my soul. These are real cool gals! They are the original feminists, although of course they didn’t realise that themselves! They are strong, authentic, courageous, independent, hope- and faith-filled women who continue to inspire — priestesses in a long line of holy and whole women. These women are enthusiastic, that is they are filled with the love of the sacred (the original meaning of enthusiasm). When I call on them they join me in a circle and sit nearby as I meditate. They smile much, but never speak, or rather as yet they have not uttered a word. I wait….

Recently I began to work a series of embroideries that I call my ‘reclaiming series’, as in reclaiming the voices of the lost dimensions of these women saints. In this vein I think it especially important to recognize that they oughtn’t to be confined within a narrow religious understanding. These women are bright stars in the sacred firmament and have much to teach us all, whether we consider ourselves religious or not. They are manifestations of the goddess, each one shining her own particular light into my soul. They have much to teach me, and I have much to learn. But to learn I need to first open myself to hear their voices. It is this practice that I will be focusing on here in Cyberia.

Written by Edith

August 8, 2006 at 5:49 pm

Shadows of Herstory

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As the bearer of the Cuin Lantern, I shall attempt to cast some flickering glow into the shadows of history where a woman’s hand has been denied or suppressed. One is Julian of Norwich.

It is said that her book was the first to be published in English by a woman – false! Hers was the first book published in English – period! Yet her fine words were suppressed and hidden for centuries; and an account of her life by another woman (Margrery Kempe), not ‘rediscovered’ until 1937. Now, Julian’s timeless thoughts can be applied to today’s folly –

“.. anger and friendship are two opposites. And so he who quenches and ends our anger must therefore always be loving, gentle, and kind – which is the opposite of anger … for truly, as I see it, if God could be angry, even for a little, we should never have life, or place, or being.”

Compare this with the popular Conversations with God, in which fear and love are set as opposites.

Go girl!

faucon

Written by faucon

August 8, 2006 at 12:03 pm

A Few Words About Our Patroness…..

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Christine de Pizan (1365-1430) is considered the first European woman to make her living as a professional writer. The widow of a French court official, de Pizan was forced by this circumstance to provide for herself, her children, and several other family members. She took on the task of educating herself and astutely began writing for the tastes of the courtiers. Besides writing love ballads and romantic poetry, she actively engaged in literary debates, which eventually brought her to the attention of a number of wealthy patrons.

Appalled by misogynistic themes common to popular literature of the period, de Pizan penned The Book of the City of Ladies in 1405 where she argues that woman are not inferior to men. What is unique about the book is that it does not draw on traditional male voices of authority. Rather, she creates a chorus of female voices, in the characters of Rectitude, Justice, and Reason, to battle common negative female stereotypes.

For more information about Christine de Pizan’s life and creative work, please visit Wikipedia.

Written by Pelican1

August 8, 2006 at 5:07 am