女神 • Gudinde • 여신 • Богиня • Thần • Göttin •เทพธิดา • देवी • Η θεά • দেবী • Zeiţa • Dea • Bohyňa • 여신 • Bogini • Goddess •
الاهه• אלילה• الاله
The issue of women and spirituality has been something that has been at the forefront of my mind for a number of years. With a daughter growing into her own, and having been raised by a woman who often felt dissatisfied with what the world religions have offered women up, I think that its time that I begin collecting resources to help women in their journey to self-knowing.
My awakening revealed to me that we each have both feminine and masculine energy and that we can and do connect with those two ends of the creative continuum in a natural and native way. The tenets of reincarnation iterate the same reality that we have each been man, woman, mother, daughter, father, son. We cannot hope to understand spirituality without also understanding the feminine as both spiritual archetype and physical identity.
It isn’t that women don’t know themselves, it is that women have been sidelined in numerous religions just as the feminine principle in the divine has been sidelined as well. Generations have in many ways either had to retreat in secret or spend their lives with a big question mark above their heads. Isn’t there more? I think its time to have resources for women to help re-vision themselves for themselves, to offer inspiration, insight, hope, and maybe a little wonder for the journey forward. The old customs do not always fit. We are all seeking to redefine ourselves, to leave what no longer works and focus on what does (both men and women). There is no better time than right now in our present day to open wide the doors and let in the light.
The feminine is on its return from a certain obscurity as a spiritual force in our lives, and it is the healing of the feminine in our modern day that will help society as a whole move forward in a more conscious and compassionate way. It brings the “Shakti” in the “kundalini shakti” and it helps to enliven women when they touch this place deep within themselves, and it helps to humanize and soften men. It was the Swedish analyst Carl Jung who identified that our consciousness contains elements of both male and female which he called the anima and animus. Balancing those two aspects is, I have observed, an important first step in knowing ones self, especially when working with cosmic consciousness. To this end, I offer a list of carefully collected and selected books. I will be adding to this list as time goes on and I welcome any book that you would like to suggest that deals with helping women in this effort. What are your favorite books that have helped you along the way?
Always Coming Home, Ursula Le Guin. An amazing book that creates ritual, ceremony, music, and artifacts and blends them into a vision of pacifistic feminism that is earth-wise. Wonderful illustrations and music written for the book, this is a wonderful re-visioning what our world could be as we step into a clearer embodiment of what it means to be human.
Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power … by Sally Kempton. Awakening Shakti provides a practical guide for activating the currents of the divine feminine in every aspect of your life.
Ancient Mirrors Of Womanhood: A Treasury Of Goddess and Heroine Lore from Around The World, Merlin Stone, Beacon Press, ©1984, 425 pages. Learn about all our history has to offer about women who figured in important ways down through time and across cultural boundaries. From myths and legends to historical accounts, this book is a collection of stories about the great women of our past.
Beyond God The Father: Toward A Philosophy Of Women’s Liberation, Mary Daly. The title tells it all about this book!
The Chalice And The Blade: Our History, Our Future, Riane Eisler. Ten years of research went into this book to discover prehistoric art, philosophy, and religion. It illuminates the story of Atlantis from a feminine standpoint and brings forward the partnership teachings of Jesus via the Gnostic teachings. This book shows how we can work together for a breakthrough into our own evolution.
The Changing Of The Gods: Feminism And The End Of Traditional Religion, Naomi Goldenberg. This is a book on feminist spirituality, with the prediction that more feminine forms of spirituality would begin to emerge in society. While a little dated now, this has tended to get reasonably good ratings on Goodreads, and it offers up some visioning for how alternative earth-based religion could begin to emerge. While her predictions in the book have not worked out as she had thought, her review and insight into how religion has treated women is timely.
Chasm Of Fire: A Woman’s Experience of Liberation Through the Teachings Of A Sufi Master, Irnina Tweedie. ©1984. 206 Pages. Element Books. This is a story of Ms. Tweedie who goes to India to study under a Sufi Saint. In diary form, it details her process of transformation.
The Crone: Women Of Age, Wisdom, And Power, Barbara G. Walker. ©1986. Harper and Row. 191 pages. A deep look into the honored place of older women in ancient matriarchal societies. This book helps to restore to modern women an energized image of self-value, power, and respect.
Dreaming The Dark: Magic, Sex, And Politics, Starhawk. ©1982. Features narrative, chants, songs, and rituals. This book has helped many women use magic, spirituality, and community to help bring about social change. A holistic approach to integrating the many aspects of life into one fluid but dynamic whole. A newer anniversary edition has some updated material. Readers today find this work prescient for our time.
Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, And Other Pagans In America Today, Margot Adler. This is a guide and study of the neo-pagan movement in contemporary society.
Flight Of The Seventh Moon: The Teaching Of The Shields, Lynn Andrews. This is the second book in a series of works that details the author’s experience with, and eventual training by, two medicine women in Manitoba Canada. While some have remarked that there is no proof that the women Lynn has written about exist, the work, not unlike Carlos Castenada’s books, still help us to fill a void in contemporary understanding about aspects of our spiritual lives that people (notably women) are searching for. The first book in the series is Medicine Woman.
Grandmothers of The Light: A Medicine Woman’s Source Book, Paula Allen. “This extraordinary collection of goddess stories from Native American civilizations across the continent, Paula Gunn Allen shares myths that have guided female shamans toward an understanding of the sacred for centuries.”
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley. ©1982. This epic-sized book spans the life of Arthur Pendragon and his rise to power with the help of the priestesses of Avalon, a world apart from our own, shrouded behind a dimensional mist. This story, based on the Arthurian legend, is told anew from the perspective of a matriarchal society where both men and women were envisioned as being on equal standing. This book has touched many women’s lives for its depiction of the divine feminine as The Goddess.
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering Women At The Heart Of Christianity
by Cynthia Bourgeault. From Amazon: “Cynthia Bourgeault examines the Bible, church tradition, art, legend, and newly discovered texts to see what’s there. She then applies her own reasoning and intuition, informed by the wisdom of the ages-old Christian contemplative tradition. What emerges is a radical view of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s most important disciple, the one he considered to understand his teaching best. That teaching was characterized by a nondualistic approach to the world and by a deep understanding of the value of the feminine. ”
Embodying the Feminine by Chameli Ardagh. A powerful book for women tapping into and discovering the depths of the feminine.
Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories Of The Wild Woman Archetype
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. From Amazon:
Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. For though the gifts of wildish nature belong to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.
In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, many from her own traditions, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman, and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine.
Dr. Estés has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.
Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation For Women by Sylvia Brinton Perera
Passionate Enlightenment by Miranda Shaw. Tantric Buddhism was long thought by western researchers to have marginalized its female practitioners, but Miranda Shaw shows otherwise in her work on the topic, as she reveals a world of passionate engagement and leadership on the part of the women in Tantra. Winner of the 1994 Henry Breasted Price, and 1994 Tricycle prize for excellence in Buddhist scholarship.
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. “Roth’s approach to eating is the same as any addiction—it is an activity to avoid feeling emotions. From the first page, readers will be struck by Roth’s intelligence, humor, and sensitivity, as she traces the path of overeating from its subtle beginning through its logical end. Whether the drug is booze or brownies, the problem is the same: opting out of life. Roth’s premier advice is eat anything you want . She powerfully argues for personal investigation and urges readers to pay attention to what they truly need—and it usually cannot be found in a supermarket. She provides seven basic guidelines for eating (the most important is to never diet) and shares reassuring, practical advice that has over the years helped thousands of women who have attended her highly successful seminars and workshops..
“Truly a thinking woman’s guide to eating—and an anti-diet book— women everywhere will find insights and revelations on every page.”
Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love by Daniel Odier.
“The author reveals his passionate experiences with a female Tantric master who taught him the suppressed practices of her ancient order.
“In 1968 Daniel Odier left Europe for the Himalayas, searching for a master who could help him go where texts and intellectual searching could no longer take him. He wanted everything: the wisdom and spirituality gained from the life of an ascetic and the beauty, love, and sensuality of a life of passion. He found both in Shivaic Tantrism, the secret spiritual path that seeks to transcend ego and rediscover the divine by embracing the passions. In an isolated Himalayan forest Odier met Devi, a great yogini who would take him on a mystical journey like none he had ever imagined. At times taking him beyond the limits of sexual experience, at times threatening him with destruction, she taught him what it is to truly be alive and to know the divine nature of absolute love.
This is the personal memoir of one of France’s most honored writers.
“Tantrism is the only ancient philosophy to survive all historical upheavals, invasions, and influences to reach us intact by uninterrupted transmission from master to disciple, and the only one to retain the image of the Great Goddess as the ultimate source of power.”
Medicine Woman, Lynn Andrews. The story of how the author came to learn ancient ways of healing, seeing, and keeping the feminine alive in the world from her two Native American teachers who lived in Manitoba, Canada. This is the first book in the series. Flight Of The Seventh Moon is included in this list.
A Note About Workshops
One thing that remains constant in the seeking and in all of the writing on women’s issues related to spirituality that is nearly universal, which is a need to radically “refigure” what it means to be a spiritual woman. This “refiguring” is not itself a recreation out of nothing, but of a deeper, more profound focus on what it means to be a woman beyond the societal and religious definitions, in order to get down to the truth of what so many feel and yearn to bring forward into their lives. As a result of this, there has been an explosion of workshops and groups that have formed to help birth this new woman, a woman who has always been there and seeks to make itself relevant in today’s society. How does the ancient Goddesses of the past bear on the living embodiment of the Goddess, all women, in today’s world? Women are finding out!
But here’s the problem for me; there are loads of workshops of every stripe out there today. None of them have I been a part of. Many of the people, I am don’t know! This is where the hunt begins. If what you feel called to do is an experiential journey into doing and becoming, I am afraid that it is far better for you to look into it yourself and decide what is best for you. In an interview I conducted with a woman who had her own awakening experience which will be published soon on a separate page on this blog, Diane described to me how she conducted workshops to help women during the 70’s and 80’s to get in touch with their feminine self. These were experiences where she made it up as she went along, following her own wisdom and intuition. Diane remarked to me how she hardly ever prepared, preferring instead to find the answer in the moment. For those of you who like to plan everything out, a workshop like this probably isn’t for you (or maybe it is) because the magic always comes in the moment, the kind of magic that cannot be fit into a curriculum but emerges as its own mystery in the moment. These kinds of experiences, in my own experience, have always been the most rewarding even if they keep the participants guessing what is coming next.
This gets to the core of an important issue to my mind, which is all about the intuitive and what woman is at her core: she is not a part of the systems that have emerged over the last several thousand years that bear the stamp of linear logical thinking, but instead exist in a very different nonrational feeling “construct” that is the other side of our being. One thing that the Shakti does to all who feel her is that she loosens us up, takes us out of our need to control and offers up a whole new way to approach life that is as much about being spontaneous as it is intuitive and receptive. I offer this to you as something to consider when looking into workshops and opportunities for learning from teachers. The best way to know about a workshop is to speak with someone who has attended one. Or, better, speak to several. This blog is all about awakening, but you may not need to awaken. You might need to tap into your native feminine soul and begin working with that before attempting to crack open the cosmic egg that is the awakened state. So pick carefully, and I wish that I could offer you more insight or lists of workshops. I simply cannot in good conscience provide a list without fully knowing more. That said, if you have attended a workshop and you got a lot from it, I would love to hear from you, as I am sure my readers would as well.