Seasonal Salon

Worthy of Shelf Space

In the middle of the Deep Time, we seek words of wisdom.  We center; we ground.  We go back to the core of our belief system.  The calendar changes to a new year. We have the opportunity for a symbolic new start.  Let these books help you on your way.  Commit to meditation with the Goddess each day.  Read impassioned words from an elder of the womyn’s land community.  Recall the struggles that have always faced smart women.  Delve into the real history of an American tragedy. 

If you have read this column since its inception, you know that it is for books written by and about women.  I’m going to break my own rule this time and recommend that every United States citizen read On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder.  Study it; understand it; act upon it.  The country you save may be your own.

Blessings of the returning of the light.


Something Old:

Goddesses for Every Day, Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine around the World, Julie Loar, New World Library, 2008

There are lots of good calendar books and daily devotionals.  This is one of the best.  If you don’t have a copy on your bedside table, you will want one.

Julie Loar’s arranges her book into sections by astrological signs, as well as by date.  She chooses a sacred female symbol to correlate with each sign.  Some, like the bow and arrow for Sagittarius, are predictable.  Others, like the cobra for Leo, are intriguing.  As Loar explains, Leo represents the principles of dominion and power and cobras are the “queen of serpents”.  Further, some cultures see the motion of the sun, Leo, as a serpent crossing the sky.  This approach creates some fascinating groupings of goddesses.  In addition to the contemplation phrase for each day, Loar gives you a brief history of each goddess to aid in your reflections.

One of my very favorite things about this book is that it provides pronunciations for challenging goddess names.  Now you can invoke the Korean goddess, Pali Kongju (pah-lee KONG-goo) or the Huron goddess, Aataensic (EE-yah-tah-HEN-sick) with some degree of confidence. 

Enjoy your trip around the Girdle of the Goddess.


Something New:

Preacher Woman for the Goddess, Poems, Invocations, Plays and Other Holy Writ, Bethroot Gwynn, Mother Tongue Inc., 2017

The back cover of Preacher Woman for the Goddess reads, “Bethroot Gwynn is a poet, theaterwoman, and a longtime editor of the We’Moon Datebook.  Her performance pieces have celebrated lesbian-feminism and Goddess spirituality at conferences, festivals and other venues.”  What a joy it is for us to have a collection of her work.

Ms. Gwynn comes from a place and a time I know.  Tennessee, Louisiana, backwoods people---religion and life up close and personal.  She writes from a thealogy of immanence, finding the divine in the fateful meeting of puma and goose as well as in the lives of Nancy or Silver.  The poems are special and personal.  Together she and I cut the rose velvet in “A Stitch in Time” and brown falafel while smelling sausage in “Root Food”. 

Each of the seven sections of the book begins with an invocation to an issue of the We’Moon calendar.   These, combined with the beautiful artwork from a variety of We’Moon artists, provide the perfect lead-ins to each theme.  Friendship, death, ecology, and war are gently examined.  Each poem and play is deeply felt.

Bethroot dedicates her book to “all the women---across the millennia---who proclaim Female Sacred and sang Her praises…all the women who would have been comforted to find Her Holiness in themselves…all the women who adore Her creation enact Her compassions gladly say Her names and hear echoes of their own.”  RCGI women, she wrote this book for us.  Get a copy.


Something Non-US:

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolfe, Harcourt, Inc., 1929

Ninety-two years ago Virginia Woolfe, told women some bits of critically important information.  The most well-known is “…that it is necessary to have five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry.”  I’ll add that economic independence and private space are necessary for any woman’s sanity, regardless of what you choose to do.

Five hundred pounds in 1929 calculates into $40,057.61 in the United States today.  As Woolfe points out, the historical dependence of women on men is rooted in poverty.  And with that comes the second part of the quote.  When women are economically dependent upon men, they can never have a “room with a lock on the door” because they are always at the beck and call of men.

A second significant snippet of information is “You must...go on bearing children, but…in twos and threes, not in tens and twelves.”  Women have told other women repeatedly throughout time that birth control is critical to women’s freedom.

“Chloe liked Olivia.”  This is a third important slice of advice from Ms. Woolfe.  When women see other women as friends instead of rivals, we have the opportunity to make great change.

In this short paper written for women scholars nearly a hundred years ago, we find relevance for today’s world.  Find the gems that resonate with you.  Support other women.  Work for reproductive rights and for economic justice for women.  Give a copy of this book to young women.


Something True:

The Witches, Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff, Little, Brown and Company, 2015

Witch hunts.  The phrase has captured the popular imagination for centuries.  Of late, it has been misappropriated and misused by vile people to discredit legitimate investigations.  That’s not what the Salem witch trials were about.

Stacy Schiff’s history is not a comprehensive work on the burning times.  Nor is it even a complete work of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and colonial New England.  It is, however, an intense microcosm of one fateful year in Salem that resonates three hundred years later.

Exactly what was the structure of the Puritan church and the colony?  What were the behind the scenes machinations of Cotton and Increase Mathers and the royal governor?  Why was one of the Puritan ministers hanged as a witch?  Who was the Parrish family and why were they at the center of the insanity?  What was it like to be a teenage girl in Salem?  Information to assist in answering these questions can be found in these pages.

If you are searching for conjecture as to the reasons behind the Salem witch trials, this is not your book.   If you want to know the facts of exactly what happened in 1692, this is the work that you should read.


Renee Rabb is an ordained RCGI priestess who now lives with her wife, Barbara, on the Big Island of Hawaii in a place called Paradise Park.  She still reads a lot and is learning the meaning of aloha.

Category: Winter Solstice 2017