Ms. Magazine
- What?
-Word: Habitat
-Just the Facts

-Women to Watch

Two dedicated practitioners talk about rituals and women:
-Big Mommas and Golden Apples>by Luisah Teish

-Bringing Home the Light>by E.M. Broner
- A Community Creates a Rite of Passage for Girls
-Ms. Readers Share Their Personal Rituals

-Profile: Dazon Dixon Diallo

-Health Notes
*Bitter Harvest* Thailand's sex industry went big time with help from the U.S. military and the World Bank. The insatiable demand fuels a sex traffic that consumes the lives of ever-younger girls.>> A special report by Betty Rogers
-What's Wrong with This Picture?
-Melissa Etheridge: On the Road Again
-What Are Little Boys Made of?
-Boldtype: Camryn Manheim
-Editor's Page
-Uppity Women: Melinda Lackey
-Women Organizing Worldwide
-Fiction: Winter Concert
-Lastpage: Making Waves
-No Comment
*Studying Womanhood*
Author Noelle Howey was entering puberty when her father announced that he wanted to change his sex. A provocative memoir...

-Giving the Vatican the Boot
-And Then There Were Six Billion
-No Activism, No Asylum
-Opinion: Purse Snatchers
-Abortion Consent Laws: Mother, May I?
-Newsmaker: Audie Bock
-Oh Canada!



As a minister, I have found that rituals and repetition resonate with and comfort people. But I am part of a religious tradition that also values variations: what a ritual communicates to people is more important than performing it in one specific way. As a dancer, I have found that the ritual of taking class has a deep connection with my spiritual life in the church. Going through se patterns and their variations in a dance puts me in touch with the sense of something and someone greater than myself. These things that I do have been done by those before me and will continue to be done after I am gone, limiting my self-importance, while at the same time connecting me with my community. >>Rev. Amy B. Gregory is a United Methodist Minister.

I keep telling myself it's O.K. I can be a feminist and still do the one thing I find most relaxing: ironing. I love to iron my man's shirts, our underwear, and especially the tea towels. I can't help it.

Even when I was a university student, fueled by righteous indignation, too much coffee, and too many cigarettes, I was a closet ironer. One day, after many glasses of red wine, I admitted my Sunday ironing ritual to my gaggle of girlfriends. They were appalled, unable to hide their disappointment in me.

Winter is the best time of year to iron. I'm never happier than when my partner is cooking in the kitchen while I am ironing and, just as my mom did, spontaneously burst into song.>>Kindree Draper works for the government of British Columbia, Canada.

I think the word "ritual" intimidates people and makes them think that rituals need to be big events. The more I broaden my interpretation of what can be called a ritual, the more I find them, and find myself creating them in my life. Tending my garden is a ritual of connecting to the earth. Saying thanks before eating is a ritual of gratitude and honoring nature and my good fortune. My partner and I listen silently listen to each other speak, honoring each other's feelings.>>Lisa Weiner is a graduate student in nursing, a writer, and a waitress.

Approaching sleep or entering wakefulness, the unwavering ritual with my partner is delicious touch, through snuggling, caressing, light pulling of the hair, and falling asleep entwined. Indian girls are accustomed to close contact, from their mother, relatives, and same-sex friends. There has been no problem adapting the old ritual with my husband and investing it with sensual adult play, invoking the sense of smell and taste and touch that weren't as heightened, shall we say, in childhood. The ritual is a very grounding event, rejuvenating and loving.

My morning ritual most days is to "wake up" at the computer, reading and writing e-mails to my students and other writers. The goal is to open the channel of self-knowledge as the key to understanding the world. This grounds me in my role as writer, activist, educator, and sets me in the mood to write. I experience this ritual as an adaptation of an Indian mode of partial merger with the people in one's life, with whom one can play and delight in full-spirited exchange.>>Ginu Kamani is the author of Junglee Girl (Aunt Lute Books) and numerous stories and essays.


My grammy used to make two insanely elaborate Christmas-cookie trees when I was a kid. They were about ten inches high, completely three-dimensional, with edible ornaments. It took her all day and night to make them. Our family got one, and she gave the other away to a family that had had a difficult year or was just plain poor. After her arthritis got bad, she couldn't make them anymore. So last year, I decided to make just one, for our family. It sucked. I asked her how she could have made two of those beasts year after year! She laughed, but then told me that this year I have to make two and give one away. "It's to keep the family safe and healthy," she told me. "Giving one away means that no matter how bad off we are, we can always afford to give love to others." I thought I was just carrying on a tradition for all the little kids in my family, but I inadvertently tapped into one of my grandmother's secret rituals. It's like a kind of spiritual insurance.>>Inga Muscio is the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (Seal Press).




Copyright Ms. Magazine 2009