Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Goddess as Love: From Experience To Thealogy

This was originally posted on September 24, 2012

If theology is rooted in experience, how do we move from experience to theology? In my life there have been a number of key moments of “revelation” that have shaped my thealogy. One of these was the moment of my mother’s death.

In 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. While she was being treated, I realized that I had never loved anyone as much as I loved her. When I wrote that to her, she responded that “this was the nicest letter” she “had ever received” in her life and she invited me to come home to be with her and my Dad.

My mother died only a few weeks after I arrived, in her own bed as she wished. She was on an oxygen machine, and I heard her call out in the dark of early morning. When my Dad got to the room, he tried to turn up the oxygen, but it didn’t help. Then he called the doctor who reminded him that my mother did not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Goddess as Love: From Experience To Thealogy”

The Dying Time by Esther Nelson

At the end of Anita Diamant’s novel, THE RED TENT, Dinah—the same young woman who is only briefly mentioned in the biblical account (Genesis 34)—dies after a long and full life.  The biblical text tells us that Dinah “went out to visit the women of the region” and that “Schechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her…seized her and lay with her by force” (vss. 1-2).  The passage is often titled “The Rape of Dinah.”

In Diamant’s version of the story, Dinah and King Hamor’s son engage in consensual sex.  In keeping with the biblical account, the king then attempts to negotiate a bride price with Jacob (Dinah’s father), but Jacob and his sons are reluctant to agree to the marriage.  They demand soon thereafter that all the men in Hamor’s kingdom undergo circumcision as a bride price.  On the third day after surgery, the sons steal into the city and kill the men.

After just a mere mention of Dinah’s “rape” in Genesis 34, she disappears from the story.  In THE RED TENT, Diamant not only gives Dinah a powerful voice, she also weaves a wonderful tale of mothers, daughters, heartache, betrayal, loss, love, and joy.  Dinah gives birth to her lover’s son in Egypt, develops a strong bond and working relationship with the midwife, Meryt, and eventually falls in love with Benia, a master carpenter.

Continue reading “The Dying Time by Esther Nelson”

Priestessing the Priestesses by Chris Ash

Christy CroftLast week, I had the incredible privilege of sitting vigil with a friend in hospice in her final hours on this earth. She slept for most of the time I was there, but her waking moments were lucid, if brief. She whispered how good the fresh juice tasted (it had been made for her by a friend), and she seemed to prefer having my hands on her back to pain medication. In the last hour I was with her before leaving, a mutual friend joined us and played gentle, lullaby-style music for her on the kalimba and guitar. As he sang softly to her, I could barely make out his words; the intention was pure, the moment was intimate, and I felt honored to be present for such a profoundly sacred moment.

Speaking with another mutual friend who had held space for Maria in her final days, I mentioned that as I was at hospice I had felt an awareness of priestessing the priestess. Our friend agreed, and said she’d had a similar sensation. “That’s who Maria has been for many of us, whether she claimed that title or not.”

Maria and I were not part of a shared formal congregation or spiritual community in the traditional sense. We were both part of an informal network of friends in a variety of communities whose membership and interests overlap – sacred movement, ecstatic dance, ancestral healing, sound healing, and alternative spiritualities. It’s a network that is both leaderless and full of leaders, as its inherent diversity of beliefs and practices lends itself to members who are specialists in one tradition, students in another, and generalists in deep compassion, holy presence, and unconditional love. Continue reading “Priestessing the Priestesses by Chris Ash”

Releasing Artemis by Carol P. Christ

As I was writing thcarol molivos with view 1is story, my Word program froze several times, and I lost what I had written. This has never happened before. The fifth time, it occurred to me that Artemis was not happy with the way I was telling the story of her life and death. I lit a candle and prayed for her spirit to fly free like the gulls over the sea that I could see out my window and began again. The words in italic are the ones she added.

Yesterday morning I heard the church bells tolling a plaintive, “dong, dong, dong,” as they do when someone dies. Quite a few people die in our village in winter, and I did not wonder who it might be. You didn’t think of me? A few hours later, I saw the death notice on a telephone pole next to my car. My friend and neighbor Artemis died. The words “Theos voithos,” “with the help of God,” came immediately to my mind. Continue reading “Releasing Artemis by Carol P. Christ”

I Come From a Long Line of Beautiful, Strong and Capable Women by Jassy Watson

JassyIn 2014 I wrote about the passing of my dear Pop and the painting that burst forth when I was told very clearly that Pachamama had come to accompany him on his return. It is with a very heavy heart that I now write with news of the recent passing of my dear Nanna. The anchors of our family now both gone. When I was told of her passing, I envisioned her being carried by angels; at peace and free of pain.

The last time I saw her she told me the spirits had been visiting. “I’m not scared,” she declared. This was not surprising for Nan always had a close relationship with spirit. I remember her telling me of a ghostly experience she had many years ago. It was very late one night and someone had come knocking at the door. Out of bed she got and answered it only to be greeted by her brother who had died many years before. He asked her to come with him and she told him it wasn’t time yet. Nan swore it wasn’t a dream. It had really happened. This is just one of many otherworldly encounters she told me about over the years.

Much of my childhood and early adulthood was spent at Nanna’s house so there are plenty of fond and funny memories of her. Her obsession with ghost and horror stories stands out as one of them. When we were children, she would get my sister and me to stay up late with her and watch all kinds of mystery murder shows. I remember watching The Hounds of Baskerville with her and being scared witless. The bonus however was getting to cuddle up in bed with her for the night.

Reading was one of her greatest passions, and she read everything from Shakespeare to Stephen King. I believe it was Nanna who inspired my love of history and over the years we swapped and shared numerous historical books. Her knowledge of Old Britain was astounding, and I remember many a discussion over the fate of Mary Queen of Scots – Nanna was always a bit anti-English, and we often wondered how history may have unfolded if Mary hadn’t been de-throned and exiled. In fact the last book she sent for me to read was another about her.

Stargazing was another one of her loves and is something she will be dearly remembered for. Many evenings were spent out on the deck looking to the night sky. Nan knew where all the constellations and zodiac signs were and she rarely missed an astronomical event. Whenever I have looked to the stars I have thought of Nanna, but now when I look to them, she is one of them. Shining down on us brighter than ever.

I dedicated my latest painting to Nanna. For me, painting is how I can process my thoughts and feelings and is also a way to find clarity and understanding on matters such as the nature of life and death. From the moment I made the first marks on the canvas I kept hearing “your ancestors are behind you.” I knew I was being guided by them and tried my hardest to connect in with Nanna’s spirit to see and feel who guided her home. Nanna had strong ancestral ties so it was only fitting to feel them so strongly here. The two younger women standing in front are the gatekeepers, standing at the threshold to the other side. The woman in the centre came with the message that Nanna is at peace – she is peace. She is pictured smelling the roses that were one of Nanna’s favourite flowers to grow. The firebird symbolizes transformation and the flight of her spirit that is seen to the left leaving, heading back to the cosmos from whence she came.

"Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still they say. Watch & listen. You are the result of the love of thousands." She is at Peace, by Jassy Watson
“Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still they say. Watch & listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
She is at Peace, by Jassy Watson

Death is surreal and it still hasn’t quite sunk in that I will never see her again. Nanna was a strong and caring woman who loved her family deeply. Her legacy is one of love, and while the circle feels broken in the sense that she is no longer physically here, it remains unbroken for her spirit lives on forever in our hearts.

I am the daughter of Ramona Cherise Lane, the granddaughter of Ailsa Aileen Rollings and the great granddaughter of Ruth Harrison. I come from a long line of beautiful, strong and capable women stretching back to the dawn of humankind. I honor them and give thanks for all that they have taught and shown me.

Nanna taught me about my ancestors.

She taught me about the importance of storytelling.

She taught me about mystery and history.

She taught me to love books.

She showed me how to crochet and knit.

She showed me how to play cards.

She showed me spirit.

In life and death Nanna has taught me of unconditional love and acceptance.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”

(Irish Headstone)

My sister Carissa, Nanna (Ailsa) and me
My sister Carissa, Nanna (Ailsa) and me

Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Intuitive/Visionary & Community Artist, Teacher, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Goddesses Garden, Studio & Gallery; a school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person, nationally and internationally, and online based around themes that explore myth, history, earth connection and the Goddess. Regular creative events and presentations are also held that have included visits from international scholars, artists and musicians. Visit http://www.goddessesgardenandstudio.com to read more about her and the work she creates. 

My Immortal Mother-in-Law by Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham headshot jpegBefore Olga Eunice Quintero Smyth died on December 4, 2014 at age 101 and 10 months, I was tempted to believe she was immortal, literally. I knew Olga for forty-five years (from age 16 to 61). For thirty-five of those years she was my mother-in-law. Our history began when I was kicked out of high school and went to work at her free-wheeling school, her utter lack of any interest in reforming me a blast of fresh air. It ended with me sitting beside her as she was dying, softly singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Olga was named for a Russian princess her mother encountered when she was a babe in her arms en route to Trinidad from her native Venezuela. Olga took for granted her descent from Incan royalty as well. Her mother moved the family to New York when she was eleven. A few years later, she won a scholarship to Mount Holyoke College. She married a classmate’s brother, Julian Smyth, great grandson to Nathaniel Hawthorne. If that weren’t enough, Olga claimed for Julian’s line direct descent from the first century Celtic Queen Boadicea. As long as she could speak, she spun tales. “Where in Africa was she born?” one of her nurses asked me. “What kind of a dancer was she?” Continue reading “My Immortal Mother-in-Law by Elizabeth Cunningham”

Death with Dignity by Carol P. Christ

Carol Christ in LesbosIn the summer of 1960 when I was 14 years old my much loved grandmother Mae Inglis Christ died of a cancer that affected her brain. The last time I saw my Nannie was shortly after her diagnosis in the early spring. While we were visiting, the cancer affected her back, and she took to her bed. In those days children were not allowed in hospitals. I never saw my grandmother alive again, but my mother told us that our grandmother was hooked up to tubes much longer than she should have been. Mother vowed, “This will never happen to me.” I was driven to the funeral in a limousine with my grandmother’s girlfriends. They spoke about my grandmother’s last days, describing how (because her mind was affected by cancer) my little grandmother had screamed and screamed at them for not visiting–even though they were with her every day. They found my grandmother’s outbursts so traumatic that they said they were relieved to see her looking so peaceful in her coffin. Continue reading “Death with Dignity by Carol P. Christ”

We Are Music by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedWhen I was about eight years old, I dreamed one night that I stood inside the workings of an immense instrument, so big it filled the sky. It was crafted of wood and gold, and although there was no obvious source of light, it was brightly illuminated. I could have confused it for the inner workings of a clock except that I could hear the sweet music it produced resonating throughout its cavernous hollows. It was curious to me that there seemed to be no atmosphere there either to breathe or to carry sound. Within it, I did not perceive any movement. And, there was no actual melody that it produced, which could be sung or repeated. There was only an enveloping harmonic thrumming. The sound was multiplicative and voluminous although not piercing. I understood it in the dream to be cosmic, structural, primordial, and generative. When I awoke, I had the feeling that I had seen something divine. It was not heaven. It was not God. It was more like the instrument of the universe, or the universal instrument, created as a first work among creation

It was puzzling to me that I had such a dream because I was not then a musician. I felt that I understood its meaning, but I was surprised by its discontinuity with things in my normal frame of reference. My mother played piano, but she had no music theory in her background. She surely did not have any training in musical cosmologies, such as those produced in antiquity by the philosophers and theologians. I occasionally mentioned the dream over the years when context seemed to warrant it, but, more or less, I filed it away. Continue reading “We Are Music by Natalie Weaver”

Lady Death by Jassy Watson

JassyLady Death is knocking on my dear old Poppy’s door. His health has been getting progressively worse with each day and it is a sad and trying time for all of the family. Naturally, with death, comes reflection, unresolved issues are stirred up and we are inevitably confronted with our own mortality. I have been reflecting and reminiscing about times spent with my Pop as a child. So many wonderful memories are warmly held in my heart.

Visiting Pop and Nanna’s house as a child was always very exciting, namely because of all the lollies Pop had hidden in his cupboards – XXXX mints and licorice all sorts his favourites. I remember him Irish jigging in his blue tartan dressing gown around the campfire, and the times he would stick out his false teeth, roar and scare us silly. Slim Dusty, an Australian country music icon was one of his favourite singers, he would play his records on the old player as loud as can be, I knew the words to “I’d love to have a beer with Duncan” back to front. Every weekend the horse races would blare out of his little radio in the kitchen, I would listen along and try to pick a winner for him.

My sister and I would stay at Nanna and Pops house most school holidays and we would both wait at the front gate for him to come home from work, we were always so happy to see him coming down the path, covered in concrete and dirt, his skin so tanned from being in the sun all day. He always greeted us with a big smile and a pat on the head. We would have dinner early and no matter what was on the menu, much to Nanna’s disappointment, he would cover his food in a river of ‘black horse,’ slang for Worceteshire sauce. We would then watch the goings on in the neighbourhood from the back verandah; Pop could, and still can, tell you what everyone else was up to! He was, and still is a cheeky old thing, as stubborn as an ox, and I love him so very much.

Death of one of my family members is not something I have any experience with. Knowing that the time will soon be nigh however, has me naturally thinking about the cycle of life and death. As an avid gardener I witness this cycle daily. I plant seeds, watch them grow, set seed, decay then watch their progeny pop up all over the place. I find cocoons where caterpillars will eventually emerge as beautiful butterflies, only to flutter for two days and pass on. On my early morning bug hunts I find all sorts of larvae waiting to hatch, the strongest survivors grow; have a grand feast on my veggies, only to become a meal or compost themselves. Leaves and branches fall to the ground, animals perish and decay, feeding the earth and maintaining the fertility of the soil in the process.

This Life/Death/Life cycle is no new concept. Since time beginning human life was directly linked to the cycle of the seasons and the cycle of life and death. Humans were inextricably linked and connected with their natural environments. They imitated animals and worshipped the sun, moon, trees, rivers and mountains, elaborate rituals and ceremonies were created concerning these cycles and transitions. It was understood by careful observation of nature, that death was a natural part of the life cycle.

But why, in much of our Western culture is there so much fear and denial over death when religions and philosophies the world over have endeavoured to offer solace to humans in the face of our mortality by promising eternal life? Dr. Estes says that, “In much of Western culture, the original character of the death nature has been covered over by various dogmas and doctrines until it is split off from its other half, Life”. This is not how it is, for “death is always in the process of incubating new life”. This is life’s greatest paradox; even in our state of living, we are in fact dying and it is this dance between the two and the nature of the Life/Death/Life cycle that has been contaminated by a fear of death. This splitting in two of life and death, I feel, is largely a result of our disconnection from nurture and nature. This disconnection has impacted on every aspect of society, our ability to flow with these cycles is often weak and as a result impacts all kinds of relationships and structures, particularly that of family and community.

I am not sure what my pop believes about the nature of death as he is not religious, nor does he have any faith in an after life. He doesn’t even want a funeral of any kind. I do remember him though, saying to me as a child rather emphatically, “when you’re dead, you’re dead: food for the worms!” This has stayed with me for life and in it’s simplicity shows an understanding of the cycle. He was an avid gardener too, growing plenty of vegies for the household, and if I look deeper into his comment, which he made on more than one occasion, he was really saying that we become compost, teeming with new life, we feed the earth (the worms) and so the cycle continues.

I am certain though, that Pop fears death, and I know that he fears leaving the living, and while we can talk about, have faith in, and come to accept the Life/Death/Life cycle, it doesn’t mean that it is ever going to be easy. Surrendering to death, not just the physical death of our bodies, but any kind of death, I think, is life’s greatest lesson.

Lady Death is waiting for pop to answer the door, she has come to embrace him and comfort him in his pain and ease his transition. He is not quite ready, but the time will come soon and I feel strong in my knowing that despite how much suffering can accompany the dying, this is the way it is meant to be. From his death new life will emerge.

He will forever live in my heart and memories.

Returning, by Jassy Watson


Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a mother of four, a passionate organic gardener, an artist, teacher of the Colour of Woman Method, and a student of ancient history and religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She runs a small business Goddesses Garden and Studio to keep women’s sacred circles, art, music and gardening practices alive. Jassy  teaches regular painting workshops based around themes exploring the feminine.

Visit http://www.goddessesgardenandstudio.com






Honoring the Older Women of December’s Darkness by Carolyn Lee Boyd

carolyn portrait

Winter’s hungry hand has taken another powerful and precious older woman. No one knew Ellen beyond her family and friends, her church and her neighbors. She was 90, a nurse, faithful to her church and of service to her community, and quiet in manner and tone. In my work in elder services over 25 years, I have come to know many Ellens, older women who have labored relentlessly in their homes or in the outside world for little recognition or financial recompense but who have made a tremendous difference in the lives of other.  For reasons that may have to do with the harshness of New England winters, or maybe just coincidence, or maybe only perception, winter  seems to be the time when they leave the Earth and we are bereft.

Ellen and the many older women I have known like her do not fit into any standard or feminist image of a powerful woman.  They do not generally challenge the status quo, except with occasional complaints about unfairness to women in comments to friends.  They may not feel comfortable labeling themselves as “feminist.”

Continue reading “Honoring the Older Women of December’s Darkness by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Goddess as Love: From Experience To Thealogy by Carol P. Christ

If theology is rooted in experience, how do we move from experience to theology? In my life there have been a number of key moments of “revelation” that have shaped my thealogy. One of these was the moment of my mother’s death.

In 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. While she was being treated, I realized that I had never loved anyone as much as I loved her. When I wrote that to her, she responded that “this was the nicest letter” she “had ever received” in her life and she invited me to come home to be with her and my Dad.

My mother died only a few weeks after I arrived, in her own bed as she wished. She was on an oxygen machine, and I heard her call out in the dark of early morning. When my Dad got to the room, he tried to turn up the oxygen, but it didn’t help. Then he called the doctor who reminded him that my mother did not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances.

My Dad then sat by my mother’s bed and held her hand.  As my mother died, I felt that the room was” filled with love.” I sensed that my mother was “going to love.” Continue reading “Goddess as Love: From Experience To Thealogy by Carol P. Christ”

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