One of the formative books of my youth was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley because of the story itself and the description of goddess worship and real fairy folk, and because it led me to another book. The library copy of The Mists of Avalon that I read had listed, in its list of reference material, The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.
I checked The Spiral Dance out from the library so many times that I think I wore it out by myself. It explained why I was so drawn to the statue of Mary in the grove of small trees by the convent when I was in Catholic school, and why I was so fascinated with the mythology of various cultures. I finally understood why I felt that there was a hole in the religious dogma presented to me as uncompromising fact.
The male god was incomplete, or maybe, possibly, God was a woman.
Now, of course, I understand the concept that if God exists, it is more than likely genderless, beyond our comprehension, and religions have served to present God to us in a form that we can understand.
After I read The Spiral Dance, I realized how out of touch humanity is with the earth’s cycles. I felt the age of the earth in a stone and started to learn about the use of herbs in healing and that I could feel my place on the planet by exploring a tree with my hands, touching the bark, the lichen, watching the tree change throughout the year, watching an old tree die back into the earth.
My happy place in my mind is that grove of trees by the convent, with Mary at its center. I have an enduring love for Mary and Mary Magdalene, goddesses of the Church. But ever since I read The Spiral Dance and fully understood how the Church absorbed pagan holy days into their calendar and turned goddesses into saints, I haven’t been able to follow any system of dogma. Honoring Mary Magdalene is honoring the Goddess which is honoring God.
So I wrote this post because I’ve gotten off the path many times in the past 15 years and I finally ordered another copy of The Spiral Dance to replace the one that was apparently lost, or stolen, in one of my many moves. This copy is not the original, which I would have preferred, it’s the 10th anniversary edition, but it makes me feel joyful to have it in my hands again.