Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversations to Re-Shape Our World, edited by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
Changemakers Books, 978-1-78279-510-0, 394 pp., 2014
Voices of the Sacred Feminine is a collection of 40 interviews and guest essays on Rev. Dr. Karen Tate’s Internet radio show of the same name. I’ve never listened to it, never heard of it until I reviewed this book, and wow, was I missing out! The book is a sampling of her shows over the past nine years, covering everything from sacred art to politics to archaeomythology. The book is divided into five sections: Deity, Archetype and Ideal; Ritual and Healing; Alternatives to Patriarchy; Sacred Activism; and a tribute to the late drummer Layne Redmond.
Each section is rich in its own right, and worthy of its own book review. Here, I’ll choose one conversation from each section to give a sense of what you might find in it.
In Deity, Archetype and Ideal, “Mama” Donna Henes defines a fourth feminine life-cycle archetype in “The Queen: Empowering Model for Midlife Women.” Somewhere between the Mother and the Crone, she says, is the Queen, who is “not yet old, yet no longer young, still active and sexy, vital with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, she is tempered with the hard-earned experience and leavening attitudes of age.” Nowadays, women can spend 20, 30, or even 40 years between motherhood and the crone years; hence the need for a new paradigm that vital women everywhere can embrace, according to Mama Donna, who is an urban shaman, contemporary ceremonialist, and spiritual teacher.
In Ritual and Healing, “Why Would a Man Search for the Goddess?” by Tim Ward, the founder of Changemakers Books, is a deeply touching essay on why, as modern western women were rediscovering the Goddess, men were not also doing so. Citing his own experience of sour relationships with women up until age 35, he writes, “I believe we men have a deep need to connect with women, which for most of us remains profoundly thwarted. This vague feeling that things are out of sync with the opposite sex rumbles around inside of us, mixes with sexual frustration, resentment, anxiety, anger and despair.” This exploration of the Goddess from a male point of view led to his book Savage Breast: One Man’s Search for the Goddess.
In Alternatives to Patriarchy, in “The Essence of Good Business: Companies That Care,” Riane Eisler gives numerous examples and statistics to support how businesses with caring company policies — on-site child care, flexible work options, paid health club memberships and smoking cessation programs — have less employee turnover and greater profits than those that did not. Supporting programs like these means changing our values. She writes, “Many politicians have no problem with huge deficits and large budgets for weapons, wars, and prisons. But when it comes to investing in caring for people — healthcare, childcare, paid parental leave, and other investments in a better quality of life — they claim there is no money. Of course, the issue is not one of money; it’s one of priorities and values.” Riane Eisler is a social scientist, attorney, and award-winning author, most recently of The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.
For the section titled Sacred Activism, Rev. Dr. Tate has chosen to include an interview with Starhawk, “Earth, Spirit and Action: Letting the Wildness In.” Starhawk is one of the founders of the Reclaiming tradition of Wicca, the tradition I practice; she brings sacred activism down to earth, literally, with her permaculture Earth Activist Trainings (discussed in the interview). Politics, Harry Potter, Starhawk’s new children’s book The Last Wild Witch, climate change, the Transition Town Movement, capitalism and corporations, and Barack Obama’s performance as US president are some of the other topics discussed in this delightful interview. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Starhawk speak in person; it’s an experience not to be missed. So after (or instead of) reading the transcript I’d suggest you treat yourself and go to the radio archives to hear this show live.
I love compendiums because you get a smorgasbord of ideas and opinion all in one place, a go-to collection when you want to read something a little different than your usual. The beauty of this book is that it leaves you many places to go: to the reference section for notes; to the website(s) of the author or to other of her or his works listed at the end of each conversation; or, straight to the source, Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio. This book leaves you wanting more, wanting to continue the conversation — an invitation Rev. Dr. Tate has extended brilliantly, and one I hope her readers accept.