Sandhill Cranes – a Nation of Women with Wings by Sara Wright

Historically they used the Eastern flyway but were extirpated by hunting… a slow recovery is in process and the stately Sandhill cranes are once again returning to breed in Maine… so far only birders have been keeping track of their numbers but these majestic pre-historic birds have haunting cries that are often described as bugles, rattles, croaks and trumpets and can be heard 2 -3 miles away. They also utter sounds that combine a kind of brrring in unison. Their impending arrival next month calls up a chant I love…

There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.
There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of warriors with wings.”

I remember the chill that crawled up my spine as those words seeped into my body all those years ago… I wept, not knowing why.

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The Mighty Oak or Acorn? by Sara Wright

Most of us are familiar with the mythology around oak trees. They are considered oracular beings in many traditions. The Druids considered  them to be sacred, the Greeks associated oaks with Zeus –( patriarchy strikes as the ‘ king’ of trees). In Britain there was a goddess of oak trees….but in general oaks are considered to be male beings though they bear seeds and flowers on one tree.

 Mighty male trees ? Nothing could be further from the truth in terms of behavior because oaks are found all over the world and in this country they are what is considered to be a keystone species. What this means is that oaks support and nurture an incredible amount of animals, insects and birds. A ‘ Mother ‘Tree in every way. We have four species in this country, one of which clones itself and behaves like a bush. It is believed to be about 1300 years old ( found in the west).Throughout the world oaks are also considered to be keystone species.

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Seeding Up by Sara Wright

Every spring it’s the same… the hunger to begin starting seeds. As a woman and an eco -feminist I am convinced that this need to work with seeds and soil is an ancient pattern that stretches back to our egalitarian matriarchal beginnings.

Some of us like me come from a family of gardeners so there is something to say about the influence of our ancestors directing this process on a personal level. Both patterning and ancestral influences seem to work together. Another “both and”.

After I broke my foot last year I was forced to cease gardening altogether out of necessity because I could no longer use a shovel. If I am really honest I can say I was more than ready to let go. I have grown both vegetables and flowers since I was a child, then while raising a family. At mid – life when I moved to the mountains I made (what seems today) a radical decision. I decided to plant trees, plants and flowers primarily for non – humans in a small area around my house. Nature determined what grew and thrived on the rest of my land. Today people call this re-wilding but then my intention was simple. I wanted to give back to nature what S/he had given to me. I wanted nature to be the receiver.

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Inspiration is Always Present by Sara Wright

I walk with care
clearing paths
iced over
lead feet
a broken foot
my companion
Listen to
first spring
bird song –
and doves!

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Feeding the Birds….Refuge, Part 1 by Sara Wright

It’s another gray snowy day with large white flakes falling from the sky… January lasts “forever” every single year. I feed chickadees on my window ledge until the squirrels show up; then I scatter seed on the ground. Chickadees begin their day just before 7 AM when it is still dark, coming to the ledge. Today the turkeys are absent, fluffed up monks still hidden under hemlock boughs. The blood male cardinal appears with his usual message. I peer into the forest as the turkeys make their way across the brook and start up the hill while gazing at sage green shield lichens and two pure white birches that stand out like sentries, peeling white skin. Some maples and many hemlocks border the brook that is running clear of ice. A multitude of twigs and evergreen spires sway, branches twist and bend filling every inch of space, a comforting sight, even though all the deciduous trees are bare. Global warming turns snow to rain and back again in every storm creating ice bound paths, easily traversed by my little dogs. Dangerous for me. Often now I am housebound.

This gray world of mine needs animation from within…

Continue reading “Feeding the Birds….Refuge, Part 1 by Sara Wright”

When Betrayal Makes Sense by Sara Wright

 When I was a young woman, a divorced mother of two, working as a waitress I became obsessed by a window hanging in a local store. This cluster of grapes was fashioned out of thick, uneven hunks of stained glass that the artist had retrieved from bombed cathedrals in Europe. The grapes shimmered – ecclesiastical purple with limed green leaves. Although I could hardly afford to, I paid an outrageous $50.00 for this piece and hung it above my bedroom window. I never regretted the choice. Whenever I looked at the stained glass, I had the strange sense that there was a message hidden there. I ignored it.

After my brother’s death two years later (my youngest son was two) I lost most of myself, but held on to my love for plants tending to them with deep affection and attention.

My first word was ‘fower’ for flower so my relationship with plants stretched back to babyhood. I believed the flowers plants and trees that lived around my grandmother’s house were my close friends.

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Elf and Seed Woman Stories by Sara Wright

Elf House

The older I get the more important the forest becomes to me because it is a place where I find inspiration and peace. I also play in the woods! During the month of October and what I call the “Witching Moon” that has just passed I think of all the women healers that lived alone in the forests with their animal and plant ‘familiars’. These women learned that nature instructs those who apprentice themselves to her. Animals and plants spoke to these women through intuition, sensing, feeling, or through their dreams because these women listened to them. Did these women play too? Westerners fear nature because they are so separate from her. Unable to imagine conversation (let alone play) occurring between women animals and plants, even today women who live close to nature are viewed with suspicion. I know because I am one of them.

I spend a lot of time in a 12,300 acre wood that one family has preserved for perpetuity. Recently these generous people have leased the land to the local land trust so it is getting more attention. I am not sure that this is a good thing. I note the amount of motorcycle and four wheeler use has increased dramatically on the roads that run parallel with the forest; some of the once quiet woodland paths are either echoing or  saturated with sound.

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On Her Birthday by Sara Wright

One of the aspects of feminism that really disturbs me is the SILENCE around aging. Reflections on our personal lives are a critical piece that can help women to deal with this inevitable process. Oh, we write about the “wisdom” of the crone, the powers of the “Old Ones”, but we don’t share the poignant, dark, or terrifying aspects of personal aging leaving women without female empathy and companionship when we need it most. I am committed to breaking this silence. My birthday poem speaks to the pattern that lies behind my life and how it determined to an extent how I have lived. Chosen or not.

We come out of a culture that believes that each person has ‘free will’ and therefore the choices we make are our own. I challenge this concept because my life experience has taught me otherwise. Within the constraints of the patterns we live we do have choices. So this is a “both and” approach. Coming to terms with constraining patterns can be painful, but only then can we make choices that allow us to make peace with our lives.

On her birthday…

On her birthday

 she surrendered –

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Grief Overshadows Joy by Sara Wright

Fall is the season of ‘the cutting away’, a poignant time to celebrate the deepening darkness as we turn inward. I think the powers of the goddess are strongest at this time of year… I wrote this wistful poem in celebration of Autumn as I am experiencing it this year… perhaps the personal reflection that follows is the kind of thinking that is capable of opening a door to a new way of perceiving?  

Autumn Gold

Autumn gold

stains the maples

beech hay ferns too

each day

 a deeper glow

bittersweet bleeds

into lemon

liming veins

scarlet sears a leaf

or two

salmon rose blurs…

 fir balsam hemlock

spires reach


forest green


soak in drops

of rain.

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Witches Butter by Sara Wright

The other day I found the most beautiful fungus on an aging white pine set against deep green moss that was almost arcing over the brook. When I looked up Dacrymyces palmatis I discovered that it’s common name was “Witches Butter.” That figures I thought – this must mean that this plant has medicinal qualities, and of course it does along with the fact that the fungus is edible.

Any time I see the word witch associated with a plant if I am not familiar with it I start digging into research inevitably coming up with the same kind of information – the plant/ tree/ fungus/slime mold is edible and has medicinal value.

The word witch as many of us know has at its root to bend or shape. Shape -shifting by non –ordinary means.

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Sky Woman comes to Earth by Sara Wright

Every twig

is singing

a song of thanksgiving

to Sky Woman

who gifts

steady rain


earth’s parched body.

Cracked ground


 soaks in minerals

and scent

 sensing wonder.

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Peaceful Winding Endurance Road by Sara Wright

I personally think the quality of endurance is underrated. Remember Celie in The Color Purple?  After living through hell this woman became who she was meant to be. Sometimes endurance does seem to be the way through. Just now the Woman’s Movement seems to be quite dead, but perhaps if we can just endure in time this situation may shift. That at least is my fervent hope.

Endurance and the Long Winding Road

From the day I bought this property almost 40 years ago I walked down this lovely road with a sense of the deepest pleasure. The trees were young then. In spring wild cherries burst with pure white or rosy pink blossoms, the bark of each a different hue, emerald pines bore startling white candles, chattering poplars multiplied, pale gray and pearl white birches leaned in for intimate conversation, smooth barked red maples graced open spaces all lemony lime in spring – leaves and needles etched against cobalt blue. The trees were healthy then.

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The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth

This was originally posted on March 11, 2013

This prayer came to me recently in waking sleep:

Our Mother whose body is the Earth,

Blessed are you,

And blessed are all the fruits of your womb.

You give us this day our daily bread,

And we share it with others.

Our Mother whose body is the Earth,

We love you with all our hearts,

And our neighbors as ourselves.

“Our Mother Whose Body Is the Earth” is a creative synthesis of elements of the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ two great commandments via Charles Hartshorne, Hebrew blessings via Marcia Falk, process philosophy, and the central principles of earth-based religions, gratitude and sharing, that I discovered on Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete.

“Our Father who art in Heaven” becomes “Our Mother whose body is the Earth.”  Transcendence of the earth and the body are replaced with immanence, suggesting that the earth and the body are good.  Our mothers’ bodies are the source of our lives.  Our Mother’s body is the Source of all life on our planet. The earth as the body of the Mother is a very ancient conception.  Process philosopher Charles Hartshorne says that the earth as the divine body is the best rational model for understanding the intimate relationship of God to the world.

Continue reading “The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth”

Little Red Deer by Sara Wright

At the forest edge

  twigs rustle,

papery leaves


a vision of grace


from behind

my chair.

Staring intently

liquid coals

will me

to turn…

You nibble

a few grasses

at my feet

without fear.

We meet

on pine strewn paths

or when I trim

 cherry or rose

plucking old thorns.

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The Magic of the Labyrinth by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Labyrinths are magical. I’ve always been drawn to them. About two years ago, a local Episcopalian Church rebuilt their beautiful outdoor labyrinth and opened it to the public. In concert with them, I have been delighted and honored to offer guided walks there. Doing these walks, both in leading them and in walking myself, have given me the opportunity to reflect deeply on what they mean from many perspectives: historical, personal, spiritual, philosophical, experiential.

When I walk a labyrinth, it feels like I am mirroring the universe while expanding my internal journey. Teresa of Avila agrees with me (or, more accurately, I with her). She wrote, “If we learn to love the earth, we will find labyrinths, gardens, fountains and precious jewels! A whole new world will open itself to us. We will discover what it means to be truly alive.”     


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Whispers of the Ancient Ones by Judith Shaw

Moving from town to town – by train, bus and ferry – I have walked and walked the ancient land of the Scottish Highlands. From Paleolithic to Mesolithic to Neolithic and on to Picts, Celts, Scots, Romans, French and English – many different people have walked these same paths.

Standing Stones, Cupmarked Stones and Pictish Stones along with medieval castles, monuments, graveyards to soldiers lost in centuries of battles and sheep, always sheep – pepper the landscape everywhere.

The Callanish Stones – circa 3500 BC – Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Cupmarked Stone, Aberfledy, Perthsire
Pastures of Fortingall – a very small village in Perthshire, Scotland
Graveyard to soldiers lost to war, Fort William, Scotland

This land was formed millennia ago when Mother Earth first birthed herself from the waters of our beginnings. Through epochs of volcanic spewings, earthquakes, continents splitting, the ice advancing and retreating – change, always change, remains the one constant. Here in this high land, one is reminded of the smallness of our individuality.

Isle of Skye, East side of island formed by tectonic plate movement
Niest, most westerly point on Isle of Skye

Tales of goddesses, gods, faeries, giants, monsters and countless heroines and heroes inhabit the land.

After the ice receded – the Faery Glen, Isle of Skye
The Faery Glen – another view

All along this way the Ancient Ones have whispered to me – whispered through the rushing streams and babbling creeks, joyous bird song, waves murmuring, waves crashing against the shore, and wind howling through the air.

A beach on the Isle of Lewis

It has rained and rained and yet one day the sun emerged, revealing the vibrant green, green, green – everywhere green – temporarily lifting the blue grey mists and the brown, brackish swaths of horizon.

Every moment has been a joyous exaltation of our beautiful Mother Earth. And of course, along the way I was drawing. Here are a few sketches or dream remembrances.

Sheep, Birds and Trees
On the Banks of the River Tay
Seaweed and Rocks
Loch Dreams

And one day there was snow!

I’ll leave you with just a few more photos – big vistas, trees and small things – all parts of the beauty found in this ancient land of Mother Earth – our mother who sustains and supports us through all time.

Leaving Uig, Isle of Skye by ferry
Uig, Isle of Skye

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Wisdom. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings.

Carol P Christ’s Legacy: Gratitude and Sharing: Two Fundamental Principles of Goddess Spirituality

Moderator’s Note: Carol Christ died from cancer in July, 2021. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. This blog was originally posted February 4 2013. You can read it along with its original comments here.

The more I practice the spirituality of the Goddess, the more I understand that earth-based spiritualities are rooted in two fundamental principles:  gratitude and sharing.  We give thanks to the earth for the gift of life. As we recognize our interdependence and interconnection in the web of life, we are moved to share what has been given to us with others. *

When I first began to lead Goddess Pilgrimages in Crete, I was inspired by a line in Homer to begin a pilgrimage tradition of pouring libations of milk, honey, water, and wine on ancient stones. At first I knew the form, but not its deeper meaning.  It gradually dawned on me as I thought about the large number of pouring vessels in the museums, the altar stones, and the Procession Fresco from Knossos, that an important part of Minoan rituals involved processions in which people offered first fruits back to the Mother whose body had produced them, and poured libations on altars.

Continue reading “Carol P Christ’s Legacy: Gratitude and Sharing: Two Fundamental Principles of Goddess Spirituality”

Lily B and Messages From the Beyond by Sara Wright

The night before last I had a dream that has stayed with me. My dreams rise out of my body to teach and to comfort me so I pay close attention. I had recently written tributes for two men, Lynn Rogers, bear biologist, and Rupert Sheldrake, biologist and plant physicist. Both of these men mentored me like a “father” each encouraged me to believe in myself, celebrated my original thinking and told me to trust my intuition. Writing about these mentors reminded me of my own father with whom I had a most difficult relationship…

I am talking to my mother (she has been dead for 13 years) about having found someone who could help me with math and stuff I can’t do because of dyslexia. In this conversation my mother is not a personal figure (when she appears as herself it usually means that I am going to face some difficulty – As an impersonal ‘great mother’ figure she is very helpful). She replies that my father wanted to teach me all these things but he just couldn’t. So many problems were in the way. I choke up weeping over this knowing (and my tears carry over into waking) because I know that “my mother” is speaking the truth. I feel such heartbreak for both my dad and for me. Neither of us had a chance… as I awaken from this dream in the middle of the night Lily b., my dove, is bellowing. He is reiterating the truth of the dream.

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Winter Solstice: Can We Celebrate the Restful, Welcoming Darkness?

The days are slowly winding down toward Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, the longest night of the year. Today the sun rose at 7:20 and will set at 5:08 in Crete. In Sweden, the sun will rise at 9:25 and set at 2:12. Though I light candles in the darkness of morning and have lights on my tree, I am not celebrating the “return of the light,” but rather welcoming the restful dark.

In The Spiral Dance, Starhawk writes that Winter Solstice is about the rebirth of the sun. This interpretation has taken hold. For most pagans, Summer Solstice also is a celebration of the sun on the longest day. Few are those mark it as the time of the dying of the sun or the rebirth of night.

In our culture we have learned to celebrate the light and to avoid and disparage the darkness. We have inherited this habit of mind from the Indo-Europeans who, as Marija Gimbutas wrote, celebrated the shining light of the sun as reflected in their shining bronze weapons. When the Indo-Europeans rewrote the myths of the land that came to be called Greece, they placed the “Olympian” deities on Mount Olympus while relegating many of the oldest female deities to the underworld, which became a fearful place. New Age spiritualities follow this pattern, celebrating “light and love.” This habit of mind reinforces racism. Continue reading “Winter Solstice: Can We Celebrate the Restful, Welcoming Darkness?”

Season of Change – Transformation by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoFall is here, the leaves are changing color, the days are shortening and our ongoing natural cycle of change and transformation now moves toward the dark, quiet days of winter. Both the idea and the process of transformation have fascinated me my whole life. Blame it on my Scorpio rising. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation and regeneration. Diving deep and surfacing has always been my mode.

Continue reading “Season of Change – Transformation by Judith Shaw”

Kissing the Earth by Molly Remer

 “Let the beauty we love 
Be what we do
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the Earth.”


Introductory note: At the end of 2016, my parents purchased a piece of land about one mile from where I already live (they live one mile further away than that). In addition to woodland and meadow, this land has two springs, three creeks, a cave, and ¼ mile of river access. While I have been deeply connected to the land of my birth, the Missouri Ozarks, for a long time, and have written about that connection in multiple past posts for FAR, this new-to-us land has offered a new opportunity: the chance to get to know another section of land “from scratch,” deeply, wildly and well, and to become wise stewards of it for the time in which it is in our care. It is also the first time I have been able to so closely and intimately observe the origin source of a body of water. Previously not giving it much thought, I now have the daily privilege of observing the source of the flow as I watch water emerge directly from the ground. First, there is simply none and then, suddenly, a deep blue pool constantly bubbling as water rises to the surface and flows away on its long, long journey to the sea. This essay is a series of three vignettes as I spend this year immersing myself in relationship with this land.

We walk along the nearly vertical hillside hanging onto small trees for support. Finally, though we almost miss it, we spy the opening to the cave nestled behind several mossy stones. The sun is still on the rise above the tree line and the rays filter through the trees so one ray is pointing directly at the cave entrance. We crawl inside, bumping our heads and scraping our backs as we wiggle into this womb in the earth. Once inside, the chamber enlarges so we can stand up. Unlike other caves we have experienced in this area, the only human signs we find are a single bottle cap, a glass bottle, and two sets of initials carved into a rock. In the dark silence we hear the sound of water dripping steadily. I make my way further into the cave, acutely aware that this is living cave and being careful not to step on the fresh, wet, cervix-shaped beginnings of new stalagmites on the floor. At the back of the cave, I find her. A Madonna-like stone column, glistening with water. In the silence of the cave, I quietly sing Ancient Mother to her, as tears well in my own eyes.

I am of this earth
for this earth
and by this earth.

We skirt carefully along the bank of the creek, making our way to the largest spring. Over three million gallons of water a day flow effortlessly from this small, deep pool nestled quietly in the middle of the woods. I am stunned by the magnitude of this flow as I stand there with my husband, my head resting on his shoulder, hawks wheeling overhead, redbud trees in full bloom. It has never seemed more clear to me how very “small” we are, but a blink of an eye to this spring and its countless years and countless gallons of water, not caring whether it is witnessed in its work or not, but simply, continually, creating and producing. I try to explain this feeling aloud, but words fail me. It is a humbling sensation, not a depressing one. The actual emergence of the water at this origin point of the river is nearly invisible, the continuous gentle, small popping of bubbles on its surface, the only sign that something significant is happening here that distinguishes this body of water from a pond or pool. Yet, those never-ending bubbles rapidly expand to a wide, swift-moving creek, which joins the river and another smaller spring-fed creek to continue to make their way southward across the state. We smell something sharp and see a dead armadillo by the roots of a giant sycamore. We hear a shrill cry and look up to see two bald eagles riding the currents of air high above us. We are so small. So many thousands of years of water have passed, but we are here right now.

Unfathomable eons
Glacier time
I am just a blink of an eye
But I can sit, and watch, and wonder.

We scramble along the uneven terrain on the rocky and wooded hillside, slipping, laughing, and looking. I am exhilarated by the simple thrill of exploring the world right here in front of me. We find tiny flowers. I kneel by the roots of fallen trees. We stop to admire moss on stones. We find gigantic black snake napping in the sun. A complete turtle shell. A shed antler. Each moment feels like a new opportunity to “kiss the earth.” I sing Reclaiming’s song-version of the Rumi quote over and over and as I kneel in each spot to see what it has to show me, in each, I kiss my fingers and press them to the earth. I see all the kissing going on around me…the sun filtering through branches, the fiddlehead ferns kneeling to kiss the earth, the roots wound through rocks, the trillium and bloodroot blooms pushing up between leaves, the water seeping out of the ground and flowing down the hill, the dogwood blossoms opening to the sun, the moss covering stones, the fallen trees stretched along the slope.

“And that is just the point…how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. ‘Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?’” 

–Mary Oliver

We emerge from our walk to find morels growing alongside the path (morels are wild, edible mushrooms found for about two weeks in Missouri each spring and considered a delicacy by many). The afternoon suddenly becomes even more rewarding and we stoop and peer through fallen oak, sycamore, and elm leaves looking for the telltale conical form of these forest treats. We quickly discover that we must tune in and “listen” for the mushrooms, so to speak, or we’ll walk right by them, none the wiser. The moment I start thinking about anything else, I stop finding any. Once I settle into my body and the moment and really look at the world again, there another morel will be.

 “I think this is how we’re supposed to be in the world … present and in awe.”

–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She 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 finished 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 Womanrunes, Earthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Brigid’s Grove

Knowing the Live Oaks: Finding the Balance Between Historicity and Inspiration in Neopaganism and Goddess Spirituality by Chris Ash

IMG_0754Last fall, my family took a vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I grew up. As a child, one of my favorite places to visit was Brookgreen Gardens, a wildlife preserve that was once the winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Anna was a prominent sculptor of the early twentieth century, and decided that part of the property should be sculpture gardens open to the public.

When they purchased the property, many of the trails were lined with live oak trees; Spanish moss still drips like thick honey off twisted and gnarled branches that drape over bricked pathways. As a child in the Low Country, live oaks always symbolized timelessness. They felt eternal and otherworldly, and my memories of visiting the Angel Oak near Charleston on school field trips – of throwing my legs over her lower branches, bark scratching up my scrawny legs – these are memories I still carry with me when I look to what was beautiful about my childhood. Continue reading “Knowing the Live Oaks: Finding the Balance Between Historicity and Inspiration in Neopaganism and Goddess Spirituality by Chris Ash”

Stoneflower by Molly

Molly 180

Like flower growing from rock
the world is full of tiny, perfect mysteries.
Secrets of heart and soul and landscape
guarded tenderly
taking root in hard crevices
stretching forth
in impossible silence.

that all one needs
is a crack in stone
and a seed of possibility…

One spring evening during my year-long woodspriestess experiment , I went for a walk through the woods with my husband and daughter and we discovered something that delighted and thrilled me. It was rock with a small, perfect flower growing out of it and it was a powerful symbol of what I learned from my time in the woods. Continue reading “Stoneflower by Molly”

Spring in the Era of Pesticides, Global Climate Change, and War by Carol P. Christ

Carol in Crete croppedThis was not a normal winter. It rained and rained and rained. It was grey, grey, grey. Gale force winds blew in from the ocean, not once but many times. Several of my shutters were shattered. An olive tree fell in my garden. I pruned the dead leaves from its branches and had it hauled away. I am still in the process of pulling out a large number of plants that did not survive an unusual number of very cold days.

The soil is so saturated that streams are running where they have never been seen before, the land gives way, and boulders come crashing down the mountainsides. I have decided to remove all of my traditional shutters rather than repair them–as it is becoming clear that no shutters will survive the winds that will blow over our island in the coming years.

They say that we used to have strong gale winds of about 50 miles per hour once a year. Now we have hurricane force winds of 70 miles per hour several times each winter. I once read that Lesbos has the largest number of sunny days of all the Greek islands. We often sit out of doors wearing light jackets in the middle of winter. This year we did not.

My response to the long winter that has only just begun to give way was to stay inside. Though I said I was mildly depressed, I think deep down I was sad and angry.

Changes in the weather are normal and natural phenomena. But it is becoming increasingly evident that the changes we now experiencing are not. Climate experts tell us that because of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere of our planet, we will experience more and more extreme weather conditions.

I have noticed a decline in bees and butterflies in my garden in recent years. So far this spring there are almost none. This is not the result of global climate change, but of our failure to heed the warnings of Rachel Carson to stop poisoning the environment with pesticides.

house martin in flightThe house martins have returned. I hear their liquid chatter as they fly above me. Freesias and irises are about to come into bloom. Pale pink, almost white petaled flowers are opening on the quince tree. Red leaves are budding on the pomegranate trees. The Judas tree burst into deep pink blossom overnight. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This year is no exception.

Spring has also brought an increase in the arrival of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Afghanistan to our island. People discuss what will happen to them, but no one is talking about ending war.

Although spring is coming, it is hard for me to rejoice today. Human beings seem to be hell bent on destroying life. Right now I am holding back tears and screams because I fear that if I let them out, they will not stop.

Postscript: I will find the strength to rejoice in the regeneration of life and to redouble my commitment to save what can be saved–because we must.

Carol leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter)–space available on the spring and fall 2015 tours.  Carol’s books include She Who Changes and and Rebirth of the Goddess; with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions; and forthcoming next year, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Photo of Carol by Maureen Murdock.

Thealogy of the Ordinary by Molly


The Goddess Gaia is alive
In this time and in this space
She speaks in sunrises
And waves against the shore
She sings with the wind
She dances in moonlight
She holds you close
Your heart beats in time with hers
A great, grand hope and possibility
For this planet…

Over the last two months, I have been listening to a wonderful telesummit about priestesses. I am also a huge fan of the radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. However, as I listen to both, I sometimes find myself wondering if walking a Goddess path is also viewed as synonymous with, “believe everything, question nothing.” Crystal essences, gemstone healing, soul contracts, past lives, spirit guides, astrology, the many realms and dimensions of the occult, mystical, New Age and metaphysical. Is wholesale suspension of logic required to join hands with the Goddess? Is deft management of the tarot essential to the priestess path?  Is excavating my “inner masculine” relevant or appropriate? Must I ascribe to “enlightened” tenets like, “you are not your body,” “I am a spiritual being having a spiritual experience” and “we made an agreement to do this work before we showed up in this body at this time and place” in order to move forward? Continue reading “Thealogy of the Ordinary by Molly”

AM I SUFFERING? by Carol P. Christ

carol christIn response to a recent blog on Buddhism and feminism by  Oxana Poberejnaia, I stated that while I would agree that “clinging” to an identity is a cause of suffering, I am not in favor of “giving up” identity altogether.

Oxana replied that “if you are not suffering,” then you do not need Buddhism. I responded that for the most part I am not suffering because years ago I gave up “having to have” certain things in my life. I added that I often wondered if that made me “kind of a Buddhist.”

One of the things that I gave up was the notion that I “had to have” a lover and life partner. The other was the notion that I “had to have” the job teaching graduate students in women and religion–for which I was eminently qualified.

Not having these “things” that I thought I deserved (and why not?) caused my younger self a great deal of suffering.  In fact, it often seemed to me that a life without a partner and lover simply was not worth living. My suffering was so great that I considered suicide—more than once.

As a result of my first Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (a story I told in Odyssey with the Goddess), I finally realized that I really could not control all of the conditions of my life–not through hard work, not through desire, not through mental focus, not through magic. This realization led to a major transformation in my life.

Instead of focusing on what I did not have, I began to focus on what I did have.  I realized that though I did not have a life partner, I had many good friends who loved me a great deal. And though I did not have the job I thought I deserved, I had the great good luck to have written books that changed the lives of thousands of women.

I recognized that I had given up exactly the kind of “clinging” to ideas about life that Buddhists say create suffering.

At the same time, I was not drawn to the Buddhist path.  I could never accept the fact that Buddha considered his wife and child an impediment to his spiritual path. Nor was I ever drawn to give up my “ego” or “identity” altogether. Later, I would write in She Who Changes that all paths of spiritual “rebirth” seemed to me to be based upon “matricide” which I defined as the idea that birth through the body of a mother into a life that includes death “just isn’t good enough.”

I consider this life to be a gift.  For me a life that includes death is the only life we have.  Although I too suffer the loss of those I love, I accept this as part of life. I do not expect that “I” should live forever, and in fact I consider the idea that “I” should be immortal or reborn, to be the height of folly.  I do not seek to escape what Buddhists call the “cycle of birth and death” but rather to affirm the cycles of “birth, death, and regeneration.” For me it is enough to know that life will continue: I do not need to imagine that “I” will live forever.

My comment to Oxana that “I am not suffering” was belied in the days after I wrote it.  I have been suffering this week as a result of the thought (and most likely fact) that I have been “cheated” by the man who sold me a new computer and promised to reinstall all of my programs and documents so that the new computer would work exactly like the old one.

This afternoon I was told by the technician who failed to turn up for several appointments that I should not contact the man who sold me the computer again, because he has my money and does not intend to fulfill his part of the contract.  The technician said he would finish the work “for me” even though he would not be paid by the store owner.

I was so angry, my stomach tensed and I feared that I would fall victim to the stress for which I have been under doctor’s care in recent weeks.  I was about to call the man who sold me the computer to read him the riot act,  but instead called a friend to ask what I should do. She said she had also heard stories about the man who sold me the computer. We agreed that we live in the countryside with people who don’t have any idea of how to run a business.

After I hung up the phone, Oxana’s words “if you are not suffering” came into my head.

I realized that I was suffering because of the idea that because I am a person who should not be cheated or lied to.  As soon as that thought came into my mind, I let go of it. I accepted that the young man who sold me the computer – whether out of ignorance or out of cunning – had cheated and lied to me. I still think I am a person who should not be cheated or lied to, but I gave up the idea that therefore, being cheated or lied to would not happen to me. I decided to pay a technician to finish the work, even though this was not the agreement I had made.

My suffering ended.

Carol P. Christ is looking forward to the spring Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete which she leads through Ariadne Institutespace is still available on the spring tour. Carol can be heard in a recent interview on Voices of Women.  Carol is a founding mother in feminism and religion and women’s spirituality. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions



Gaia by Jassy Watson

JassyWe have come to a point in the history of our civilisation where our relationship to nature seems to be more of one of destruction than of nurturance and respect. Humankind has steadily distanced itself from nature, our homes are filled with dead things, plastics, metals and chemicals. Everything around us is synthetic and manufactured in factories. Some people live their lives never touching nature – the soil, the plants, the grass. I have even met people who have a deep fear of being in nature.  This distancing from nature is a reflection of distancing from our Divine Earth mother, not just as the outside world, but also as the energy of the archetypal Earth Mother within our own psyche.

Many cultures and traditions herald a Great mother, Mother Earth or Mother Nature but our connection to her, especially recently in the Western world, has been severed. In the Greek mysteries, Gaia or Gaea, the Divine Mother, was one of the primal elements who first emerged from cosmic chaos at the dawn of creation.  All the later Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses are said to have descended from her initial union with Ouranos (the sky) and Pontos (the sea). Her geneology and her presence in Greek myth is full of complexities, conflicts and contrasts. Her worship in Ancient Greece did in fact decline, for her role was supplanted by the Gods of Olympus. Some scholars such as Harris and Platzner (Greek Mythology: Images & Insights, 2011), maintain that the decline in her worship and the demonizing and slaying of the snake or serpent – one of Gaia’s primordial symbols and a symbol of archetypal feminine energy, represents the death of the sacred feminine brought about by the insidious reign of a patriarchal pantheon of male gods.

Gaia is not only a figure in Greek myth however. In the 1960s, James Lovelock (2000) formulated the Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock states that all life, and all living things on this planet, are part of a single, all-encompassing global self-regulating system (he avoided the word consciousness) which he named Gaia. It is this global system of interconnection that makes our planet capable of supporting life. Further, he believes, if you live in balance with Mother Nature, health and healing are yours; violate Her laws and tip the balance, you pay the price in suffering and disease. Thus Gaia does not only represent the Ancient Greek Mother Earth and the physical planet, she also represents the forces of nature: laws and intelligences that function on every level of the cosmos. She is the very fabric of existence. Glenys Livingstone says it beautifully:  “She is the eternal pulse, in which each one of us flows. Gaia is Earth, is Universe, is Ultimate Mystery, is you, is me – She is multivalent.” (from her Essay ‘Gaia as a Cosmic Name‘, 2014)

I recently taught two workshops for women ‘Painting Gaia – Exploring our Connection to the Earth’  based in my belief that disconnection and distancing from nature is an issue that needs attention. We need more than ever, at this time in history to re-connect deeply with the earth and with the feminine –  regardless of faith of tradition.  This re-connection that will aid in deep ways in the healing of the planet and of the self. If we are not connected, how can we care about the plight of the planet and all sentient beings? And if we are not caring, how can we take action to make a difference?

I am dedicated to taking action, raising awareness and making a difference in the ways that I know how. The intention for these workshops is to connect to Gaia through the process of visioning, painting and inquiry. Our Gaias were birthed from the cosmos and as we brought her into being we deepened our connection to Her, within and without. We also strengthened our commitment to healing the earth in a capacity that is manageable. Some, including myself, expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by all the atrocities we are flooded with on the news and in social media forums.  In this context, our goal was to become more mindful of our actions and choices. The workshop also called us to a deep, primal remembering of Her eternal presence, from the cosmos to the core.

It was apparent in our discussions is that Gaia represents paradox – life/death, chaos/order, creation/destruction, beauty/ugliness, peace/fury. Connecting deeply with Gaia is ultimately about living in paradox; we must accept both life and death to truly know her nature. Marion Woodman (Dancing in the Flames, 1996) states that “paradox is the core of wisdom and the core of the goddess”. The balance of both must be held.

In Greek art Gaia was often represented “tamed,” presented as a beautiful voluptuous woman, half risen from the Earth as can be seen here:

Gaia rising from the earth, Athenian Red-figure Kylix, 5th c BCE – image from

Following are two of my recent paintings of Gaia in all her elemental power.  I hope you feel and appreciate the difference!
Continue reading “Gaia by Jassy Watson”


carol-christOlives are being harvested in the fields outside my town these days.  We have been having the first rains of the season.  The roads are wet and muddy, and the trees are partially shrouded in mist.  The fields are spread with black plastic nets, and people are hard at work, the men hitting the trees to make the olives fall, and the women picking up the olives from the nets.  The harvest will continue throughout the winter.

The olive press is busy. Cars and trucks come and go, unloading heavy bags filled with olives.  These days the bags are white, made of sturdy woven plastic. In Crete this fall several of us bought canvas olive bags, hand-woven by women.  These, along with baskets hand-woven by men, were still in use only a few decades ago.

olive harvest in Lesbos early 20th century by Theofilos Hajimichael
olive harvest in Lesbos early 20th century by Theofilos Hajimichael

A friend who died a few years ago told me that “in the old days” there were no nets. The women and the children had to pick the olives up from the ground, often cutting their hands on thorns and stones.  The nets are a Goddess-send.  Between harvests, the nets are simply folded up and placed in the crotch of the tree. Here no one steals them.

In the fields where I walk some of the trees have enormous trunks. Some of them have two trunks, growing like sisters.  Many of them are 300, some perhaps 500, years old.  A man emerges from a field that has some particularly old trees.  I ask him how old they are. “Older than I am,” he replies. “They were here before I was born.  They will be here after I die.” Continue reading “SACRED RHYTHMS OF THE OLIVE HARVEST by Carol P. Christ”

Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 colorThis prayer came to me recently in waking sleep:

Our Mother whose body is the Earth,

Blessed are you,

And blessed are all the fruits of your womb.

You give us this day our daily bread,

And we share it with others.

Our Mother whose body is the Earth,

We love you with all our hearts,

And our neighbors as ourselves.

Continue reading “Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth by Carol P. Christ”

How To Find Those Lost Ancestors by Carol P. Christ

 carol p. christ 2002 color

Over the past year I have written several blogs on ancestor connection.  In this blog I will share what I have learned about how to find ancestors.

I recommend the popular television series Who Do You Think You Are? which has US, UK, and Australian, and other versions, and the PBS series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, African American Lives and Finding Your RootsWhile you might think, as I did, that genealogical research is about finding the names and birthplaces of ancestors, these programs set the genealogical quest in the great flow of history.

Records show that I have ancestors who immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Scotland, Prussia, and Germany in the early 1850s.  Historical research tells me that more than a million people left Ireland and Scotland in the 1850s due to the “potato famine,”* which affected the rest of Europe as well.  History explains why ancestors emigrated.

Begin your search by asking parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, for names, dates, places of residence, stories, and other information they remember.  Continue reading “How To Find Those Lost Ancestors by Carol P. Christ”

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