Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Sermon by Christina Gargiullo

Hello witches and feminists! I know it's been a while since anything was posted here. There's more frequent action on the tumblr:, so check there.

Today I offer you a special treat: a sermon about Artemis and the drive to keep going through times of storm. This was written by my friend and sister priestess, Christina Gargiullo. Enjoy!


The Huntress prowls
In dead of night
And hind and hound
Go by her side.

The Hunter howls
The sky alight
With clap of thunder
burning bright.

O—o, how I tremble
By my hearth on this wild night.
I—pray, Hunters gentle
Keep me safe within your sight.

I wrote this song in Iowa in late spring, after the end of the endless blanket of snow that threw the sun

into my eyes from a thousand iced surfaces—after this world of white planes and grey shadows had

melted into the muck and seedlings of new promise. I wrote this song in the season of water: runnels

singing in the streets, mud tugging on boots and getting friendly with bare toes, thawed lakes that once

again rumpled at the wind's touch, and most of all rain.

It doesn't rain in California, not really. Iowa rain pummels the earth, whips umbrellas out of careless

hands, pounds on ledges and thunders down gutters. Iowa rain raises rivers to the very edge of sandbag

barricades laid out by people with one eye on their work and one on the clouds. Iowa rain is a full

orchestra of percussion, complete with cymbal-flares in the sky. True awesome rain reminds me that

humans are still animals, that it is our kin who curl in caves and beneath trees to wait out the storm.

I wrote the song for Artemis of the hounds and the hunt. Artemis of the wild places. Artemis who runs

through forests in the silences beneath a whisker of a new moon. Artemis whose arrows fly swiftly and

find their homes in the hearts of all whom She pursues. Artemis who protects women in childbirth and

who kills them in labor, who cares for children newborn and stillborn alike. Artemis who tells me the

things I'm not sure I want to hear—but know I need to.

And I wrote it for Rudra, the Howler of the Vedas. Rudra whose keens and cries ride above the clamor

of the storms, who in later Hindu writings became also Shiva, the Lord of the places between life

and death. He dances the world into being with drums and dances it into obliteration with fire, hair

streaming in its own wind, arms arcing gracefully everywhere. He dances with such abandon that no

god dares interrupt Him, and worlds are created and destroyed beneath His feet.

Hurrying home that Iowa night, hoping my umbrella would last long enough to get me to a dry place,

I reminded myself how unlikely it was that lightning would strike right here, statistically speaking. I

watched the sky and the statistics weren't terribly comforting. We tell stories of the Wild Hunt, hounds

and spirits screaming across the stormy sky in naked and savage joy. Nights like that night, I knew

exactly why those stories linger in our collective memory.

I believe that the Divine in this world is gentle, loving, nurturing—but I also believe that nothing

exists that is not part of the body of the Goddess, and so the lashing of rain and the sharp teeth of the

lightning must also be holy.

We live in a world where rivers both inundate fertile fields and rampage through brittle towns. We live

in a world where the birthing-bed holds new life and sudden death. A world where young lovers curl

up together and nations bomb one another into submission. A world of open hands and closed fists.

And through all of it in its madness and its beauty, I see the body of the Goddess dancing. People are

asking, why me? Was I not good enough? Why? We live into these questions, each in our own way.

At this stage of my life, I hold everything as divine, and if it hurts and doesn't make sense, I howl right

along with the storm-bringers.

I make no presumptions here. I don't suggest that my answer should be yours, nor do I assume that it

will still be mine in twenty years, or forty. But that Iowa night, I prayed to the Goddess of the wild

that She hold me close, and I prayed to the Howler of storms that He protect my loved ones. When it

becomes too much I turn to more motherly deities who will simply give me a hug when I need it. But

when I wish to sink into Mystery, to find a way to hold both the wonder and the terror of the world

through which I move, I come to Artemis.

I am friends with far too many survivors of rape and assault. I volunteer at a homeless shelter with

people who have experienced things that make me cry to hear of them. I live with the knowledge that,

despite the best efforts of a growing number of doctors and neurologists, I might have ten migraines

every month for the thirty years that stretch between me and menopause.

I try to pray every morning, and some days I can't seem to get off my knees.

Artemis is always there, standing strong in the middle of the storm. She does not promise that it will

all be okay. She does not tell me to stop doubting, or that some other power is responsible for my grief.

She holds me close, and She listens patiently as I read her the riot act. Job should hear me when I get

going. And when at last I rest in raw emptiness She smiles, gently. I don't understand the storm any

better after those mornings. But somehow, I find refuge in Her arms.

How? Why seek deities who are not always loving in the way that humans think of love? As a

polytheist I have the luxury of interacting with the divine in ways that are too contradictory to fit

peacefully within a monotheistic view. I go to the stories that my ancestors told of gods and goddesses

who embody different aspects of this wild and painful and amazing world. And I find truth in Herbert

Anderson's meditation:

“The language of the soul is story and song, and paradox is the window to the holy.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tomorrow! Join the Dykepocalypse!

Further details regarding Walking With Artemis at SF Pride Dyke March 2013

Women and Sisters and Dykes: Meet Stella Iris at the corner of 18th and Guerrero at 5pm. Wear whatever you like, but please consider being fabulous in your dress. (Big hair and makeup? Lots of rainbows? A 3-piece suit? Whatever your flavor of fabulous) Also, being topless/wearing pasties/wearing less than normal is part of the point of this action, at least for me. We are entirely sovereign in our bodies, no matter what we wear (or don't!). But! Feel free to come even if you aren't planning to be skyclad.

Men and Brothers and Allies: Meet up with us if you like to share signs, or simply find your favorite space to watch the parade! The route tends to shift, so we'll see you when we get to the dance party at the end. :)

For all: I will have a few blank signs ready for your slogans, but better to come prepared!
Suggested slogans:
"Goddess loves Dykes!"
"Love Conquers All!"
"Midwives for Choice!"
"Let's Get Married!"
"All Acts of Love and Pleasure are Her Rituals!"
"Artemis Saves!"
"Hail Artemis!"
"Reclaim Sovereignty!"

Feel free to make extra! Feel free to write on your skin! Feel free! That's the whole idea.

Contact Stella Iris with any questions:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Action: join the dykepocalypse!

June 29th, 2013. San Francisco: Dykepocalypse!

Dear sisters, women, and allied persons,

Stella Iris and the Walking with Artemis project cordially invite you to take back the Dyke March in the name of women-loving-women everywhere. For too long, we have had our day of fun, flirtation, and funky dance moves infiltrated by disrespectful marchers of a decidedly male persuasion. Often, these folks are very much holding a patriarchal and/or drunken space. What's the deal? The problem is a lack of focused marchers, those people who come prepared with signs, wear matching outfits, and hold space for their sisters as well as themselves. This March for visibility and awareness of real issues of equality and sexual freedom needs some folks of like mind and heart who aren't afraid to be seen.

(This is the opinion and experience of Stella Iris, not an official criticism of the March)

So! We are gathering together to be seen. To hold space. To show everyone that we are unafraid to be our whole selves. Who are we? Women who love women! Women who love freedom! Women who want to be gorgeous, have fun, and stand up for their sisters! Dykes! Witches! Unafraid to be seen as Goddess worshippers who see the divine in the women around us. 

(We ask that our allies who do not identify themselves as women, please gather, cheer from the sidelines, and dance with us at the end. Please don't spoil the point of our gathering by also marching yourselves).

To join in:  Please gather at the corner of 18th and Guerrero, approximately 5pm. We will watch the Dykes on Bikes and then find our place in the parade.

Wear what you like, but the coordinated among us will have combat boots, short skirts/shorts (tights and leggings ok) and pasties with no top. Big hair and make up a plus.  Feel free to do your own thing, these are merely suggestions. Be mindful of weather and comfort. 

If you feel called, please bring along a sign raising awareness about the state of Dykes, Women, Witches, etc. in the world. "The Goddess loves Dykes" "Artemis is pro-choice" "I stand against rape culture" "Matriarchy now!" (Have appropriate sign suggestions? Let us know!!)

Please contact Stella Iris at if you plan to participate.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


On Monday, April 30th of this year, I turned 30 years old. 

I wanted to do something important, that I had never done before. I wanted to prove to myself that there were still new experiences for me. I was tired, and jaded, by the growing disagreements between myself and my husband, by the expanding challenge of raising my gifted toddler, by my fulfilling but exhausting full time work as a tarot reader, store manager, and High Priestess. I kept thinking that I wanted to change everything. But really, I just wanted to change my own mind.

To see at distance again. 

My life got so close, I couldn't breathe.

So I gathered a few witch friends and took them to shoot an arrow from a longbow.

We stood outside the strip mall, in the parking lot, and sang a song to Artemis, Lady of the wild wood.  It doesn't get much wilder than the strip mall in Fremont. W got some strange looks from the game hunters who went into the shop as we sang, but we did it anyway.  We went inside, and were surrounded by very pointy, very sharp, very expensive equipment. Undaunted, we stepped to the back of the shop and found the tiny, indoor range. We listened intently to the lesson, and one by one took a chance at shooting.

The bow: all wood, made in pieces and lightweight. The arrow: carbon with a hard yet rounded tip, brightly colored plastic feathers at the end.  It takes strength to hold your arm up. It takes muscle to pull the bow taught. It takes keen eyesight and excellent aim to hit the bullseye. But sisters, I need to tell you something amazing: to shoot well takes work, but to shoot at all simply takes doing it.

Stand with your target on your left side, feet shoulder width apart, and turn your upper body to face the target head on.  Be fully present with the state of your body for a moment, while holding a clear line of sight to your target.  Focus where you want to strike.  Gather your breath, pull back until your thumb touches the corner of your mouth, and let it go. 

Let go of where you think you will strike. Let go of what you look like when you shoot. Let go of doing well or poorly, of being admired or mocked. Let go of any expectation you have. Just let the arrow fly.

I did ok I terms of accuracy, but rather well in terms of grouping. My sisters did well, a few actual bullseyes and several near center shots.  

Most important of all of this, however, is that I had done something new. Had learned something incredible. That when you let go, you can see further, feel stronger and be powerful. May it be so for you.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

today i pray

Today I pray

To the goddess
To Artemis
For myself

That I may know my own freedom
That I may know my own power
That I may know my own mind
That I may live with passion
That I may move with joy

Today I pray to Artemis
For my sister
She who bleeds and weeps
She who endures and endures
She who is brave and strong.

I pray that she may know her strength.

Today I pray to Artemis
For my city and it's turmoil
That we may learn courtesy, respect and love
That we may be the people we wish to be
That we may have our own path
That our paths cross peaceably

Today I pray to Artemis,
Keen minded, long sighted, and true.
In all ways true.

Blessed be.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I am pleased and proud to present a guest post written by my beloved teacher and best friend the Lady Yeshe Rabbit. Visit her blog at Way Of the Rabbit.

Artemis Gardens: Sebastopol, CA

I believe that the Great Goddess hears and responds to the needs of the Earth, for the Earth is Her body. She shows Herself to us in many distinct forms. Among these many faces of Goddess, we find Artemis: Protectress of Women in childbirth, Huntress, She of the Land.

Artemis shows Herself to me in the city landscape as a statue of a deer at the mall, with the dogs who prance around my neighborhood accompanied by laughing maidens, in the archery lessons I recently took at a storefront range in Fremont. She finds many ways to make Herself known to me.

Recently, I was in Sebastopol, and I stumbled upon a roadside sign that I just had to follow. It said "Artemis Gardens" with an arrow pointing down a side road. Naturally, when one sees a golden arrows next to the name of a Goddess, one follows. So off we went.

I have to admit that although my rational mind knew to expect a garden shop, I secretly hoped there would be some kind of golden gateway into a rustic glen of luminous beauty where women have created a paradise. But that said, this one-woman shop was a paradise of its own sort.

Check out Artemis Gardens on Facebook, or go visit on a Friday or Saturday between 9-3 at 8934 Bodega Hwy, Sebastopol. There is a beautiful garden there, with beehives, an archery target (though that is for personal use of the owner, so leave your bow at home), and some of the most wonderful, rare, and heirloom plants you could hope to find.

Artemis knows that it is of the utmost importance that we humans preserve biodiversity. The message I got from looking at the catalogue of offerings at Her nursery was that preserving and propagating small, unique lines of diversity in vegetables and fruits are of most significant priority right now.

Consider the varietals: Yellow Onion of Parma, a very rare Italian heirloom. This onion matures late in the season and keeps well over winter. The intelligent interactivity of that onion's life cycle with the realities of winter make this a wonderful, strong variety of onion that served to provide flavor and nutrients long past harvest season.

And how about the May Queen lettuce: a sweet pale yellow/pink-hearted lettuce that is grown from 19th century heirloom seeds. Or its mild-flavored cousin, the Merveille des Quatre Saisons, an all-seasons lettuce that fares well in a high tunnel in winter that was popular well before 1885 in France.

Among the tomatoes, these stately varieties are rare and wonderful, of the heirloom stock: Caspian Pink, purple Russian ("huge yields" says the flyer), these tomatoes are suited to the the cool weather, so we got some for our front yard in Alameda, where it is sunny, but there is always a cool breeze from the Bay.

My beloved Albert transplanted them lovingly into buckets, the way he watched his father do it when he was small. When we get the raised beds in later this Spring, we'll transplant them. This morning, I go out to water them with love and gratitude for the diversity of life on this planet, and to continue to be mindful in my interaction with the Great Mother's body.

Artemis protects women as we walk out in the world, and also in our own homes and gardens. May She continue to bless this small, woman-owned business in Her name, and may She continue to safeguard our biodiversity!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Walk: rainy spring night

It was raining as I walked home tonight. Not very heavy, rather gentle and soft. I had a nice sweatshirt with a deep hood, so I was comfortable. I had asked that the sky be kind to me, and it was. I walk quickly; I'm always cautious at the end of the day, in my dark neighborhood, except with the low clouds reflecting the city's light, the sky was orange. Oakland smelled alternately like lake and fish, like pot and exhaust, and then the clean scent of the rain itself. Coming out of the gardens onto the sidewalk, were small, beautiful, grotesque snails. I love snails. They are a part of this neighborhood, and when it rains in the spring, the sidewalks are full of them. It actually can be difficult to not squash them. The ones that don't make it are really disturbing sights. I don't mean to be morbid, but the reality of death is felt keenly when you look under your shoe and realize you're not sure if you were the first or just the last person to step on that particular creature. Every snail is alive. This isn't a vegetarian ranting about escargot, this is a human being talking about the value of life. I took care not to stomp any shell-baring creatures tonight. They literally covered parts on the walkway, and I was not wearing my glasses, so every rock and piece of bark that lay on the ground were carefully avoided. I knew that by slowing down and paying attention to my steps, I could prevent unnecessary harm. I knew also that I was by myself, alone, at night, carrying some valuables and cash. Beyond both of those points, I knew I was safe. I walked with Artemis, and She wanted me to see the snails; their unique colors and shapes, the relative speed with which they move, the strange and expert way they've found a niche in this urban forest.