Anna Crusis Women’s Choir to Perform at 2017 Symposium


At our 2017 symposium, ASWM members will be treated to a special concert by the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir (ANNA), Philadelphia’s own feminist choir.   We will also recognize the long time work of ANNA by presenting them with the 2017 Brigit Award for Excellence in the Arts. For over 40 years, the Choir has empowered, challenged and uplifted audiences with music that inspires, provokes, delights and informs.

ANNA is a premier performing arts group in the greater Philadelphia region, supporting critical causes including promoting peace, guarding reproductive rights, ending poverty, achieving gender equality, supporting the LGBTQ community, fighting rape and abuse – anywhere that music can bring a sense of empowerment.

At the same time, ANNA is committed to musical excellence and to the creation of new music by commissioning works from women composers. They have performed at such diverse venues as Carnegie Hall, the Tannenbaum Center for Interreligious Education at the United Nations, and the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, NY. Their songs unite women of all economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, ages, and racial and religious heritages.  In their own words:

We believe in using music as a force for social change. We often focus our vision on women’s issues and lives in all of our diversity. We create an open and welcoming space for people who love lifting their voices in song and who share the belief that music is the currency of hope.

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Dr Elinor Gadon Receives Demeter Award in 2016

E Gadon Photo 2

At our 2016 Conference, the ASWM Board of Directorspresented Dr. Elinor Gadon with the Demeter Award for Leadership in Women’s Spirituality.* The award recognizes Dr. Gadon’s lifetime contribution to understanding the cultural and visual history of religion and myth.

With this Award, we honor and cherish her long career of feminist scholarship, education, and inspiration for generations of women artists. As an art historian specializing in Indian art and beyond. Dr. Gadon has analyzed myth and visual imagery in their cultural context and has provided an informed transmission of images related to the sacred feminine and women’s experience.

Her 1989 book, The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Time, is a visual chronicle of the history of the sacred female and her re-emergence in the cultural mythology of our time. This work introduced scholars, feminists, artists and interested women to the astounding array of images of the female divine, culled through rigorous research from cultures across history, up to and including the work of contemporary women artists. This ground-breaking beginning was followed by numerous articles and lectures across the globe about art, gender, and the goddess, especially in India.

The award honors her widespread teaching and lectures at universities and conferences across the globe. Through scholarly publications, lectures, and curation, Dr. Gadon has contributed her expertise on religion and gender to wider international audiences. Her leadership also includes training the next generation; she founded the first graduate program on Women’s Spirituality.


*In a break with tradition, this year’s award was also awarded to Dr.Gadon’s good friend Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum..

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Dr. Lucia Birnbaum Receives 2016 Demeter Award

Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum

Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, says of Dr. Lucia Chiavola BirnbaumYou are one of the most forward thinking, history conscious, and integrative thinkers… You are doing the work that truly turns the tide.”

In a break with tradition, the ASWM Board of Directors awarded both Dr. Birnbaum and Dr. Elinor Gadon the 2016 Demeter Award for Leadership in Women’s Spirituality. Dr. Birnbaum was honored in recognition of decades of visionary scholarship as a Founding Mother of Feminist Spirituality, Cultural History and Political Awareness. Her continuing intellectual leadership ,as a cultural historian, educator and mentor, focuses on questions about the origins of submerged cultures.

Beginning over thirty years ago with the English and Italian publications of Liberazione della donna: Feminism in Italy (1986, l988), and Black Madonnas: Feminism, religion, and politics in Italy (1993), Dr. Birnbaum’s work has enlightened and continues to inspire readers with knowledge concerning the hidden herstory of our quintessential African cultural heritage and foremothers.   Incorporating knowledge from history, anthropology, and genetics, she examines the transformative power of the image of the primordial Dark Mother and female divinity that was carried out of Africa on waves of human migration.

Read more ›

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“Growing the Groundswell”

Registration is now closed for our 2017 Symposium in Philadelphia,  “Mythology, Women and Society:  Growing the Groundswell.”

We will meet at Pendle Hill Retreat Center for a program of scholarship and arts, and a community conversation about women, society and justice:

Our schedule includes such topics as The Mothers of #Black Lives Matter, Biblical heroines and queer theory, Algerian mythology, Eco-Justice, Hildegard von Bingen and Anatolian Great Mothers.

Come early on Friday for interest groups discussions about film and intuitive knowledge, and other topics of interest.  Those who register may apply for our Marketplace.

Update: Interest Groups will meet at 7:30 Friday evening, in the Brinton House

  1.  Film and Filmmakers will meet Friday evening.  They will offer a special screening of “As She Is,” a new film by Megan McFeely, who will participate in the group’s conversation about the feminine principle and individual power for change.  This is an authentic and beautiful documentary about a woman’s real quest into the unconscious to claim what was integrate the masculine with the feminine and give birth to herself. 
  2. Nondominant Ways of Knowing:  Intuition and Divination.  This group will consider the relationship between our women’s wisdom, intuition, and methods to divine insight.  Nancy Vedder-Shults will be on hand to discuss her new book, The World Is Your Oracle.
  3. Chant, Song, and (maybe) Dancing:  This group will get us centered through bringing our voices together. Weather permitting, we will meet outside where we can dance together.

For more information contact our Events team.

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“Mythology, Women and Society: Growing the Groundswell” Schedule

ASWMS's BeeCyprus Photo Small

Mythology, Women and Society: Growing the Groundswell

March 25, 2017, Brinton House, Pendle Hill,  Philadelphia PA

8:00-8:30 – REGISTRATION (Dining Hall & Brinton House)

8:30-9:30  KEYNOTE

The Matrixial Foundation of Maternal Cultural Meanings in Myth and Ritual

Dr. Peggy Reeves Sanday, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania


9:45-11:15 SESSION 1: Motherhood in Patriarchy

Moderator: Marna Hauk

  1. Priscilla Hobbs-Penn, Finding Demeter: Re-Imagining the Myth of Motherhood for Millennials
  2. Carla Ionescu, The Myth of Athena/Medusa–Justice and War: The Duality of Women’s Roles in Patriarchal Politics [skype]
  3. Donna Giancola, Women, Land, and Eco-justice


9:45-11:15 SESSION 2: Biblical Heroines and Social Justice

Moderator: Joan Cichon

  1. Jessica Bowman, Riding the Spiral: Social Justice, Mystic Creativity, and Goddess Consciousness
  2. Caralie Focht, The Butch Goddess: A Queer Reading of Exodus 2-6
  3. Judith Wouk, Justice for Hidden Heroines – Delilah
  4. Hadassah Nechushta, Justice for Hidden Heroines – Queen Nechushta


11:15-12:45 PM  Networking Lunch (Dining Hall)


1:00-2:30 SESSION 3: Writing Workshop

Among the Goddesses: A Writing Ritual for Justice and Healing

Annie Finch


1:00 – 2:30 SESSION 4: Matricultures and Social Justice

Moderator: Gayatri Devi

  1. Mary Louise Stone, Empowered Leadership from a Motherline of the Americas
  2. Gayatri Devi, Mothering as an Imaginary of Political Peace: Mothers of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and the Democratic Process
  3. Laura Zegel, Black Mother Within: Retrieving Our Selves from Racism and Sexism Through the Black Madonna


2.45 – 4:15   SESSION 5: Goddess Wisdom Righting Wrongs: Three Transnational Stories

Moderator: Dawn Work-Makinne

  1. Dawn Work-Makinne, Sibyl of the Rhine: Hildegard von Bingen as a Northern Wisdomkeeper
  2. Monica Mody, The Borderlands Feminine: A Feminist, Decolonial Framework for Remythologizing the Goddess in South Asia/Transnational Culture
  3. Irene Wolfstone, Indigenous Matricultures in North America [skype]


2:45 – 4:15   SESSION 6: Embodiment and Mysticism: New Sisterhood in the Academy

Moderator: Gayatri Devi

  1. Annalisa Derr, Invoking Inanna: Female Bodily Wisdom of Cyclical Renewal as the New Societal Model
  2. Gina Belton, Soror Mystica Wears a Red Dress: The Alchemy of Midwifery and Decolonization in Our Last Wild Place
  3. Megan McFeeley, Alone Together: Social Activism From Inside
  4. April Heaslip, Reinitiating Psyche: The Academy as Sisterhood


4:30 – 5:45 PLENARY: From Groundswell to Eruption: Transformative Justice

  • Cristina Biaggi, Volcano Goddesses
  • Lucia Birnbaum, Future has an ancient heart. case: Blackbird and Pear Tree


6:00 – 7:30 DINNER BREAK



  • Lisa Levart, Art, Activism and the Goddess
  • Anna Crusis Women’s Choir, Concert
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Highlighting Four Great Films in 2017

Jewels for January & February, Online Film Series

 This winter we are offering our first member-only online film series. Our thanks to the filmmakers and distributors who have made it possible. Special thanks to Women Make Movies and Grasshopper Films for their guidance and generosity.

For your consideration, here are descriptions of the great films we will show from Jan 25-Feb 28, 2017. (It’s another great reason to join or renew, since the films and discussions are only available to members.)

Apache 8, by Sande Zeig

For 30 years, the all-female Apache 8 unit has protected their reservation from fire and responded to wildfires around the nation. Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters. This film focuses primarily on four women who speak tenderly and often humorously of hardship, loss, family, community and pride in being a firefighter. They are separated from their families, face tribe initiation, and struggle to make a living. But while the women may have initially set out to try and earn a living in their economically challenged community, they quickly discover an inner strength and resilience that speaks to their traditions and beliefs as Native women.

SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW:  The Breast Archives, by Meagan Murphy

The Breast Archives is a powerful documentary, illuminating significant themes and often-stifled experiences of womanhood in America: puberty, sexuality, social mores, and menopause. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable women, ages 32-68, who boldly bare their hearts and breasts to the camera, candidly revealing individual journeys they’ve made in reclaiming their bodies. By exposing themselves, the women expose, and challenge, all of us. And by understanding how breasts are defined by American culture and how women are affected, The Breast Archives suggests what we can do to make positive changes for ourselves and our loved ones.

A Woman to Match a Mountain, by Karen Snyder

Are myths and legends only available from ancient sources?  This charming biographical film proves that it’s possible for a modern woman to single-handedly build a myth tradition that continues to thrive in Wyoming 80 years after its creation.  Neal Forsling was herself the stuff of legend, a young woman who divorced in the 1920s and moved with her two girls to homestead on a mountaintop in the rugged land near Casper.  There she not only defied convention as a writer and artist, but in 1930, at her Summer Solstice party, she started a living myth tradition: the Witches of Crimson Dawn.

Letters from Baghdad, by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum

Voiced and executive produced by Tilda Swinton, Letters from Baghdad is a visually rich, beautifully crafted documentary that tells the story of Gertrude Bell, who, more influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, shaped the modern Middle East in ways that still reverberate today. Explorer, writer, archeologist, spy and political powerhouse, Bell was one of the most influential and fascinating women at the dawn of the 20th century. Widely travelled across Arabia, she was instrumental in pushing for an end to colonial rule and played a major role (alongside Churchill and T.E. Lawrence) in creating and administering the modern state of Iraq.


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Screen-in of Films to Teach Tolerance


Women Make Movies presents:  

Response to Hate:
Teaching Tolerance
, Free Inauguration Week Screen-In

Here is the announcement of this one-week opportunity from Women Make Movies to screen important documentaries:

“This year’s post-election period revealed deep societal divisions that prompted acts of violence, as well as other forms of intolerance. In response, concerned educators and communities are looking to cultivate transformative conversations. To help with these efforts, WMM is presenting to types of offers, 1) an exclusive 25% off discount on selected new releases, and/or 2) an option for educators to participate in our new “SCREEN IN” initiative, which provides an opportunity to view the selection of films online, for free, during the week leading up to the January 20th inauguration. The curated collection includes:

These films amplify vital issues on the topics of race relations, Islamophobia, transgender equality, violence against women, health care inequity, immigration, climate justice and more.

Call 212-925-0606 x 360 or write to place your order. Use coupon code: TTOL16 

Offer expires January 31, 2017.

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Do You Know about “Women Make Movies”?



Women Make Movies

As we expand our resources to include more media and films, we want to make you aware of organizations that promote and assist the creation of films by women. For over 40 years, Women Make Movies has distributed important films in which women tell the truths of their own lives. Community organizers and educators at all levels can find important topical films and other resources through WMM.

Established in 1972 to address the under-representation and misrepresentation of women in the media industry, Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women.

As the leading distributor of women’s films and videotapes in North America, Women Make Movies works with organizations and institutions that utilize non-commercial, educational media in their programs. Their collection of more than 500 titles includes documentary, experimental, animation, dramatic and mixed-genre work. The films and videotapes represent a diversity of styles, subjects and perspectives in women’s lives. More than half of the works in the collection were produced by women of diverse cultures, and the collection includes a variety of works by and about lesbians, older women and women with disabilities.

Check out their Catalog for great teaching resources.  And, if you are a filmmaker, look up their distribution guidelines resources for production assistance at


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About Our First Publication: Myths Shattered and Restored”

ASWM Anthology

The Association for the Study of Women and Mythology (ASWM) is  delighted to announce the publication of the first of our conference and symposia Proceedings anthology, Myths Shattered and Restored.   This anthology, edited by Marion Dumont and Gayatri Devi, features essays in archaeomythology, place-based wisdom of indigenous peoples, feminist and goddess-centered reworkings of western myths, the Dianic tradition, essays on cross-cultural investigations into goddess myths, and collective goddess deities, to list a few of the themes and topics explored in this collection.  As the Introduction says,

Today’s history becomes tomorrow’s myths. This exceptional collection of essays is a valued contribution toward contemporary feminist and womanist efforts to re-cover the herstory of mythology and to ensure that today’s herstory is not forsaken in tomorrow’s myths. The writings presented in this volume serve to strengthen and support the circle of women and men who share a scholarly passion for sacred myths about women.

Authors include Mara Lynn Keller, Joan Cichon, Arieahn Matamonasa-Bennett, Alexandra Cichon, Mary Beth Moser, Denise Saint Arnault, April Heaslip, Alexis Martin Faaberg, Natasha Redina, Savithri Shanker de Tourreil, Gayatri Devi, and Dawn Work-Makinne.

Purchase Myths Shattered and Restored at  Amazon or Goddess Ink

Posted in ASWM, Calls for Submissions, Publication, Research & Scholarship Tagged with: , , , , , ,

The Passing of Mary Kelly


We are saddened to report that our longtime ASWM advisory board member,  keynoter, and colleague Mary B. Kelly died in March of this year, at her beautiful home in Hilton Head, SC. Mary was a talented artist and teacher whose work on women’s textiles contributed greatly to our knowledge of goddess symbolism and folklore. Her books include a trilogy on goddess embroideries in Eurasia and the Mediterranean. She also led international tours related to women’s spiritual practice through ritual tapestries and cloths.


Mary earned a Master’s degree at Rhode Island School of Design and established the art program at Tompkins Cortland Community College in New York, where she was a professor for 25 years. She also participated in a teaching exchange with a university in Moscow, Russia. In addition to drawing and painting, Mary had a particular interest in textiles. At the same time, she showed her own artwork internationally in many galleries and museums.


She had major solo exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Institute for Contemporary Art in London and her work was featured in exhibitions in the Whitney Museum in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Mary’s art can be found in the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery in the UK. She was most recently featured in Mary Kelly: Projects, 1973-2020 at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, UK.[16]


Wherever we are discussing goddess lore or sewing fabric art, Mary will be deeply missed. Her passion for goddess embroidery and the spiritual quality of textile-making has inspired a new generation of artists and scholars.

Posted in ASWM, Member Artwork, Research & Scholarship Tagged with: , , , , ,
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