Quick Note: Exploring the Divine Feminine in Missouri

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The Columbia Daily Tribune covers a just-opened University of Missouri’s Museum of Art and Archeology exhibit entitled “The Sacred Feminine: Prehistory to Post-Modernity”. The show not only looks at art that reflects women’s role in religion, but curator Benton Kidd has also organized a national symposium centered on themes from the exhibition.

“To fully explore both tensions and universalities, Kidd has collaborated with other parts of the university to move observers past a simply visceral, visual experience and stimulate community conversation. The most ambitious and prominent of these efforts will come at a national symposium on Oct. 16 and 17. Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, author and Georgetown University professor, will be the keynote speaker. Apostolos-Cappadona has been interviewed on television and in documentaries, discussing her take on the books of “The DaVinci Code” author Dan Brown. The event will incorporate both distinguished local scholars — MU Professors Robert Baum and Kristin Schwain — and experts from other major universities, speaking on topics almost as wide-ranging as the exhibit itself — everything from African female prophets to the cult of virgin martyrs, Cleopatra’s divinity to the role of females in Tantric sex rituals.”

Perhaps inspired by Kidd’s efforts to build such a far-reaching conversation concerning the sacred feminine, the Columbia Daily Tribune sent out questionnaires concerning gender and religion to area women. The first two respondents were artist Gennie Pfannenstiel, who is giving talks at the exhibit and holding a showing of her own work exploring the sacred feminine at a local gallery, and Taz Chance, a member of the local Wiccan church and nature preserve Ozark Avalon. The contrasting answers between an artist who feels the “sacred feminine is a divine source of knowing the feminine aspect of creation and existence”, and an explicitly Pagan goddess-worshipper are fascinating.

Pfannenstiel: Knowing that we are all children of our Earthmother makes me more compassionate and allows me to see more clearly the importance of my path for serving others, especially children — a Madonna role. My spirituality grounds me by revealing to me my true self so that I can stand tall and strong as a pillar, Isis-like. I am Grandmother Spider spinning my web of life.

Chance: Because I worship an Earth-centered religion I find that I am more connected to the ideals of the sacred feminine than those women who are in the more traditional spiritual roles. I am allowed to openly recognize my connection to the Goddess without and the Goddess within.

I assume that these respondents are merely the first to be profiled in the paper, and that more will be run as questionnaires trickle in during the exhibition’s run. Kudos to the Columbia Daily Tribune for going the extra mile in seeking out community voices for this piece, and including a Pagan perspective right off the bat. As for the exhibition and forthcoming symposium, they both sound fascinating, and will no doubt be a special treat for those living in or near Columbia, Missouri.