Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Medusa and Athena: Ancient Allies in Healing Women’s Trauma (pt 2) by Laura Shannon

Raging Medusa by Cristina Biaggi

Athena is not only a Goddess of war. She is a complex and polyvalent Goddess with many other qualities—as Goddess of healing, of wisdom, of protection and self-defense, of craft and culture, of the olive tree—which can have great significance for all those healing from trauma. I would like to focus on some of them here, in particular, Athena’s aspect as Goddess of protection.

Perseus’ part in the Medusa myth ends with him carrying the Gorgon’s head to the court of King Polydectes, who had been scheming all along to get Perseus out of the way so he could marry Perseus’ mother Danae. When Perseus uses the power of the Gorgon to destroy Polydectes, we see that Athena, in helping him, ultimately has acted to protect Danae from forced marriage and rape.

I suggest that Athena in her armour can be understood as a sign that women can and must be protected. The Goddess herself needs protection, if she is to survive the perils of a patriarchal era. Athena’s skills of strategic protection and clever defense are vital to women who—like Athena herself—are prisoners of patriarchy. She is the Goddess of protected spaces: the walled city, the castle, the acropolis, and the women’s wisdom and culture contained therein. As guardian and protectress, Athena in antiquity was ‘envisaged as a caring and feminine, not to say maternal, figure.’1

Athena’s helmet may represent the protection of our neural pathways, as mentioned earlier. The experience of trauma affects our ability to think clearly. Therefore the work of healing requires the clear thinking and clear seeing which are also Athena’s gifts. The quality of mindfulness, defined by Bessel van der Kolk as the ability ‘to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings and emotions,’2 is a key part of recovery and also of Athena’s mental power.

The theme of protection manifests when Athena places Medusa’s head on her breastplate or aegis, right in the centre of her heart. Medusa’s head now becomes the universally powerful apotropaic emblem, the Gorgoneion, placed on shields, walls, houses, temples, roofs, gates and entryways throughout Classical antiquity and even in the present day. I believe this action has profound significance for our theme of healing from trauma.

Great rage needs a great heart to hold it; great trauma needs a great heart to heal it. Athena’s many epithets include ‘the Great-Hearted’ and ‘She Who Saves.’3 By placing Medusa’s severed head in the centre of her heart, I suggest that Athena is acting to ‘save’ Medusa, by containing her rage with love and compassion, so it can be witnessed, honoured and remembered. In the words of Bessel van der Kolk, ‘trauma almost invariably involves not being seen, not being recognized, and not being taken into account... sensing, naming, and identifying what is going on inside is the first step to recovery.’4

The Gorgoneion in the centre of Athena’s heart reminds me of the Buddhist practice of tonglen, breathing in and out of the heart centre while holding an awareness of all the hurts and evils of this world. Tonglen is seen as a way to bring the balm of compassion to the worst and deepest wounds inflicted by humanity, and is considered an extremely difficult practice. To consciously witness the terrible pain, the collective and individual rage of the betrayed and wounded feminine, simply to hold it in the presence of divine love and compassion, requires tremendous strength and courage.

Healing from trauma also requires courage, along with protection, mindfulness, compassion and love. The Sanksrit name Medha, related to Medusa, also has the meaning of ‘intellect illuminated by love.’5 This is exactly the power of mind or mindfulness which can help us heal.

Athena’s wisdom is strategic. She is cunning and clever. Her clear sight reveals the simple truth that however justified our anger may be, it serves nothing if we let it destroy us. Anger brings gifts, lessons, protection, power. So we must not seek to destroy the anger either, but rather welcome it with compassion and place it safely in our hearts where it can protect us.

By placing Medusa’s head in her heart, Athena gives Medusa a post-trauma sanctuary in a safe and strong body, and Medusa gives Athena a part of her protective powers. In this way, Athena helps heal the rage, fear and trauma of the Medusa story and transform it into an energy for protection, in the form of the Gorgoneion. The Gorgoneion is a reminder that rage can protect us, by helping us stay alert in the face of potential danger. Medusa has been made into a monster; yet as Catherine Keller points out, the original meaning of the Latin monstrum is ‘a portent,’ connected to monstrare, ‘to show’ and monere, ‘to warn’, from the same root as remember, remind, and mind.6 The Gorgoneion shows, warns, helps us remember, and reminds us to be mindful. As Emily Culpepper writes, ‘The Gorgon has much vital, literally life-saving information to teach women about anger, rage, power, and the release of the determined aggressiveness sometimes needed for survival.’7 Medusa and Athena can thus be seen as teachers of life-saving protection and defense.

As well as protection, Athena brings further gifts to the work of healing from trauma. Past trauma can be transformed through ‘physical experiences that directly contradict the helplessness, rage and collapse that are part of trauma’ and which foster a renewed sense of self-mastery. Because trauma tends to be experienced in ‘isolated fragments,’ treatment particularly needs to engage the entire organism, ‘body, mind, and brain.’8 Athena’s domain includes reading and writing, weaving and handicraft: creative skills which help the survivor engage fully in activities which strengthen new neural pathways for pleasure and joy.

An excerpt from a longer paper entitled, ''Medusa and Athena: Ancient Allies in Healing Women’s Trauma,'' featured in Re-visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom.

Laura Shannon has researched and taught traditional circle dances for more than thirty years, and is considered to be one of the ‘grandmothers’ of the worldwide Sacred / Circle Dance movement. Through extensive research in Balkan villages and wide teaching experience, Laura has pioneered a new understanding of traditional women's dances as active tools for spiritual development. Originally trained in Intercultural Studies and Dance Movement Therapy, Laura is currently pursuing an M.A. in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christ Church University in England. She gives workshops, trainings and performances in more than twenty countries, and her numerous articles on dance have been published in many languages. She is founding director of the Athena Institute for Womens' Dance and Culture and a regular contributor to Feminism and Religion. In between her travels, Laura resides in Canterbury, Findhorn and Greece. www.laurashannon.net

1 Deacy 2008:108.
2 Van der Kolk 2014:62.
3 Solon 4.3 in Deacy 2008:78; Homeric Hymn to Athena 28:3.
4 Van der Kolk 2014: 59, 68.
5 https://www.pitarau.com/meaning-of-medha
6 Keller 1986:50, 90.
7 Culpepper 1986:241.
8 Van der Kolk 2014:4, 40, 53.

Monday, November 18, 2019

We are Divine and Holy - The Message of Goddess of Willendorf by Tamara Albanna

Painting by Arna Baartz

In writing a children’s book on the Willendorf Goddess, it would appear that I have it all figured out.  That I’m so comfortable in my skin, so happy in my body, I’m completely unfazed by what others may think or say, or what society expects of me with regards to my appearance.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth.

I have lived in this body for 40 years, most of that time it was a love/hate relationship, emphasis on the hate as I got older. These days I have reconciled a lot, I can look at myself naked and not recoil, I could even undress in front of a lover and not worry about what they might think.

But sometimes, it creeps up on me. A snide comment here, a funny look there, it all comes crashing down.

I have accepted that this very well may be a lifelong struggle. That I will possibly never be completely happy in this body, and I have to be perfectly ok with that, because, I’m not perfect.

I have learned that as a woman of Middle Eastern decent, I am simply not supposed to look like what the Western media pushes on us as an ideal. I understand that as a mother, the “price “I paid for literally creating life, is a softer belly and stretch marks. I also appreciate, that there is literally no one like me, or like you. That’s what makes us beautiful, it is our uniqueness, like I say in our beautiful book. 

To the little girls, especially... I just want to remind you that you are absolutely amazing and incredible just as you are.  Just because you exist, because you are YOU. Please don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise or make you feel any less than the magnificence of what you are. The story I tell in this book—the message this wondrous Goddess is giving us—is that we are all worthy, as we are. There is nothing to “fix”—there are no mistakes—you really are Divine, and whole. 

I wanted to be open and honest, I didn’t want anyone to pick up this book and assume that I somehow have it all together, I really don’t.

I also want you to know that it’s ok if you don’t have it together too, let us embrace ourselves the best way we know how, and be kind to our precious bodies. They deserve at least that much.

Tamara Albanna has always been connected to the Goddess, even when she didn’t realize it. As a Doula and Childbirth Educator, she witnessed divinity first hand through other women. Now as a writer, Reiki healer and Tarot reader, she hopes to help others overcome their difficult pasts while healing with the Divine Mother. She has published two books on Inanna—Inanna's Ascent: Reclaiming Female Power (co-edited with Trista Hendren and Pat Daly) and My Name is Inanna—as well as two poetry chapbooks, As I Lay By the Tigris and Weep and Rosewater.  Her most recent children's book is My Name is Goddess of Willendorf. A women's anthology on Goddess of Willendorf, co-edited with Trista Hendren, is in the works. Tamara currently resides in Vienna with her family. 

Unapologetic by Sinem Alev Wiederkehr

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes

Strutting my mane and basking in the sun
In soft-footed stride, I defy gravity.
On extolling my name in days to come,
I say, who dare claim a lion?
On soft-grading my battles lost and won,
I say, who dare claim a lion?

My rules are only internalized truths
Rooted in olden song, now almost vanished.
They say to not roam with such boastful pride,
to know my place, to quench my fire
to not roar others into the wild—
I have tried to comply, but I am a lion.

“A woman does not hop around and dance”
“A woman is mystery, even to herself”
“A woman stuns; the spotlight is the man’s”
These are the rules which I should play by,
but their system betrays lack of craft—
Do not mistake bared teeth for a smile.

When evil shatters and good is advanced,
They will know my body is temple for worship.
My soul is scattered all over the horizon—
I say what I am, and I am a lion.

Poem excerpted from Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.

Sinem Alev Wiederkehr, PA and philosophy student, advocates radical self-love for women to heal in their strides. When she does not write, she enjoys volunteering or spending time with her family.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Anointing the Lilith Within by Rita Lucey

Painting by Caroline Manière

A croning ritual honors the elders, those who hold the wisdom of a tribe. They are the teachers, healers, diplomats—the shamans and the priests. They care for the dying and help the spirit find its way into the light of the Goddess. Their presence belies fear and eases the gateway into another life. They are the crones, wise in their hard-earned autonomy. They are Lilith personified.

I became crowned—that is “croned”—by a Cherokee woman versed in the ancient native American ceremony. In her lifetime, each woman journeys through the aspects of Goddess—maiden, mother and crone. After a year of preparation, I was ready to accept the mantle of cronehood.

The ceremony holds all the elements of many ageless traditions— fire, water, oil, air and earth. Prior to passing through a wooden archway, I stated what I wanted to leave behind and on the other side, declared what I wanted to embrace. After the words, came the rituals—smudging with herbal incense lit from a sacred fire; shedding my clothing in a sheeted tent; and anointing with sacred corn oil, sage and other wisdom herbs. Finally, I donned new clothing, giving witness to who and what I wanted to become. Placing my old clothing on the arch, I left it behind, wading through a pool of water.

When all was completed—each element addressed—the arch was set on fire. Oh such mixed emotions! The fire consumed the garments of a fulfilled past, while promising new beginnings. Yes, the spirit of Lilith’s presence sang a hymn of praise in the depth of my newly crowned being. A song welcoming me to this moment in time and space, welcoming me to my cronehood.

The sisterhood—present to witness and acclaim my worthiness to be so honored—prepared scones and tea, sharing in the blessedness that left us in eternal space. My sense of the ethereal oneness with the universe—the belonging to a force greater than myself—lasted for days. It was almost surreal, and at times I needed to remind myself to stay grounded in the here and now. My crowning ushered in an epiphany, a sense of limitless time and space.

For the Liliths of this world—both the celebrated and the unknown—the alabaster jar is open. Just as women opened the jar and anointed Jesus, so we anoint one another in our sharing of the Lilith Spirit. In our crowning years and beyond, we continue to grow in our understanding of who we are in relation to the universe and to this Great Mystery.

An excerpt the Girl God Anthology, Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.

Rita Lucey, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at age 80, fulfilling a lifetime dream. (Yes, contrary to Roman Catholic Canon Law 1024, and excommunicated as a result.)  A human rights activist, at age 65, she spent six months in federal prison for non-violent protest against our government’s training of Latin American military.  In recent years, she served on the boards of her local Amnesty International and ACLU chapters. She continues to be active in the local League of Women Voters and is a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the Orlando Sentinel and Daytona Beach News Journal.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ode to Lilith by Joyce McCauley-Benner

Painting by Arna Baartz / Illustration from My Name is Lilith

In the darkest spaces
Where rage and fury collide
This is where I have found you

You tell me I have nothing to hide
To let it all out
That a goddess isn’t pretty
She is powerful

The tears and the scars
These are your gifts
Blessed and holy
But misunderstood

You turn weakness to warrior strength
Uncovering bravery not beauty
Worshiping you is dangerous
But liberating
Do not fear the dark
You preach
For where else will you shine your light?

A poem from Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.

Joyce McCauley-Benner Poet. Screenwriter. Social Justice Advocate. Daughter of Goddess. Joy’s passion is writing and exploring divine feminine spirituality through the sacred portal of writing. She has worked 15 years in social service and social justice fields, advocating for low-income populations and women, children, and families affected by domestic violence, trafficking, and poverty. Her first script, Losing Maria, was created to promote the prevention of domestic sex trafficking of minors.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Will the Real Eve Please Stand Up? by Luisah Teish

Painting by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné

“The man named his wife Eve, because she was the Mother of all the living.''  (Genesis 3:20)

Eve was named by Adam according to biblical myth. The very fact that he is in a position to name her implies that he was first and superior.

The power to name is vested in the “owner” of things. Parents have the right to name their children because they gave birth to them and presumably will be the ones to care for them. This is a benevolent use of that power. When a woman marries, she takes on the last names of her husband. This implies that she is property which is passed on to her husband from her father. Presumably this is a willing change, or the woman may retain or create her own name.

But dominators usually reserve this right for themselves. As a child I was very aware that Slave Traders named their captives long enough to take them to the auction block; then the Slave Buyer changed the name again to identify his property. This was done with a branding iron and a whip, with no concern for the person’s sense of identity.

Explorers travel around the globe, move onto other people’s land, sink their flags in the soil and claim to have “discovered” continents full of people with ancient civilizations. The theft of the Americas from Native Peoples and the European colonization of Africa are clear examples. Today we are extending this practice to other planets.

The act of naming is usually followed by the more violent acts of exploitation, rape, and murder. Historically, women and gold are the booty of war.

So, Adam’s power to name Eve implies that he came first, as her master. But the biblical myth contradicts itself.

In Genesis I: 26-28 (all italics mine), we are told that God created them “male and female” at the same time—as twins and therefore equal.

“And God said ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all creeping things that creep on earth.’ And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them, ‘Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”

In my mid 20th century childhood this directive was interpreted to mean that Black people were pre-destined to work in the fields, and that enslavement was holy and endorsed by God. By declaring certain people as subhuman (the “primitives” in Africa or the Jews in Germany), this directive has been extended to justify genocide.

This directive has been misinterpreted as a license to exploit our natural resources, to drive the plants and animals into extinction, to destroy the water, the air, and the rain forests.

However, in cultures such as the Native Americans and the Indigenous Africans, a different myth guides the beliefs and actions of the people. In these cultures, the Earth is seen as a Great Mother who provides for us, who cannot be owned, and who is revered and cared for.

The story continues:

In Genesis 2, we are told that a woman is created from Adam’s rib. This is the direct opposite of natural reality wherein man is born from the body of woman.

What is the meaning of this contradiction? It means the editors of the bible rewrote the myth and obscured the symbols in the story. They left somebody out! Ministers and priests can be very selective when choosing verses from the bible to perform their Sunday sermons. The “woman made from man” myth is their story of choice. As a child, I read the verses for myself and wondered about all that “old stuff,” but it was taboo to question the bible, and there was no opportunity to explore the myths of other cultures.

As an adult, I was amazed to find out that there are really two women in the Genesis myth. There is the ever-popular Eve and another sister who appears unnamed. In Genesis 1, she was created as Adam’s twin and was equal to him. Her name is Lilith.

“Lilith is the female of Adam, or Adamah, the Hebrew feminine word for earth or soil. Both man and woman originate from mother earth, given form by God.” (The Book of Lilith, Barbara Black Koltuv, pg. 10)

A little more investigation made it clear why the preachers chose not to highlight Lilith in their sermons.

“In Talmudic lore Lilith was the wife of Adam before Eve. Like Adam, Lilith was created from the dust (Adamah) of the earth. She had been one of the wives of Samuel (or Satan), but being wild and passionate, she left her spouse and joined Adam in Eden. Lilith, however, rejected the subordinate role of women and refused to be subservient and submissive to Adam on the ground that since both had issued from the dust they were equal.” (Myth and Sexuality by Jamake Highwater pg. 22.)

Adam tried to have sex with her, and he insisted that she lie flat on her back. When she refused to take the submissive position, Adam tried to force himself upon her.

The culture of my childhood held the belief that a man had the right to sex from his wife anytime, under any circumstances. A woman who refused sex could be beaten and the man could even call upon the police to reinforce his right to sex. I often heard the men in my community brag among themselves about their power to “keep her flat on her back.”

This is myth as social charter at work in the home and supported by law.

But Lilith had a power greater than Eve’s. She pronounced the divine names of God, wrestled free and took off.

According to the Old Testament, a mob of Angels were sent to fetch Lilith, but she cursed them and fled to the Red Sea. That is where she settled. There she slept with whomever she pleased and had many children.

Lilith’s refusal to submit may indicate that she belonged to an earlier civilization, one which worshiped a Great Goddess, a wild woman known by many names—Belili in the Sumero-Babylonian pantheon; Lillake, the Divine Lady; and Lillitu, the Canaanite Wind Spirit. This earlier goddess was regarded as being powerful, creative and sexually free. She took lovers as she pleased, and the result of her lovemaking was increased fertility to the land in the form of a great harvest and increased fertility for humans in the form of children.

Because Lilith was not present in the Garden of Eden when the infamous apple was eaten, I speculate that she did not experience the “Fall” and its penalties. It would seem logical that she (like the Virgin Mary) is immune to the “curse of Eve” (menstruation), the labor of childbirth and eventual death.

But the preacher’s logic does not allow such a possibility, for this would be an incentive for women to embrace and embody Lilith. Instead we are told that when Lilith refused to return to Eden, a curse was hailed upon her by God who decreed that “one hundred of her offspring would die each day.” (Highwater, pg. 22)

Mythology tells us that she lives forever as a demonic, highly erotic night spirit who snatches newborn children (particularly males) and assaults the bodies and senses of men who sleep alone (presumably as an explanation for erotic dreams). (Eve: The History of An Idea, Phillips, pg. 39) Lilith, the Wild Woman of the Winds, blows the scene in the garden. So, another woman, Eve, replaces her.

The Genesis myth is a myth in a world of myths. It is not the myth of the world. More likely, it is the story of a culture imposing itself upon another with dire consequences for Woman, her self-image and her place in the culture. (For the full history of the patriarchal invasions please read When God Was A Woman by Merlin Stone).

My adolescent mind couldn’t analyze the symbolism in that myth, so I tried to dismiss the story as so much rigmarole and go on about my business.

All I knew at the time was that my woman’s body was supposed to be the downfall of all of creation. It was my fault that men had to be born, to suffer, and to die.

As we all know, Adam and Eve are given a warning by God about a specific tree. Eve wanders around the garden and encounters the snake. The snake (Lillitu?) tells Eve that the tree in the center of the garden has the power of knowledge.

When Adam and Eve eat its fruit, they experience a shift in consciousness and are able to comprehend spirit and matter, innocence and knowledge, their humanity and their divinity through the power of sexuality. Then God curses them to birth, labor and death.

But Adam and Eve did not die. According to the myth, they lived on. And the relationship between the formerly all-powerful landLord and the tenants in the garden is altered forever.

Some legends say that the snake was the first lover of a Great Goddess and that the first man was created from their mating.

In spite of her “sin” of independent thinking, Eve is named “Mother of All the Living.” Mother? This is strangely impressive because at this point in the myth Eve has not given birth to anybody. But “Mother of All the Living” implies that a Great Goddess from an earlier civilization has been reduced into the submissive wife of a patriarchal regime.

Was the real Eve Adam’s mother who then became his lover?

Once the myth is changed, the Great Mother Goddess becomes a childbearing slave to her son-husband; her husband becomes a wanderer in the wilderness, and family life is cursed. Eve gives birth to boy-children who work, fight and kill each other. I will deal with the story of Cain and Abel as the roots of racism in another article.

As it stands, the legend of Lilith teaches us that a sexually powerful woman can only become the mother of demons. The legend of Eve teaches us that a creative woman can only become the mother of murderers.

Because myth is “social charter” we have the power to change it. We must reclaim the images of pre-patriarchal Goddesses; study the lives of famous women and embrace worldviews from many cultures. This will give us the guidance and energy we need to rescript the story, to bring about shifts in Consciousness, and to change laws and behaviors.

I want the little Black girls to know that they can utter the names of Goddess and escape enslavement of any kind. This is the gift of Lilith.


An excerpt of a longer paper entitled, ''Lilith and Eve'' from the Girl God Anthology, Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.

Luisah Teish is a storyteller-writer, an artist-activist and spiritual guidance counselor. She is an initiated elder (Iyanifa) in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of the West African Diaspora.

She is the author of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals, and she co-authored On Holy Ground: Commitment and Devotion to Sacred Land with Kahuna Leilani Birely. 

Her most recent work is Spirit Revealing, Color Healing, a book of Zen Doodles. She has contributed to 35 anthologies, notably Spiritual Guidance Across Religions: A Sourcebook for Spiritual Directors and Other Professionals Providing Counsel... by Rev. John R. Mabry Ph.D., Dan Mendelsohn Aviv Ph.D., Måns Broo Ph.D. and Rev. Cathleen Cox MAT MDiv (Apr 1, 2014) And magazines such as Ms., Essence, SageWoman, and the Yoga Journal.

She has articles and artwork in Coreopsis: Journal of Myth and Theater, and the Cascadia Subduction Zone Journal of Speculative fiction. Her performance credits include: Concert for All Beings, Marin Civic Center (2014) Resonant Streams: An Ancient Call. St. John the Divine Cathedral New York (2011) The Praises for the World Concert, directed by Jennifer Berezan, Edge of Wonder Music. (2005) She has performed in Europe, Venezuela, New Zealand and the United States. She teaches online courses, provides editorial assistance, facilitates conferences and weekend workshops, and performs in theaters worldwide. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Birth Mother by Monette Chilson

Illustration by Arna Baartz, from My Name is Lilith.

When people find out I am working on my second book on Lilith, they often ask how it is that I discovered her. And the unasked question behind the questions is, “Why the fascination?” The truth is, Lilith found me. Indeed, she finds all of us when we’re ready for her. On a global scale, the world is increasingly ready for her.

She appeared to me when I was researching various incarnations of the feminine divine for my first book, Sophia Rising. I recognized her immediately as a missing piece of my spiritual DNA.

Though I’d been adopted by Eve—as have all females steeped in Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) rooted in Old Testament lore—I never felt a kinship to her. I wanted to find my birth mother—the one whose genes I carry. I always wondered why Eve didn’t just say “no” to subjugating herself to another. And I always lamented how different our lives would be—men’s and women’s—if she had.

When I got married in my mid-twenties in the same Southern Baptist church as my parents, I forbade the preacher from using the submission line—the lopsided vows in which the wife obeys and the husband loves. I wanted a partnership in which we both loved. I also nixed the rib story. I had always believed the first creation story in Genesis, the one where Adam and Eve were created from the same earth.

Imagine my delight when, years later, I learned that the creation account I’d always identified with was Lilith’s, not Eve’s!

I don’t blame Eve for the downfall of humanity. In fact, I think seeking wisdom was one of the bravest things she did. Had I been in the garden, I, too, would have eaten that apple. That forbidden fruit was never the thing that ruined paradise.

Paradise ceased to exist the moment true mutuality between its residents ended. Any place or space that decrees one person the spiritual head of another based on their gender is not paradise. It is patriarchy.

And, like Lilith, I flee that garden whenever I encounter it.

As I write this, I am stymied by the current climate in the United States, the place I call home. My desire to flee oppression is juxtaposed with my urge to stay and fight for the same autonomy Lilith deemed nonnegotiable. With a president who openly expresses his dominion over women—“When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.”—and with ever-restrictive laws governing women’s bodies being proposed daily, the sovereignty Lilith and her descendants fought for is seriously jeopardized.

Into this environment so blatantly inhospitable to women, steps this divergent group of women—professors and priestesses; artists and activists; witches and visionaries; and even a greatgrandmother ordained a Catholic priest at age 80 (and promptly excommunicated for it). Every word of this anthology drips with Lilith’s essence.

This book’s contributors and readers will have wide-ranging levels of experience with Lilith. Some (like Lilith Institute Founder D’Vorah Grenn and filmmaker/artist Liliana Kleiner) have spent their life exploring her. Others, like Priscilla Warner, who wrote our preface, are just learning about Lilith. This book is for you whether you are merely curious or a hard-core devotee of this rebellious female ancestor of ours.

Finally, I want to emphasize that Lilith is not another icon crafted to fit Western white standards of feminine beauty and conduct. She is an inclusive archetype of female strength and sovereignty. Dr. Christena Cleveland tackles this issue beautifully in her preface asking questions like, “Why does white patriarchy get the last word on the Divine?”

We intentionally cultivated diversity among our contributors. They hail from Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Iraq, Israel, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Tasmania, Turkey, and the US (Berkley, Brooklyn, Denver, Kentucky, Houston, Missouri, Napa Valley, New Orleans, New York City, North Carolina, Tucson, Upstate New York and Oregon); they are barely 20 and octogenarians; they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Irish Ifa/Orisha, Pagan, Luciferian, Fellowship of Isis, and Celtic Creatrix.

And they are, each and every one, remarkable. We’re included their biographies at the end of the collection. Take a moment to read them and to let them inspire your own journey to reclaim the Lilith within you. Follow them on social media and support the important work they are doing in the world. If you need some extra inspiration, pop over to my website and check out the free guides to creating a Lilith Circle in your own community. We are offering a complimentary book to facilitators who purchase ten copies.

I look forward to communally rediscovering our birth mother, Lilith—the woman erased through omission and demonization— and to rewriting herstory together.


An excerpt from the Girl God Anthology, Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.

Monette Chilson, author of My Name is Lilith (Girl God, 2017) and Sophia Rising: Awakening Your Sacred Wisdom Through Yoga (Bright Sky Press, 2013) writes about God in the feminine and the feminine in God. She speaks to groups big and small, in both lecture and workshop settings. She’s written for publications including Yoga Journal, Integral Yoga Magazine and Elephant Journal and has contributed to numerous anthologies, most recently Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On and Off Your Mat and Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak. She was awarded an Illumination Book Award gold medal, as well as the Hoffer Small Press and First Horizon Awards. Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves is the first anthology she’s edited. Connect on Twitter and Instagram (@MonetteChilson) or explore her work at www.MonetteChilson.com