I light candles for Carol Christ PhD, feminist thealogian and Goddess scholar, who crossed the veil yesterday, July 14, 2021, on her beloved island of Greece.
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force… as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”-Obi-Wan Kenobi, about the destruction of Alderaan, A New Hope
I too feel a great disturbance in the force this day because an important voice of my generation was silenced today. Carol’s body of feminist Goddess literary work overflows with jewels of Goddess research and wisdom.
Many decades ago, I read her brilliant book, WomanSpirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion. One essay in particular from the collection, “Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections” was life-changing for me. I am including a link to the essay below and if you’ve never read it I hope you will treat yourself.
The power of her words rippled through a lifetime of patriarchy in my psyche, “The simplest and most basic meaning of the symbol of Goddess is the acknowledgment of the legitimacy of female power as a beneficent and independent power . . . [The woman who has reclaimed the Goddess] “is saying that the divine principle, the saving and sustaining power, is in herself, that she will no longer look to men or male figures as saviors.” Truly a life changer for me and so many other women.
I was blessed to sit with Carol at dinner parties with my mentor and dear friend, Miriam Dexter PhD, author of Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book, in Miriam’s home—a setting where many brilliant Goddess scholars shared their wisdom, experience, insights, bawdy humor, and laughter. Treasures in the memories of my mind.
I honor Carol’s work, words, and wisdom. The chalice of my heart overflows with gratitude even as I mourn both mine and the world’s loss of a living embodiment of the Goddess, She of Ten Thousand Names . . . who we know as Carol Patrice Christ.
Why Women Need the Goddess
by Carol P. Christ
“Why Women Need the Goddess” was first presented as the keynote address to an audience of over 500 at the “Great Goddess Re-emerging” conference at the University of Santa Cruz in the spring of 1978. It was first published in Heresies: The Great Goddess Issue (1978), 8-13, and reprinted in Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds., Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader on Religion (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), 273-287, as well as in Carol P. Christ, Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987) 117-132. It has been reprinted scores of times and has introduced tens of thousands of women to the Goddess.
At the close of Ntosake Shange’s stupendously successful Broadway play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, a tall beautiful black woman rises from despair to cry out, “I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.”[i] Her discovery is echoed by women around the country who meet spontaneously in small groups on full moons, solstices, and equinoxes to celebrate the Goddess as symbol of life and death powers and waxing and waning energies in the universe and in themselves.[ii]
It is the night of the full moon. Nine women stand in a circle, on a rocky hill about the city. The western sky is rosy with the setting sun; in the east the moon’s face begins to peer above the horizon. . . The woman pours out a cup of wine onto the earth, refills it and raises it high. “Hail, Tana, Mother of mothers!” she cries. “Awaken from your long sleep, and return to your children again!”[iii]
What are the political and psychological effects of this fierce new love of the divine in themselves for women whose spiritual experience has been focused by the male God of Judaism and Christianity? Is the spiritual dimension of feminism a passing diversion, an escape from difficult but necessary political work? Or does the emergence of the symbol of Goddess among women have significant political and psychological ramifications for the feminist movement? To answer this question, we must first understand the importance of religious symbols and rituals in human life and consider the effect of male symbolism of God on women. Click here to open.
[i] From the original cast album, Buddah Records, 1976. Also see for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf (New York: MacMillan, 1976).
[ii] See Susan Rennie and Kristen Grimstad, “Spiritual Explorations Cross-County,” Quest 1, no. 4 (1975): 49 51; and WomanSpirit magazine.
[iii] See Starhawk, “Witchcraft and Women’s Culture,” in Womanspirit Rising, ed. Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 260.