Seasonal Salon

Worthy of Shelf Space, Fall 2016

2016 is the year of the Tower according to We’Moon. Never is this truer than in the season of power. We reflect on the Amazon, The Matriarch, and The Priestess. This is the time of tough women; this is the time of leaders. This year, more than any other in United States’ herstory, we are faced with a tipping point. Our choices have consequences that will last more than a lifetime. We start 2000+ years ago in the time of the Magdalene as the Priestesses strive to keep the Goddess religion alive. We examine the intellectual and scholarly work of today’s Goddess researchers. We find ourselves caught up with unlikely French Resistance Amazons. We travel the road with the amazing Gloria Steinem, she who defies description.

Be empowered. Be strong. Be brave.


Something Old:

The Moon under Her Feet, Clysta Kinstler, Harper San Francisco, 1989

Written before the current millennium, this novel of Mary Magdalene is spell-binding. Ms. Kinstler takes us from the child (Mari Anath) joining the temple of the Mother at age five to her incarnation as the Goddess on earth. Most of us are familiar with the Magdalene lore as the bride of Jesus. This telling gives so much more as Kinstler incorporates the story of Isis and Osiris, as well as the decent of Inanna, into her mythology.

As Mari Anath begins her journey to her power as High Priestess (The Magdalene), she passes through trials and hardships. She is married to Phillip Herod and learns that the harem is “a prison of silken cushions and carved ivory…with no communication from outside and no way out except death.” With help from the current Magdalene, Almah Mari, she is able to return to the Temple of Ashera. She develops a relationship with Judas Seth and begins to comprehend the dangerous situation to the people of the Mother.

Interwoven is the biblical story of Yeshua (Jesus), son of Almah Mari and Sharon, the divine king. We see the gathering of the disciples and the miracles in an entirely new context. We share Mari Anath’s grief as the sacrifice unfolds and rejoice as she fulfills the purpose of the Holy Grail.

Take the time to revisit the world of these strong women and to imagine a future where the Law is love.


Something New:

Myths Shattered and Restored, Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. Marion Dumont and Gayatri Devi, eds., Women and Myth Press, 2016

The Association for the Study of Women and Mythology (ASWM) is the brainchild of RCGI Priestess, Sid Reger, and the late scholar, teacher and author, Patricia Monaghan. All goddess loving women owe this organization a huge debt of appreciation for bringing about a venue for academics to present and publish their work. This first volume of proceedings is a compendium of some of the papers presented at or submitted to ASWM. It is a treasure to be revered.

Women who attend RCGI Gatherings will find familiar voices in the essays of Joan Chichon, Alexandra K. Chichon, and Dawn Work-MaKinne. Joan brings a rich understanding to the universality of archaeomythology. She guides us from Malta, through Turkey, into Great Britain, and arrives at Poland, linking the sites together through a thorough analysis of the commonality of ancient symbols. Alexandra weaves the tapestry of the ancient Crete, bringing new insight to the myth of Ariadne’s labyrinth. Dawn focuses on the collective deities in Germanic Europe. She postulates that “…presence of the collective sacred female provides an alternate holy reality to…worldviews that are built around domination, oppression and submission.”

One dozen intriguing hypotheses stretch your brain and your imagination. One dozen jumping-off places conjure your own theories and research. What more could a Priestess want?


Something Non-US:

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah, St. Martin’s Press, 2015

I’m cheating a bit with this review as Kristin Hannah is a United States author. Her subject matter, however, is so compelling I felt obliged to include it this issue.

In this historical novel, “The Nightingale” is the code name for the intrepid and daring French Resistance fighter, Isabelle Mauriac. Over the span of World War II, she leads crashed Allied pilots over the Pyrenees Mountain range to safety. She is all of 18.

Her sister, Vianne, lives quietly in Carriveau, France. This village is occupied by Nazi soldiers as France falls to the German invading forces. Her home is requisitioned by two very different German officers. She is a resistance fighter of a different sort.

The story is a page-turner, so I’m avoiding details of the plot line. There is romance, unhealthy family dynamics, and true horror. After you finish reading this book, you will want to renew your commitments to justice, tolerance, and courage.


Something True:

My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem, Random House, 2016

This book was written for me.

The back cover notes read “From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. Magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country---a life-time spent on the road led Steinem to connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.” This is not a linear book; Gloria Steinem moves back and forth in time looking for holistic connections between experiences. By taking this approach she can find the indisputable truths of women’s existence. Herstory becomes alive.

Gloria is a warm and personal writer. She writes with such fondness about her work with Wilma Mankiller, Flo Kennedy, and Bella Abzug. She describes the challenge of being a feminist organizer and the endless meetings on college campuses; she talks of the misogyny faced as the “pretty girl” reporter in the 1968 presidential campaigns; she relates the experiences of the Farm Worker strikes. In the chapter titled “Secrets”, she fearlessly tackles current topics like sex trafficking and prison abuses.

And she talks about Houston, the venue for the 1977 International Women’s Year Conference. Gloria was one of the IWY Commissioners. Here’s what she says: “Before Houston, I had voted to pay some of our scarce funds to retired policemen, who would know how to protect the conference from hostile demonstrators. After Houston, I realized that the young women volunteers with red T-shirts and movement experience had kept security far better than the retired cops. My lack of belief in them had been a lack of belief in myself. Before Houston, I had known that women in small groups could be courageous and loyal to each other and respect each other’s differences. After Houston, I’d learned that women could do this in large numbers, across chasms of difference, and for serious purpose. Before Houston, I had said that women could run huge public events at least as well as men. After Houston, I believed it.”

Through her friendships with Native American women leaders, Gloria develops an awareness of the spiritual paths of native people and what that means for equality. As she puts it, “I thought there might be a third (possibility): this balance between females and males had existed in the past, and for a few it still did. There were people to learn from.” The chapter, “What Once Was Can Be Again”, had me in tears.

Gloria Steinem is 82 years old. She is an elder and she is ever-young. She writes the soul of women. So read this book. Please read this book. You will be glad you did.

(Personal Note: The head of those “young women volunteers in red T-shirts” who provided security for IWY all those years ago is our very own RCGI Priestess, Barbara Cigainero.)

Renee Rabb is an ordained RCGI priestess who lives in Austin, Texas. She reads a lot.

Category: Fall Equinox 2016