ART AND SOUL by Iona Jenkins

One day, during a holiday at the home of Italian friends in the province of Lazio, some forty-five minutes by train from the centre of Rome, I experienced a powerful impression of the Sacred Feminine. She came to me in the Vatican of all places, centuries old male stronghold, and power centre of the Roman Catholic Church.

         Even more surprisingly, her presence was more prominent in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope’s own place of prayer, where Cardinals sit in all male conclave. But there she was, shining through the restored colour on that famous ceiling through the brushstrokes of Michelangelo. I was picking up loud echoes immortalised for centuries through his art, tuning into the soul of the artist, seeing his inspiration in terms of angels speaking in colour and light. But then he was called after an Archangel whose name means Who is like God. God is creative, He created heaven and earth according to the scriptures, but now it was looking like She might have created it with him. Somehow over the years in Christianity, the real Sacred Feminine has been hidden away, negated, turned into a virginal statue with little visible life energy from earth.

Continue reading “ART AND SOUL by Iona Jenkins”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling

This was originally posted on July 7, 2014

The mountaintop shrines of Mount Juctas in Archanes, Crete are situated on twin peaks, which may have symbolized breasts. Ancient shrines on the northern peak date from 2200 BCE until at least the end of the Ariadnian (Minoan) period in 1450 BCE. A crevice in the rock was filled with offerings of pottery, clay images of women and men in ritual dress, diseased bodies and body parts, sheep and cattle, and other objects. Excavations to a depth of 13 meters did not reach the bottom layers. Many offerings had been burned, suggesting that the objects were first thrown into fire and then dropped into the crevice. People who climbed the mountain for the festivals would have spilled over both peaks and there may have been shrines as well as fires on both of them.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling”

Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon

Thirty years ago, Carol P. Christ founded her Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, which she wrote about in her book A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess (original 1995 title Odyssey with the Goddess) and in numerous posts on this site over the years. She led over 40 groups of women Pilgrims to encounter the history and sacred sites of the peaceful, egalitarian civilisation of Bronze Age Crete. 

Here, the Goddess-honouring culture of Old Europe survived the longest, when patriarchal Indo-Europeans were taking over in the ‘Kurgan waves’ Marija Gimbutas has described. The sophisticated artworks of ‘Minoan’ Crete show women in positions of honour and authority, and do not depict violence, slavery, or war. People celebrated at ceremonial centres, made offerings at cave and mountain shrines, and worshipped the Goddess in sacred trees and stones.

Snake Goddess, Knossos, Crete, ca. 1600 BCE [photo: Heraklion Archaeological Museum]

As many readers know, before Carol passed away, she asked me to take on the leadership of her Goddess Pilgrimage, and to serve as her literary executor and the director of her Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. Deeply moved by her trust in me, and guided by very clear dreams I received around the time of her death, I accepted Carol’s request. In October 2022, after a three-year delay due to the pandemic, the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete was reborn. 

Continue reading “Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete – Reborn! by Laura Shannon”

Equinox amongst the Stones

A Modern Pilgrimage to the Isle of Lewis & Harris, Part 2

In the previous post of October 14th, I introduced my recent pilgrimage to meet the Goddess, honour the physical and psychological changes that have happened inside me recently. I described the different mountain ranges that resembles the bodies of sleeping women, and an ancient well dedicated to the Celtic goddess Brighde. 

If I was traveling over the body of the goddess, the Callanish Standing Stones would be her navel. It seems as if energy is flowing out from there to all edges of the island. The shape of the site resembles a Celtic cross. Unusual is that the site consists of one large, central standing stone, surrounded by 13 stones, and with stone avenues to the cardinal directions. With its solar alignment, paraphrasing Jill Smith, the configuration looks like a cosmic dancer who juggles the sun from east to west. The “arms” are aligned exactly with the sunrise and sunset at this time of year. 

Model of the Standing Stones as seen from above, in Callanish Visitor Centre

Callanish 1, the main stone circle, is connected to 11 other sites across the island, some circles, some solitary standing stones. Together they are called the Callanish Complex. I visited Callanish 1 many times that week, and I was lucky to spend the Autumn Equinox there. 

I’ve never come across stones that were so alive and expressive. Light would bounce off differently at different times of the day, accentuating irregularities, dulling, or sharpening edges, emphasising different aspects. I saw lion and wolf heads, young maidens, hooded wanders, gargoyle and dragon-like creatures, dolphins and even a Horned Dancer… Most importantly, it felt like in each of the stone circles in the area (Callanish 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8), there was at least one stone resembling a woman’s body, and I came to think of them as the Grandmother Guardians. They had a real living presence, that became even stronger as the day-visitors disappeared.

Usually there were 2-5 people there, sometimes I found myself alone. The sunset of the Equinox, however, drew many more people. There were about twenty tourists, who were taking snapshots of this magnificent light show, leaning, or pushing against the stones, talking, and giggling. Several professional photographers tried to capture a magical moment. And there were 5-7 fellow pilgrims, whom, like me, would stay long into the night. Everyone was so focused on the sunset, was I the only one who noted the rainbow in the east? 

The below images were literally taken a minute apart – rainbow to the east, sunset and silhouettes to the west.

Rainbow during the Sunset at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 22, 2022
Sunset at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 22, 2022

Eventually the tourists and photographers disappeared, and the rest of us gathered at the heart of the circle, in the remains of an ancient burial mound. With African and shamanic drums, a whistle, a singing bowl, an old man tapping his walking stick to the bottom of his tin mug, and some rattles, we improvised a rhythmic invocation to the spirits of the stones. With the rain becoming heavier, I soon found myself alone with the stones. Now I could finally sing, dance, weave between the stones without disrupting anyone, lean into the stones, close my eyes, and pray.

I felt very aware of the ‘balance’ in the year, the point of equally long days and nights. I asked for guidance on balance in my own life: between work and leisure, between doing and resting, between the first and second half of my life, between gathering wood for the fire and sharing it, between birth and death, and how I can better look after my body and energy living with an invisible auto-immune condition in these fast and demanding times.

After the rain departed, the clouds tore open, revealing the clearest and most brilliant night sky I’ve ever seen. The silhouettes of the stones reaching up into the night was truly magnificent. Moving, weaving, pausing, I made my way clockwise around all the 13 stones in the circle. I stood at either side of the stones, outer and inner, and took my place in between them, as if I was a moving stone myself. I reflected on centre and circumference, on axis, on direction, on the wheel of life, turning, turning, turning, turning… and felt connected to similar circles across Europe lighting up in the darkness, as a radiant hub of energy-places.

Photo Collage: Impression of Night Sky, by Eline Kieft October 1, 2022

After having completed my weaving of the circle, by which time I had enjoyed half of my ginger tea for a warm kick, I decided to return to our cottage – also an act of balance. Having a cold already, I did not quite have the proper gear to stay out in the windy and rainy night. My lovely bed was calling! On my way home I saw three deer next to the road. I stopped the car and could be with them for several moments before they wandered off.

I had been so attuned to the rhythms that I woke up well before the alarm. I laid in the comfortable darkness, until it was time to return to the stones to witness the sunrise. My mom came along this time. Again, there were several photographers ready for ‘the moment’ (no tourists at this hour!). I just HAD to dance, and chose my spot at the far western end, out of line of any cameras. A dance of ground, earth, mountain, honouring the mother and my mother, weaving the light, the turn of seasons, changing, praying, calling, giving thanks, celebrating, welcoming, and letting go. Strong, soft, vibrant, still… 

Both Images of Sunrise at Callanish 1, on the Autumn Equinox, September 23, 2022

Standing against the central menhir, looking east, we finished the last of the ginger tea. So special to be able to share this together. Mother and daughter in a circle of ancient Grandmother Guardians, witnessing the sun rise on a new day. Sacred land, ongoing cycles of time, and a modern-ancient pilgrimage… 

It will take many moons to fully digest and integrate the richness of this journey, but I already know this precious experience seeped deep into my bones. 

May the magic of the land touch you too, wherever you are.

Mother and Daughter – this photo was in fact taken at another moment, against another stone, mid-afternoon on 22nd

I’d love to invite you for my series of Embodied Spirituality Masterclasses that are going to start today, 21st October! Have a look if you’re interested in reconnecting body and spirit, re-anointing the body as sacred, nature as a temple, contemporary ceremony and much more… You can still join until Christmas, so don’t worry if you can’t make the first session live, it will be available in replay!

Jill Smith is a deep well of goddess lore on Lewis:

  • Mother of the Isles (2003)
  • The Callanish Dance (2000)


Eline Kieft danced from a young age, including rigorous classical and contemporary training to become a professional dancer. She then studied anthropology, deepening her fascination with worldwide similarities between indigenous traditions regarding intangible aspects of reality and other ways of knowing, including embodied epistemologies and shamanic techniques. 

She completed her PhD in dance anthropology at Roehampton University, trained in depth with the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies and the School of Movement Medicine. Eline worked at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University for five years, where she created a Somatics Toolkit for Ethnographers, and pioneered soulful academic pedagogy. Her recent book Dancing in the Muddy Temple: A Moving Spirituality of Land and Body was well received as a unique blend of theory and practice and a medicine for our times. 

She is now a full-time change-maker and facilitates deep transformation through coaching and courses both online and in person. Her approach The Way of the Wild Soul offers a set of embodied, creative, and spiritual tools to re-connect with inner strength and navigate life’s challenges with confidence. 


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A Celtic Pilgrimage: Becoming a Bard by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Trelawney at the moment of initiation. (Photo credit Greg Martin/Cornwall Live)

As I gazed up at Grand Bard Mab Stenak Veur, I could feel my eyes shining with joy, my gratitude, awe, love, and reverence for Kernow thrumming through me like the crescendo of a bright, glorious song. My whole world focused in that moment to the feel of his hands clasping mine — as though all Kernow were embracing me and holding me; the sight of his kind eyes and gentle smile— as though Kernow were lighting beacons to greet my homecoming; the sound of his voice proclaiming my new name, “Bleydh Ow Resek,”— as though Kernow herself were naming me to be her own child, come home at long last to my mother, who longs for me even as deeply and powerfully as I have always longed for her.

While I started learning Kernewek only four years ago, my journey to Bardhood started much earlier. I believe it began at birth, when my parents gave me the Christian name Trelawney, after the revered Cornish rebel leader who stood up against English oppression. Though no one in New England had heard of Kernow (Cornwall), my family’s joyful pride in our Cornish identity shaped my life. We were taught how my grandfather Jack left Kernow as a child because his parents responded to the call for more Methodist pastors to come to the United States.

Continue reading “A Celtic Pilgrimage: Becoming a Bard by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Triple Goddess in the Land by Eline Kieft

A Modern Pilgrimage to the Isle of Lewis & Harris, Part 1

For a long time, I felt a soft but insistent tug to go to the Isle of Lewis & Harris, on the west coast of Scotland. Third time lucky, because the trip got cancelled twice due to Covid-19. Even this time was a challenge, with flights being pulled, and airport strikes causing last minute changes. It was as if the Goddess was asking me, “how serious are you about this, daughter?”

Eventually I managed to get to Edinburgh on time, all the way by train from our small sleepy village in France, to catch the connecting flight to the island. 

In this post (Part 1), I write about meeting the Triple Goddess in the Land. Part 2: The Stones, focuses on my Equinox ceremony in the Callanish Stone Circle.

Continue reading “Triple Goddess in the Land by Eline Kieft


Part 1 was posted yesterday. You can read it here.

Arriving in Heraklion on Crete, I was enlivened by the sea air and the informal “island” vibration. My sister and I made our way through its labyrinthine streets, following Daedalus, a pedestrian street named after the legendary creator of the labyrinth at Knossos, the prototype of the artist, who Joyce names as his stand-in in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Our hotel was on Theotokopolous Street. (They’d call you El Greco too if your name was Domenikus Theotokopolous.) Nikos Kazantzakis was also from Heraklion, a city noted for its artists.

Knossos was a small, contained place circled by pine trees, unlike the sprawling sun-drenched expanse of a typical archeological site. There were restored ocher columns, four storeys to the palace, open courtyards for bull leaping, and cisterns that had been used for self-purification. Its red clay and turquoise frescoes were so familiar to me, with their vivid colors and playful lines that Matisse could have envied. No wonder it was the prototype of a work of art!

Continue reading “TRAVELOGUE INTO HISTORY: MY BIG FAT GREEK ODYSSEY (Part 2) by Sally Mansfield Abbott”


My sister and I arrived in Athens midafternoon on Lamas, the feast day of the first harvest. A blast of dry heat greeted us as we left the airport and surveyed the barren brown hills. It transported me to my childhood when I’d lived in distant and exotic climates, and I felt the old excitement of being abroad again.

Going to Greece had long been a dream of mine. It was a spiritual pilgrimage, a Hajj to be undertaken at least once in a lifetime. Greece figured prominently in the college classes on the Goddess I had taught for ten years, but I’d only known it through the books and slides I lectured from. I longed to see its sacred sites in person.

Our hotel was at the base of the Acropolis, within a block of the Acropolis Museum, a stunning work of modern architecture that quotes the structure of the Parthenon.  The Parthenon and Erechtheon had been stripped of their bas reliefs and engravings—even the famed Karatydids– were now housed in the museum, either already or soon to be replaced by copies on the temples.

Continue reading “TRAVELOGUE INTO HISTORY: MY BIG FAT GREEK ODYSSEY (Part 1) by Sally Mansfield Abbott”

In Memoriam – Carol P. Christ by Joyce Zonana

“thea-logy begins in experience” –  Rebirth of the Goddess

It is hard to believe that Carol P. Christ – Karolina as she dubbed herself in her beloved Greece—has been gone for a year. She remains such a vivid presence in my life—in all of our lives. I think of her and draw strength from those thoughts daily, the way so many women say they think of and feel close to their deceased mothers. For Karolina was indeed a mother to me—a nurturing spiritual mother who initiated me into the ways of the Goddess she adored and, whom she so beautifully defined as “the power of intelligent love that is the ground of all being.”

I first met Karolina in June of 1995 on a bare hotel rooftop in Athens. I had just flown there from New Orleans to join the Ariadne Institute’s Goddess Pilgrimage Tour, a leap of faith inspired by my reading the previous year of Weaving the Visions: Patterns in Feminist Spirituality, a pioneering anthology edited by Carol and her long-time friend and collaborator, Judith Plaskow. That book, along with Carol’s Diving Deep and Surfacing and Judith’s Standing Again at Sinai had spoken to me more deeply than anything I had ever read before. I had grown up in a Middle Eastern Orthodox Jewish family. drawn to spirituality, I had never able to find a place for myself in the deeply patriarchal structures of synagogue or even family rituals … Carol and Judith offered me a way in, and I wanted immediately to embark on the paths they were clearing. I wanted to meet them, to know them,  to learn from them, to share with them. Boldly, I decided to join the Pilgrimage, signing up for my first trip overseas trip, the most costly vacation I had ever granted myself. How could I have known that it would transform my life and bless me with a miraculous, deep friendship?

Continue reading “In Memoriam – Carol P. Christ by Joyce Zonana”

Remembering Carol P. Christ: Online Memorial Gathering, December 20, 2021

Dear FAR community,

It’s been wonderful to read so many posts remembering Carol Christ. The FAR community was so important to Carol: as has been pointed out, she not only offered her own posts each Monday, she also read and responded to every post, every day. Through the FAR ‘family’ I feel comforted by connecting with others who knew and loved her and miss her as as I do.

Online Memorial Gathering On December 20, Carol’s birthday, all friends of Carol and friends of FAR are warmly invited to an online Memorial Gathering and ritual in Carol’s honour. Many of Carol’s friends will share cherished memories (please email me if you would like to say a few words) and I will show some photographs from her personal archive. (If you have photos of Carol you would like to share, please email them to me at We’ll also talk about the future of Carol’s Goddess Pilgrimage in Crete. Please register with your email address at this link.

Continue reading “Remembering Carol P. Christ: Online Memorial Gathering, December 20, 2021”

In Memoriam: A Collective Tribute to Carol Patrice Christ 1945-2021

Our sister friend, Laura Shannon, emailed us early in the morning to share the news that “Carol passed peacefully in her sleep last night at 12.11 am on July 14th. Alexis (Masters) was with her.” Carol died in the company of friends.

The community of Feminism and Religion (FAR) grieves the death of Carol P. Christ.

Our sister friend, Laura Shannon, emailed us early in the morning to share the news that “Carol passed peacefully in her sleep last night at 12.11 am on July 14th. Alexis (Masters) was with her.” Carol died in the company of friends.

Her writings here on FAR have been a gift to countless many of us for years. She recently emailed me to let me know that she would need to step back from writing her weekly FAR post for the foreseeable future, and, that if she could pull it off, she would send in her swan song soon. That moment didn’t come and that’s ok. There is no finale for a person such as Carol. We are changed and blessed because of her presence in our lives. Her legacy will be long and enduring.

I invite you all who would like to share a short tribute in honor of Carol Christ to send it here to FAR so it can be published as part of this post. This will serve as a running tribute that we can keep adding to. It will be a space to share, to grieve, and to celebrate her life. Send in your reflections to You may also share in comments below as well.

No single one of us can capture all that Carol has meant to us and to the world –– it is only right to hear from the many voices as we celebrate this most brilliant friend and teacher of ours.

“In Goddess religion death is not feared, but is understood to be a part of life, followed by birth and renewal.”  — Carol P. Christ 

Carol married intellect with heart centering –– she had a formidable intellect but always spoke from her heart.

In view of learning of Carol’s death I find these words from Janet’s post today inspiring:

“Who is she that shines through like the morning star,
beautiful as the moon,
radiant as the sun
awe-inspiring as a cascade of starlight?”

Why, Carol Christ, of course.

I am heartbroken – I will miss her so much.

–– Sara Wright

Remembering Carol Christ

On a personal level, Carol’s words were essential on my journey away from god by way of the Goddess. Her courage required me to dig deep to embrace my own version of the “hubris” exhibited by male “god makers” and “system builders.” Carol’s quote below inspired many us to take on the two-fold task of unearthing the patriarchal symbol system woven into the fabric of our socialization and of replacing it with words of truth, communities of support, ceremonies of meaning, and images of the goddess, all inspired by stories of the very beginning when the divine was imagined as female.

The reason for the continuing effects of religious symbols is that the mind is uncomfortable with a vacuum. Symbol systems cannot simply be rejected, they must be replaced. Where there is no replacement, the mind will revert to familiar structures at times of crisis, bafflement, or defeat. (Carol Christ, Womanspirit Rising)

–– Patricia Lynn Reilly, Author of A God Who Looks Like Me

Carol was a wonderful friend and colleague. She loved to read my work in progress (brilliantly, often several times in a row before she wrote back to me) and I hers.

Her essay on patriarchy was the best I have ever read. I asked her to contribute it to the anthology, Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries. The day after she sent it to me, I found that the essays fir the book had to be personal. I felt terrible. I emailed her to tell her, and she said it wasn’t a problem. The next day she had a new, wonderful, perfect essay for me.

Although I knew she didn’t have many months to live, I am still stunned by this loss.

–– Miriam Robbins Dexter

Carol was and will remain one of the foremothers and most brilliant voices of the Women’s Spirituality movement.  At the conference on “The Great Goddess Re-Emerging” at the University of California at Santa Cruz in the spring of 1978, Carol delivered the keynote address, “Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections.” Christ proposed four compelling reasons why women might turn to the Goddess: the affirmation and legitimation of female power as beneficent; affirmation of the female body and its life cycles; affirmation of women’s will; and affirmation of women’s bonds with one another and their positive female heritage (Christ 1979). 

In her most recent article, for the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religion: Faith and Culture, Christ wrote about the Goddess religion and culture of her beloved island of Crete, and the roles women played in that “egalitarian matriarchal” civilization. Her eloquent words speak not only to the Goddess religion of ancient Crete, but also to the spirituality and ethical values she also cherished, which are much needed in our own culture today.

As discerners and guardians of the mysteries, women created rituals to celebrate the Source of Life and to pass the secrets of agriculture, pottery, and weaving down through the generations. The major rituals of the agricultural cycle involved blessing the seeds before planting, offering the first fruits of the harvest to the Goddess, and sharing the bounty of the harvest in communal feasts. These rituals establish that life is a gift of the Goddess and institute gift-giving as a cultural practice. As women controlled the secrets of agriculture, it makes sense that land was held by maternal clans, that kinship and inheritance passed through the maternal line, and that governance and decision-making for the group were in the hands of the elders of the maternal clan. In this context, the intelligence, love, and generosity of mothers and clan mothers would have been understood to reflect the intelligence, love, and generosity of the Goddess.*

*Carol P. Christ, “Crete, Religion and Culture” Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History [2 volumes] edited by Susan de-Gaia  | Nov 16, 2018   ABC-Clio Santa Barbara 2019.

–– Ellen Boneparth and Mara Keller

Honor, blessing, and gratitude to you for your life, Carol. You told us many times you did not fear death. You did not speculate on what comes after. Whatever goddess is, surely you reman in her embrace.

–– Elizabeth

Inna-Lillahi-Wa-Inna-Ilaihi Rajiun

A wise woman committed to the spiritual freedom of women and a teacher of life and struggle has set out to meet the infinite. I thank life for giving me the joy of walking part of the way in this world, in the company and wisdom of women like her.

Thanks for everything my dear Carol.
For the ideas and enthusiasm with which you always supported my work.
For creating community and safe spaces
For lovingly and intensely vindicating the transcendence of the humanity of women

Blessed journey our woman, teacher and guide. May the divine that you found in all women receive you today in her loving arms.

Tupananchiskama (Until our paths meet again)

–– Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


That was Karolina’s last message to me, on June 18th, 2021. I like to think it was also her last message to the universe, as she climbed back into the lap of the Goddess early on the morning of July 14th. 

I’d sent her a selfie of me with a new haircut, a few inches shorter, as she’d suggested some time earlier. “Yessssss” was her immediate, characteristic reply. Two days later I forwarded an even better photo. It was surprising not to hear back from her, and I should have been concerned. Instead, I let two weeks go by before reaching out again. And then it was too late. 

“Yessssss” was Karolina’s full-hearted response to life, and part of how she nurtured her friends and acquaintances. I will carry that “yessssss” with me till the end of my days, always grateful to have known and been nurtured so generously, so unfailingly by her. Her soft voice, her gentle laugh, her quiet glamor, her deep engagement with all the details of life … I could talk with her about my cats, my husband, my writing, my childhood, my haircut. Nothing was too small or too large, nothing too complex or too simple. 

“Intelligent embodied love” is how Karolina described the ground of being, and intelligent embodied love was what she herself embodied and radiated, even as she suffered through her cancer and its treatment.  For this past year, she devoted herself to making her new home as beautiful as possible. The last room she finished was the “guest room study,” and how I would have liked to have joined her there. Instead I will simply carry her “yessssss” in my heart.

Rabena yer’hamou Que Dieu la berce dans sa matrice – “May she be cradled in the womb of the Goddess.” Blessed be.

–– Joyce Zonana

Carol was my second cousin.  In 2016, we spent about 10 days in France and Germany tracking down places where our ancestors lived.  Like her Feminism and Religion research and writings she was a meticulous in her ancestry research and fearless about meeting strangers and asking questions.  One of the places where are relatives came from was Saarland St Nikolaus-Rosbruk.  We were having lunch by the river when she saw this tree that she wanted to embrace.  Here is a picture of her by the tree.  I love her expression.

Best to all,
Bill Christ

I’ve been so honored to blog with Carol here at FAR over the last seven or so years and doubly honored that she wrote an endorsement for my new book just last month.

Carol was a tremendous role model and influence for me and she will be deeply missed. She impacted so many lives with her work and her depth of purpose and strength of character were so palaple, even across many miles. When I first read “Why Women Need the Goddess” it touched a chord within me that continues to reverberate through this day. Her work and writing shaped my own thealogy profoundly. In her honor, I chose one of her books off my shelf—She Who Changes—and randomly opened to a page, which, fittingly, was about how death is a part of life:

“For process philosophy, the whole universe is alive and changing, continually co-creating new possibilities of life. Every living individual is born, grows, and then dies. The world is a web of changing individuals interacting with, affecting, and changing each other. The body is the locus of changing life. Not to be embodied, not to change, is not to be alive…”
–Carol P. Christ. (She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World, p. 45)

I read this quote aloud during a small women’s circle the same day Carol died, a circle that, in some way, may not have existed without the gift of her presence in this world.

–– Molly Remer

Remembering Carol P. Christ

I am so grateful and glad that a circle of Carol’s friends and colleagues champion her accomplishments and celebrate her life.

I might be her oldest friend in this group, definitely more a personal friend than a professional colleague.  We were in the same freshman dormitory on the same dorm corridor that was made into a social group at Stanford.  Both of us felt a bit out of place, she—at the time–a political conservative from Orange County California, and I one of 17 Asians in a class of 1,200 from the small town of Gilroy, California.

Never her academic peer, we still spent time together studying, finding our way, and hanging on to our independent thinking.  And we stayed in touch when we both relocated to the East Coast, she to Yale and I to New York City.  I have attached a photo of Carol at her wedding in 1979 when she was living in northern California.  Much later I met her family when her mother died and I knew of the family static that she worked to understand and make peace with.  We stayed in touch through all these decades.  I visited twice in Lesbos with my mother, sister and best friend, and she visited here in Oakland.  

I saw Carol not through her scholarly achievements but from what I saw as her kind of priestess bearing. Always her forthright sense of what would make the world a better place, calling out the wrongs but being understanding, always with her oar in the water.  I also saw her as a warm friend who could laugh about the foibles, not worry about binging on good television, enjoy a good meal with friends, and tend to her garden and pets.

Carol should not have suffered the pain of conflicts, even if those experiences sharpened her mind. She should not have suffered from debilitating illness. . .and she died too young.  She told me once that she stayed in Greece because it was the most beautiful place she had ever been.  Though I never liked having good friends so far away, it seemed that gave her joy and solace.  

We will miss her.

–– Gail Kong

I was profoundly influenced by the keynote address Carol gave in 1978 at the Great Goddess Re-Emerging Conference in Santa Cruz, CA. I was one of the 500 women listening to her words “Why Women Need the Goddess”.  The impact of her observation about the power of symbol systems on each of us individually and the influence symbol systems have on all of us collectively, helped guide my own life.

We met in the fall of 2017 when I was one of ten women on the Goddess Pilgrimage. Carol described herself as a “feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator”. Please view this eighteen minute video of Carol speaking at the Harvard Divinity School where she spoke about her life. This was the 2014 Religion and the Feminist Movement Conference:

I’m always moved by women speaking on their own behalf about their lives with no intermediary to interpret their life from afar. You will certainly gain a sense of who Carol was in her world.

My lesbian partner, Jeanne Neath, and I had reservations to join the 2021 Pilgrimage. To ease my grief at Carol’s death, I’ve gathered ten more candid photos of Karolina on some of the earlier Pilgrimages. You can see those photos on my blog  Carol put incredible energy into each day of those two weeks she escorted us around the various sites that linked us to the ancestors.

Carol dared to examine the deeply embedded beliefs of our patriarchal institutions including academia and religion. She invented a new life for herself. She ‘shed the skin’ of an academic. Karolina was determined to reach other women like herself willing to look beyond the familiar goddesses of the patriarchy to discover the much more ancient Earth Goddess of our Neolithic and Paleolithic ancestors.

Many of us now acknowledge Carol/Karolina as a beloved ancestor.

Blessed Be, Paula Mariedaughter

One of Carol Christ’s books early on, in 1980, that impressed me deeply was Diving Deep and Surfacing – Women Writers on Spiritual Quest, published by Beacon Press. It helped me rediscover my spiritual path. I actually incorporated the phrase “diving deep and surfacing” in a process of self-understanding and awareness. — feeling grateful.

~Bob Fisher, Co-producer, Rise Up & Call Her Name: A Woman-honoring Journey into Global Earth-based Spiritualities

When I first learnt how patriarchy plotted and schemed to write the Goddess out of existence and by extension, the history of all women; not stopping at the written word, using violence and the threat of violence too; I was furious. This was the first time I experienced rage. Not fully knowing our history means we exist in a world of numb. To discover is to feel. To feel is to be alive. This is why Carol’s work is so important – because it links women to their collective past and to their collective future. The anger has subsided and now I ride a wave of certainty, connected to an international movement of powerful women. Understanding our story is empowering. Empowerment is Carol’s legacy.” – Claire Dorey

I met Karolina in 2018, when I was in Lesvos working as a volunteer with refugee organisations, so ours was a very short friendship by comparison with most of her other friends. We kept in touch when I went back to Sydney, and then picked up again where we had left off when I returned to Lesvos in early 2020 for another few months of volunteer work, before the Covid pandemic intervened. After that we kept in touch via Skype. 

I was a bit younger than Karolina, but we shared the same feminist background and had a broadly similar outlook on life. In the short time that we spent together we shared a lot of long lunches with copious amounts of red wine. It was great for me, because Karolina could order meals in Greek, so we always ate interesting local food. She loved to dance, so if there was music she would be on the dance floor!
Karolina knew a lot about Greek Orthodoxy and local customs. I spent a memorable “Clean Monday” with her in 2018, when she donned a tutu as part of a dance troupe, and then danced the afternoon away in Maria’s Taverna… (Clean Monday is the start of the 40 days of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church).

Even though we didn’t know each other for very long, I think that we both valued our friendship, perhaps for different reasons. From my perspective, I loved staying in Karolina’s beautiful old house in Molyvos at weekends, bird watching in the salt marshes at Kalloni, and going to out-of-the-way places to eat. As well as intellectual stimulation she also provided some relief from the intensity of my refugee work, which was very welcome!

I thought it was incredibly brave of Karolina to leave Lesvos and move to Crete, and I’m glad that she got to enjoy her new apartment in Heraklion, however briefly. I would love to have visited her there, but Covid and her illness meant that was not to be. I will miss her. 

Cheers, Lindsey Paget-Cooke

Plague Year Pilgrims: Let’s Keep Walking

A way marker on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Throughout our long Covid crisis, our daily walk offered precious respite from the tedium of being perpetually housebound and viewing the outer world through electronic screens. Walking brought us exercise and fresh air. It cleared our heads, lifted our mood, and even gave us the rare opportunity to have socially distanced conversations with other humans, face to face.

As we come out of this pandemic year, let’s keep walking. What if we turned our daily walk into a pilgrimage? If we reframed each walk as a daily leg of a journey that will eventually lead us into a post-pandemic future? A pilgrimage in place, as it were.

A pilgrimage is a journey, traditionally taken on foot, to a sacred destination, Mecca, Jerusalem, and Rome being some of the most famous examples.

Before Covid, an estimated 300,000 pilgrims walked to the shrine of Chimayó, New Mexico each year in the week before Easter. Some pilgrims even carried heavy homemade crosses to participate in Christ’s journey to Calvary. During my visit to Chimayó some years ago, I witnessed the faithful arriving in the simple adobe church and kneeling before a round pit in the floor to take handfuls of the tierra bendita, the blessed earth, believed to have healing properties.

Jasmin Perez, 17, of Espanola, New Mexico, carries a cross on a pilgrimage to the small adobe church in Chimayo, New Mexico, on Friday, March 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

Pilgrims’ eyes perceived the sacred as manifest in what would mundanely be viewed as dirt. To be a pilgrim is to step into a realm of wonder and grace, where anything might happen. The Church itself won’t comment on any purported miracles, yet pilgrims leave abandoned crutches behind in the sanctuary as testimony of their experience.

Perhaps this revelation of the holy in the commonplace means that we can also be pilgrims without even leaving our neighborhood.

You don’t have to be an observant practitioner of any particular faith—not every pilgrim is religious or even spiritual. Some people walk the path to try to figure out what their spirituality even is.

When I walked the Camino, the iconic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, I encountered people of diverse backgrounds making the pilgrimage for a variety of reasons. Some were taking a break from the stresses of their career to experience a simpler existence—sleeping in hostels and sharing communal meals with strangers. Others were walking to heal trauma and grief. I met grim-faced ex-military guys marching so fast that they wouldn’t deign to respond to other pilgrims’ cheerful greetings of, “Buen Camino!”

Each pilgrim was walking their personal Camino. There is no false reason to go on pilgrimage. Aren’t we all searching for something—some deeper meaning and sense of purpose? In a world so fractured by divisiveness and hatred, sharing the Camino with these vastly different people was an incredible experience of hospitality and spiritual homecoming that I will never forget. The pilgrim’s path is big enough to include us all.

So, what’s the difference between a pilgrimage and a walk? Your intention and your attention, which make all the difference. To have the richest possible experience, we need to be present in our physical bodies, here and now. Not staring at our smart phones or curating our experience on Instagram. Pilgrimage is a time out, a refuge from the news cycle and social media feed.

Pilgrimage doesn’t need to cover a lot of physical distance. It doesn’t even need to be linear. It can be circular. When visiting Nepal, I observed Buddhists circling for hours around the great Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu. All the while, they chanted mantras and fingered their mala beads. For one afternoon, I joined them, if only because I was too intimidated to walk elsewhere with the crazy traffic and air pollution. The shrine seemed like the safest and most peaceful place in the city.

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

This kind of Circling the Center can be practiced anywhere and gives a whole new perspective to walking round the block or your local park.

If you feel so inspired, you could even draw a labyrinth in chalk on your driveway and practice the ancient and meditative art of labyrinth walking.

Pilgrimage isn’t about the external destination as much as the journey, the inner process. The ultimate pilgrimage brings us to the shrine of loving presence within our hearts.

There are many ways to be a pilgrim, but there are still some rules to be respected. The most important is practicing open-hearted hospitality for those you meet on your way, maybe stopping to chat with lonely neighbors.

Likewise, we need to be compassionate and welcoming to all the shadowy parts of ourselves that don’t feel the least bit spiritual—all our fear and rage and despair concerning this pandemic.

We come to our pilgrimage as we are and meet ourselves with radical acceptance.

Let us embrace the street where we live as our personal Camino. The sacred is present all around us and, indeed, within us, if we only look through pilgrims’ eyes and pay attention.

Buen Camino!

Mary Sharratt 
is on a mission to write women back into history. Her acclaimed novel 
Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, is published by Mariner. Her new novel Revelationsabout the mystical pilgrim Margery Kempe and her friendship with Julian of Norwich, is now available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Visit her website.

“Para limpiar el corazon”: To Cleanse the Heart by Joyce Zonana

It should have been a wonderful journey, organized by three dear friends who run a yoga center in Costa Rica. I would be traveling with my husband, these friends, and thirteen other like-minded folk to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Andes highlands of southern Peru. We’d be staying at a lovely retreat center just outside Pisac, an ancient market town encircled by imposing mountains. And our itinerary would take us to some of the most important Inca sites, including the iconic, hauntingly beautiful and remote Machu Picchu.

jz-headshotIt should have been a wonderful journey, organized by three dear friends who run a yoga center in Costa Rica. I would be traveling with my husband, these friends, and thirteen other like-minded folk to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Andes highlands of southern Peru. We’d be staying at a lovely retreat center just outside Pisac, an ancient market town encircled by imposing mountains. And our itinerary would take us to some of the most important Inca sites, including the iconic, hauntingly beautiful and remote Machu Picchu.

We’d made the plans almost a year ago, and I’d been looking forward to the trip. But I fell sick several weeks beforehand and was hesitant to leave my Brooklyn home. Everyone assured me the journey would be magical, and so, feeling better but still uncharacteristically fearful, I reluctantly decided to go. Continue reading ““Para limpiar el corazon”: To Cleanse the Heart by Joyce Zonana”

“This Golgotha of Modern Times” by Joyce Zonana

Our visit to Poland coincides with the Feast of the Assumption, a time when tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive on foot to pay homage to Our Lady of Częstochowa, Poland’s Black Madonna. I too am a pilgrim, visiting the sites, not of miracles but of martyrdom. As I make my way through what Pope John Paul II called “this Golgotha of modern times,” I am overcome; like him, I “am here kneeling down” to implore Our Lady to help us heal the vast, still open wound that is our life on this earth.

4BC9846D-628B-4F1D-89BF-BB212E5D94BCI had never imagined visiting Eastern Europe, a place toward which I felt no attraction, or, if anything, a deep aversion. To my mind, these were the killing fields, where six million Jews, Roma, political prisoners, homosexuals, and others were massacred by the Nazis during World War II. As a bisexual Jew, a dark-skinned Middle Easterner sometimes taken for a gypsy, why would I want to go there?

But my husband, who was raised Catholic in Chicago, is of Polish and Lithuanian descent. He and his two sisters have talked for years about visiting the villages from which their grandparents, escaping economic hardship and military conscription, had emigrated early in the twentieth century. It remained wistful talk until Mike and I made plans to attend a yoga retreat in rural Denmark. We’d be so close, we reasoned, why not cross the Baltic to explore his ancestral homes? His two sisters readily agreed to join us. Continue reading ““This Golgotha of Modern Times” by Joyce Zonana”

The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple has received an influx of global attention since last October. In my last FAR post, I researched the origin story of the Sabarimala Temple and its dedicated deity, Ayyappan. Ayyappan’s unusual parentage and chosen attributes and patronage made him adverse to all forms of sexual activity and more importantly, not very keen in having female devotees.

Ayyappan, also known as Dharmasastha, is devoted to protecting the dharma, living a yogic life, and more importantly, a celibate life. Ayyappan demands that all his followers when undertaking his pilgrimage, take a vow of celibacy for the duration. No form of sexual impurity must enter Ayyappan’s Sabarimala temple. This is where the problematic elements really start to come to head. Due to the restriction of sexual impurities, females from the age of 10-50 are denied access, as their very biological state of being female, makes them sexually impure. Their ability to menstruate makes them vessels of this apparent sexual impurity that the god Ayyappan does not want. Continue reading “The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, India has been recently thrown into the news. It has made world news due to the two centuries long tradition of denying females from the age of 10-50 entrance into the Temple. As of September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing women entrance into the Temple. Needless to say, this ruling was met by both large numbers of supporters and protestors.  But what makes the Sabarimala Temple so controversial?

Continue reading “Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Notes from A Goddess Pilgrimage by Joyce Zonana


The solar eclipse has had me sensing deep alignment with earth, sea, and sky, with my sisters and brothers and Self. This, then, from my 1995 journal of my first Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ, a trip still engraved in my heart:

June 3  – Yesterday, anointing us with rose, lavender, or olive oil, Jana said, “Your journey has begun.” But for me it is this morning, with the purchase of this journal at the biblio on the square across from the hotel, where I sit now in the lobby, traffic noise outside, our group gathering, preparing for our journey . . . happy to be here . . .

Bleeding at the home of the Panagia, the all holy, the sacred mother, sacred myrtle, ancient tree of Aphrodite, Mary, black-bent nuns: we tie ribbons to the tree, sing, “all manner of things shall be well. Blessed be, walk in beauty.” And I am utterly in tears as I walk on the grounds of this ancient place, the birds singing everywhere, yet there is quiet, stillness, an ancient peace . . . A pilgrimage, a shrine, a very holy place.

Continue reading “Notes from A Goddess Pilgrimage by Joyce Zonana”

Our Ladies of Sea, Earth, and Sky by Joyce Zonana

Sara and the Marys
Sainte Sara encompassing Sainte Marie-Salome and Sainte Marie-Jacobe

O Sainte Marie-Jacobe, priez pour nous.

O Sainte Marie-Salome, priez pour nous.

O gardeures de la Provence, priez pour nous.

The priest intoned the words in deep, liquid accents, his voice echoing from the ancient stone church in the remote village of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the Camargue region of Southern France, where the waters of the Rhone River meet the Mediterranean Sea in a wild, wide, flat expanse populated by black bulls, pink flamingos, and white horses.

“O, Saint Mary-Jacobe, pray for us.”
“O, Saint Mary-Salome, pray for us.”
“O, guardians of the gates of Provence, pray for us.”

I could feel the words resonating through me, bringing sudden, hot tears. The people gathered in the small village square repeated the priest’s chant, their voices rising above the low, white-washed houses into the sunlit sky, out towards the shimmering sea where legend tells us the two Marys had drifted two thousand years ago in a boat without rudder or sail.

Continue reading “Our Ladies of Sea, Earth, and Sky by Joyce Zonana”

Uluru: Gratitudes & Farewells at the Red Centre by Kate Brunner

Fearless LoveIt is one of the challenges of choosing this migrant expatriate life to be dependent upon the current job and the willingness of your host country to give you a temporary home. When the job ends and the host country terminates your work visa, it’s time to move on– sometimes without much notice. As our abrupt departure from Australia marches steadily closer, I am reflecting on lessons and experiences my heart carries within me from this place into a new, as yet unknown, chapter of my life.

Over the last three years, our family traveled a great deal all over the eastern half of Australia in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT. But before we left, my husband and I felt we needed to make one last Australian pilgrimage together- just the two of us- to the Red Centre. All I knew was that I felt a powerful pull to visit Uluru before returning to the US. What I experienced became an emotional farewell ritual to this Country that will always have a place in my heart. Continue reading “Uluru: Gratitudes & Farewells at the Red Centre by Kate Brunner”

Be Wild this Holiday and Find the Face of God(dess) by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405I know that you all will be reading this the day after Christmas…so this is my Christmas and/or winter holiday gift to you. I so love the Feminism and Religion (FAR) community—its discourse, intelligence, and its community of like minds. And I appreciate that so many of us offer lessons to each other on how to live—wild. For in some ways the very juxtaposition of the words “feminism” and “religion” posits an out of bounds existence. What does it mean?

I was recently asked how I would teach a class on “women and religion.” Among my first responses was that I would, among other texts, use the book The Feminine Face of God: the Unfolding of the Sacred in Women by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins (1992). Although this book was published over two decades ago it still holds, perhaps unfortunately, as true today as then. The text is based on interviews with women regarding the “unfolding of the sacred” in their lives. This book was required as part of my graduate program in the first class I took at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) “Women’s Studies in Religion.” CGU was the first program in the country where you could get your Ph.D. in Religion, with an emphasis in Women’s Studies in Religion, and I believe it is still the only program where you can do so.

My professor for that class, Dr. Karen Torjesen, challenged us to write, if we could, the “theology” in the book—was there one? She challenged us to see if there was a “theo” “logo” word of God in this idea of the “unfolding of the sacred” in women. I took up her challenge—and so one of my first big graduate papers was to unpack this book of interviews and see if I could find a theology in these lives/stories. This is what I found—what is sacred to women—right now (in 1992 and still today)—is the chance to find the sacred. Continue reading “Be Wild this Holiday and Find the Face of God(dess) by Marie Cartier”

The Season of Pilgrimage by amina wadud

amina - featureThis weekend those of us not performing the ritual pilgrimage, or Hajj, will enjoy the Festival of the Sacrifice of Eid al-Adha. Celebrated on the 10th day of the 12th lunar calendar month, it tends to creep up without warning, since we operate on the solar Gregorian calendar. The next day I jump a plane to Southeast Asia so my attention is already diverted.

The sacrifice here refers to Prophet Abraham’s botched contract with God over his first son. Muslims stick with the sheer biology that it was his first son, Ishma’il rather than Sarah’s first biological son, Isaac as recognized in Christianity and Judaism. It’s political, I won’t go there.

Instead I want to focus on this veneration of things masculine across all three Abrahamic faiths with the attention surrounding this particular patriarch. For example, I recall an Eid sermon which dwelt at length on Abraham circumcising himself in full adulthood without anesthesia. All I could think was, WHO should care about that? This particular manhood seems to excel over any reminder of his humanity, or of his devotion to monotheism in a community steeped in Idol worship. Continue reading “The Season of Pilgrimage by amina wadud”

Bringing Back the Boon: Life After Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner

Kate BrunnerI made it. Last month, I actually made it from Australia to Wales and back on an official Sisterhood of Avalon/Mythic Seeker Pilgrimage called The Priestess and the Healer. I also overnighted in Brisbane, passed through the Netherlands for a couple of days to see an old friend, and even managed to squeeze in a day trip to Glastonbury, England, in addition to my itinerary that had me trekking all over Wales. But all of it- every stop- turned out to be an integral part of my Pilgrimage experience. Much more so than I could have predicted when I first set out. And now I’m back. Back home with my children and my partner. Back at work with my writing. Back to chores, bills, & daily rounds where life is bright, loud, and busy– even as it is joyful & beautiful. What now, then? While the life I’ve returned to is virtually unchanged, something has subtly shifted under my feet in the fortnight it took me to tread those distant lands.

Traveling is always a great learning experience for me, but a mindfully undertaken Pilgrimage is a different creature than a casual holiday. In his fantastic work, The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau breaks down the pilgrim’s journey into phases: the Call, the Departure, the Arrival, & the Return. He relates this journey to the walking of a labyrinth, something Dr. Lauren Artress also explores at length in her book, Walking a Sacred Path. My experience resonates strongly with this metaphor. In retrospect, I can indeed pinpoint the moment of Arrival. (I sat down to eat a nourishing meal at a long, wooden table full of fellow Avalonian pilgrims in front of a window looking out on a late summer sunset in Dyffryn Nantlle.) The realization of that moment, small and simple as is was, shifted and opened my experience even deeper. The ritual of a labyrinth within  a physical Pilgrimage is a special encounter. Those who manage to carve out the resources to engage in it undergo an intense experience, whatever their spiritual tradition or destination. But what happens when it’s over? What comes next? This is where I am left now. Continue reading “Bringing Back the Boon: Life After Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner”

Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling by Carol P. Christ

carol christThe mountaintop shrines of Mount Juctas in Archanes, Crete are situated on twin peaks, which may have symbolized breasts. Ancient shrines on the northern peak date from 2200 BCE until at least the end of the Ariadnian (Minoan) period in 1450 BCE. A crevice in the rock was filled with offerings of pottery, clay images of women and men in ritual dress, diseased bodies and body parts, sheep and cattle, and other objects. Excavations to a depth of 13 meters did not reach the bottom layers. Many offerings had been burned, suggesting that the objects were first thrown into fire and then dropped into the crevice. People who climbed the mountain for the festivals would have spilled over both peaks and there may have been shrines as well as fires on both of them.

Goddess Pilgrim on Mount Juctas
Goddess Pilgrim on Mount Juctas

With lack of imagination, archaeologists often write that worship in mountaintop shrines in Crete began when the king ascended the mountain to survey his realm. This ignores the fact that people are like goats and will climb anything if they can. Bones provide evidence of domesticated sheep, goats, and cattle in Crete long before there were kings. Surely shepherds climbed Mount Juctas before any kings did.

The idea that mountains are for kings also ignores the fact that there are no kings in Crete today, no realms to be surveyed, and yet the people of Archanes still ascend the mountain for the summer festival known as the Transfiguration of Christ on August 5th and 6th. A church called Afendis Christos or Christ the Lord on the southern peak of Juctas is the destination of current pilgrims. Today the uneven dirt road recently cut into the mountain is clogged with cars (only) during the festival. Continue reading “Mountain Mother, I Hear You Calling by Carol P. Christ”

Expanding the Cycle of Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner

Kate BrunnerAt the beginning of this year, I mapped out my assorted travel plans for 2014. We expected to be living in Australia through the end of the year, so I committed myself to the Sisterhood of Avalon’s August pilgrimage through Wales. Once the paperwork was done and my deposit paid, I focused on more immediate ventures during the first quarter of the year, intending to engage in more mindful preparation later on.

Just after the full moon lunar eclipse in April, we got word that our assignment here in this corner of Australia would end, not in November or December as we were previously told, but in mid-July, instead. It’s been increasingly chaotic since then. While we worked from that point on, pursuing every available job lead, we are still- less than one month out- unsure of what our future holds.

Meanwhile, that future continues to rush to greet us. Whatever it may be. Continue reading “Expanding the Cycle of Pilgrimage by Kate Brunner”


carol-christOne of the inspirations for the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete was the spiritual power and energy I felt at the monastery of Paliani with its Sacred Myrtle Tree.  The Panagia, She Who Is All Holy, is said to live in the tree, and the nuns who tend the tree follow customs far older than Christianity.  When I first visited Paliani, I asked Her to heal my broken heart and help me find my true love.

panagia palianiOver the years, I have offered many other prayers:  for my books and tours, for health, for citizenship that would enable me to stay in Greece.   I tell other pilgrims that the Panagia of Paliani has performed many miracles and repeat the story of the doctors who desperately wanted to have a child, who had tried everything, and who had a son a year to the day after making a prayer at Paliani. I point to the many “tamas,” including gifts of precious jewelry, crutches and body braces that have been given in honor of the power of the Panagia of Paliani.

In the fall of 2012 one of our members prayed that a heavy flow of menstrual blood that often lasted for more than half of every month be stopped so that she would have the strength to participate fully in the pilgrimage. She had been bleeding for 5 weeks when she came on the tour, and her bleeding stopped the moment she touched the tree.  Continue reading “GIVING BACK TO THE MOTHER by Carol P. Christ”

Hajar: of the desert by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

This week the Islamic pilgrimage or Hajj was completed.  For those not gathering on the dusty plains of the desert in Arabia, we have the celebration of the Feast of the Sacrifice, commemorating the exchange of a lamb for the blood of the son of Abraham.  This story is coated with patriarchy, and so it is with some fascination that Hajar (biblical Hagar) configures so significantly in the Islamic telling of it.

According to the same patriarchal twist, it is Abraham’s first son that is pivotal to the story’s continuation and the salvation of a people, yet to be born.  That his first son, Ishmael, was born of a slave woman—some say of African origins—is not without extreme symbolism for African-American women, mostly Christian.  That she is the mother of the tribes of Arabs is also not without some extreme genealogy along with that symbolism. But that she a single female head of household, whose sojourn in the desert still, has a central ritual re-enactment in the Hajj, that I turn to here. Continue reading “Hajar: of the desert by amina wadud”

A New Glossary for Crete: The Power of Naming and the Study of History by Carol P. Christ

carol-christThe words we use affect our thinking. In the case of ancient Crete the repetition of the terms “Palace,” “Palace of Knossos,” “King Minos,” “Minoan,” “Priest-King,” and “Prince of the Lilies” shape the way we understand history–even when we ourselves know these terms are incorrect. We must engage in “new naming.”

Ariadne. May have been a name of the Goddess of pre-patriarchal Crete. The ending “ne” signifies that Ariadne is not of Greek or Indo-European origin and thus predates the later Greek myths.

Ariadnian. The name I have given to the Old European pre-patriarchal culture of Crete, from arrival of the Neolithic settlers from Anatolia c.7000 BCE to the Mycenaean invasion c.1450 BCE. Arthur Evans named the Bronze Age (c.3000-1450 BCE) culture of Crete “Minoan” after King Minos of Greek mythology, son of Zeus and Europa, husband of Pasiphae, father of Ariadne, whose gift of the secret of the labyrinth to Theseus led to the downfall of her culture. Evans assumed that Minoan Crete was ruled by a King.

This image I call “Ariadne Dancing” could become the new “icon” of Ariadnian Crete.

minoan woman dancing

It could and should replace the “icon” of  the “Priest-King” Arthur Evans’ “imaginatively” reconstructed and named the “Prince of the Lilies.”

 prince of the lilies

Once we remove the crown which probably belonged to a Sphinx, the figure’s white color and athletic body suggests it was intended to portray a young female bull-leaper leading a bull. Continue reading “A New Glossary for Crete: The Power of Naming and the Study of History by Carol P. Christ”

Coming Together to Honor the Mother by Carol P. Christ

petra churchcarol-christFrom the evening of the 14th through the day and night of the 15th of August, thousands of pilgrims ascended the Holy Rock of Petra to honor the Panagia—She Who Is All Holy. 

There is “something really beautiful”* in being among them.

Six of us set out from Molivos at 7:30 on the 14th to meet in the square of Petra to ascend to the church.  Petra was already full of so many pilgrims that police had forbidden traffic in the main square and were directing cars into a nearly full parking lot in a field.  When we got out of the car, the two others who came with me and I had a perfect view of the steady stream of pilgrims climbing the rock, which was already lit up in the twilight.

When we found the others, I said that we would climb to the church on the top of the rock where we would light candles and approach the icon of the Panagia to silently pray or express a wish for the coming year.   The others followed me through the square into the winding streets lined with stalls and gypsy beggars to the bottom of the rock.  While we waited for our turn, we saw the sign advising pilgrims of proper dress (read carefully).


Continue reading “Coming Together to Honor the Mother by Carol P. Christ”

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