We have two book reviews this month. Both of them center on the telling of real womens stories, each one from a different standpoint. They share the qualities of guidance for women, of helping us to look within ourselves, and they both have truly outstanding meditations. Both of these books also connect Eastern and Western wisdom, each in different ways. Both are published by Inner Traditions, my favorite book publisher. (Inner Traditions was formerly known as Bear & Co., and was located in Santa Fe, NM.)
Emotional Healing Through Mindfulness Meditation by Barbara Miller Fishman. Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT. 2002. $18.95 pb with CD.
Barbara Fishmans helpful book shows how eight women have healed emotional pain through means of Buddhist mindfulness meditations. Barbara is a psychotherapist, and here she offers a new approach by combining psychotherapy with mindfulness meditation. This is a much-needed synthesis, for the spiritual dimension is often lacking in the straight psychotherapeutic approach.
Barbara does not just tell the reader what to do. She demonstrates, and this makes her presentation very interesting and lively. She tells the story of the eight women, each with a different problem, and then she gives an awareness meditation for each one. Barbara is a wonderful storyteller, and as I heard each woman talking about herself. I could identify with her pain. Barbara discusses the situation, and the therapy process, and then gives us the particular meditation which unlocked doors to the healing process for that woman.
Included with the book is a 60-minute CD of guided meditations for readers to use. Some examples of the meditations are On Finding the Stillness, On Cultivating Awareness, On Equanimity and the Judging Mind, On Anger, and On Letting Go. The meditations are excellent, and we could all benefit from any of them.
Even if you dont have an emotional problem, or arent a psychotherapist, or dont do the meditations, this book is a fascinating read. Just sharing the womens journeys, and Barbaras wisdom, is inspiring. Barbaras subtitle is appropriate and straightforward: Stories and Meditations for Women Seeking Wholeness. That surely includes most of us.
The Path of the Priestess, a Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine by Sharron Rose. Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT. 2002. $19.95 oversized pb.
This is a magical book, rich with the feeling of the Great Goddess, who is within us all, although much wounded. Sharron Rose is a masterful teacher and writer. She manages, even through words, to communicate the primacy, the beauty, and the majesty of the Goddess straight to our hearts.
"Goddess Consciousness is the evolutionary path of choice for the planet," says Penny Slinger Hills. Sharron believes this, and so do I.
Sharron describes the path of one woman, a Westerner, herself, who develops her Goddess energy through connecting with ancient wisdom
"There is a sacred current of light that runs throughout time and space," says Sharron, "the light of the Divine Feminine. It is a continuum. It arises at the birth of creation and forms a sacred path into the denseness of matter and back again. This light is always present to nourish and sustain us. Flowing through all our lives and incarnations, it is the vital and transformative current of truth, virtue, and integrity, a shining stream of spiritual essence that leads us along the path of emanation to the path of return and reunion with the primordial source." She continues:
"As women, as emissaries of the Great Goddess, it is our sacred duty and privilege to hold this current of light in our hearts and carry it from generation to generation. This is our essential role as women: to hold this pure light of Divinity in our hearts, to keep the lamp of inner freedom burning in the darkness, to nurture and protect this light whatever the cost, and to transmit its radiance, its exquisite beauty, to our men and children."
Throughout the ages, women know that they carry the light and, like Vesta, keep the hearth ever-glowing. With good reason, Vesta was the most revered of the Roman goddesses. And she was the only one who never left the hearth to go sit in her assigned seat on Mt. Olympus.
Over the years, the Great Goddess has fallen from respect. In this rich and wonderful book, Sharron lifts some of the veils which have been obscuring her, and allows us to know, bond with, and celebrate this great central principle of life and creativity.
Sharron was a professional dancer in New York City. She had a variety of experiences related to dancing which touched her with Goddess power. But it was after a "dark" retreat that she decided to fully pursue the path of Goddess. It was a challenge for, as Sharron points out, we live in a society that has almost forgotten the Great Goddess. Sharron began with her connection with India, through dance, and systematically explored ancient teachings and practices all over the world where the feminine principle was esteemed. She shares her journey of discovery with us.
Looking within is the key to unlocking the feminine power deep within us. Sharron devotes three chapters to meditations and visualizations designed to help with this process of spiritual awakening. Each of these three chapters is devoted to a different aspect of female embodiment, and Sharron includes pictures and descriptions which give us a good idea of the goddess qualities of that embodiment. These are powerful chapters, and do indeed bring us home to the goddess within.
I found The Path of the Priestess one of the most outstanding and satisfying books Ive come across for many years. I can pick it up, open it anywhere, and be remindedin beautiful, graceful, heartfelt proseof the value of the feminine.
For me, the Statue of Liberty, holding aloft the torch of freedom as a beacon for all who enter the United States, exemplifies the destiny of this country in returning us to the goddess.
Thank you, Sharron Rose, for sharing your goddess wisdom with us. Reading this book can be a big step in reclaiming our feminine heritage.