She Lives! The Return of the Great Mother: Myths, Rituals, Music & Meditations, combined 3rd edition
By: Judith Laura
Publisher: Open Sea Press
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Review Date: September 2010
Those of us who have known author and artist Judith Laura and her blog, since She Lives! was first published in 1989 celebrate the arrival of this new edition. In it are stories, songs, and rituals we remember plus new and revised material. The cover of the new edition features one of Lydia Ruyle’s gorgeous Goddess icon banners, Demeter (see www.lydiaruyle.com).
She Lives! opens, logically enough, with two new “ancient myths,” one of which tells how the Great Goddess created the universe and gave birth to her son, who grew up to be the father. “For the father, her son, is born, dies, and is born again,” this myth concludes, “but our Great Mother endures forever and dwells with the father, her son, in the eternal spirit” (pg. 19). That is to say, the religion of the Great Goddess predates and includes the three great Abrahamic religions. The second ancient myth, “The City,” tells how patriarchy arose. This story’s ending is less happy:
And in those thousands of years the peoples of Earth forgot her knowledge, wisdom, love, and peace. For they continued to worship their god of war and to call him their Father, knowing not that without the Mother, the father her son cannot exist. … And they talked of the father and son being one in the spirit and called it a paradox, knowing not of what they spoke. For they had misconceived the son without Our Great Mother. Thus were they cast out from the Spirit.
And thus was the city destroyed.
And it shall lay in ruin until all people once again proclaim her name.
Then shall the light shine upon the Earth and fighting disappear.
Then shall flowers spout up where once there was desert.
And the reign of justice and love shall fill all our hearts with peace.
So be it.
And thus do we learn why women and men have turned to the Neolithic Great Goddess, who has, like the moon, been in eclipse, though her eclipse has lasted about 5,000 years, and why there are Goddess scholar lists and blogs and researchers and authors. Sherri S. Tepper and Doris Lessing tell what is essentially the same story in their novels, The Gate to Women’s Country (1988) and The Cleft (2007).
The next section of She Lives! gives us eight modern myths, all of them written in a nifty oral voice as if told by a cozy grandmother to her children. These stories tell how women have “come home” to the Goddess or, rather, how she brought us home to her. In one of the stories, women of six religions are touched by the Goddess, who says, “Know that all your symbols [Star of David, cross, crescent and star, etc.] have been touched by me and received my blessing. Know by this that I come not to destroy your faiths, but to reclaim my rightful place in them. For just as a house built without a main beam cannot stand, so a faith built without me cannot endure” (pg. 62). Consider these words, and then consider the religious fanaticism and hate we’re hearing about in the news all the time.
Next come personal rituals for women (menarche, first orgasm, menopause) and men (first seed, first union), then seasonal rituals with songs and dances. Laura has composed some songs and written new lyrics for others, including familiar Christmas carols and the “Ode to Joy” (the ninth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony). Following the seasonal rituals that celebrate the solstices and equinoxes are Laura’s new reflections on (and explanations of) the seasonal rituals, which she wrote to contain elements of the standard-brand religions. The book concludes with ten lovely guided meditations.
Quill says: Everybody has a mother. Even if you worship the father god by one of his Judeo-Christian-Islamic names, devote one of the equinoxes or solstices to learning how to welcome our Great Cosmic Mother back into our lives.