Woodspriestess: Exploring the intersection between Nature, the Goddess, art, and poetry.

Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...

In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”

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Book Review: The Goddess in America

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2016-052.JPGAs someone who comes to goddess spirituality from a feminist thealogy perspective, I have found it important to distinguish between the lineage and history of goddess spirituality and that of contemporary paganism as a broader and larger movement. While the roots of goddess spirituality are indeed entwined with paganism and Wicca, there is still a distinct “herstory” of the goddess movement in the United States, as well as qualities, traditions, values, perspectives, and tenants within it that are worthy of consideration on a stand-alone basis.

The Goddess in America, forthcoming from Moon Books this fall, is a highly recommended anthology of insightful essays about the meaning, role, goddess in americaexpression, and experience of the Goddess in the United States. This is not a 101 or introductory book, but rather a complex exploration of a variety of topics including cultural appropriation, differences between feminist goddess spirituality and Wicca, contemporary priestessing, pop culture goddesses, goth goddesses, polytheism vs monotheistic concepts (i.e .the difference between “all goddesses as one” and each goddess as an individual), goddesses and the land and whether goddesses can be “transported” to other locations/lands, and much more. The book contains contributions from nineteen writers with diverse perspectives and experiences and it identifies the “enduring experience of Goddess Spirituality through a four-part discussion focused on the Native Goddess, the Migrant Goddess, the Goddess in relation to other aspects of American culture (Feminism, Christianity, Witchcraft, etc.) and the Goddess in contemporary America.” As someone who loves books, I believe that anthologies are possibly one of the greatest inventions of all time. Indeed, the only problem I had with this book was that the writers were so talented and have written so many other interesting books, that my to-read bookshelf now becoming even more extensive!

I teach goddess studies and priestessing classes and I sometimes feel as if I refer too often to books published in the 1980’s as my top recommended resources (I was still a child in the 80’s myself!), so it is refreshing to encounter a contemporary thealogical book of substance and depth. I often joke that books are my first and truest love and as a goddess scholar as well as devotee, I also find myself frustrated by contemporary goddess-themed books that come from a pop psychology perspective (i.e. liberate your inner goddess in six easy steps), preferring to dig deeply and turn over questions of thealogical complexity and insight. Phoenix Love touches on this issue in her essay, From Marilyn to Maleficent: Pop Goes the Goddess:

“In an era when self-help books reign supreme, one can find books everywhere telling women they can learn how to bring out their ‘inner goddess’…Yes, an inner goddess needs to be recognized, nurtured, and loved. Every woman contains within her a spark of divinity that needs recognition and nurturing. But the commerciality of this now very common practice comes with what? The cost of divinity? At the cost of possibly cheapening how a goddess should be considered is the modernization of what a goddess truly is versus what popular culture has made her really a good thing? Can we, as goddess worshippers, stand by and allow the divinity drained from our image of the Goddess to be replaced with popular cultural definitions of what a goddess should be?”

While there are many books available that catalog goddess identities, are paganism 101 starter guides, or list extensive correspondences, The Goddess in America is none of these and is instead an amazing balance of personal experiences, thealogical reflections, sociocultural musings and connections, and even some practical suggestions as well as questions to explore in your own life, community, and practice.

Notes:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Crossposted at Brigid's Grove.

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Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, Red Tents, seasonal retreats and rituals, Pink Tent mother-daughter circles, and family ceremonies from her tiny temple space in rural Missouri and teaches online courses in Red Tent facilitation and Practical Priestessing.

Molly is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees. She finished her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. She is the author of Womanrunes, Earthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit. Molly and and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, mini goddesses, pendants, and ceremony kits at Brigid’s Grove (http://brigidsgrove.com), where they also publish Womanrunes book and deck sets.

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