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Here is the archived salon instructions page for April 2006, the third month:

Our featured guest for April is Miriam Robbins Dexter. Dexter carries on Marija’s tradition of scholarship, with an impressive list of publications (see her bio) including her completion of Marija’s last book, The Living Goddess, our suggested reading for this month. You can order it from the independent Powells Books at http://www.powells.com/partner/30381/biblio/0520229150 .
Also, we have a downloadable PDF of an interview done with Miriam in April 2006, by Riyana for Belili.
Dexter now teaches at UCLA and at Antioch University in LA. Her complete interview is available as part of our "Behind the Screen" series and is available from Belili at our order page. -- Starhawk

Miriam Robbins Dexter


“Civilization” is most often defined, in archaeology and anthropology, as a system with chieftains and hierarchical stratification. How does Dexter define civilization? How would you define it?

The story goes that someone once asked Gandhi what he thought of Western Civilzation. He said, “I think it would be a good idea!” What do you think he had in mind as to ‘civilization’? What would it mean if we defined ourselves by his definition, or Marija’s?
Dexter talks about the context in which artifacts are found. What are some of the religious or spiritual artifacts in your home? Your childhood home? Where would they have been found by excavating archaeologists? How were they used?

In your home, or your childhood home, were there artifacts with spiritual and religious significance that are similar to others found in churches, synagogues or mosques? For example, crosses or menorahs? Are they used differently in those different contexts?

Dexter talks about many small shrines being found among other buildings. What do you think that means about how religion and ordinary life were integrated? Compare this to the variety of religious buildings we have today—from storefront churches to grand cathedrals.

If you were to build a shrine or temple that reflected your beliefs, what would it look like?

"What is Old Europe? What is the Old European concept of the life cycle?"

And further -- for those studying to get a sense of context of Marija's work, I recommend the Kurgan Culture (Dexter, Miriam Robbins and Karlene Jones-Bley, eds., 997, The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe: Selected articles from 1952 to 1993, by Marija Gimbutas. Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man, (Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph No. 18) Marija spent several decades studying the archaeological remains of the patriarchal Indo-Europeans, until she became more interested in the peoples of Neolithic Europe (whom the Indo-Europeans invaded/encroached upon beginning 4400 BCE) than the Indo-Europeans themselves. Questions: "Who were the Indo-Europeans?" "What kinds of artifacts did they have (weapons, etc.)? What kind of languages or dialects did they speak? What was the nature of their religion? How was it different from Old European religion?"

Suggested Ritual:

Beforehand, make up some salt dough:
(Don’t confuse this with the monthly recipe, it’s not for eating!)
1 part salt
1 part white flour
1/3 part oil
Color batches with food coloring if desired.
(this also makes great Play Dough for children!)

At the gathering, each participant should take a piece of dough. Hold it in your hands, close your eyes, and breathe deep.

Think about the ancestors, all those women and men who have shaped pots and sculpted clay and made art to reflect their beliefs. Know that all of us have ancestors who were artists and sculptors. Honor those ancestors, and thank them for the gifts of life and beauty that have come down to us.

As you breathe, imagine that one of those ancestors is coming close to you. She is standing behind you. Her hands hover over yours, touch yours. Now they merge with your hands, and guide them.

Let your hands begin to shape the clay. Think about what is sacred to you, what you most care about and love, what nourishes your soul. Don’t worry about making an object, or judging your efforts, just let your hands play with the clay.

You might open your eyes, and take some time to share your sculptures. Or you might want to continue to play with the dough during your discussion time, and then share.
Whichever you do, be sure, at the end, to take a moment, close your eyes, and thank your ancestor. Feel her hands withdrawing from yours, letting them be just your own hands again, but perhaps with a touch of skill or inspiration lingering. Say thank you, and goodbye.

If you wish, you can bake your objects in a 250 degree oven until they harden. Or you can return them to the batch of dough, or leave them outside to go back to the elements.

Miriam Robbins Dexter


In a heavy aluminum or cast iron pan (12 inch diameter by 6-8 inches deep) heat over moderate flame the sugar and evaporated milk. If your stove has 2 different size of burners, use the small one at high heat; if not use medium heat. Bring the mixture to a full, but slow boil. Start a timer and immediately reduce the flame to just enough to sustain a very slow boil; you want to be aware of a few bubbles (very slow boil). Stir occasionally and time the process to 6 minutes, no more and no less. This timed part at low temperature is to cause the sugar to truly go into solution and is the most critical part of the process to assure creamy, non crystalline fudge. At the end of the 6 minutes turn off the flame. Add to the mixture: the chocolate bits, the marshmallows, and the soft margarine. Keep the clock running. It is the thermal inertia of the heavy pan and the hot sugar syrup that will provide the heat to melt the rest of the ingredients! Stir this mixture so as to melt all of the ingredients together (about 2 1/2 minutes max). Stir in the walnuts, and then add the vanilla and stir it in.

A variation of the above is to hold out a cup of marshmallows and add them later with the walnuts. The marshmallows added at this time won't quite melt and a rocky road is created. Pour the mixture into (use spatula) a greased (we use "PAM") 9" x 13" Pyrex dish to a level of 1" deep. You want the time from initial boil to completed process to not exceed 9 minutes. Since 6 minutes are used in the cooking of the product, all of the stirring and mixing and dispensing must take place in less than 3 minutes total. This means working quickly during the mixing cycle.

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