“Let there be Beauty and Strength, Power and Compassion, Honor and Humility, Mirth and Reverence within you.” 

Every time I hear these words, warm tingles shoot through my body like electricity, from the nape of my neck, down through my heart, and into my belly.  Stirring, I know I’ve awoken Her, the SHE.

The words are excerpted from a poem, “The Charge of the Goddess” first compiled by Doreen Valiente from various sources and pieces of sacred wisdom, and then later revised by Starhawk.  (Recitations of the full poems can be found here [Valiente version] and here [Starhawk version].)

My own journey into feminine spirituality began over 15 years ago and it is no coincidence that it coincided with my emergence as a young adult and journey into feminism.  For me, all three are intertwined.  Over the years of study and experience, the importance of feminine spirituality revealed itself again and again.

 

The Importance of Feminine Spirituality for Women

 

Currently, in our global culture, most things skew patriarchal, primarily our institutions and religions.  Okay, “so what?” some may ask.  The dominance of patriarchal values has led to the significant decline in women’s rights and has caused damage to the female psyche. 

Let’s just look at one aspect.  Three of the largest world religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, currently hold monotheistic doctrine and hold that the “one true god” is male (and other major world religions have certain pathways which overly focus on masculine virtues).  Think about that for a minute.  The current major world religions which have greatly influenced both Western and Eastern culture for the last 2,000 years have generally held that only the masculine is “good enough” to be god

What do you think the implicit message is for women?

(Or maybe not so implicit.  This Bible verse seems to make it very explicit here: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.  I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adman was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became the transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:11-14 – The First Book of Timothy was written in the late 1st Century to early 2nd Century AD, by the way, 60-150 years after the death of Jesus.)

I’ll make a confession to illustrate this point.  It took me a long time to be okay with the G-word (Goddess) and even longer to be okay with the W-word (Witch). It also took me a long time to accept that the sacred wisdom within myself and other women were of equal value to the sacred wisdom men had.  But funny enough, it was a Catholic nun in my senior year of high school who was the first to encourage (and empathically insist) on using the word “Goddess” (her lectern even had a shiny sticker proclaiming “Goddess” on it) and it was another (female) teacher at my Catholic high school that taught the first course I took on world religions and encouraged me to deepen my studies.  But from then on, the journey was my own, although, assisted (and continuing to be) by so many mentors along the way.

As Sue Monk Kidd writes, “The female soul is no small thing.  Neither is a woman’s right to define the sacred from a woman’s perspective.”

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The Journey into Feminine Spirituality

 

Your journey is your own.  Developing a feminine spiritual practice doesn’t necessitate changing your religion if you don’t want to.  That’s perfectly okay.  There are many feminine spiritual interpretations within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other world religions (it can even be argued that these feminist interpretations are actually truer interpretations of sacred wisdom.)  However, after some study and experience, you may choose to move towards a more feminine or earth-centered spirituality like those found within Paganism.  And that’s okay too.

The goal is to connect with your inner Divine Feminine, the SHE, allow Her to light your inner SoulFire, allow the feminine and masculine inside you to dance, and to approach life confident in your own inner wisdomWhat you’ll find is this has as much to do with psychology as it does spirituality.

Some of you, like me, may have been on this journey for a while, and some of you maybe just starting out on this path.  To all of you, I say Merry Meet!  I’m happy to be walking this part of the path with you.

Let’s talk today about some really great reads that connect to you the Divine Feminine and stoke that inner Soulfire.

 

Feminine Spirituality Book List

 

  1. “The Dance of The Dissident Daughter” – Sue Monk Kidd

Dance of the Dissident DaughterAlthough best known for her novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, one of Sue Monk Kidd’s most personal books is The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, a beautiful and insightful memoir into the author’s journey from conservative Christian tradition (including being a well-known writer for Christian magazines and the wife of a Baptist minister) into sacred feminine spirituality.  Kidd discusses the feminine wound from both spiritual and psychological standpoints and well-researched aspects of feminist theology and practices from world history.  She takes you on the ride through her awakening from fear and anger to healing and transformation; from dreams of giving birth to herself, to seeing an encounter of everyday sexism that involved her daughter in a store, to her contemplative experiences at monasteries and retreat centers, to a transformative experience in Crete, and to the upheaval and resolution her awakening has had on her life and her marriage.

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter was the first book I read on feminine spirituality and through countless re-reads, it continues to hold a special place in my heart.

 

  1. “Women Who Run With the Wolves” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

Women Who Run With The WolvesThere are few books that capture the essence of the spirit of the Sacred Feminine better than Estes’ Women Who Run With The Wolves.  Estes expertly discusses the archetype of the Wild Woman, the passionate, creative, instinctual feminine force within us through an intercultural weaving of folklore, mythology, and fairytales, and infuses it with her ecological study of wolves and pack behavior.

Estes writes, “Healthy wolves and healthy women share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and heightened capacity for devotion.  Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength.  They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mates, and their pack.  They are experienced in adapting constantly to changing circumstances; they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.  Yet both have been hounded, harassed, and falsely imputed to be devouring and devious, overly aggressive, of less value than those who are their detractors.  They have been targets of those who would clean up the wilds as well as the wildish environs of the psyche, extincting the instinctual, and leaving no trace behind.  The predation of wolves and women by those who misunderstand them in strikingly similar.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the Wild Woman and the Sacred Feminine within themselves.

 

  1. “Crossing To Avalon” – Jean Shindoa Bolen, M.D.

Crossing To AvalonIn Crossing to Avalon, Bolen takes you on a journey with her to sacred sites across Europe, from meetings with the Dalai Lama and spiritual thinkers from India, to Chartres Cathedral in France, Glastonbury in the south of England, and up to Iona, Inverness, Clava Cairns, Findhorn, Pluscarden Abbey, and Lindisfarne in Scotland.  As a psychiatrist, feminist, and Jungian analyst, Bolen infuses her pilgrimage for the Sacred Feminine with the archetypal and psychological underpinnings of a Grail Quest, which women often experience (usually in midlife, but can happen anytime).

Deeply psychological and spiritual, this book opens up to us the Grail Quest within ourselves and our lives.

 

 

 

 

  1. “The Book of SHE” – Sara Avant Stover

Book of SHEIn The Book of SHE, Stover takes women on a journey of personal empowerment, psychological wholeness, and feminine spiritual awakening.  Addressing mythology, archetypes, and the circles of our lives, Stover weaves a central narrative that makes our inner wisdom and our rites of passage make so much more sense.  She illuminates ancient wisdom and healing practices for you to connect with your inner SHE on a daily basis, from earthing and belly breathing, to dancing with your shadows, honoring your cycles, and healthy sexuality.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “When God Was a Woman” – Merlin Stone

When God Was a WomanIn Stone’s When God Was a Woman you will be taken on an anthropological and archeological journey into an exploration of ancient matriarchal cultures of the Near and Middle East.  Discussing Paleolithic and Neolithic tribes to early civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and across the Mediterranean, Stone reveals the ancient worship of the Great Goddess, as well as the stunning rewriting of culture and history, and the suppression of women’s rites, upon the rise of Judeo-Christian mythology and its impact on social order.  (Or put another way, how we went from Isis to Eve.)

This book is genuinely interesting, but unlike the books above this is not a memoir. Rather, it is closer to a survey or academic text on the subject.

 

 

 

  1. “The Great Cosmic Mother” –Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor

Great Cosmic MotherSimilarly to When God Was a Woman, The Great Cosmic Mother also reads more like an academic text, exploring the Goddess throughout different civilizations and time periods.  The focus, however, is not purely a historical survey, but rather weaving together the sacred threads of the Divine Feminine practice found through many cultures to recreate the religion of the Goddess and understand it as humanity’s original religion and heritage.

Don’t let the more academic texts intimidate you.  They are fascinating reads into history and human culture and give a context for the sacred threads that pop up in cultures and religions all over the world.

 

 

 

 

  1. “Goddesses in Everywoman” – Jean Shindoa Bolen, M.D.

Goddesses in EverywomanAre you a Hera, Persephone, or Aphrodite?  Demeter, Hestia, or Athena?  Bolen makes the list again with Goddess in Everywoman.  In this book, Bolen studies powerful female archetypes through the use of goddesses found in Greek mythology and their corresponding stories.  As it turns out, most women fall into at least one of these goddess archetypes.  Bolen discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each goddess and how we can incorporate these archetypes into our lives, and use power from their myths to cultivate our strengths and overcome our challenges.

This is a fun read that really reveals the power of archetypes in personal psychology.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “Book of Shadows” – Phyllis Curott

Book of ShadowsBook of Shadows serves as Phyllis Curott’s memoir of her discovery and initiation into the Sacred Feminine and witchcraft.  Beginning in her mid-twenties while working as a New York attorney, Curott began to have mystical experiences that seemed to bring into question her agnostic upbringing.  Although hesitant at first, through a mutual friend, she began to meet regularly with a group of women who studied and worshipped the Goddess.  Rather than frightening satanic rituals, Curott found a spirituality brimming with deep ancient wisdom and empowerment.  Her journey has taken her into founding her own tradition of shamanic Wicca, Temple of Ara, and she has been a leading voice in shaping the current Pagan and feminine spirituality movements, all while conquering the male-dominated field of law.

You don’t have to be interested in pursuing Wicca or Witchcraft to find value in this book.  Much bigger than specific religions, it beautifully describes the transformation that takes place when a woman fully embraces her inner Divine Feminine.

My favorite line from the book: “Most people know intuitively that when you fall in love the world is full of magic. What they don’t know is that when you discover the universe is full of magic, you fall in love with the world.”

[Disclosure:  Although I am not in contact with Ms. Curott, I do have a connection with the Temple of Ara and have been mentored by several women who have been initiated by Ms. Curott.  This, however, has no bearing on my review since I fell in love with the book well in advance to engaging with the Temple of Ara.  It was the book that led me there.]

 

  1. “The Body Sacred” – Dianne Sylvan

The Body SacredThe Body Sacred is a wonderful book reaffirming positive body image of every woman as a reflection of the Goddess.  Let’s face it: we all have body hang-ups  Too short or too tall, too fat or not curvy enough, boobs too big, too small, or lopsided, gap teeth, crooked nose, hair greying waayy before it should.  The list goes on.  In this book, Slyvan discusses goddess archetypes and uses myth, rituals, and meditations to help any woman build positive body image and see themselves as a living temple for the Goddess.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “The Circle Within” – Dianne Sylvan

The Circle WithinDianne Slyvan makes the list again with The Circle Within.  Unlike a lot of basic books on Wicca, The Circle Within explores what it really means to live your spirituality and honor your connection to the Divine Feminine on a day to day basis.  Slyvan talks about the basics of developing and maintaining a spiritual practice, from philosophy and ethics to incorporating (or building upon) a spiritual practice in your daily life.

Similar to Book of Shadows, I recommend this book even if you aren’t personally interested in Wicca, Witchcraft, or Paganism.  Rather, it serves as a good tool for building a daily spiritual practice that honors your inner SHE, and many meditations, rituals, and prayers can be adapted to fit your preferred spiritual context.

 

 

I have a feeling this will be the first of many articles on this topic.  There are so many good books on feminine spirituality out there, it was hard for me to limit the list to ten.

Have other suggestions for feminine spirituality books?  Comment below or on the SoulFire Tribe – Light It Up Facebook Group!  Share your knowledge and engage with other women!  I may even feature your suggestions in upcoming articles on this topic!  Share this article with a friend and continue the conversation!

Xoxo,

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Stella Autumn

Founder, Women's Empowerment Coach, + Writer/Blogger at SoulFire Tribe
* Queen * Rebel * Unicorn * Coach * Writer * Lawyer * Witch * Geek * Goth/Alt Chick * Poetess * Explorer * Artist * Hippie * Book Dragon * Ladyboss * Quirky, Curious, + Creative * // I empower women invested in personal and professional growth to discover the courage and creativity within themselves to lead happy, balanced, and successful lives defined by their own terms!

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