Ancient Mothers, I Hear You Calling Me to Crete by Carol P. Christ

On a cold and rainy morning in Lesbos, I ponder the advice of my intuitive friend Cristina to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of my decision to move to Crete. When asked why I am moving from Lesbos to Crete, I tend focus on the negative: I am lonely in my small village; and I am disheartened by my neighbors’ lack of compassion for the refugees who come to our island from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

As I begin to think again, I recall the many wonderful things I have experienced in Lesbos. This is the island where Sappho sang, and I too have been inspired by the muses who arise from the land. It is here that I first felt Greece calling me to leave my home. It is here that I learned to speak Greek. It is here that I listened to the stories of the old people who remembered a time when everyone lived closer to each other and the land. It is here that I learned to dance the traditional dances of Greece. It is here that I learned to identify over 300 species of birds that visit the wetlands on spring migration or are year-around or summer and winter residents. It is here that I dedicated a decade of my life to the effort to protect the wetland home of the birds I came to love. It is here that I was asked to run for regional and national office by the Green Party Greece. It is here that I met green friends I will always hold in my heart. It is here that I became an amateur geologist, learning the volcanic history of an island that has been declared a UNESCO Geopark. It is here that I imagined the time before 1922 when Turks, Armenians, and Greeks lived together in my village. It is here that I renovated a small Turkish house in a neighborhood that once had a mosque and later, a Neoclassical “mansion” (not particularly large by American standards) built by a Greek shipowner who transported goods brought by camels along the silk road from China. It is here that I learned to drink retsina and to relish food drenched in olive oil. I will carry all of this with me, for it is in my blood and in my bones.

But now, Crete is calling me.

On the practical level, I hope to make friends who share my passions for the environment, for women’s power rising, for the Goddess, and for the harmonious egalitarian culture of ancient Crete. Though I know that people who feel threatened can become nasty in other parts of Greece and indeed in every part of the world, I will be happy not to be experiencing that nastiness on a daily basis.

But if practical concerns were all, I might not have chosen Crete. Crete is calling because it was once home to a culture based on respect for women, harmony with nature, and peace: a history that can still be glimpsed from time to time in the generosity of its people.

In fact, Crete has been my second home for all of the twenty-five years I have been leading the Goddess Pilgrimage. There I visited sacred places and found the power to overcome what had been a recurring depression. There I learned that love is always available though not always in the places we expect to find it. There the Goddess spoke to me in the darkness of caves, through the green leaves of the Sacred Myrtle Tree, and in the serpentine rhythms of the dance. The landscape of Crete is incredibly beautiful, and I count many of its people as my friends.

At the end of the most recent Goddess Pilgrimage, one of the women thanked me for my dedication to unraveling the egalitarian matriarchal culture of ancient Crete—and for not giving up no matter what! The fact that ancient Crete was, as Marija Gimbutas has written, the final flowering of the egalitarian, peaceful, matrilineal and probably matrilocal culture of Old Europe that worshipped the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life, is the deeper reason I am moving to Crete.

Coincidentally—or not—I made the decision to move a few weeks after I was invited by archaeologist Vance Waltrous to join the team that is interpreting the results of recent excavations of the Minoan town of Gournia, originally uncovered by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd (later Hawes) at the beginning of the twentieth century. In agreeing to write about religion at Gournia for the new team, I was aware that I would be following in the footsteps of a very brave and very intelligent woman who understood as I do that the culture of ancient Crete was different from the familiar Greek patriarchy.

Harriet Boyd, her colleague Blanche Wheeler (later Williams), and Marija Gimbutas are ancestors calling me to Crete. They, along with a long line of women stretching back to those who first came to Crete bringing with them the secrets of agriculture, are calling me to write without fear of any reprisal about the peaceful society of ancient Crete where reverence women and nature was at the center of everything.

Thank you for your oracular question, Cristina Nevans. You provoked me to recognize that writing about the “society of peace” that was ancient Crete is one of the reasons I am being called to move to a place where memories of a different way of living in harmony with each other and our mother earth are waiting to be revealed and articulated. I cannot yet envision what form it will take, but I now sense that the essay Vance Waltrous has asked me to write is only a beginning.

Ancient Mothers, I hear you calling me.


Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who will soon be moving to Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.

Categories: Academics, Ancestors, Archaeology, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

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19 replies

  1. Wonderful article, Carol. Now, both Lesvos and Crete are calling me back again. Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At this moment I am in the Athens airport en route to Crete where I will sign the contract for my new home and meet with the architect immediately thereafter so they can get started on the relatively small amount of work that needs to be done. Then I will be back in Lesbos with the intention of moving as early in March as is feasible. It has been 5 long months since we signed the precontract and I paid a downpayment. Yeah!!!

    Everything started coming together once I wrote this week’s blog and part of me thinks I had to write it for the blocks to become unblocked. Anyway I am glad I was able to come to this realization before I moved.

    Liked by 6 people

    • May all be well for you.


      • Do you know about the priestess convocation happening in Crete later this year . For the first time goddess loving peoples from all over the world will gather in sacred ceremony , anchoring the rising and remembering of all that is sacred , all that is goddess , rooted in the ancient Mother lines that are calling us home.


  3. Carol, this is so exciting! You must be thrilled at the idea of further exploring the “Minoan” culture (of course, we don’t yet know how they actually referred to themselves). I for one revere it and sometimes wish there were such a thing as a time machine so I could visit it. A matrifocal society is so very, very far away both in time and concept from the vicious patriarchal society we reluctantly inhabit today. It’s hard for me and, I imagine, for most women, to visualize a society in which women didn’t feel under threat from men 24/7/65.

    My adorable granddaughter is approaching menarche. I wish I didn’t have to contemplate the idea of giving her a set of lessons in martial arts. I’d rather give her other gifts to welcome her to the world of women.


  4. Thank you for taking the time to share this, Carol. I went to a couple of islands and Crete is one of my bucket lists. Your story is very interesting and it makes me more feel excited to visit Crete.


  5. Carol, It is my hope that by living in Crete more doors will open for you to be more visible with this incredible story of what happens when women are in charge of leading communities who revere the wonders of fertility and desire to live peacefully together. When I talk to people about my trip last year NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE PERSON is aware of this history – either in Crete, in Europe, or in parts of the continent of Africa. NO ONE!! I find this history empowering for it offers new possibilities and ones that are desperately needed right now. “Without a vision, the people perish” and, we are indeed perishing as a species! So, may your new dwelling in Crete position you to be more visible in getting the word out that there are alternatives to the madness of what the Western world has offered us!! Best wishes!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. How joyous is your story Carol… much blessings as Ancient Mother calls you home. Over 12 years ago I found a flyer of your Crete tour on a shelf at Womenspace here in Brisbane and had a energy flood my being as I read the flyer….. – I wanted to go on the tour immediately…. I thought maybe one day this would become a reality for me? What a beautiful journey it has been with Goddess these last 12 years and Carol your teachings/ writings have been very much part of my journey. Today it has become a reality as I will be attending a Goddess tour of Crete in Sept /Oct this year (not with your tour). I feel very blessed to be going and look forward to immersing myself in Her ancient sacred land and culture. Thank you Carol for your deep knowledge and sharing our ancient matriarchal cultures and your dedication to Her….may She reward you in abundance of good health, lightness of spirit and amazing new creativity…. Blessed be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maya sou in your new home in Crete. May the Muses inspire your future written articulations of what Crete can teach the entire world.


  8. As usual, a splendid and insightful post. Brava! Your mixed feelings now for Lesbos are well expressed, and I’m sure every woman in the Goddess community will appreciate your decision to answer the calls of the Ancient and 20th-century Mothers to move to Crete and to help explain the ancient matrifocal culture to us. I hope men pay attention.

    Did I tell you I recently reread She Who Changes? I found it as moving and impressive as I did in my previous readings of the book. So I’ve just bought a copy to give to my daughter-in-law for her birthday. Thanks for all your good work in the past, in the present, and to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading this essay gave me chills. That you are being called “home” to a culture that you have embraced, shared, loved, a culture that puts women and nature at the center of Life makes all the sense in the world to me. You have given us all so much – and following your “Grandmothers” (I think of Marija Gimbutus especially) is an adventure that we will all be able to share through your writing. Who knows where this is going to take you… I personally cannot wait to learn more! Many many blessings Carol –


  10. ~thank you for continuing this sacred work of unearthing the ancient mother/goddess/female-centric cultures~


  11. What a beautiful tribute to your time in Lesbos and all you learned there. And how beautiful your call to Crete, a call from visionary ancestors to do visionary work. A call from the rock and soil and plants of Crete and the memories held there. What a joyful reunion. Goddess speed.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful! I want to visit!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for your deep work with self through the years and for honouring your intuitive voice to study, write, research and share your knowing(s). You gift us all in multiple ways.
    In 1992 I responded to the call of my intuitive voice to Crete and The first International Minoan Celebration of Partnership… a symposium conducted by Riane Eisler and Margarita Papandreou.

    I explored the island and re-met myself in different aspects and people important to me then and a later in my life. Crete / the Giddess live in/through me in my living daily. I do not know if I will return but if I do I will hope to sit with you and sip a tea with Cretian honey and speak of knowings if the Goddess. Or not speak and know.

    Enjoy your renewal and living in the arms of the Goddess.

    Blessed Be


  14. I just wanted to comment how much I admire your journey and your willingness to not only know the calls of your heart and intuition but to actually follow them. I see you have had times of great loneliness and other times of difficulty yet seen as a whole, it is the heroic journey and it is beautiful. As Elizabeth wrote (love that), Goddess speed!


  15. all wonderful wishes Carol for your new home. May she inspire you –


  16. Hi Carol:

    I’m so happy for you! As I age, I realize that “soul homes” – and the people are provide “soul homes” are increasingly important to me. I’m so glad that you are able to hear your soul’s calling and able to act on it. Sending much love to you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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