UUA General Assembly 2004 Women and Religion Programming:

Note from Helen--
To support UU W&R's GA activities, please, send your tax-deductible donation to our treasurer, Geri Kennedy, 263 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City, CA 94062. Your check needs to be made payable to "UU Women & Religion."

Privilege, Power and Difference: From Patriarchy To Peace ( #3049 in the GA Program book ) "This presentation offers a perspective on the connection between gender and violence on every level of social life, based on the belief that we cannot achieve peace without understanding systemic social forces that encourage individual and collective violence in response to conflict, uncertainty, and fear. We'll explore implications for education." Leaders: Allan G. Johnson, Ph.D and Pat Simon, W&R Co-convener of Mass. Bay District W&R

Gender-Knot Unraveling: A New Course for UUs Debuts (#2098 and repeats as #3020) "Celebrate publication and learn about "Unraveling the Gender Knot," a new religious education program for UU youth, women and men. Facilitators will lead activities from the course, exploring links between violence and systemic discrimination based on gender. Course participants change their attitudes and behaviors, and guide others toward peace." Leaders: Authors, Dr. Barbara Schonborn and Rosemary Matson, of the UU W&R '04 Core Group

Silent Walk for Peace (Sunday, June 27, 11:30 AM) "People around the world are walking with a slow pace, in silence. Many wear white clothing. Please, join us at General Assembly in Long Beach to practice peace, to walk in peace in every step, to witness peacemaking and peace-building by being alive and steady, step by step, to step into the source of understanding and compassion within us, and hold everyone with care. We will walk to offer compassion, to learn, and to share that:

Stop by the Women and Religion Booth at General Assembly to make your peace banner and get more information.


The UUA Board is in the process of evaluating the current system of affiliate organizations like UU W&R. One of the questions on the form we have to send in is "How does your group grow and strengthen congregations of the Association?" We know that our programming brings new members to the UU movement, but literally need examples for this UUA form. If you joined a UU congregation due to being introduced to UUism through W&R activities, please, send me (Helen Popenoe your name and the name of the congregation to which you belong. The DEADLINE on the form is "no later than June 11, 2004"!

MARCH FOR WOMEN'S LIVES was well supported by UU Women and Religion. For a detailed report, please, see the Joseph Priestley District W&R newsletter on Thanks to Louise Volintine from Arlington Church for being the D.C. area's W&R coordinator.

TAKE ACTION ON FAMILY PLANNING: Urge the Congress to Address the Family Planning Needs of Women and Families
On April 22, 2004, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Putting Prevention First Act (S. 2336 / H.R. 4192), an omnibus family planning bill that combines increased Title X funding with six existing bills relating to contraception, family planning, and comprehensive sexuality education. This comprehensive legislation was introduced in the week leading up to the 2004 March for Women's Lives as a public statement by pro-choice leaders that helping all women have access to family planning services is fundamental to giving women real reproductive choice and is the most effective way to reduce the number of abortions performed.

***Take Action***
In emails, phone calls, and faxes, please contact your Representatives and Senators and urge them cosponsor and support the Putting Prevention First Act (S. 2336 / H.R. 4192). Encourage your Member of Congress to support this comprehensive family planning legislation. To easily reach your Member of Congress, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121. For more information please contact Kierstin Homblette, Legislative Assistant, at 202.296.4672 x.13 or or visit NARAL Pro-Choice America .

Misty Sheehan of Central MidWest District wrote for her recent workshop:

In the beginning was the One,
And the One became Two,
And the Two became the ten thousand things

The One, the Unnamed, is prior to and greater than that which we do know and name. It is known as the Dao, or Brahman, and is the primal energy that forms all that we know. We can become one with the One only through meditation, and that understanding is called enlightenment. Life divides into two, either through sex or cellular division, and that primal energy divides into yin/yang or shakta/shakti. Everything sexual has both masculine and feminine within them.

What we call nature is the ten thousand things, our naming of the temporary, transitory, shifting forms that primal energy takes.

Humans first saw themselves a part of that energy. They prayed to the trees' energy when they cut them down, and to the animals' energy before the hunt. Agriculture and animal husbandry, refined in the Neolithic period, taught humans that they could control nature. Instead of understanding themselves a part of an energy force, which included all life, they created gods and goddesses that they prayed to, asking them to control the weather and the insects so their crops would grow well, and to control life so their animals and people would be fruitful. It is at this time that we begin to see the development of social classes as some people become more privileged than others. We also see the development of marriage, to control a man's wealth; and of warfare, for this is the period when the land becomes overused. Turning from the primal energy to urban civilizations, they separated themselves from nature.

Those men, warriors, successful at war, worshipped male sky gods, who were also warriors, and when each agricultural civilization was conquered, they married those male sky gods to the fertile goddesses enriching the earth. The denigration of their human wives' power ensured the denigration also of the goddesses'.

Male divinity and male energy became the most predominant when men became most predominant.

When the Christian church was formed at the council of Nicea, women officiates were eliminated from the church making them spectators. The celebration of religious ritual became an act of observation, by laypeople both men and women, and the service became solemn, grave, concise, and dignified. No longer was the participant a singer, dancer or theologian. No longer was the service diffuse, or emotional, and "fun." The emphasis was on hierarchy. Similar restrictions of individual spirituality occurred in other religions but the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions became the most constricting.

Today we are at another religious revolution, We understand through the pollution of the earth that, despite our technological advances, we are a part of nature. We have gone back to the understanding of all life having energy, and the understanding that for us to continue to dominate, others must be destroyed. We know now, through birth control, that women can take a place with man in running the earth. We see again natural objects as shifting shapes, always changing.

We are claiming again the feminine side of our personalities; and we redefine the masculine part. We explore our personal part in the celebration of life and energy. Pagans, earth-centered people, take the best from the old religions but use these religious symbols, gods and goddesses, as symbols or mentors or reifications of what we want to become. We spiral the symbols in deeper understandings. The Celts, from whom we take so much, kept slaves and hung the heads of people they had killed from their doorstop to show control over their spirit. We don't keep slaves. We don't hang the heads of our enemies from the doorstop, but we use the Celtic understanding that each living being has a spirit. The ancient Hebrews and Greeks sacrificed animals to know the future. We don't sacrifice animals any longer, but we understand that patterns of energy exist and that we can tell one pattern from another. We redefine those symbols; we place our own understanding of morality upon their numinous beings. Our own creativity creates our own rituals: we adorn ourselves; we sing and dance and meditate as participation in acts of celebrations. Our religion is a work in progress, as our new religious ideas develop from Starhawk and Z. Budapest to the present day. The UU religion has been friendliest to these ideas. CUUPS and Women and Religion groups have been integrated into the UUA structure as fertile fields to these new ideas. Ministers or congregations frequently celebrate this sense of oneness with the world, Emerson called it Transcendentalism, within the Sunday service, but most of the celebrations occur at other times, from other groups. Women and Religion conferences for the past twenty years have proven the most successful at developing this tradition.

We have all been influenced by goddesses. Clarissa Pinkola Estes uses them in Women Who Run with the Wolves. Jean Shinola Bolton used them in Goddesses in Everywoman. Do they exist? When I lived in India, I spent time with a guru. I asked him that question.

He said--Does it make a difference? What is important is whether they work. Many people use goddesses in their everyday life, to call on, to use as a role model, and to help them succeed. Jean

Pierce, of Women and Religion, relates especially to Brigid as Brigid's holy day is Feb 2nd and Jean's birthday is Feb 4th. Brigid is also a goddess of poetry and Jean likes to write poems. Gretchen Ohman uses the Earth Mother as her muse as she has always felt earthy and cares about the earth. I use Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of wisdom and the arts, because my goal in life is wisdom and the proper use of that.

Now it is your turn. We will celebrate goddesses that are meaningful to each of us.

1) Exercise One.
By yourself or in groups, think of a goddess to whom you relate. Perhaps the goddess is you. Tell us your goddess and a special ritual to that goddess you have done.

2) Exercise Two
I have here many things with which to make goddesses, including things for your body. Take the next ten minutes to design your goddess and for the last ten minutes, we'll share our goddess(es) with everyone else.


From "Songs and Chants" compiled by Patricia Allison:

"Basic One Step" by Bill Oliver
Keep taking that basic one step, one step after another step,
One foot in front of the other foot. Keep your spirits High.
Keep your faith in the leap of faith. Keep your faith in the human race.
Keep the sunshine in your face, doing the Dance of Life.
You who believe it is possible to actualize the conceptual,
Realize you are exceptional to even take a stance.
Carry your cause with your hardest work. Follow your passion for all it's worth.
Even if you're receiving the deepest hurt, be glad you took the chance.


The JPD Women and Religion Retreat in 2005
Again will be held at
Precious Blood Spiritual Center in Columbia, PA (easy to drive to from the southern states of JPD)
April 22 to 24, 2005.
Save the date!
We are planning on a program using Unraveling the Gender Knot, the new UU W&R course, BASED ON Allan G. Johnson's book.

Judy Mitten of Joseph Priestley District asked how the new course is as good as the "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven" course.

"Unraveling the Gender Knot" has the same profound kind of consciousness-raising. Whereas "Cakes" was about sisterhood, this is about male/female relations in light of how patriarchy has distorted how we really are the same in our basic needs. Patriarchy has made the female appear as being so different from the male that she should be classified as outside the norm, the "other" sex and so, can be treated in a way that denigrates or puts her up on a pedestal so that she can't participate in decision making as an equal.

We of the W&R movement are seeking alternative ways to organize social systems--in partnerships and making decisions through consensus-building, for example. "Unraveling The Gender Knot" includes practice and encouragement to challenge the patriarchal system in small actions and large ones. Participants have full choice about whether and when to act. The course shows some avenues to work for change.

From "Songs and Chants" compiled by Patricia Allison:

It's in every one of us to be wise.
Find your heart; open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything without ever knowing why.
It's in every one of us, by and by.


EVE'S FIRE Screened at
Dangerous Old Women Productions' newest taboo breaking, soul stirring film, Eve's Fire, was screened at Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church, 2912 Clubhouse Rd, Finksburg on April 17, 2004. Co-Director of Eve's Fire and Mt Airy, MD resident, Kirsten D'Andrea Hollander, introduced the film and the follow up discussion.

Frederick County based Dangerous Old Women Productions is a visionary, all-women film company founded by Sheila Foster and Kirsten D'Andrea Hollander, whose mission is to serve the collective spiritual awakening. Eve's Fire, a 53-minute "evocumentary" film, is a provocative, living document about real women in a contemporary women's mystery school, who are discovering the sacred in their ordinary lives. It is also about Eve, Snake, and a feminine path of spiritual awakening. Our creation myth is a living energy that is still shaping our world, culture, view of the feminine, and how we feel about ourselves. Snake is shown to be an ancient symbol of the Great Goddess and of the kundalini energy that activates spiritual initiation. The film offers the view that Eve's meeting Snake was, and is, the harbinger of a collective spiritual awakening that is happening now.

Through in-the-moment, unscripted interviews, women from around Maryland and south central Pennsylvania, 35 to79 years old, speak with raw courage of their longing, wanting to die, the death of a child, body image, sexual abuse, ecstasy, and the struggle to embrace humanness. Through each woman's sharing, the film offers insight into archetypal patterns of feminine experience. Eve guides us through the path of initiation via pithy text messages. Voiceovers delineate the stages of initiation and the essential tasks for each archetypal initiation. The inner, symbolic worlds of the women are shown with artistic film images in both color and black & white. Digital video shows the women in real time as they interact with each other in the mystery school. The images are complemented by original vocals and flute music.

The challenge was how to convey the experience of something so mysterious and elusive as spiritual awakening. Kirsten and Sheila collaborated to compose the shots and evoke the process. The women in each scene were supported with deep respect and, thus, they were willing to be filmed in the midst of their raw, deep inner work.

For more information and about the film please visit


Full Circle's Earth Centered Celebrations

Full Circle celebrates the new and full moons and the eight solar holidays of each year. The full moon circles focus on feminine energy and are open to all adult women. New moons are limited to women registered for the Weavers Covenant Group. Solar holidays such as solstices and equinoxes include men and youth too. All events are followed by a potluck feast. New participants of all backgrounds and beliefs are always welcome.

Full Moon Women's Circles meet on each full moon throughout the year and focus on feminine energy. We explore personal issues and our spiritual connection to Goddess and God. We celebrate with song, dance and sharing in a sacred and safe space, opening wide the opportunity to celebrate with other women. Summer full moon circles are scheduled for July 2, July 21 (Blue Moon!) and August 29 from 7-9 p.m. There is a requested donation of $5 per woman, per gathering.

Sun Circles celebrate the Wheel of the Year, with 8 seasonal celebrations. Our theme at the summer solstice is Midsummer Magic - a Hogwarts Summer Solstice. Wizards, witches, and muggles of all ages are invited to celebrate the joy of magic. The celebration will be held on June 20 and begins at 5 PM with classes in wand making, defense against the dark arts and divination, followed by magical circle celebration and feasting. Bring sweet or savory finger food to share for the feast. You receive extra points for dressing as your favorite Harry Potter character! Our 3rd Annual Lammas Fair on Sunday, August 1 celebrates the harvest of grains with a traditional fair of food, crafts, music and fun for all ages. Festivities for this celebration begin at 2PM.

Women's Covenant Group Doing Social Justice Work

Our Power of Thinking Positively women's covenant group recently sponsored a collection of donated items for Arden House, a local YWCA emergency domestic violence shelter for women and children fleeing abusive relationships. The shelter provides a variety of support services: case management, individual and group therapy, financial assistance, career counseling, educational groups, and more.


Summer Solstice Service, June 20
Seize the time! Bring your special gifts to light! What has been in shadow or waiting to bloom? Let what is in you or the seeds you have planted respond to the energy generated by the solstice sun and longer days.

We meet in the Fireside Room at 5 PM for honoring earth-centered traditions through circle casting and opening rituals, simple circle movement, connecting through shared insights and meditation.

Please, bring snack food and/or drink and your own cup for afterwards. All are welcome older than age 10.

Helen Popenoe and Merry Urbia


Monday, June 21, 7 to 9 PM
Walk the labyrinth to a recording of Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (first hour), followed by live drumming. Please wear socks to walk this indoor labyrinth. All are welcome. Candice Haaga 301/816-0188 or

From "Songs and Chants" compiled by Patricia Allison:

Blessed am I. Spirit am I.
I am the infinite within my soul.
I have no beginning and I have no end.
All this I am.


(through Rabbi Bonnie Margulis
Director of Clergy Programming
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Making women's issues go away
A damning new report reveals that the Bush administration has quietly removed 25 reports from its Women's Bureau Web site, deleting or distorting crucial information on issues from pay equity to reproductive healthcare.

By Rebecca Traister

April 28, 2004--If you'd logged onto the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau Web site in 1999, you would have found a list of more than 25 fact sheets and statistical reports on topics ranging from "Earning Differences Between Men and Women" to "Facts About Asian American and Pacific Islander Women" to "Women's Earnings as Percent of Men's 1979-1997."

[View full report at]

Not anymore. Those fact sheets no longer exist on the Women's Bureau Web site, and have instead been replaced with a handful of peppier titles, like "Hot Jobs for the 21st Century" and "20 Leading Occupations for Women." It's just one example of the ways in which the Bush administration is dismantling or distorting information on women's issues, from pay equity to reproductive healthcare, according to "Missing: Information About Women's Lives," a new report released Wednesday by the National Council for Research on Women.

Note from Helen -
I have the complete text of this Email to Geri. If you want to read it, let me know at and I'll Email it to you.


Cancer-Fighting Foods and Supplements_______5/27/04 Update

Anti-Cancer Foods:

  • wild salmon (for omega-3 fatty acids);
  • free-range, hormone-free, antibiotics-free poultry;
  • broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, greens (collards and kale), corn, beets, cucumbers, radishes, rhubarb, and other vegetables (organic, if possible);
  • the fruit or juice of grapes, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, pomegranates, pineapple, apricots, figs, and other fruits (organic, if possible);
  • lentils, dried beans, chickpeas, avocados, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice;
  • soy/tofu (the research is mixed on this: no more than 1 serving daily);
  • limit dairy products: only low-fat organic (hormone-free, antibiotics-free, pesticide-free) dairy;
  • olive oil and flax seed oil;
  • garlic, onion, parsley, maitake and shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed/kelp;
  • nuts (almonds, walnuts, and pecans);
  • seeds (flax, sunflower, celery, sesame, and caraway);
  • ginger, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, sage, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, caraway, cayenne, cumin, and coriander;
  • green tea, black tea, and/or herb teas containing burdock, violet leaf, astragalus, and red clover.

    Note from Helen -
    For the complete text that includes other cancer fighting means, send me an Email at


    The Schoolhouse Quilters' Guild,, and the Allegany Arts Council invite you to view a most extraordinary piece of art. "The Supper" quilt is a monumental pieced work by Don Locke, composed of 51,816 half-inch squares of fabric and modeled on Leonardo de Vinci's famous work, "The Last Supper." The quilt is 15.3 feet wide and 5.5 feet high. It was machine quilted by Linda Taylor, quite a feat due to its size and because the image was not apparent to anyone working close to the fabric. Viewers have stated that seeing the quilt was a "spiritual experience" and have described it as "breath-taking." "The Supper" will be on display from 10 AM to 5 PM, June 18, 19 and 20 in the Multipurpose Building of the Allegany County Fairgrounds as part of the Schoolhouse Quilters' Twenty-fifth Annual Quilt Show. Dr. Locke will be available to answer questions and to explain the work. A certified appraiser will be available to appraise quilts if a prior appointment is made at 304/788-2779.



    "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
    Anais Nin

    Dear IALRW Friends,

    I call you friends, even though I do not know many of you personally. But, we do share in a common venture in which each of us plays a part. We are part of an international scattered community that tries to respond to the needs of women in impoverished circumstances. We cannot of course, do this on a grand scale, but I am proud of what the IALRW has done and continues to do to empower women.

    It is important to remember who we are, especially these days when the world is shaking with hostility and violence. We have dreams and visions to show the world around us. I hope you will share your dreams and visions of IALRW with those around you. We need to become more visible and numerous.

    We will be offering a program at the UUA General Assembly in Long Beach on Monday, 28 June, 8:30--9:30 a.m. in room 101 a., titled: "Faith in Action: Women empowering Women." There will be a report with slides and a video of the literacy project in Ladakh, and a discussion of other projects we have supported and are supporting.

    If you are planning to attend the GA meetings, please be sure to come to this meeting. Your presence is important!

    I look forward to seeing some of my IALRW friends in Long Beach. Also, I hope to see many of you at the next international IALRW conference in 2006, in a yet to be determined location (possibly India).

    Yours in partnership,

    (Johanna Boeke)

    From "Songs and Chants" compiled by Patricia Allison:

    Out of the silence of the night,
    Bringing our visions into light,
    We are making our dreams come true.



    Take action on this important pregnancy prevention initiative by logging on to Emergency contraception, often called the "morning-after pill" offers women a second chance to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It is estimated that EC could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year in the U.S. For that reason, increasing access to EC is a top priority for Planned Parenthood.


    Kathryn Ashera Sprowls, Alima Ross and Sandra Kammann are leading, along with other artists, a week-long creative experience for peace-loving families, educators, dancers, artists and creative spirits of all ages. The registration deadline is June 12 with registrar, Alima Jeanne-Joy Ross The location is a wooded 355 acres in Claymont, West Virginia near Charles Town. See for registration form and information.

    From "Songs and Chants" compiled by Patricia Allison:

    And let it begin with each step we take,
    And let it begin with each change we make,
    And let it begin with each chain we break,
    And let it begin every time we awake.

    WOMUUNWEB DEADLINE for Fall 2004 issue is September 2 please.

    Many thanks to Al Carlson, GWA Webmaster, for publishing this WOMUUNWEB issue #16 on the GWA website at

    Please, send your news to Helen Popenoe at

    Respectfully submitted by Helen thanks to the editing and formatting skills of Margaret Warker.