Thursday, June 26, 2008


Well, after exerting myself most severely over the last semester on Roman religion - a wonderful topic to be sure - I'm now at work on my thesis. What's my thesis on? It's on Spiritual Egyptomania.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goddess Judaism and Jewitchery

I'm really rather interested in Goddess Judaism and Jewitchery - not that I'm Jewish, I'm not, but I am interested in ancient Israelite religion, Near Eastern goddesses, that sort of thing. One interesting goddess is the Biblical Asherah - when she's not simply being a wooden pole ('asherah') that must be smashed of course! Check the Hebrew Bible for more on that if you're confused. Anyway, some of the sites I think are interesting are Peel-a-Pom, which is a blog, Shuv Tamid, an online temple of Asherah, Mishkan Shekhinah, a goddess temple, Kohenet, the Hebrew Priestess Institute, Tel Shemesh, an Earth-based Judaism page, The Lilith Institute, the Women in Judaism journal, and of course The Lilith Shrine (for uppity Jewish [and Gentile] women). If I *was* Jewish, I'd be doing Goddess Judaism for sure! Hey, while you're at it, also check out PaleoJudaica.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Figleaf Morality

The Henson debate of the last few weeks reminds me of the censorship of the work by Australia's Rosaleen Norton, the "Witch of Kings Cross" intended to be exhibited at the University of Melbourne in 1949. Two days after it opened police descended on the exhibition, seizing four of the pictures. Charges would be laid under the Police Offences Act of 1928 that these particular works were obscene. Seems that there was a danger that this sort of work "could deprave and corrupt the morals of those that saw them"!!! Quelle Horreur!!! More details can be found in the books on Rosaleen Norton by Nevill Drury, such as 'Pan's Daughter' and an extended version of the latter published as 'The Witch of King's Cross'. Drury, who while having written non-academic books on the subject, has also I hear, just completed his PhD dissertation on Norton. Surely this will manifest in another book at some future date? Now what is interesting about Rosaleen Norton and censorship is that her work is quite similar to another Australian artist who favoured Pagan themes: Norman Lindsay. Yet, he never incurred a police raid as far as I know. Possibly Norton being an out and out 'Witch' while Lindsay was more of a 'Pagan' made a difference, in addition to Norton appearing as somewhat of a vagrant, while Lindsay was a powerful well-connected Australian artist and author. Norton's representation of full frontal penises was also surely part of the 'offensiveness' that the Melbourne police couldn't abide. Lindsay was a bit more circumspect with the phallus depictions, although here's one in this pic here. The black and white images are Norton's and are titled 'Binah' and 'The Adversary', and the Lindsay one is titled 'Self Portrait'.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Art or Pornography debate ongoing

There are some great new pieces of writing on the Bill Henson "art or pornography" debate. Check out these links. Beside's Larissa Dubecki's one in The Age the other week comparing Annie Liebovitz's photography to Henson's, among other things, today there is a good piece by Germaine Greer from an Art History angle and another interesting one by Christopher Deere on how it's hard to be a (male) photographer these days because people think you're sinister. If you're wondering why I've used this picture here - The Wet Cupid, by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Greer's article explains that. Or, you could check out one of my favourite art books Idols of Perversity by Bram Dijkstra (Oxford University Press 1986).