Saturday, March 08, 2008

International Woman's Day

Because this week end includes International Woman's Day and because I will be celebrating this event in the company of some unique Aussie blokettes, I wanted to share the biography I wrote recently about one Australian feminist whom you really ought to know.

Who Came Before -

A Midwife to the Australian Goddess Community:

thea Gaia

The midwife of the Australian goddess community is thea Gaia, living in Canberra with Gaia herself, a larger than life ceramic statue who stands in the garden holding earth's energy. Meanwhile, thea holds the feminine space in the capitol of Australian goddess circles. Ordained as Queensland's first female Congregational minister in 1959, thea gave twenty years of her professional life to the Christian women of Australia representing them in four global Christian women's conferences in the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong.

In 1979, while ministering with the women of South Australia in Adelaide, thea resigned her membership in the Congregational community because she questioned "the impact of religious systems on one's spirituality".

Thus began thea's own search for and modelling of goddess spirituality. "When asked about my spirituality today, it is enough to say I am Woman." Indeed, thea has spent the entirety of her career as a planetary citizen promoting the concept that 'Interaction is essential" and that being woman is a spiritual celebration.

On her subsequent journeys, thea has proclaimed that a goddess community excels "in witnessing the feelings of her participants, in supporting those feelings and at the same time empowering women to take their place in society". Thea is a human being with the particularity of woman. "Because I am particularly a woman, I want to live out that particularity to the fullest in such a way that connects with the particularity of other women."

Since 1979 when thea left the religious community to follow the labyrinth leading to her spirituality, she has helped to create community across the nation, indeed across the globe, where women can move through their journey with feminine support.

Aware of the synchronicity created by Gaia in her life, thea contends, "We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before." In 1982 she changed her name from Dorothy, gift of god, to Thea Rainbow, asserting she was not the gift of god, but the goddess herself. Finally, in 1994 she took the name thea Gaia, the goddess energy of earth.

In 1981 the Rainbow Circle was one of the first women's communities initiated by thea and other feminist Australians. Woman's Spirit Rising, a Canberra goddess community, created the first Womandala in which the complexities and beauty of the female was celebrated.

Women in Labour and Women in Education conferences as well as the Teaching the Light Conference in 1993 invited thea to keynote the proceedings. Myriad mental health and spiritual heritage courses raising goddess consciousness were co-taught by thea for the University systems in Australia.
Thea, the maven of the goddess, was responsible for the creation of Gaia's Woman's Space in 1992 where she contributed the concept of a woman's connective rather than a woman's collective. In 1994 the first Woman's Spirituality Conference in Australia honoured the individuality of members and in its rituals, centred around women's cycles. Thea asserted that, "I'm true to life. I am true to my life; I acknowledge that my life comes in a woman's form. I undertake to lead a life with a woman's wisdom to create spiritual paths, to affirm women, to use female symbols."

Each transition in a woman's life needs to be recognized and celebrated in symbolic ritual, ritual drumming, ritual dancing, and in Australia with southern hemisphere ritual recognitions. The Becoming Female gathering burst previous boundaries as those involved used rituals around women's cycles to mark the transitions of women in Australia. Thea was instrumental in the foundation of Sisters of Gaia in 1997 of which groups exist today in Coffs Harbour, Melbourne, and Canberra. Thea's presentation at the first goddess conference in Melbourne using dance, art, and monologue, presented a woman's journey as passage through the labyrinth.

Thea's networking is the avenue through which synchronicity begins to play a role in women's groups doing the work for the future as she urges women to remember where we come from as the process of reactivating the journey. Finally, thea reminds us, 'Life is an awesome experience; let us promote that sense of awe". Thea's involvement in goddess spirituality reminds us that the experiential is as valuable as the intellectual, that "interaction is essential as we learn to be our own authority."