New baby, new book; old blog


I haven’t updated this blog in about nine months.  Guess what I made since then?  A new baby!

I don’t currently have any plans to revive Reproductive Rites, but just in case there’s anybody still getting this feed and wondering what happened to me, here’s where you can find me these days:

* I wrote a book: Birth on the Labyrinth Path: Sacred Embodiment in the Childbearing Year

* I’m continuing to edit this website: Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth

* I’ve started blogging for the Bay Area Doula Project and I still occasionally blog for Good Vibes, which moved it’s blog to a new URL and sadly lost images and some formatting in the move.

So, I’m still writing about feminism, spirituality, and baby-making.  I’m just not doing it here anymore.  If you missed me, please come find me in one of my current haunts!

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What I’ve been reading

Since posting about posting I haven’t really felt much like posting.  While I figure out what that’s about, why not check out some things I’ve enjoyed reading?

  • Rough Boys on the Playground. “Finally, the other little girl with us stepped between Serena and the boy. She stopped him with her body and said in a loud, firm voice, “She asked you to stop. Please leave her alone.””
  • Because Boundaries Are A Bad Idea. “Don’t tell me that toddlers need boundaries. Boundaries are a bad metaphor, especially where young toddlers are concerned, because most things counted as boundaries would be better conceived as positive expectations.”
  • Ancestor Work. “I feel deeply connected with mothers everywhere. A million stand behind me, having birthed and raised their babies before I had my own.”
  • Mangala Gouri Puja, or how to practice as a feminist.   “Even with daycare and formula and more technology freeing up the physical labor needed to sustain life and a household, women remain the only ones who can bear children. Let me tell you, that is hard work! So all of that is to say that I fully understand that men have more freedom to explore their spiritual path than do most women.”

What have you read recently that made you stop and think?

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Contemporary Global Paganisms

Cherry Hill Seminary has announced the fall course schedule.  I’ll be teaching Contemporary Global Paganisms.  Will you join us?

Contemporary Global Paganisms
C5121Taught by: Sarah Whedon, Ph.D.
Mondays 8:00 PM ET
Open to master’s and certificate students; others may audit with permission of instructorEarns 3 unit hours for certificates
Earns 3 credit hours for degrees
Non-matriculated students earn no units/credits
This survey course will introduce students to the wide variety of Paganisms being practiced around the world. We will challenge scholarly definitions of Paganism and our own personal ones by attempting to trace common threads between many disparate traditions. Students will familiarize themselves with both popular and scholarly descriptions of contemporary Paganisms, then explore the Internet and their local communities to gain first-hand experience with traditions not their own. In these encounters, we will deal with issues of cultural appropriation versus appropriate cultural borrowing and consider Paganism’s position as a consciously (re)constructed, combinative religious path. A final project will allow students to synthesize their knowledge in a comparison of Paganisms that supports the unique thrust of their ministerial paths.Required for all Master’s degree programs.Please note that the required Modern Paganism book can take several weeks to arrive! If unavailable from Fields Books or Amazon, it can be ordered from the publisher at in print or in an e-book edition. Non-US students, contact the instructor if you have difficulty ordering this book.Required TextsAdler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Penguin, 2006 revised & updated edition. ISBN 143038192.

Strmiska, Michael, ed. Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (Religion in Contemporary Cultures). ABC-CLIO, 2005. ISBN 1851096086

An academic Pagan Studies book of the student’s choice, to be chosen after the semester begins.
Order Texts   Register Now

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Who am I when I’m on the Internet?

I started this post more than a month ago, when I’d just read both that blogger A Gay Girl In Damascus was kidnapped and also that maybe she doesn’t even exist.   I’d already been thinking a lot about identity presentation on the Internet.

At that point the news wasn’t out yet that in fact the supposed Gay Girl in Damascus was a straight guy from the U.S., but when that news broke the corners of the Internet I watch had a lot to say about it, and then dropped it as quickly as any other Internet story.  But I’m still thinking about it.

I’ve written before about this blog as a space where I’ve experimented with increasing honesty and integrity about myself and my identity. From this platform I’ve jumped off to additional public expressions of my identity, my interests, and my ideas. I’m blogging for GoodVibes. I started Pagan Families.

My real name is attached to all of this, not one of the handful of Internet handles I’ve made up over the years when they were more common than using real names. Not a pseudonym like some of the people I’m interviewing for GoodVibes use to protect their personal lives from their work lives.

In 1999 Starhawk (whose work I taught a course on earlier this summer) wrote,

At twenty-eight, I didn’t mind being a rebel. The need for secrecy around Witchcraft just added to its charm. But at forty-eight, as I see the children grow up around us, I find the necessity for fear and secrecy around our tradition intolerable.

I guess I’m with her on this.  So there you go: I didn’t get around to coming out on Pagan Coming Out Day, but in case it’s not abundantly obvious, I’m a Pagan. PhD. Mom.  Who’s interested in food and sexuality and feminism and birth.  And I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of in that combination, but there are a lot of people out there who would wildly disagree.

I recently watched An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube (on YouTube!). It’s nearly an hour long and it’s from 2008 which in Internet years make it pretty elderly, but I really enjoyed it. Michael Wesch discusses the culture of YouTube, including the ways in which people cultivate the presentation of their identities, real or assumed.

More recently, many of my closest friends and I were privileged to be among the first to join the field trial of Google+, and so many of us engaged in a new round of thinking and talking about identity presentation on the Internet.  Newer sites like Google+ encourage the use of real names, but some people still considered using their old handles.  Google+ offers a flexible “circles” system that let’s you filter how you post content, because maybe what you want to publish about yourself for your grandmother is different than what you want to publish for your boss or your babysitter or your best friend.

Who are you on the Internet?  Do you use more than one name?  Do you use different social networks for different parts of your life?  When we’re all encouraged to craft ourselves as media presentations available for consumption, is it really such a big deal if we present ourselves how we wish we were, rather than how we really are (whatever that means)?

In Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein wrote:

Online, I carefully consider how any comments or photos I post will shape the persona I have cultivated; offline, I have caught myself processing my experience as it occurs, packaging life as I live it.  As I loll in the front yard with Daisy or stand in line at the supermarket or read in bed, part of my consciousness splits off, viewing the scene from the outside and imagining how to distill it into a status update or a Tweet.  (166)

In a few days I’ll be boarding a plane with my toddler and we’ll be off for a two week vacation in Boston – and I’ve been debating whether to bring my computer.  I’ll have my smart phone, but without my computer I’m unlikely to blog.  Since Bridget doesn’t really seem to understand phone conversations, and the computer will allow her to video chat with her Dad, I think that means I’ll be taking it.  But who would I be without it?  Offline?  Remember?  That place where we used to live our whole lives?

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One year old

It’s Reproductive Rites’ first birthday!

Since I wrote my first post I’ve learned a lot about blogging, about myself, and about the topics I write on.  Reproductive Rites has connected me with some very cool people.  Most recently, writing this blog gave me the courage to start Pagan Families.

Thank you to my readers, whether you’ve been here rooting for me from day one because the best friend contract says you have to, or you found me sometime in the last year and liked what you saw.

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Because we think it’s okay for anybody to love

We walked in the San Francisco Pride parade this weekend.  Weeks ago we checked out A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea at one of our weekly library visits, and ever since Bridget has called all parades Pig Parade.  She doesn’t seem disappointed that they never have any pigs, though.

After trying out a few toddler-sized explanations of why we were walking in this particular parade, I settled on this: We’re in this parade because we think it’s okay for anybody to love anybody else.  When she gets older we can add more explanation, like how it’s possible that anyone would disagree.

If you watch this video very carefully you can see me in a red hat, walking at the far side of the street starting around 10 seconds.  Bridget’s in the baby carrier and I think she’s actually nursing! (Bridget’s dad is more difficult to spot, but he’s there.)

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San Francisco summer

I was warned not to expect summer weather in San Francisco this time of year, but at least last week we did have some summer here.

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Breastfeeding locavore

A few weeks ago Bridget happened to be nursing as we were arriving at the Free Farm Stand* which sets up right outside our community garden.  I don’t remember what the volunteer who greeted us said about her nursing, but I know I replied without giving it much thought, “That’s the most local food of all!”

Since then I’ve been giving it more thought.  Is breastfeeding a locavore choice?

La Vida Locavore seems to think it is.  Assuming that the person who is lactating is eating a locavore diet, breastfeeding is certainly consistent with making food choices that reduce the consumption of resources in pursuit of social, economic, and environmental sustainability, .

On the other hand, I didn’t make the choice to breastfeed because I try to eat locally.  I chose to breastfeed because I thought it was the healthiest way to feed and nurture my baby.

I’m curious what you think.  Is breastfeeding locavorism or is it silly to call it that?

*I took this week’s Free Farm Stand blog pix with my phone, so yes, that’s Bridget checking out the carrots.

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Niki’s Own Ashram

You should go right now and bookmark Niki Whiting’s new blog My Own Ashram, where she’ll be documenting a year of diving deeply into four consecutive spiritual paths, yoga, Feri, Christianity, and place.  Her first post just went up today, and I’m sure the rest will be thought-provoking and inspiring.

Niki is a mother and a student of theology who wrote a guest post here at Reproductive Rites about parenting and privilege.  If that’s not enough she’s also a contributing editor at Pagan Families, with a new post up today about the perils and pleasures of naming babies.  I wish her all the best with her new project and plan to be reading along.

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Feminist Collections

My contributor’s copy of the winter 2011 Feminist Collections has arrived in the mail.  I’m quite pleased that its “Round-Up 4: FaceBook, Podcasts & Twitter in Women’s Studies” includes my short essay on using FaceBook in the women’s studies classroom. I really wanted a way to share the success of an assignment I’d developed and then Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women’s Studies Resources gave me a forum.  If you teach or research in women’s studies it’s worth checking out this publication from the Women’s Studies Librarian’s Office at the University of Wisconsin, filled with book reviews and information about various women’s studies media.

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