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.
“Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” is a woman honoring adult RE curriculum by Rev. Shirley Ranck, consisting of two interactive workshop series. The first, “In Ancient Times” is a 5-week series which examines the archeological evidence of Goddess worship in prehistoric cultures. The second, “On the Threshold” is a 6-week series that reclaims the stories of powerful women in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. In both series, participants are encouraged to share their personal experiences and beliefs.
A threshold is a point of transition between two places, spaces or points in time. “On the Threshold” explores several threshold stories. Did the matriarchs of Genesis - Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel - live on a threshold? As priestesses of an old Mesopotamian religion, did they struggle to maintain customs of matrilineal descent and powerful female influence at a time when newer patriarchal ways were taking over? Did Mary Magdalene occupy a similar threshold in the very early days of Christianity? The Gnostic Christians believed she was not only an Apostle, but a leader among the Apostles; yet their writings have been excluded from the New Testament. The woman who came to be known as St. Brigit was the daughter of a pagan chieftain. She too, lived on an historic threshold between the old Celtic religion and the new Christian religion which was taking over the land.
These ancient women lived on thresholds between an earlier social order which accorded women power and respect, and a newer patriarchal social order. Over time, women lost power and respect again and again, until the divine spirit could no longer be personified as female. Today, do we too stand upon a threshold between an earlier social order and a new world view? “On the Threshold” reclaims stories from the past and celebrates the new world-view and thealogy that is emerging today.
The following sessions are included in “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven II - On the Threshold.”
Session 1: The Hebrew Goddess
As the great goddesses were defeated and replaced by male gods in the ancient world, women lost significant political and social power. What of value was lost when references to the divine as female were excluded from scriptures and myths?
Session 2: Sarah the Priestess
In the Bible, Abraham must sacrifice his only son to prove obedience to the one true God. Was Abraham’s choice between the matriarchal principle of protecting his child and the patriarchal principle of following an abstract ethic, obedience to God?
Session 3: The Apostle Mary
Who were the early Gnostic Christians and what did they believe? Why were their writings and perspectives excluded from the New Testament?
Session 4: The Virgin Mary
How have the most revered aspects of Mary, i.e. purity, virginity, passivity, obedience, and motherhood, impacted the lives of women today?
Session 5: Witchcraft
Violence has been used to persecute and repress women throughout history. The witch craze of the fourteen to sixteenth centuries will be examined, as well as the re-emergence of witchcraft as a religion today.
Session 6: Future Fantasies
What changes would you make to the institutions of today so that all persons, and even the earth itself, receive appropriate respect?