Rewriting Religion: the radical poetry of Aemilia Bassano Lanier by Mary Sharratt

This illustrates how recently in history English speaking women have gained the right to openly display their talents, how hard won these gains have been. These rights can just be as easily be lost unless we remain vigilant.


Aemilia Bassano Lanier (also spelled Lanyer) is the heroine of my new novel The Dark Lady’s Mask.  Born in 1569, she was the highly educated daughter of an Italian court musician—a man thought to have been a Marrano, a secret Jew living under the guise of a Christian convert. She may have also been the mysterious, musical Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, although most academic scholars dispute this. What we do know for a fact and what really matters is that she was the first woman in England to pursue a career as a published poet.

In Italy women such as Isabella Andreini published plays and poetry on a wide variety of secular subjects, but in England Lanier effectively had only one option—to write devotional Protestant verse. Her English literary predecessors, Anne Locke and Mary Sidney, wrote poetic meditations on the Psalms.

But Lanier turned this…

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Lucy Pick’s Pilgrimage by Mary Sharratt

I will add this to my list of must reads.

mary sharrattIn medieval Europe, religious devotion provided an alternate narrative for women’s lives in a male-dominated culture. Defiant women who stood up for themselves in the face of rape, incest, and murder were hailed as virgin martyrs. Religious vocations, such as becoming a nun or a beguine, provided a viable and esteemed alternative to forced marriage.

Even women who were married with children could escape their domestic entanglements and conjugal duties by taking an oath of celibacy as 15th century English mystic Margery Kempe did, leaving behind her husband and 14 children to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Rome, and Jerusalem. Her Book of Margery Kempe, the tale of her travels, reads like a kind of late medieval Eat, Pray, Love and is the first autobiography written in the English language.

Though it might seem surprising to us today, women of the European Middle Ages possessed more…

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Relaxing Into an All-Encompassing World by Oxana Poberejnaia

I found the part about the history and current culture of the women of Ukraine and big surprise. Who knew.

oxanaI believe that as feminists what we are striving towards is not just equality between women and men, although this aspect is crucial. Feminism has contributed to developing of such disciplines and practices as deconstruction, environmentalism, LGBT rights, and animal rights.

Feminism walks in step with all the movements for more justice and freedom in the same way as patriarchy goes along with capitalism, exploitation and environmental degradation.

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Inanna’s Autumn Gift: Fearless Spirituality by Carolyn Lee Boyd

Take the time to read all the way, especially the last few paragraphs.

Carolyn Lee BoydFall, the time of the Day of the Dead and All Souls Day, is a perfect season for us to contemplate “fearless spirituality” as we face our most essential fear, that of death. Though humans have celebrated these days for millennia, fear with a religious veneer pervades our culture, whether in hate towards women and the LGBTQ community, lies that demonize followers of other religions, terror of eternal punishment and spiritual unworthiness, and more.

When I seek guidance for cultivating spiritual fearlessness, I look to ancient Sumer’s Inanna and her willing descent into death. Her story cycle begins in fear of the Sky and Air gods and her desire to destroy her huluppu-tree, Earth’s first life. Gilgamesh hacks it apart to rid it of a serpent, a bird, and Lilith. The tree’s remains are made into Inanna’s throne and bed. In the next story she takes all the divine powers…

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