FMBC “When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams

There are books that can be read, studied and discussed; and then there are books that need to be experienced. Join Cami, Katrina and Sara as they express their experience of Terry Tempest William’s masterpiece, “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice” and experience for yourself the effects of her words on women today.


(Sara Bareilles “Eden”, Spiral Jetty , L’Origine du monde by Gustave Courbet, Terry Tempest Williams)

6 thoughts on “FMBC “When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams

  1. As the host and editor, I am usually a real stickler for filling in long gaps of silence in my podcasts. I like for conversations to flow and be effective.

    With this podcast, I found the silences in between thoughts served as a mirror to the deep reflection Terry had when discovering her mother’s journals. I hope this podcast will serve as inspiration for listeners to read this beautiful masterpiece so that they can experience it’s beauty.

  2. This was such a great conversation to participate in and listen to again. Thank you, Cami and Katrina, for having me with you and for listening/sharing such tender things. Women telling their own stories really is a powerful thing.

  3. Wow ! How beautiful ! I listened a couple of times to ‘Jesus Feminist’ and wanted to post, but returned to the place (nov) of my journey on this list listening to your podcasts. And now I am here !

    I love the ‘turnaround’-thingy’s. devil=lived and evil=live.

    Back in the 80’s I learned from a feminist-book about the word thingy that the original word for ‘be’ was ‘syn’. In dutch the word ‘be’ is ‘zijn’. The english Catholic church changed ‘syn’ into ‘be’, for the ‘bee’ is always busy and active, and is worthy because of it’s productive-ness. While ‘syn’, accepting yourself for who you are, became ‘sin’ of being lazy and unproductive, and harder to manupulate and being abused.

    There is lot of wisdom in turning around words. I do it often in dutch and gain great insights in how we originally looked at things.

    For instance, according to the book of Barbara G. Walker: ‘The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets’ ‘Man’ was originally the word for woman, as it was their connection to the moon and monthly bleeding, but was at a certain moment taken and used for man, who have no connection to the moon as monthly bleeding ! And womb-man turned into woman !

    Stealing ones name is not just a word, but it is a long period of time of experiences and things that have been achieved that belonged to a certain group. If the name is stolen, than suddenly it looks like all that have happened and achieved belongs to the one who have that name now, while that is not the truth, And it looks like that the one from whom the name has been stolen, has nothing or nothing to do with all that have been achieved. And before there was patriarchy, there was matriarchy, but what do we really know about matriarchy and why is it kept hidden and never talked about … ?

    Now I must explain: Brian Sykes, writes in his book ‘Adams Curse’ about women being on earth many more generations before men were on earth. This is a conclusion that could be read/found in the genes, the difference makes clear that women were walking around long before men put their feet on earth. (His website is: and see ‘books’ for the book ‘Adams curse’, I read it in his dutch version.) You also see it in pre-historic art, the further back in time, the more or solely female statues are found.

    Here in The Netherlands, women of pre-his-stories time, probably wanted us to remember this switch from word ‘man’ to the sex that have no physical connection with the moon as montly bleeding. They pointed to the word name, which is in dutch; ‘naam’ and when you turn it around it is the dutch word for moon called ‘maan’. Like in this tool for remembering, our female ancestors are telling us: look at the ‘naam’ and ‘maan’, turn them around, our name is taken away from us, but our connection with the moon stays, don’t forget: ‘man’ was our ‘nam’e ! ( Ha!, it’s in english aswell !!!!! )

    Also our german pre-his-stories-sisters makes it clear in the word ‘fraude’. Fraud is something that is taken from another in an unfair and sneaky way. I kept wondering why the german word ‘frau’ was in this word, while it is mostly men who are doing the fraud-thing. Why are they appointing to women ‘frau’, why making women ‘frau’ guilty of something ‘fraude’ that is mostly done by men ? When I understood the ‘naam’=’maan’-thingy, I understood our german sisters had put it this way: the name ‘man was stolen from the female and the word ‘frau’ was given instead’. And so the women lost their heritage and past, while the man added it to their journey here on earth, while they were not the owners of that past. Name, past, achievements were sneakingly stolen by changing and switching the names. And so ‘fraude’ became the word for sneakingly stealing and owning what is not yours, based on lies, and bringing damage to the lives of those whom belonged it to, as man once did to women by ‘frau-de’. (Funny enough ‘de’ is added to german websites, which makes ‘frau-de’ a complete german word that refers to our female past, as a tool of remembering from our german-formothers/forsisters of how our name was stolen !)

    Other funny word-thingys are: take the word ‘mother’, and see how man want to get married and have kids: he gets together with a woman to become a father: ‘To-Get-Her and ‘Fat-Her’ ! For me as dutch speaking person ‘mother’ is funny, too, In dutch a man can say “Ik ‘moet-haar’ hebben !” ( I got to have her!). To say it in a sloppy way, he could say “Ik ‘mot-haar’ “, this comes close to ‘mot-her’. So a man can have the wish for a woman: I mot-her, to-get-her, and fat-her ! :o)

    If it makes you dizzy, take your time, words won’t walk away, even though they seem to switch from one sex to the other sex.

    Btw: does Terry talk about the pre-history in her book ? Many statues have been found, from matriarchy times, which are female statues with the heads of birds ? I love it that she puts a picture to these statues, of how we as women have forgotten to live, while birds do help us remember to pick it up again. I love to think of the idea that our pre-historic ancestors and sisters made this bird-statues with the same idea in mind !

    I love to buy the book in the future. Right now Carol Lynn Pearson ‘Mother wove the morning’ is on top of the list and than this one and ‘Jesus Feminist’ follows ! Untill I am able to buy it I will repeatingly listen to this podcast. The pieces you shared and all you added to it really touched my heart !

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