Local Author Honored in 2019 Indie Book Awards

Feminine Mysticism in Art by Ashland resident Victoria Christian has been named by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group as one of the best indie books of 2019.

 Victoria’s book is the winner of the Spirituality category in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the world’s largest not-for-profit book awards program for independent publishers and self-published authors.

 The awards are judged by leaders of the indie book publishing industry, including many with long careers at major publishing houses. Their love of a great read and experience in the publishing arena identify books deserving a wider audience.

 2019 is the 12th year of the not-for-profit book awards program.

 Catherine Goulet, Co-Chair of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, proudly said, "Our program has become known as the Sundance of the book publishing world." Sundance is the famed independent film festival which is now described on its website as “the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives.”

 In an article at CNN.com titled If it’s cool, creative, and different, it’s indie, journalist Catherine Andrews wrote: “The term ‘indie’ traditionally refers to independent art – music, film, literature or anything that fits under the broad banner of culture – created outside of the mainstream and without corporate financing.” That definition remains true for book publishing.

 Independent book publishing companies are independent of the major conglomerates dominating the book publishing industry. Indies include small presses, larger independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.

 According to Goulet, “Like other independent artists, many indie book publishers face challenges that the industry giants don't experience. The indies have to work much harder to get their best books into readers’ hands.”

 “Authors and publishers who compete in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards are serious about promoting their books,” added Goulet. “They aim to stand out from the crowd of millions of books in print.”

 According to an October 2018 report by Bowker, publisher of the Books in Print database, the number of self-published titles grew to 1,009,188 in 2017, an increase of 28% over the previous year, surpassing the million mark for the first time.

 The most recent statistics from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported more than 2.2 million books published worldwide in a single year. 

The Sexual Shadow of the World

In the past few years more and more women are having the courage to speak up about the trauma’s they have endured in their families, homes, churches, and work environments. And while it has been painful to see, it give me hope to see all the sexual shadow coming to the light for healing as it has been denied and buried for too long.

As a trauma specialist (clinical medical social worker) I have helped numerous women receive emotional support, validation, find safety, shelter, and receive the short and long term therapy they need to heal. I have had the honor of working with an amazing team of professionals—all of whom provide a highly effective wrap around service for woman and men in crisis or with histories of trauma.

It was important for me to include an article in Feminine Mysticism in Art about the history of women’s sexuality and the sexual shadow. I personally know several women who have been sexually traumatized to various degrees and I deeply understand the ways in which severe trauma changes people’s brains.

It is an honor to have several authors, medical visionaries, and sexual therapists who are experts in women’s sexuality and healing in Feminine Mysticism in Art. Because these issues are coming to the light for healing right now, I wanted to share an article written by Azra Bertrand and Seren Bertrand called The Sexual Shadow of the World. We also have another article that is just as amazing by Linda Savage PhD, Reclaiming Women’s Sexuality.

The Sexual Shadow of the World

 The truth is, there is a hidden epidemic of sexual abuse in our world – that is eating away at our communities, destroying the heart of humanity, and ravaging our planet. We can no longer afford to look the other way or turn a blind eye. The recent sexual abuse scandals involving Harvey Weinstein in America, Jimmy Savile in the UK, and in the Catholic Church across the world, are part of a greater cultural apocalypse – a feminine root word which means ‘unveiling what is hidden’. We are finally seeing the hidden rot behind the false surface image of our culture. And before we point fingers of blame and shame ‘out there’ – we must know that this unveiling is gathering pace in every sector, every industry, and even in the family home.

 These revelations teach us one lesson about the reality of sexual abuse, one thing we must understand if we want to heal and rebirth our world: most rape and sexual abuse is denied, hidden, repressed, unrecognized and unreported. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg. If we want to know the truth we must look deeper, we must be prepared to face one of the longest, darkest shadows of the world.

 The scandals also teach us that a few brave individuals who break the spell of silence, who speak up and challenge the businesses, churches, gurus, media organizations, legal structures, health care systems, and family members who are complicit in the culture of denial – can create a new culture of truth and transparency that leads to tremendous healing. Our voices and our truth, especially when we come together, create change powerfully and quickly. This is the way our world will heal.

 5,000 Years of Rape Consciousness

 It is important to note that the mass collective culture of rape consciousness is not new, but has dominated the planet for thousands of years. In past eras, it was not even a taboo, as some women, and young girls and boys, were openly used by male power holders, including priesthoods, state rulers, politicians and family members, as if they were objects. These are the ancestral legacies still living on inside us.

 Overt, culturally sanctioned sexual abuse still happens in many cultures of the world, but in others – such as the western world – the essence remains hidden from sight, repressed and kept as a forbidden secret. No wonder we feel an immense sense of cognitive dissonance in our lives. On the surface we are told one story, of caring families, caring leaders, caring organizations. Underneath is a completely different story, held in deep shadow.

 We live in a tumultuous, difficult, yet important time in history in which the shadow is being revealed. Rather than a charming politician with slick wordspeak, our current epoch gives us an elected president of the United States who publically condones “grabbing ‘em [women] by the pussy.” [1] The air is thick with the stench of sexual predation and dehumanizing rhetoric. Actors cavalierly say in public they love their job as they get to “rape beautiful women.” [2]

 Sexual Abuse & Mental Health

 The same tidal wave of unveiling and revelations will soon sweep the mental and physical healthcare fields, which, at the moment, are still choosing to stay in denial of the true scope of the problem. When this happens, there will be a complete revolution in the way we look at health – and the impact of these trauma legacies.

 Based on my twenty years experience as medical doctor, healer, researcher and community leader, working with more than 25,000 people, I have come to a very controversial, but sadly very real conclusion: sexual abuse is a huge, unacknowledged contributing factor in much of our physical and emotional illness.

 The truth is that childhood developmental trauma, including a startlingly high incidence of sexual abuse, is a contributing factor to both chronic somatic illness and to many psychiatric diagnoses listed in the DSM-V, the so-called “Bible” of the mental health fields. [3] This includes depression, anxiety, borderline personality, dissociative identity disorder, and many others. The more intensive the trauma, the longer its duration, and the younger the age at which it happened, the more severe and chronic the psychiatric condition will be.

 The same is true in chronic physical health conditions. Childhood traumas, referred to by researchers as “adverse childhood events”, including sexual abuse, account for a large percentage of physical illness, not just in childhood, but throughout our adult lives. A full account of this phenomenon deserves its own book, and indeed many good ones have now been written that detail the hundreds of medical studies supporting this conclusion (Scared Sick, by Robin Karr-Morse is one example).

Sexual Abuse Much More Common Than We Are Told

 Conservative and well-respected medical studies state that around 25% of girls and 18% of boys have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18. [4,5] But, it is widely known that these reported numbers do not represent the true amount of sexual abuse. The actual numbers are significantly higher than this

In 2014, the National Academies of Science stated, “sexual assaults are grossly underreported.” At least 80% of childhood sexual abuse goes unseen. [6] Beyond the issue of non-reporting, childhood sexual abuse is often not remembered, for a number of reasons. In many cases, childhood abuse is perceived as so frightening, overwhelming and shameful, that an instinctive, protective amnesia and dissociation kicks in, and the memories are immediately repressed and forgotten. Or children may be given sedative drugs, alcohol or over-the-counter cold medicine, which blur memory further, with events lost in the unknown recesses of the mind.

If sexual abuse occurs when children are young enough, typically under the age of four, they usually do not have the neurologic capacity to form clear conscious memories. The feelings remain, but they are encoded in body memories and vague states of upset or behavioral symptoms that are difficult to understand.

 In my clinical experience with women seeking healing for physical and/or emotional issues, the numbers are around 70% or greater who consciously remember sexual abuse, or who carry the symptomatic, behavioral and energetic signature of someone who has been exposed to sexual abuse, or who have this memory buried in their family history and lineage. The abuse can vary in intensity, from unwanted or inappropriate touch, voyeurism, leering, fondling, oral sex, penetration and beyond into the unthinkable. The more violent the incidents, the longer the duration, the closer the relationship of the perpetrator, and the more powerless the child feels to find support and safety, the more disruptive the outcome is to physical and emotional health.

 Sexual Abuse A Common Cause of Borderline Personality and Dissociative Identity Disorders

 Of all the mental health conditions, borderline personality and dissociative identity disorder, formerly “multiple personality disorder”, are the most closely linked with childhood sexual trauma (often compounded by other developmental traumas).  A 2016 study showed approximately 45% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder had a known history of childhood sexual abuse. [7] An older study reports this number to be as high as 70%. [8] As shocking as these figures are, we know that they greatly underrepresent the actual percentages. Of course, not every case of borderline personality will involve sexual abuse, and many complex factors contribute to it, but we must explore this possibility, rather than ignore it.

 DID and Ritual and Network Abuse

 In dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition in which multiple fragmented personalities are present in a person, a history of childhood trauma is nearly universal; it has been found in 97% of patients, with childhood sexual abuse found in as much as 90% of cases. [9,10,11] However, the patterns of sexual trauma in DID present an even darker and more disturbing picture. Psychotherapists report that 25-50% of their DID patients recover memories of systematic, ritual or network sexual abuse – abuse carried out by multiple people in an organized way. [12]

 Psychotherapy professionals who come forward to speak about the presence of network abuse in their patients and communities are generally disbelieved, mocked, humiliated, excluded from professional societies, and stonewalled from publication. Academic researchers who are professionally or personally invested in the climate of denial, or who are hired by the systems of abuse, have launched what has been called the “Memory Wars” – writing scientific papers that claim recovered abuse memories are a result of “false memory syndrome”, that these memories are not real.

 But, 60-80% of practicing clinicians, psychiatrists and therapists believe in the reality of trauma-repressed memories, especially in sexual abuse. [13] They are supported by new neurobiological studies and PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) literature that proves the existence of repressed memories caused by emotional trauma, later recovered in a safe therapeutic setting. [14,15,16,17,18] It is now known that we can repress entire events or segments of time as a coping response to an emotional crisis.

 Creating New Paradigms of Support

 Because we live in a culture that is in such profound denial of the tremendous scale of sexual abuse currently happening on the planet, often, abused women do not receive support. Their traumatic pain has not been recognized, not held with love, not healed. Instead they have often been misdiagnosed, medicated or disbelieved.

 Many men are also playing out their repressed childhood sexual abuse wounds, sometimes as victims, but also at times becoming the perpetrator, unconsciously inflicting their sexual pain on a new generation of children. Crippled by the toxic shame they feel, and lacking the emotional tools and cultural support to heal, they can perpetuate the cycle of abuse. We sometimes forget that young boys are also vulnerable, and almost as many boys are sexually abused as girls. In the Catholic Church scandal, 80% of the victims were boys, mostly between the ages of 10 – 14. [19]

 Statistics of abuse for transgender women, women and families of color, and those in marginalized or low-income communities are also higher than national averages, and are compounded with complex cultural biases that hinder support.

 Protecting Women, Protecting Earth

 The magnitude of the consequences of sexual abuse are immense; not just personally, but collectively, culturally, financially, ecologically and spiritually. Anyone who has worked directly with women knows of the slow, painful, agonizing and courageous journey it takes to heal these wounds – how they are written in the body and the psyche, and how much time and energy it takes to reweave trust.

 And beyond this, the Womb and genitals of woman – the sacred sites targeted and attacked by sexual abuse – is also the portal through which our vibrational blueprint as a race is birthed, our ‘world womb’. A womb imprinted with pain, fear, and disconnection transmits this pain to the DNA of their future children, epigenetically modifying the expression of their genome – until these womb wounds are healed. [20]

 We are literally birthing a world of pain and suffering through hidden sexual abuse.

 The developmental trauma (chronic childhood emotional wounding, or “Complex-PTSD”) that is a result of this abuse epidemic, is at the root of much of the world’s suffering, costing us trillions of dollars per year in health care expenses and lost productivity, disconnecting us from earth, and costing us the lived integrity of our true soul self. We don’t feel safe in our bodies, in our culture, or in this world.

As the body of woman is raped, commodified, abused – so is the body of Mother Earth. We are raping the very energy source that created us and sustains us.

Protecting women is about more than “women’s rights” – it is about the very survival of our species. If we defile and destroy that which births us, we will soon die out.

This current crisis of sexual abuse is an incredible opportunity to make the shadow conscious, to speak out, to take action and to begin our healing journey together. Collectively, we are at a prophesized turning point. We have an amazing regenerative capacity within us, biologically, culturally and spiritually. Our experiences of the past do not need to define who we become. We can invoke a spontaneous, regenerative healing of our collective body, and return to balance.

 

By Azra Bertrand M.D. and Seren Bertrand, authors of the acclaimed book, Womb Awakening – Initiatory Wisdom From the Creatrix of All Life, as well as Sophia’s Return: Healing the Grail Wound, and Sacred Womb Rituals. They are founders of the worldwide Womb Awakening movement, and the Fountain of Life Womb Mystery School.  They hold annual in-depth Womb Awakening Apprenticeships, and share shamanic music on Sacred Sounds of the Womb, Elemental Awakening, and other albums. Visit www.thefountainoflife.org. Sophia’s Return, Seren’s personal story of healing from sexual abuse, is offered as a free ebook on the website: https://www.thefountainoflife.org/sophias-return-healing-grail-wound/

 

 Notes:

1."Transcript: Donald Trump’s Taped Comments About Women." The New York Times. Oct. 8, 2016. Accessed October 1, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html

 2."Game of Thrones' star Jason Momoa joked about raping 'beautiful women' on show". The Guardian. October 13, 2017. Accessed October 13, 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/oct/12/jason-momoa-game-of-thrones-raping-beautiful-women.

 3. Schizophrenia, autism, and some other conditions are more strongly associated with epigenetic and environmental insults before and during gestation than childhood trauma.

 4. Finkelhor, D. et al. “Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence,characteristics, and risk factors.” Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal. 14(1), p. 19-28. (1990).

 5. Singh, M. M., et al. An Epidemiological Overview of Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 3(4), 430–435. (2014)

6. National Research Council. 2014. Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18605.

7. Menon, Preethi et al. “Childhood Sexual Abuse in Adult Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal 25.1 (2016): 101–106. PMC. Web. 15 Oct. 2017.

 8. ibid.

 9. Chu, James A; Dill, Diana L. “Dissociative Symptoms in Relation to Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse.” The American Journal of Psychiatry; Washington147.7 (Jul 1990): 887-92

 10. Coons, P., et al. Confirmation of Childhood Abuse in Child and Adolescent Cases of Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Aug 1, 1994.

 11. Vedat Sar, “Epidemiology of Dissociative Disorders: An Overview,” Epidemiology Research International, vol. 2011, Article ID 404538, 8 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/404538

 12. Mulhern, S. “Satanism, Ritual Abuse, and Multiple Personality Disorder: A Sociohistorical Perspective. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 42(4),1994.

 13.Patihis, Lawrence. "Are the 'Memory Wars' Over? A Scientist-Practitioner Gap in Beliefs About Repressed Memory." Psychological Science. Vol 25, Issue 2, pp. 519 – 530.

 14.Anderson, MC, et al. "Neural systems underlying the suppression of unwanted memories." Science. 2004 Jan 9;303(5655):232-5.

 15.Trei, L. "Psychologists offer proof of brain’s ability to suppress memories." Stanford Report. Jan 8 2004. Accessed October 1 2017:  https://news.stanford.edu/news/2004/january14/memory-114.html

16.Elliott, D. M. Traumatic events: Prevalence and delayed recall in the general population. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 811-820. (1997). UCLA Medical Center, Child Abuse Crisis Center, Torrance, CA.

 17.Sargant, W., et al. . Amnesic Syndromes in War. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 34(12), 757-764. (1941, June).

 18.van der Hart, O., et al. Trauma-induced dissociative amnesia in World War I combat soldiers. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 33(1), 37-46. (1999, February). Department of Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

19. Cullen, K. “More than 80 percent of victims since 1950 were male, report says.” Boston Globe. 2/28/2004.

 20. Bertrand and Bertrand. Womb Awakening: Initiatory Wisdom of the Creatrix of All Life. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2017, 224-227.

 

More Thoughts on Hope, Existential Despair, Female Leadership, Social Rehabilitation, and the Hospicing of Humanity

A symptom of the global dark night of the soul is a complete shattering of hope.  There is also a complete shattering of the ego and future dreams. When I went through it in 2015 upon reading The Extinction Dialogues by Climate Scientist Guy McPherson and Carolyn Baker, perhaps the worst thing for me was the complete annihilation of hope.  I immediately wrote Andrew Harvey an email in complete despair and he was able to provide some guidance, but the evidence-based research was so undeniable and was just being released to the public. I could tell that he had so much uneasiness about being the bearer of bad news, but everyone feels this way that passes on the information.  Now that it has been verified by several climate scientists it is rapidly influencing a large number of people.  We all have to wake up to the facts…and yes, they will radically change you.  So please seek the support you need from a counselor or mentor who you resonate with.

 This doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to do our part in creating positive social change.  For this is the only thing that gets us up in the morning—knowing that we might be able to create some positive change. We need to continue to wake up every day with some certainty that we can make it thru the dark night.  The magic and joy is still very present on this earth and is resonating in all of our hearts.  All the love is present, but there is no doubt that people’s hearts are totally shut down right now.  People are also very distrustful of one another and for good reason. 

 Centuries of grievances against one another have served to stifle our ability to move forward.  There is a lot of important work in hospice social work, particularly around letting go, surrendering, and radical forgiveness. Hope is our lifeline that we need to get through the dark night and Great Spirit will be here to guide us in our journey. However, it is not wise to resort to a false sense of hope either.

 We have no clue what is going to happen and if there will be a New Golden Era on earth.  We are all very excited about implementing new utopian systems right now, but in some way this is a way of intellectualizing our negative emotions in order to avoid the pain associated with death.

 I have always been a deep believer that LOVE IS VICTORIOUS and the sacred feminine would save the world.   And while I consider my faith to be a lifeline, I am willing to sit in the void of the abyss and not have any answers.  Going through so many dark nights of the soul myself and helping hundreds of people through difficult transitions has enabled me to totally sit with the darkness in a way that most people run from.  I am ok with not having answers right now. I am ok with the world crumbling around me…at least for a second, until I start getting all freaked out again. 

 There are many layers to this dark night of the soul and it is important to take the grief in phases.  It is also important to seek help and support if you are isolating for too long.  We need to grieve alone, but we also need to grieve in community.

 Existential despair is the complete loss of faith that we will be able to transform and come out the other end and be reborn.  Considering the stark statistics of the 6th mass extinction of humanity and species on planet earth, it is incredibly difficult to be too optimistic that the earth will allow us to stay.  It has become clear that our way of life is not in alignment with Gaia’s natural rhythms.  The carrying capacity of the earth has been overridden long ago and if we were wise like the lemmings, we would have committed mass suicide by jumping off the cliff.  Instead, we keep procreating with the false assumption that the earth is abundant.  She is abundant to a point, but when we cross her boundaries, there is massive debt to pay.

 In our rationally oriented culture, we are socialized to avoid the emotions, particularly negative emotions.  As a result, there is a tendency to avoid the sting of grief by numbing out, repressing, abusing substances. We have individually and collectively been running from our monsters and shadow reflections, but it has taken a tremendous toll on our souls. And while the dark night of the soul is terrifying, it has some powerful lessons for us if we will just sit and listen.

 Great Spirit and the dark mother are incredibly wise, but one has to be willing to receive her guidance.  And if we are running amuck in our terror and anxiety, we will be too frazzled and fragmented to listen.  Which is why it is critical right now to do mindfulness meditation and deep breathing every day.  We are also obsessive planners living in a left-brain world.  We are taught to solve problems right away as opposed to sitting and listening for guidance from our soul or higher selves. Spend as much time as you can in nature as it is scientifically proven that Earthing helps ground out and purify our electrical body. However, one must be directly touching the surface of the earth.

 Some Thoughts on Female Leadership:

 It has been amazing to watch the tidal wave of awakening on a global scale of the Divine Feminine. I only want it to get stronger as it is so needed right now.  I support all women who are rising to do what they can to make change happen.  And while the feminine is rising and taking charge, I have sadly come to witness the deep feminine wounding that has divided women, particularly in regards agreeing on how social change needs to take place.  There is sadly an incredibly amount of competition between women that I have witnessed first hand. I have a lot of compassion for these deep wounds, but not all women are committed to really doing the self-examination and healing work to integrate and move on.  Some of them are also unconsciously acting out their need to be in an authority position, which is concerning to me.

 In addition, women’s spirits have been greatly affected by the lack of compassion of President Trump.  He has done more damage to the women’s psyches than any president in the history of America.  As a home health medical social worker I have witnessed and held space for hundreds of tragic stories of abuse and the internalization of oppression, which has led to a silencing of women’s voices.  And I have personally lived this oppression as a woman who didn’t grow up in a privileged family and social class.  I have worked more pink-collar jobs than most women have; thus, I have a deep understanding and compassion for the deeply entrenched psychological slavery that happens to women who have been socially oppressed for years.   

This kind of internalization of multigenerational trauma doesn’t go away as easily as people assume. Those who have not been educated in trauma informed care and family systems theory most likely underestimate and minimize the neurological changes in the brain that can occur with extreme trauma victims.  However, neuroscience is now revealing the incredible examples of healing of the brain over time. (see the Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Dodge, M.D.

 My mother was a single mother with 3 children who had to support them in an economically oppressed economy of Southern Oregon.  She was fortunate to have Jimmy Carter as a president in the 1970’s as he had some incredible social service programs for Mother’s on welfare.  It was called the CEDA program and my mother was trained to be a court reporter, which literally kept us from being in poverty long term. My biological father was a beautiful poet and humanitarian that didn’t make it through the sixties due to low self-esteem, substance abuse, and mental illness. Watching my father struggle on social security disability opened my eyes at an early age to the social oppression of mentally ill folks and the negative stigma that they have to live with their entire lives. 

 It was impossible for my father to live off his social security stipend of $700 per month, which is what thousands of our disabled folks are supposed to live off these days.  And to make matters worse, there is a massive shortage of low income housing for the mentally ill and physically disabled folks, they end up on the streets and are high risks for suicide.  

 Perhaps one of the most tragic thing is witnessing how our medical system poorly handle these incredibly fragile people.  A lot of these mentally ill have multiple health problems and end of in the emergency room or TuNorth .   However, it is too costly for the hospitals to shelter them for long periods of time; thus, they are discharged to temporary hotel rooms or a homeless shelter where they are back on the streets and then two weeks later back in the hospital. 

 This is our current solution—called the Revolving Door solution— to dealing with the chronically mentally ill and homeless situation not just in southern Oregon, but nationally.   I am the person that helps these people when they are discharged in addition to other social service agencies such as Columbia Care Intensive Case Management Program.

  It is obvious that women are starting to assume powerful leadership roles, which is a good sign. I think more female leaders will be rising in the near future; however, we need leaders who are also good team players and have a deep understanding of the complexity of global social problems and various theories of social change (which includes an understanding of the critiques that have been made by knowledgeable social theorists who might know a lot more about social systems then they do).  I have witnessed a lot of women try to assume leadership roles at a young age and they lack the experiential wisdom needed to make balanced decisions, which includes an openness to seeking out positions that may differ from their own. 

I have also witness women overestimate their experience level—they might be good talkers and presenters, but they lack experiential wisdom, which comes from years of experience working in the field. It also requires extensive critical self-evaluations and critiques from colleagues and supervisors.  There are plenty of women feeling called to a leadership role, which is great, but I am very particularly about the types of leaders and leadership qualities that I will require in a culture of social unrest. I am working on a short article about female leadership now and will share that in the near future.

 Community Networking and Bridging for Social Rehabilitation and Hospicing

 I have a very unique perspective as a Sociologist and Social worker who is currently working in the trenches of our community in Southern Oregon.

As a community Bridger and networker, I have been forming community alliances with numerous social service agencies that are very aware of the problems we are facing, but feel so overwhelmed due to massive funding cuts and the shock of the ecological crises.

They all agree that these problems have just continued to get worse over the years. For example, Access released information on their website, which was a research project done by the housing authority. In this study they found that Southern Oregon currently has a housing crisis. —There is a 1% occupancy rate right now, which is horrific.

Furthermore, Mr. Trump cut all the federal funding or grants for subsidized housing. The housing authority has known for a long time that low income, subsidized housing has been in shortage and that there is little incentive for contractors to take on these jobs because they don’t make enough profit. If they were subsidized properly, then there would be more incentive, as it is a lot of work.

Several organizations have worked on plans geared to help the homeless problem. For example, Access and The Housing Authority posted a plan on their website; however, they have not been very successful at implanting the plan for various reasons. Sacramento has blocks of tent cities for their homeless people, as they need a place to go and sleep. We should have implemented these years ago.

I have formed numerous treatment teams with community alliances to get people transitioned into shelter or affordable housing. I work with amazing people at Columbia Care who deeply understands the downward spiral of homelessness and how easy it is to get stuck there.

I am forming a team of social change agents called Southern Oregon Agents of Social Change. I have several powerful leaders in our community who are ready to start taking action to create rehabilitative systems for the current ecological and social crisis we have been facing for a long time now.

For more information about my credentials: www.guanyinhealingarts.com

 

 

The Global Dark Night of the Soul and/or The Apocalypse ? Should Hope be tossed out the window?

In this current time of social unrest, hope seems to be fading with each species that goes extinct. Upon reading and getting mentorship from several psychotherapist whom I respect and admire, most of them agree that our sense of hope for humanity will be shattered in the dark night of the soul. However, this does not mean that we can’t still give ourselves permission to feel joy. I have counseling numerous clients that are end of life and they experience a full range of emotions from complete despair to elated bliss and ecstacy. Thus, don’t let anyone fool you that you don’t have permission to feel hope and joy. However, you need to also be very weary of those who fall prey to “hopium”, which is a false sense of positivity in the midst of dire evidence based scientific research. I am very leary of overly optimistic people, particularly those who have never worked in the trenches of our communities and witnessed the dire reality of what is happening in people’s homes as a result of neoconservative values about humanitarian aid. I will be speaking up about theses issues as I am tired of being marginalized.

Carolyn baker believes that their will be people who choose to be in denial up to the very end. And we are sadly seeing this with our own president and numerous climate deniers in government. In some respects we have to expect that some people are simply too fragile, or, have a neurosis of keeping themselves insulated from the truth of an assortment of social problems, not just climate change.

Numerous social scientist, environmentalists, mystics, and new paradigm scientists agree that we are on the brink of the 6th mass extinction of humanity and millions of species due to global warming.  This is a human extinction, which is a result of a multitude of factors such as unregulated capitalism, rapid population growth, an insatiable appetite for materialism, frivolous conspicuous consumption, pollution and exploitation of the earth, rampant social problems due to social inequality and oppression, overconsumption of fishing, abhorrent wasting, greed, pride, vanity, narcissism, arrogance, denial, and long histories of war. 

According to Edward Edinger, who wrote a book titled Archetype of the Apocalyse, we are in the midst of a monumental cultural change that will end the world as we know it. This is the result of the increasingly powerful force of our collective unconscious, the Apocalypse archetype. This archetype manifests itself through various signs: the drama of international relations, the breakdown of social structure, and the widening gap between political, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic groups, in science fiction and New Age books, TV, and movies. The public's preoccupation with natural disasters and the rise of religious cults and survivalist sects are other indicators.

 We are now in the midst of a massive global dark night of the soul that is evoking massive social upheaval and changes in our deeply held values and beliefs. For example, our deeply held societal values of progress and growth have been under scrutiny for a long time now, particularly with postmodern sociologists and environmentalists.

The radical changes are also invoking trauma associated dissociation.  Some of these behavioral symptoms include; cognitive fragmentation of the psyche, memory loss, insomnia, anxiety, depression, forgetfulness, and amnesia. These dark night of the soul symptoms will not only drastically affect our personal lives, but our work places, families, and communities.  

It is time to remove the blinders of collective denial and come to the horrific understanding that we need to shift into a mode of “hospicing of humanity.”   

Climate Scientist Guy McPherson and Carolyn Baker PHD (Psychotherapist) released a book in 2015 called The Extinction Dialogues: How to Live With Death in Mind.  I ordered this book hot off the press in 2015 and my life was forever changed. No one who truly reads this book will ever be the same afterward.  I was just finished up graduate school at Portland State University and was vulnerable financially and living alone. I felt completely isolated and had to endure dark night of the soul symptoms pretty much by myself. I had anxiety attacks at night a few times and had to seek support from mentors.

The global dark night of the soul is inevitably going to bring up an assortment of negative emotions such as existential despair, grief, hopelessness, rage, anger, and suicidal ideation. Tragically, we are already witnessing suicide rates increase on a daily basis in Southern Oregon, all of which has been on the local news stations. And larger social trends reveal higher rates of teenage suicide in the United States.  

A few years ago, the Medford mail tribune published an article on the front cover purporting that population demographers have estimated that the population of Southern Oregon is going to double in the next five years. However, we are clearly not prepared for this massive influx of people.  Southern Oregon has massive social problems that sociologists and social service organization have been known about for over twenties years and still have not been solved—such as, the dire shortage in low-income housing, the shortage of funding for people in crisis, the shortage of transitional housing, homeless shelters, the lack of living wage jobs, the lack of services for the mental ill, and the lack of services for addictions…..this is a short list of the longer list i have compiled.    

As a sociogist and social scientist, I have read social research that reveals that funding for social services is the lowest it has ever been, despite social needs being the highest (particularly among the poor and working poor.) This is mainly due to a neoconservative political agenda that wants to completely do away with social services and humanitarian aid. It is also the result of unregulated capitalism and the corruption of our democratic political system by the corporate elite. This exposure of the power elite was addressed in the 1970’s by a brilliant sociologist by the name of C Wright Mills (see book Power Elite).

Another social trend is the rising gap between the super wealthy 1 % of our population and the 45 million people who are in poverty in America. We have also been experiencing the larger social trend called the “middle class slide.” The overarching economic narrative is the idea that life for the middle class has grown more difficult due to inflation, rising fuel and food prices, falling house values, impending recession, and turmoil in the financial and mortgage markets.

For the past four years, I have been a home health medical social worker. I have a dual masters degree is Sociology and Social Work. I havebeen working in the trenches in Southern Oregon serving people with chronic diseases, physical disabilities, an assortment of mental illness, high rates of addiction to various substances, homelessness, unemployment, and social/economic oppression.

I have had the honor of working with several modern day heroes who quietly serve without any accolades or awards.  While numerous celebrities have been acknowledged for their generous humanitarian aid, these modern day heroes may not make a lot of money, but they are doing some of the most critical work in our communities of Southern, Oregon. I am excited to be recognized these true leaders in a TV episode I am working on for PBS.

 Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of these celebrities people for donating their money in times of great social need.  However, I find it ironic that some of the greatest American leaders and heroes work quietly in the trenches serving some of the most down and out folks. Our worshipping of famous people, or idolatry, is something that has completely repulsed me. This is just another example of how capitalism has completely distorted our evaluation of heroes. In America athletes that profess to be sex addicts are worshipped and considered modern day heroes, yet our caregivers (who are doing some of the most important work) not only get paid shit wages, but have to deal with the negative stigma of doing this kind of work.

I have seen it all folks……and I am appalled that our so-called conscious community has continued to sit on it’s laurels in regards to preparing for these tidal waves of social problems. We have had plenty of time to address these problem in Southern Oregon. I understand how deeply entrenched things are, but we have not allowed our true authentic leaders to speak in this community. I believe that I have a unique perspective on things and I empowering myself to speak up. I received a 3.7 in my undergraduate work at SOU, majoring in Sociology. I also received a 4.0 in my master of Sociology and NAU. I also worked my butt off doing minimum wage jobs to get me through a MSW degree at PSU, 3.8 GPA.

I worked a lot of back breaking minimum wage jobs growing up in Southern Oregon. I worked as a house cleaner , caregiver, Baker, waitress, landscaper, house painter, and even a dishwasher. And while these jobs built character, the negative stigma that pink collar workers are faced with can not only lower your self esteem, but cause deeply entrenched poverty consciousness and an undercurrent silencing that makes one feel small. And if someone works these kinds of jobs for a life-time, there is a continuum of mental health problems that can occur such as trauma, anxiety disorders, and health problems .

I pride myself on having the courage to work despite the shame I felt at times; however when you are in survival mode one has to do what they can in order to survive in southern Oregon

The author of this article, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an amazing book about the working poor called "Nickel and Dimed." As a journalist she decided to work several minimum wage jobs and write about the dehumanizing experiences she had.

I am always amazed by people that have never really had to work labor intensive jobs yet they judge others for working minimum wage jobs. They can often have an undercurrent judgment of poor people that is hard to detect, but I felt it all the time. I really get pissed off by the elitist attitudes that some people in Ashland hold for working class folks in medford and Ashland.

I worked really hard to receive an education so I could help oppressed people have a voice and get access to resources. I have massive student loan debt and am barely able to pay off my debt due to ridiculously low wages for social workers. I am currently on an income sensitive repayment program because their are few work places that offer the student load repayment plan for social workers that are helping low income and disadvantaged people.

In my evaluation of leaders— I want to know if they have done any social service work or volunteered to help the community in any way: have they had the courage to get out of the comfort of their own homes to help vulnerable and oppressed people or did social activism work. I am sick and tired of self proclaimed leaders that are so self absorbed and self righteous that they can’t get out of their own navels to do what they can to help.

I understand that there are many ways to serve but I am sadly disappointed at how few people do service work.

The current state of our communities in Southern Oregon are completely fractured and fragmented.  People are totally traumatized and deeply wounded by unregulated capitalism, social isolation, social oppression, and social stratification. We are more divided than we have ever been due to religious exclusivism and rampant competition.

 MORE TO COME>>>>>>>

 

ECOFEMINIST ART BOOK WINS GOLD MEDAL, SPIRITUALITY CATEGORY, INDIE BOOK AWARD

Beloved Community! We are thrilled to announce that Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine recently won another book award.  We just found out yesterday that is won a gold medal in the Spirituality category, Indie Book Award (in addition to a silver nautilus award in photography and art).  This is a TREMENDOUS recognition for many hours (12 years) of devotional service from all of our contributors. These people have merged their creative and spiritual missions for the benefit of the Earth Gaia and the deep spiritual healing of individuals and the macro social systems. 

This book is SO much more than an art book-- it has a powerful spiritual and socio-political message for our current ecological and social crisis. IT IS THE ULTIMATE CALLING OF SACRED ACTIVISM --THE MERGING OF OVER 70 POWERFUL VOICES (mystics, scholars, artists, and musicians). It is a sacred offering to the world at this critical time--a beacon of light to guide you through the global dark night of the soul. It IS the feminine light in the dark night of the soul.   This is not some "pie in the sky" new age rhetoric divorced from real sociological issues. On the contrary, this is VISIONARY REALISM--FIERCE RADICAL TRUTH. It was created with loving intentions for the conscious awakening of the planet, the healing of the Earth, and the global subjugation of the women and minorities.   

If you are interest in seeing the full list of award winners for the Nautilus Book Award and the Indie Book Award you can do so by clicking on the underlined links created on website above. 

We also wanted to announce that we are having a book release celebration and signing at Awake Cafe in Ashland Oregon this Sunday from 7-9 pm.   See facebookevent for more information.

FMA can be used as a scholarly book for courses in Women's Spirituality, Sociology, Transcendental Art and Psychology, MFA, Expressive Arts, Art Therapy, Mysticism, and New Paradigm Culture.  

If you have a spiritual book store, gallery, yoga center, museum, or healing arts center, this book would be a wise purchase as there simply isn't anything like it on the market right now. We are in the process of creating a new cover page with the awards embedded on it, but we would be happy to also send you some stickers if you have already purchased books. 

Please take some time and visit my author page on Amazon and consider purchasing this gorgeous 435 page, full color art book. 

Please also take some time to visit the books website, which has a gorgeous gallery of sample images, information about all the contributing visionary writers and artists, and a full summary of the book.  It also has information about the animated DVD, released in 2009.

Visit our beautiful and inspiring website at: www.mysticspiritart.com 

Five Issues Facing The Elderly:

Today, people are living much longer than ever before, leading us into uncharted waters. From 1946 through 1960, the United States experienced the Baby Boom years. Today, the earlier Baby Boomers are entering into retirement age. As a result, there will be an increase in the aging population, which will not only bring more job opportunities in the Gerontology field, but will also require massive changes to the Health Care Industry. With professional experience as a medical social worker and geriatric care manager, I am interested in learning more about the various needs of the elderly population, particularly the baby boom generation. My work experiences and observational study of senior citizens have sensitized me to several issues and challenges the elderly population faces; such as declining physical and mental health, financial vulnerability, housing, loneliness, and abuse.

Physical and mental health decline are major concerns that seniors have to contend with as they age. The human body is a system that wears out with long and repetitive use and the capacity to think, act, relate, and learn starts to falter and deteriorate.  Aging breeds illnesses such as memory loss, immobility, and organ failure, hearing loss and poor vision. Susan Levy, M.D. (2010) says “The Most widespread condition affecting those 65 and older is coronary heart disease, followed by stroke, cancer, pneumonia and the flu.  Accidents, especially falls that result in hip fractures, are also common in the elderly” (p. 1).

In my observational study of elders at an assisted living facility, there was a general tendency for the elders to be impatient, irritable and non-communicative.  This was most likely the result of physical pain or neurological and psychiatric problems, ranging from depression and anxiety disorders to Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating forms of dementia. Shekhar Saxena, (2010) head of the mental health department at the World Health Organization reports that “Within the next 18 years, the number of people, worldwide, suffering from dementia will likely double to 65.7 million and triple by 2050, due to people living longer.  The organization has determined that there are around 35.6 million sufferers today, costing over $600 billion a year for care and treatment” (p. 1).

Another issue facing senior citizens is financial vulnerability and the rising cost of medical care.  The financial dilemma is common among seniors who are no longer able to work.   However, a lack of financial capacity creates a stressful life and invites the entry of problems other than physical and mental health issues. While I will never know the financial status of the elderly people I observed, I do know that they are the lucky few who are able to afford assisted living, which can be quite expensive. It appears that my grandmother’s generation, or the elders I observed, are doing pretty well economically; however, the current health care system will not be able to handle the financial and medical needs of the baby boomer generation.  There will be a rise in health care needs as well as an increase in financial vulnerability with the baby boomer generation.

Housing is a major concern for the elderly. Most seniors would like to stay in their homes for as long as they can.  Reluctance to move is particularly true for those who own their own home. Some have the financial ability to afford caregivers, but others don’t.  Due to failing health and cognitive decline, elders may have to move in with a relative or consider an assisted living facility or nursing home.  However, the housing options don’t look very promising for a growing aging population.

As the overall population ages, the numbers of the most vulnerable will grow as well.  A new report from the Center for Housing Policy, Housing an Aging Population—Are we Prepared? claims that “By 2050 the 65+ population is expected to grow from 40 million today to more than 88 million; put another way, one in every five Americans will be 65+.”  Demand for housing will more than triple over the same period to 19 million” (2012: 3).   The report also found that older adults are more likely than younger adults to have housing affordability challenges.    As a result, the aging of the population is likely to increase the overall proportion of the country with severe housing cost burdens.  The report also finds that many older adults lack access to affordable services that could help them age in place.   Older adults with low and moderate incomes often lack access to various housing choices, such as an assisted living facility.

 Perhaps no other age group feels the sting of loneliness more than the elderly.  I have personally witnessed this in my profession and feel strongly that it leads to depression.  I think it is natural for elders to want to retreat as they age, but they also need encouragement to be socially engaged as much as they are able.  While individuals living alone tend to experience the most isolation, several activity directors have informed me that assisted living facilities have a difficult time getting the residents to be involved in various activities.  There is a natural tendency to isolate as a result of failing health, but there is still a need for one on one interaction with a human.

According to a new study by UCSF researchers (June, 2012), loneliness can cause suffering to people at any age, but it can be especially debilitating to older adults and many predict serious health problems and even death.  One of the more surprising findings of the teams analysis is that loneliness does not necessarily correlate with living alone. The UCSF study also found that people 60-years-old and older who reported feeling lonely saw a 45 percent increase in their risk for death. Isolated elders also had a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.

As the population of older Americans grows, so does the hidden problem of elder abuse, exploitation and neglect.   Elder abuse is the infliction of physical, emotional, or psychological harm on an older adult.  Elder abuse can also take the form of financial exploitation or neglect of an older adult by the caregiver.  In a report by The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (1998), “Every year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological, or other forms of abuse and neglect. Those statistics may not tell the whole story.  For every case of elder abuse and neglect that is reported to authorities, experts estimate that there may be as many as five cases that have not been reported” (p. 1).

Some older people are repeatedly abused, but even one incident of abuse can be traumatizing to the elderly person according to authors Carmel Bitondo Dyer, Marie-Therese Connolly, and Patricia McFeeley in Elder Mistreatment: Abuse Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America.   The author’s say that even one incident of victimization can be potentially harmful and even fatal for an older person:

A single act of victimization can “tip-over” an otherwise productive, self-sufficient older person’s life.  In other words, because older victims usually have fewer support systems and reserves—physical, psychological, and economic—the impact of abuse and neglect is magnified, and a single incident of mistreatment is more likely to trigger a downward spiral leading to loss of independence, serious complicating illness, and even death (p. 339).

 An additional issue is that often older people who have been

abused or neglected do not wish to testify against their family members who have abused them, out of a misguided sense of loyalty, or of love. Fortunately, each state in the United States has an office of adult protective services to investigate the abuse or neglect of adults.  Interventions provided by Adult Protective Services include receiving reports of adult abuse, exploitation or neglect, investigating these reports, case planning, monitoring and evaluation.

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BIG THANKS TO ALL THE "EARTH ANGELS" WHO SUPPORTED FEMININE MYSTICISM IN ART

Acknowledgments

As a co-creative vision, this book involved the synthesis of many brilliant cultural creatives. First and foremost, I want to acknowledge my mother, Susan Stedman, for her wisdom and steadfast devotion to the project. Not only was she my confidant, she was also an enormous source of emotional support and a fastidious editor. I simply couldn’t have done this project without her. I would also like to acknowledge Michael Slavenski for believing in me and for his generous investment in the DVD. He literally gave me hope in the darkest hour and has been a monumental hero in my life and in the lives of so many others who know him.

A book like this, which is documenting a genre of visionary art, takes a considerable amount of time and devotion. This book took over twelve years to complete and went through many stages of evolution. I am most grateful to all of the artists for their unwavering patience and devotion. My soul was continually nourished by their precious art, music and writings, which hung on my walls, rotated through my altar and appeared on my computer screen. I am honored to have befriended several of the artists, not to mention having the opportunity to see their studios, original paintings and even watch them paint. I am in complete awe of all of their creative genius and learned so much from them.

I would particularly like to thank Mark Henson for all of his inspiration and support over the years. I consider Mark to be a crucial “hub” in the transcendental art movement. Not only has he done a lot of service work for the visionary art community, but for the last ten years he has organized one of the best visionary art shows in California called TheTransformational Art Show, which happens every year at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa. I was fortunate to show my art there, which allowed me to meet some of the best California visionary artists of our day. I also want to thank

Paul Heussenstamm for his savvy business advice and abundant perspective. And I am most indebted to Suzanne Deveuve, Andrew Annenberg, Theressa Sharrar, Leslie Gibbons, and Krista Lyn Brown for their friendship and emotional support.

One of the most fascinating things about the creative process is the mysterious unfolding of the journey and the synchronicities that occur along the way. There were indeed many mountains to climb and at times I felt completely lost in the woods, not knowing where to go next. To my surprise, an angel would appear. This project was literally done on a shoestring budget and I was fortunate to have a few angels who sponsored the project and me financially. I want to acknowledge Cory Jones, Kent Schoch, Tim Kohler and my favorite sociology professor, Kooros Mahmoudi. These men saw the social importance of this book and understood how much of a sacrifice I made in my life to make it happen.

I would also like to acknowledge Abba Yahuda and Brian Lloyd for assisting me financially in a time of great need. A new warrior brother by the name of Cliff Scheick saved the day on numerous occasions. Not only did he come into my life when I needed a friend, he sponsored the project with a computer and excellent business advice.

I would also like to thank an amazing angel by the name of Jerry Schneider. He mysteriously came into my life during a time of great need and commissioned me to do a painting for his mother. He also sponsored the project with a new Macintosh laptop, which came nearly a week after my computer died. Ironically he didn’t even know this had happened.

And in conclusion I want to thank all the people who helped me with editing: Greg Marchese, Ian Luepker, Matt Fawcett and Eric Alan. And also the gang at White Cloud Press—Gary, Steve and Steve Scholl—for all of their excellent advice and for believing in the project from the beginning.

Last but not least, I should acknowledge Dave Emrich and Kelly Harding whose book design so fully realized my original vision of text and images.And in the last hour, my beloved John Grimshaw helped with editorial revisions and design work, not to mention emotional support when I had nothing left to cross the finish line.

Press Release: Local Author Earns Nautilus Book Award

The Anthology, featuring over 65 Visionary Artists and Writers is an Amazon Top Seller

Ashland, Oregon, April 22nd 2019 – After ten years of devotion and dedication, Victoria Christian --Author, Transpersonal Psychologist, Sociologist, and Artist-- published an Anthology of Visionary Art and Writings entitled "Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine." It is a 2018 Silver Nautilus Award Winner in the category of Photography and Art. The book is self-published by Victoria's Independent Publishing Co.--Awakening Soul Wisdom. Victoria is the head editor and contributing writer/artist. She wrote 1/3 of the book and her mother, Susan, is the copyeditor. The book was released 11- 2018.

 "This book is an incredibly unique and powerful book as it reveals contemporary sacred iconography of the Divine Feminine and Primordial Sacred Union in various spiritual traditions", says Author Victoria Christian.  "And because it is a co-creative effort of 72 powerful voices, it has a tremendous impact both personally and collectively. It truly is the medicine for the world right now and has the potential to spark a massive tidal wave of awakening, which is needed right now in order to balance out the hyper-yang patriarchal systems of domination. However, this book is about equality of the sexes, and ultimately, a transcending out of socially constructed binary gender roles as we individually and collectively awaken to ONENESS."

 The book is available in Softback, Hardback and Kindle E-book, is printed and distributed by Ingram and is available on Amazon.com and other online bookstores internationally and through retail bookstores throughout the US and Canada.

 About Victoria Christian

Victoria Christian, M.A, M.S.W is an author, transpersonal psychologist, sociologist, artist, and sacred activist. She holds a Masters of Social Work from Portland State University and a Masters of Sociology from Northern Arizona University.  For more information about the book see the website: www.awakeningsoulwisdom.com. Victoria counseling website, Guanyin Healing Arts can be viewed at: www.guanyinhealingarts.com

 About the Nautilus Book Awards:

During the past 20 years, this unique book award program has continued to gain prestige with authors and publishers around the world as it seeks, honors, celebrates and promotes print books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities, and global citizens.

nautilusbookawards.com

Gloria Orenstein's "Forward" for Feminine Mysticism in Art

Forward

Gloria F. Orenstein

Prof. Emerita Comparative Literature

And Gender Studies

Univ. of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA.

 

            It is my privilege to open the portal for your first glimpse of “Feminine Mysticism in Art.” As we step over the threshold into the universe of this amazing collection of works by women and men from diverse backgrounds, we must be cautious in thinking that we have seen this all before from the seventies Goddess art movement and from Ecofeminism as it developed through the nineties and into the new millennium. What you will find here is an enlarged, more inclusive, and more evolved interpretation of Goddess art for the twenty-first century.  Having written about the earlier Goddess art movement in a book titled The Reflowering of the Goddess, I am stunned by how rapidly and organically this new movement has sprung forth from the seeds planted by the feminist “Goddess artists” of the ‘second wave’ and, more importantly, how the visionary aspect of this art literally transports the viewer to expanded states of consciousness. I feel extremely honored to present this expanded vision of Goddess art to you as a potent legacy of the evolving revolutionary scholarship and creativity of today’s Feminist/Feminine  mystical movement in art.

I want to begin by reflecting upon Goddess art in the context of its early beginnings back in the late sixties and early seventies, and continuing on through the nineties.  In those days, when I taught Women’s Studies (now known as Gender Studies) my students had one question that came to be the bottom line of our inquiry. What my students wanted to know most of all was whether there had ever been a civilization, a culture, or a society that was non-patriarchal.   Had there ever been one in which the gender of the deity was female rather than male? (Here the inquiry was focused on western civilization).  While there have been examples of cultures that were matrilineal and matrifocal, our search to uncover examples of a bonafide matriarchy or of a religion in which God was a female proved extremely daunting until, to cite an important landmark in our quest “WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN” by Merlin Stone was published and filled us in on the history and mythology as well as the REALITY of centuries of Goddess-centered civilization.  She informed us of how thousands of years of the history of pre-patriarchal civilization had been omitted from all books and courses on history and art in the western canon. As Merlin taught us, when one image of The Venus of Willendorf was found in an art history book, we were told that it represented a Goddess cult, suggesting that one image sufficed to represent such a minority’s beliefs. 

Merlin Stone’s revolutionary findings, having poured through the anthropological and religious texts as well as the archeological logs that the general public would never see, led her to conclude that the plethora of Goddess images from a variety of pre-patriarchal cultures suggested the existence of a widespread and long-lasting Goddess centered civilization, not a cult, that preceded the historical erasure of the pre-existing Goddess religion.  Soon after that, Marija Gimbutas’ multiple volumes of archeological scholarship covering the Language of the Goddess, and the myths of the Goddess reinforced our understanding of this civilization that had lasted for millennia.  According to Gimbutas, it was gender egalitarian, peace-loving, reverent of the natural world, and devoted to the spiritual source of the Creatrix.

        The early Goddess art movement was known for the works created by women artists; such as Mary Beth Edelson, Ana Mendieta, Betsy Damon, Judy Baca, Judy Chicago, Bettye Saar,  Monica Sjoo, Afra-She Asungi and many others who made pilgrimages to ancient Goddess sites and sanctuaries, and enacted rituals and ceremonies at these places of power in order to experience what it might have felt like to participate in the rites of a woman living in a Goddess culture.  This movement focused on performances, rituals, and imagining the female self living within the context of the life of a Priestess or a wise woman healer from the ancient past, empowered by her status in a non-patriarchal society.   They sought to reclaim many of the ancient rites in revised forms, and introduce them into their present artistic and spiritual practices.

            A welcome revision of the second wave of Goddess art by its contemporaries is the inclusion of male artists and writers as a part of the Goddess art movement. We had just begun to become familiar with pro-feminist men, and now we are encountering Goddess-revering men who are also visionary artists. The most important transformation brought about here by both female and male artists is the creation of work from a spiritually evolved visionary state of consciousness.  These works often depict the energy pathways to spiritual evolution and union with Source through the chakra system as it aligns with the energies of the cosmos.  These new works often express a clairvoyant perception of energy currents in the body as well as indicating the paths the energy follows in diverse spiritual meditative journeys to enlightenment.  They raise important new questions and bring into focus themes that needed further elaboration such as the reclaiming of Shamanism as a direct path of revelation. 

            In addition, Goddess artists of the third wave are exploring the birth of a New World View of Sacred Activism.  They are interested in learning about the role played by sacred geometry in creation and manifestation. They are working to create new social systems such as the Gift Economy.  Many of the artists featured in this section of the book also have websites in which they connect with visionaries working in different fields in order to collaborate in the hastening of a major shift in culture and consciousness to take place, both on the spiritual plane as well as on the material level.  This shift on the material plane will involve the development of Permaculture, and Eco-housing. 

 It is empowering and inspiring to encounter the new works of these ecstatic, futurist visionaries, who are seeking to give birth to a new, purified, and ecologically sustainable culture.  Their communal vision is being energized by their networks, consciousness, art, meditations, and their newly evolved green technologies. For them, what used to be known as science fiction is a world whose magic is attainable through these new techniques of spiritual evolution as they are brought into practice here on Earth, and are used to bring about a loving relationship between all forms of sentient life in the universe.  I see the images of Radiant Woman and Radiant Man (p 366) by Jose Arguelles, (who had been involved in shamanic creativity and the evolution of consciousness since the beginning of the second wave Goddess art movement), as icons of the illumination and radiance emanating from the spiritually evolved humans of the future, fully engaged in the transformation of civilization.

        I am thankful to Victoria Christian whose art, hard work, dedication---whose labor of love it was to produce this book and to her mother Susan Stedman, whose insight and editing enabled the birthing process of a work that undoubtedly will continue to inspire re-vision and re-birth for many generations to come.    Now is the moment to step through the portal and begin the next phase of the journey. The Great Shift is upon us and it is clear that these visionaries have a lot to say about the evolution of feminine wisdom that will need to be absorbed into the fabric of our beings as it will inevitably bring humanity to a more harmonious and balanced place within ourselves and in the world at large.

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gre Mother Goddess and the integration of all aspects of her power into that of the Mother of all Life.    

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 sp spiritual practices.  While retrieving the ethos and mythos of cultures mostly excised from patriarchal history, and rediscovering the contributions of ancient Goddess-revering cultures to our knowledge in myriad areas, as I reflect upon that version of the Goddess

spirituality art movement from the perspective of this collection of works and essays,  I am honored to present this evolved vision of Goddess spirituality art with the many transformations and additions that it brings to light over the last few years in which it has  matured.

           The most obvious and for most I think welcome revision is the inclusion of male artists and writers as part of the Goddess art movement.  Indeed, for those of my generation, it is stunning to encounter men who are not only pro-feminist men, but who revere the Goddess and honor the vision of uniting the visible and the invisible the Earth and the spirit world through a new art that actually creates energy maps for spiritual evolution and enlightenment.  The major contribution of this new Goddess art movement is that it is born out of a different consciousness.  Here the emphasis is less on  discovery on sites in nature or from history, and more on discovery of states of consciousness and vision.  There is less of a need to excavate history to prove the reality of the past existence over millennia of the Civilization of the Goddess and more of a need to engage in a variety of prophetic visions of the future emergence of a world regenerated by the practices and values of the spirituality of the Goddess. This now foregrounds the ecological vision that was emerging in the previous Goddess art movement, and now takes center stage along with an understanding of the interrelatedness of spirit and matter via  the networks of energy that connect our energy bodies in quantum ways , often creating mysterious entrainments and attunements, with the energy bodies of non-human nature extending from ort planet to the entire universe—the galaxies and beyond. 

 

    

Revealing the Female Bias and the Shadow Side of the Goddess Movement

This is for those who are interested in a more in-depth analysis of the female bias and the shadow side of the Goddess Movement.

There is no doubt that there has been a male bias in the construction of Knowledge, however, the female bias might be more difficult to detect because women's voices have been so denied in the construction of knowledge.  However, as I offer my critiques on the female bias, I need to make something clear. 

I have ultimate respect and admiration for the courageous women in all disciplines who have carved out a path of emancipation for women of today. For this reason, I am hesitant to be too critical of the women's spirituality movement when it is still in its infancy.  When I reflect on the thousands of women who challenged patriarchal ideologies in much more severe conditions of oppression, I am instantly humbled. I envision warrior women with enormous swords, cutting away the thick forest of ideological oppression. Therefore, the critiques I have to offer the women's spirituality movement come not from ego and competitiveness, but rather from good intention and a commitment to make the movement stronger. 

 In my educational years as a Masters student of Sociology and Social Work and years of professional training as a counselor, the dynamics of the victim/victimizer relationship has always fascinated me because it is so evident in human relationships.  Yet, what I find so ironic is that each position sees the other as the source of its problems.  For example, women haven’t always been able to see the ways in which they've contributed to the dynamic system of human suffering because in pointing the finger at "the patriarchy" as the evil victimizer, they have assumed the position of the innocent victims. I am not denying the fact that men have used warfare and physical violence to dominate women.

On the contrary, I am merely making the point that there is a complex dynamic occurring here that reflects the dysfunctional role of the victim.  Women seem to know what "men's issues" are, but have we really owned our roles in the human drama? As humans who suffer from fragile egos women are just as likely to abuse their position of power if the tables are turned. Having had the experience of working under several power-tripping women, I'm convinced that women are equally capable of abusing their power and have the capacity to emotionally castrate a man with the glance of an eye. 

 I am cognizant of the diversity of feminist perspectives or "feminisms" within the women's movement as well as the varied perspectives within the neo-pagan and Wiccan groups and, therefore, I make no broad generalizations about any particular group.  Exposing the female bias is indeed a complex topic, with multiple layers and perspectives that deserve a thorough analysis. Unfortunately, I am not able to delve into the complexity of these issues in this article. As a sociologist who is aware of the dialectics model of social change, history reveals the tendency to go from one extreme to another, which in some respects can be considered a defense mechanism or reactionary survival instinct.  The pendulum needs to swing to the other side in order to find a place of balance. While feminism has been a powerful tool of emancipation for women, there is a tendency in radical feminist and some pagan groups to go to the other extreme; thus, falling prey to a "female bias."

 In the process of awakening to the Goddess, it has become evident to me that some people have gone from one extreme to the other--from father worship to strictly mother worship, without a true appreciation of consecrated polarity, or the sacred union (particularly for those who have been severely damaged by patriarchal religions). 

The tendency for the mainstream to go from one extreme to the other is all too evident in human history. The sexual revolution of the 1960s, immediately following the McCarthyism of the forties and fifties, is a perfect example of a pendulum swing from sexual repression to sexual liberation; however, we see now that neither extreme served us. This is also true of God and Goddess ideation. When speaking about the Divine, one simply can't talk about God without talking about the Goddess.  For this reason, it is of particular importance that feminists not go the other extreme and succumb to a female bias, especially when they are openly disgusted and judgmental of a "male bias."  The primordial "One" demands that at some point we transcend gender--the totality of the one is the void, it is pure potentiality, neutral and genderless.

Perhaps my biggest concern with feminist critiques of gender inequality is the tendency to make generalizations, which in many respects is an inevitable human phenomena that stems from a lack of deeper understanding on a particular subject or a lack of awareness of one's own bias. Making broad-brushed and overly simplistic statements shows not only a lack of motivation to fully explore the complexity and diversity of perspectives about a particular argument, but an unwillingness to apply a sense of reason and logic when exploring topics.  Most of my concerns about feminists are tendencies that I also succumbed to in my own process of awakening; therefore I am not placing judgement on these tendencies.  I merely wish to help women to be more aware of their own contingencies of ignorance.  I was fortunate to have people in my life, particularly scientific men, who challenged my ideas and brought me back to a more balanced place.  While I can't admit that I am a fully integrated individual, free from my own bias, I have worked hard to bridge the masculine and feminine energies within myself so that I might be more effective in seeking balance in society. 

 When women take a position of blame and point the finger at men, men are more likely to become defensive and reactionary, when in fact women need the opposite to occur.  Women need men to be more open and willing to receive the reflection they have to show them, as opposed to pushing it away. Women won't be able to penetrate the denial and resistance of men if they are coming from a place of blaming rage. The rage that emerges when a woman comes to realize the extent to which she has been wounded by the patriarchy is indeed a valid emotion, and must be embraced. But rather than venting this rage on men in general, it is important to work through it in personal counseling or with other women.  Venting rage on men will only make them defensive and unwilling to examine the ways in which they have contributed to the problem. Feminists have, consequently, been stereotyped as "raging man haters" because of the few who didn't have the tools to deal with their rage in a healthy manner. 

 Women also need to be more specific as to what kinds of men and male behaviors perpetuate and maintain gender inequality.  As far as I'm concerned, it is the really insecure men in positions of power, who tend to be more traditional and conservative in their views about gender roles, that are the biggest contributors to the problem.   However, there are also those who openly admit they don't condone gender inequality, yet unconsciously contribute to the system of oppression on a day-to-day basis without even realizing it. There are also men who have worked hard to break through their conditioning and are open supporters of the women's movement.

  After long hours of discussion with both men and women on the topic of feminism and women's spirituality, I witnessed the horror, pain and guilt felt by some men who professed they had nothing to do with "the patriarchal" establishment or social inequality.  Upon hearing their voices of resignation and guilt for something they don't feel a part of, I came to realize that there are plenty of men who are open to healing and who recognize the value of integrating their feminine side within themselves and in the world at large.  Men who openly embrace feminist interests will serve as valuable and positive role models for the large majority of men who either refuse to or simply don't understand the benefits of embracing the feminine principle.

 Revealing the Shadow Side of Goddess Religions:

 There is, without exception, a shadow side to all social constructions; therefore, it would be ignorant of us to disregard the ways in which ancient matrifocal societies fell prey to their own contingencies of ignorance. After a critical evaluation of an assortment of perspectives within the women's spirituality movement, I have noticed the tendency of some feminists and theologians to paint ancient matrifocal societies in a simplistic and utopian light, as if they were perfect, egalitarian societies. However, as much as we would like to view them in this light, inevitably, there is a shadow side to Goddess religions that might not be so easily detectable.  While it is possible that these cultures may have been less violent and warlike, and maybe even more egalitarian, I don't believe it's right to assume this as "total truth" when in fact it is impossible for us, as outsiders from a different epoch, to truly discern the reality of a historical period.

Feminist thealogian Rosemary Radford Ruether makes some interesting claims in her book Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing. I am impressed by Ruether because she is careful to not oversimplify or make broad generalizations about ancient matrifocal societies and the reasons for the shift into patriarchy. I appreciate her cautious and balanced approach when analyzing the Goddess hypothesis. She is critical of feminists who tend to come off as separatists, such that the sacred masculine is negated. She writes, and I agree that "A separatist vision of demonization of men offers no real hope for resolving the male-female conflict in society."46  

 She is critical of feminist thealogians who tend to paint a perfect picture of matricentric society because they fail to recognize the problems of an insecure male adult identity. Matrifocal societies that "fail to develop an adequately affirmative role for men, one that gives men prestige parallel to that of women but prevents their assuming aggressive dominance over women, inevitably risk developing the resentful male, who defines his masculinity in hostile negation of women."47 Radford doesn't agree with some of the original mothers of the women's spirituality movment,that we can simply return to a Neolithic matricentric system.  However, she does agree that reclaiming the memory of these earlier cultures can be immensely valuable to the wholeness we seek as a society today.  But she strongly advises that we take into consideration the weaknesses of the matricentric core of human society that made it vulnerable to patriarchy.   

 It is difficult to know the down side of a particularly ideological social structure until one has actually lived in it.  Nonetheless, it is our human right to make humble, educated guesses as to what some of these might have been. While I can't say I have thoroughly investigated all theories as to how the shift from matrifocal to patriarchal societies came about, I know there is no simple explanation.  When I try to recall a particular phase in my earlier development of consciousness, it is impossible to be totally objective. I find that I inevitably project some of my more "mature" or "developed" states of mind onto my earlier phases of psychic development.   When examining ancient cultures or earlier phases in human consciousness, it is equally difficult for modern humans to revert back to ancient modes of knowing without projecting our modern day perceptions and beliefs. 

 When I intuitively reflect on the shift, the one thing that continues to come to mind is the pendulum swing, which seems to effectively reflect the rhythms of social change throughout history.  On some deep level, I sense that there were necessary developments in consciousness that came out of matrifocal and patriarchal social systems. However, I think that in each phase we developed totally different modes of knowing, and that each phase eventually reached an extreme point that became dangerous--the shadow that lurks in all social constructions.  In this sense, each phase was necessary in order for human evolution to occur; therefore, one phase isn't "better" than the other.  In the West we have taken rationality and yang energy to an extreme state of imbalance, which is why it is important to now reclaim ancient intuitive knowledge that has been lost to us so that we can come back to a place of balance and equilibrium. However, it is unrealistic to think that we can simply go back in human history and manifest an earlier phase of human conscious. This would be analogous to a mature adult trying to revert back to childhood--it is simply impossible. It seems that what we really need to do is awaken the inner child, the simplicity and the innocence of an earlier phase of human consciousness, but also retain the adult understandings that we have in the modern world.

 In modern society we have experienced the damage caused by the separation of spirit and matter; we have been taught that they are two totally different realities that don't mix, despite how things function in nature.  Our inability to integrate the invisible world of spirit and the visible world of matter has resulted in not only severe fragmentation and damage within the human psyche, but also a contradictory and divided understanding of the world and our relationship to it. An assortment of scholars claim that in ancient Goddess oriented societies, spirit and matter were considered to be one and the same.  There was no separation between this world and the other world, or the sacred and the profane.  Supposedly, the separation into two autonomous and distinct polarities arose much later in human consciousness, and is considered by some scholars to be a tragedy brought on by the patriarchy. 

When I apply the concept of consecrated polarity to the dualism of spirit and matter, I can't help but wonder if the two polarities were so intertwined in early human consciousness that they needed to establish a sense of autonomy before they could once again unite.  Developmental psychologists have observed that a human in its infancy has no separation between its internal and external world, and that in order for self-development to occur, the polarities between self and world need to be established.  Because the micro world of the individual and the macro world of society are reflections of each other (the individual is in society and society is within the individual), I propose that the evolution of human consciousness as a whole evolves in a similar way to that of an individual’s psychic development.  

 If in the infancy of human consciousness spirit and matter were one and the same, it would make sense that in order for us to evolve, the separation between spirit and matter, or "this world" and the "other world," had to occur.  From a Jungian perspective, the feminine principle of relatedness, without an understanding of the masculine principle of autonomy, would promote a sea of sameness that would deny the unique beauty of diversity. Remember that in order for consecrated polarity to function correctly, both polarities need to be autonomous; however, they also need to be interconnected in order for creative evolution to occur.  Like the spark plugs in an engine, the positive and negative charges need a gap in order for the synapses or creative spark of evolution to occur.

 

 Copyright, Victoria Christian, 2019

Exerpt from Feminine Mysticism in Art

CREATIVITY UNDER SEIGE: WOMEN ARTISTS AND IDENTITY FORMATION

" Art is a system of knowledge about oneself and the world at large that is as valuable to human kind as philosophy or science. In all of their creative endeavors, artists are trying to tell us something about the universe, something about human nature and something about themselves "

--Herbert Read, 1963

 To be a woman and an artist in a male dominated, scientifically oriented society can be a difficult task. Women artists now live in a culture in which the relationship to their world is rendered problematic, where the world requires that they bargain with life for their identities. Not only are the arts continuing to be portrayed as dispensable luxuries that must prove their worth in an impersonal mass market, an increasing number of schools are opting to eradicate the arts and extracurricular activities in order to focus instead on what a scientific and technologically oriented culture views as society's major priorities.

Perhaps the most problematic task facing women artists today involves the formation of identity , for it is in this realm that a woman bases her sense of herself as well as her vision of the structure of her life . Because of the high value western society has placed on objectivity and rationalism, women artists and more subjective modes of thought and knowing have had relatively little impact on the values and directions of modern day society (Ruddick 1980). The culturally constructed either/or binary which portrays the artist as subjective, hermeneutic and irrational and the scientist as objective, removed and rational has not only led to a hierarchical portrayal of  science as "better than" or "more valuable" than the arts, it has perpetuated and justified the marginalization of the arts and artists.

An analysis of the history of women and art illustrates just how prevalent the exclusion of women from artistic endeavors and notoriety has been, which reflects an ideological orientation that excludes the acceptance of a perspective revealed by women artists as "real" and "valid."  Not only have women artists been marginalized and defined as different, they have had to work within codes of representation dominated and controlled by men who have invalidated and debased their role within society, resulting in a crisis of purpose, vision and a sense of self (Messkimmon, 1996; Nochlin, 1973).However, very recently women artists have begun to engage in the tedious work of redefining their own position in society--on their own terms. They are challenging the concepts of dominant culture and those perceived as "marginal" and are attempting to redefine their role as women artists.

Because of the feminist movement and the recent upsurge of the postmodern movement, some women artists have been able to come to grips with the patriarchal and scientific ideological foundations that have justified and perpetuated the subjugation of women's voices in art and the society at large. They are working toward exposing a history of tyranny in which patriarchy, power, knowledge, and discourse have all been linked together, creating a complex system of justification and perpetuation of domination and inequality in the arts.

An excerpt from my Thesis Research: Women Artists And Identity Formation

The RISING TIDE OF POVERTY IN AMERICA: ITS TIME TO ADJUST THE POVERTY LINE

 Calculating who is poor is a tricky and complicated affair, despite the good intentions among policymakers to want to improve the well-being of deprived people. The official government data published by the United States Census Bureau shows that, “In 2012, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent, or just over 46.5 million people. The poverty rate is the share of people below the official poverty line. The poverty line was $22,314 for a family of four, $22,113 for a family of four with two children, and $11,344 for a single individual under age 65” (2012: 14).  However, there is a lot of controversy about the accuracy of these numbers, as they are based on an outdated poverty measure that doesn’t include alternative data. Policy efforts to reduce economic poverty may overlook important aspects of what is means to be poor. As Robert Havemen proclaims “these numbers ignore many non-economic considerations that may affect individual well-being, such as living in unsafe surroundings, being socially isolated, or experiencing adverse health or living arrangements not remediable by spending money (2009: 81).

            The current official poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s by Mollie Orshansky, and only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1965 (us census). In the early 1960’s when she developed her poverty plan, President Johnson had declared a War on Poverty, and the nation needed a statistical representation of the poor. Her economy food plan was a bare minimum food plan designed for temporary use during economically challenging times. It was developed by taking the least expensive food plan developed by the Department of Agriculture and multiplying it by 3.

 According to Kathleen Short of the US Census Bureau “At the time it was developed, the official poverty thresholds represented the cost of a minimum diet multiplied by three (to allow for expenditures on other goods and services). Family resources were defined for this measure as before-tax money income.”

The Income based poverty line is an absolute measure that is adjusted each year only for changes in prices, not for changes in the standard of living.  The benefits to defining poverty in this way is that it keeps the poverty line fixed over a long period of time, which inevitably effects social policy and federal tax policy.  It also keeps the numbers relatively low, which looks good for the politicians in office. However, the absolute income poverty measure excludes a large number of people from receiving social services that they need, particularly women, minorities and children.  In keeping this outdated poverty line, the wealthy are the one’s who gain because they don’t have to pay higher taxes for social services and the poor people loose necessary services they need as a result of structural oppression.

Interestingly enough, the relatively low tax rate of the United States largely accounts for the nation’s skewed income distribution.   And despite the mammoth size of the federal budget of the United States, it is predicated on a tax base that is minimal compared to those of other industrialized nations.  “A tenant of the welfare state has been the progressive taxation of income and its redistribution to the poor through social programs; thus, the question of income distribution has become integral to the discussion of tax policy” (Karger and Stoesz, 2010: 244).  Unfortunately, research has revealed that tax policy has always contained provisions that benefit special interests. “Bending the tax code in response to lobbying is a long-standing practice in the United States, though today it is often associated with corporate influence or corporate welfare”(Karger and Stoesz, 2010: 243).  The Neo Conservatives have made it very clear that they want to completely do away with any kind of social welfare.  And keeping the poverty line lower than it should be keeps the tax rates low in the United States.  

Some attempts have been made to improve the nation’s official poverty measure.  According to Robert Havemen “In 1995, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences reported the results of a comprehensive study of the strengths and weaknesses of the official measure, and proposed a major revision designed to correct many of the criticisms that have been levied against it” (2009:82). Since that report, the Census Bureau has developed a variety of improved poverty measures reflecting the recommendations of the 1995 report.  In November 2011 and November 2012, the Census Bureau released the first sets of estimates for the Supplemental Poverty Measure. However, none of these alternatives has been adopted to replace the existing official poverty measure (Census Bureau, 2012).

I would personally modify the absolute income poverty line by using a relative measure of poverty, which increases along with the general standard of living. I would also inculcate a multidimensional approach to poverty that includes hardships that people experience in many dimensions—education, housing, food, social contacts, security, and environmental amenities.  Aside from just measuring income, another measure of affluence that I would include is assets, insofar as they are an indication of real wealth.  Consisting of savings, real estate, stocks and bonds, and related property, assets not only can be liquidated during periods of adversity, thus offering the owner a buffer against poverty. According to Karger and Stoesz “The distribution of assets is even more skewed than income distribution, with the highest quintile owning more than 80 percent. By contrast, the wealth of the lowest quintile is negative, indicative of debt” (2010: 245).

In alignment with the 1995 study by the National Academy of Sciences, I would include all the items the reform proposed, which are so clearly delineated by Robert Haveman’s article “What Does it mean to be poor in a rich society?”:

The reform proposal would involve a new threshold based on budget studies of food, clothing, shelter, and amounts that would allow for other needs to be met, such as household supplies, personal care, and non-work-related transportation.  It would also reflect geographical differences in housing costs.  The income measure would also be reworked to include the value of near-money benefits that are available to buy goods and services (for example, food stamps), and would subtract from income required expenses that cannot be used to buy goods and services (for example, income and payroll taxes, child care and other work-related expenses, child support payments to another household, and out-of-pocket medical care costs, including health insurance premiums) (2009:82).

With the implementation of the new poverty threshold, the national statistics of poverty would go up and more people would qualify for social services. However, the corruption in tax policy favoring special interest groups or corporate welfare has to change.  People are so disillusioned by the corruption of democracy and for good reason.  How are we going to incorporate social change when corporate interests rule the roost?   Furthermore, people are highly disillusioned by the way taxes are used, such as funding wars (supposedly fifty cents out of every dollar goes to military costs. If that much went into social welfare we wouldn't be having the problems that we do).

Year after year, the funding for social services dwindles.  This is perhaps the most inhumane thing we could do to the very people that are the backbone of the capitalistic system.  The system is set up for people to be poor, yet the conservative power elite wants to cut the social services for these people—this is absolutely insane! An assortment of research reveals that although there have been some governmental efforts made to reduce poverty; they are superficial efforts that don’t target the root of the problem, which is unregulated capitalism and corporate greed.  In addition, there are a number of social trends that have changed the landscape of the U.S economy, such as globalization, the middle class slide, increasing populations and the diminishing of natural resources. All of these long-term trends drastically affect the U.S. economy and the global economy as well. 

More importantly, the new poverty threshold would assist more women, minorities and children who represent the majority of the poor. The "feminization of poverty" is currently a phenomenon of great concern to social scientists and social workers.  In the United States, the fastest growing type of family structure is that of female-headed households and, because of the high rate of poverty among these households, their increase is mirrored in the growing number of women and children who are poor; almost half of all the poor in the U.S. today live in families headed by women.  Women have higher poverty rates than do men for two reasons.  First, their economic resources are often less than those of men.  Second, they are more likely to be single parents during their working lives and to be unmarried and living alone in their later years. Minority women are highly represented among the poor because of their minority status and a higher risk of single parenthood (Devine, Plunkett, and Wright, 1992). Furthermore, the poverty of women is reflected in the poverty of children.  “There are almost 13 million poor children in the U.S.: 52 percent of them live in families headed by women and the poverty rate for white, black, and Spanish-origin children living in female-headed households is 46 percent, 66 percent, and 71 percent respectively” (Rodger, 1986: 32). 

With the growing number of poor people and dwindling of social welfare, we are headed for a major social crisis, and that doesn’t include the environmental crisis looming over our heads as a result of global capitalism. Chris Farrell wrote an excellent article titled “War on Poverty: From the Great Society to the Great Recession” (American Radio Works, 2014). He discusses some of these social trends and social policies that have contributed to the rising tide of poor people, such as global competition, the decline of private sector unions, rapid technological change and the deregulation of finance, the working poor, and low minimum wages for less educated, low- skilled workers.  His article is realistic and bleak, but it is right on target.  He ends with a quote that describes our current economic, social and environmental crisis in a nut shell:

There are public policies that would improve the job prospects for poor people. But there’s little appetite to initiate or expand anti-poverty programs and probably won’t be anytime soon.  American politics is likely to be defined in the new term by rising alarm over the increasing federal deficit and mammoth government debt. Meanwhile, state and local governments are slashing their support for the poor.  If the government can’t help, the economy will end up doing the heavy lifting by default. But so far the economy is generating little job and income growth, and even when it does come back, low-skilled workers are likely to be left behind. The risk is that the tragic combination of joblessness and poverty will lead to diminished dream and social isolation which in turn, will feed a cycle of unemployment and destructive behavior.  It’s morally and economically wrong.

The war on poverty will never be a war if people are fed a bunch of faulty statistics, which cause them to believe that poverty isn’t a macro, social epidemic.   It is clear that band-aid solutions simply aren’t working anymore, particularly in a time of global crisis. The costs of social welfare are far less than the price paid for globalization in the name of corporate greed.  Unfortunately, the karmic fall out as a result of “profits over people” is causing a massive global dark night of the soul that will inevitably cause even more suffering. The wisdom that will emerge from this death is more equality, cooperation, compassion and tolerance of diversity. 

We need a massive radical humanitarian movement—a new structural social work that transforms society from the inside out.  It is not going to come from any politicians. On the contrary, it will come from the people waking up to the lies that they have been fed by policy makers and greedy capitalists. According to one of my social work heroes, Bob Mullaly, social work ideology has much more in common with the socialist paradigms than it does with the capitalist paradigms (2007). Mullaly writes “If social workers truly believe in the values and ideas they espouse, then they cannot subscribe to and try to maintain a social order that contradicts and violates these same values and ideals (2007: 206).  The time is now for social workers to unite for change.  We simply can’t sit on our laurels anymore; we must do everything that we can to speak out for social change. 

References:

Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, Jessica C. Smith. (2013). Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States. United States Census Bureau, Department of Commerce.

Devine, J.A., Plunkett, M., & Wright, J.D. (1992). The Chronocity of Poverty: Evidence from the PSID, 1966-1987. Social Forces, 70, 787-812.

Farrell, Chris (2014). "War on Poverty: From the Great Society to the Great Recession." American Radio Works, Public Radio: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/feaatures/poverty/rising_tide.html

Haveman, Robert. (2009). "What Does it Mean to be Poor in a Rich Society?" Focus, Vol.26, No.2, Fall.

Karger, Howard, Stoesz, David. (2010). American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.

Mishel Lawrence, Bivens Josh, Gould Elise, Shierholz Heidi. (2012). The State Of Working America, 12th Edition. Cornell University Press, New York.

Mullaly, Bob. (2007). The New Structural Social Work.  Oxford University Press, Ontario,    Canada.

Short, Kathleen. (2011). The Supplemental Poverty Measure: Examining the Incidence and Depth of Poverty in the U.S. Taking Account of Taxes and Transfers in 2011. The United States Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Washington, D.C.

 

Rodgers Jr., Harrell R. (1986). Poor Women, Poor Families.  New York: M.E. Sharp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feminization of Poverty in the United States

The ‘feminization of poverty’ is currently a phenomenon of great concern to social scientists and social workers.  In the United States, the fastest growing type of family structure is that of female-headed households and, because of the high rate of poverty among these households, their increase is mirrored in the growing number of women and children who are poor; almost half of all the poor in the U.S. today live in families headed by women.  Women have higher poverty rates than do men for two reasons.  First, their economic resources are often less than those of men.  Second, they are more likely to be single parents during their working lives and to be unmarried and living alone in their later years. Poverty is more likely to be a chronic problem among female-householder families. Minority women are highly represented among the poor because of their minority status and a higher risk of single parenthood (Devine, Plunkett, and Wright, 1992). Furthermore, the poverty of women is reflected in the poverty of children.  “There are almost 13 million poor children in the U.S.: 52 percent of them live in families headed by women and the poverty rate for white, black, and Spanish-origin children living in female-headed households is 46 percent, 66 percent, and 71 percent respectively” (Rodger, 1986: 32).  The feminization of poverty is clearly a feminist issue; however, it is also a socialist concern.  The eradication of poverty, which is a Democratic Socialist and Marxian issue, requires a feminist analysis and solution. 

 “The Feminization of poverty” was coined by Diana Pearce to capture a basic contradiction in women’s economic status that emerged between 1960 and 1979.  In spite of increased women’s participation in the labor market, affirmative action programs, and increased entry of women into the professions, the number of female-headed families living below the poverty level increased dramatically while the number of male-headed poor families declined.  By 1970, women headed 48 percent of all poor families, which contrasted sharply with only 23 percent in 1959 (Erie, Rein and Wiget 1983:100).  In addition, because of the increasing number of poor elderly women, the total number of women living below the poverty level jumped in relation to men.  In 1969, 37 percent of the adult poor were women; by 1979, two out of three adults living below the poverty line were women (Stallard, Ehrenrich and Sklar, 1983).

The facts documenting the increasing number of women and children can be found in several recent publications (e.g., Stallard et al., 1983; Sidel, 1986; and Rodger, 1986), all of which have documented the ways in which women are particularly vulnerable to poverty, particularly minority women.  Poverty is being ‘feminized,’ which is clearly expressed in a quote from the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity (1981):

All other things being equal, if the proportion of the poor in female-householder families were to continue to increase at the same rate as it did from 1976 to 1978, the poverty population would be composed solely of women and their children before the year 2000 (Rodgers, 1986: 7).

 Studies have shown that the causes of women’s poverty are different from the causes of men’s poverty (e.g., Stallard et al., 1983; Sidel, 1986: and Rodger, 1986).  Researchers have focused on factors that are specific to the situation of women in modern society.  As a group, and regardless of class, women are more vulnerable to poverty than men and that, consequently, women’s poverty has different causes than the poverty of men. Below is a statement by Karen Stallard about the difference between women and men’s poverty:

There is a fundamental difference between male and female poverty: for men, poverty is often the consequence of unemployment and a job is generally an effective remedy, while female poverty often exists even when a woman works full-time…….Virtually all women are vulnerable—a divorce or widowhood is all it takes to throw many middle-class women into poverty (Stallard et al., 1983:20).

 To explain the feminization of poverty, we have to invoke some of the things that many women have in common, such as motherhood and low paying jobs. Single motherhood is perhaps the most important determinant of female poverty in the United States (Ehrenriech and Stallard, 1982; Sidel, 1986).  Other predictors of female poverty include unemployment, divorce, loss of higher-paying manufacturing jobs, domestic responsibilities including child and elder care, and lower wages (Ehrenriech and Stallard, 1982). 

According to Scott (1984) women’s poverty has two sources: (a) their unpaid responsibilities for raising children and other family labor and (b) sex discrimination.   In addition, the lack of affordable childcare is a huge detriment.  Approximately one-fifth of unemployed women are jobless due to lack of childcare.

            Low wages, often due to occupational segregation, discrimination, and insufficient work hours, are major contributors to poverty among women.  Females are concentrated in the secondary sector of the labor force, which consists of low-paying jobs. In addition, most newly created jobs are in the lower-paying service sector and are occupied mainly by women (Smith, 1986). 

            As the preceding research indicates, the feminization of poverty is associated with many interrelated structural and ideological variables.  Stallard et al. (1983) sums up the determinant of the feminization of poverty as follows:

It is a direct outgrowth of women’s dual role as unpaid labor in the home and underpaid labor in the work force.  The pace has been quickening by rising rates of divorce and single motherhood, but the course of women’s poverty is determined by the sexism and racism ingrained in an unjust economy (51).

Recent literature has produced not only a detailed description, but also some plausible and obvious explanations of the feminization of poverty.  In addition to these structural economic factors, Sidle (1986) argues that women’s poverty is also the result of ideological and structural constrains peculiar to women.  Women socialized to put family obligations first, to see themselves primarily as wives and mothers, are likely to neglect or overlook the need to develop occupational and educational skills that will help them support themselves if they remain single or their marriage breaks up.  In addition, Women’s domestic activities, in spite of their obvious significance, are devalued and time consuming, and interfere with their full participation in the labor force (Sidel, 1986: 25-35).  Feminists use the term ‘dual role’ to explain the fact that most women must integrate wage work and housework to make a living.  I will now discuss the theoretical approach of Socialist feminism and how it can be used as a tool to explain the feminization of poverty, particularly the connection between the ‘dual role’ of women’s labor and poverty. 

The social problem of women and poverty in general is complex and deeply entrenched in the macro systems of capitalism, patriarchy, ideology and discourse.  Research has revealed that the feminization of poverty is continuing to increase in the United States and is abhorrently evident in third world countries.  According to a report by the Division for the Advancement of Women  (2000) “The majority of the 1.5 billion people living on 1 dollar a day or less are women. Worldwide, women earn an average slightly more than 50 percent of what men earn. In addition, the gap between women and men caught in the cycle of poverty has continued to widen in the past decade” (2).

It is clear that the existing capitalistic system in the United States is not able solve the growing problems of poverty and gender/racial oppression.  Both socialist feminism and structural social work as a critical theory offer an analysis of poverty that not only emphasizes the structural causes of poverty as opposed to blaming the individual, they are inclusive of a diversity of perspectives, and critical of dominant ideologies and power structures.  However, structural social work theory is more informed and cutting edge as it inculcates the jewels of postmodern and modern social theory.  While all theories have their biases and flaws, they both advocate for an alternative social vision consistent with progressive social work values in which life is free of domination.  

Perhaps the most difficult challenge to uniting in social causes is the deeply entrenched system of competition and rampant individualism, which continues to divide and conquer people. In addition, we are so conditioned to buy into the overly “yang” work- a-holism that keeps people so spun out that they don’t have the energy or volition to challenge status quo or be politically engaged.  I am convinced that in order for radical change to occur, it will require both revolution and evolution. Because things are so deeply entrenched and so many people are ignorant of what is truly going on, we need awakened light-workers to work from within the system.  However, we also need visionaries who are working from the margins on a grass roots level as they will be the informed leaders and visionaries working behind the scenes.  Marxists tend to believe that social work must operate outside the existing system or else it will become incorporated into the present social order and end up protecting it rather than changing it (Mullaly, 2007).  This is a good point when one considers how easy it is to get complacent when you are getting a descent paycheck. 

The power elite is not going to just hand over their power.  As a result, people are going to have to wake up and join forces if any social change is going to occur.  Karl Marx was right when he said that the contradictions in capitalism would eventually cause it to self-destruct (Mullaly 2007). We are witnessing its collapse at this very moment in history.  With the middle-class slide occurring we might see enough class conflict to produce a revolution.  We simply haven’t had enough people suffering enough to act as a catalyst to radical revolution, but this will inevitably change in the near future.  

Karl Marx predicted the fall of capitalism in the 1800’s, but he was written off by social theorists who weren’t conscious or smart enough to receive the prophetic vision he revealed to us.  Perhaps one of my favorite quotes by Mullaly is this “Unfortunately, too many social workers and social theorists have dismissed Marxism as an interesting but outdated theory of society and social change.  Nothing could be further from the truth” (2007:142).  There is nothing new under the sun, just more complex versions of social problems that have been occurring for centuries under patriarchy.  Civilizations have come and gone and if we can’t rally to make positive changes, nature will find a compassionate way to put an end to our collective neurosis and suicide mission. A tidal wave is coming with the global aging population and most people don’t even see it coming. If we aren’t able to make effective changes now, it will inevitably be made for us-- and it won’t be pretty.

 

 

References:

 

Butler, Judith. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.

Collins, Patricia Hill. (1990).  Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Erie, Steven P., Martin Rein, and Barbara Wiget. (1983). Women and the Reagan Revolution: Thermidor for the Social Welfare Economy.  In Families, Politics, and Public Policy, Irene Diamond (ed.) New York: Longman, 100.

Devine, J.A., Plunkett, M., & Wright, J.D. (1992). The Chronocity of Poverty: Evidence from the PSID, 1966-1987. Social Forces, 70, 787-812.

Hartmann, Heidi. (1979).  Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Job Segregation by Sex.  In, Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminist, Zillah Eisensten, (ed.), 206-247.

Mullaly, Bob. (2007).  The New Structural Social Work.  Oxford University Press, Ontario,    Canada.

Rodgers Jr., Harrell R. (1986). Poor Women, Poor Families.  New York: M.E. Sharp.

Scott, H. (1984). Working Your Way to the Bottom: The Feminization of Poverty. Boston: Pandora.

Sidel, Ruth. (1986). Women and Children Lat: The Plight of Poor Women in Affluent America.  New York: Viking.

Smith, J. (1986).  The Paradox of Women’s Poverty: Wage-Earning Women and Economic Transformation. In B.C. Gelpi, N.C.M. Harstock, C.C. Novak, &M.H. Stober (Eds.), Women and Poverty Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 121-140.

Stallard, Karin, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Holly Sklar. (1983). Poverty in the American Dream: Women and Children First. Boston: South End Press.

United Nations Department of Public Information. (2000).  "Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action: Report of the Secretary-General.” Retrieved from: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/fs1.htm

Williams, Fiona. (1989).  Social Policy: A Critical Introduction: Issues of Race, Gender and Class. New York: Blackwell.

 

 

 

The RISING TIDE OF POVERTY IN AMERICA: ITS TIME TO ADJUST THE POVERTY LINE

 Calculating who is poor is a tricky and complicated affair, despite the good intentions among policymakers to want to improve the well-being of deprived people. The official government data published by the United States Census Bureau shows that, “In 2012, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent, or just over 46.5 million people. The poverty rate is the share of people below the official poverty line. The poverty line was $22,314 for a family of four, $22,113 for a family of four with two children, and $11,344 for a single individual under age 65” (2012: 14).  However, there is a lot of controversy about the accuracy of these numbers, as they are based on an outdated poverty measure that doesn’t include alternative data. Policy efforts to reduce economic poverty may overlook important aspects of what is means to be poor. As Robert Havemen proclaims “these numbers ignore many non-economic considerations that may affect individual well-being, such as living in unsafe surroundings, being socially isolated, or experiencing adverse health or living arrangements not remediable by spending money (2009: 81).

            The current official poverty measure was developed in the early 1960s by Mollie Orshansky, and only a few minor changes have been implemented since it was first adopted in 1965 (us census). In the early 1960’s when she developed her poverty plan, President Johnson had declared a War on Poverty, and the nation needed a statistical representation of the poor. Her economy food plan was a bare minimum food plan designed for temporary use during economically challenging times. It was developed by taking the least expensive food plan developed by the Department of Agriculture and multiplying it by 3.

 According to Kathleen Short of the US Census Bureau “At the time it was developed, the official poverty thresholds represented the cost of a minimum diet multiplied by three (to allow for expenditures on other goods and services). Family resources were defined for this measure as before-tax money income.”

The Income based poverty line is an absolute measure that is adjusted each year only for changes in prices, not for changes in the standard of living.  The benefits to defining poverty in this way is that it keeps the poverty line fixed over a long period of time, which inevitably effects social policy and federal tax policy.  It also keeps the numbers relatively low, which looks good for the politicians in office. However, the absolute income poverty measure excludes a large number of people from receiving social services that they need, particularly women, minorities and children.  In keeping this outdated poverty line, the wealthy are the one’s who gain because they don’t have to pay higher taxes for social services and the poor people loose necessary services they need as a result of structural oppression.

Interestingly enough, the relatively low tax rate of the United States largely accounts for the nation’s skewed income distribution.   And despite the mammoth size of the federal budget of the United States, it is predicated on a tax base that is minimal compared to those of other industrialized nations.  “A tenant of the welfare state has been the progressive taxation of income and its redistribution to the poor through social programs; thus, the question of income distribution has become integral to the discussion of tax policy” (Karger and Stoesz, 2010: 244).  Unfortunately, research has revealed that tax policy has always contained provisions that benefit special interests. “Bending the tax code in response to lobbying is a long-standing practice in the United States, though today it is often associated with corporate influence or corporate welfare”(Karger and Stoesz, 2010: 243).  The Neo Conservatives have made it very clear that they want to completely do away with any kind of social welfare.  And keeping the poverty line lower than it should be keeps the tax rates low in the United States.  

Some attempts have been made to improve the nation’s official poverty measure.  According to Robert Havemen “In 1995, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences reported the results of a comprehensive study of the strengths and weaknesses of the official measure, and proposed a major revision designed to correct many of the criticisms that have been levied against it” (2009:82). Since that report, the Census Bureau has developed a variety of improved poverty measures reflecting the recommendations of the 1995 report.  In November 2011 and November 2012, the Census Bureau released the first sets of estimates for the Supplemental Poverty Measure. However, none of these alternatives has been adopted to replace the existing official poverty measure (Census Bureau, 2012).

I would personally modify the absolute income poverty line by using a relative measure of poverty, which increases along with the general standard of living. I would also inculcate a multidimensional approach to poverty that includes hardships that people experience in many dimensions—education, housing, food, social contacts, security, and environmental amenities.  Aside from just measuring income, another measure of affluence that I would include is assets, insofar as they are an indication of real wealth.  Consisting of savings, real estate, stocks and bonds, and related property, assets not only can be liquidated during periods of adversity, thus offering the owner a buffer against poverty. According to Karger and Stoesz “The distribution of assets is even more skewed than income distribution, with the highest quintile owning more than 80 percent. By contrast, the wealth of the lowest quintile is negative, indicative of debt” (2010: 245).

In alignment with the 1995 study by the National Academy of Sciences, I would include all the items the reform proposed, which are so clearly delineated by Robert Haveman’s article “What Does it mean to be poor in a rich society?”:

The reform proposal would involve a new threshold based on budget studies of food, clothing, shelter, and amounts that would allow for other needs to be met, such as household supplies, personal care, and non-work-related transportation.  It would also reflect geographical differences in housing costs.  The income measure would also be reworked to include the value of near-money benefits that are available to buy goods and services (for example, food stamps), and would subtract from income required expenses that cannot be used to buy goods and services (for example, income and payroll taxes, child care and other work-related expenses, child support payments to another household, and out-of-pocket medical care costs, including health insurance premiums) (2009:82).

With the implementation of the new poverty threshold, the national statistics of poverty would go up and more people would qualify for social services. However, the corruption in tax policy favoring special interest groups or corporate welfare has to change.  People are so disillusioned by the corruption of democracy and for good reason.  How are we going to incorporate social change when corporate interests rule the roost?   Furthermore, people are highly disillusioned by the way taxes are used, such as funding wars (supposedly fifty cents out of every dollar goes to military costs. If that much went into social welfare we wouldn't be having the problems that we do).

Year after year, the funding for social services dwindles.  This is perhaps the most inhumane thing we could do to the very people that are the backbone of the capitalistic system.  The system is set up for people to be poor, yet the conservative power elite wants to cut the social services for these people—this is absolutely insane! An assortment of research reveals that although there have been some governmental efforts made to reduce poverty; they are superficial efforts that don’t target the root of the problem, which is unregulated capitalism and corporate greed.  In addition, there are a number of social trends that have changed the landscape of the U.S economy, such as globalization, the middle class slide, increasing populations and the diminishing of natural resources. All of these long-term trends drastically affect the U.S. economy and the global economy as well. 

More importantly, the new poverty threshold would assist more women, minorities and children who represent the majority of the poor. The "feminization of poverty" is currently a phenomenon of great concern to social scientists and social workers.  In the United States, the fastest growing type of family structure is that of female-headed households and, because of the high rate of poverty among these households, their increase is mirrored in the growing number of women and children who are poor; almost half of all the poor in the U.S. today live in families headed by women.  Women have higher poverty rates than do men for two reasons.  First, their economic resources are often less than those of men.  Second, they are more likely to be single parents during their working lives and to be unmarried and living alone in their later years. Minority women are highly represented among the poor because of their minority status and a higher risk of single parenthood (Devine, Plunkett, and Wright, 1992). Furthermore, the poverty of women is reflected in the poverty of children.  “There are almost 13 million poor children in the U.S.: 52 percent of them live in families headed by women and the poverty rate for white, black, and Spanish-origin children living in female-headed households is 46 percent, 66 percent, and 71 percent respectively” (Rodger, 1986: 32). 

With the growing number of poor people and dwindling of social welfare, we are headed for a major social crisis, and that doesn’t include the environmental crisis looming over our heads as a result of global capitalism. Chris Farrell wrote an excellent article titled “War on Poverty: From the Great Society to the Great Recession” (American Radio Works, 2014). He discusses some of these social trends and social policies that have contributed to the rising tide of poor people, such as global competition, the decline of private sector unions, rapid technological change and the deregulation of finance, the working poor, and low minimum wages for less educated, low- skilled workers.  His article is realistic and bleak, but it is right on target.  He ends with a quote that describes our current economic, social and environmental crisis in a nut shell:

There are public policies that would improve the job prospects for poor people. But there’s little appetite to initiate or expand anti-poverty programs and probably won’t be anytime soon.  American politics is likely to be defined in the new term by rising alarm over the increasing federal deficit and mammoth government debt. Meanwhile, state and local governments are slashing their support for the poor.  If the government can’t help, the economy will end up doing the heavy lifting by default. But so far the economy is generating little job and income growth, and even when it does come back, low-skilled workers are likely to be left behind. The risk is that the tragic combination of joblessness and poverty will lead to diminished dream and social isolation which in turn, will feed a cycle of unemployment and destructive behavior.  It’s morally and economically wrong.

The war on poverty will never be a war if people are fed a bunch of faulty statistics, which cause them to believe that poverty isn’t a macro, social epidemic.   It is clear that band-aid solutions simply aren’t working anymore, particularly in a time of global crisis. The costs of social welfare are far less than the price paid for globalization in the name of corporate greed.  Unfortunately, the karmic fall out as a result of “profits over people” is causing a massive global dark night of the soul that will inevitably cause even more suffering. The wisdom that will emerge from this death is more equality, cooperation, compassion and tolerance of diversity. 

We need a massive radical humanitarian movement—a new structural social work that transforms society from the inside out.  It is not going to come from any politicians. On the contrary, it will come from the people waking up to the lies that they have been fed by policy makers and greedy capitalists. According to one of my social work heroes, Bob Mullaly, social work ideology has much more in common with the socialist paradigms than it does with the capitalist paradigms (2007). Mullaly writes “If social workers truly believe in the values and ideas they espouse, then they cannot subscribe to and try to maintain a social order that contradicts and violates these same values and ideals (2007: 206).  The time is now for social workers to unite for change.  We simply can’t sit on our laurels anymore; we must do everything that we can to speak out for social change. 

References:

Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, Jessica C. Smith. (2013). Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States. United States Census Bureau, Department of Commerce.

Devine, J.A., Plunkett, M., & Wright, J.D. (1992). The Chronocity of Poverty: Evidence from the PSID, 1966-1987. Social Forces, 70, 787-812.

Farrell, Chris (2014). "War on Poverty: From the Great Society to the Great Recession." American Radio Works, Public Radio: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/feaatures/poverty/rising_tide.html

Haveman, Robert. (2009). "What Does it Mean to be Poor in a Rich Society?" Focus, Vol.26, No.2, Fall.

Karger, Howard, Stoesz, David. (2010). American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.

Mishel Lawrence, Bivens Josh, Gould Elise, Shierholz Heidi. (2012). The State Of Working America, 12th Edition. Cornell University Press, New York.

Mullaly, Bob. (2007). The New Structural Social Work.  Oxford University Press, Ontario,    Canada.

Short, Kathleen. (2011). The Supplemental Poverty Measure: Examining the Incidence and Depth of Poverty in the U.S. Taking Account of Taxes and Transfers in 2011. The United States Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Washington, D.C.

 

Rodgers Jr., Harrell R. (1986). Poor Women, Poor Families.  New York: M.E. Sharp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Primordial Sacred Union in Psychology, Religion and Mythology

The concept of the primordial sacred union has come to us by way of world religions, especially in elements of Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism, as well as in the Platonic traditions of the West.  An assortment of disciplines has also attempted to conceptualize this symbiotic union. The writing of Carl Jung is filled with examples from myth and culture that point to the importance and value of recognizing the qualities of the primordial sacred union within each individual and the world at large. Humanity was meant to be modeled after this divine union, but has somehow fallen away or become severed from its original wholeness, and has digressed into the imperfect world we see all around us. 

In his book, Man and His Symbols, 16 Carl Jung proposed that, in addition to our immediate, personal consciousness, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature, which is identical in all individuals. He referred to this as the collective unconscious, which does not develop individually but is inherited. The contents of the collective unconscious, Jung argued, manifest themselves in the form of symbolic images, or archetypes, representing the primordial events that shaped human history.  These archetypal images, which include such symbols as the mother and father, the warrior, the seeker, the sage and the child, are common to all people.  Jung's theory of the feminine principle as a universal archetype, a primordial, instinctual pattern of behavior deeply imprinted on the human psyche, has assisted humanity in its ability to both understand and ground the concept of the Goddess as existing within both the individual and collective psyches.  In this sense, archetypal symbolism of the primordial sacred union is an international form of communication because it bypasses the barriers of language, race and culture.  It is perhaps the most effective form in which sacred concepts can be given expression.

Carl Jung's studies of alchemy, Taoism, and the work of new paradigm scientists led him to become one of the first modern male scientists to value the feminine in equal measure to the masculine.  His concept of wholeness, the goal of the process of individuation, included the integration of the masculine and feminine principles.  He recognized the feminine as the source of receptivity and relatedness, and called for its integration into a Western culture that had gone too far in development of the rational, the materialistic, and the masculine. 

Jung proposed that the primordial sacred union, otherwise referred to by him as "androgyny,"17 is a universal archetype inherent in the collective unconscious and similar to the sacred marriage.  Humanity was supposed to be modeled after this divine image of Creator/Creatrix, but somehow mankind fell away from and was severed from the original wholeness. While this sacred union is as old as creation itself, we have come to know about it through traces left in myths and the sacred traditions of many indigenous peoples. Jung proposed that androgyny, which refers to the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine) aspects within a single human being, regardless of sex, may be the oldest archetype inherent in the human psyche.  Both are present within every human psyche, regardless of physical gender.  In other words, there are masculine and feminine qualities in both men and women. 

Jung believed that the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine) had to be in balance before a person could achieve psychological individuation, or psychic wholeness.  Thus, women, at some point in their individuation process, need to integrate within themselves the masculine qualities, such as assertiveness and objectivity, in order to become whole persons.  Conversely, men need to integrate the feminine qualities that reside within their psyches, such as compassion and non-resistance or passivity, in order to become psychically whole.  Jung was not proposing that men become women.  On the contrary, Jung believed that in order to bridge the gap between male and female, we needed to be able to empathize with the opposite sex.  The movement towards becoming androgynous persons implies a radical change in human consciousness and different styles of human behavior than what has been deemed normal.  It demands that we resist traditional sex role stereotypes and the forms of sexual identity that force men and women into exploiting their differences rather than working together in equality and interdependence. 

The concept of androgyny also proposes new ways of thinking about sexual identity.  Rather than viewing sexual identity as only male and female, androgyny proposes that we begin to view sexual identity as existing on a continuum, which includes recognition of the multitude of sexual permutations that exist in the gray area, such as gays, lesbians and bisexuals.  Biologist and feminist Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote a brilliant book titled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality,18 which challenges the notion that there always has been and can forevermore only be two human sexes; male and female.  With examples drawn from daily life and from history, sociology, biology and anthropology, Fausto-Sterling demonstrates that these dualisms are neither natural nor cultural universals, but arise from our society's insistence on seeing people that way.  If sexual identity indeed exists on a continuum, and male and female are universal energies, then it makes sense that there is an enormous gray area that has been severely denied in our culture.  After reading this book and gaining an understanding of the universal archetype of androgyny, my sense of male versus female was radically changed. I began to understand why some women I know exude more masculine than feminine qualities, and conversely, why some men appear more feminine than masculine. 

In addition to individual, personal experience, the concept of androgyny demands a meeting of the opposites in our external, socio-cultural environment as well.  Jung proposed that once we have learned to recognize and accept the seemingly contradictory aspects within ourselves, it naturally follows that we need to extend this attitude of mutual interdependence to the wider human community.  Change and wholeness happens from the inside out; therefore, we cannot expect to have equality in the external, socio-cultural environment until each individual first works on becoming integrated within his/herself. The power of the individual to change the world is a profound concept if, and only if, one is committed to her/his personal and spiritual growth.  Too often people try to save the world when in fact what they really need to be doing is examining their own false beliefs and internal imbalances.  Jesus said that a person must first remove the log from his own eye before he can see clearly to remove the splinter from his brother’s eye. 

Author and Jungian psychologist June Singer explains in her book, Androgyny: The Opposites Within,19 that all cultures around the world have collectively attempted to conceptualize the beginning of creation, and each one of them has pointed to the primordial sacred union that existed long before creation. Creation mythology has existed wherever people have questioned their origins. It is in the nature of humans to wonder about the unknown and search for answers.  Since the beginning of time we have tried to imagine what it might have been like before anything had come into existence, yet the language tends to vary from culture to culture.   Science too has focused on understanding what happened seconds before the Big Bang.

Despite being separated by geographical barriers, Carl Jung and his protégé's discovered that many cultures have developed creation myths with the same basic elements. June Singer,20 for example, noted that one of the commonalities is the belief that in the beginning there was a dark void. Chaos is the potency that exists in the void. No entities of any kind were in awareness, and then, in some mysterious way, some bright spark emerged out of nothingness. Within that spark were energies that would eventually be distinguishable as opposites, separating then into the masculine and feminine principles. In the old myths, the idea of this divine union stems from the belief that in the beginning there was a primordial unity, “the eternal one” in which all the opposites are contained. In other words, the "One" ultimately transcends gender.  It can be defined as the genderless One which contains the Two; namely, the male and the female. At some point in time the primordial unity is broken open and separated into two opposite energies. Those polarities are expressed in an assortment of ways; for example, light and dark, positive and negative, hot and cold, mind and body, art and science, war and peace, peace and strife.  Through the conflict and harmony of these two energies, the original, elemental creative force was born—The Primordial Sacred. 

Copy of Bodhissatvas of Compassion: The Heart of the Mother

Every heart is connected to the Great One Heart.  It is from this source of love that all things exists.  It is from this heart of hearts that we are unconditionally loved, nourished and redeemed. As we enter into a suffering world, God 's heart shares in our pain and suffering.   For Gods pain is the greatest of all pains and it is because of his/her pain, that we have been granted the gift of compassion, grace and forgiveness. The Great One Heart is the source of all loving compassion, which comes through all creation as an intense surge of loving kindness, patience and forgiveness.  The Hebrew word for “compassion” is derived from the word for “womb.”  God is the primal matrix, the Great One from which all beings are born.

         While it is impossible for us to grasp the immense love of the Great One Heart, each one of us is connected to it and experience on a very tangible level the immense love pulsating through our veins. This heart connection to Love is in fact our very life line or umbilical cord so to speak.   This doesn't mean that all humans acknowledge God as the ground of their being, or are capable of receiving God's unconditional and unwavering love.  If, by our own free will we decide to cultivate and understand the compassion of the Great One heart, we must first learn to receive Spirit's love, which requires a certain degree of surrender or a death of the ego.  For it is only when we surrender to the Beloved in our brokenness and pain that the Great One Heart can then fill our cups with unconditional love and forgiveness.  It has been said that one can't have compassion for others until they first have compassion for themselves.   It is because of Great Spirits compassion for us, that we can extend compassion to others. 

         When one has been transformed and melted like butter by the love of the Great heart, they can then choose to become a vessel of this love and commit their lives to assisting those who are still suffering, or, those who have bought into the illusion or Maya.  They might choose to become what Christians call stewards of God's love or what Buddhists call a Bodhisattva of compassion, a being (satva) committed to liberation (bodhi).  This kinship with the suffering of others is the discovery of our soft spot, the discovery of Bodhichitta or Mercy.  Bodhichitta is a Sanskrit word that means “noble or awakened heart.”  It is said to be present in all beings. If this is the case, everything that exists in creation does so because of Chi's compassion.  This love is so great that it moves us to explore what it means to live a compassionate life as a humble admirer of the Tao.

         For most humans,  the practice of compassion is easier said than done, simply because it goes against the grain of the ego, which is self serving and dog-eat-dog by nature.  Most people like to think of themselves as compassionate, but it is rare that one actually walks their talk and lives an obedient life of compassionate service to others.  If  one chooses to hold compassion as a priority in their life, they will inevitably be required to walk a steep path simply because it goes against the grain of competition and social hierarchies.  Furthermore, the cultivation of compassion stems from a deep, sense of devotion or longing to know the Beloved, which isn't reinforced in cultures that champion science over religion or spirituality.  In our legalistic societies, we have been conditioned to believe that there is little incentive in the human world to cultivate compassion because it might make us too soft and therefore more likely to be eaten alive by those whose hearts have grown hard.  Yet, in fact, the very opposite is true.  What we fail to see is that compassion is stronger than fear and ego because it awakens us to Oneness.  In embracing human suffering and healing our hearts, compassion breaks down walls and unites all of humanity in the Great One Heart.  It is the gateway to our spiritual evolution as a human race.   For it is the true Utopia that we all seek.

         Compassion is not a natural phenomena simply because suffering is not something we desire, on the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all costs. It is a call that goes against the grain; that turns us completely around and requires a total conversion of heart and mind.   Why would one want to open their heart when the world will just break it over and over again?  In the midst of so much human suffering, one might assume that it would be easier to shut one's heart down and not have any expectations of hope for the future at all.  Yet, in our heart of hearts, we all know that a world without compassion would be a living hell, a human wasteland, and therefore, some of us decide to take up the cross and uphold God's grace amidst great suffering and despair.  We do this for one reason and one reason only, because it is the very core of our being, it is the greatest blessing any of us could ever ask for.

         Those who choose to cultivate compassion in their lives soon come to learn of the spiritual riches in the Great One Heart, which makes the  false riches of the socially constructed, egoistic material world look like plastic, disposable toys.  Furthermore, they know that implementing compassion means setting healthy boundaries that don't allow others to manipulate or control them.  When one learns to love themselves, they become more aware of the ways in which those who are still suffering blame and project their sense of hopelessness onto others.  Having compassion for oneself means saying “no” to a lot of unhealthy patterns that bombard us on a day to day basis.  It means having the courage to stay in our integrity, to uphold the sword of truth and allow it to cut away the dysfunction and disease in our belief systems that are keeping us imprisoned and disempowered.   When one comes from a place of compassion, they are holding up an ancient light of truth that has been revered throughout history and can never be destroyed.   It is the truth that we are One in the Great Matrix on Consciousness.  It is the truth that each one of us is a reflection of the Ultimate Reality.  This is the core message of the Bodhisattva and the central message of Jesus's teachings and so many other teachers of compassion.  Their teachings are designed to awaken each person to their Divine Self and direct connection to Source. 

         Jesus came to realize that he and God were one.  However, in this realization, he came to an even greater realization, which made him equal with all of humanity.  Jesus never elevated himself above others, on the contrary, it was humanity who put him on a pedastool—one that would be very destructive to our spiritual evolution.  A Monk by the name of John Martin Sahajananda wrote in a book titled, You Are the Light: Rediscovering the Eastern Jesus, that “The realization of Jesus' Divine Self as God would have been incomplete had he not also realized that the real self of every human being also is God, or the light of the world. He called upon his followers and the whole of humanity to “realize that the light is buried within each one of us.  He told people that they were the “salt of the earth” but that they had lost this consciousness with the consequence that the earth had lost its meaning and purpose. 

The path of the bodhisattva is indeed a radical call, a call that goes to the roots of our being.   Those who choose to implement compassion in their lives are the weavers and the mendors, the bridge builders and the integrators, the diplomats and the nurturers.   They work in the trenches of our communities in an assortment of vocations such as counselors, social workers, maids, trash collectors, caregivers, mothers, fathers, teachers, children, nurses, artists, construction workers and farmers.  They are those who have embraced their own grief and experienced the redemptive power of God's unconditional love.  They are the salt of the earth, the light houses in the storm that  guide us back to our Divine Self.  They are the true educators of spirit, totally perfect in their imperfection because hey have been touched by the healing powers of Grace.   There one wish s to awaken all soul's to the power within themselves.  However, they know that God gave us free will and therefore, one can't force another human to seek the Great One Heart.  They are the only one's who can reconstruct the missing link.  As the saying goes, “One can lead a horse to water, but they can't make them drink.”

         It is because of the Great One Heart, that the Bodhisattva's of compassion come as humble admirers, grateful and joyous, for they know deep in their hearts that Love is Victorious and that we have a lot to look forward to.  They also know that they have an immense amount of healing work to do, for the illusion of Maya is much like a weed that wants to strangle out the Truth of humanity. The Bodhisattva is quite aware of the social injustices in the world and are deeply pained by them  all, just as God is pained by it all.  However, rather than run from the places of poverty and despair, which most people tend to do, they go directly too these places.  Most of them choose to serve without recognition, blue ribbons and purple hearts.  They have chosen the difficult task of opening and healing their hearts so that they can then assist in healing what is broken on larger levels.  They don't expect recognition because they know that those who are still suffering are experiencing a spiritual void—a starvation of the soul-- and therefore aren't coming from a place of gratitude.   Most of them work in humble servitude and know their human limitations.  They don't expect to save the world, this is too heavy of a burden for one to carry.  However, it is their hope that they can  assist in the raising of human consciousness, even if it means working with just a few individuals in their life time.   For awakening others to their Divine Self is the most powerful source of social change.  In this sense, they are radical agents of social change.  And while they are the very glue of humanity, most bodhisattva s will never be featured on the cover of a magazine for their humanitarian deeds.  In keeping their eyes on God, they know where their true source of recognition comes from. 


Copy of Artists Reclaim the Body of Earth and Mother

 It is time for both women and men to create a new vision for society--one that is in harmony with the life on the planet as a whole. 

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As the patriarchal structure and military warriors threaten to destroy the Earth and her beings, we are being called to awaken to the wisdom of the sacred feminine, to have the courage to embrace our own denials on a personal level so that we will be better equipped to heal the reflection of self-hatred in nature.  We can no longer sit back and watch in silence as the military industrial complex wreaks havoc on the immune system of the Earth and on its inhabitants.  We need awakened individuals to take action in any way that they can to protest war based on greed and exploitation of women and minorities.  As Ynestra King so powerfully put it, "War is the violence against women in all its forms... rape, battering, economic exploitation and intimidation––and it is the racist violence against indigenous peoples here in the U.S. and around the world, and it is the violence against the Earth."  It is this same attitude of heartless arrogance that denies women the right to their own bodies and sexuality, and which depends on multiple systems of domination and fear tactics to have its way.  This is the time of women--healers, teachers, nurses, artists, visionaries, mothers--to grow in confidence and power, to reclaim their right to have a voice in all aspects of life, from politics to spirituality, and to the arts.

I am horrified that six of my closest women friends and several more acquaintances have been raped, molested and/or physically abused by men. We know that twenty-five percent of all women in this culture are raped within their lifetimes, and another nineteen percent have to fend off rape attempts.  We know that as many as forty four million American women have been molested by relatives, with twelve million of those molested by their fathers.  Furthermore, increasing numbers of women, particularly single moms, are in poverty despite the fact that they work more hours per week than men. There continues to be a severe income gap between men and women as well as a lack of women in positions of power and authority.   Despite the groundswell of women's actions for peace, women still lack power and authority when it comes to peace negotiations. Those sitting around the peace table are almost exclusively men. Furthermore, a number of recent studies have shown that depression is high amongst women, and is more common in working-class women than in middle-class women.  With all the suffering that women have to endure on a day-to-day basis, it is no wonder we suffer from high levels of anxiety and depression.  And to top it all off, some men have the audacity to turn around and place judgment on women for being passive, dependant and insecure. 

It is because of the ground breaking work of an assortment of feminist thealogians, eco-feminists, feminist artists and other cultural creatives in an assortment of disciplines that women now have more opportunities to become fully empowered, autonomous and confident in their voices. Not only have feminists revealed a history where knowledge has been controlled by a white, male, eurocentric perspective, or “androcentric bias” that has excluded the viewpoints of women and minorities; they have also exposed a history of tyranny in which patriarchy, power, knowledge and discourse have all been linked together, creating a complex system of justification for social inequality. 

They have exposed a lack of sacred imagery of the Goddess in the West and how that lack has justified and maintained gender inequality and disrespect of the Earth and her animals.  Imaging the divine as female is essential for the larger vision of emancipation and equality because it not only empowers women but also gives them a sense of hope that they will be freed from the destructive impact of our culture’s pervasive negative imaging of the female. As Carole Christ, a pioneer of the women's spirituality movement informs us, "The real importance of the symbol of the Goddess is that it breaks the power of the patriarchal symbol of God as male over the psyche." Therefore, it is through symbolic imaging in the arts that we will be able to take the first steps in our efforts to bring about social change.   

At this crucial time in human history, the Great Mother is revealing herself to all cultures, including the West.  We in the West simply have yet to acknowledge her presence as much as other cultures, and as a result have tended to neglect the thousands of images of the Goddess created by artisans in the United States.  While this is a complex problem that has been occurring for quite some time, it is partly due to the censorship of Goddess images by the majority of galleries, museums and various media outlets.   This trend of censorship is the result of a multitude of factors and an overall lack of awareness, but it is slowly beginning to improve as alternative routes are carved out by visionary artists and and cultural creatives in an assortment of disciplines.  More often then not, powerful gatekeepers in the art world aren't as tuned-in to new movements in art as they think they are.  It is the artists and mystics who are the true visionaries, inspiring a sense of hope as they midwife the birthing of a new mode of consciousness--the death of the old beliefs, values and limited perceptions of God that are no longer working for us, and a rebirth into a new paradigm of consciousness that is more aligned with the diversity of creation, the Earth and animals.

As a human race we are slowly beginning to awaken to the fatalism of the dominant scientific worldview that has not only denied our need for spirituality, but also stripped us of our deep connection to the Earth.   We are beginning to see how a coalition between Judeo-Christianity, patriarchy and science has been an enormous source of social control, and that much of this control stems from fear--fear of the unknown, but most of all, fear of the feminine principle.  It is this propagation of fear that is perpetuating a sense of apathy, anger and hopelessness in humanity.  Without a sense of hope for the future, the brave souls who challenged mediocrity and the status quo in the past would not have had the courage to fight for justice as they did.  Whenever I feel scared about the state of the world today, I recall the work of several female artists in the 1970’s who committed their lives to creating images of the Divine Goddess.  I also draw inspiration and courage from the extended history of female mystics from numerous disciplines constituting a long matrilineage of women who, through powerful mystical visions and divine revelations, acquired the authority to challenge the sexism and misogyny of their own patriarchal societies and religions.  Many of these women put themselves at great risk as they swam against the current of mainstream culture.  Not only were they severely marginalized by society and told that they were crazy, many of them also experienced grave poverty, psychological torture and even death as a result of their selfless vision for social justice.

Feminization of Poverty in the United States

The ‘feminization of poverty’ is currently a phenomenon of great concern to social scientists and social workers.  In the United States, the fastest growing type of family structure is that of female-headed households and, because of the high rate of poverty among these households, their increase is mirrored in the growing number of women and children who are poor; almost half of all the poor in the U.S. today live in families headed by women.  Women have higher poverty rates than do men for two reasons.  First, their economic resources are often less than those of men.  Second, they are more likely to be single parents during their working lives and to be unmarried and living alone in their later years. Poverty is more likely to be a chronic problem among female-householder families. Minority women are highly represented among the poor because of their minority status and a higher risk of single parenthood (Devine, Plunkett, and Wright, 1992). Furthermore, the poverty of women is reflected in the poverty of children.  “There are almost 13 million poor children in the U.S.: 52 percent of them live in families headed by women and the poverty rate for white, black, and Spanish-origin children living in female-headed households is 46 percent, 66 percent, and 71 percent respectively” (Rodger, 1986: 32).  The feminization of poverty is clearly a feminist issue; however, it is also a socialist concern.  The eradication of poverty, which is a Democratic Socialist and Marxian issue, requires a feminist analysis and solution. 

 “The Feminization of poverty” was coined by Diana Pearce to capture a basic contradiction in women’s economic status that emerged between 1960 and 1979.  In spite of increased women’s participation in the labor market, affirmative action programs, and increased entry of women into the professions, the number of female-headed families living below the poverty level increased dramatically while the number of male-headed poor families declined.  By 1970, women headed 48 percent of all poor families, which contrasted sharply with only 23 percent in 1959 (Erie, Rein and Wiget 1983:100).  In addition, because of the increasing number of poor elderly women, the total number of women living below the poverty level jumped in relation to men.  In 1969, 37 percent of the adult poor were women; by 1979, two out of three adults living below the poverty line were women (Stallard, Ehrenrich and Sklar, 1983).

The facts documenting the increasing number of women and children can be found in several recent publications (e.g., Stallard et al., 1983; Sidel, 1986; and Rodger, 1986), all of which have documented the ways in which women are particularly vulnerable to poverty, particularly minority women.  Poverty is being ‘feminized,’ which is clearly expressed in a quote from the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity (1981):

All other things being equal, if the proportion of the poor in female-householder families were to continue to increase at the same rate as it did from 1976 to 1978, the poverty population would be composed solely of women and their children before the year 2000 (Rodgers, 1986: 7).

 Studies have shown that the causes of women’s poverty are different from the causes of men’s poverty (e.g., Stallard et al., 1983; Sidel, 1986: and Rodger, 1986).  Researchers have focused on factors that are specific to the situation of women in modern society.  As a group, and regardless of class, women are more vulnerable to poverty than men and that, consequently, women’s poverty has different causes than the poverty of men. Below is a statement by Karen Stallard about the difference between women and men’s poverty:

There is a fundamental difference between male and female poverty: for men, poverty is often the consequence of unemployment and a job is generally an effective remedy, while female poverty often exists even when a woman works full-time…….Virtually all women are vulnerable—a divorce or widowhood is all it takes to throw many middle-class women into poverty (Stallard et al., 1983:20).

 To explain the feminization of poverty, we have to invoke some of the things that many women have in common, such as motherhood and low paying jobs. Single motherhood is perhaps the most important determinant of female poverty in the United States (Ehrenriech and Stallard, 1982; Sidel, 1986).  Other predictors of female poverty include unemployment, divorce, loss of higher-paying manufacturing jobs, domestic responsibilities including child and elder care, and lower wages (Ehrenriech and Stallard, 1982). 

According to Scott (1984) women’s poverty has two sources: (a) their unpaid responsibilities for raising children and other family labor and (b) sex discrimination.   In addition, the lack of affordable childcare is a huge detriment.  Approximately one-fifth of unemployed women are jobless due to lack of childcare.

            Low wages, often due to occupational segregation, discrimination, and insufficient work hours, are major contributors to poverty among women.  Females are concentrated in the secondary sector of the labor force, which consists of low-paying jobs. In addition, most newly created jobs are in the lower-paying service sector and are occupied mainly by women (Smith, 1986). 

            As the preceding research indicates, the feminization of poverty is associated with many interrelated structural and ideological variables.  Stallard et al. (1983) sums up the determinant of the feminization of poverty as follows:

It is a direct outgrowth of women’s dual role as unpaid labor in the home and underpaid labor in the work force.  The pace has been quickening by rising rates of divorce and single motherhood, but the course of women’s poverty is determined by the sexism and racism ingrained in an unjust economy (51).

Recent literature has produced not only a detailed description, but also some plausible and obvious explanations of the feminization of poverty.  In addition to these structural economic factors, Sidle (1986) argues that women’s poverty is also the result of ideological and structural constrains peculiar to women.  Women socialized to put family obligations first, to see themselves primarily as wives and mothers, are likely to neglect or overlook the need to develop occupational and educational skills that will help them support themselves if they remain single or their marriage breaks up.  In addition, Women’s domestic activities, in spite of their obvious significance, are devalued and time consuming, and interfere with their full participation in the labor force (Sidel, 1986: 25-35).  Feminists use the term ‘dual role’ to explain the fact that most women must integrate wage work and housework to make a living.  I will now discuss the theoretical approach of Socialist feminism and how it can be used as a tool to explain the feminization of poverty, particularly the connection between the ‘dual role’ of women’s labor and poverty. 

The social problem of women and poverty in general is complex and deeply entrenched in the macro systems of capitalism, patriarchy, ideology and discourse.  Research has revealed that the feminization of poverty is continuing to increase in the United States and is abhorrently evident in third world countries.  According to a report by the Division for the Advancement of Women  (2000) “The majority of the 1.5 billion people living on 1 dollar a day or less are women. Worldwide, women earn an average slightly more than 50 percent of what men earn. In addition, the gap between women and men caught in the cycle of poverty has continued to widen in the past decade” (2).

It is clear that the existing capitalistic system in the United States is not able solve the growing problems of poverty and gender/racial oppression.  Both socialist feminism and structural social work as a critical theory offer an analysis of poverty that not only emphasizes the structural causes of poverty as opposed to blaming the individual, they are inclusive of a diversity of perspectives, and critical of dominant ideologies and power structures.  However, structural social work theory is more informed and cutting edge as it inculcates the jewels of postmodern and modern social theory.  While all theories have their biases and flaws, they both advocate for an alternative social vision consistent with progressive social work values in which life is free of domination.  

Perhaps the most difficult challenge to uniting in social causes is the deeply entrenched system of competition and rampant individualism, which continues to divide and conquer people. In addition, we are so conditioned to buy into the overly “yang” work- a-holism that keeps people so spun out that they don’t have the energy or volition to challenge status quo or be politically engaged.  I am convinced that in order for radical change to occur, it will require both revolution and evolution. Because things are so deeply entrenched and so many people are ignorant of what is truly going on, we need awakened light-workers to work from within the system.  However, we also need visionaries who are working from the margins on a grass roots level as they will be the informed leaders and visionaries working behind the scenes.  Marxists tend to believe that social work must operate outside the existing system or else it will become incorporated into the present social order and end up protecting it rather than changing it (Mullaly, 2007).  This is a good point when one considers how easy it is to get complacent when you are getting a descent paycheck. 

The power elite is not going to just hand over their power.  As a result, people are going to have to wake up and join forces if any social change is going to occur.  Karl Marx was right when he said that the contradictions in capitalism would eventually cause it to self-destruct (Mullaly 2007). We are witnessing its collapse at this very moment in history.  With the middle-class slide occurring we might see enough class conflict to produce a revolution.  We simply haven’t had enough people suffering enough to act as a catalyst to radical revolution, but this will inevitably change in the near future.  

Karl Marx predicted the fall of capitalism in the 1800’s, but he was written off by social theorists who weren’t conscious or smart enough to receive the prophetic vision he revealed to us.  Perhaps one of my favorite quotes by Mullaly is this “Unfortunately, too many social workers and social theorists have dismissed Marxism as an interesting but outdated theory of society and social change.  Nothing could be further from the truth” (2007:142).  There is nothing new under the sun, just more complex versions of social problems that have been occurring for centuries under patriarchy.  Civilizations have come and gone and if we can’t rally to make positive changes, nature will find a compassionate way to put an end to our collective neurosis and suicide mission. A tidal wave is coming with the global aging population and most people don’t even see it coming. If we aren’t able to make effective changes now, it will inevitably be made for us-- and it won’t be pretty.

 

 

References:

 

Butler, Judith. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.

Collins, Patricia Hill. (1990).  Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Erie, Steven P., Martin Rein, and Barbara Wiget. (1983). Women and the Reagan Revolution: Thermidor for the Social Welfare Economy.  In Families, Politics, and Public Policy, Irene Diamond (ed.) New York: Longman, 100.

Devine, J.A., Plunkett, M., & Wright, J.D. (1992). The Chronocity of Poverty: Evidence from the PSID, 1966-1987. Social Forces, 70, 787-812.

Hartmann, Heidi. (1979).  Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Job Segregation by Sex.  In, Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminist, Zillah Eisensten, (ed.), 206-247.

Mullaly, Bob. (2007).  The New Structural Social Work.  Oxford University Press, Ontario,    Canada.

Rodgers Jr., Harrell R. (1986). Poor Women, Poor Families.  New York: M.E. Sharp.

Scott, H. (1984). Working Your Way to the Bottom: The Feminization of Poverty. Boston: Pandora.

Sidel, Ruth. (1986). Women and Children Lat: The Plight of Poor Women in Affluent America.  New York: Viking.

Smith, J. (1986).  The Paradox of Women’s Poverty: Wage-Earning Women and Economic Transformation. In B.C. Gelpi, N.C.M. Harstock, C.C. Novak, &M.H. Stober (Eds.), Women and Poverty Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 121-140.

Stallard, Karin, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Holly Sklar. (1983). Poverty in the American Dream: Women and Children First. Boston: South End Press.

United Nations Department of Public Information. (2000).  "Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action: Report of the Secretary-General.” Retrieved from: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/fs1.htm

Williams, Fiona. (1989).  Social Policy: A Critical Introduction: Issues of Race, Gender and Class. New York: Blackwell.

 

 

 

Feminine Mysticism and the Herstory of Goddess Art "

Feminine Mysticism and The History of Goddess Art

The core intention and mission of Feminine Mysticism in Art stems from the heart of feminine mysticism--a deep passion to experience the feminine face of God through various levels of awareness--physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. While some of these experiences have occurred through religious institutions, most occurred through a direct, spiritual experience. They are mysterious, immanent experiences that originated in the heart of the individual as they were engaged in various creative endeavors. They give us a glimpse of the transcendent mystery beyond this universe and present us with more reality and truth than we ordinarily experience in everyday life.

To better clarify what I mean by feminine mysticism, I am referring to a spiritual movement devoted to the re-enchantment of the feminine principal or the feminine side of God. Mysticism is meditation, prayer, creativity or theology focused on the direct experience of union with divinity, God, or Ultimate Reality. This unity with the Divine is the heart of all mysticism's. It is awareness of nonduality and nonseparation, of no distance between ourselves, the ultimate mystery, and all other beings. Feminine mysticism a spiritual journey for women, as well as for men, which has been lost to many Westerners but is beginning to resurface in various ways. The great treasures associated with feminine mysticism are a part of a universal mystical tradition, and our evolution as a humans species depends on our willingness to not only integrate these knowledge's into our own experience as spiritual beings, but honor them gifts from the Divine.

If we examine the history of Goddess art, we find a number of mystics and artists who have made it their life’s mission to reveal the wisdom's' of the Goddess. For example, the feminist art movement in the 1970’s in many respects paved the way for contemporary female mystics and goddess artists, as they challenged the dominant patriarchal ideologies of Western culture. An important aspect of the feminist art movement in the 1970’s was to challenge the dominant patriarchal ideologies of Judeo-Christianity, particularly its overall subjugation of the feminine principle. As feminist and art historian Gloria Orenstein noted in her article, Recovering Her Story: Feminist Artists Reclaim the Great Goddess, the reclamation of the Goddess is situated at the heart of the second wave of the feminist movement (1970’s to the present) as well as within the newly developed field of women’s studies scholarship (Broude and Garrard, 1994).

Several feminist artists of the 1970’s, such as Ana Mendieta, Mary Beth Edelson, Donna Henes, Betye Saar, AfraShe Asungi, Monica Sjoo, Judy Chicago, Betsy Damon and so many others attempted to reclaim the ancient Great Goddess through images, rituals, and performance art in an effort to reestablish a female perspective that has long been absent in world religions. While there is no doubt feminist artists of the 1970’s were revolutionary and did an enormous amount of work for social equality, Gloria Orenstein reminds us that their work was largely influenced and inspired by a historical background of a powerful tradition of women mystics, heretics, and visionaries.

In her article on Goddess Art, Orenstein reveals that the “Goddess Awakening” in the 1970's was inspired by an assortment of cutting edge research in the social sciences, particularly feminism, psychology, sociology and archeology. Two of the more influential voices of the seventies were archeological scholars and historians Marija Gimbutas, who wrote “The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe: 7000 to 3500 B.C., Myths, Legends and Cult Images, and Merlin Stone, author of “When God was a Woman.” The work of these two female scholars documented an assortment of archeological images from pre-patriarchal Goddess civilizations which indicate that Goddess worshipping civilizations did indeed exist and that art is a potent transmitter of not only concealed knowledge, but truths that were omitted from the patriarchal record of western history (Orenstein, 1994).

One of the fascinating discoveries about our past is that for millennia, prehistoric societies worshipped the Goddess of nature and spirituality, our great Mother, the giver of life and creator of all. These discoveries also exposed us to a nature-based or “pagan” religion that honored the female and revered the earth as sacred. In these early societies the world was viewed as the Great Mother, a living entity who in both her temporal and spiritual manifestations creates and nurtures all forms of life. We also know that in these highly creative societies women held important social positions as priestesses, craftspeople, and elders of matrilineal clans.

Gloria Orenstein also points out that the reclamation of the Goddess art in the 1970’s was, to a large extent, inspired by the rediscovery of Carl Jung’s concept of the archetype of the Great Goddess. The word “archetype” was freely used in those days, and it had been taken from Erich Neumann’s discussion of Jungian ideas about the archetype of the Great Goddess in his book “The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype.” Jungian psychology had purported that the Great Mother represents the feminine in the human psyche, and that archetypes are internal images that exist in the collective unconscious and are at work in the psyche everywhere (Orenstein, 1994).

Many artists and scholars came to believe that the archetype of the Great Goddess is not only equally accessible to anyone, anywhere, but the images inspired or created transcend all patriarchal cultural barriers. As Orenstein noted, “Goddess art of the 1970’s was perceived to be the one symbol that could transcend difference, diversity, and division, and that could harmonize women from a wide variety of backgrounds on a level that penetrated so deeply into human history and the collective psyche that the contemporary patriarchal political and social constructions separating women from each other would be overcome” (1994:175). In other words, through the rekindling of the Great Goddess, women from all over the world could begin to unite their wills and break the chains of social inequality and oppression.

The most concrete evidence we have that recounts the demise of the Goddess cultures can be found in the archeological record. Marija Gimbutas's archeological studies have given the highest scientific authority to our knowledge of ancient Goddess civilizations. Her book, originally published in 1974 with the title The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe: 7000 to 3500 B.C., Myths Legends and Cult Images,30 provided a full iconographic lexicon of pre-patriarchal images and symbols.

By examining the surviving historical evidence, it has been ascertained that God was conceived of as female for at least the first 200,000 years of human life on earth, a far longer reign than that of the patriarchy. Archeological, mythological and historical evidence all reveal that for thousands of years matriarchal religions and patriarchal societies existed simultaneously in Old Europe, and that over a long period of time matriarchal or “pagan” religions were the victims of centuries of persecution and suppression by warlike patriarchal societies, usually referred to as Indo-Europeans, which imposed their male-dominated hierarchy and the worship of their sky gods on Goddess cultures wherever they settled.

Gimbutas summed up the difference between the two cultural systems: "The first was matrifocal, sedentary, peaceful, art-loving, earth and sea-bound; the second was patrifocal, mobile, warlike, ideologically sky oriented, and indifferent to art."31 Continuing waves of suppression by Indo-European culture eventually put an end to the Old European Goddess cultures roughly between 4300 and 2800 B.C., changing it from matrilineal to patrilineal. As a result of continual suppression, the Goddess religions went underground or were assimilated into Indo-European culture, but the old European sacred images and symbols were never totally eradicated. "Many of these symbols are still present as images in our art and literature, powerful motifs in our myths, and archetypes in our dreams."32

While there is speculation as to whether matrifocal societies were truly egalitarian, Gimbutas as well as an assortment of other archeologists profess that they were. Supposedly no archaeological, historical, or anthropological evidence can be found for any widespread female dominant cultures in which males were oppressed. Gimbutas suggests that Old European culture was "matrifocal"--that is, woman-centered--and matrilineal, where descent was through the mother. However, it's important to note that woman-centered does not imply a matriarchy that is the opposite of patriarchy, a society in which one gender exercised power at the expense of the other. As Gimbutas notes, "The Goddess-centered art, with its striking absence of images of warfare and male domination, reflects a social order in which women as heads of clans or queen-priestesses played a central part." 33

Archeologist Merlin Stone, in her book When God was a Woman,34 explains that studies of indigenous cultures over the last few centuries have led to the realization that some indigenous peoples did not yet possess the understanding of the relationship between sex and conception. Thus, the concepts of paternity and fatherhood would not yet have been understood. Though probably accompanied by various mythical explanations, babies were simply born from women. If this were the case, the mother would have been seen as the singular parent of her family, the lone producer of the next generation. There are a number of theories and lines of evidence that speculate as to whether or not matrilineal cultures were indeed egalitarian. However, if this theory is indeed correct, one might be led to assume that in putting the Goddess on a pedestal as the creator of life, men could have been reduced to mere protectors of her preemptive powers.

The historical shift from matrifocal cultures to patriarchal cultures is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating shifts in human history. While the transformation is fascinating and worthy of investigation, it is perhaps better left to more academic endeavors. There are a number of indigenous peoples, feminist thealogians, mystics, artists and scholars who have already made enormous contributions to the women's spirituality movement, ecological movement and the inter-spirituality movement. It is not our intention to repeat what has already been said, but rather, explore on deeper levels the meaning of feminine mysticism and how it has been expressed through various modes of knowing, particularly through art and creativity.

New Book Release: Feminine Mysticism in Art

Beloved Community!

We are so grateful for your support and feedback regarding Feminine Mysticism in Art. In a culture of materialism and useless plastic gadgets, why not support Gaia's mission with the raising of consciousness on the planet?

If you are wanting to use your $$ in a socially redeeming way, purchase the gift that keeps on GIVING HER FEMININE WISDOMS on a daily basis.

The book is getting excellent reviews on Amazon. We are blessed and honored to have readers say it is an "Opus Magnum" and "Masterpiece Work".

The kindle E-Book is currently on sale for $7.99 from $20.00. And the gorgeous soft cover is $39.99 reduced from $39.99. You can also purchase the SHOW GIRL hardcover for $79.99.

People who have purchased the book has been very happy with the quality of print for the soft cover and hard cover.

If you have been wanting this book now is your chance to get a super deal. And we need help with Amazon reviews, as well.

Please take some time and visit my author page on Amazon and consider purchasing this gorgeous 435 page, full color art book.

And if you want to see who all the contributing artists and writers are with links to their websites, visit our website at: www.mysticspiritart.com

We are also proud to announce that Gloria Orenstein wrote the forward for our book.


About the Book:

There is a growing awareness that we are doomed as a species and planet unless we have a radical shift in consciousness and the re-emergence of the Goddess is becoming the symbol and metaphor for this transformation. Feminine Mysticism in Art fills the void of Goddess imagery and wisdom in the West by providing images and writings offered by 65 contemporary visionary artists and writers who have committed their life's work to the re-birth of the Divine Feminine in the West. This book contains deep feminine wisdom's that have the potential to be the medicine for individual and collective healing.

Some of the male and female visionary artists are: AfraShe Asungi, Yasmin Hernandez, Martina Hoffmann, Autumn Skye Morrison, Penny Slinger, Hrana Janto, Heather Taylor, Mark Henson, Abba Yahudah, David Joaquin, Andrew Annenberg, Paul Heussenstamm, etc. Some of the visionary writers are: Anne Baring, Margaret Starbird, Vicki Noble, Llewellyn Vaughn Lee, Lotus, Sandra Ingerman, Hank Wesselman, Anyaa McAndrew, Martina Ball, and so many more. It is an EPIC co-creative effort by powerful voices in the Women's Spirituality movement, the Inter-Spirituality movement, the Transcendental Art movement, and the Ecological movement.

Purchase the Book on Amazon

REVIEWS FMA IS GETTING ON AMAZON:

At this time when women's voices and their creative art is essential to the return of the Divine Feminine in our consciousness, Feminine Mysticism in Art is the flagship. It is the first time so many incredible, powerful images are available in one book along with important narratives to help us understand the many facets of feminine experience. For anyone who desires to further the momentum, purchasing this book and spreading the word about it will be an important contribution to all. Linda Savage PhD

This gorgeous read is an exquisite teacher of what is desperately needed for our societal ecosystems to truly balance and heal. Victoria and contributors take a deep dive into the treasure chest of history's soul and bring to the surface the lost language of our powerful Feminine.
I will return to this gem again and again as both inspiration and reference guide. What a masterpiece!
Suzanne Mathis McQueen, author and moon wise teacher

"A beautiful book at a very important time in our history.
It makes a great coffee table piece with its exquisite and large renditions, but I recommend it goes in your library or on your nightstand. Its insights and wisdom about the feminine principles, if implemented in the minutest of ways in our daily lives, would be a big step in the right direction for making our world a better place." Kent Schoch, musican and writer


Endorsements:

"Art, in its highest form, is direct connection with divine source. Art communicates to our soul beyond words and concepts, and can transmit Universal Truth. Feminine Mysticism in Art beautifully shares vast collections of the art of our times, expressing the power and presence of the Divine Feminine and Primordial Sacred Union. I found this book to be an important and timely spiritual and political resource, that shares deeply the empowerment of the feminine, during these evolutionary times."

Andrew Harvey, Founder and Director of the Institute of Sacred Activism,

"The mystical feminine has a vital part to play in the present work of global healing and transformation. Feminine Mysticism in Art awakens us to HER central role. These images and mystical writings speak directly to the soul, reminding us of her eternal presence, her power, and beauty."

Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, Ph.D, Sufi teacher, author of numerous books on the Divine Feminine

"This exquisite book of astonishing and often haunting images of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Union created by contemporary artists will encourage us to embrace a new reality--that an exclusively masculine image of the Divine is not, and can never be, whole without HER."

Margaret Starbird, M.A, author of "The Woman With The Alabaster Jar."


About the Editors:

Victoria Christian is the head editor of Feminine Mysticism in Art. She is also a contributing artists and writer as she had to "weave" the creative visions of over 65 contributors. Raised in the quaint town of Ashland, Victoria Christian was blessed to grow up in the emerald forests of Southern Oregon, learning as much as she could about the Gaian rhythms of life.

Victoria graduated from Southern Oregon University with a Bachelors of Science in 1996, majoring in Sociology. In 2011, she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Masters in Applied Sociology, emphasis in Social Theory, Sociology of Art, and Sociology of Gender. She did her thesis research on Women Artists and Identity Formation in a Postmodern Society, which is a major critique of culture and the art world. What emerged from her qualitative research was a developmental model of artistic identity development, which revealed the stages that most women go through in their identification process as an artist. She is in the process of compiling this rich research into a book as it has the potential to empower women artists in a rationally and scientifically oriented culture that is in some ways antithetical to creative development.

Victoria started a second piece of research in 2002 on Feminine Mysticism in Art, which led to the creation of the book FMA. Upon interviewing several mystical artists (male and female), she discovered that most of them were extremely talented, but felt marginalized by the traditional gallery scene simply because their work was "too spiritual," "to political" and "too feminist." As a result, all of the artists felt it was necessary to harness their mission and "publish the map" in order to get their images into the world without compromising their spiritual, political, and visionary voices. The book evolved over 12 years and includes the creative visions of over 65 emerging and established visionary writers and artists.

In 2009, Victoria produced an animated visionary art DVD titled Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine, which has been featured at various music/art festivals, theatrical performances and spiritual conferences across the globe. You can purchase the animated DVD of visionary art and music on Amazon. To view the trailer, see the website: www.mysticspiritart.com.

In 2015, Victoria received a second Masters degree in Social Work through Portland State University and has been working in the trenches as a home health medical social worker helping to empower physically disabled and financially oppressed people through counseling and access to community resources and mentors. Victoria has a counseling and life coaching practice called Guanyin Healing Arts. For more information about her therapeutic modalities and counseling philosophy, see her website: www.guanyinhealingarts.com

Susan Stedman is an assistant editor to FMA. She is a court reporter, editor, tarot/astrology counselor and the creator of oral histories documenting the lives of elderly people for future generations. She has raised three daughters, including Victoria Christian, and had many diverse life experiences that have contributed to her wisdom and ability to work with people, including her upbringing as the daughter of a prominent theologian and minister. She draws not only on her own rich history as a preacher's kid and single mom, but also as an anthropology student at Southern Oregon University, freelance editor, and twenty years as a freelance court reporter. Susan is a respected member of the Grandmother's Council in Southern Oregon and has devoted her life to pursuing acts of compassion in her local community. She reads prodigiously and is devoted to a spiritual walk. She and her husband currently reside in Southern Oregon.

Purchase the animated DVD HERE


  Infinite Blessings,

Victoria Christian, MA, MSW
Therapist, Sociologist, Writer, Artist, Sacred Activist
electrart@hotmail.com

Book Website:
www.mysticspiritart.com

Counseling website:
www.guanyinhealingarts.com

Healing Heart Studio:
www.victoriachristian.com

    

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