#Goddess is Everywhere

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Today I woke up to the news that Instagram has now banned the #goddess tag. What this means is you can use the tag, it just won’t show up in searches- essentially making all content with this tag invisible in search. #bringbackthegoddess as well as #goddesses tags have been used as work-arounds.

Instagram has not explained its reasoning. Women on the platform are guessing there was some kind of “pornographic” images using the tag. Surely if that is the case it would be easier to ban the IP addresses of those accounts abusing the #goddess tag instead of silencing a any pagan, heathen user, anyone who likes to call their friends a #goddess, anyone wanting to talk about history, literature or cultural production of the human race? Would they ban #God, #Allah, #Buddha? And what exactly would happen if they did? If they reinstate this tag but monitor it, what exactly will they be looking for?

Just a few weeks ago Instagram banned the body-positive tag #curvy, only to reinstate it with the warning that all #curvy tags will be monitored for content that Instagram finds offensive. And there is the ongoing nipple fiasco, where male nipples are OK, but female nipples in either a breast feeding portrait or in all their body-part glory will get you banned.

Back in the late 80s when I was a Women Studies major at San Francisco State, we debated stuff like this, as well as how to spell women, who could speak to oppression and other things that at the time seemed so academic to me.  The argument against anti-porn campaigns went something like this– if we demand patriarchal porn to be banned, the first people these laws will be used against will be feminist women working with images of the body. I wondered at the time how this would manifest.  If I could go back in time I could show my younger self this object lesson, except that there are no laws, no platforms for discussion with those in power. We’re subject to the whims of the ones who own our means of communication– I have tried to do with out them, believe me, but it doesn’t work if you have an online business and have friends all over the world.

Like the banning of curvy, this is an attack on women, albeit a stupid, petty one. This morning I feel such outrage, but it is only a reminder of that bit of ancestral memory, of being slowly or violently erased– what women have had to fight against for thousands of years– so much of our ancestors spiritual legacy has been renamed, rebuilt, built over in another God’s name, burned, raized, forgotten. I am under no illusion that the internet is a safe place for women, that it’s democratic or even forward looking, yet I’m not cynical enough for this to be routine.  It’s still met with rage.

Collage from Pagan Reveries blog

Collage from Pagan Reveries blog

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Collages from the Pagan Reveries Blog

Collages from the Pagan Reveries Blog

Happy Friday the 13th!

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Happy Friday the 13th– save 13% today and tomorrow at http://www.feralstrumpet.net with coupon code FRIDAY13!

Friday the 13th is a most auspicious day– Freya’s day, and when it falls on the 13th, it’s especially lucky.  Barbara Walker in her Women’s Myths and Secrets says that the number 13 was said to be unlucky because it corresponded to the 13 months in the lunar calendar, the 3-in-1 nature of the Goddess.  Considered the “devil’s dozen” by the church fathers, this sacred number was demonized.

I wish you many blessings on this lucky day!

Bells for Coyolxauhqui

Brass Bells for a Goddess. My new Yule Design.

Brass Bells for a Goddess. My new Yule Design.

It’s that time of year when I start thinking of a place that has never been. I get homesick for a mythic land, that hybrid place of Mexico-in-America. You tengo morriña de Aztlan. I hunt down Mexican hot chocolate and make huge piles of tamales so that we end up freezing them and eating them for months afterward, and I dream of the sun. Ironically, this place inside a place is exactly the psychic locael I inhabit as an immigrant in England. Being in two places at once is something I learned way back when I lived in Cali.

This Yule design came out of that nostalgic emotion. I was thinking about the Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauhqui whose name means “Golden Bells”.  Bells have long been a way to call to the Goddess, and I prefer that aspect to the anachronism of sleigh bells ringing this time of year.

Thalia Took's beautiful illustration of Coyolxauhqui

Thalia Took’s beautiful illustration of Coyolxauhqui

It is said that Coyolxauhqui was killed by her brother who dismembered her, flinging her body into the sky so that her head became the moon.  When the moon is low and bright in the sky, you can see the golden bells of her cheeks shining there.  She is also the goddess of the Milky Way.

For a wonderful interpretation of Coyolxauhqui’s story, go to Thalia Took’s Goddess pages.

This necklace is the green of nopalitos, the red of sangre in the sol.

Blessed Yule for those that celebrate it.  

Northumberlandia

Northumberlandia, or the Lady of the North.

A Goddess from a disused coal mine, Northumberlandia is a massive public sculpture in Cramlington, Northumbria. She is 100 feet high and over a quarter of a mile long. Like ancient earth works before her, she can only be seen all at once from an arial view. But you can walk around the spiralling, twisting paths that traverse her body.

We went the week after the sculpture had opened to the public in September. Two helpful volunteers greeted us, and there were a few walkers with their dogs and one family on the many footpaths that wind over the sculpture. They pushed a relative in a wheelchair around the ramping paths; almost all of the sculpture is accessible, and the grades of the paths marked at the outset. The site builders worked with Disability North to make sure the site could be used by visitors of differing abilities.

Image of Northumberlandia taken from Pro Landscaper Magazine

The first time I saw a photograph, sent to us by my father in law, I was profoundly moved but the idea of her. M and I decided immediately to go and check it out when it opened. Walking the sculpture, one catches glimpses of the working mines surrounding her, giant yellow machines toiling away in their Mordor. The information in the press release claims that coal mining has made this sculpture possible– ah, paradoxes, big money moving around. The permission to build this was granted along with permission to open the largest surface mine in England, and the sculpture itself was made from the by products of this mine.

Despite my mixed emotions about this, there is something visionary about bringing life and beauty to the blighted landscape. No one seems to know about it, and the press features mostly a shrugging public.  The Daily Mail and even the BBC snickeringly called it a “naked lady” and locals call her “Slag Alice”.  She is the green giant in the land of the “Page Three Girl” and she is sublime, subversive, even.

Comparisons to Gormley’s Angel of the North have been made– she has been referred to as the Lady of the North.  While Gormley’s rusted messenger has always seemed too hard, forlorn and defensive, this piece luxuriates in the history and landscape of the North.

She is the giant goddess in the sky, brought down to earth. The American landscape sculptor Charles Jenks clearly designed her to reference many neolithic sites like the Thornborough henge and Silbury Hill, among others. Many neolithic structures were positioned to give a vantage point to the heavens or to a body-like silhouette in a distant landscape. This sculpture is a wonderful mediation on the ancient temple building which honoured the connection between the earth, sky and our own bodies. A statement from Jenks,

To see the world in a Grain of Sand, the poetic insight of William Blake, is to find relationships between the big and small, science and spirituality, the universe and the landscape. This cosmic setting provides the narrative for my content-driven work, the writing and design. I explore metaphors that underlie both growing nature and the laws of nature, parallels that root us personally in the cosmos as firmly as a plant, even while our mind escapes this home.

You can walk into her forehead. She even has a third eye, marked the “eye of the universe”. One hand points to the two spirals in her earth-sky, the other points to her feet– in the pagan blessing– as above, so below.

Plaque at the forehead of the Lady of the North.

For jewellery inspired by pagan landscapes, please visit my Etsy shop.

 

The First Four Months: Adventures of an Etsy Seller

Flower Face, Blodeuwedd Rosary Necklace by Feral Strumpet on Etsy

I found myself in a little village in North Yorkshire, after living in London for six years. My fledgling career as a massage therapist suddenly stalled as all my clients were still in London and I knew no one and had no way to build up the business again through word-of-mouth. After working for myself as a therapist I knew I couldn’t work in an office again. Could I start another business and would it be viable? What lessons could I bring from my massage practice to a new venture?

I had long been an Etsy shopper. Whenever I needed anything I would check Etsy first, preferring to buy from an individual maker. Plus, artisans on Etsy usually had unique and wonderful solutions and options. I began to think, what if I sold things I made on Etsy? Friends had often commented that I should sell the jewelry made, but I thought no one would pay me for such things.

I was wrong! It is four months into this journey and already Etsy has helped me make my first mortgage payment. I have found not only a wonderful customer base of friends, internet acquaintances and most amazingly, strangers who have found my shop. But I have also been surrounded by supportive fellow-makers and shop owners. When you wake up in the morning and set up your tasks for they day, they form a kind of virtual team, giving you high fives and thumbs up with messages and “likes” as well as team discussions. They also pose a constant source of inspiration when you see what they’ve been up to. Working alone in my little studio can get lonely and isolating, so having these creative fellows about has made a huge difference.

Four months is a bit of an arbitrary anniversary, except that listings on Etsy go in four month cycles. Everything I listed from that first cycle, save one necklace, has sold. I’ve celebrated by reassessing my business plan and goals for the shop. I’ve gotten serious and invested in branded packaging as well as rethinking things like sales and ongoing promotions (Look for a brand new sale section in the shop coming soon!) Also, I bought a new tool– a Xuron needle nose pliers to replace my little pliers I’ve had for the last quarter of a century. My old pliers were giving out, giving me blisters and the spring was totally gone.

But they had sentimental value. I bought them at the Laguna Beach Bead shop, back in high school. The shop owner (I believe her name is Peggy) was the first person to teach me how to make jewelry. She did it for free, and always took an interest in what I was making. My teen years were difficult– I don’t know if she knew how much she helped me by giving me these skills and being present in my life in that way. This is another reason why local businesses are worth supporting over mega stores! Would I have known someone like her if the only shops left where Michaels and HobbyCraft? I like to think I’m keeping the cycle going on Etsy, building the micro economy and making beautiful things.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me thus far– here’s to the next leg of the adventure!