”In the very beginning of her life, the girl-child has direct access to the spirit of life. It is as near to her as the breath that fills her. And it connects her to everything. She is not alone. Her spirit is one with the spirit of her beloved grandmother, her favorite rock, tree, and star. She develops her own methods for contacting the spirit in all things.
She climbs a tree and sits in its branches, listening. She loves the woods and listens there too. She has a special friend—a rock. She gives it a name and eats her lunch with it whenever she can. She keeps the window open next to her bed even on the coldest of nights. She loves the fresh air on her face. She pulls the covers tight around her chin and listens to the mysterious night sky.
She believes that her grandmother is present even though everyone else says she is dead. Each night, she drapes the curtain over her shoulders for privacy, looks out the window near her bed, listens for Grandma and then says silent prayers to her.
Her imagination is free for a time. She does not need priest or teacher to describe god to her. Spirit erupts spontaneously in colorful and unique expressions. God is Grandma, the twinkling evening star, the gentle breeze that washes across her face, the peaceful quiet darkness after everyone has fallen asleep, and all the colors of the rainbow. And because she is a girl, her experience and expression of spirit is uniquely feminine. The spirit of the universe pulsates through her. She is full of herself.
Eventually the girl-child will turn away from the Spirit-filled One. Her original spirituality will become confined within the acceptable lines of religion. She will be taught the right way to imagine and name god. “He” will be mediated to her through words, images, stories, and myths shaped, written, and spoken by men. She will adopt the god she is given. It is too dangerous to rebel. If she dares to venture out of the lines by communing with the spirit of a tree, the mysterious night sky, or her grandma, she will be labeled heretic, backslide, or witch. She is told:
Prideful One, your grandma is not god; neither is your favorite star or rock. God has only one name and face. You shall have no gods before him. God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He is found in the church, heavens, and holy book, not in you. God is the god of the fathers and sons; the daughters have no say in the matter. As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be.
The Spirit-Filled One falls asleep. Occasionally she awakens to remind the girl-childturned-woman of what she once knew. These periodic reminders are painful. The woman fills her life with distractions so she will not hear the quiet inner voice, calling her to return home. Years later, new teachers enter the woman’s life—a therapist, a self-help group, a support circle, a beloved friend, or perhaps this workbook. They remind her of what she once knew:
Spirit-filled One, your grandma is god and so are your favorite star and rock. God has many names and many faces. God is Mother, Daughter, and Wise Old Crone. She is found in your mothers, in your daughters, and in you. She is Mother of all Living and blessed are her daughters. You are girl-woman made in her image. The spirit of the universe pulsates through you.” -Patricia Lynn Reilly, A Deeper Wisdom, The 12 Steps from a Woman’s Perspective
Painting by Helena Nelson Reed