Attending the 2014 ASWM Conference in San Antonio was, for me, a surfeit of riches. I had the terrific opportunity to present my paper, Women, Horses, and Predators: Female Sexuality and the Wild alongside two innovative psychologists who offer equine therapy. Another huge thrill for me was to listen to other top-notch scholars about their research and findings. But the biggest reward is to meet and hang out with all these marvelous, marvelous women.
The ASWM is a unique group. Some attendees are women interested in setting our herstory straight in the fields of anthropology, sociology, archaeology, or mythology. Others are women actively engaged in practicing women’s’ spirituality or studying it. And then there is a large group of artists who paint, photograph, draw, sculpt, or write poems of goddesses. Everyone attends to soak up research, ritual, community, and new ways of seeing the female sacred. I was happy to see that setting up the main gathering space as sacred, woman-centered, and joyful were a rose-filled Lady of Guadalupe shrine and Lydia Ruyle‘s amazing Goddess banners.
The wonderful opening keynote speech by Jean Shinoda Bolen enveloped us in a place both intimate and universal. Her explanations of how to recognize a personal calling or “living authentically and deeply in your own particular way” adroitly addressed each of us individually. She then wove in the group or universal by urging us to form circles of women. We need to create close personal circles to support our own lives and selves, together with broader circles of women acting as feminist energetic spirals of change for greater cultural consciousness.
She also spoke about two goddesses that she sees as sacred female symbols for this type of gathering: Artemis and Athena. She views Artemis representing an innate sense of sisterhood and active feminism. Athena represents the weavings of culture and scholarship.
Both of other keynote lectures were simply brilliant. Laura Fragua-Cota is immensely blessed, not just with prodigious artistic talent, but also with a keen and delicious sense of humor. Carolyn Tate’s ground-breaking, exquisite scholarship on the Olmec culture made me want to literally stand up and cheer.
I knew, just by looking at the schedule prior to arriving, that I yearned to somehow attend two or more panels simultaneously. This is a common yet deeply-felt wish by nearly all the women there. It’s almost heart-breaking to have to pick just one session each time.
The session I did choose were fascinating; each presenter offered passion, thought-provoking ideas, and inspiration through her work. The panels I attended were on: Moving Toward Wholeness; Transformations of Divinities and Devotional Practices: Desacralization and Resacralization;Issues in Matriarchal Studies; Reclaiming Women’s Sexuality and Spirituality; and Familiar and Forgotten: Reclaiming “Domesticated” Goddesses.Kudos and profound thanks to all the presenters!
My well is replenished. I am enriched and utterly moved by meeting, talking, listening, singing, sharing, and connecting with the women who were there. Thank-you all. Blessed be, Blessed Bee, Blessed be.