Gimme Back My

I wrote this poem in 1991 while I was working on Secret Lives. Both the novel and the poem were partly inspired by the women I observed at a convalescent home while I was as a companion to an eighty-two-year-old woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and partly inspired by my grandmothers and some of my friends’ grandmothers.

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There Is a Web of Women

I’ve used this poem in several versions in several places, even read it in a ritual or two. Because it has four stanzas, it can be used to cast a circle. This is the one poem that actually got me out of bed and turning on my computer at three a.m. so I could format it properly. Most recently, I read it at the end of the hour when I was interviewed by Creatrix Media.

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Pagan Every Day

Pagan Every Day by Barbara ArdingerWhen my phone rang one day early in 2004, it was an acquisitions editor at RedWheel/Weiser. “We like the way you write,” she said to me. “Would you write a book for us?” “Sure thing,” I replied. “What would you like me to write?” “We want a daily calendar book,” she said. “Call it 365 Pagan. And put lots of goddesses in it.” (Notice that they changed the title. I have no idea why.)

So I signed the contract and wrote the book. To meet their deadline, for six months I wrote every morning (which means I wrote thirty or thirty-one daily pages every two weeks), edited (so I could still pay the rent) every afternoon, and did research every evening.

What I found out when I sent them the completed manuscript, however, was that they’d wanted a frothy little gift book.

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Practicing The Presence of the Goddess

Practicing the Presence of the Goddess by Barbara ArdingerPracticing the Presence of the Goddess is the daughter of A Woman’s Book of Rituals & Celebrations, which I wrote in 1990. It was published with a yucky green cover, but enough people bought it in spite of the cover that the publisher decided to reprint it (with a new cover) in 1995. I got to rewrite much of it and hopefully made it a better book. I still hear from people who tell me they love it. In 1999, the publisher decided to give the book a third incarnation, and I got to rewrite it once more. That’s the best part for a fussbudget writer like me: every rewrite is an opportunity to make it just that much better, clearer, prettier, more factual, more poetic. This is, in fact, another lesson I like to share with the authors whose books I edit. When they rewrite, they can usually make their book better. And I’m there to help them do it.

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Quicksilver Moon, A Novel

Quicksilver Moon, A Novel by Barbara ArdingerNotice the cover art for this novel. It was painted by my friend, Margaret Harwood, a wonderful artist. I’ve known Margaret and her husband, Jon (himself an artist with his camera), for a decade or more. When I asked Margaret to create the cover, she said, “What do these characters look like?” “Read my mind,” I said. And she did! The cover shows Brother Mudge, Isolde Bell, and Loretta, Patsy, and Tammy. I lived with those characters for a couple years while I was writing their story. I watched Brother Mudge preach, I watched his captive women suffer, I watched the horrendous, black, Beelzebub thoughtform grow on the roof of Mudge’s storefront church. I watched the vampire prowl around real locations in Orange County, like the Crystal Cathedral and Disneyland. The vampire lives in the condo a friend of mine owned. She also drives my friend’s car. In my imagination, I watched the women of the Quicksilver Moon coven coping with their lives.

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Secret Lives, A Novel

Secret Lives, a novel by Barbara ArdingerI started writing Secret Lives on a typewriter in the mid-80s. The novel is 27 interrelated stories about a group of elderly women, their daughters and granddaughters, their husbands and boyfriends, an apparently ageless Neolithic shaman, the Green Man reincarnated (and so sexy I almost let him take over the novel), three villains (the residence managers and a heartless doctor), a homeless woman named Coyote, a lost goddess in disguise as Red Riding Hood, a ghostly Inquisitor, two mainstream metaphysical ministers, the Norns (who come to California and start a weather war when our women reject them), and a talking cat named Madame Blavatsky (though why the founder of Theosophy decided to transmigrate into a cat I’ll never know) who reads children’s literature and argues with people.

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When the Levee Breaks

Here is another column I wrote for the Orange County business magazine. Itís about the Great Flood of 1993, which started in the northern states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and surged south past Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and states further south. A government report said that hundreds of levees failed along the rivers, leading to 50 deaths and damages amounting to $15 billion. You can google the Great Flood of 1993 and learn more. This column, dated August 15, 1993, is my personal reaction to the flood.

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Women With Aids

Here is another column I wrote for a business magazine in Orange County back in the 90s. I was an AIDS emotional support volunteer (called a ìbuddy,î but actually a sort of professional friend) in the late 80s when the plague was still raging. I ìworkedî with the AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County, which is still in business. One of my buddies was a woman I called Lucila, though that wasnít her real name. The family was in major denial, so I changed names and facts. One thing I did not write was that Lucilaís husband gave her a vacuum cleaner for her last birthday on earth. Really! Hereís a slightly abridged version of my column from April 1, 1993.

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