cakes header

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.

Theodora by elizabethcarefoot.comGaia by elizabethcarefoot.comCakes 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. 

People have been asking where they can find out more about Cakes, so we have put together some samples of the first section of the curriculum:

Contents and Recommended Materials

Author’s Introduction

Rev. Ranck’s Statement of Feminist Thealogy

SESSION 1: The New Foreground

Sample session

Samples of slide shows

As a brief overview of Part II, Rev. Ranck’s address to the women of Central Midwest District, ON THE THRESHOLD, is available in text form here. You can buy the DVD HERE.

Look inside the Cakes book (not the 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.

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



You may make a donation to UU Women and Religion here. We are a 501(c)3 organization. Please select the quantity of $10 increments you would like to donate.