Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finding the Feminine Divine

This is a post that has been on my mind for some time, but which I've hesitated to write for fear of how it might be received.

This year, I have been coming to know God the Mother.


I remember in college my agnostic roommate told me that she thought the ideal deity would be a trio, one each male, female, and neuter. But she was an open-minded agnostic, not a mainstream Christian. Judaism talks about the God of Abraham and Isaac, and in the next breath about the God of Sarah and that seems more open to female inclusion, but still, a pretty patriarchal picture of things. Christianity says that Jesus is male, and by using terms like "Father" pretty clearly indicates that God is also male (or perhaps without gender). So I was sure I couldn't talk about the Feminine Divine to other Christians, could I? It would be edgy at best, and possibly blasphemous.
Then one day, just after reading Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I got up the guts to raise the concept of the Feminine Divine in conversation with a Protestant friend. She said "well it makes sense that God should have both female and male aspects, to be perfectly balanced, and the idea of a married couple sure works for that."

Here I'll back up for a moment and explain that Mormon theology takes a different approach to Deity than most other Christian faiths: we teach that God is male and embodied, as is the Son. The Holy Spirit is spirit, but all three are distinctly separate beings. And, to top it off, God is married, and His wife is also a Deity--a Goddess, our Heavenly Mother.

And I'm getting to know Her.

This simple outline was something I'd understood since childhood. God is married, we have a Heavenly Mother, but we don't really talk about Her. She's there, and that's all we need to know.
I have been content with this my entire life. Truly. I knew other women who felt patronized by patriarchy and wanted to reach out to a Feminine Divine, but I was no feminist. She was there, and that was good enough for me. I never sought Her out.

And then, one day, She sought me.

Moon Goddess by Josephine Wall

That's the only way I can think to describe it. One night an awareness and understanding of her came to my mind powerfully and emotionally, (the story is here) and from that moment onward I see Her everywhere. She is in the moon and in the sea. She is in the trees and in the temple. She is in me, and She has become part of my daily life.

And now I realize, She was there all along, I just hadn't see her.


I recently was privileged to share in a Daughters of Mormonism podcast about some of the many symbols that help me connect to Mother Goddess. If you're interested, you can listen to it here.

"The truth will set you free, but first it will shatter the safe, sweet way you live," (Sue Monk Kidd in Dance of the Dissident Daughter).  Indeed, I feel like a new woman in so many ways, and yet I know I can never go back to the simpler life or faith I had before. I know more, I see more, I am more. Things are not simple anymore (and, in full honesty, knowing Mother is only part of it).

There are many of us (mostly women, but not all) who have been finding and knowing our Goddess in recent months and years. Many mormons are uneasy about discussing Her or trying to know Her because little has been said via official sources, but more and more of us are connecting with Her regardless. Some of my friends have expressed that they feel Her 'moving in the world' or that we 'have reached a tipping point.' One of my friends has instigated a movement, inviting us all to pray specifically for revelation about Mother.

If this intrigues you at all, I encourage you to check out some of the following links. They are some of the resources which have fed me in my knowledge and understanding of Mother Goddess:

Friday, June 24, 2011

30 Days - Day 28

(yes, I'm doing them out of order. This is the random-abstract part of my personality showing through. My mother's concrete-sequentialness, though well taught, shall not prevail!!)

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.

or edges
or heights + edges
I guess it comes down to a fear of falling? When I used to have to go out on the catwalk to hang stage lights for the theater, I would get a feeling like all my insides were falling right out through my woohoo (there's a visual for ya!). I still get it a little if I get too close to the edge at a scenic overview or something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice is also known as Litha. This is the time when the Sun God reaches his peak (literally the Sun's apex), and it is also a time when the Goddess shows the fullness and abundance of her pregnancy. It's not a fertility festival in that it's not about sex, but it IS about life, and fullness, and it is a time when we begin to gather the earliest harvest--usually herbs. This time of year is also fishing season.

While many handfastings (similar to betrothals or 'trial marriages') are performed at Beltane, the more serious, permanent marriages are commonly entered into at Litha. As put by one author, the playfulness of Beltane escalates into passion at Midsummer [source]. Thus the Honey Moon, newlywed honeymoons (and mead) are traditional parts of this festival.

In Christian tradition, midsummer (usually June 24) is St John's Day (John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin who was six months older). This is a great time to celebrate baptism, committing oneself to God, or a renewal of those covenants. For those who are LDS and believe that the Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John, then this could be a good time to celebrate the priesthood, including the priesthood holders in our lives (convenient how it's so close to Father's Day huh?).

The God in his wild form (as the Greenman or Horned God) is actually strikingly similar to John the Baptist in some ways, both living in the wilderness, at one with nature, and subsisting on wild foods.

Fairies are also abroad at Litha.

  • Sun colors--red, orange, and yellow
  • The Greenman, Horned God, Pan (god of nature), satyrs, fairies
  • firebird/phoenix, dragon

  • early harvest berries, vegetables, or fruits
  • food cooked outside--grilled or cooked in a fire
  • herbs 
  • herbal teas
  • honey or mead
  • fish (the salmon are running here)
  • bread or cookies in sun shapes
  • anything yellow, orange, round, or otherwise sun-like

  • gather and dry herbs
  • hold a BBQ or bonfire with friends
  • go camping
  • go on a picnic
  • talk about baptism
  • swim or play in water (particularly rivers) in mindfulness of baptism
  • talk about priesthood
  • give priesthood blessings to each family member
  • go wildcrafting (collecting wild plants for domestic use, whether as food, medicine, or decoration). For example, collect dandelions and make chains from the blossoms, and/or make medicinal tea from the roots.
  • get up at sunrise and stay up till sunset, enjoying the longest day of the year



The earliest letter I had from my cousin was when she was in second grade, so I must have been about 6 myself. Those early exchanges consisted of so few sentences that they probably scarcely justified a stamp (even though it was only 25cents!).
When I was 7, her family visited ours, and I remember spending half the week creating a secret language together which we subsequently used in our letters.
We wrote regularly--usually exchanging every month or so--until we both got to college. During high school our letters regularly reached 2-3 full pages (mine handwritten on college-ruled paper, hers typed). In college the letters slowed, and gradually transferred to sporadic emailing. But for over a decade we had written regularly.

By middle school I had two other pen-pals as well, and while the letter exchanges with them were never as frequent as with my cousin, we still wrote for years.

In high school I began corresponding with another cousin. He was my first male correspondent, and I don't know if it was a product of age or maturity or what, but we were both shy and writing to each other not only gave us a source for mutual encouragement in that matter (and a resource for trying to begin to understand the opposite sex!), but also gave us a chance to get to know each other. We had always lived several states apart, and had never really gotten to know each other. Those letters continued sporadically though his foreign mission (those 80 cent stamps got expensive, not to mention the slow transit time for international mail).

Through high school and college I kept a journal too. A lengthy, rambling, emotionally volatile thing. I still have those volumes, though I'm not certain what good they are doing me. I shared them with my husband when we were engaged, but he didn't get very far through them...they are just too loooong.

While I was in college I wrote faithfully for over a year to a dear friend on his mission. He was serving within the United States, and we exchanged letters weekly. The letters were long, often several typewritten pages. I remember perfuming one so that he could brag to his companion about it. My roommate was also writing to a missionary, but he did not write nearly so often, and I often hid my letters from her to spare here feelings because she always got depressed that I got more (and better) letters than she did. This missionary and I had started as just friends, but over the months and letter by letter we became very close. The timing was such that I ended up getting engaged before he came home, but had I not, I am sure I'd have dated him when he got home, and I would likely have married him.

My husband and I met online, and for 8 or 9 months we had a long-distance relationship. Even the first two months of our engagement were long-distance. We had lots of late night phone calls and instant-messaging conversations, but we also wrote emails. 

I don't maintain very regular correspondence with anyone now. My family all emails each other fairly regularly. Each of my siblings has served foreign missions and been allowed the use of email, so there's a weekly email from whomever is on a mission, and both of my parents write most weeks. One of my sisters (or her husband) still sends a family email every week, just like when she was on the mission.

A lot of my thoughts end up on my blog now, rather than in personal letters or in a journal. But writing continues to be a regular part of my life. I am glad that it is so.☺

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daughters of Mormonism

I made my podcast debut this week
over at
My introductory interview is here (it's about an hour long).

In the interest of full disclosure, the interview does include my talking about my good girl syndrome, my miscarriages, and my integrated pagan-flavored mormonism. So if those topics trouble you, or if you don't want your kids to hear me talking about sex (albeit non-graphically), then get out headphones or something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moving to the Bush (again)

These plans have been in the works for a while, but since nothing was set in stone I didn't want to broadcast too much or too early. However, Hubby has a job for this fall and we will be moving to Kotzebue this summer. Yes, I am now again revealing the actual city we live in. If you go look at the map, you will see why I am comfortable telling the world where we're going: if someone wants to steal a kid they don't go do it in Koztebue!

So, first things first. It's pronounced "cots-ih-biew" (rhymes with 'view'), but most folks seem to call it "Kotz." There are about 3500 people, so it is similar in size to where we've been the last two years. I have had mixed feelings about returning to the bush, but I know that this will not be like living in Pelican. Kotz has 3 planes a day (jets!), so the hit-or-miss seaplanes will not be an issue. There will be mail in and out every day. There is a grocery store (which is open regularly, and well-stocked, in spite of milk being $11/gallon). We initially found it difficult to find a place to rent that was large enough for us (3 bedrooms) and also would allow us to bring our dog--for a while we thought we might have to leave her with a foster family for the year--but we did finally find a little house and we're very excited about it. We hope to be getting things signed on that soon.

In the meantime, as we've made our plans for moving, we ended up deciding to all drive 'down south' (the lower 48) to replace the roof on our house in Utah, and then to take our van to my folks in Washington. We won't be taking the van to Kotz, and leaving it with my folks seemed like the best option because they can get some use out of it. But we have to get it down there! It will be a very fast trip, considering the milage involved, but that's how the schedule had to play out. SO instead of having two months to get everything together and ready to go, we have  closer to one, AND in addition to packing for moving, I also need to do the sorting of packing for a family trip. We're getting rid of lots of things as for some reason I'm expected to continue to feed everybody and keep up with laundry during all of this. Whose idea was that anyway?!
Furthermore, once we get to Kotz it will likely be a couple of weeks before we have things like internet all set up...because that's just how life goes, you know?
So if I don't post much over the coming couple of months, now you know why.☺

Friday, June 10, 2011

Delayed/Selective Vaccination and Mormon Missions

After the school question, this is usually the next one (at least from LDS parents):
So I'm homeschooling, or filing an exemption for my child to attend public school...but what about going on a mission? The church wants missionaries to have a bunch of vaccinations too...

Again there are a couple of options.

Firstly, there are some people who truly cannot be vaccinated. If they have certain allergies (dairy or eggs for example) then they are healthy enough to serve a mission, but cannot receive vaccinations because there is dairy and/or egg in most vaccines. For these individuals, they can still serve missions, but will most likely stay in the USA for their mission. A non-allergic individual who has simply opted-out of vaccinations would have this same option--to just stay 'stateside.' Many people are entirely comfortable with this.

If you are comfortable with vaccination, and simply didn't want to inject too much into a small child, then you have the option to get the vaccines at an older age. This is the route I intend to go with my children. I think that getting a whole bunch of shots in the last 6 months before a mission is equally inappropriate to getting a whole bunch of shots at once with an infant, so I would again spread it across a few years. When each child is in their mid-teens, I will discuss with them about missions and vaccines and inquire as to how they want to proceed. If they are comfortable with being limited in where they might go, I'm ok with that. If they want to keep the foreign/third world country door open, then we would set up a schedule to get the remaining 'required' vaccinations over the high school years. (And another reminder--keep your own records of all the vaccines your kids get and when they get them!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delayed/Selective Vaccination and Public School Attendance

Recently I got this comment on my Hep B post:
We avoided this one with our newborn, and I want to continue to avoid it. But if it's required for school entrance, at what point should we have it done so we won't have issues with the school nurse in five years? 
(image source)

Well, there are two answers to that question, and it depends on what your longer-term vaccination plans are. Are you a delayed vaccinator? Or are you a selective vaccinator?

If you are simply a delayed vaccinator, and plan to get all the shots but on a delayed schedule, then you simply spread the vaccines across 5 years rather than doing them all in 2 years (which is what the recommended schedule says). You have twice as long, so you can spread them out easily. Utilize a public health clinic to get the 'off-schedule' shots, or you can do what I do and take multiple children every time one of them has a doctor's appointment, and get shots for everybody even if it's not "their" appointment. (My doctor has been great about this.)
In this case, of course, by the time the child is school-aged, they have had all the 'required' shots for school, and there are no hassles.

Please note--keep your own records of your kids' vaccinations.  Many medical offices will give you a little card to track them, and that works fine, but if you don't have a card then make some kind of chart. You should have your own records and not just rely on what the doctor has in their office. For one thing, the 'recommended schedule' has more injections than what is actually required by the state or school (for example, for polio the CDC says that a child needs 3 injections, with the final one being after age 4. However the typical state schedule says to do 3 injections plus an additional one after age 4. I choose to spare my kids that extra shot!) You need to have your own records so that you can determine which shots to get for your child and when to get them. If you leave it up to your doctor, they will likely try to pressure you into getting "caught up" and/or getting more shots than you truly need.
So I'll repeat myself: keep your own records, make your own choices about what to get and when to get it. Take responsibility for your child(ren)'s health, don't leave it up to someone else. ☺

In the United States, if you are a selective vaccinator or a non-vaccinator, then you will have a different issue if you want your children to attend public school. It depends a little on how selective you are. The list of "recommended" vaccinations is far longer than the list of "required for school" vaccinations. If you get the required ones then you'll still be fine. But, if you opt out of some of those (such as the Hep B), then you will need to do a little extra paperwork in order to keep out of fights with the school nurse.
That extra paperwork comes in the form of claiming an exemption and putting it on file with the school.
The exemption filing process varies from state to state, however you can look it up online. You can also ask at your doctor's office or your local public health office, but they may not be very friendly about it...I recommend starting online (and the forums are a great place to start, I would go to "find your tribe" and find your region and then ask there for pointers about what to do for your area).
In some places you can just do it once, I believe in other places you may need to re-file for each school year. There should not be a fee associated with it, but I think I heard that in some places there is. I've never had to pay one so I'm not sure.
And how does an exemption work? Simple, you put it on file with your school, and your kids attend. IF (and only if) there is an outbreak of something your child hasn't been vaccinated for (measles, pertussis, etc), then you will be asked to keep your child home from school for the duration of the outbreak. That's all.

There are three types of exemptions: medical, religious, and personal/philosophical, but not all are available in all states. Every state has to allow medical exemptions for children who have certain allergies or who are immuno-compromised. A medical exemption has to be signed by your doctor, stating why the child is exempted. I believe that all states also have to allow the religious exemption, because otherwise it would be discrimination. This is just a matter of printing off the form and signing it and turning in a copy to the school. The personal or philosophical exemption is only available in some states, but essentially it says "we don't believe in or don't want vaccinations [for whatever reason, we don't have to tell anybody why]" and, like the religious exemption, you just fill out the form, sign it, and turn it in to the school. In some states you may need to have it notarized.
For those who are choosing selective vaccination (or non-vaccination) for personal reasons rather than medical, this can become sticky if you are in a state which only allows medical or religious exemptions. I, personally, still feel comfortable with claiming a religious exemption. My religion is not opposed to vaccination, but it does teach that we should "search, ponder, and pray" when making decisions. My research, thought, and prayer over my family's health has led me to the decision to vaccinate selectively. I suppose not everyone would feel comfortable with that reasoning, but I do.

So that's how we work it out with delayed/selective vaccination and public school attendance. Of course, a lot of folks who opt out of mainstream vaccination practices also opt out of mainstream educational practices, and homeschooling doesn't have any vaccination requirements either way. ☺

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"The truth will set you free, but first it will shatter the safe, sweet way you live."
~Sue Monk Kidd (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, 15)

"I think my soul knows some things that my mind is still grappling with"
~Dryad (yes, she's a real person and a dear friend of mine)

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