Mabon is the Second Harvest, the autumn equinox, the last hurrah of summer. Named for the Welsh god Mabon ap Modron, it is a time to celebrate the harvest and the fruits of the labor that gives us sustenance. It is also a time to venerate the crone aspect of the goddess, the Dark Mother. Below are some recommendations for books that have given me perspective on womanhood, aging, the darkness, darker aspects of human will, etc. Happy Winter Finding, and Merry Mabon! May we all benefit from a crone’s wisdom today, on Mabon, and may the things we harvest sustain us all through the approaching cold dark of winter.
- Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, Inga Muscio
From Goodreads: “An ancient title of respect for women, the word cunt long ago veered off this noble path. Inga Muscio traces the road from honor to expletive, giving women the motivation and tools to claim cunt as a positive and powerful force in their lives. In this fully revised edition, she explores, with candidness and humor, such traditional feminist issues as birth control, sexuality, jealousy between women, and prostitution with a fresh attitude for a new generation of women. Sending out a call for every woman to be the Cunt lovin Ruler of Her Sexual Universe, Muscio stands convention on its head by embracing all things cunt-related. This edition is fully revised with updated resources, a new foreword from sexual pioneer Betty Dodson, and a new afterword by the author.”
- From the Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Becoming a Parent, Rebecca Odes & Cerridwen Morris
From Goodreads: “A forward-thinking book that includes a wide range of voices and approaches, From the Hips reflects the many ways of being pregnant and parenting without suggesting that there is one right way.”
In 2013 I had an ectopic pregnancy; when the doctors were stumped at first, this book gave me the information to approach them with the possibility and it helped me cope with the loss of the pregnancy afterwards.
- “to my last period,” Lucille Clifton
well, girl, goodbye,
after thirty-eight years.
thirty-eight years and you
splendid in your red dress
without trouble for me
now it is done,
and i feel just like
the grandmothers who,
after the hussy has gone,
sit holding her photograph
and sighing, wasn’t she
beautiful? wasn’t she beautiful?
- Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, Barbara Ehrenreich & Deidre English
- The Bloody Chamber: Stories, Angela Carter
From Goodreads: Carter spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” giving them exhilarating new life.
This story collection made a huge impact on me in college, and its sensuality and surrealism changed my reading habits forever.
- Kissing the Witch, Emma Donoghue
From Goodreads: “Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances–sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed. Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one’s own path in the world. In these fairy tales, women young and old tell their own stories of love and hate, honor and revenge, passion and deception. Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.”
Lesbian fairytales, stories of dark feminine power and rejuvenating love.
- Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich
From Amazon: “With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter draws on a range of voices to limn its tales. Black humor mingles with magic, injustice bleeds into betrayal, and through it all, bonds of love and family marry the elements into a tightly woven whole that pulses with the drama of life.
Filled with humor, magic, injustice and betrayal, Erdrich blends family love and loyalty in a stunning work of dramatic fiction.”
Powerful stories with powerful Native women at the forefront.
- Eolyn, Karin Rita Gastreich
The crone-mentor in this book is unlike any I’ve read, and the image of Eolyn sitting with her during her youth by the fire, telling stories and making magic, is one of my favorites.
- The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
From Goodreads: “On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.”
This book explores a dark matriarchy, and women perform every type of job and role. Women, good and bad and ugly, are everywhere in this book.
- “Her Kind,” Anne Sexton
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.