Polly Wood, M.F.A. Creative Inquiry: Interdisciplinary Arts, M.A. Women's Spirituality, is a songstress, artist, ritualist and independent scholar whose work focuses on the preservation of the Sacred Feminine.
Through music, performance ritual, writing, lectures and workshops, Polly’s research into women’s cross-cultural rites of passage, menstrual consciousness, global economics and the Sacred Feminine is embodied and creatively expressed.
Trained as a dancer for fifteen years in the styles of tap, jazz, ballet, acrobatics, and African, Polly went on to study performing and visual arts in college in the early nineties. Prior to graduating, Polly took a ten-year academic pause to travel, perform and blossom as a musician and artist through creative, collaborative community-building. During this time, she also followed her passion for pregnancy and birth, developing a career as a doula - a professional, non-medical childbirth assistant, during which time she supported women and their partners through the labor and birth process; taught mother-baby movement classes; created plaster belly casts for over fifty pregnant bellies; led birth-art workshops; and choreographed and produced A Birth Dance – a modern dance performance and community birth celebration.
Polly returned to school to complete her Bachelor’s degree in 2003 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, studying global economics, the value of creativity, and ritual activism. The encouragement Polly found through the academic community at CIIS led her to pursue her Master’s degree in Women’s Spirituality at New College of California, also in San Francisco (a program now housed at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology).
It was in the Women’s Spirituality M.A. program that Polly found the thread that would weave together her interests in women’s cross-cultural rites-of-passage, creativity, and global economics. Polly earned her Master’s degree in 2006, publishing her thesis, The Men$trual Origins of Money: Radical Economics in the Presence of the Divine, Sacred Feminine, into a paperback book.
The same year Polly released her first full-length, solo album of original music, The Declaration of Radwoman – Sacred Songs & Sung Poems, which features her spirited voice and poignant lyrics backed by her own drum and piano rhythms. She began performing regularly, offering music and, at times, participatory ritual for audience members. A percussionist and songstress, Polly sings while she drums, letting rhythms guide her intelligent lyrics and buttery, percussive vocals straight into the heart of the listener. Her second album (yet to be release and still in the recording vaults) - featuring vocals, percussion, bass and cello - offers danceable grooves with delicious rhythms, addressing global issues and expressions of love, war, peace and violence.
Polly returned to New College to pursue her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Creative Inquiry: Interdisciplinary Arts (a program now housed at CIIS), focusing on arts activism for social change. Her graduation project culminated in the creation of a public performance and community ritual which called upon Polly’s songwriting, choreography, and teaching skills. She presented her original music with a band consisting of percussion, cello, guitar and keyboard while four “moon maidens” danced and sang, moving about the audience and assisting in Polly’s facilitation of a Lunar Economics Ritual which offered new, hopeful perspectives on economics.
Since completing her M.F.A. Polly has been a featured performer at concerts and musical benefit shows around the San Francisco Bay Area, accompanied by cellist/beatboxer Joey Chang. Polly performed with Jupiter Jones at the Radical Rat Film/Music Showcase during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. She collaborated with Judy Grahn & Anne Carol Mitchell for the Russian River Women’s Weekend, where she also co-led a women’s economic workshop with Annie Lapham called The Men$trual Origins of Money. She has appeared as guest artist during Vicki Noble’s Dakini presentation at the Pacific Cultural Center in Santa Cruz, as well as Sera Beak’s Redvolution workshop at Mount Madonna Retreat Center in Watsonville, CA. Polly’s article titled Metaformic Economics was published online in Metaformia – A Journal of Menstruation and Culture. Her work with what she considers the “Blood Economy” was presented at The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research’s 2009 conference in Spokane, Washington. She was also billed as the conference’s entertainment, presenting Music for Metaformic Theory. Collaborating with Annie Lapham and Nane Ariadne Jordan, she led the audience on a musical-theatrical-ritual journey of a girl’s menarche ceremony. In October 2009 Polly was the featured performer at the Motherworld Conference in Toronto, Canada. Bledsung, Polly’s song about the politics of menstruation and economics was recently released in a compilation of women musicians called HERSTORY: A Celebration of Women in Music, produced by Mona Lisa Wallace of Feminist Music, as a benefit for NOW, the National Organization for Women.
Currently, Polly is in upstate New York, leading Goddess-Inspired Women’s Spirituality Circles, offering public presentations/workshops on the Sacred Feminine, teaching art to children and economics to adults, opening to new musical collaborations and expressions, and feeling grateful for her friends and family.