Inspired by the Goddess

Carol P. Christ writes about the rebirth of the Goddess, feminism, ecofeminism, feminist theology, societies of peace, and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete.

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Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ is a author of the much-loved books Rebirth of the Goddess, She Who Changes, Weaving the Visions, and Womanspirit Rising, and forthcoming in 2016. Goddess and God in the World and A Serpentine Path. She leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete in spring and fall.
Promise of Rebirth and Regeneration by Carol P. Christ

"[T]he Old European sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population." Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, 318.

August 15 is known to Greek Christians as the date of the Koimisi, "Falling Asleep" or Dormition of the Panagia, She Who Is All Holy.  December 25 is a minor holiday in the Orthodox tradition, while Easter and August 15 are major festivals.  The mysteries of Easter and August 15 concern the relation of life and death.  In Orthodox theology, both Easter and August 15 teach that death is overcome:  Jesus dies and is resurrected; Mary falls asleep and is assumed into heaven.  These mysteries contain the promise that death is not the final end of human life.  Yet this may not be the meaning of the rituals for many of those who participate in them.

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Maiden, Mother, Crone: Ancient Tradition or New Creative Synthesis? by Carol P. Christ

 

The image of the Goddess as Maiden, Mother, Crone is widespread in contemporary Goddess Spirituality. The Triple Goddess honors three ages of women, in contrast to the wider culture that: affirms young women as sex objects while shaming them as sluts; celebrates mothers on Mother’s Day, while providing few legal and economic protections for mothers; and ignores older women.

Though Goddess feminists have created rituals for menstruation and birth, I suspect that a greater number of rituals have celebrated “croning.” The reasons for this are twofold. One is that women have time and space to reflect on the meaning of life in middle age. The other is that aging women are not honored and respected in the wider culture–creating a need for rituals that do just that. Many women I know have spoken of the empowerment they felt in their croning rituals.

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Embodied Theology: Goddess and God in the World by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow

Our new book Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology has just been released. It just so happens that this is a time for celebrating the harvest. An excerpt from the Introduction introduces the "embodied theological method" we hope will turn the field of theology upside down.

People who reject the popular image of God as an old white man who rules the world from outside it often find themselves at a loss for words when they try to articulate new meanings and images of divinity. Speaking about God or Goddess is no as longer simple as it once was. Given the variety of spiritual paths and practices people follow today, theological discussions do not always begin with shared assumptions about the nature of ultimate reality. In the United States, the intrusion of religion into politics has led many people to avoid the subject of religion altogether. In families and among friends, discussions of religion often culminate in judgment, anger, or tears. Sometimes the conversation is halted before it even begins when someone voices the opinion that anyone who is interested in religion or spirituality is naïve, unthinking, or backward—or, alternatively, that religious views are a matter of personal preference and not worth discussing at all.

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A Servant of God or a Lover of Life by Carol P. Christ

 

Thus through an enormous network of mythological narrative, every aspect of culture is cloaked in the relationship of ruler and ruled, creator and created. . . . [Sumerian] legend endows the Sumerian ruler-gods with creative power; their subjects are recreated as servants. . . . [This new narrative was] deployed with the purpose of conditioning the mind anew. (20, italics added)

...
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What Does Mother's Day Mean in a Patriarchal and Matricidal Culture?

When we seek immortality or spiritual “rebirth,” are we not saying that there is something wrong with the “birth” that was given to us through the body of our mothers? In She Who Changes and in "Reading Plato's Allegory of the Cave as Matricide and Theacide," I asserted that our culture is "matricidal" because it is based on the assumption that life in the body in this world "just isn’t good enough."

What is so wrong with the life that our mothers gave us that we must reject it in the name of a “higher” spiritual life? The answer of course death.

Can we love life without accepting death?

Can we love our mothers if we do not accept a life that ends in death?

Jesus was said to have encouraged his disciples to leave their wives and families in order to follow him.  When he was told that his mother and brothers were outside and waiting to speak to him, he is said to have said:

“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matt. 12:48-50)

Buddha left his wife and new-born son in order to pursue enlightenment.

Some feminists, including Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Rita Gross, view these incidents positively, stating that their meaning is that no person should be trapped in the conventional biological roles.

I have always experienced these stories as dismissive of women’s bodies, of women’s lives, of women’s work. When I went to college, I learned that all of the knowledge and insight about the meaning of life I had gained through the experience of raising a child with my mother was irrelevant to the university education I had embarked upon.

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A Tale of Two Sisters, a Daughter and a Niece

This continues the story I began last week. Catherina is my 2x great-grandmother; Agnes is my 2x great-aunt; Johanetta is my first cousin, 3x removed, and my step-2x great-grandmother; Henry is my 2x great-grandfather. It is true that Henry had eighteen children with two wives. It is also true that Henry and Johanetta married and had a child soon after Catherina's death. Some of the other details came in waking trance as I allowed the ancestors to tell their stories through me.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: I thought the day Catherina left for America would be the worst day of my life. I did not know I would see Catherina again. I did not know I would outlive my two little sisters and both of my brothers. I did not know what my daughter would do. I read Catherina’s letters from America through my tears. How I wanted to be with her on her wedding day. How I wished she had been with us when we buried our sister Johanetta. My heart nearly burst when Catherina wrote that she longed to take my hand when she gave birth to her first child. My mind contorted itself trying to envision her living in a big city, in a big building, climbing up and down stairs, her feet never touching the earth, her hands never working the soil. What kind of life was that?

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A Tale of Two Sisters

When I first returned from my ancestor quest in Germany, I fell ill with a bad cold and cough and had little physical energy. For two weeks I lived in the dreamtime, communicating with the ancestors and trying to make sense of the information about their lives I had discovered. After I got better, I had difficulty returning to daily life. The ancestors wanted to speak through me. Their stories, based on facts, come to me in waking trance.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer : I was born in Ober-Floerscheim (Hessen Darmstadt) on July 9, 1812. I was the first in a family of five children. Four years after me came Jakob, named after Father, and three years later, Rudolph. It was nice to have brothers, but my dream of a sister came true when Catherina was born a month and a day after my tenth birthday. My mother was busy with Jakob and Rudolph, so I became a second mother to Catherina. I could not nurse her, but I could sing to her and rock her to sleep. I changed her diapers and gave her a bath. It was so wonderful to have a baby to take care of. Three years later little Johanetta was born two days after my thirteenth birthday. Another baby for me and Mother bring up together.  I was in heaven. I was both mother and sister to the little girls. When they got older, I took my little sisters to play by the stream, where they giggled and cooed as we fed the ducks and the geese. In the summer, Mother and I brought them with us to the fields where we hoed and planted, weeded and harvested. They tried to pull weeds with their little fingers. It was my job to keep them from pulling up the plants too.

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