is the archived salon instructions page for the tenth and final
Season 2006/7 Goddess Salon: Deena Metzger
Dear friends, Winter is here, and we are sure all of you are as
busy with end of year work, family celebrations and holidays as
we are. So we have decided to combine our December/January salons
into one Winter Season Salon, spanning Winter Solstice and January.
We also want to gently hint that "Signs Out of Time"
and the accompanying interviews make great holiday gifts, and,
as always, can be ordered from us at www.belili.org. Your support
will help us continue to make movies!
At this time of shorter days and longer nights, reflection and
meditation, celebration of the Yule with family and friends, and
a focus on the rebirth of the sun, Belili Productions is honored
and thrilled to have Deena Metzger for the Winter Season Salon!
Donna and Starhawk loved Deena’s interview perhaps the best
of any we did for the film. But her quality of thought and voice
was so unique, we found it hard to weave into the mix of Signs.
However, we feel it’s one of the strongest stand-alone interviews,
and one of our inspirations for making them available separately
in our "Behind the Screen" series. To order Deena's
complete interview visit
our Belili order page.
For the Winter salon, you should start by reading Deena's
updated bio (and book ordering information) which is posted on
Note that Deena has monitored the message board/forum. The board
can be accessed at www.forums.belili.org/tool/mb/belili
Marija Gimbutas’ work was instrumental in ushering new ways
of thinking that might surprise Marija if she were among us now.
Her pioneering work in recognizing the peaceful depths and significance
of matriarchal as opposed to patriarchal societies, led also to
a re-examination and appreciation for the sacred at the core of
these cultures. Anthropology, itself, has in recent years had
to recognize that the sacred is the sacred, that is, it is real,
the spirits exist and shamanic figures can mediate them for the
sake of healing, peacemaking and wisdom. We understand now that
the older, indigenous cultures knew something of the other world
and we, the supposed developed cultures, have been grievously
diminished by what we have forgotten, lost and denigrated.
I, myself, never thought to recreate the Eleusinian Mysteries.
I had written a play, Dreams Against the State that was based
upon the Mysteries. After the play was written, I turned to Steve
Kent, the director/dramaturge and heard myself saying, “She
wants her Mysteries done.” We were both stunned. Not ones
to ignore the injunctions of spirit, we set upon discovering what
this might mean. A year later we led a group to Greece and Marija
joined us for a few days. When I met Marija, I had been teaching
feminist literature and theory at California Institute for the
Arts and had started the Writing Program at the Woman’s
Building and the Feminist Studio Workshop. I was no stranger to
the idea of woman’s culture and Marija and I had much to
say to each other about our work.
Enacting the Mysteries was only one of the events that led me
to understand the true presence of the spirits and to learn the
ways of serving them. The profound differences between the ways
the religious life and the spiritual life have been practiced
in recent years were becoming obvious. Increasingly, secular concerns,
dogma and power, seek to dominate and control our public life
in the name of religion, while those who are spiritually inclined
seem more likely to be true seekers, living lives of integrity.
In these times when religious conflict is at the heart of the
wars that are devastating the earth, the natural world and the
people, it is both solace and sense to follow a spiritual path
as it presents itself.
Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice
of Healing was a response to September 11, 2001. I was in
Zimbabwe, doing healing ritual work at Great Zimbabwe, the great
ruin of the Shona Empire. Several laborers were involved in restoration,
working on a tower with a blackened severed crown. Later those
of us who had gathered including a Shona nganga or medicine man
were astonished to learn that planes had attacked the World Trade
towers. Because of where we were and the work we were doing, because
of the esoteric meanings of ‘the Tower’, because of
the resonance between the fall of the Shona Empire and what seems
like the fall of western empires, I began to understand our dire
circumstances as a world community and wrote the book to address
these. At a time when it was dangerous to speak out against the
current administration and its horrific pursuit of war and repression,
I felt it was essential to speak out. I followed my long history
of bearing witness while searching for vision and healing. The
old ways, indigenous wisdom, the intelligence and participation
of the animals, ritual and magical traditions devoted to the sacred
earth showed themselves to be expedient paths that allow for global
hope and possibility.
Of course, it was would have been easier for Marija had she backed
off from her astonishing conclusions about matriarchy and culture,
but she was not capable of betraying the past that had revealed
itself to her. I felt the same way after September 11th and continue
to feel that it is the writer’s task to speak the truth
of what she sees and what is revealed to her.
The cutting edges for me today are the intelligence of the natural
world, the animals and the elementals, the vision of indigenous
wisdom, the reality of the spirits and the spiritual universe.
Currently, working with an NGO, everyday Gandhis, in Liberia and
other West African countries, I am witness to the ways in which
dreams, shamans, medicine people, visions, indigenous wisdom are
guiding peacebuilding, healing and restoration activities. I see
the same in the healing communities that I and others have formed
called Daré, after the Shona word, meaning Council. How
often we are dazzled and brought to our knees there in gratitude
for the intervention of the spirit world on behalf of healing
in all its forms.
Doors: A Fiction for Jazz Horn is a book that spirit
sent. That is, it seems to have been co-written after his death
with the Argentinean writer, El Mago, himself, Julio Cortázar.
The question the book poses is about the reality of the spirit
world and whether it is possible to communicate from Here to Over
the gods of the crossroads do not distinguish between literature
and life, it’s not only that something happens and the writer
pounces on it immediately, making material from everything she/he
sees so that no one is safe from her/his appetite for experience,
but the movement is in all directions at once, what is written
affects the living and the dead as much as the living and the
dead plop themselves down in the living room of the novel and
put their feet up on the furniture"
--from Stephanie Peschke’s review of Doors for
the Topanga Messenger, 2-24-05.
Concerned that this collaboration that is the subject of the book
might be an instance of the Judeo-Christian prohibition against
raising of the dead, the book has at its center a piece on the Witch
of Endor. Whether the book is or is not a true event in the spirit
world is up to the reader, but the novel could only come to be as
it is in the world that Marija contributed to with the force of
her research, great intelligence and wisdom.
Ultimately, what connected me and Marija was our recognition of
the spiritual truths that are the foundation of the ancient world
and our common belief that it is essential to bring these ways of
knowing, these visions, forwarded into contemporary life.
You would enjoy my essay titled Birth and Rebirth in the Eleusinian
Mysteries. To read the essay online, visit www.deenametzger.com/
then click on the "Selected Writing" link -- it's the
essay at the bottom of the list.
Saloniks may want to review Mara Keller’s thoughts on the
Eleusinian Mysteries from the October 2006 salon as well -- visit
archived Oct. Salon page.
Did you find any aspect of watching or discussing "Signs Out
of Time" and the "Behind the Screen" interviews a
healing act? If so, how has it helped your healing journey?
Deena talks about the connections between mythology and war. What
are some of the myths that support and encourage warfare? Take one
of them, and imagine how it would change in a Godess-centered, peace-focused
RITUAL / CREATIVE PLAY from Deena
At times in our lives, my husband, Michael Ortiz Hill, and I have
played a game of beauty. Out on the land, we would gather small
stones and begin to order them into tiny worlds, niches, labyrinths,
spirals and circles, centers and perimeters, creatures, inhabitants,
beings in exact and unexpected relationship to each other. Each
of us, moving in turn, tried to find the coherence that is the realm
of beauty. Each gesture modified the original conception and required
the other to meet the emerging configuration that could not, ever,
be predicted. Sometimes inattention, an awkward gesture, the mere
brush of a sleeve, impatience, irritation, brought everything tumbling
down, one stone toppling another, until utter disorder, chaos, inalterable
destruction followed. Sometimes a twig, a blossom or a seed through
the exquisite rightness of its placement so exactly and unexpectedly
completed the work that we thought we had glimpsed the mystery of
Sit with others in a place of small stones that you have gathered.
Light a candle to remember the light of creation. Begin to create
a little world together. Remember that creation is the work of all.
If any one of us takes it on alone, it will become skewed.
Seek the beauty that comes from the joint vision. Praise the
light and beauty.
[Sometimes Drunken] Topanga Tomato Soup
Fresh tomatoes, chosen for taste, not genetically altered, preferably
from your garden, your grandmother’s garden or the organic
Canned tomatoes, whole or crushed.
A jar of Clamato or Spicy V8 juice or tomato juice
Several cloves of garlic
A few stalks of celery
A green pepper
1 green Ortega chile
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
Fresh or dry basil
Black lumpfish or caviar
Chopped green onions, chives, or cilantro
Aquavit, Vodka or Tequila
To start with make a great tomato soup. Here’s one way to
go about it: chop onions, 3-4 garlic cloves, green pepper, celery,
and saute in olive oil until onions are translucent. Slice and fry
a few of the tomatoes until they are liquid. Add to canned tomatoes
which you can crush by squeezing through your fist. Add juice and
/ or water for soup consistency, also the green chile and bay leaf.
Simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Add basil last two or three minutes. Put
through food blender, adding juice and / or water until of puree
consistency. Bouillon is optional for taste. Chill several hours
in refrigerator. Season to taste.
Spoon into bowls. Add a large dollop of sour cream onto which you
add a smaller dollop of lumpfish or caviar. Garnish with chopped
green onions or chives. If it pleases your palate, add a few cilantro
leaves. Or water cress. Experiment. Then, the optional pi*ece de
resistance: half a shot glass of aquavit -- more or less to taste
-- or vodka, or tequila. Perhaps a squeeze of fresh lime.
My dearest friend, anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff used to make
this soup for pot luck events. She would arrive with a shopping
bag of food and a beautiful blue Dansk soup tureen. We were always
horrified when she opened a few cans of Campbell's soup, but by
the time she added spices, lime, sour cream, caviar, and aquavit,
we thought we were in the presence of a magician. When she died,
I took over the recipe, but thought I would make the soup from scratch.
In these days when tomatoes are square instead of round, one has
to be an organic alchemist to get a soup that tastes like tomatoes.
It’s worth the effort.
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