Introduction to Combined Third Edition She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother

ISBN 9780982819722 / Open Sea Press / $12.95 retail / Distributed by Ingram

She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother was first published by The Crossing Press in 1989. Although there have been some additions and changes both in the 1999 edition and in this Combined Third Edition, its approach remains unusual among Goddess spirituality books…  My intention… was and is to speak to a variety of issues in a multiplicity of religious and secular settings. Through myth-like short stories, rituals, songs, dances, and meditations, She Lives! encourages readers to experience Goddess energy directly in a number of different ways and situations. For example, the Seasonal Rituals combine elements of Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and at the same time transform them. Some melodies used in the songs in these rituals are from traditional Christian and Hebrew hymns, or from folk traditions, and I have adapted or rewritten the lyrics. For other songs, I’ve written both the words and music. Dance steps have been drawn from various folk traditions, which themselves often have indigenous Goddess roots. Each of the Seasonal Rituals in this edition of She Lives! contains a guided meditation. These were not included in the 1989 book; they were added when the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book was published in 1999. . . . 

Today, though some Pagan paths offer an egalitarian view of divinity, and while some Jewish and Christian denominations either incorporate the “feminine divine” or degender, there remains for many of us—and for society as a whole—a need to shake off patriarchal habits that persist despite our best efforts. We are still in a time of transition, and the myths and rituals in this book continue to help many on this path. 

At their original writing, many of the “Modern Myths” contained material about changes I hoped would happen. Happily, now some of them have come to pass. For example, in a Modern Myth addressing the Jewish tradition, “Welcoming the Sabbath,” a woman asserts herself against prevailing tradition that didn’t allow women to read from the Torah. This situation existed when I wrote this story in the late 1970s, but today in most Jewish denominations other than Orthodox, women not only read from the Torah but are ordained as rabbis and cantors. In the Modern Myth, “The Convent,” women in a Roman Catholic convent rebel against male authority. In what could be seen as an analogous occurrence, in 2009 many American Roman Catholic nuns refused to respond to a Vatican questionnaire that they felt was repressive of women religious. You could view these and some of the other stories as predictive or as historical, depending on your point of view. 

In other cases, as I reviewed the 1989 and 1999 editions, I found that my thinking on some matters had changed a bit. Additional historical and anthropological information, as well as a more cohesive community, has meant that thinking  about Goddess spirituality in general has evolved. To preserve the original flavor of this book, my departure in this edition from certain wording in the 1989 and 1999 editions is not extensive, yet in a few cases it is noteworthy. The most significant changes involve reducing elements of hierarchy, dogma and heterosexual bias. . . . 

This third edition of She Lives! combines the material added to the second edition (10th Anniversary Edition) with the material from the original edition, including notated music from the original 1989 edition, much of which had to be omitted from the second edition because of the limitations of the then new technology of digital printing. The only songs for which this Combined Third Edition doesn’t contain notated music are those whose melodies are well known, such as Christmas carols whose lyrics I have rewritten. This edition contains a total of 30 songs, some with dances and one with hand movements. 

The Combined Third Edition, then, contains the material from both the first and second editions of the book, plus a few additions and changes found in this edition only. This means that besides the guided meditations and other material added to the Seasonal Rituals, the following material in this edition was not included in the 1989 edition: 

—Two new Modern Myths, “Lillian’s Husband,” and “She Who Heals.” 

—Reflections on Seasonal Rituals, a section exploring the implications of a variety of seasonal holidays. 

—Several additional meditations, including “The Castle,” an extensive guided meditation.

In addition, the Belly Dance material has been expanded: In the Meditations section, “Self-Blessing Belly Dance” instructions have been modified to bring them more in line with how this dance-meditation evolved for me, and to provide information about the origins of belly dancing not widely available at the time this meditation was first written. Also, when I first wrote the Women’s Celebrations I included a belly dance in the celebration for First Orgasm, but being in my twenties at the time I didn’t foresee that this dance would still be appropriate for a woman of 50. When I had my own Menopause Ritual, I performed a belly dance to signify that women’s sexuality can still be strong past our child-bearing years. This dance is included in the Menopause Celebration in this edition. 

In this Combined Third Edition only, in the Modern Myth, “The Convent,” I have added an alternative “Hail Mary,” and have deleted a short portion which remains in the closing Meditations section as “Her Words.” In the Autumn section of “Reflections on Seasonal Rituals,” some additional information on All Saints, All Souls, and El Dia de los Muertos has been added. And I’ve added a Song Index at the end of the book. 

The value of the Combined Third Edition of this book is at least two-fold: It continues to be a tool for people seeking the divine embodied as female and looking for ways to transition from patriarchal religions or looking for alternatives to firmly-established Pagan traditions that may not fulfill their needs, and it can also be viewed as a part of the record of spiritual feminist thought beginning with the last quarter of the 20th century.       

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