Women & The New Moon, Still

WALPURGIS NIGHT IS STILL A WAYS AWAY, but already the witches are out. Some weeks back, I mentioned an exhibition in a community art center in the Berkshires. My reward for that is to have been placed on the mailing list of an organization that calls itself Gathered Resources of Women (GROW).



To herald the January new moon. a broadcast arrived announcing the advent something called Red Tent Temple, scheduled to land in Pittsfield on January 8th. It was for all women, ages 13 and up. (Aren’t 13-year-olds still kids? What have I missed?) To grasp the full flavor of this non-denominational event, you should read the press release:

The day will include an afternoon of sisterhood, song, drumming, dance, art, meditation, healing, and quiet reflection; a simple community meal; and a formal Women’s Circle at 7pm.

Gathered Resources of Women: GROW is a local non-profit that provides education, advocacy, and support for maternal and female wellness. GROW’s holistic approach to care includes the whole family and all women within the community of Berkshire County.

Inspired by Anita Diamant’s book The Red Tent, a movement has formed gathering women together near the time of the new moon in a non-denominational sacred space to celebrate womanhood.  Women join together in and ritual to honor the sacred feminine within themselves and each other. Women are invited to wear red and asked to bring their own: mug, bowl, spoon, napkin, votive/pillar candle and holder.

Optional items to bring: red fabric, cushions, tea, baked goods, pot of veg. soup, other refreshments for the community meal, drums, flutes, bells, divinity items. Women are welcome to bring their knitting, reading, drawing materials, yoga mat, etc. as well as any gifts of healing or teaching, and any professional flyers they might wish to place on the quiet networking table.

Now comes part II, in observance of February’s lunar experience. More of the same gynocentric lunacy. More knitting, more sacred items (bird nests? mandrake roots? tampons? what, exactly?), more space sanctified by the physical presence of the female of the species and new moonlight.

Let me confess, I have zero tolerance for certain words: sisterhood, healing (with no reference to a medical condition), wellness (as distinct from health), and that god-awful sacred feminine. And do not get me started on drumming. Are there any women out there who show up at these things who play the harpsichord, or—if you want something portable—a trumpet, piccolo or penny whistle?

Who attends these demented exercises in delusional narcissism? Perhaps I am being unfair, but I would be happy to bet that a goodly proportion of them are in the arts to some degree or other. They sing, they paint, they strum. They tasted the fruits of goddess studies on dinnerware by Judy Chicago. They got off on the color red (for menstrual blood, naturally) under the tutelage of the feminist art movement and canny hacks like Joan Snyder. They dived into the Dianic Wiccan Tradition thinking that they were resurrecting ancient wisdom, something grander and older than the Code of Hammurabi.


Joan Snyder, "Untitled"

It seems not to matter to these spoiled, well-fed, vainglorious doxies that contemporary Wiccan is the late 19th-early 20th century stew of Rosacrucianism, Celtic and Egyptian lore, Masonic creeds, Aleister Crowley’s satanism, and few other crackpot ingredients. Why bother with history, which takes work, when there is herstory which can be—like art—whatever the sacred She says it is.

Goddess cults, with shared characteristics, existed in many primitive cultures. Some anthropologists consider European witchcraft (which was practiced) a folk-level corruption of these archaic fertility rites, with their convictions and rituals. GROW’s  new moon fetish brings us just that much closer to Third-World superstitions and the dysfunction that accompanies them. Here are women educated into irrationality instead of out of it. In groups like this, we can see the inexorable unraveling of Western civilization. It is slow bleed but still lethal.

At its most obvious, it feeds the denigration of men. It denies the value of their identity as husbands and fathers. Implicit in notions of the sacred feminine, is its polar opposite: the profanity of masculinity. Women are sacred; men are profane. God help our sons.

On a less obvious plane, this crank spirituality is retrograde. It fails to appreciate the characteristic nature of all Judeo-Christian talk about God. It regresses into pagan ways of thinking about sacrality, about the Absolute. Ancient Israel, in high contrast to the surrounding pagan world, avoided attributing any sexual traits to God. As Old Testament scholars understand, Yahweh existed beyond the polarity of human sexuality. God was not defined by sexual attributes. For that reason alone, Israel did not regard sex or the sexual as a sacred mystery. Sex was understood as a creaturely phenomenon, not a religious one. Man’s identity as a creature made in the image and likeness of God had nothing to do with his sexuality. The ground of the likeness to God was man’s spiritual soul (for lack of a better term) which bears no sexual stamp.

Organizations like GROW and the women who participate in them are ignorant of Western civilization’s dependence on the moral and spiritual grandeur of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Their ignorance is ominous. It ranks them among the useful idiots of the post-Western age that looms ahead of us.


© 2010 Maureen Mullarkey


  1. How nice to see Joan Snyder called a hack. What a relief!

  2. Hey, hey, ho, ho. Western civ has go to go!
    Remember that chant? It seems to be going faster than we think. Thanks, ladies.

  3. I remember hearing a talk by Maud Lavin at the Art Institute of Chicago on one of her books. She kept referring to “metaphysics” in a way that I later understood to be the nonsense astrology type stuff. James Elkins was also in the audience and I remember him repeatedly asking her, “What are you talking about?”

  4. Maud Lavin! An upscale version of the Red Tenters! And a high-placed academic.
    Here’s a quote from Lavin:” Working in an arts environment has impacted my research — It’s encouraged me to see writing and its forms as creative explorations”

    Impacted her research! Impacted, for godsake! Sounds like a dental condition. The academics are as muddled as the ladies in the moon lodge, or whatever. Lavin sounds like she is the first person to see writing as creative.

  5. The moral and spiritual grandeur of the Judeo-Christian tradition? Are you having a joke? It is sentences like that which exspose you to be incredibly delusioned – not the women you are objecting to.

  6. No, Michaela, I wasn’t joking. Neither was I being provocative–though I knew when I wrote it that that phrase would get someone’s goat. Certainly, the West has blood on its hand; of course it has sinned. But its sins are ones shared with every other civilizaition since the dawn of time. The West has betrayed its own ideals many times, in many ways. Nevertheless—and this is crucial—its ideals are unique to it. Not to recognize the grandeur of those ideals is to descend into blind negation.

    Historic pieties regarding the integrity of human nature and the absolute value of each individual are distinctly Western in origin. The concept of human rights is Western; so is cultural emphasis on reason, on self-awareness and self-criticism which rest on the very concept of the individual [as distinct from the tribe or volk]. It is moral idiocy to think that cultural emphasis on the dignity of the individual will survive in a post-Western world.

  7. Snyder – Flibbertigibbet

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