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Pre-2008 Posts

Dreaming of Women’s Country

Discussion

40 thoughts on “Dreaming of Women’s Country

  1. Beautiful Heart, I look forward to seeing this. I fell in love with the book Mists of Avalon way back when. I had read every King Arthur series I could by then, and after that? Ruined for any other version. Herstory.

    Hazel.

    Posted by Hazel | November 4, 2007, 3:25 am
  2. Beautiful music. I also enjoyed the Mists of Avalon, reading tales of the power of the Goddess in the magical place that bears my last name. One thing that bothered me about the book was that there was only one lesbian character in it, a priestess who had taken a vow of silence and therefore never uttered a word! I don’t think that Marion Zimmer Bradley really knew how to develop a lesbian character. The main characters were all very heterosexual.

    I remember feeling powerful enough that I thought that I could maybe affect the elements in the way that the priestesses of Avalon can, for real, and that is what the religion of the Goddess is all about. If Women’s World could be restored…who knows?

    Posted by Branjor | November 4, 2007, 12:52 pm
  3. Have you women seen the movie, the “Mists of Avalon”? This youtube video is from that movie. It’s a surprisingly good and inspiring movie– you should get it and watch it if you haven’t. I say surprisingly because I think it’s HBO, if I’m not mistaken.

    Re the music, yes! I love Loreena McKennitt and I bet you women would, too, if you don’t already know of her. Especially this time of year, her music is perfect (my opinion, obviously!).

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 2:34 pm
  4. This was a really lovely little film clip. I am pretty sure I saw “Mists of Avalon” but don’t have a strong memory of it.
    Julianna Margoles I think was the young priestess to be. “Remember the time when we weren’t slaves, and if memory fails you invent” my favorite quote from Monique Whittig. This quote is not exact but covers the point.

    This little film clip reminds us of this.

    I loved all the King Arthur legends, including Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version. Branjor, Bradley also wrote another book with strong lesbian characters called “The Ruins of Isis.” I believe it is out of print but used copies can be had on Amazon (apropo company name🙂 ) If you haven’t read this book you must! It’s about a planet women rule. I think it is my most favorite lesbian utopian novel in all the world.

    You are right that Loreena McKennitt is perfect music for the fal. I was just listening to “Penelope’s Song” from her CD “An Ancient Muse,” yesterday at twilight.

    Everyone should have a chance to celebrate the goddess, and I’ll never forget a ritual I went to in San Francisco led by Z. Budapest, one of the founders of the modern feminist goddess movement. A little girl was in our group and we lit all these candles and thought about them. The little girl’s candle burned way down to the stub faster than any other candle on the mat we were all sitting around! Z. said, “Your magic must be very powerful!” And to this day, this little event amazed me.

    We are powerful. The little girl had less mentally blocked energy. It was a real gift to see this!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 4, 2007, 2:57 pm
  5. Hi Heart & Branjor,

    What bothers me about the recent interpretations of “Goddess” spirituality is the extent to which it has been overtaken and co-opted by hetero sexuality/sociality.

    I remember discovering Goddess / Lesbian spirituality in 1972 and just going all visionary to the point of hallucinogenic with it.

    There is a huge, huge realm of Female Power out there that has *nothing* whatsoever to do with preistesses, long flowing skirts, sparkling magic wands, etc.

    It has nothing to do with rituals, goddess names, and chanting. It has everything to do with the raising of Female Separatist energy through telepathy and connection to the female separatist energies throughout many universes.

    I went to a Dianic Witchcraft conference in the early 80’s in Wisconsin where the goddesswares were on sale here there and everywhere. The long flowing skirts and tresses were all over the place, and erased any sense whatsoever that female-only collective witchcraft existed in any dyke-appearing form. Really, what they were selling was the tired old stereotype of femininity itself.

    I told the assembled women in one of those pass-the-rattle thingies that what I was witnessing and experiencing was the Goddess being bought and sold. Fuck, was I ever pissed off.

    The Lesbian Energy Circles in which I had participated in the early 70’s were something for which no female would ever accept such a pale watered down substitute. We were scruffy dykes in jeans and flannel shirts.

    Just offering a bit of perspective here.

    We were raising energy for a female world, not some bogus hetersocial world.

    Happy sunday everybody!
    😀

    Mary Sunshine

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 4, 2007, 3:03 pm
  6. Mary, the first ritual I ever attended was at Michfest two years ago– not a sparkle or wand for miles out there in the meadow, under the stars, no flannel shirts that I could see, either, but then, there weren’t very many shirts at all. HA! It was amazingly lovely, all of us out there under the Michigan sky, *full moon*, drums, millions of stars, smiling, happy women. Four of my daughters were there and were blown away by it, as I was. I didn’t see many flowing skirts, but I was probably wearing one! I have long flowing hair, too. What can I say. I’ve been wearing flowing skirts and had long hair since the 60s, I’m a big ol freeze dried hippie.

    I know there’s plenty of Goddess Junque purveyed out there, just like the Jesus Junque, wherever there is a buck to be made, someone will find a way to cash in. But what you saw in the 70s still exists, in Michigan, and in other places too, although I understand from talking to women that it’s harder and harder to find the real deal anymore. This is another venue being co-opted by transwomen, for one thing, is it ever.

    I have many, many ideas and thoughts about the Goddess, but for now I will just say, one reason I think Goddess imagery is key and crucial is, the world worships at the altar of the male bully gods, whose imagery is inescapable, unavoidable, violent and terrorizing. Girls grow up surrounded by it, by Gods Who Do Not Look Like Us and who, in fact, order horrible things to be done to us — rapes, murders, tortures, atrocities. If you did not grow up subjected directly to this, maybe it does not affect you so deeply. But for those of us who grew up, or spent many years of our lives, hearing about, and subjected to worshipping, the male bully gods, envisioning and imagining God as a woman is critical. I like the images of female power in this video and in the Mists of Avalon, apart from issues around the Goddess, the Mother, women’s spirituality. Little girls especially *need* these images of female power if they are to develop the wherewithall to withstand all of the propaganda of patriarchal religion.

    Z Budapest rocks. She has been a really central figure in the liberation of women, but not too many feminists realize that, given that women’s spirituality got shunted off under the rubric of “cultural feminism” and then the lies and lies. Patriarchal religion can’t stand any sort of notions of female deities or female power, period.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 4:08 pm
  7. Real magic is a synthesis of energies, no long flowing tresses, no symbols, no sigils needed just access to the quiet secret parts of yourself only you can find.

    There are different paths to find those places. Loving women sexually is one path, just loving, is another path. They both lead to the same place in the end.

    Posted by Hazel | November 4, 2007, 4:11 pm
  8. PS just blissed out to Loreena thanks for the intro Heart.

    Posted by Hazel | November 4, 2007, 4:12 pm
  9. Hey, Satsuma, I completely agree that Loreena McKennitt is for the fall and winter, plus the dark, plus candles. 🙂

    I think it’s challenging to talk about women’s spirituality, in part because it’s so maligned and there’s so much anti-feminist, anti-women’s-spirituality propaganda and just sentiment out there. We’re also up against all sorts of misogyny. Consider depictions of witches! If that’s not spiritual pornography, I don’t know what it is. If it isn’t sexism, I don’t know what it is. I think a lot of the time women’s first impulses when talking about their own (woman-centered) spirituality can be defensive: “I’m a spiritual person but I’m not like all those stupid practititioners of the ‘woo’ out there!” When in fact, if there’s any “woo,” it’s in patriarchal, male religion! Just take a look at the gargantuan buttloads of narcissistic male woo in patriarchal religion. Yet, we have been made to be ashamed of, and punished for, our own women’s spirituality going back centuries and millennia and so it is our impulse to distance ourselves and make sure everybody knows we aren’t like all of those stupid women they’ve heard about! Argh, so aggravating.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 4:30 pm
  10. Hey, Hazel, you are welcome. I love Loreena McKennitt, she is a brilliantly talented woman.

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 4:34 pm
  11. All of this is just fascinating reading. I found everything I read about the goddess just uplifting. “When God Was A Woman” by Merlin Stone was just a big one!

    Loved Mary Sunshine’s commentary of 1972 till today. Good context. We need to document the lived experiences of all lesbian separtists. We want to preserve a kind of golden age here. Not that golden means the age has passed, just a recognition of what is/was/will be wonderful.

    Such a complex subject of women’s spiritual power in the world, and how to really access it.

    I really connected to the goddess Kali in India, mainly because I wanted a really kick butt image of a woman diety. I found two Kali statues that I have in my office, and one print of lesbian partners holding the christ child. Modern icons of lesbian “saints” are truly moving to me. All these things are out there.

    The images are necessary to have a vision of something of power, something that creates a new sense of self in the world.

    There is lesbian feminist reaction against the fundamentalists, which is fine. We need to battle them. But I also was moved more and more by “well what do we want?” “What is it that would make us completely happy?” I looked for the images out there that would inspire me and take me to a world of women’s world, a power of our own.

    This is very hard to explain on a blog, but it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life starting in 1999. I met lesbian artists nationwide who were doing these unbelievable paintings. One day, I read that one of Kali’s aspects is that she was “the destroyer of illusions.” This was very powerful for me, because Kali is truly scary. If you look upon her many arms, and her heads and bloody skulls on her belt, and the spear she is jabbing into a demon, it’s pretty scary.

    But I couldn’t get away from my desire for a warrior goddess that connected to my warrior lesbian self in the world. Again hard to explain in blog form.

    This revelation that Kali was a destoyer of illusions was an exciting light bulb (goddess candle) moment for me. I know it is leading to a really exciting world, and you are all a part of this for me.

    I can’t tell you how delighted I am. Now if I can only learn some blog manners and work the “threads” I’ll be there!

    Thanks for your kindness and patience in the face of mean old me. I try, but even I am too much for me sometimes!🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | November 4, 2007, 5:09 pm
  12. Yeah, Satsuma, Kali: the ultimate get-it-done goddess! That’s interesting thinking of Kali as the destroyer of illusions. I have pulled the Kali card from my goddess oracle *so many times* now that it’s stopped blowing me away anymore. I shuffle the cards thoroughly, think deeply, ponder whatever it is I’m pondering that day, draw the card, and honestly — I am not lying — by far *most* of the time I draw Kali. “Endings and beginnings: the old must be released so that the new can enter.” The others I have drawn with a certain uncanny regularity are Green Tara, White Tara, Sige, Eireen, and Maat. But none have I drawn so consistently as Kali! She is an awe-inspiring, powerful figure, and she *does* speak to me on so many levels.

    On the selling of the Goddess, last year at the Festival I was, as usual, looking at all the beautiful things the craftswimmin make. I had thought to buy a walking stick. Some that are sold there are absolutely beautifully made and each one is carefully handmade. But I actually couldn’t buy one, even though one sort of spoke to me, because walking sticks seem to me like something you need to make for yourself or someone who knows you very well should make for you. Sort of like buying someone else’s book of shadows– it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe that’s just me though, and I need to make *my* own walking stick, I don’t want to put that on anybody else. Or maybe something like, you might see one that you could imagine another woman really appreciating and maybe it would be right to buy it and give it to her. Somehow it didn’t seem right to buy one, though, for myself. Then again, walking sticks have always felt/seemed deeply spiritual to me, so that’s probably why I resist buying one for myself. Some things it just seems wrong to buy and sell. Again, just me! I am not judging anybody else’s purchased walking stick! Heh.

    Posted by womensspace | November 4, 2007, 5:55 pm
  13. Everyone, Yes Kali affected me the same way!
    There is a need,a time and a place for destruction, especially of illusions. It really is great to talk to women who even know who Kali is. The best thing Kali has shown me is that the destroyer in me has a purpose too. It makes being fully me, less scary and daunting and loosens my need of self illusion or delusion. I truly feel that is what Her energy has given me.

    And I am deeply grateful that Heart has made this space (in the margins) for this type of conversation.

    Cheers
    Hazel.

    Posted by Hazel | November 4, 2007, 6:21 pm
  14. I think of most of the ‘woo-woo’ stuff as being a method to focus your own power, thoughts, subconscious, whatever. The sparkly wand isn’t doing the magic, but it speaks to something in you, makes you confident enough to release what you need to release. Putting on robes, letting your hair down, or whatever ritual works for you gets you into a state of mind where work can be done.

    And yes, there’s plenty of woo-woo in Christianity. I always want to laugh when I hear about prayer chains and days of prayer, because what they’re doing is raising energy and focusing it on a desired goal. That is, they’re spellcasting. Lots of heads would explode if they realized that!

    In the last couple of years, I have moved away from calling myself Christian, because after really thinking about it, I admitted to myself that I don’t believe the Bible (especially after learning about the Council of Nicea, eek!). Since I don’t share the beliefs, I can’t call myself by the faith.

    I still believe in a Deity, but my reaction to 8 years in a fundie school is to avoid all woo-woo altogether, which is limiting to searching for what I believe, but that’s ok. Avoidance is what works for me right now. Maybe that will change at some point.

    Posted by Miranda | November 4, 2007, 7:23 pm
  15. Re: Mary Sunshine, Satsuma and Heart (and other friends here) on the topic of Goddess energy:

    Love, love, love the Goddess to counteract the He, Him and Hymn of the global sado-state’s phallic religion (many guises to the one He-God). At the same time, I find status hierarchy to be inherent to sadism and therefore seek Womankind’s way outside any social system modeled on ritualistic pass-the-rattle or any other subtle hierarchy. Not that it can’t be good at times to play in the realms of rattles … I like my tambourine, too.

    It might help us to invoke a spiritual energy like Kali’s spear-piercing banishment of the demons of illusion which patriarchy promotes as a block to our seeing the truth. We know patriarchy’s tendency to turn our truth around and inside out, against us, to bite us/divide us. We need strong “Goddess” energy to end the illusions, to let us see and break free.

    Not to get all academic about things impossible to prove under patriarchy’s research system, but my lived sense of “Goddess” is that the hierarchies of female and male deities did not arise until the patriarchal takeover began. When we lived in our archaic, “original women” matri-focused clans, we did not need goddesses. We simply were Her, each of Us with varying talents and occasions for creative growth.

    The individual, the collective: creatively evolving. Patriarchy gives warning to see clearly so that we can spiritually banish what seeks to kill us. Womankind’s Way lets us remember, to help us see so that we can remember and creatively evolve the future.

    Rant: I spent time this weekend with women (socially identified “gay” and “straight” women) in the countryside of south Texas, cooking out under the sheltering sky overhung by trees (wonderful) and building a barn to house mini-moos (thank Goddess nobody fell from the roof). I heard a lot about “gay pride,” the “GLBT community,” and men (gay or straight, if you remember the Bull Durham movie) who like to polish toenails (in male-identified female-glam-role behavior my radical feminism tells me has nothing to do with womankind’s true freedom). As a result, I’m tired … of labels.

    From now on, I’m simply a woman-born woman with an expanding consciousness, a description of biology and spirituality, not a label. Biologically, I have a womb, and as breath-of-life spirituality, I have transmitted life-essential maternal mitochondrial DNA. These biological/spiritual talents, actualized or potential, men do not have. These talents are as much “Goddess” as anything else I know. (I also hold space for the return of viable parthenogenesis — woman-only reproduction — among higher primates. The scientific hints about womankind’s parthenogenesis are fascinating, although a challenge to find documented in reported literature.)

    To speak of this, I run the risk of being tarred with the “biological determinism” brush. But what if “biological determinism” is actually a truth of Womankind’s biological/spiritual power (used in reverse against women by resentful men to deride us as whorish and stupid)? If so, we certainly should not cede community-building to men, gay or straight.

    Let me be “out” about this in the name of the Goddess: Labels belong on jars. I no longer “identify” with one group or the other (“gay” or “straight”) according to which general type of person (xx chromosomes or xy chromosomes) I might find sexually appealing. Being celibate makes for effective spiritual practice. My cat cuddles. She’s the Goddess, too.

    Can the Goddess be found in “sex-positive” (between any woman and either male or female partners) faux feminism? Perhaps the Goddess arrives, by some sort of internal grace, when the ground of being is receptive, to overcome the emotional hangover of woman-to-woman sexual sadism that falsely claims to be liberation. We can hope, we can invoke, we can be Kali to stop the illusion of uncounted sexual addiction as feminism.

    Am I astounded that the patriarchal “interest” group of “Gays and Lesbians” (men still first, as usual, in this as in all of patriarchy’s special interest groups) has unduly influenced so many lesbians to identify with their gay “brothers” in the GLBT “community” instead of with the global community of all women? Yes. “Gays and Lesbians” can hardly be a liberating category, because online travel companies like Orbitz headlines the interest group as a for-profit vacation money-maker.

    Is the undue influence caused by too much TV (coupled with the internalized misogyny identified in the writings of second-wave feminists)? Is the brainwashing being done with subliminal messages as well as high-production-value visuals? Questions, questions, and global patriarchs in charge of the mass media system with escalating pornography and chronic disparagement of women in the “mainstream,” no matter what feminists do. The result, whatever the cause: Women of all sexual persuasions, unduly influenced to act for men, and against enlightened self-interest (the cause of all women).

    How can any woman who has her mind halfway intact not know that, gay or straight, men use/exploit/ oppress/dominate/fear/disdain/hate (whatever verb you want, to call the awful truth against) women, and then reverse their woman-hating by calling radical feminists man-haters? I don’t really have the answer to this question, because it is rhetorical. What I do know, for myself, on this day: No more labels. I’m proud to be a woman-born woman as a biological and spiritual fact. That’s more than enough. Bring it on, boys. We Grrrls Know Kali.
    JB

    Posted by JBSproull | November 4, 2007, 10:35 pm
  16. JB, as usual, you are just what the doctor ordered. This thread is great. All those years I went to church, or had church in my home (I should write about that sometime), now I worship at the Church of Sleep-Aire, ha ha, on Sunday mornings but I often still have the hankering to connect around spiritual matters on this day (again, for some reason, especially in the fall and winter) even though it’s been 13 years since I was excommunicated, so it’s nice to have that here on my blog. 🙂

    I like the way women’s spirituality provides us with woman-centered language and tools which are generally unrecognizable to patriarchal men. This provides us with certain kinds of protection in discussion and strategizing (and is a reason for the Burning Times, the way males feared what they didn’t understand, feared what they rightly viewed as a power we shared to which they did not have access and which they could not control).

    Hazel, yes, re the way Kali releases us to recognize and acknowledge ourselves *as* powerful, not only in the ways we find more palatable, but as possessing the power of not only life, but death as well, of healing and harming, without feeling afraid or ashamed. That’s what the anti-abortion debates are really about, underneath the rhetoric: women as having the power of both life and death and the way patriarchy so deeply fears this. The Mother Earth is both beautiful and serene and deadly tempestuous– storms, floods, fires, hurricanes; creatures often are as breathtaking in the way they nurture their young as in their dispassionate killing of other animals to feed their young. Kali reminds me that change and loss and even death are as much part of the natural cycles as birth and seasons of tranquility are, and that it is all transformative. I have to let the old go, release it, welcome the changes, in order to move forward into the future I am making for myself.

    JB, I am not afraid of the biological determinist label at all! We get whacked about the head and neck with that by people who, most of the time, are their OWN kind of determinist! Perhaps not biological, maybe some other kind, but most of the time, get them talking and you will find them guilty of the kinds of defining and hierarchicalizing they are accusing us of, which is the way with patriarchy, all of the projections, the endless reversals. I think that to be born female matters, is significant, and is not anything to dismiss or pretend means nothing. It is HUGE. It is HUGE whether we are social constructionists to whatever degree or whether we are biological determinists.

    As to no labels, that has its appeal to me, definitely, more than any of the other options. It bothers me a *lot* that women must identify in some way based on who they love. We are much more than that and we have also been forced to be defined in those terms by patriarchists/male heterosupremacy. I think Gloria Steinem’s quip is pretty brilliant, actually: when asked about the sex of the people with whom she was physically intimate, she is said to have responded, “I like to keep ’em guessing.” I like that, too, but recognize it as problematic in the same way it is problematic to say I don’t “identify” as white. It is something I can afford to do if I have partnered with men or if I am celibate — refuse to identify my race or my, not “lovers”, but “sexers”, as Sonia Johnson called them(!) — that people of color, gay men, lesbian women, dare not and cannot do. There is the same problem with Adrienne Rich’s lesbian contiuum, even though in my mind, that is similarly a brilliant, not only analysis, but strategy. But we bump into problems with it along the same lines as not identifying as white when we are white or as het if we are, or if we have a long history of having male “sexers”. But, yeah, the way you’re thinking is familiar to me, too!

    Well, anyway. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2007, 1:03 am
  17. Thank you, Heart, and all Sisters Here. May our Goddess-Sunday — and all our Lives — be resonate with both a witchy Wisdom and a cosmic Christ that the churchmen know nothing about.

    Appreciate very, very much what all have said in weaving these threads together.

    It’s never that I would minimize the terror and difficulties faced by women generally who face daily racism on top of misogyny, or face any other of the categories to which invidious discrimination can be applied in addition to our oppression as girls/women. I’d hope, instead, for us to be able (individually and collectively) to count our losses, face our socio-cultural deprivations without fixing ourselves into patriarchy’s named labels/categories, and then mobilize our consciousness to soar.

    From the lessons of prior waves of feminism, we could choose to be the Tidal Wave which: (1) honors the overall cosmological and elemental Spiral being woven of our Connection together as women globally, and (2) also forms Concentric Circles within the Spiral for whatever other groups of collective womankind we need in our various locales and communities, face to face, and/or online, or however this evolves [for women of color, women under 35, women openly living as lesbians with real lovers (not mere “sexers” — what a descriptive term, thanks to Sonia Johnson), women who have been genitally mutilated and/or seek an end to genital mutilation, women invoking Kali, aging women, grandmothers concerned about the social conditioning of their daughters and granddaughters, healed women bringing others through the passages of overcoming incest, on and on as we define the need to connect concentrically within the larger Spiral Connection of global womankind].

    Consciously honoring (1) as Spiral Connection and forming (2) as Concentric Circles — as noted above, or however we might invent and change our approach and imagery — might bring a useful cohesion to Womankind’s Movement.

    I don’t intend to minimize the male-identified social hatred against all of us as women who choose to break the patriarchal taboo against women touching one another (physically and/or spiritually) as we stop being the beasts of burden for men.

    I do hope for us to inspire, encourage and challenge one another to be our very best (without in-fighting) while we find our own solutions to make a better world.
    With everything we’ve been through as womankind (millenniums of horror, largely denied so that we could survive), I appreciate the touchiness within the “touchable caste (phrase courtesy of Mary Daly) around the “white” feminist thing, too. Now it’s time for us to find the solution.

    Not to be overly dramatic, but here’s a story summation. As a Scot-surnamed kid with a “Cherokee squaw and that Spaniard in the woodpile” as it was whispered when visiting Grandma Sproull “back home” in Plains, GA, I understood having crosses burned in the front yard there, and passing as pure “white” in other places where they “don’t know.” My once-poetic, emotionally sensitive, green-eyed, blonde, 11-year-old cousin on the other side of the family had a “pure” white background and did not encounter the racial discrimination I did when we visited “back home,” but her brothers and their “buddies” repeatedly raped her. The “pure” white side of the family (headed by the deacon who was her father) covered up the rapes, despite those of us other children who witnessed parts of the sexual terrorism but were told we hadn’t seen what we saw. Once she was sufficiently free of childhood to consider healing and restitution, her adult life became such a series of missteps from remembered horror, her credibility as a witness was utterly compromised under the patriarchal system men call “justice.” Her middle brother became head of the chamber of commerce in another southern town to which he re-located. There’s more to this story, but we all have stories, different in specifics, more or less horrific across the poisonous spectrum, but similar in the diminishment of women’s lives according to the patriarchal poison.

    I’m tired of us being hurt.

    I’m tired of us squandering our lives on the global social system of men who hate us.

    I’m tired … of labels that forge alliances with the patriarchy and divide Womankind from a concentrated collective consciousness of change to the better way we haven’t yet realized.

    Oh, that’s where this started ^_^
    Love to all,
    JB

    Posted by JBSproull | November 5, 2007, 2:36 am
  18. I find the clarity and insights of everyone who has commented in this thread deeply moving. From birth we as girls and women are surrounded and virtually suffocated by the patriarchy’s astoundingly presumptuous pronouncements upon ALL THAT HAS BEEN OR EVER WILL BE. Many men are absolutely shameless in speaking on behalf of divinity and then proclaiming the male speakers themselves infallible. From their own self-serving desires they produce seemingly endless definitions, bogus histories, taboos, rules, speculations, and cosmologies, most of which land with a thud square on the backs of women. What would girls and women be if they were not constantly pounced and pronounced upon spiritually, socially, and physically? What would girls and women be if they were not incested, intimidated, and limited while simultaneously being hobbled by declarations of their inferiority which reputedly originate from God? The details of the declarations vary, but worldwide they are the suffocating atmosphere in which we live. My opinion is that it is a victory for the true divine if a woman at any point before her death is able to begin to think and experience life outside of these horrific parameters. And I believe that extending kindness and help to other girls and women is holy work.

    I have felt the dissonance since I was a little girl between what I was endlessly being told by society and religious figures was real and true and what I experienced as real and true. As a crone I am still distilling out my actual spiritual experiences from the literally manmade fog and for the first time feel an underlying joy and trust. From my experience I know there is divinity which is concerned with and involved in my life and accessible by prayer. I also know I have felt closer to this divinity when living with animals, sharing time with loved ones, and when doing the things I believe are right actions and spending time at the bedsides of those who were passing on. My experiences may be nontransferable to some persons and held in common with others; I believe divinity delights in manifesting in many ways and is not limited. Men may blow smoke, but true unmediated divinity is fresh air.

    Posted by Level Best | November 5, 2007, 3:31 pm
  19. Quite a lot of complexity here. I have no trouble with labels at all and proudly call myself lesbian. I like the reference to classical Greece, and I don’t identify with straight culture at all.

    I don’t want to be “lumped in” with groups, because that erases my life. This whole fuss about biological determinism is a bit of a go round. Or that other bug a boo essentialism. That’s big in gender blender studies programs these days.

    All I know is I want my own space and my own culture, and I don’t have much in common with straight women. I know straight women don’t really fight very hard for lesbian rights, and that’s just the way it is.

    The whole point is to find the best way to freedom possible for women. For me, who am outside the heteronormative system, I focus on supporting the organizations that will protect my legacy as a lesbian feminist. Photos, letters, books, writing — all of this lesbian activist treasury is being put into archives in a couple of big cities now.

    The other day, I went to an open house at the June Mazer Lesbian Archives, and we had about 50 lesbian activists from the past three decades or so there. This powerful lesbian gathering had a completely different energy field compared to when I’m in “mixed” read hetero dominant women’s groups.

    The best part was looking at all the before and after photos of women and their partners on the walls. A great lesbian activist from 1970 and then a brand new photo of how she is today.

    The posters, the books, the letters, even soft ball uniforms from the 1940s! These were sacred objects to me, and the whole place was holy. Lillian Faderman, the brilliant lesbian historian, has done research there, I met old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and I was able to introduce a young friend to all the women who worked in this movement.

    Their power and passion and hysterical laughter was the laughter of those who triumphed and won. We were proud of what we’d done, and we are now preserving it for future generations.

    This kind of thing is not something that you can do jointy with straight women most of the time. It just won’t work. We are really a very distinctly different culture, and just being there with my species was empowering.

    I don’t believe that coalitions ever really benefit me very much, maybe in a superficial way, but in terms of honoring my full power and my life experience, lesbians get easily made fun of, made tokens of, or simply dismissed as too radical.

    In today’s world, I don’t see much evidense of straight women caring about lesbian nation at all. It’s a land we create for ourselves. Visitors are always welcome, but this is our intellectual tradition we are trying to protect, and if we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.

    So a label is important to me, because I never want anyone ever to think I am a straight woman! Never. That is the greatest insult I can think of. I don’t want to assimilate either, but will integrate.

    Spiritually, this lesbian political self is a path, as well as my personal vision of women fully in their power in the world.

    We can do this, but my little 1.4% of the population is not going to dislodge patriarchy. Straight women are the majority now, and it is up to them. I can only do a very small part, and this part is in extreme opposition to the accomodations even straight women make to my enemies.

    Yes, you will have problems for really standing outside that male world and taking a hard look at it.

    If you can have tiny “countries” like EAR (United Arab Emirates) then women should be able to create a woman’s country, complete with U.N. status if we wish. We need to have a shot at a government of by and for women, and take on the challenge of ruling and governing.

    Hierarchy is something that we can move beyond to a certain degree, but there are natural hierachies of people who really are smarter and more driven than others, or people who really are better musicians. I know I will never dumb down for any movement ever, nor will I endanger my economic security for any ideal, because I know women don’t pay the medical bills, and don’t support the women’s businesses, and don’t want to do these things for other women very often.

    When you don’t buy a walking stick at the country fair, you are pretty much saying that that business might not be there next year, for example. I can go to an event and a woman is selling little mini breads for $1.00 and we have 60 women there, and still they walk by. I can see Starbucks in the hands, and Fritos etc., but this homemade product gets walked past. Hmmm.

    Lesbians must build their own worlds, their own spiritual bases of power, and see their own photos on the wall, being honored by a day of devotion. These are our saints and sacred walls. Just honoring them is honoring the heroines, and I told my young friend that she too should bring her website print outs, because she too belong there right along with the rest of us!

    I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to stroll through the gallery, and chat with all the activists as they told the story of a particular photo. A special moment that I’ll treasure, this ritual of the elders of lesbian feminism, right there for all to see. Now that was the goddess fully alive, and believe me magic was afoot! I still remember that old Z. Budapest chant!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 5, 2007, 8:34 pm
  20. Of course, I focus in on what you say about the walking stick, Satsuma! I really don’t fault anyone for buying one. Something about it just didn’t set well with me right then. Never fear, though, I used the money to buy tons of other stuff from lesbian craftswimmin! That is one of the highlights of the Festival for me, all of the amazing stuff created by these wimmin, all together in one spot in a way you don’t see at all except at Fest. It is a privilege to support this amazing work and these amazing wimmin, and every year, I make sure I do. I go home totally broke, but happy. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2007, 8:51 pm
  21. Just all my happy memories of all the wonderful things we do, and the fun we have!

    The goddess is alive, and I’m happy I mentioned Kali, who has been big this year for me. I must admit I just kept being drawn to her.

    Everyone seemed to jump in here with Kali stories which were incredible. Even a dog who lives across the street from me is named Kali and she is best friends with my dog. Kali is a pit bull🙂 Poor old Kali is very sick right now, but she had well over eight years of love.

    She’d escape her home, and run over to our house to play with our big dog. Kali’s owners said this mysterious friendship between the two dogs was amazing, because Kali never got along with any other dog around here.

    Throat bite, jump over and crash into each other, Kali the tank who rammed head first through a wire fense in our yard to go after the yappy poodle next door! We saved the poodle!

    So I’ve got Kali the dog and kali the goddess in my life right now! And now we have all these women on this site talking about Kali. And you’re drawing Kali cards Heart🙂

    Once a lesbian woman from India said the challenge she faced spiritually was not whether to believe in god or not, but to find the right god or goddess to believe in the first place. India has I think 10,000 goddesses and gods, and the color and variety of these myths mind boggling!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 5, 2007, 10:38 pm
  22. And here I thought this thread might derail with some links into “intentional communities” for womYn only. I’ve decided I want one, damnit! Full time! I’m sick of being around women who can’t even change a frickin lock by themselves and just have to call their hubby. It’s a frickin’ lock! A screwdriver! Five minutes!

    Sorry I haven’t been around Hearrrt, I’ve been insane and am graciously sparing everyone my rough company. You should all feel special. 🙂

    The fundie’s answer to evil is that no matter how terrible something is, at least some amount of good will spring forth somewhere done the line. I gave up on god when I realized there was NO benefit great enough to compensate for child rape whatsoever.

    Posted by feminazi | November 7, 2007, 4:02 am
  23. Loved this from Level Best: “My opinion is that it is a victory for the true divine if a woman at any point before her death is able to begin to think and experience life outside of these horrific parameters. And I believe that extending kindness and help to other girls and women is holy work.” We can use every recognition of victory we find.

    Appreciated all Satsuma took time to write. I’d be the last to question the use of lesbian feminism (no mere label) as the life-affirming self-identification of wimmin loving wimmin and putting wimmins’ cause first. What I find unhelpful to Womankind (and a sapping of our energies) are the male-identified labels (and groups) like GLBT, while the L-Word TV show has in the US made lesbianism a popular-culture “hottie” phenomenon that men believe they now own (as in, “let’s see you girls do the lesbian thing”; or what Adam Sandler did in the first five minutes of his recent Chuck-and-Larry movie where he ordered the twin sisters to tongue-kiss with the boys watching).

    To rant is to invoke the energy of outrage, which forwards movement spiritually against the man-made abuses we hope to see fall in our time. We all do it in our own ways, individually, collectively, however and wherever we invent our lives. I hope we can agree not to let “rant” language divide us, particularly where we’re speed-writing text to blogs without the face-to-face feedback loops of speech.

    Hugs,
    JB

    Posted by JBSproull | November 7, 2007, 4:13 am
  24. I’ve read and reread this thread so many times now, I love it! I have so many thoughts I’d like to add here but honestly my mind is an absolute buzz at the moment so I’ll take some time to let it all sink in. I have so much to digest and I’m savoring it, like a delicious meal.

    I do want to add before I go digest some more, a few thoughts that have been generated by this thread.

    First, I really appreciated all the time Satsuna put into her replies here. I found her words to be hold immeasurable wealth. Especially about Kali.

    Nicely put JB.

    Quote: “To rant is to invoke the energy of outrage, which forwards movement spiritually against the man-made abuses we hope to see fall in our time. We all do it in our own ways, individually, collectively, however and wherever we invent our lives. I hope we can agree not to let “rant” language divide us, particularly where we’re speed-writing text to blogs without the face-to-face feedback loops of speech.”
    end quote.

    I had the opportunity a while back to work with a healer, psychologist/energy worker. She was truly amazing. During one of our last sessions she spent some time working on my tummy area. She felt my anxiety all tight and cold in knots and wanted to know what I was so scared of? I was taken by surprise by her question and even more so by the answer that tumbled out – I was scared of the force of my own anger.

    After a while of silent working, she sat up and said this:

    I want you to explore how your anger has fueled your activism throughout your life.

    Firstly I never would have called myself an activist, at the time. I still have trouble owning that label, but I digress. Anyway I wrote up a list and was absolutely shocked at the things I’ve accomplished for myself, for others from a teeny tiny age to this day.

    She was right, my anger was fuel. It pushed me further and faster towards the horizon of what I believe is true and right, through the darkness of what I feel is not true or right.
    I also believe it has actually saved my life on more than one occasion.

    She also explained to me that my ability to translate (as she put it) energies into verbal and artistic products is a gift, and not too let it frighten me off. (Which I had been up to that point)

    Since that session, I have allowed myself to dream, image-in, and visualize the darker aspects of feminine psyche, the predator, the destroyer, the prostitute and have found so much that is worthwhile. The unexpected affect of this is that my work (art and poetry) has exploded, and brought me a great deal of pleasure and freedom. Pleasure and freedom I never would have had the experience of had I not allowed myself to feel and (most importantly) express my outrage. My well deserved outrage btw.

    So once again Heart, thank you for being you and being a blogger, writer, activist and disseminator (is that a real word?) of Wisdom.

    Posted by Hazel | November 7, 2007, 5:17 pm
  25. Yes, this is the most inspirational of the “threads” in my opinion.

    Spiritual work has always been about creativity to me — creative images of the lesbian as devine, and the idea of lesbian feminism itself as a unique spiritual path.

    Kali and other goddesses are out there, and when you combine these things, it becomes powerful.

    I thought the goddess movement was one of the most exciting aspects of feminism, and I still get inspired by Maria Gimbutas and others.

    But then you see a lot of lesbian feminists getting awfully side tracked by Buddhism and the Dalai Lama — they’ve never lived in Asia, so they are unaware of the oppression of women in Tibet under that theocracy, for example.

    So we find the goddess, and we find the inspiration, and we know that the return of alternative medicine comes from the wise women in spirit. We know all this, and we can share this vision with each other.

    In the spiritual, you can transcend a lot of things to create a connection between all women, and that’s what I love about the goddess and the image of Stonehenge and all of that!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 7, 2007, 6:47 pm
  26. Thank all of you for the amazing words and inspirational thoughts shared here.

    I’m moved to joy.

    Hugs,
    JB

    P.S. The Dalai Lama’s smiling face makes my flesh crawl. The hypocrisy of male privilege personified. I saw photos at the LA Library of the former Tibetan goddess temples staked through their centers (like spears through the heart) by male Buddhist “renovation.” SGA Buddhism in CA and other “progressive” locales is diverting many US women (disgruntled Catholics, especially) into zoning out within the patriarchy. There may be more hope that Christian women will sooner make the shift to radical feminism than the Buddhist converts and Dalai Lama-worshippers.

    Those reading this thread, please send your strong love for truth to my daughter who lives in Los Angeles.

    I’d like to live in an intentional community for womyn. I’ve explored some of what’s currently available. I’m open to the possibility of what might be built.

    Posted by JBSproull | November 9, 2007, 5:19 am
  27. JBProull–

    I wondered when any women out there would comment on the Dalai Lama. Even a lesbian Dianic Priestess once commented that she felt connected to the Dalai Lama, and I asked her why she thought about the Dalai Lama in a different way than about a catholic pope?

    Then I pointed out the theological similarities between woman hatred and denegration in Tibetan buddhism compared to the same in catholicism.

    I hope you do find an intentional womyn’s community out there.

    There is a huge contingent of formerly christian women who have converted to buddhism, and I always found this a bit odd.

    Going from the frying pan into the fire.

    I have always found the greatest lesbian feminist spiritual energy in the very texts of radical feminism, and am devoted to these incredible women for painting an uncompromising portrait of liberatlon for women. Andrea Dworkin, Sonia Johnson, Mary Daly, Matilda Joselyn Gage … just to name a few.

    Who could forget the visionary Starhawk and Z. Budapest, and I found all their works compelling and freeing. Once you feel the spiritual power of this woman centered universe, you just can’t believe that women would settle on the creepy Dalai Lama — master fundraiser to naive women in America.

    We even had a Tibetan Lama visit our gay and lesbian center here, introduced by K.D. Lang who is a devotee of this homophobic innocent — kindly old man, clueless about gay issues or lesbian spirituality. Had this same man worn a roman collar, he would have been dragged from the stage and thrown out the door.

    My partner and I were the only ones who walked out of the packed auditorium filled with members of the Lama’s cult no doubt!

    Posted by Satsuma | November 9, 2007, 5:41 am
  28. Hey, JB and Satsuma, everything you said re the Dalai Lama. JB, I also have a daughter in the Los Angeles area, she is 31 and is an amazing radical feminist. I’ll light a candle for your girl’s protection. My daughter is thoroughly inoculated, by virtue of growing up in totalist fundamentalism, against all cultish groups/relationships/figures. That’s the one thing I hold on to; I dragged some of my children through fundamentalist horror and excess, and I don’t know that I will ever forgive myself completely, but at least I can be confident of the hatred they have for it and that they will never go back. 😦

    JB, I am forever working on my own intentional communities here where I live. I don’t (yet!) have wimmin’s community in the sense that wimmin are living on my land (6.5 acres, it’s adequate, one day, when my remaining son is grown, he is 12…), but I visit wimmin’s lands for the learning, community, inspiration, and I have created community where I live, just with women, meeting together at specified times and places in women only settings which cannot be violated because only we know about them. I have faciliated workshops at Michfest about creating intentional women’s communities wherever we are, even in tiny living spaces, parks, restaurants, wherever we can gather women together. It’s the stuff of revolution, you know?

    I am just now reading Starhawk’s “Truth or Dare” and am loving it! I am also reading “The Spiral Dance.” It wasn’t time for me to read Starhawk until this year, but this year, it is so time.

    I love what you say, Satsuma, in a different comment, about lesbian feminism being your spirituality. That’s what one of the speakers at the Feminist Hullaballoo said, Kim Duckett. I loved what she said so much! She led the rituals, the Grand Cauldron there. She said lesbian radical feminism was her spirituality and always would be. She said it with such pride, dignity and grace, it brought tears to my eyes– so inspiring.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 6:00 am
  29. Thank you, Heart and Satsuma (and all other sisters of Women’s Space) … tonight this feels like the best of intentional community, and the power of Womankind could not be stronger here.

    I honor your/my/our Be-ing.

    Andrea Dworkin, Sonia Johnson, Mary Daly, Matilda Joselyn Gage — valued friends of the word, powerful in their inspiration. Satsuma, you’ve named my favorites. I hooted at the conjuring of Gage in Daly’s 21st century writing; although I sense a sadness behind Daly’s words (which I sense also in the “post-feminist” writing of Maureen Dowd, and Kate Millett’s retreat from feminism) that the world hasn’t tangibly changed yet to allow our living together in loving, safe, abundant, expansive community that gives mutual respect for the exercise of our individual talents.

    Maybe in our lifetime …

    With the recommendations here, I’m going to check on reading Starhawk and Z. Budapest (whose words I’ve only read when quoted by others).

    I do deeply honor that you’ll light a candle, Heart, where my daughter’s concerned, because I’m seeking — from everybody who could extend this — a spiritual weaving of truth, strength and protection for her life at this time.

    I’m happy to be knowing about your children, Heart; and it’s my hope to be at MichFest in 2008. R/evolution, yes.

    Joy of Connection,
    JB

    Posted by JBSproull | November 9, 2007, 6:55 am
  30. P.S. May we all experience forgiveness for our actions taken regarding our children under patriarchy before we knew what we now know …

    Posted by JBSproull | November 9, 2007, 7:02 am
  31. Recently I heard, or read, that the Dalai Lama was once asked why Tibet had suffered so much, and he responded it was because of bad karma from their horrible treatment of women, but he never mentioned that again. I wish I could remember where I heard that, but I cannot. Perhaps I only dreamed it, it seems so unlikely he would cop to that. I might have heard it on Feminist Magazine on Halloween.

    Posted by Aletha | November 9, 2007, 7:06 am
  32. I love this thread…giving me lots to think about.
    I truly love women…being around them, listening to them, giving support in whatever i can do.
    I am a midwife in an illegal state so i spend a lot of time helping women get beyond this patriarchal system of where to birth and with who. the strength of women and their power awes me.
    I also am an ex fundie with 9 kids now a single mom. I am a witch and a goddess worshipper in the most southern of states, the most central bible belt state there is.
    I have 2 daughters who are lesbians… yet i am het- as it was called. I may not understand completely the lesbian oppressions but i do understand women oppressions. I understand living in a state where christianity is considered the only expression of faith and i know/feel how difficult this is going to be for my daughters.
    I understand the pain when a woman is cut against her will, is forced into yet another pregnancy due to religious beliefs, and i understand the fear of not being a good enough mom/wife/etc.
    I want to empower my daughters and to educate myself on what i need to do to stop the oppressions.
    I can appreciate goddess and the love women have for each other on many levels. Because i am het does not mean SHE has any less meaning for me.

    wintermoongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 9, 2007, 10:42 pm
  33. So great to read you here, wintermoongoddess!

    For everybody else’s edification, I go way back with wintermoongoddess. Our paths first crossed at a workshop I gave about 30 miles from where I now live which wintermoon attended. It was 1990, 1991 maybe. I think she had seven kids then and I had eight– I remember, I think that I was one ahead, possibly two. 🙂 Our paths crossed over and over again after that over the years, until now, and here we are, strong as all hell, survivors, so many stories!

    I SO hope you make it to Michfest this year, wintermoongoddess!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 10:48 pm
  34. Which is why no feminist should ever call a quiverfull woman, or any woman currently part of the Religious Right, a “godbag,” or any other hateful epithet. Some women’s paths take them through the Religious Right and out again in time and you never know which women those might be.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 9, 2007, 10:55 pm
  35. I don’t think I really like that word “godbag” and I read it here first somewhere on all the posts.

    Women in fundamentalist christian groups are hard to comprehend, but then fundamentalism is a poison that is the very curse in so many hundreds of lesbians I’ve met over the years.

    I think a lot of this has to do with providing a radical place to go once women do come to feminist consciousness. There’s the big conversion experience classic to fundamentalist women who become feminists, but then what.

    Easy for me I suppose… I never was a part of those churches, and as a lesbian never had much interest in anything that smacked of social heterosexual institutions or situations.

    If we persist in living the values of the freedom of women, we will overcome fundamentalism. Its rise or fall is about the rise and fall of feminism.

    And an aside to JBSproull — yes, Mary Daly’s 21st century musings with the spirit of Matilda Joselyn Gage did have an undertone of sadness to them. If you knew as much about patriarchy, staring into the very heart of darkness studying its every move for so long, you would feel a certain sadness just to even see what has happened to lesbian culture today.

    Go read Z. Budapest and Starhawk — you’re in for a real treat.

    Posted by Satsuma | November 9, 2007, 11:09 pm
  36. yes heart for some reason we cross paths and seem to be on the same parallel journey..i still remember reading on some forum about how having a large family when no longer in that quiverful group. Interestingly i was never a believer in quiverful beliefs but i LOVE being pregnant and giving birth…..
    Anyway..i dont want to say or ask things that would hurt anyone but here is my question..
    If being a lesbian is a what a woman is or isnt..then if i am a het i cannot choose to be a lesbian. I am what i am…
    My 16 yo daughter has had many conversations with me about being lesbian..and i tell her that loving someone is Not wrong..that she may be love a woman and then at some point love a man..i dont want her to see any label as permanant but to be who she is.
    So in all this talk of being a lesbian and not having a man as a partner.. I cannot choose to be lesbian… i am only what i am.
    I want to be a part of whatever is needed to change things for women…
    I went to A womans festival in Fl where most everyone was lesbian and i loved the energy and the focus and i loved the conversations i had with some very awesome women.
    And after a 25 year marriage i wondered if that was a path i should be on..but i dont believe it is..

    so comments on that please🙂

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 9, 2007, 11:58 pm
  37. I think at the time we meet i had 6 i think..and you did have 2 more than me🙂
    I remember the homeschooling conference we were at and how much i enjoyed the conversation i had with you. I remember the big christian boycotting at about the time we moved back to the south and i lost touch with you. About 2 years later i started dealing with my big enlightenment..the ex going through depression and crisis.
    Now i am a midwife and i run a big school that legally covers home educators… i am doing a lot of work in the metaphysical field and trying to find my path also.
    But this site has been the biggest motivation to learn more about the feminist path..WOW.

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 10, 2007, 12:53 am
  38. moongoddess, I don’t know how we do all the things we do! You must still have several kids at home and you’re a single mom now, huh? And you are a midwife (not exactly a regular schedule! :/) and you run a cover school for homeschoolers. Dang. That’s a LOT! I’ve noticed that a lot of us ex quiverfull types (calling us that while understanding you didn’t believe the quiverfull stuff, just because it’s easier) end up that way, with many irons in the fire. I haven’t decided whether that’s good or bad. I think we get so used to living and functioning like machines with all of those kids, homeschooling, all the millions of responsibilities, that that’s what we know, being stretched thin feels normal to us. I think we get *really really* good at multi-tasking! There’s no other way to survive given what our lives have been. I have always been proud of my strength, industriousness, productivity, but recently I’ve been taking a second look, mostly because of the turn my spirituality has taken and finally looking inward, paying close attention to what I want, feel, need, journaling, writing about my life, just for myself. I’ve realized that all of that productivity and work which everyone so admires and feels intimidated by can be a kind of escape from one’s own self, a way to avoid facing up to what we’ve gone through in our lives, what it has meant to us, what our lives have actually been, a way to avoid grieving, raging, even healing, such important internal work.

    I don’t think being a lesbian is essential to being woman-centered at all. I think being a lesbian makes woman-centeredness more likely, more an obvious focus, certainly makes separatism more attractive🙂, but I know plenty of extremely woman-centered women, absolutely dedicated to women, fine, fine feminists, who have male partners, or no partners, but understand themselves to be heterosexual. And I know plenty of lesbians who are not woman-centered. So, no, being a lesbian isn’t central to a woman-centered, feminist life, I don’t think.

    I don’t think anybody really knows but a tiny portion of what there is to know about human attraction. I know we live in a heteronormative world in which women are expected to be attracted to men and men are expected to be attracted to women, and there is so much coercion around that that none of us escapes it, from our earliest moments of cognition, understanding. Despite all of this coercion, there are nevertheless people who know themselves to be lesbians or gay men from a very young age. Others may experience same sex attraction but banish it as quickly as they experience it, out of fear or disbelief or not knowing what to make of it, or whatever. I don’t really know why one person experiencing same sex attraction when she is young understands lesbianism as her path and has the courage and strength to go for it, live it, come what may, and another decides she’s wrong, this can’t be, and banishes the impulses for whatever amount of time. I don’t think anybody knows all the ins and outs of this.

    I think women can decide, choose, to love women, to live as lesbians, and have, but I don’t think it will last unless they really *are* lesbians, if that makes any sense. I don’t think being a lesbian is a brainy choice, in other words, cerebral, that one can decide as a matter of her politics and make it “stick.” At the same time, I think our politics can, and often do, change our attractions, our loves, our desires, such that we can feel a great longing to love women and the requisite impulses and chemistry then follow. But then I think, maybe that’s only true if those impulses and chemistry were always there anyway, hidden, quieted. Because if you talk with women who seem to have made a decision to love women, live as lesbians, often you find they have stories of having loved girls and women all of their lives in a really intense way. They describe having had their closest, most intense relationships, all of their lives, as girls and women, with girls and women, even though they may have partnered with men. I don’t know. Maybe sort of like the Quiverfull thing. I’m kind of like you. I didn’t initially have all of those babies for religious or theological reasons. When I first heard of the Quiverfull book by the Hesses I was pregnant with my 6th! And everybody asked me whether that was why I had all those kids! Nope. I had them all because I LOVED it, ohmygod. I just loved having them babies, I have always been the earth mother incarnate. When the Quiverfull stuff came along, I liked it though, and taught it, in part because it gave me and women like me more justifications for doing what we already loved, in a world in which, as women, we can’t just do what we love, we have to justify what we love and do satisfactorily to men. In a world which is punitive towards women who love having lots of kids, we have to have these reasons to do what we love to do, so people will leave us alone. In a similar way, I sort of think that feminist women who decide to live as lesbians might always have been lesbians in the sense of having their strongest attachments to girls and women, and feminism is what gives them what they need to finally make the decision they somehow couldn’t make before they were feminists. I think it’s all very complicated, and no matter what is said about it, there are plenty of people, of all political persuasions and none, who will react negatively. The bottom line, to me, is it is woman-centeredness that is critical and essential to the work of feminism, not being a lesbian, not who we love, or don’t.

    I think if a woman doesn’t feel herself to be a lesbian, then that’s what’s real, that’s who she is, and that’s completely fine!

    Interesting that you have daughters who are lesbians. Me too. I’m betting most of us with huge families, by the time our kids are grown, find that a couple, or at least one, is lesbian or gay. My heart so goes out to young people in these families who are trapped in fundamentalism, or that’s the way they see it, and who cannot live freely as gay or lesbian people.

    Well, this is a huge subject I’ve thought tons about but I have, still, many questions, and I’m still working through all of my thoughts. I think there are plenty of conservative Christian women who are lesbians, though, who are most intensely connected to women, who even have relationships with women, while they are in the church, and don’t even call that lesbianism, and don’t understand themselves to be lesbians! I have met these women. I met several when I did my Confronting the Religous Right workshop at Michfest in 2006. Several women who attended engaged me to describe having been homeschooling moms, home church, extremely conservative, experiences just like my own, yet having relationships with women which were completely secret, and most importantly, *not understanding themselves to be lesbians.* They kind of sequed this off into some other corner of their mind because it just didn’t fit. In that world, as you know, there is no room for women who love women in that way. There aren’t even any words for it.

    Well, anyway. Those are some thoughts for now.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | November 10, 2007, 7:16 am

  39. “… the turn my spirituality has taken and finally looking inward, paying close attention to what I want, feel, need, journaling, writing about my life, just for myself. I’ve realized that all of that productivity and work which everyone so admires and feels intimidated by can be a kind of escape from one’s own self, a way to avoid facing up to what we’ve gone through in our lives, what it has meant to us, what our lives have actually been, a way to avoid grieving, raging, even healing, such important internal work.”

    >/blockquote>

    Oh, Heart! This is happening to me,too.

    In some ways it’s scary to me, but in other ways I’m eager to do it, because I know that somehow, at the end, things will be so much better.

    Already, I am awed and delighted.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | November 10, 2007, 2:52 pm
  40. thanks heart for those words..
    I also think a lot about women and their relationships. My ex accused me of being a lesbian because of close friendships. We would hug a lot, even kiss on the lips and just hang out..and well then being a midwife i am all around naked women and he just couldnt handle what that meant ACCORDING to the religious right.
    He could not understand how women can just like being together, touching each other and NOT be sexual.
    I do have a lot going on.. but i also give myself down time..where i dont cook or clean..just stay in my room and watch chick flicks or if im ovulating testosterone films… LOL As you know with a larger family, my kids pretty much run the house so i can leave for births or take care of me. My kids are awesome considering the oldest were in the part of my life that was religiously strict..i like what i see with the younger ones not having those hateful boundaries.
    Do you remember the forum you were on and you discussed having a large family and the reality of the work involved..and once you were out of the christian element it seemed too much.. i have always thought of that perspective as i went through my divorce and re-entry into the real world of people… A single mom with 9 kids… is a real wierd thing now.

    Finding the balance of work and play and relaxing is a tough act sometimes….
    I love being women centered..and my kids are exposed to all manner of woman centered ideas and thoughts. I know my boys sometimes feel out of place with all the female power-girls kick ass-uppity women unite attitudes flying about..but i think its vital they understand it and are a part of it.

    So..when are you coming to Alabama?? Its time we really get to know each other after 15 years🙂

    moongoddess

    Posted by wintermoongoddess | November 10, 2007, 5:53 pm

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