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.
Sacred Feminine or Goddess Feminism?

In recent years “the Sacred Feminine” has become interchangeable with (for some) and preferable to (for others) “Goddess” and “Goddess feminism.” The terms Goddess and feminism, it is sometimes argued, raise hackles: Is Goddess to replace God? And if so why? Does feminism imply an aggressive stance? And if so, against whom or what?

In contrast, the term “sacred feminine” (with or without caps) feels warm and fuzzy, implying love, care, and concern without invoking the G word or even the M(other) word--about which some people have mixed feelings. Advocates of the sacred feminine stand against no one, for men have their “sacred feminine” sides, while women have their “sacred masculine” sides as well.

Nothing lost, and much to be gained. Right? Wrong.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine?
Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine?

When Goddess feminism emerged onto the scene, it had a political edge. It was about women affirming, as Meg Christian crooned in “Ode to a Gym Teacher,” that “being female means you still can be strong.” Goddess feminism arose in clear opposition to patriarchy and patriarchal religions. It was born of an explicit critique of societies organized around male domination, violence, and war; and of the male God or Gods of patriarchal religions as justifying domination, violence, and war. In this context, “the sacred masculine” was not understood to be a neutral or positive concept. To the contrary, the male Gods of patriarchy were understood to be at the center of symbol systems that justify domination.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Carol, I agree with Lisa - but I'd like to add that as a former Viet Nam war protestor, it's very hard to feel safe expressing yo
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Siggghhh. Here's another song "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." There are at least two of us... "Imagine
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, let's imagine it every day. By the way, I was moved to tears by your piece about washing the clothes of the children who had
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    Carol, I appreciate what you’ve said here (as well as the news from my friend Susan Foster of her recent travels with you through
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    ess is feminine, not diminuitive. I think in practice it does not feel at all diminuitive. It feels more female and powerful that

No matter how carefully developed they are, theories of female power in pre-patriarchal societies are dismissed in academic circles as “romantic fantasies” of a “golden age” based in “emotional longings” with “no basis in fact.” I was reminded of this while reviewing three books about the Goddess last week.

In one of the books, the co-authors, who define themselves as feminists, summarily dismiss theories about the origins of Goddess worship in pre-patriarchal prehistory. In another, the author traces the origin of certain Goddess stories and symbols found in recent folklore back to the beginnings of agriculture. Inexplicably, she stops there, not even mentioning the theory that women invented agriculture. Considering that possibility might have suggested that the symbols and stories the she was investigating were developed by women as part of rituals connected to the agricultural cycle. To ask these questions would have raised a further one: the question of female power in prehistory. And this it seems is a question that cannot be asked. This question was addressed in the third (very scholarly) book, which I fear will simply be ignored.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Excellent discussion, Carol. I've believed Marija Gimbutas discovered the truth, ever since seeing that wonderful video, Signs Ou
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    It's not about them. It's about how to create a more egalitarian, peaceful, and harmonious world! Well said! Of course it is about
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Goddesses in Context, Dancing Goddesses, Matriarchal Societies.
  • lanette miller
    lanette miller says #
    Would you mind sharing the three books you were reviewing?
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Thanks Meredith. Unfortunately, women as well as men summarily dismiss the research on female power in prehistory. I think there a

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

A few days ago I received a message out of the blue on Facebook:

Thank you for your accepting my friend request. I am fighting to find my way out of depression during a life transition as I move into retirement from my years of work as an educator. I look forward to your book this spring. I have long called myself a Goddess feminist having struggled with patriarchal Christianity since my youth, but have felt abandoned by the Goddess for many years now. I'm not sure how I found you today. I stumbled onto a blog from you on your book while googling something else. Your words gave me a spark of hope. Laurel

In my blog I said that when I began to write A Serpentine Path, I felt abandoned by the Goddess. I wrote back, hoping that sharing what I had learned on my journey would be helpful.

The short answer is that the Goddess has never abandoned any of us. However, She does not have the power to make everything turn out as it could be or should be or we wish it would be. Hers is the power to inspire but not to control. If you have been unhappy, She is with you, She understands your pain, and She will be with you as you seek to find your way. I hope this doesn't sound too preachy. It is from the heart of my experience. Take care of yourself.

I immediately received an answer back.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Carol - clearly and beautifully written. Omnipotence is such a toxic theological trap.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Announcing A Serpentine Path

"The serpentine path is the path of life, a snakelike, meandering path, winding in and out, up and down, with no beginning and no end, into the darkness and into the light."

As the year draws to a close, I am putting the finishing touches on A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess. In the spring of 2016 it will be published by the Far Press, founded by Gina Messina-Dysert.  A Serpentine Path is the original title of the memoir of my journey from despair to the joy of life on the first Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. It was published in 1995 as Odyssey with the Goddess, a title chosen by the publisher.

A Serpentine Path marked a turning point in my life and in my career as a writer. During the time described in my memoir I had fallen into a deep despair, sparked by the end of a marriage, the end of a love affair, and disappointment in my career. Hoping to make a fresh start, I moved to Greece. Not surprisingly, my despair followed me there. Nonetheless, as I would learn, I made the right decision, for as my Greek therapist was to tell me, I needed to learn to live in my body, not my head, and Greece was the place to learn that.I was at a crossroads in my spiritual quest. I left Christianity for Goddess feminism, yet I felt the Goddess had abandoned me. I had a contract to write the first Goddess thealogy, but as I said in a speech at I gave at Harvard Divinity School just before I made the decision to move to Greece, I was not sure of the meaning of the symbol of the Goddess. Is Goddess a personal being who cares about the world? Or the name we give to the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration in nature? My inability to answer this question led my editors to return draft of my Goddess thealogy with the comment that something was missing.

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Can You Imagine a Society of Peace? by Carol P. Christ

As war and the fruits of war, including hatred and the desire for vengeance, threaten our human community, I take this opportunity republish a vision of a Society of Peace. If we cannot imagine a Society of Peace, we will never be able to create one. Can you imagine that:

As a child, you would not have to fight with your sisters or brothers for your father’s or your mother’s attention. You would not have one mother but many as you would be raised in a large extended family. Both girls and boys would be equally loved and cherished by their mothers and grandmothers and by their uncles and great-uncles. Both girls and boys would know that they would always have a place in the maternal clan. As a boy or a girl you would never have to “separate from” or “reject” your mother in order to “prove yourself as an individual” or in order to “grow up.” You could grow up without severing the bond with the ones who first loved you and first cared for you.

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TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED & GIVE AWAY by Carol P. Christ

Why is it so important to take only what we really need? Because everything we take harms another life. I included this Native American teaching as one of the Nine Touchstones I offered as a counterpoint to the Ten Commandments in Rebirth of the Goddess.

Recently, I have begun to realize that the concept of taking only what you need is the heart of sustainability ethics, an ethical system that can orient us to living in harmony with others and the natural world. The practice of great generosity is its counterpoint. When you have worked for, received, or accumulated more than you need, you should give it away.

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CROSSING THE SEA OF DEATH by Carol P. Christ

I am washing wet clothes cast off by refugees who crossed the Sea of Death, the new name for channel only 4 nautical miles wide that separates Turkey and Lesbos. A tiny pink long-sleeved shirt with a boat neck, for a girl, size 3 months. The channel was relatively safe in the spring and summer, even though people were pushed into black rubber dinghies wearing illegal life jackets that would not float. A pair of leggings with feet, grey with pink, orange, brown, white, and blue polka-dots, to be worn over diapers. North winds have made the journey treacherous.

I am not on the front lines, pulling wet children alive and dead from the sea. I think my heart would break.

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  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    Thank you for your service, your heart.
  • Candise
    Candise says #
    Chilling. Thank you.

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