Summary of the Book
Part One explores the archetype of the primordial sacred union and its potential as a powerful source of emancipation for the human race. The opening article is by writer and mythologist Anne Baring titled The Loss of the World Soul and It’s Return. Anne eloquently describes the ancient feminine concept of soul and the ways in which it was driven underground as we began to draw away from the matrix of instinct and develop the conscious mind. As this happened, we lost touch with the primordial lunar consciousness and moved into the solar consciousness of the modern era. The transition from lunar to solar mythology gradually created a fissure between spirit and nature, mind and body, ourselves and our environment, which has defined our way of thinking and influenced the way we behave. Anne Baring explains how the concept of soul is now returning after thousands of years of repression by patriarchal ideologies that gave pre-eminence to the rational, and rejected the intuitive, mystical, relational modes of knowing. A powerful human instinct is now attempting to restore balance and wholeness in us by articulating values rooted in an older way of knowing. As this deep soul impulse gathers momentum, the sacred marriage of the emerging lunar values with the ruling solar ones is changing our perception of reality, reconnecting us with the roots of our being and the invisible dimension of the cosmos.
Next, Victoria Christian expounds in great detail on the ancient, universal archetype of the Primordial Sacred Union. She explains the functional but often misunderstood role mystics and visionary artists play in an assortment of cultures; particularly, how they are trying to help humanity transcend out of oppositional dualism and awaken to a new mode of thinking, that of consecrated polarity, which is another way of describing the Eastern concept of yin/yang. Drawing from the works of Carl Jung, Lao Tzu, June Singer and an assortment of contemporary mystics, Victoria feels strongly that imaging the divine as female is essential to our spiritual evolution, for we won't be able to transcend gender associations in Western culture unless the autonomy of the feminine principle is firmly established in human consciousness. She discusses a number of powerful images of the sacred union by contemporary visionary artists, such as Martina Hoffman, Amoraea Dreamseed, Mark Henson, Chris Dyer, Abba Yahuda, Heather Thompson, and their importance in disrupting male dominance and the patriarchal ideological systems that justify and maintain social inequality. She also explains how imagery of the primordial sacred union inevitably challenges an extreme female bias as well, particularly the tendency in radical feminists and various pagan sects to go to the other extreme of Goddess worship that negates the essential role of the sacred masculine in creation.
Next, feminist theologian Margaret Starbird expounds on the sacred marriage in Imaging God as Partners. She draws from her personal experience of initiation and awakening to the feminine principle and the sacred marriage in the Orthodox Christian tradition. She also draws from her well-researched book, The Woman with an Alabaster Jar, which seeks to recover the long-suppressed feminine side of the Christian story. “Starbird's research traces the origin of the heresy of the Holy Grail, whose medieval adherents believed that Jesus was married and that his wife and child immigrated to Gaul, fleeing persecutions of the Christian community in Jerusalem. Numerous legends, works of art, and artifacts of medieval Europe clearly reflect a widespread ‘alternative Christianity’ brutally suppressed by the Inquisition beginning in the mid-13th Century. The heresy miraculously survived in an underground stream of esoteric wisdom guarded by artists, artisans, poets, and alchemists of medieval and renaissance Europe" (quoted from website). In her article, she explains how the recurring motif of the sacred marriage is evident cross-culturally and how the emphasis on the masculine over the feminine polarity has lead to severe burnout in the West, damaging the psyches of both men and women. The archetypal image of the Bride and Bridegroom in Hebrew scripture and in an assortment of mystical writings is a consummate of God as Wholeness, the paradigm of divine partnership. The article includes sacred imagery by Jonathan Weber, Carey Thompson, Paul Heussenstamm, Sara Taft, Christine Dawson and Amoraea Dreamseed.
Part two , which is the largest part of the book, is devoted to the rebirth of the Goddess. There are seven chapters in Part Two, each representing various faces or aspects of the sacred feminine.
Chapter one explores the Goddess of Creation. People have long identified the feminine as the source of all being. She appears as the Great Mother, the sustainer of life, the cosmic creatrix. The emergence of the Goddess has led to a new Earth-based spirituality that sees humanity as part of the whole, part of the cosmos and part of nature. A new understanding of the very nature of our planet as alive, in contrast to an Earth with life upon it, is changing the way scientists are viewing the planet. James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis,” named after the Goddess of early Greek mythology, has made us aware of our planet as a self-creating, self-maintaining living organism. Artists who restore the iconography of the Creatrix to contemporary culture are creating a new reality and healing the imbalance between masculine and feminine that plagues our social fabric.
Victoria Christian opens Chapter One with an article titled Experiencing the Divine in Nature, which expounds on some of her personal, mystical experiences in nature and how she has been able to communicate these experiences in her paintings. She also explores various aspects of the Goddess of Creation and Sacred Union in the artwork of several nature mystics such as Mark Henson, Andrew Annenberg, Jeff Bedrick, Theresa Sharrar, Beth Avary, Krista Lyn Brown, Francene Hart and Atmara
Next, Victoria Christian speaks from an eco-feminist perspective in her article Artists Reclaim the Body of Earth and Mother. In this article she explores how the domination of women and the domination of nature are fundamentally connected. She also explores the body politics of women, particularly how women’s bodies have been raped, denigrated and objectified throughout history and why it is important for women to reclaim power over their bodies and minds in addition to being stewards of the Earth. She honors the important works of several contemporary eco-feminist artists and photographers whose missions are to help women heal the deep wounds of Earth and the physical bodies of women, artists such as Martina Hoffman, Sandra Stanton, Hrana Janto, Jane Evershed, Alba Elena and Rachael Running.
Arizika Razak, midwife and professor of women's spirituality at The California Institute of Integral Studies, explores the body politic of black women in her article Contemporary Images of Spirituality and Resistance Among African Americans. Uncovering the ways in which African Diaspora women have experienced and resisted the patriarchal oppression of the female body, Arizika illuminates the tradition of black feminist thought with powerful, sacred imagery of the Dark Goddess and minority women, created by AfraShe Asungi, Yasmin Hernandez and Liz Sykes. This artwork is not only powerful and political, but also serves as a source of inspiration and emancipation for minority women living within racist and patriarchal cultures.
Lastly, beautiful Lydia Ruyle reveals some of her Goddess Banners, particularly some of the Dark Goddesses in her article “Goddess Icons of the Dark Mother Around the Globe.” Lydia has created over 300 Goddess Banners that represent sacred images of the Divine Feminine from an assortment of cultures across the globe. She takes the banners to sacred sites to empower, teach and share their stories around the globe. The designs reflect the cultural image making traditions of time and place in the world and in art history.
Chapter two is devoted to the Goddess of Sexuality, which explores the life force of eroticism flowing through us and all of creation. The power of the erotic can express itself in a variety of ways, in our passion for life, for a project or for a person. Shakti is the Sanskrit term for the female life force from which all existence originates. The suppression of our expressions of Shakti and female sexuality has been an integral part of women’s political, economic and social exploitation. We can help restore the life force of the planet by honoring sexuality—in particular, female sexuality—and all other forms of celebrating our life here on Earth.
Opening the chapter, artist and belly dancer, Barbara Beausoleil, writes about her personal experiences as a student of Tantra and a practitioner of belly dancing in her article The Sacred Feminine in Tantra and Belly Dancing. She begins with an exploration of the sacred feminine in Tantric Buddhism, and then proceeds to an application of the Vedic principles in her erotic paintings and belly dance rituals. She also discusses the tantric imagery of Paul Heussenstamm, a world-renowned visionary artist who has painted over a hundred paintings of the Goddess.
Next, feminist shamanic healer, author, scholar and wisdom teacher, Vicki Noble, writes about her experiences as a female shaman in the Buddhist tradition in her article Yeshe Tsogyal: Awesome Yogini and Tantric Consort in Tibetan Buddhism. She reclaims the feminine wisdom’s of Yeshe Tsogyal, the female cofounder of Tibetan Buddhism whose image is so often shown intertwined in sexual union with that of Guru Padmasambhava in the women of her time. The first translation of Yeshe Tsogyal’s story was Tarthang Tulku’s Mother of Knowledge: The Enlightenment of Ye-shes mTshr-rgyal, which became Vicki’s sacred text and has greatly influenced her spiritual path. Despite her early influences, she is largely absent in Tibetan Buddhism. Symbols, images, concepts, mantras, prayers, and whole practices point to her origins and even her centrality, though she herself is rarely to be seen in official expressions of the monastic state religion. The worldwide shift from matriarchy to patriarchy that has been voluminously documented elsewhere certainly did not spare Tibet, and women in Tibet are profoundly positioned as second-class citizens.
Lastly, visionary art, writer and animator, Penny Slinger, reveals her labor of love, The 64 Dakini Oracle, which is a divinatory system designed to provide a map of Goddess energy and consciousness for our times. The Goddess is emerging in our culture and the 64 Dakini Oracle is her 21st century temple. It presents an integrated vehicle through which to directly access the aspects of the energy of the Goddess. While inspired by the 64 Yogini Temples of India and related to the I Ching, the 64 Dakini Oracle is its own unique system of divination. Based on an elemental codex, it draws upon archetypes of the Divine Feminine from across the spiritual history of the planet, including those specific to our current era.
Chapter three explores the Goddess of Creativity. As weaver or womb source of the universe, the cosmic birth mother is the embodiment of creativity, for she is the ultimate muse, inspiring artists to create beautiful works of art and poetry. The creative process, emerging from the dark void of the unconscious, is a mysterious process similar to the creative act of giving birth. Whether one is making a work of art or creating an artistic identity, both are examples of the larger creative power of the Goddess.
Magical realist Claudia Connelly draws from her mystical experiences as a woman artist in her article, Envisioning the Land of Magic and Mysticism: Something Calls to Be Remembered. Through the lens of the right brain and its intuitive, mystical capacities, she explains how mythology and mystics are able to view the misty regions of the unconscious that contain the collective memories of our history. Diving into the depths of the unconscious, her artwork serves as a bridge from the past into the future, triggering an awakening of a time when magic and mysticism abounded and the feminine was honored. Through her experience of painting by intuition, her images speak to us of a time shrouded in the mists of a distant past that have been forgotten, a time and consciousness that is now re-emerging in Western consciousness. She believes the sacred marriage of God/Goddess will help us to move into a new paradigm of thinking and living. But in order for this to happen, each individual on a global scale must embrace feminine wisdom.
Next, visionary artist, writer and creator of the SoulCards, Deborah Koff-Chapin draws from her rich life experiences as a woman artist in her article A Feminine Path in Art and Life. She explains how the creative process of forming an artistic identity and the process of art are both examples of the sacred feminine and the larger creative power of the Goddess. Art has been a means of communicating from the depths of her soul, helping her to channel her emotions into creative form. Disillusioned and imprisoned by her early training in art school, Deborah happened upon a new mode of creativity through spontaneous play and doodling, which would later take her on a path of exploration into what she refers to as Touch Drawing, an improvisational, interpretive and emotionally empathic approach to creativity. When she creates, she feels as though she is translating the presence of beings that reside on other levels of reality into recognizable human form. She uses Touch Drawing as therapy for herself and others, and as a way to commune with nature. She incorporates several of her Touch Drawings in her article and talks about the stories behind them.
Lastly, Victoria Christian and Carrie Anne Baade write co-create an article titled
The Fantastic Muse of Carrie Ann Baade . Artists have a way of stretching the imagination, but Carrie Anne Baade takes her viewers on a magic carpet ride of fantastical, surreal vision. Carrie is a painter who enjoys plumbing the depths of the human condition. “Her autobiographical oil paintings are allegorical narratives inspired by spirit, literature, and art history. These parables combine fragments of Renaissance and Baroque religious paintings, resulting in surreal landscapes in habited by exotic flora, fauna, and figures.
Chapter four explores the Goddess of emotion. The feminine virtues of compassion, nurturing, receptivity, gentleness, patience, devotion, being and creativity are all aspects of the emotional body, or intuitive modes of knowing, all of which have been severely subjugated by patriarchal ideologies. Diving deep into the heart of the Mother, the writings and imagery in Chapter Four reveal exquisite jewels that have the potential to restore wholeness and harmony in ourselves and the world at large.
Opening the heart of the reader, visionary artist and writer, Grace Mantle, writes about some of her profound mystical and visionary experiences in her article The Heart of the Mother. Her poetic writing is oozing with manna and organic wisdom. She is a gifted intuitive and a clear channel of the heart of Gaia, offering Her powerful medicine for the earth and the healing of the heart of humanity.
Next, Sherab Khandro, a celebrated artist, speaker, and poet, speaks of her profound mystical experiences as a formally trained Tibetan Buddhist painter in her article Tara: The Savioress. Sherab is one of only a few Western artists to receive formal training in the spiritual arts from Tibetan masters. After spending 15 years as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, she served as artistic director for Kunzang Palyul Choeling, a Tibetan Buddhist center for practice and study in Maryland and Arizona. In this article, she writes about the sacred practice of painting, as an offering or prayer for the healing of humanity. Through the centuries, artists have portrayed the image of Tara in many forms. She is the quintessential expression of motherly compassion; Goddess of prosperity, longevity, loving mother, source of comfort, relied on to help us overcome our fears. She is a wish- fulfilling source of profound blessing. Tara might even be understood as the original feminist. The tale is told of a time many eons ago when Tara was a princess and followed the teachings of the Buddha with great devotion. She studied and prayed with much determination. The result of her efforts gave birth to the pure heart of the Bodhichitta: the compassionate motivation to attain Enlightenment for the sake of benefiting others.
Lastly Victoria Christian pours her heart onto the page in Bodhissatvas of Compassion: Awakening Heart With Art. In this article, Victoria lays a foundation of Tibetan Buddhist principles as well as teachings about compassion by various ascended masters. Every heart is connected to the Great One Heart. It is from this heart of hearts that we are unconditionally loved, nourished, healed and redeemed. The Hebrew word for “compassion” is derived from the word for “womb.” God is the primal matrix, the Great One from which all beings are born and all love streams forth. We experience on a very tangible level this immense love pulsating through our veins. This heart connection to source is our lifeline or umbilical cord. Victoria then introduces the visionary work of several “Heartists,” such as Heather Taylor, Julia Weaver, Sue Halstenberg, Eva Sakmar, Leslie Gibbons, Ilene Satala, and Melanie Gendron.
Chapter five explores the Goddess of wisdom as a vital component of humanity, nature and the universe at large. In the world’s mythologies and in the collective unconscious, which are mirrors of each other, wisdom is feminine. In contemporary women’s psychology and spiritual circles, Sophia (which means wisdom in Greek) has become an archetype of feminine wisdom, spiritual wisdom or soul knowledge. Sophia’s wisdom is insightful; it is what we know through gnosis—an intuitive process of knowing oneself at the deepest level, or soul knowledge. Sophia is a part of the Judeo-Christian heritage of the West, and a forgotten goddess figure within a monotheistic, patriarchal religious tradition that denies feminine divinity.
Chapter Five opens with an insightfully prophetic article by Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee titled The Sacred Feminine and Global Transformation. As a contemporary male mystic, Llewellyn's openness to feminine wisdom as a vital component of humanity, nature and the universe at large is a breath of fresh air that satisfies a deep longing for the wisdom of the soul. At this time of global crisis, he strongly believes that if we continue to deny the mystery of the feminine as the primordial holder of creation, interconnectedness and immanence, we will continue in our suicidal mission of despair and destruction. He explains that women have a unique role at this time of global crisis and imbalance as follows: Without the feminine, nothing can be born, nothing new can come into existence and we will remain caught in the materialistic images of life that are polluting our planet and desecrating our souls. Illuminating the article with wisdom and radiance are images by various artists.
Next, writer and dream expert Anne Scott sensitively discusses the concept of feminine wisdom, as revealed in the unconscious realms of dreams, in her article Dreaming and the Longing for Feminine Wisdom. Poetically written in a lucid language of the heart, Anne Scott explains the ability of dreams to give us direct access to the feminine wisdom that lies at the hidden source of our being. Drawing from her own personal experiences and from the mystical experiences of women artists such as Cher Lyn, Uma Rose and Julia Weaver, she beautifully and gracefully reveals the mystery of the feminine that emerges when we learn to let go and trust the vast knowledge of the unconscious.
Lastly, writer and transpersonal psychologist, Lotus Linton, draws from her personal experiences and global expeditions to an assortment of sacred springs in her article Saraswati's Secrets: Singing the Waters for Personal and Planetary Transformation. A provocative and compelling read, Lotus Linton speaks about her personal mystical experiences of the Indian Goddess Saraswati. She eloquently portrays the grace of Saraswati, the Goddess of education, learning and the arts, through the use of descriptive, flowing imagery and a poetic language of the soul. In pondering the deepest meanings of the imagery associated with Saraswati, Lotus believes that we can discover transformative secrets lying within the physical and metaphysical properties of her two greatest tools, sound and water, as well as the tremendous healing power of the two combined. Honoring the healing power of Sarasvati as the Goddess of sound and water, Lotus Linton urges humanity to open its eyes--to see the connection between the demise of the Goddess and the pollution of water on a global level. She believes that if we want to bring water back to life on Earth, humanity must come back to life and embrace the organic wisdom of the emotional body and its connection to water. Various artists illuminate the article with mouth-watering images of Saraswati.
Chapter six explores varies aspects of the Goddess of Transformation. It
opens with an article by writer and mystic Jacquelyn Small, titled Psyche: The Goddess of Personal Transformation. As a mythological archetype of the human soul, Jacquelyn explains how Psyche's journey through her incarnated life resembles the soul's longing to be human, and the human longing for spiritual transcendence. Illustrating the process of chrysalis and transformation, Psyche (The Greek word for soul) is often depicted as a human girl riding on the back of a butterfly. She explains how the transformative power of Psyche is a perfect metaphor for the death/rebirth patterns of transformation reflected in nature and in the human soul. This consciousness is also similar to the creative process of bringing the unconscious into conscious reality, which artists often envision in an assortment of mediums. The four initiations that psyche goes through are similar to the initiations we all must master in order to complete our human journey towards wholeness and individuation. As we follow Psyche's story, the reader experiences her quest as she moves through her unconscious dream state to the wisdom of experience, grounded in the four initiatory tasks she needs to complete in order to remember her authentic nature as a Goddess.
Next, artist, writer and mystic Uma Rose takes us on a journey to the underworld in her article Feminine Light in the Dark Night Of the Soul. Speaking with a voice of compassion and understanding, Uma Rose writes of her own personal experience with the underworld and the gifts that came to her after surrendering to a dark night of the soul. Substance and truth can be gained when we bring our ego's light down into the shadows to experience what our souls have had to go through in the descent from the spirit plane to the Earth plane. Drawing from Carl Jung and various female mystics, she invites the reader to embrace the wisdom of his/her shadow side. She upholds the dark wisdom of Hecate, Baba Yaga, Ereshkigal and Sedna and explains how they have been sources of transformation in her life. In addition, she courageously shares with us some of her most disturbing, yet profoundly deep self-cathartic art.
Lastly, psychotherapist and teacher, Anyaa McAndrew, speaks of the importance of reclaiming female initiatory rites and rituals as a source of power. Anyaa has facilitated several versions of The Priestess Process™ around the US and in Costa Rica, integrating a lifetime of therapeutic work with women through her own Mystery School. In this article she takes the reader on an initiatory journey or priestess process which first involves receiving the call and creating an intention. Intending to evoke our power plunges us into the darkness that must be faced, and directed into a cathartic dying stage of the initiatory process. What we intend always has a shadow that stands in the way and must be traversed and integrated for us to fully be all that we are. Rebirth always follows death in the great cycles of transformation. Following re-birth, the priestess is ready for Sacred Marriage or the uniting of all polarities and dualities within.
Chapter seven explores various aspects of the Goddess of Interconnectivity. It opens with an intimate article by visionary artist Cher Lynn who draws on her life experiences as a woman artist in her article The Healing Power of Art. Deeply profound and compelling, Cher Lyn takes the reader on a descent into the dark night of the soul, revealing the devastating effects of sexual abuse. In the end, she brings her experiences into the light, explaining how art literally saved her life. Her experiences with depression helped her to cultivate more compassion for women and gave her the courage to reach out to those who are in need of healing.
Next, we are blessed with the rich organic wisdoms of some of the best contemporary shamanic writers and artists of our time. Sandra Ingerman MA, Hank Wesselman Ph.D, Martin Ball Ph.D and Daniel Mirante co-create an epic shamanic journey through art in Her One Song: The Goddess of Interconnectivity, Shamanism and Art. T he wisdom of our ancestors, wherever they come from, basically points to one truth: everything is in relation to you. Native Americans say, “all my relations,” acknowledging their connection to everything that is alive. The ancient shamanic teaching that all beings in the web of life are deeply connected is also the central ethical vision of Goddess religion. The concepts of interconnectivity, relatedness and community are all aspects of the feminine principle revered by many ancient indigenous and goddess cultures that practice earth-based spirituality. And throughout history, it is
through the medium of art that humans have explored and attempted to understand their connection to nature and the spirit world. The image of the earth as the body
of the Goddess is a powerful symbol of oneness. All that we know, all that we do, occurs in and through Her One-Song. Goddess theology affirms that we all come from one source while stating that diversity is the great principle of the earth body. In other words, we are both different and related in the web of life (unity in diversity). Martin Ball discusses entheogens and contemporary shamanic visionary art. Throughout human history, spiritual seekers have used sacred plants and fungi for healing, visionary encounters, and mystical experiences. He discusses the work of Mariela de la Paz, Martina Hoffman, Robert Venosa, Carey Thompson, Timothy White, Scott Cranmer and Kathryn June and more.
Lastly, Victoria Christian and Gary Stamper attempt to envision the new paradigm in an article titled In Search of a New World View: Envisioning the Golden Era on Earth. In this article, they explore in more depth what exactly this “new world-view” is and how to accomplish it without stepping into despair or burn out. What might such an enormous paradigm shift look like should we succeed? What are we dreaming into existence with the imaginal cells of this paradigm shift, this Great Turning, this metamorphoses as we begin to weave our cocoon? What will emerge? While this is an enormously complex subject that is occurring on multiple levels and in various disciplines, we will merely scratch the surface of several important topics, such as: death of Capitalism and a rebirth of a revitalized Socialism, co-creativity and sacred activism, awakening the new masculine, sacred economics and the gift economy, permaculture and the slow food movement. We will also introduce the visionary art of several male artists who are on the path of conscious evolution and supportive of a feminist agenda to create a new system of equality and liberation for all, such as Robby Donaghey, Amoraea Dreamseed, Raul Casillas, Daniel Holeman, Aaron Pyne, Paul Nicholson, Davin Infinity and Jose Arguelles.
Closing the book is a powerful prayer by The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers followed by an Afterward by Susan Stedman.