2017 Symposium Presenter: Annie Finch


We are a tribal species, meant to live in tribes.  At this point, anything that reminds us of our connection with each other is healing, and poetry can do that, through the meter and through the language and through the imagery. The combination of those three things is literally magical, I think.  It can change energy, it can change reality.

Annie Finch is an award-winning poet, performer, editor, critic, teacher, nonfiction writer, and verse playwright. She is the author of more than twenty books and chapbooks of poetry, plays, translation, literary essays, textbooks and anthologies.  The most recent of her six books of poetry is Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2013).

Annie’s poems have appeared in journals including Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, Paris ReviewPartisan Review, Poetry, Agni, Jacket, Fulcrum, Prairie Schooner, and Yale Review, and in anthologies such as The Norton Anthology of World PoetryThe Penguin Book of the Sonnet, and The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

Her collection Calendars (2003) was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award, and Eve reissued in the Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporaries series in 2010. Other honors include the Robert Fitzgerald Award and the Sarasvati Award for Poetry.

Posted in Arts, ASWM, Conferences & Symposia Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2017 Presentations: “Interactive Writing Ritual” with Annie Finch


Among the Goddesses:

Interactive Writing Ritual for Healing and Justice

This interactive writing ritual is designed “to provide participants with closure and catharsis as we synthesize the gifts of the 2017 ASWM program through imaginative transformation. We will open by invoking goddesses of chaos, loss, mourning, justice, transformation, and peace.”  After the invocation, participants will be guided in a three part writing ritual of naming, releasing, and healing, designed to shift our stories into narratives of power. Our final group ritual will weave sacred dance, circling, drumming, and chanting with the words we have written, offering a focused and inspiring doorway out of the symposium into the rest of the world.  Please bring writing implements and any ceremonial attire you desire.

Annie Finch is a an award-winning poet, writer, and performer. Her many books of poetry and poetics include Spells: New and Selected Poems; Eve; and Among the Goddesses, awarded the 2010 Sarasvati Award in Poetry from ASWM.  Her column on woman-centered spirituality appears regularly in The Huffington Post, and she is currently completing her next book, A Witch’s Way.  Subscriptions to Annie’s Spells and Poetry Witch Musings are available at anniefinch.com.


Posted in Arts, ASWM, Conferences & Symposia Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Join Us at Pendle Hill for 2017 Symposium

Pendle Hill is a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center located in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia.

Pendle Hill was established in 1930 as a Quaker study center designed to prepare its adult students for service both in the Religious Society of Friends and in the world. The founders envisioned the new school as “a vital center of spiritual culture” and “a place for training leaders.”

Today, Pendle Hill continues to be a vibrant experiment in adult religious education, through its conferences, publications, and online resources. At the heart of its programs are the foundational principles of “equality of opportunity and respect for individuals, simplicity of the educational and material environment, harmony of inward and outward actions, community in daily life and in the seeking of the Spirit.”


Brinton_House-670x445Our 2017 symposium sessions will take place in the historic Brinton House, overlooking the woods and pond, and located a short walk from the Main House where our meals will take place. Pendle Hill is located on 23 beautiful acres of grounds. We encourage you to come early to enjoy walking the mile long woodchip trail, through “miniature ecosystems” with140 species of trees and flowering shrubs.

Pendle Hill is located just outside Philadelphia, easy to reach by car, train, or plane. It’s a Five-minute drive from Media and Swarthmore College and 20 minutes from Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.


Posted in ASWM, Conferences & Symposia, Events Tagged with: , , , ,

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.

Posted in Arts, Awards, Events Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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..

Posted in ASWM, Awards, Research & Scholarship Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

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 ›

Posted in ASWM, Awards, Past ASWM Events, Research & Scholarship Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

“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 missing..to 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.

Posted in Arts, ASWM, Conferences & Symposia, Events, Past ASWM Events Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“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
Posted in ASWM, Conferences & Symposia, Events, Past ASWM Events Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.


Posted in ASWM, Events Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 orders@wmm.com to place your order. Use coupon code: TTOL16 

Offer expires January 31, 2017.

Posted in Research & Scholarship Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: