In Association with

Earthwalking Sky Dancers: Women’s Pilgrimages to Sacred Places. Edited by Leila Castle. Frog, Ltd. Berkeley, CA 1996. $16.95.

In Earthwalking Sky Dancers, Leila Castle has brought together 18 stories from a variety of women about their associations with sacred places around the world. Each woman’s voice is an eloquent expression of Gaia herself, and reawakens the reader to his/her sacred connection to Earth.

Many of these places are well known by Leila, as are the women who write the stories. Leila’s work has been twofold: honoring Mother Earth through learning about and listening to her special energy vortexes, and living as a conscious woman.

Leila’s work is to help restore the sacred feminine in the world through using geomancy to bring greater harmony to the male/female imbalance rampant in most places throughout the world.

This book is a healing tool: "The purpose, as I understood it, was to empower and re-honor the feminine energy that had been lost, diminished, forgotten, and destroyed over the last 5,000 year era of a primarily patriarchal consciousness dominating the world, and to help heal the wounds caused by this devastation which is resulting in the ruin of the entire biosphere on the greatest scale and is the root of domestic violence on the most personal. I see too that this is also an inner alchemical process within myself. Put most simply, when the feminine—as mother of all life—is harmed or devalued, so is the whole earth."

Leila expresses the timeliness of her book, "If there was ever a time we need to remember this ancient knowledge, it is now. It may already be too late…The stories in this book are those of remembering, of listening to the Earth, of each woman learning to reconnect with her wisdom nature and the wisdom of the Earth. They are stories of contemporary priestesses of Gaia."

They are healing stories, feeling stories, dreaming stories, magical stories. Each woman expresses her connection to her sacred place in a different way. Other realms, guiding spirits, shamans, and plant medicines are among the Earth teachers experienced by the writers. Despite the variety, each voice is an eloquent expression of the Great Goddess. Together, they create a powerful chorus of the rising of Earth’s sacred powers.

Leila is sensitive to the reciprocity between site and person, of how exploring the mythic and sacred dimensions of a site parallels inner exploration, and becomes an initiation process which results in healing and rebirth.
She looks not only at the seasonal cycles, but also at the cosmic cycles associated with each site—the stars, sun, moon, and planets.

I resonate completely when Leila says, "We can experience the whole Earth as a sacred site dancing in the midst of space….Gaia, little sister of night, the Sky Goddess Nuit."
Leila says that if we are to heal our patriarchal conditioning, we must integrate with the living Earth. "The Goddess in all her manifestations is the symbol of the unity of all life in nature. The women who have shared their experiences at sacred places in this collection have walked the labyrinthine pathway to the center of the maze where the heart of the Great Mother still resides, and have returned to offer these stories to inspire you along the way."

Each story in its own right is beautiful, gripping, moving, and empowering. Put it on your bedside table and read a story each night, to inspire your dreams.

I found a story about Pele by a loving, powerful priestess with whom I studied the seasons’ cycles through a year—Hallie Iglehart Austen. It was in Hawaii that Hallie first began to consciously listen to Earth, thanks to specific instructions by a woman kahuna.

Hallie talks about the many ways of listening to Earth, and assures us that "We can all come to hear what we recognize as the authentic voice of the Earth, in whatever ways it manifests for each of us. To do this we must learn to get past the mental chatter and the busyness of our everyday lives—even our fantasies of what Earth has to say."

This is exactly right, and we can do it anywhere, if we just pause and open ourselves. The whole Earth is sacred, and she manifests always, in our daily lives, wherever we are—in the kitchen, with our food which is the nourishment she has given us, in the house, with our things which are her gifts, in every plant and animal which graces our lives—and in our own selves.

This marvelous book reminds us that we all spring from a powerful Earth wisdom, and inspires us to explore and to honor those roots.