Announcing A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess by Carol P. Christ


carol p. christ photo michael bakas“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.

Despite having received positive and even glowing initial reviews, Odyssey with the Goddess was withdrawn from print and remaindered following a negative review in a feminist publication. The reviewer said that she did not understand how anyone who called herself a feminist could let herself be so disappointed in a love affair with a man. My editors, who were male, immediately lost confidence in the book.

Despite this deeply upsetting turn of events, writing Odyssey gave me the clarity and the confidence I needed to write my Goddess thealogy, published as Rebirth of the Goddess two years later. In living the journey described in Odyssey, I found myself, and I found the Goddess. Moreover, in the process of writing about my life, I gave birth to the authentic voice I was seeking after I became frustrated with the objective voice of traditional scholarship. Nonetheless, because it had been taken out of print, I remained slightly embarrassed by Odyssey, wondering if I had revealed too much about myself, made myself too vulnerable in the world.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. During the spring Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, I was urged to make all of my books available in e-book. After submitting the manuscript of my forthcoming book with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, to Fortress Press in August, I turned to the e-book question. My initial research led me to believe (wrongly) that a Word or PDF copy of a manuscript would be necessary to create an e-book—something I didn’t have for my earlier books. One of the women from the spring tour responded that Odyssey was her favorite of all my books, suggesting that, as it is a short book, she might be willing to type it for me.

I thought about this offer for about a week, and then decided to begin retyping the book myself with the thought that I could take out a few embarrassing details about the failed love affair. As I retyped the manuscript, I was a-mazed at the courage of my younger self, and I found that the prose was indeed “luminous” as the reviewer for Booklist had commented. I also confirmed that the insights about life and the Goddess that I described had stood the test of time.

Although my life has had its ups and downs since then, I never again fell into the deep despair of my younger years. I have learned to give up expecting life to turn out as I want it to, and in the process I found that love is everywhere if only we open our eyes. I have become ever more convinced that the Goddess is a personal being who cares about my life and the life of all other individuals in our world. There is not a single important detail in the book that I wanted or needed to change. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed adding a new preface and epilogue and delighted in revising the book in order to allow its insights shine through ever more clearly. I am absolutely thrilled that the book will finally be released in paperback and e-book under its original title: A Serpentine Path. This title evokes The Mysteries of the Goddess that I discovered.

For a preview of chapters in the book, see: Mysteries and Dionysian Rites.

Carol P. Christ is author or editor of eight books in Women and Religion and is one of the Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement. She leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete in Spring and Fall. Serpent art by Judith Shaw. Photo of Carol by Michael Bakas.

Cover Christ and PlaskowA Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess will be published by Far Press in December, 2016. A journey from despair to the joy of life.

Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology with Judith Plaskow will be published by Fortress Press in June 2016. Exploring the connections of theology and autobiography and alternatives to the transcendent, omnipotent male God.

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Categories: Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Theology, General, Goddess, Goddess Spirituality

Tags: , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. I’m so glad to hear this book will again be made available and with a new preface and epilogue! It is a truly inspirational and wise book – one of my favorites. And thank you to Far Press for making it happen!

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  2. Oh, you just made my day and Gina’s. Do let Gina know if you want to review it when it comes out. That goes for anyone else reading this too. Gina can be contacted at: thefarpress@gmail.com

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  3. ‘Although my life has had its ups and downs since then, I never again fell into the deep despair of my younger years. I have learned to give up expecting life to turn out as I want it to, and in the process I found that love is everywhere if only we open our eyes.’ – Beautiful, Carol … a wonderful thought to base my morning on. Thank you.

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  4. Carol — a comment on your pledge to “repair the web.”

    That we have something we call the Internet and alternately the World Wide Web, something of that extraordinary nature, is a great blessing in our era it seems to me. It is a gift on so many diverse levels, but it is also highly feminist in the way it unites all people, from all nations around the globe. We think of feminism as a philosophy in support of women’s rights. But feminism at its best seeks to unite and support a peaceful global society of every race, color, creed and including our protection of nature as well.

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  5. Well, I am glad I have a copy of the “original” version with (hopefully) no details left out. What an unfortunate remark by that original feminist reviewer… as if one is not allowed to feel deeply about a great loss or disappointment just because it involves a man. (What??) I feel that it’s those ’embarrassing details’ that show we are human and vulnerable, and allow people a peek into our souls. I believe that when we show our messy, disappointed, gorgeous humanity, it allows others to open up and be vulnerable as well. Bless you, Carol for telling your story. And congratulations on the re-release.

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    • yes my intention was to open myself so other women could enter the healing journey with me, if I had been perfect, no healing necessary, and if I had not been vulnerable, well as Nelle Morton once said of a mutual friend who claimed never to have had a moment of self-doubt “well then she just didn’t have the woman experience.”

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  6. Wonderful title, cover, and story ‘behind the book’. Thank you so much for sharing.

    My jaw dropped at the self-editing, self righteous tone of no one who calls herself a feminist “could let herself be so disappointed in a love affair with a man.” :( Did she read Gloria Steinem’s memoir? Are self-called feminists robots with no feelings? Hmmm. Kudos to you for keeping the humanity in your work and just saying No to sterile academ-ese.

    Looking forward to reading my spring equinox present!

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  7. As usual, brava! I have both Odyssey and Rebirth on my shelves and I know exactly where on my shelves they are. (That’s not true of a lot of my books. I often have to get up physically search for books. I’ve got a lot of books.) I hope those guys at Continuum who took your book out of print have found new jobs. Digging ditches or something! The reviewer, too.

    I, too, am looking forward to your new book. I’d love to review it for SageWoman!

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  8. Dearest Carol, Odyssey / Serpentine Path Has long been an inspiration…when I first began my return to Mother Goddess in the late 80s personal stories of women such as yourself were my most empowering tool. Blessings of the Solstice Season!

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  9. I have read Odyssey several times and am amazed/stunned/bewildered that it was remaindered. I love the book and found it reflected many of my experiences traveling with you in Crete. I look forward to buying and reading the revised edition and your other forthcoming book

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  10. Dearest Carol, I thought I owned all of your books, but when I went to my bookshelves, Odyssey wasn’t there. So I’m very excited to look forward to 2 publications by you in the next few months. Yay!

    These were the words I needed this morning: “I have learned to give up expecting life to turn out as I want it to, and in the process I found that love is everywhere if only we open our eyes.” Right now I’m beginning the long goodbye to my mother, who is dying a slow death from dementia. It’s a hard process, but last night while walking the labyrinth at a Solstice celebration, I finally cried and realized that I need to do what I CAN do (NOT what I think should happen), and find love and joy in this difficult situation. Thanks for these words of affirmation.

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  11. there are a few used copies of Odyssey on Amazon, but A Serpentine Path is even better, so you can wait. xxx

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  12. I am looking forward to reading it! Congratulations Carol. What I love about your writing is that it is embodied, being both scholarly and personal. xx

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  13. I am so glad to see this book released as it should be, in the fullness of time and ripened wisdom. Congratulations, Carol, and thanks for your courage in sharing your path.

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  14. I had no idea that Odyssey had been removed from print due to such a stupid review by a “feminist” reviewer. As other’s here have said that’s just plain crazy. As if being a feminist shields us from the pain of loss and disappointment around a broken heart. That’s got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Betrayal hurts – that’s just the way it is!

    And I’m so happy that it is being re-published intact. It is so very true that revealing your vulnerability allow others of us to accept our own vulnerability. And of course your statement “I have learned to give up expecting life to turn out as I want it to, and in the process I found that love is everywhere if only we open our eyes.” is the same thing that time and experiences have allowed me to feel.

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  15. I haven’t given up. Life has hit me hard in some ways, but unexpected joy has somehow entered my life in a way I could never begin to imagine. I think the whole thing is what you say, Carol, that basically we need to make the most of what we are given. Negativity never heals anything. I’m looking forward to your new edition.

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  16. Auspicious news for the Winter Solstice, and the re-birth of the light. Wishing you every congratulation. And thank you for sharing your story within the story of your journey – if we don’t include the personal in our spiritual journeys, what do we have? A sterile thesis, neatly removed from human context? The Serpentine Path seems to be alive with all of our most potent stories. Thank you again.

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  17. I was not familiar with this earlier book and having completed my own spiritual/sexual memoir, I look forward to reading it. And of course, the new one too. Thank you for the work you do!
    Beverly Dale

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  18. Thanks to all of you. In the new preface I say that of course I agree with the reviewer that feminism teaches us not to lose our selves in relationships with men, but that there is often a disconnect between what our minds know and our bodies and feelings. The healing journey is about connecting mind, body, and feeling.

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  19. This is so exciting, Carol! I can’t wait for the new edition and to get to read it with new eyes. Yay!

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  20. Love the title! Looking forward to reading it. Happy solstice!

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  21. Thank you Carol for sharing this with us. I too am amazed at that reviewer being disappointed about your sharing your grief over a failed love relationship. Great that you found your voice and that the content of your earlier book stood the test of time. The cover is lovely. I will check out the links you provided thank you …

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