CERRIDWEN SALON -- OPENING SPEECH

Marcia Miller

(Note: The text below is reproduced as closely as possible to the original. It includes page numbers, which in the original appear at the top of the page.)
December 6, 1980

I would like to welcome all of you to the inaugural of our Salon Cerridwen. We feel proud to be carrying on the tradition of women's salons which have been recorded in history for 2500 years. It was the Greek poet, Sappho, living in the sixth century B.C. who tutored young girls on the island of Lesbos, provided a forum for older women, and took part in services dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. Papers on communal life found in the Cairo geniza attest to salons in North Africa in the 11th century. From then on, our history is dotted with many illustrious names from Eleanor of Aquitaine, who provided a court for the flowering of a woman's culture, Louise Labe, a celebrated Renaissance poet, Madame de Stael, the great chronicler of her time, who electrified Europe with her pen, while Napoleon was decimating it with his army, to the women of our century like Gertrude Stein and Natalie Barney, who set the art world on its heels.

Last Summer, Gloria and I, and three of the five artists performing tonight, attended the International Festival of Women Artists in Copenhagen, where a women's shrine was created. It was there, in that circular shrine, in a circular room, that rituals and meetings took place connecting women of many nations. Following this conference, I vistied the great stone circle of Callanish in the Outer Hebrides, in a setting of unimaginable grandeur, high on a hill, overlooking the sea. There, I scattered offerings from the shrine, thus connecting our womanspirit in Copenhagen to our ancient foremothers. Urged by the

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obvious need to explore our culture, provide a space for women working today, record and maintain archives so that it will never again be said that anonymous was a woman, and stimulated by the events of the summer, we created this Salon, naming it after the Celtic goddess Cerridwen, who presided over the sacred cauldron of wisdom and inspiration. Our theme for this event is Myth and Ritual, thus paying homage to the ancient women. Our first artist is Hallie lglehart, who worked in that shrine in Copenhagen and who has traveled from California to be with us tonight.



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