Early in the morning of July 15, 2021, I was sitting amid the chaos of boxes in my new home which I had just closed on a week earlier. I had woken at 5 am to a leak in the new roof and was feeling very tired and somewhat dazed by all the work to be done. Then I got a text with the news that Carol Christ had passed away the previous day. It took a few minutes for that reality to sink in past my state of overwhelm and exhaustion and then the tears and the memories flooded through me.
Carol and I became friends in 1987 when we both had begun living on the Greek island, Lesvos, in the village of Molyvos. At that time Carol was mainly using her Greek name, so for many years I called her Karolina. As the months wore on we discovered our mutual interests – in Goddess, in social justice, in living a life more connected to nature and in the desires of younger women to kick up their heels and have some fun. We became constant “parea” (company) for each other.
My son, who was 8 years old at that time, was of course part of our “parea” as he went everywhere with me. We had many meals together in the restaurants and tavernas and at Karolina’s house. She watched over him on days that I needed to take the bus trip into Mytilene for shopping. Here’s a photo of the two of them taken during a meal at her house. Those were the days we wrote on the back of photos and Karolina wrote “my sweetheart” on this one.
My initiation into the Goddess Way had begun in the early 1970’s after reading Merlin Stone’s “When God Was A Woman” followed by other books on paganism and novels like “The Mists of Avalon.” I was not familiar with Karolina’s groundbreaking work but soon discovered her great intellect, fantastic facility with words, and the amazing contributions she had made and continued to make to the Goddess Movement. Many of our evenings together were spent gazing at the star filled sky of a very minimally electrified Molyvos and discussing Goddess, myth and its affect on human consciousness, women’s empowerment, and equality. We managed to keep up on local gossip too.
Karolina and I also took excursions together around the island, one of which was to an undeveloped archeological site. It was reputed to be the site of an ancient temple to Aphrodite. We asked Aphrodite for her help with our love lives as we performed a sweet ritual, pouring libations over a vulva shaped rock that appeared to have been carved to that shape.
Karolina accompanied my son and I on a trip to Turkey where I had to go to wait for my work permit to come through to teach EFL. I remember her telling me of a recent experience she had had in the Grand Bizarre of Istanbul. Anyone who knew Karolina knew that she was very tall – 6’1” if I remember correctly. While shopping the labyrinthian aisles of the Grand Bizarre men kept coming on to her by asking “Do you play basketball.” Finally she had had enough and she grabbed one of them by the scruff of his collar, saying, “The next person who asks me that question will be very sorry!” Word spread quickly through the Bizarre and she was not bothered again that day.
Together we traveled to the interior of Turkey to visit a Greek archeological site, “Aphrodisias” – a temple complex to Aphrodite. We also visited Ephesus, home to the Temple of Artemis and the astounding statue of Artemis adorned with many animals and a necklace of – (?) – breasts, bull’s testicles and/or bees. As 1987 was just before mass tourism really took hold we were able to see these sites without the onslaught of tourists.
In retrospect I can see how incredibly lucky Karolina and I were to have been living in Molivos in the late 80’s. We were there on the cusp of big changes as the village moved from a place where people lived in harmony with the cycles of nature to one in which they would live in sync with the cycles of mass tourism.
Though local people were rich with community and with the beauty surrounding them, they were poor in goods and services. I, coming from a land rich in goods and services, longed for community and natural beauty. They longed for more economic freedom.
My time living in Molyvos occurred just a few years after I had graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute. I was struggling to find my artistic voice and feeling constrained by the expectations of the Art World. Abstract Expressionism, which I was drawn to, was on its way out and conceptual art was becoming the fashion of the day. I think an unconscious fear of the power of the Art World was preventing me from allowing Goddess to express through my art.
I believe that my friendship with Karolina from whom I gained inspiration and more knowledge of myth and Goddess and by living immersed in a landscape filled with energy from the ancient world where so much adoration of Goddess was practiced, freed my heart and soul to express what I truly felt called to express. Here is a painting from that time with Goddess beginning to emerge – albeit very small.
And here are a couple of landscape drawings from Molyvos that Carol owned.
In 1997 Carol created the Women’s Creativity Workshop in Molyvos and she invited me to lead the visual art component which I did in both 1997 and 1998. She knew I had recently developed an art workshop – “Art, Ritual and the Sacred” centered around the creation of an altar box for one’s personal altar.. It was an amazing experience in which I learned how to help other women access their own unique voices, following Carol’s example.
And more recently it was Carol who urged me to start writing regularly for this most amazing blog site – Feminism and Religion. Shortly after beginning with FAR I read one of Carol’s posts on Celtic Goddess Brigid. I was inspired by her essay to create a small painting of Brigid. That little painting led me to another small goddess painting and then another and then I was off and running in the creation of my Celtic Goddess Oracle deck. Carol’s essay was the inspirational spark in the creation of a goddess deck which I had long wanted to do but couldn’t seem to find the courage.
Carol has now passed on – way too young – to whatever it is that awaits us at death. She most certainly did not fear death, embracing it as part of the ongoing cycle of life. Though I believe in reincarnation and she did not, I think she will forgive me for believing that she and I will meet again in some other form on some other day. Until then may you rest in peace in the loving arms of Goddess my dear friend, Karolina!
Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Wisdom. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.