Here is a link to blogtalkradio, where Creatrix Media has compiled their informal interviews with ASWM presenters and participants at our 2012 conference in San Francisco. Thanks, Jayne and Anitra, for making these interviews available!
Category Archives: Conferences and Symposia
Seventh Annual International Conference
on Comparative Mythology
We are please to announce that Arieahn Matamonasa-Bennett, Ph.D., will give the keynote presentation for ASWM’s Symposium (April 20, St. Paul, MN). Her topic is “Honoring the Web: Indigenous Wisdom and the Power of Place.”
Arieahn is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has been teaching and facilitating spiritual and personal growth workshops and development workshops for over 15 years. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is an assistant professor at DePaul University.
Arieahn is frequently sought out regionally and nationally for her expertise on Native American Studies and Indigenous Healing Practices; Equine (Horse) Assisted Psychotherapy; and the Animal-Human Bond.
Lady of Ten Thousand Lakes: Finding Wisdom in Places
Call for Papers
The Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Biennial Symposium
Much of mythology is grounded in place. Suggested topics for this symposium might include, but are not limited to, the following:
Do issues of place add an activist quality to our scholarship? Does activism have a place in scholarship? What does it mean to find wisdom in places?
Proposals for papers, panels, and workshops addressing these topics will be given preference, but other subjects will be considered. Papers should be 20 minutes; panels with up to four papers on a related topic may be proposed together. Workshop proposals should be organized to provide audience interaction and must clearly address the theme. (Workshops are limited to 90 minutes.)
Presenters from all disciplines are welcome, as well as creative artists and practitioners who engage mythic themes in a scholarly manner in their work. Presenters must become members of ASWM prior to conference.
Send 250-word abstract (for panels, 200 word abstract plus up to 150 words per paper) to email@example.com by January 15, 2013. Include bio of up to 70 words for each presenter, as well as contact information including surface address and email. See www.womenandmyth.org.
This year, for the first time, ASWM offered a book award for best scholarly nonfiction, named for Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of creativity and the arts. The five-person panel of judges included Mary Jo Neitz, Wendy Griffin, Chandra Alexandre, and ASWM board members Sid Reger and Denise Saint-Arnault.
The nonfiction winner was “Sacred Display: Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia” by Miriam Robbins Dexter and Victor Mair (Cambria Press). Dexter was also one of the keynote speakers at this year’s conference, and was present to accept the award on behalf of the publisher.
The judging panel evaluated each entry in terms of how much it added to the field of goddess studies, how well researched the book was, and how eloquently expressed the findings were. In all categories, “Sacred Display” was commended by the judging panel. The book analyzes cross-cultural images of female “display figures,” such as Sheela-na-Gigs and frog goddesses. The authors argue that the apparently “sexual” display of these figures in fact reflect an ancient and widespread belief in the power of the female body to create fertility, magic, and sovereignty.
In making their decision, the judges cites the “absolute treasury of new translations that adds significantly to the field,” as well as “an innovative combination of textual and visual analysis in which each illuminated the other.” The subject, one that has not previously been studied in such depth, was described as “a provocative one,” for nude female figures are often described as pornographic or otherwise not evocative of women’s empowerment. “By placing these figures at the center of their study, the authors challenged the presumption that nakedness equals powerlessness when the nude person is female,” according to the judges.
This year, for the first time, ASWM offered book awards in three categories: nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The award series is named for Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of the arts and creativity. Judges for the fiction and poetry awards were bookstore owner Barbara Criswell of Aquarius Books in Kansas City, and ASWM board members Patricia Monaghan and Maureen Aakre Ross.
Winner of the fiction award was Elizabeth Cunningham for “Red-Robed Priestess” (Monkfish Press), the final volume of a four-part series. In making their decision, the judges praised the book’s strong female figures, especially the leading character, Maeve, who was described as “embodying the passions and challenges of any woman’s life.” They also praised the author’s inventive yet respectful use of various mythologies and religious traditions, including Celtic and Christian. “Although this award is for a single book,” the judges added in their commendation, “this award also recognizes the three volumes of the Maeve series that have gone before and have served as mileposts in the literature of women’s spirituality.”
Winner of the poetry award was Annie Finch for “Among the Goddesses” (Red Hen Press). In making their decision, the judges praised the poet’s penetrating connection of mythic figures with contemporary women’s issues as well as the bold centralizing of the conflicted issue of abortion at the book’s center.
The crafted narrative that links the individual poems was also singled out for praise by judges who noted that “the American reading public is less comfortable with non-narrative forms, so providing a strong story that draws the reader through the book was a decision that opened this intensely-crafted work to more readers.” Yet the individual poems themselves were also praised as “high-caliber and high-octane poems in diverse voices” as well as “breaking away from the overwhelmingly self-centering personal voice that limits much contemporary poetry, while retaining the immediacy of dialogue.” A final unique quality praised by the judges was the potential of the work for public performance, which opens the work to larger audiences as well as to collaboration with artists in other media.
At the 2012 ASWM National Conference, Heide Göttner-Abendroth of Germany received the first Saga Special Recognition Award in Women’s History. This award is named for Saga, the Norse goddess of history and prophecy. In giving the award for “tireless work to bring to light an alternate cultural narrative,” the ASWM board cited “Göttner-Abendroth’s lifelong passion…to research matriarchal societies and cultures, past and present. Her work has been a catalyst for international scholars and indigenous peoples to promote a new understanding of non-patriarchal modes of social organization.”
Göttner-Abendroth is the founder of Modern Matriarchal Studies and the International Academy Hagia for Matriarchal Studies and Matriarchal Spirituality in Bavaria. Her meticulous research demonstrates that matriarchies are egalitarian cultures based on gender equality and consensus decision-making. In 2005, Heide was nominated as one of 1000 Peace Women Across the Globe for the Nobel Peace Prize.
An Open Letter, with Thanks, to the Foremothers, by Molly Harris
I knew that the ASWM conference would be really enjoyable and interesting, but I had no idea how amazingly meaningful and life-enhancing it would be for me. Just sitting in that ballroom and seeing so many wise women in one place, I realized that each began some 30-40 years ago in a very small way to create a new spirituality that brought back an ancient spirituality.
I was touched by the power in that room, and the willingness of everyone to come together and share in spite of differences of approach. In fact, the differences were what made the conference whole and complete. I felt a connection with each woman I sat by at lunch or spoke to in between sessions. Everyone was wise and supportive.
When I made my presentation at the very end of the day on Saturday, I was touched to see each woman I had connected with slip into the room as I was preparing to speak. I felt held and supported in this new endeavor. The women who presented with me were brilliant, and our moderator couldn’t have been more knowledgeable and kind. I made so many new friends! And it was good to push myself and do something new; that was part of the power of the experience, also, to put myself out there and be seen.
The conference was such a perfect blend of scholarship and spirituality. It couldn’t have been better. Visually it was inspiring just to see the colorful Goddess clothing and jewelry and the spirit of so many incredibly beautiful women flowing through the rooms. I heard so much laughter and saw many tears, both of grief and joy. I learned so much and took in so much in the music and dance and poetry and sacred ambience.
I was enthralled the whole time I was there, and I was carried home in an aura of joy and gratitude for the Spirit of Women.
Following the ASWM conference, Judy Grahn’s provocative and groundbreaking speech, ”Goddess Is Alive! But How Do We Know?” has been made available as a PDF through the Women’s Spirituality Program of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (soon to be Sophia University).