(Review) Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak
A Girl God Anthology
Edited by Trista Hendren and Pat Daly, preface by Dr. Amina Wadud
Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak offers readers a diverse array of writings on spirituality and religious traditions by feminists of faith from around the world.
The anthology contains short, personal revelations—essays, poems, and academic musings— written by real women about their real experience of faith in a variety of traditions, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Paganism, Goddess-centered spirituality, and Hinduism. Some of the stories are provocative. All are thought-provoking, honest, insightful. And decidedly feminist.
Sotdae (솟대), pole that symbolizes the Mago Triad
[Author’s Note: This essay was first published in Trivia, Voices of Feminism, Issue 6, September 2007.]
I come from Korea. When I say I came from Korea, I do not mean “Korea” in a nationalistic sense. Nationalism, reinforced by international politics as a cardinal rule of the global community, precludes the agency of women; it is a game of the patriarchal controllers. When I say I am Korean, I mean I am a Magoist Korean, a gynocentric Korean. My Korean identity refers to my cultural and historical root. Fortunately, I have found my Korean gynocentric root in the tradition of Mago, the Great Goddess, from East Asia.1
No, she was not burned at the stake.
She was tied to a tree
while gangs of men raped her over
and over for many weeks.
After her first surgery
they continued with their raping,
forcing her to give birth
in front of them, with guns.
This is the second in a three part series of old articles and papers by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D. that were written in the 1980’s and 1990’s, two of which were published at that time. The first in the series was “Notes on Leaving Christianity”, and this second essay is a very personal story of the journey out – some of what was involved for the author. The story is told and set within the context of a ceremonial meal, named as “Passout”, and imagined as a traditional annual restorative event, invoking Goddess whom all present were seeking.
This essay was originally published in Women-Church: An Australian Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Issue 15, Spring 1994.
It was “Passout” 1994, the night when women friends gather to celebrate their exodus (when others around them are celebrating Holy Thursday/Passover).The women light candles, anoint each other with oil, and play women’s music that has helped birth them. Sometimes they get up and dance as the Spirit takes them. They share a meal of flatbread, bitter greens, vegetables and roast pork; finishing with a dessert that uses milk and honey. They drink lots of wine throughout the evening, as they tell their exodus stories.
This was one of the women’s stories:
a simple country girl,
who got lost on the big freeways of the world
and thought she was someone else…
hopped in a big american car and went on a tour.
when the joyride ended, she came back to the poverty
of her inner landscape… she was dropped off
in the slums of her pain and fear
that she had sought to escape.
Virginie Colline lives and writes in Paris. Her poems have appeared in The Mainichi, Frogpond, Prune Juice, Frostwriting, Prick of the Spindle, Seltzer, Overpass Books, BRICKrhetoric, Yes, Poetry, Dagda Publishing, Silver Birch Press and StepAway Magazine, among others.
The Mago Pilgrimage in Korea in 2014 was a journey of connection and reconnection for me at different levels. Mago is the primordial goddess of east Asia. Her energy clearly underlay our pilgrimage and enabled such a profound journey, events, insights and effects, both at the time and since then in what I’m called to do.
It was 25 years since I’d lived in Japan for eight years and travelled in east Asia, and 32 years since I had visited Korea for two weeks. Korea was my second love at quite an early age; Mongolia was my first. It was exciting to return at a different level of life’s spiral – not for study, work or sightseeing, but this time to consciously experience my spirit interacting with place and energy.