#feminism, black feminism, black feminist history, feminism, feminist agendas of the 1970s, feminist studies, feminist theory, lgbtq, politics, Uncategorized, women, women and gender studies

Article Review: Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement” (1977)

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(Photo Credits: https://combaheerivercollective.weebly.com/)

This article is produced by a group of black feminist  in the mid-70s. They outline four major topics that they provide as their mission statement. These topics included: “the genesis of contemporary black feminism,”“ specific province of our politics,” organization and unity problems and a “brief herstory of our collective,” and  “Black feminist issues and practice” (271-280). These topics provided a framework for this group ,of black feminist, to articulate their feminist agenda. The Combahee River Collective highlighted their aims in hopes of creating a strong group and powerful objectives that would translate to society at large. If you are interested in feminism, women, and black feminist power you need to check this article out!

10/10

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american feminist literature, american literature, herstory, history, Inspiration, literature, short story, women

Book Review: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892),Pp. 24.

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A compelling and fascinating short story, Charlotte Gilman, takes the reader on an intense journey through the struggles of women’s autonomy over their minds and bodies. Set in Gilman’s historical moment this short story discusses the damaging consequences of women being treated secondary to their male counterparts. Gilman’s semi-autobiographical narrative discusses her experiences with depression, a controlling husband, lack of autonomy, and finally liberation.  Gilman tell’s a story of a woman who is given no name. This no name woman is experiencing something that she cant quite put her finger on. Her doctor, who is also her husband, tells her she is just acting “foolish” and “hysterical.” He prescribes her rest for three months in hopes of helping her feel more “normal.” This reference Gilman makes to the historical reality of how  women’s mental health was treated in the nineteenth-century is spot on. Gilman is pushing back at Silas Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure” approach that was prescribed to women who were acting “foolish” or “hysterical” in the 1800s.

Gilman narrates the no name woman resting, as prescribed, but in turn going stir crazy.  All the while, her husband continues to dismiss her and insists on her resting.  The woman with no name is left to secretly write wishes and desires down on paper.  If her husband found her writing it would be going against his prescribed rest.  Being locked up in her room the woman with no name becomes obsessed with the room—specifically the yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper becomes a simile for society. 

In a bizarre turn, the woman with no name starts to sees a woman inside the wallpaper.

Gilman allows her protagonist to discusses this woman she sees in the wallpaper as her true desire. A desire for friendship, companionship, and even a career.  By the end of the story she is angry and tired, maybe even “sicker” than before all the “rest” she was prescribed.  In a final act of rebellion, the woman with no name, pulls the wallpaper almost completely off the walls and liberates the woman behind the wallpaper. She liberates herself.

Finally, this texts becomes a stand in for discussing issues Gilman wants to illuminate in  1892. This short story becomes the platform to do just that. The author ultimately brings up topics that were quite racy for the times such as: women’s equality, mental health issues, female heath, women’s desires and career opportunities.  Gilman also pushes back on narratives that relegated women to “hysterical” beings and discusses the true nature of gender oppression in a toxic masculine society.  This is a must read for historians. I would also recommend this to anyone who is interested in a fascinating short read that examines the past and the legacy of male oppression and women’s liberation. 

10/10

#magick, guide, herstory, how-to, Inspiration, Instructional, magick, religious studies, Spiritual Literature, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft, women

Book Review: Cassandra Larsen, Wicca: A Beginner’s Guide to Witchcraft, Spells, Rituals, and Magick (2015), Pp. 88.

 

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Wicca: A Beginner’s Guide to Witchcraft, Spells, Rituals, and Magick (Simple Witchcraft Series Book 1)

For a beginner, excited by the possibility of magic and ritual, this is a wonderful booklet to start with! Cassandra Larsen’s short booklet is more of a hands-on manual. It guides the reader in understanding the key concepts that traditional Wiccan spirituality practice. The booklet becomes interactive in nature by inviting the reader to begin on a journey of practicing Wicca for themselves. Larsen notes, “This guide will teach you the basics of Wiccan beliefs, along with meditation and visualization exercises designed to open your mind and expand your consciousness” (5). The author is able to accomplish this by breaking the book down by each chapter. Even though this a short booklet it is productive that there are chapters. The organization helps the reader to enjoy and also start to practice this new spiritual reality. Another productive feature of this booklet is that each chapter builds on each other. What is really nice is Larsen doesn’t assume you know anything, she is your guide, and that is what makes this booklet all the more enjoyable.

The first chapter is dedicated to introducing you to key concepts and quickly moves into the second chapter. Chapter two creates space for the practice of meditation, visualization, and energy work to be explored by the reader (13-21). Larsen then provides a handy third chapter on a glossary of tools and what they do. Larsen then takes the reader into a more practitioner’s position by discussing how to do “Circle Casting.” Larsen states, “Casting a circle is a way to create sacred space, preparing the area for magick…my purpose in this book is to teach easy, practical rituals and spells, I will outline a simple ritual for circle casting” (33).  The author moves on to chapter five and discusses the holidays or sabbat for each season. Discussing each sabbat and its meaning and ways you can practice celebrating these days. Lastly, chapter six was one of my favorite chapters in terms of how Larsen takes a list of days, moon phases, colors, stones, and different herbs and discusses what they provoke and how we can embody their energies and magick!

I would recommend this booklet to anyone who is interested in practicing Wicca.  I should mention there were times I had to stop reading and look some of the concepts up. I needed a little more insight than what was provided. I was left wanting a little bit more. One thing that might have taken this booklet to the next level would have been illustrations. I think not providing pictures was a missed opportunity by Larsen. Finally, I believe the author met her goal in this booklet. Larsen set out to create an accessible narrative on Wiccan tradition and practice and she accomplished that goal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this booklet and will probably read it again– I liked it that much!

10/10