As the Founder of Museum of Woman, how would you describe its purpose? We believe in the Power of Woman to restore the world. Obviously, our world is a mess in so many ways, but all the conditions that we feel distressed by –all the violence, war, poverty, abuse and drug addiction—all of that is not necessarily natural to humanity. If you look at matricentric cultures of pre-patriarchal eras of the Neolithic and Paleolithic eras– five to thirty thousand years ago– and even the few that still exist today, like the Mosuo of Tibet, you see … and this is so encouraging! … that what can also be natural for humanity is peace, love, harmony and joy. It’s like the chimpanzees and the bonobos. The chimpanzees have wars, kill each other, and are very much like a lot of humans seem to be now … but bonobos are peaceful, sweet, and gentle with each other. We can be either one. We encourage people to be bonobos! It’s also important I think to remember that only about ten percent of humanity is at war right now … but to look at the news, you’d think everyone was at war. No. Ninety percent of humanity is living in peace! Whenever I feel concerned about the state of the world, I feel so comforted remembering that truth!
Are women essentially better leaders? We believe in the Power of Woman to lead humanity back to this natural peaceful state of existence. Woman leads differently from the male … and here at The Museum we teach women and men alike the reasons why it is important for Her to lead again—to save us all, to restore the world to what it once was—and what we know it can be again. We have a very positive message!
Our visitors enjoy the interactive nature of many of the exhibits, as well as the ongoing workshops and other services we offer. There’s something new every quarter, in fact. It’s all designed to educate and enlighten the public about the actual history of Woman and Goddess veneration on this planet, a history which is largely hidden from the public, and which is not taught to young people in schools, or even in adult comparative religion courses. Judeo-Christian culture is about four to five thousand years old, far younger than Goddess veneration. The 250,000 years when pretty much all of humanity thought of god as “The Great Mother” is simply erased in from the modern mind in our culture! We think this is a terrible loss for humanity.
So there was a time when the planet was predominantly female-ruled? If you google “timeline of religion,” you will see countless timelines that all begin at the earliest, perhaps, about six thousand years ago. There’s a small, palm-sized statue of a female found in the Golan Heights in the 80’s … it’s at least 250,000 years old, and some experts say even older … it’s called the Acheulian Goddess … and it proves that Goddess veneration was happening on this planet a lot earlier, for a lot longer than all the later male-centric religions, the Abrahamic religions of a male god. Based on the archaeological record of hundreds of thousands of Goddess statues from the Neo and Paleolithic, Goddess is clearly the “mother” and “root” of all later—much later—male-centric religions. But you don’t hear about her … and we say this is erasure, and it has done untold damage to the spirit of women and equally, in different ways, to the spirit of men as well. Teaching the public, especially young people, the real history of humanity can help bring self-esteem back to women, help all men see women in a different, more respectful for many of them, way … and maybe just change everything about the way we live together on this planet!
What kind of workshops and services do you offer? We have many diverse programs—our once a month Sunday spiritual circle, called “Source,” is the time we come together to celebrate Mother Earth and all Her creation. We frequently have great guest speakers that bring an uplifting message. Our theme always follows the seasons of the year, for each season has its own set of beauties, lessons, mysteries and gifts.
We host a bimonthly meeting of the great Joseph Campbell Foundation Mythological Roundtable for Orange County, where guest speakers come from all over the world to educate and inspire us in history, mythology and human potential issues.
We have a great Spirit Faire several times of year where the wonderful Frances Pullin organizes readers and healers in a day-long event for the public. Related to that, we make available our space every Friday for readers, women and men, to set up their own table and offer readings to the public and see their clients. We ask just ten percent of whatever they take in. If they make nothing, they pay nothing. And they get a beautiful, peaceful, supportive environment in which to do their important work.
What about the now-famous Goddess Temple? The Goddess Temple of Orange County meets at The Museum of Woman. It’s a woman-only group that also offers Sunday Goddess Services as well as The Queen Teachings, a set of original teachings about The Four Powers of Woman©, the Maiden, the Mother, the Queen—the most denied and denigrated power of Woman—and the Wisewoman Elder, which many call “The Crone.”
Groups like the Goddess Temple can book the Museum and create whatever events they like, but The Museum-sponsored events are always open to all. One of our most popular and well-attended events near Christmas is our annual “Mother Mary Peace Supper,” where families and friends gather to eat quietly a ritual meal, in peace and serenity. To have a feeling that is evocative of an ancient time, we create a low, long, candlelit table –it’s just so beautiful—down the middle of the Sanctuary and pile it high with simple, delicious, Middle Eastern foods that Jesus and Mary would have eaten in their time. Many describe this as their favorite event of the year.
You’re also an activist for important causes. Yes, every few months, The Museum organizes and leads public marches for peace, which all are welcome to join. We do these often at The Spectrum, where our group of 50 to 100 women, men and children will silently and slowly walk the length of the outdoor mall. Of course, with my long history of organizing public marches, to keep everybody safe, I always arrange in advance an agreement with Irvine PD and mall security … it’s important that everything remain peaceful and protected. I don’t permit any conflict at my events. We are about peace! This year in March we shall march on International Women’s Day, March 8th at the Spectrum in the evening. Sometimes men are not sure if they are welcome or not … all good-hearted men are always welcome to all Museum-sponsored events, and this is one of them. We hope they come and show their support by marching, too.
Frequently, we have special presentations to educate and enlighten the public about various issues of concern. Recently, we hosted a fantastic fundraiser evening for the Standing Rock Community, where Grandfather Jumping Buffalo, the sixth-generation son of Sitting Bull and a leader at the ongoing Standing Rock protest site (protesting the oil pipeline going through their indigenous lands), danced in full, magnificent, traditional regalia which weighed over a hundred pounds. It was amazing!
We raised thousands of dollars to donate to Standing Rock and keep the awareness alive. We raised enough money to purchase all the firewood and heating supplies to keep them warm through the freezing Dakota winter. Grandfather Jumping Buffalo gifted our museum with the invaluable Standing Rock White Elk Ceremonial Dance Dress, created by his grandmother, Annie Sharpfish. He asked us to put the sacred family heirloom on exhibit to continue awareness of his tribe’s situation. We are so proud of this exhibit … the dress is on display in the Indigenous People Exhibit in the north corner of the Main Gallery.
We also have a wonderful, deep relationship with the Acjachemen People, the original people of what is now called Orange County, and one of their important leaders, Rev. Adelia Sandoval, an incredible wisewoman. No ceremony is held at this space without asking their permission in the Spirit World to do so. This is simply “good manners” in the indigenous world.
Rev. Adelia comes to the Museum and leads us in honoring the ancient Acjachemen ancestresses in sacred ceremony on the Sunday before Columbus Day, which we do not celebrate, but rather which we call “Honoring Indigenous Peoples” Day. We began doing this fourteen years ago, and now cities across America are following suit, and are making the decision to no longer formally recognize Columbus Day as a holiday.
We also host many cultural groups such as ethnic cultural dancers, poetry readings, art shows, feminist gatherings, and more. We really welcome people to contact us to hold their cultural event here. We’re all about celebrating all the amazing cultures of humanity!
Each November, our Minister Rev. Jan Storm leads a “Grief Release” Sunday afternoon series for people who are needing and wanting to process grief, past or present. Many attendees return year after year, as the grief is processed bit by bit. One woman told me afterwards “I feel ten pounds lighter every time!” I’m thinking maybe we should promote this as a new diet program …
What other ceremonies do you hold here? The Museum is a place for people to hold their personal ceremonies of birthday, marriage, funerals, and baby and animal blessings. We even have a beautiful divorce ceremony for those who wish to handle this life event in a sacred, whole and honoring way for all parties. People always have a big deal when they get married, but getting a divorce is just as important a life transition … and nobody ever acknowledges that … and, to be emotionally healthy, they should! We have available eight trained ministers, priestesses and pastors who officiate and help people create their personalized and meaningful ceremonies.
As the Presiding Priestess of the Goddess Temple, a lot of people would like to know what you think it means to be feminist today. Well, the dictionary defines “feminism” as “the theory of the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” And we know that commonly it has come to also mean: “the work of seeking the rights of women in society.” Feminism today is in a state of change and flux, so if you ask a hundred people what it means to be a feminist, I’m sure you’ll get a hundred different answers.
Here at the Museum of Woman, we take it to mean the spirit of honoring Woman as the Mother, or Lifebringer and supporting Her to do that work which only She can do for all humanity, as well as honoring Her other aspects of Maiden (the free spirit, wild, and “virgin,” which, in ancient thinking, had nothing to do with sex, but meant “whole unto oneself, needing no one else for completion”), Queen (leader of family and humanity) and Wisewoman (the library of wisdom for humanity)…
You know, it’s funny—we’ve been here now in Irvine at the same location for fifteen years … but still a lot of people don’t know about us … and for those who do, some have some misconceptions … such as “they hate men” and other nonsense. Scott, thanks so much for giving us a chance to tell the truth about what’s happening here … and I look forward to sharing with you in “Part Two” in the next issue what we really think of men … why we think the paradigm of a solely male god harms everybody … and lots more. We love Radiance Magazine … such a wonderful publication for our community!