Cakes for the Queen of Heaven  

Welcome! Here you will find information and activities related to the revised Cakes for the Queen of Heaven curriculum and its use in Unitarian Universalist congregations and in other organizations. This site is a combined effort of Unitarian Universalist Women and Religion core group and various Cakes and W&R groups.


Are you planning to conduct the Cakes curriculum in your church? Let us know and we'll post the dates on our new EVENTS calendar. As always, feel free to comment, ask questions, and post photos.

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Past comments:

Melinda Perrin said:

The First Unitarian Society of Schenectady is offering Cakes starting in September 2009. Rumors about its return started to circle in February and since we were getting calls and e-mails, we announced it on Thursday, February 19th at the Evening Alliance and by e-mail. Registration was full by the next Sunday. Never doubt the need for this material. Thank you, Rev. Shirley Ann Ranck for initiating all this!

Judy Clough and Melinda Perrin, co-facilitators

Question:  Nothing is said in the first 5 sessions about when humans began to realize that men played a part in the continuance of the species and the impact that might have had on a change from a Goddess-centered spirituality to a God-centered religion.  It seems that I read many years ago that humans began to understand procreation after some animals were domesticated and humans observed their copulation with faster results than say larger animals.  It kind of sounds like women were revered for their procreation, were cooperative rather than violent, and were  accepting of men, but when men saw their part in procreation, they wanted power over/domination – stick it to women?/sorry.  At some point men were considered the creators and woman only the receptacle for the seed which grew into a baby.  Later it was realized that it took both.

This question has been growing for me as I read through the materials and if someone brings it up, I’m not sure how to respond except that I’m looking into it.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and insights.

Carolyn Hawk

Past Comments

Sandra Russel said:

As long as we’re admitting that its all speculation anyway… the fictional Earth’s Children series of books that begins with The Clan of the Cave Bear and ends with The Land of the Painted Caves deals primarily with just this subject. In a journey spanning 6 volumes, Author Jean M. Auel chronicles the life of a Cro Magnon Woman; the heroine of the tale Ayla. In the first half of the series all the different Caves (tribes) of peoples believed it was the mixing of a man’s and woman’s spirit that created children. You knew who your Mother was, because she gave birth to you. However, they didn’t have a concept for Fatherhood. Your Mother’s mate was the Man of your Hearth and wasn’t necessarily the biological father. Women were not owned by men. Women chose who they wished to couple with. It was their choice and children were not stigmatized because of it. By the end of the series, Ayla through certain life experiences routine, ritual and beyond the veil has reached the conclusion that no new life can start without men; without a man putting his organ in a woman and leaving his essence. This is as good as any story at speculating how our ancestors discovered the male role in conception during the period of the last Glaciers about 20,000 years ago I believe. And, in just the area where Marija Gimbutus did the vast majority of her research. The last book in the series culminates with the changing of the myths to accommodate this new knowledge. Ayla is called to join the ranks of the Shamans of her people (the Zelandonia) by the Great Earth Mother who reveals to her a new and final verse to the Creation Legend of the Mother’s song. Formerly, it ended:

CMwD-Cakes for the Queen of Heaven Train the Trainer (T3) program

Evolution of the Cakes T3
by Pat Goller, CMwD UU Women’s Connection Council

I met Jean Pierce at 2004 WomanSpirit and agreed, with Joanne Fought of Peoria, to co chair the 2005 Central Illinois planning committee for the 2005 WomanSpirit held in Springfield, Illinois. I had been on the board of the CMwD-UUWomen's Federation and working two years with a task force to re-vision what would become the UU Women’s Connection. It is during that time, that Jean asked, “How can the Central Midwest District Women and Religion Committee work together with the UU Women’s Connection?”

At the Annual Meeting of the UU Women’s Connection in the fall of 2006, Diana DeWeese and I presented the idea of doing a “woman’s spirituality” project with the W&R Committee. The goal of “meeting with and discussing such a project” with the W&R committee chair was set for 2007. Sherry Dearborn (W&R Co Chair) and I soon met in Peoria for lunch and discussed the possibility of a common women’s spirituality project. Sherry was agreeable and was willing to take the idea to the CMwD-W&R committee. At our lunch we discussed the rewrite by Rev Ranck’s Cakes for the Queen of Heaven feminist curriculum and the basic concept of training trainers at key locations within the district for the re-release of the Cakes curriculum due at GA.

In the late winter of 2007 Gretchen Ohmann mentioned the Cakes release and discussion about a common project to me again; a loose committee formed called Cakes Train-the-Trainer or T3 a core-planning group. Connection council chair Jennifer Evans and I took up the project. Members of the W&R committee, Nancy Irons and Sherry Dearborn did, as well. By spring core planners were developing the basic concept: “To provide a one day training in diverse parts of the district for those local women who wished to facilitate the curriculum in their congregations.”

[pictured at right: Janet Nortrom with a copy of the original curriculum]

Recently someone asked about men attending the Cakes classes. Here is Shirley's recommendation, based on the years of experience with the original curriculum since it was published in 1986.

Rev. Shirley RanckRegarding the teaching of Cakes to both men and women, it has been done successfully many times.  In one congregation, many years ago, the women took the course; then their husbands and significant others wanted to take it, so two women taught it to a class of men; then they ran another class for both men and women!  I have taught it mostly to all women classes, but a few times men have asked to participate.  What I say to them is that if there is more than one man who wants to participate, fine.  But not if there is only one man.  When we break into small groups for discussion of some very personal issues, the men need to have a group of their own and the women need groups without men.  I try to consult with women leaders ahead of time to find out how they feel about having men in the group and often they prefer to limit it to women.

The main thing I would say is that if there are men in the class, it will be a very different class from what it would be if there were only women.  It will be valuable in other ways, but women will not be as free in their discussions with men in the class.  This is a course that is not just about history and archeology; it is also about women's issues in a patriarchal society.  Men have some issues with the society too, but they are different from those of women.

Cakes: Part II orders first shipped in September 2008! Order yours today.


Past comments:

Laurel Hallman said: What a delight to see that “Cakes” is available again in a new edition. This wonderful curriculum changed the lives of my generation of women who were claiming our voice and our power in unprecedented ways. Now it may be possible that this new edition will help us revisit the old issues and see them with a new multi-generational and multi-cultural lens. Thanks Shirley Ranck for all your gifts over the years.

Here are links to photo albums from the facilitator training at Unity Temple in June, and the July session at Eliot Chapel in St. Louis (Kirkwood) Missouri.

Peoria and Milwaukee are coming up in November 2008!

Unity Temple photos by Gretchen Ohmann
Eliot Chapel photos by Pat Goller

Women of Berrien UU Fellowship in St. Joseph, Michigan did a Cakes intensive -- 5 classes in 5 nights, with the direction of DRE Teresa LaPlante. On the fifth evening we dressed in Goddess garb. Here's Teresa as Spring Maiden with flower headdress made from tissue paper. She also made the Easter dragon recipe. We decided that for the egg to be really red, raw beets were probably needed instead of cooked ones. Every session began with a chalice lighting. This one is from the last evening. Teresa brought in some extra video presentations about women's experiences. including one based on Yoko Ono's WOMAN POWER.


Sixteen members of the Women of Westminster from the Westminster Unitarian Church of East Greenwich, RI recently held our 15th Annual Retreat. We are doing the sessions for “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” during our regular weekly meetings so we were inspired to have a Goddess theme for our retreat.

For an individual activity, women chose a goddess card from The Goddess Tarot deck by Kris Waldherr, read the meaning of the card, and then read about the goddess in The Book of Goddesses by Kris Waldherr.
For a two-hour group session we used Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women over Fifty by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD. We focused on Part 1 of the book “Her Name Is Wisdom”. We divided into four groups for Hestia, Hecate, Sophia , and Metis. Each group had access to the meditation on page 70 of the book and a summary of some of the information about the goddess. After 30 minutes to prepare each group presented to the rest of us a role-play or guided meditation exploring the Wisdom offered by their goddess.

We had a lovely ritual with a chakra blessing using a goddess for each area. And of course we sang our favorite goddess songs, including, “Opening Up” found in Circle of Song by Kate Marks, and “Sacred Pleasure” from the CD Goddess Chant: Sacred Pleasure by Shawna Carol.

We had two hands-on activities for the weekend. One was decorating goddess coloring book pages from wheel of the year. [no longer available but try these: or]

The women loved the simple line drawings and glued on colored paper, fabric and ribbon scraps, etc. to decorate them.