Vayeishev: A Feminist Reflection on the Women in Joseph’s life and Dreams by Ivy Helman.

This week’s Torah portion is Vayeishev, Genesis 37:1-40:23.   The portion covers too much information to address it adequately in one post.  Therefore, in this post, I will examine, from a feminist perspective, Joseph, the women in his life, and dreams. While the women in Vayeishev leave much to be desired, its dreams point to an important connection between humanity, divinity, and nature.

Vayeishev starts with the raw jealousy that some of Jacob’s sons have for Joseph. This jealousy is so great that it sends Joseph all the way to Egypt. As a feminist, I have always found it both comforting and completely realistic the way the Torah delves into emotion.  Since even the lofty patriarchs are jealous, no superhuman behavior is expected of us. Despite this comfort, I am not happy that it is once again men and boys who take centerstage. We know that these men and boys also had women and girls in their lives.  

Continue reading “Vayeishev: A Feminist Reflection on the Women in Joseph’s life and Dreams by Ivy Helman.”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Can We Celebrate the Dark? Can We Sleep?

This was originally posted on December 19, 2019

According to Marija Gimbutas, the religion of Old Europe celebrated the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life. Agricultural peoples understand that seeds must be kept in a cold dark place during the winter if they are to sprout when planted in the spring. People who work hard during the long days that begin in spring, peak at midsummer, and continue through the fall, are grateful for the dark times of the year when they can rest their weary bones on long winters’ nights. Long winters’ nights are a time for dreams, a time when people gather around the hearth fire to share songs and stories that express their understanding of the meaning of the cycles of life.

The Indo-Europeans were not an agricultural people. Herders, nomads, and horseback riders, they celebrated the shining Gods of the Sky whose power was reflected in their shining bronze armor and shining bronze weapons. When the Indo-European speaking peoples entered into a Europe, they married their Sun and Sky Gods to the Earth Mother Goddesses of the people they conquered. These were unequal marriages in which the Sun was viewed as superior to the Earth. The unhappy marriage of Hera and Zeus reflects this pattern, as do the many rapes of Goddesses and nymphs recorded in Greek and Roman mythology.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Can We Celebrate the Dark? Can We Sleep?”

Upon Rising: Poems Call Out by Margot Van Sluytman

Moderator’s Note: Margot reads each of her poems aloud. They can be heard through the links in the titles.

“And what then is poetry?” We ask this time and time and time again. And poetry HERself answers. SHE needs no descriptor. Mimetic sagacity spells HER clarity.
Dreams be Fed

I am a body that remembers

The joys of falling into hues of

Brilliant blues and greens.

I am a soul that trades in
Cinnamon and spices.

Elevating chance.
Caressing mystery.
I am a will that conceives fat
Ebullient Moon as
Golden Goddess. Divine.

SHE who feeds our dreams.
SHE who teaches us

To tend our fires.
©Margot Van Sluytman

Continue reading “Upon Rising: Poems Call Out by Margot Van Sluytman”

The Norns, Spiritual Mystery and Me, Part 1 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

In 2020, I began writing my biography because some weird things were happening in my life including some which were time-bending. To help make sense of it, I wrote up “conversations” with the mythical characters of Persephone, Inanna and the Norns of the Norse. Throughout my bio, I speak to the Norns as an out loud meditation on the nature of time, fate and energy.

The three Norn sisters are Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. Their names come from Old Norse which is not a spoken language. The actual translation of their names is open to speculation. In general, here are their common meanings.

  • Urd – past
  • Verdandi – happening or present
  • Skuld – future or debt.

By mythological tradition, they show up at a child’s birth and then weave their “fateful” decisions about that child’s life into a tapestry. They are considered more powerful and fearsome than the gods because even the gods are ruled by the hands of fate (or Norns in this case). They were also treated as oracles where kings and warriors went to consult them much as was done in Delphi Greece.[1]

Continue reading “The Norns, Spiritual Mystery and Me, Part 1 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ by Sara Wright

The Power of Dreams to Forecast Future Events

I have been a dreamer all my life and within the last six weeks I have had a number of dreams that both frightened and baffled me. How is it possible I ask myself that after 40 years of dream jounraling and being trained as analyst that I am still that stupid?

Part of the answer is that I don’t pay close enough attention to warnings when I can’t make sense of them. For example, when these dreams began someone I didn’t know had contacted me out of the blue and insinuated himself into my life by praising someone I love. The very next night I had a dream that told me that a man was coming to harm me.

Continue reading “‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ by Sara Wright”

Moving to Ursula: Dream Wisdom and the Sacred Feminine by Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD

For the last seven years, I have been conducting research for my book Undertorah: An Earth-Based Kabbalah of Dreams, which is about to appear courtesy of Ayin Press.  On this writing journey, I’ve interviewed seventy dreamers, and have studied pre-modern dreams from texts of ancient Israel and ancient Sumer to dream accounts of women kabbalists and Chasidic masters.  I’ve also sat with my own dreams and their odd truths. Many of the dreams I’ve encountered express powerful visions of the feminine. I find these often odd and eerie visions particularly useful in expressing “the multiplicity of experiences of [the feminine]… rather than an imposed definition of those experiences…”[i]

Continue reading “Moving to Ursula: Dream Wisdom and the Sacred Feminine by Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD”

Last Tuesday Night by Marcia Mount Shoop

It’s been just over a week. Last Tuesday night to be exact. That’s the night the four of us huddled around our beloved companion of sixteen and a half years and said goodbye. 

Buck became a part of our family when he was three months old. We were living in Oakland, California at the time. My son was five and my daughter had just turned one. My husband was coaching for the Raiders and he was gone all the time. It wasn’t a great time to get a puppy on paper—but our hearts said otherwise, so we did. 

Just a little over a year earlier I had said goodbye to Tino. He’s the Blue Heeler that found me in a dream when I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That morning I woke up and just had to get a puppy. It was a visceral pull. And I went to the Santa Fe Human Society and there was the puppy from my dream. He didn’t look like any dog I had ever seen until my dream the night before. 

Continue reading “Last Tuesday Night by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Becoming the Mother: A Dream Journey to the Sacred Feminine by Jill Hammer

This essay is dedicated to the memory of Carol P. Christ, scholar of the Goddess, who has brought so much wisdom and liberation to our world, and whom I deeply admired. May her memory be a blessing.

The call of the Divine Mother has compelled me for most of my life. I have scoured kabbalistic works for visions of God/dess as Mother, Womb, Protectress, Home of Being. I’ve gone on treasure hunts through museums to find paintings of the Annunciation and statues of birthing goddesses. I’ve written poems to the Mother Goddess of my imagination. Experiencing Deity as creatrix and nurturer moves me. But when I had a daughter of my own, becoming the Mother in an immediate sense proved to be more difficult than revering Her from afar. I couldn’t fully internalize that I had stepped into the sacred role of parent, even after I became one. I know this is true because of my dreams.

Not long after my daughter was born more than a decade ago, I began to have disturbing dreams. In the first of these dreams, I dropped my infant daughter by mistake into water that had flooded the area around my home. She disappeared without a trace into the deep water. I begged for help finding her, but no one would help me. Soon I realized she must be dead. I woke up terrified and sobbing. In another dream, I realized no one was watching my daughter and she must have fallen into the nearby lake. In a third dream, a huge flood came into my house and carried her away.

Continue reading “Becoming the Mother: A Dream Journey to the Sacred Feminine by Jill Hammer”

Election Musings by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

On Friday, Nov. 6th, the day before the Biden/Harris race was called I spent a day in a deeply meditative state. I live in the NY City metropolitan area and it was a beautiful day.  I mostly sat in my backyard in a patch of sunshine musing on the world and seeking a personal sense of balance. I didn’t do anything that day. Well not entirely true, I did a few things, for example I shifted positions a few times to stay in the sun. I grew up in the Puritan based school system which frowned on “doing nothing” as if spending a day not actively achieving anything was somehow wrong, perhaps sinful. For my kids, 30 years after me, it was far worse, codified in hours of homework following a complete school day. And today it’s even harder with afterschool activities (although I must say, to my great pleasure, I have never seen so many children playing on the street in my neighborhood than since this pandemic began.) No wonder Mama Nature is not generally honored. We don’t raise our children to have the time nor space for Her. Continue reading “Election Musings by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Today Is the Day by Carol P. Christ

I have been thinking of moving to Crete for almost two years. I signed the pre-contract for my new apartment in Heraklion on September 28 last year and anticipated signing the final contract in October. However, the owner did not submit his paperwork until the end of November, and little work gets done in Greek offices over the holidays. Moreover, the sitting tenant was doing just that. She been asked to move in July, and with an expired lease, she lost the formal eviction case in October. The realtor and the owner felt certain she would move before the holidays. She did not.

I spent December and January in a kind of hibernation. I knew I would eventually get the apartment, but I also knew I could do little to make it happen more quickly. I sat on my couch, stared out to sea, and waited. Soon it was mid-January and nothing had changed. We were still waiting for a paper from the Municipality of Heraklion and the tenant had not budged. Continue reading “Today Is the Day by Carol P. Christ”

Can We Celebrate the Dark? Can We Sleep? by Carol P. Christ

According to Marija Gimbutas, the religion of Old Europe celebrated the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life. Agricultural peoples understand that seeds must be kept in a cold dark place during the winter if they are to sprout when planted in the spring. People who work hard during the long days that begin in spring, peak at midsummer, and continue through the fall, are grateful for the dark times of the year when they can rest their weary bones on long winters’ nights. Long winters’ nights are a time for dreams, a time when people gather around the hearth fire to share songs and stories that express their understanding of the meaning of the cycles of life.

The Indo-Europeans were not an agricultural people. Herders, nomads, and horseback riders, they celebrated the shining Gods of the Sky whose power was reflected in their shining bronze armor and shining bronze weapons. When the Indo-European speaking peoples entered into a Europe, they married their Sun and Sky Gods to the Earth Mother Goddesses of the people they conquered. These were unequal marriages in which the Sun was viewed as superior to the Earth. The unhappy marriage of Hera and Zeus reflects this pattern, as do the many rapes of Goddesses and nymphs recorded in Greek and Roman mythology. Continue reading “Can We Celebrate the Dark? Can We Sleep? by Carol P. Christ”

Endings, Beginnings, and Dreamings by Carol P. Christ

my dream home in Molivos

Fifteen years ago, I bought my dream home in Molivos, Lesbos, one of the most stunning villages in the world. Over the next two years I renovated a listed Neoclassical house that had been neglected for over thirty years, restoring it to its original beauty. One of my friends who visited exclaimed that it looked like a movie set. Someone else said that the final result was “more Greek than Greek.” I thought this would be my forever home. But, as I have discussed in an earlier blog, I came to feel isolated in a small village.

Two years ago, I followed my heart to Crete, renting a lovely apartment in Heraklion, followed by a house near the sea. Then back to Lesbos, travel to the US and Canada, and Crete again after Christmas. I would have been happy to move back to the apartment I had rented the previous year, but this time I would bring my little dog. The apartment under my friend’s house outside Heraklion seemed like a good compromise, but the drive to Heraklion proved treacherous and parking difficult. Continue reading “Endings, Beginnings, and Dreamings by Carol P. Christ”

In Dreams by Natalie Weaver

I am grateful for dreams.  I don’t know what they are, of course, in any absolute sort of way.  Defining dreaming is as elusive as dreams themselves.  Moreover, I find that understanding dreaming is complicated by the vastly variegated quality one finds in hearing people speak of their experiences of dreaming.  Some say things such as “I can never remember a dream,” while others say they only remember bad dreams.  Some place no stock in dreams at all, while for others they are the numinous truth realms beneath all waking phenomena.  I have spoken with hard-science minded colleagues as well as artists about dreams, who regardless of professional vocation can be utterly untouched by their nighttime journeying.  On just a few occasions have I ever heard people speak of their dreams as definitively shaping their lives in the way that my dreams, or more precisely, in the way that the faculty of dreaming, has impacted my life.

Continue reading “In Dreams by Natalie Weaver”

Mid –Summer Musings: Lady in Waiting by Sara Wright

Yesterday at the Mid-Summer Turning I took a woodland walk in warm summer rain and then spent a quiet day at home. I visited with a few tadpoles and green frogs that inhabit my vernal pool, sat on the bridge and listened to the flow of water over stone at a woodland waterfall, a place so dear to my heart. I also spent quiet time reflecting…

For too long I have been a woman in waiting… waiting for diagnoses for myself and my dog, waiting for direction – I need to make a decision about where I am supposed to live – waiting for intuitive nudges, waiting for calls from loved ones that don’t come, waiting for this dark cloud to lift, praying for the power of the spirit and body of the earth to fill this empty vessel that has become who I am. Continue reading “Mid –Summer Musings: Lady in Waiting by Sara Wright”

And We Are Singing, Singing for Our Lives! by Carol P. Christ

Last week I wrote about the grief I feel for the state of my nation (the United States) and of the world. A few days later one of my favorite writers, Katha Pollitt, asked why we are not all in the streets all the time, keeping alive the enormous energy that came together in the first of the women’s marches against Trump and that continued for several months thereafter in protests women’s rights, for immigrants, for the planet.

After reading Pollitt’s essay, I thought: we should be weeping and wailing in the streets. Instead of pink hats we should be wearing black, the color of mourning. But then I pulled myself up short. In the symbolism of our Old Europe, black is the color of rebirth and regeneration: the dark place where seeds must be placed if they are to germinate, the color of rich and fertile earth. If we are going to protest the racism of the Donald and his followers, we must be careful not to repeat the Indo-European binary in which light is associated with truth and goodness, while the devil and all that is evil is dark.

Nonetheless, I like the idea of acknowledging our grief for all that is being lost publicly and with others. Continue reading “And We Are Singing, Singing for Our Lives! by Carol P. Christ”

Reclaiming Sacred Music by Mary Sharratt

Women Singing Earth by Mary Southard

Here is a hymn of praise, a beautiful and intimate piece meant to be sung. Reader, I invite you to guess the author of this text and the sacred figure to whom this work is addressed.

Hail, O greenest branch,
sprung forth on the breeze of prayers.

. . . . a beautiful flower sprang from you
which gave all parched perfumes
their aroma.
And they have flourished anew
in full abundance.

The heavens bestowed dew upon the meadows,
and the entire earth rejoiced,
because her flesh
brought forth grain,
and because the birds of heaven
built their nests in her.

Behold, a rich harvest for the people
and great rejoicing at the banquet.
O sweet Maiden,
no joy is lacking in you . . . .
Now again be praised in the highest.

Continue reading “Reclaiming Sacred Music by Mary Sharratt”

For Love of Trees by Sara Wright

Yesterday I dreamed that I discovered a bird’s nest that was hidden in the center of an evergreen tree. This little dream moved me deeply because this is the time of year I celebrate my love and gratitude for all trees, but especially evergreens, and the dream felt like an important message. For me in winter, the “Tree of Life”  is an evergreen.

Outdoors, I recently placed a glass star in the center of my newly adopted Juniper here in New Mexico, repeating a pattern that began in Maine years ago with my Guardian Juniper in whose center I also placed a star…Inside the house an open circle created out of a completely decayed tree trunk sits at the center of my Norfolk pine; around the room spruce, juniper and pinion boughs are twinkling with miniature lights. The tree has a festival of lights at her feet. The point of making these gestures is to keep me mindful that tree bodies are sacred in their wholeness and each tree explicates the immanence of divinity. Another way of saying this is to say that Natural Power lives in trees. This goddess is steadfast. Continue reading “For Love of Trees by Sara Wright”

In the Shadow of Santa Rosa by Sara Wright

Last night I had a nightmare.

I am dressed in a white cloak that obscures all but my face. The robe is splattered with paint and blood. I am awash in every color of the rainbow and dripping paint. I have been raped by strangers and no one is accountable.

This morning I could not get this frightful image out of mind but I had the strong sense that it had an impersonal aspect that had nothing to do with me.

This weekend at the Pueblo of Abiquiu the community celebrates the feast day of the first official saint of the Americas, Santa Rosa, and I planned to attend…

The people of Abiquiu call themselves Genizaros. Representing Apache, Navajo, Comanche, Kiowa, Pawnee, Ute and Wichita, detribalized Native peoples from the Plains that were captured and traded during the Indian wars of 18-19th centuries, and sold to New Mexicans as slaves and servants where they were stripped of their identity, instructed in Hispanic ways, and baptized as Christians. The People survived by incorporating Hispanic and Christian cultural practices into a distinct Genizaro consciousness, one that is distinct from the Indigenous Tewa speaking peoples (descendants of the Anasazi) who also live here in six pueblos along the Rio Grande. Continue reading “In the Shadow of Santa Rosa by Sara Wright”

Saying Goodbye to my Grandmother, by Molly Remer

Part 1: The Question

Ipad Pix 107
Four generations at my brother’s wedding in 2012.

It is October,
the veil is thin
the year is waning
the leaves are turning
I am trying to say goodbye
to my grandmother
she is dying.
I do not know what to say.

The leaves are red
the sky is blue
I saw a crow in the tree
behind the house.

The threads of this year
are becoming thinner.

The threads of her life too
are becoming thinner

What do I say to the one
who breathed life into my father
who wove his cells into being
who cradled him as a baby
who wept into his hair.

Twyla with my dad, Tom, in 1953.

Carrying the cells
of the generations

The chain of life
continuing to spiral

through time, and place,
and distance

and falling leaves.

What do I say as life thins,
as breath fades

What do I say
when all that remains
is the space between us

What do I say
when I catch a glimpse

of the swift unraveling of time
the wrinkles in eternity

What do I say
as time folds in on itself

and now it is me in the bed
and my son, gray-haired, blue-eyed
is reading to me in a quiet voice 

May 2017 020
Grandma Johnson with her great-grandchildren in April, 2017.

as the chapter comes to a close.

Part 2: The Answer

That night, 
I dreamed of my grandmother
she shrank to the size of a small child
I picked her up and held her against my body
We looked in the mirror cheek to cheek
and smiled together
I kissed her face and told her:
“You are wonderful.”
Then we danced around the room together
her head against my shoulder
I kissed her again on her white hair
and no more words were needed.

Part 3: The Memorial

At this time last year, as the leaves fell and the wheel of the year dipped into darkness, my last grandparent died. I recognize that I am fortunate in having reached nearly forty while still having a living grandmother, but there is still such a sensation of finality and ending in saying goodbye to the final grandparent. Twyla was my paternal grandmother and I was not as close to her as I was to my maternal grandmother who died in 2013, but she is the woman who wove my father’s bones into being, and her death left a hole in our family and a sensation of an ended section in the tapestry of generations.

After the dream I write of above, I went back to see her a final time, five hours before she took her last breath. This time, I sat with her alone. I kissed her on her white hair and told her she was wonderful. I played her a song (Beyond the Gates by T. Thorn Coyle and Sharon Knight). I spoke to her of her good work in the world, that she had done it, that she’d finished her work, and that she had given so much and done so well. As a mother myself, the sensation of how powerful it is to have seen all your babies through to adulthood and into grandparenthood themselves filled the room. My dad, her second child and only son, has teenage grandchildren now himself. My grandmother’s youngest child of her five children is in her mid-fifties (and also a grandmother to teenagers). Sitting in the darkened room, listening to the song play, I was staggered by the magnitude of having seen each of your own children through their lives and into grandparenthood. While there are many ways to leave a legacy and it is not a “failure” by any means to not see all of your children into grandparenthood or to not have children yourself, what a gift it must be to bear witness to these generations if it does, in fact, unfold in that way, and to see your own tiniest baby have grandchildren of her own. This is something I hope to see for myself.

October 2017 139
My dad holding his youngest grandchild at the memorial.

I then had the blessing, the honor, the privilege of being asked to prepare a memorial service for my grandmother.  Five years ago, I was also asked to facilitate the memorial ceremony for my other grandmother. The unique, uncommon blessing of fulfilling this role for both of my grandmothers is not lost on me, as I know no one else who has had the experience of serving both sides of their family of origin in this way. I felt so honored to be trusted to help guide my family through both of these experiences of loss and grief. I spoke to my husband of how humbled, grateful, and fortunate I feel that I have a family who would let me do this, not just for one grandma, but for both of them, and he said, “you know, honey, maybe we should all be grateful to you that you’re willing to do this for us.” So, I received that recognition into my heart with appreciation as well.

October 2017 143
My daughter, then six, keeping the candles lit and tended on the altar space during the memorial.

It is powerful to create ceremonies that acknowledge transitions within the life of your family. During this ceremony for my grandmother we each had time to speak of her, I had poems I had written, and readings to share. We had a centerpiece with flowers, floating candles, and photos of her, and we each held handfuls of herbs that we offered into the bowl of water as we shared our stories and memories. Each person took time to do so and spoke with care, tenderness, love, and laughter. Sharing this time and space together and creating a container for people to be heard in their grief and love rather than participating in the type of “canned” or impersonal memorial service that may be more commonly offered by religious groups, was what we needed to say goodbye to this woman who wove a part of our souls. My aunt said: this is the kind of send-off that everyone needs, and that felt very true and real.

My extended family is not pagan or liberal or alternatively religiously minded and as I planned the memorial I was conscious of not wanting it to be “too much” for them. As I typed my outline, I’d first included a song and other practices common to other rituals and retreats I lead and when I heard that my aunts and cousins were coming, I’d removed the song and some ritual elements, fearing making them uncomfortable. They then said they weren’t coming, so I added the singing back in. On the day of the memorial, they did in fact come, and I decided we would sing anyway, whether October 2017 102comfortable and familiar or not. We sang the same song to begin and to end the memorial (“We Are a Circle”) and when I looked around the circle the second time we sang and saw that everyone there holding hands, their faces wet with tears, were all singing too, I knew that it had worked.

If you have the opportunity to create ceremonies and rituals of personal meaning for your own family, please do it. It holds so much value, such life and power and love, in a way that is difficult to create by someone outside of the family. A small group of people who really care and who are willing to connect with each other in a meaningful, connected, vulnerable way, births so much real magic together. This container can be created by you, for you, and for the ones you love the most.

“Everyone can do the life-changing, world-renewing work of magic…the Dalai Lama said, October 2017 160‘It’s not enough to pray and meditate; you must act if you want to see results.’ We are called to offer real service to others, to the Goddess. That service may take many forms: mopping the floor after the party, priestessing rituals, healing, planning, teaching, carrying the heavy cauldron from the car, sitting with a dying friend, writing up the minutes for a neighborhood meeting, organizing a protest to protect a sacred place from development, writing letters to Congress, training others in nonviolent civil disobedience, growing food, or changing the baby’s diapers. All of these can be life-changing, world-renewing acts of magic…”

—Starhawk and Valentine, The Twelve Wild Swans

There is a companion audio recording available about this memorial service preparation, the death of my grandmother, and about how to weave a strong “ritual basket” to carry a ceremony. The first part is an audio ritual for my online circle with thoughts about claiming your magic, fear of the label of witch, etc., so if you want to skip past that only to the memorial information and ritual theory, skip to 16:20 in the audio:


Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. editMollyNov 083She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri and teaches online courses in Red Tent facilitation and Practical Priestessing. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon and at Brigid’s Grove.

A Silhouette of a Woman, the Menorah, and a Pillar of Light: Discovering the Origins of the Goddess in Judaism by Alaya A. Dannu


During a meditation before bed, I saw an image of a candelabra similar to what Jewish people use for Hanukkah. It was yellow/gold in color, engraved/etched onto a surface. All at once I saw the imagery of a star, a silhouette of a woman, and a beam of light move from the base of the candelabra through the top and beyond.

In these moments, I did not understand the significance of or the relationship between these images. What did a feminine figure have to do with the Jewish candelabra? What is the name of their candelabra? I could not even recall the name of it. It was something I grew up knowing the name of, as it was an image that I frequently saw beside the kinara of Kwanzaa in my school-aged years.

Because I was sheltered from the Abrahamic religions, my mother opted for participating in Kwanzaa as a means to shield me from any potential bullying from my classmates, and to celebrate a part of my diverse heritage. It was already a problem for my peers and the adult staff at school that I chose to identify as a Jamaican-American or a mixed person, as opposed to African-American. To tell a group of African-American Christians or those with an Afro-centric view that I didn’t celebrate Christmas or Kwanzaa, or that my mother taught me to listen to my dreams and intuition, would only serve as a means to further isolate myself; and by extension, my little sister. So celebrate Kwanzaa we did, until I began high school.

Continue reading “A Silhouette of a Woman, the Menorah, and a Pillar of Light: Discovering the Origins of the Goddess in Judaism by Alaya A. Dannu”

Sacred Activism through Lucid Dreams: A Dream of Enthronement by Alaya A. Dannu

I am a Vajrayana Buddhist. I follow the Buddha Dharma via the Vajra path. My journey to the Dharma was through lucid dreams. I have not once had a human teacher, in this lifetime, to teach or guide me to/on this path. My teachers have been the Dakinis, the Mothers, or a variety of emanations of the Divine Feminine embodying many forms of wisdom. They are the ones that have provided me with the practices to engage and the ways in which I need to BE, in order to DO, in this lifetime.

“How do you know these dreams are not from your mind?”

Do you know how many times I have heard this question, from sangha members of less melanin? Did you know that it has always been a Western Buddhist that has challenged my experiences, yet those that follow the Buddha Dharma in Asia would always inquire about them from a place of curiosity?

Continue reading “Sacred Activism through Lucid Dreams: A Dream of Enthronement by Alaya A. Dannu”

Following My Dreams by Natalie Weaver

Dreaming has always been a huge part of my life.  When I was a little girl, I would run to my mom in the morning, before I was even completely awake, and tell her what I had been dreaming,  It would seem very important, I mean, desperately, terribly important, to share whatever journey I had been on.

I would have repeating dreams; dreams with choose-your-own-adventure options; dreams with strange symbols and images and words.  I must have known that my dreams were valuable in a particular way to my waking mind, my manner of knowing, and even my concepts of reality because quite early on in my life I started to try to understand what dreaming actually was.  I remember getting a book called Far Journeys (or something like that) about lucid dreaming.  I remember learning about dream paralysis, which was a cause of great relief, since I occasionally experienced it and had to overcome the sense of terror it created.  I developed an early and avid interest in dream symbolism and psychology.  I was relieved when I finally learned the name Carl Jung.  In short, dreaming was central to my total experience of mind. Continue reading “Following My Dreams by Natalie Weaver”

My Mother’s Appearance in a Healing Dream by Carol P. Christ

My mother spent a good deal of her life defending my father to me and my brother. “Your father didn’t mean it,” she would say. “Your father loves you—he just doesn’t know how to show it.” “Your father never cried when his mother died—that is why he is so angry now.”

Shortly after my mother died, my brother said to me: “I finally realized that the only way I could get along with Dad was if he decided on that particular day that he was going to get along with me.” My brother’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. At the age of forty-six, I was still trying to get along with my father. I had years of therapy to help me understand our relationship. My brother saw the truth without the benefit of therapy.

About six months after my mother’s death, I had the most amazing dream. Though I have alluded to it in my writing, I promised myself not to speak of it directly it while my father was still alive.

I had accompanied friends to the Greek Saturday night Easter service in their village. At the stroke of midnight we lit candles saying “Christ is risen, he truly is,” before embracing and kissing each other on the cheeks. I was sleeping in a guest room in my friends’ house. The dream occurred shortly before dawn. Though I rarely remember my dreams, I awoke with a clear memory of this one.

In it my mother spoke to me in Greek. She told me that now that she was no longer living, she had a clearer perspective on the way our father treated me and my brother. She explained that she had loved my father so much that she had not wanted to see that he had been cruel to us and to recognize the ways he had harmed us. She said she was very sorry that she had not protected us. Her final words before the dream ended were: “Don’t ever love anyone so much that you become blind.”

To this day I do not know why my mother spoke to me in Greek–perhaps it was a way of distancing herself from my father and indicating that she was on my side now. It seemed deeply appropriate that she appeared to me at the time when the Greeks were celebrating the resurrection of “life from the grave.” My mother’s words were a healing balm: healing the breach that her siding with my father a crucial junctures in our relationship had created in my relationship with her, and healing an even deeper would in my psyche.

About that time I was reading Alice Miller’s discussion of the poisonous pedagogy of control. Miller says that the most important words abused children need to hear are: What happened to you was wrong. This should not happen to you or to any child. In the dream my mother spoke the words she had been unable to speak while she was alive. She told me that she finally understood that there was no excuse for the way my father treated me and my brother.

I came to realize that the words my mother spoke when she was living, words intended to absolve my father and assuage my pain, had confused me about the nature of love. From my mother, I learned to imagine that people–especially men–who treated me badly loved me deep down but could not show it. No wonder I always ended up feeling hurt and abandoned.

My mother’s ability to acknowledge the truth about my father when she came to me in my dream was a revelation. The blinders that had clouded all my relationships fell away. I could now begin to see all of my relationships more clearly and to recognize which relationships were healing me and which were harming me. Before the dream I literally did not have a clue, because my mother had taught me love is a magical feeling that has no relationship to actual behavior. After the dream I learned that love manifests in both word and deed. My life has been different from that day to this.

Though I never doubted the healing power of this dream, I had some difficulty in squaring it with my belief that death is the end of individual life. If my mother was not living heaven or somewhere else, then how could she speak to me after she had died? In the ensuing years I have come to understand that the ancestors live in us. The words my mother spoke to me when she was alive became part of my cellular memory. The mother-daughter relationship is so profound that there are times when the mother-daughter boundary is blurred. As I recognize how deeply this is true, it no longer seems important to know if “my mother” appeared to me in my dream or if “my mother as she lives in my me” appeared in my dream. Her appearance transformed my relationship with her and my relationship with my self. And that is what matters.

In memory of Janet Claire Bergman Christ, August 11, 1919-December 7, 1991.

“Living with ‘a man who expects his will to be law, especially in relation to his wives and daughters’ is unbearable for all the women involved.” Paula Mariedaughter

* * *

a-serpentine-path-amazon-coverGoddess and God in the World final cover designCarol’s new book written with Judith Plaskow, is  Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology.

FAR Press recently released A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess.

Join Carol  on the life-transforming and mind-blowing Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Sign up now for 2018! It could change your life!

Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger



A Healing Home of Dreams by Joyce Zonana

I had few expectations before my visit in the winter of 1999 to Cairo’s Rav Moshe Synagogue, also called the “Rambam.” I only knew it to be an obscure synagogue and yeshiva associated with the renowned twelfth-century theologian, sage, and physician, Moses Maimonides.

I left Egypt as an infant with my parents in 1951. Now I was finally back, hoping to experience the place that had shaped my family. Accompanied by a Muslim Egyptian friend, I walked the streets my parents had walked, attended services in the elegant downtown synagogue where they’d been married, tasted the familiar foods of my childhood, listened with delight to the melodious sounds of Egyptian Arabic. But seeking the Rambam was little more than a whim, sparked by a few lines in a Guide to Jewish Travel in Egypt. “Not on any tourist itinerary,” the brief blurb stated about the derelict synagogue in ‘Haret al Yahud, the city’s medieval Jewish quarter, far from where my parents had lived. Still, I had to go.

Continue reading “A Healing Home of Dreams by Joyce Zonana”

Earth Dreaming, Water Dreaming: How Elemental Dreams Offer Healing for the Earth and Us by Jill Hammer

I once dreamed I was giving a lecture on a spiritual philosophy called magmatheism.  The literal meaning, I thought when I awoke, would be something like “belief in the divinity of molten rock.”  I had the sense this dream was trying to tell me something about what I had come to believe and know.  When I asked my friends what they thought magmatheism was, they gave answers that delighted and intrigued me.

One said: “the belief that God/Goddess dwells below the ground and every once in a while erupts out gloriously.”

Another said: “By studying the ways in which rock is liquid, we can understand the oneness of all things… Our separation is an illusion.  We are part of the whole.”

A third said: “Honoring the magnetic pull to earth.”

A fourth said: “The unmanifest that creates the foundation of all life.”

The dream told me something real about the power of dreaming. It let me know that a life physically and spiritually connected to the earth—the life I was trying to live and to encourage others to live—did not only occur when I was awake, but when I was asleep.  The dream told me that the earth was speaking to me in my dreams.  As dream tender Stephen Aizenstat writes, “Dream images are not representations of our personal nature only, but are also informed by the subjective inner natures of the things and creatures out there in the world. (Aizenstat, S. Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams. New Orleans, LA: Spring Journal, Inc. (2011), pp. 149-150).

Continue reading “Earth Dreaming, Water Dreaming: How Elemental Dreams Offer Healing for the Earth and Us by Jill Hammer”

Ancestor Connection in Williamsburg, Brooklyn by Carol P. Christ

carol-p-christ-photo-michael-bakasIn early December 2016 I visited central Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, where my 2x great-grandparents Thomas and Anna Maria Christ and their son George and his family, including my father’s father Irving John, lived for over fifty years. I had compiled a list of all the known addresses of the family in Williamsburg from census and death records. The family lived in a several block square area surrounding Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on Montrose Street for all that time.

Most of the buildings at the addresses where the family lived had been torn down and replaced with housing projects in the mid-twentieth century. Some of the remaining ones are being torn down today, as this area of Williamsburg is being gentrified. Still, enough of the old buildings remain to give a sense of what the neighborhood was like in the 1800s. Continue reading “Ancestor Connection in Williamsburg, Brooklyn by Carol P. Christ”

Prayers to Black Madonna and Kali Rising by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedThis past Saturday, I had an opportunity to sweat in a traditional Lakota sweat lodge for the first time.  It was, above all, an interesting cognitive experience for me.  I found myself sort of shaking hands with the ritual, the heat, the stones, the songs, and so on, saying, “Hi, I’m Natalie.  I have an open mind.  I am excited to know about you.  Thanks for letting me see what you are all about.”  I didn’t know whether I would pass out, have visions, or learn something new and wonderful about myself or the others.  I was curious, still, and grateful for the opportunity. I was gifted by generous people, good fellowship, and new ideas.  I will go back, even though I didn’t exactly find some thing… or maybe I did.  Maybe, I found someone, or, better, maybe someone found me.

Two days before the sweat, I received an email from one of my companions on the journey, saying something I still do not understand about the Constellation Sagittarius, the Galactic Center, and the Rising of the Black Madonna.  Although I did not understand the astronomy, I was intrigued by the call to recognize and confirm the Black Madonna.  For, without particular reason or impetus that I could identify in myself, I had been dreaming of a Black Madonna statue for some time.  After trying to find out what it was, I was able to identify it as the Black Madonna of Prague.  I have never been to Prague and was basically unaware of the rich tradition of Black Madonnas in Europe, despite four semesters of art history in college.  So, I made note of my dreams, with a promise to myself to seek them out whenever and wherever I travel.  I also purchased little trinket at a Canadian gift shop, which sits on my desk as a guide and companion.
Continue reading “Prayers to Black Madonna and Kali Rising by Natalie Weaver”

A Tale of Two Sisters and a Daughter and Niece by Carol P. Christ

This continues the story I began last week. Catherina is my 2x great-grandmother; Agnes is my 2x great-aunt; Johanetta is my first cousin, 3x removed, and my step-2x great-grandmother; Henry is my 2x great-grandfather. It is true that Henry had eighteen children with two wives. It is also true that Henry and Johanetta married and had a child soon after Catherina’s death. Some of the other details came in waking trance as I allowed the ancestors to tell their stories through me.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: I thought the day Catherina left for America would be the worst day of my life. I did not know I would see Catherina again. I did not know I would outlive my two little sisters and both of my brothers. I did not know what my daughter would do. I read Catherina’s letters from America through my tears. How I wanted to be with her on her wedding day. How I wished she had been with us when we buried our sister Johanetta. My heart nearly burst when Catherina wrote that she longed to take my hand when she gave birth to her first child. My mind contorted itself trying to envision her living in a big city, in a big building, climbing up and down stairs, her feet never touching the earth, her hands never working the soil. What kind of life was that?

Catherina Lattauer Iloff
Catherina Lattauer Iloff

Catherina Lattauer Iloff: I left home a girl. Because I was not yet engaged, Mother and Agnes never told me about married life. What to expect. What to do. I loved Heinrich, or Henry, as he wanted to be called after he became a citizen of the United States. I was not prepared. Henry was so insistent. I was soon pregnant. First Henry, named for Henry’s father Heinrich, then Elisabeth, named for Mother. I had to care for them on my own. Henry was busy with his work during the days. In the evenings he went to the German beer garden to meet his friends. Growing up with my mother and sisters, I had never been alone. There were other women around, but they were busy with their own lives. Some of them were kind, some of them were not, but nobody cared about me the way Mother and Agnes did. One night Henry came home and told me he had been talking with his friends. There was land available in a place called Cherry Ridge, Pennsylvania, a  day’s journey from New York City. He said it was his dream come true. We would build our own house. There was plenty of land to farm—not like back home where there were never enough fields to go around. I held my tongue. I did not tell him that I suspected I was pregnant again.

The Iloff farm house
The Iloff farm house

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: Catherina and Henry have been to Cherry Ridge. Catherina says there is land for us there too. I don’t know what my Heinrich will say. Life is difficult for us here, but we have two young daughters, Elisabeth and Johanetta, and the baby, Peter. There is Mother to consider. Well, you could have blown me over with a feather. Heinrich said we should grab the opportunity before it is too late. Mother said she would come with us, because she wants to see Catherina and Rudolph again before she dies. She is an old lady. I wonder how she will manage the journey. But I couldn’t say no. The two of us cannot contain our joy. We will see our beloved Catherina again.

Catherina Lattauer Iloff: My life is complete. Mother and Agnes and the dear little children arrived. Mother immediately took Henry and Elisabeth in her arms. Agnes comforted me about the loss of Baby John. I could finally allow myself to cry, knowing that Mother and Agnes would be there to wipe away my tears.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: Our first years in Cherry Ridge were difficult. There were houses to be built, fields to be plowed, cows to be bought and milked. I had two more children, Henry, who died as a boy, and John.  My little sister outdid me. She had nine children in all: Henry, Elisabeth, John who died, John who lived, George, Catherine, Mary, Frank, and Barbara. Giving birth to so many children took its toll on her. After the last one, she was never well. I think she may have been pregnant again several times, but she never spoke about it, not even to me. Finally, she took to her bed.

Catherina Lattauer Iloff: I had nine children. I never told anyone about the babies I lost before I began to show. Mother and Agnes worried that I was having too many children. But what could I do? I loved Henry, and I loved every one of my children. Mother died a few years after she came to Cherry Ridge. She always said she was so happy she had undertaken such a great adventure. She was pleased to know that Agnes and I were settled and happy. I miss her every day. Agnes is always by my side.  I was forty-two when Barbara, my last baby was born. I bled a lot. After that, I never carried another child to term. I was never myself again. Agnes is my rock. Johanetta helps with the little ones. Henry is still strong as an ox, busy in the fields or with the cattle. I see that Johanetta hangs on his every word. I dismiss such thoughts from my mind. I do not know how much longer I have.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: Catherina died yesterday. She was only  forty-six (I am now fifty-six), and she had not been well for several years.  I told her to stay away from Henry, but she was powerless to do so. Sometimes I blame him for her death. I worry about Johanetta now. Wild horses will not keep her away from Henry. I see the way she looks at him, and I see the old goat looking right  back at her. She is twenty-six, a full grown woman.

hannah johanna nettie switzer
Johanetta displaying her engagement ring

Johanetta Sweitzer: I can’t believe it! Henry asked me to marry him. Mother is furious. Father says he should have whipped me a long time ago. But they can’t say no. I told them I am pregnant with Henry’s child. The older children are shocked that their cousin is marrying their father. The younger ones are thrilled. They have always viewed me as a second mother as well as an aunt. I have been looking after all of them these last years what with Aunt Catherina being so ill. I love those children.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: I had to forgive Johanetta, but I will never forgive Henry. I smile when I see him to keep the peace, but my heart is cold. Peter was her first-born. After that she had Agnes and Emma, who died of some of those diseases children get. I could not help wondering if that was God’s punishment.

Johanetta Sweitzer Iloff: Henry and I were married  for twenty years. Except for losing Agnes and Emma, those were the happiest years of my life. In all, we had nine children: first Peter, Agnes, and Emma, and then, Anna, Lawrence, Charles, Robert, Otto, and Phillip. Henry was a good man. He worked hard all of his life to support his family. We lost the second John a few years ago, but there were fourteen living children to mourn Henry’s death. The little ones are still with me, some of the others are scattered to the winds, and quite a few are settled around here, raising families of their own. While he was still strong and able, Henry was elected Commissioner of Wayne County. He served his fellow countrymen proudly for years. I wish Mother had been alive to see that. Maybe then she would have understood what a wonderful man he was.

Henry and Johanetta, second row, center right, with some of Hnery's children and grandchildren
Henry and Johanetta, second row, center right with some of Henry’s children and grandchildren


Carol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2Carol 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: Sign up now for spring tour and save $100. Follow Carol on Twitter @CarolP.Christ, Facebook Goddess Pilgrimage, and Facebook Carol P. Christ.  Carol speaks in depth about the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete in an illustrated interview with Kaalii Cargill. Photo of Carol by Andrea Sarris.

A Serpentine Path Cover with snakeskin backgroundA Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the GoddessGoddess and God in the World final cover design will be published by Far Press in 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 August 2016. Exploring the connections of theology and autobiography and alternatives to the transcendent, omnipotent male God.


On Turning 60, My Bucket List and Eschatology by Marie Cartier

Photo by Kimberly Esslinger
Photo by Kimberly Esslinger

You will be reading this Feminism and Religion the day before I turn sixty.  For the past two decades I have had parties the night before I leave a decade—and “crossed over” at midnight, with the requisite amount of candles—forty, fifty and now sixty. I have everyone under the decade (in this case 60) on one side and those 60 and over on the other side and I will cross from my 50s to my 60s.   And so…I will also be doing that this year, the evening on which you read this. I will be crossing from one decade to the next.

I want to own all of the years of my life as deeply as possible.

And yet…there is and continues to grow now –“a bucket list.”

A bucket list seems to be analogous to the idea of heaven or “the end times.”

Eschatology is that part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. Some of us who practice theology might call eschatology an examination of heaven—or rather, what we get if we do what we believe is right in God’s eyes.   Continue reading “On Turning 60, My Bucket List and Eschatology by Marie Cartier”

In Dreamtime with the Ancestors by Carol P. Christ

Carol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2The last few days I have been living in dreamtime with my Swedish ancestors, most especially with my great-great-grandmother Ingrid, about whom I have learned a great deal over the past year. Through a distant cousin Thomas Sievertsson, who has been researching the part of Sweden from which she came, I have discovered details about the kind of life she lived in the old country that few descendants of immigrants are lucky enough to know. Here are a few of them. Continue reading “In Dreamtime with the Ancestors by Carol P. Christ”

%d bloggers like this: