Inner Journeys

Books on Women

girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties
by Carmen Renee Berry & Tamara Traeder
$12.95, paper, 240 pp., ISBN: 1-885171-08-0, Wildcat Canyon Press

Celebrating Girls: Nurturing and Empowering Our Daughters
by Virginia Beane Rutter
$10.95, paper, 208 pp., ISBN: 1-57324-053-2, Conari Press

girlfriends is a collection of friendship stories covering childhood through adulthood. Many different women tell their anecdotes of relationships and how important these were for them. The stories are down-to-earth and candidly told. Topics include forging close friendships, keeping friends through maturity and life changes, “Running with the Pack,” “Roommates,” and so on. Not a “New Age” book and not necessarily only a “Middle Class” item, the book includes sections on betrayal and sexual awakening, but nothing on gay or lesbian leanings. Berry and Traeder also have prefaced the short chapters with excellent quotes from women authors. Sample quotes: “Constant togetherness is fine—but only for Siamese twins.—Victoria Billings. “One can never speak enough of the virtues, the dangers, the power of shared laughter.”—Francoise Sagan. Celebrating Girls is another sensible, down-to-earth book, this one especially for mothers of girls. It is filled with specifics, real things to do with real children, not just theory or sentiment. Chapters focus on archetypal but homey activities as simple as haircombing and bathing, as crucial as first menstruation and goddess myths. The information on girls’ sports signals that (to at least some degree, on the average…) gender equity has arrived in the mid-‘90’s. The author’s capsule description from Chapter One reads in part: “…Each chapter addresses girls’ development from birth to puberty. (A girl may have her first period as early as age nine or as late as age sixteen.) Many of the child-raising principles in this book also apply to boys, but here the focus is on girls. Each chapter highlights a positive aspect of intimate relationship with girls that has significance for feminine identity and self-esteem.”

Both of these books fill a need for sound informational literature for contemporary women that is feminist but not politically or culturally radical. The brief Fiction/Nonfiction bibliographies of both books give many leads for more in-depth reading and also support the idea that a modern tradition of women’s literature created by women is alive and well.

Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible
Edited by Christina Buchman and Celina Spiegel
$xxxx, paper, ISBN: 0-449-90692-2, Ballantine Books
Treat yourself to this book--give it as a gift, share it with your friends, family, and students. Each essay contained within this book is a gem--many are very funny--all of them are thought provoking, with unique insights into characters from the Bible, characters I met as child in Sunday School and often promptly forgot. Now they are returned but with more reality and substance.

For instance, there's the story of Lot's wife, as examined by Rebecca Goldstein. She wonders just why Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, and just what this could reveal about the nature of God. She also tells about how horrified she was when she heard this story as a little girl. Now, as an adult, recalling her reaction, she delightfully dwells on God's decision to turn a woman into a pillar of salt and what it could mean. This leads to an examination of the natural human tendency of "looking back". Funny, poignant, and provocative, this essay alone is worth the price of the book--but the fun continues as more of God's bewildering behavior is examined from the point of view of sensitive women writers who speak for and about the women of the Old Testament.—Hart

A God Who Looks Like Me: Discovering a Women-Affirming Spirituality
by Patricia Lynn Reilly
Ballantine, ISBN# 0-345-37519-X, Hardback $22.50
Personal memories of women brought up in traditional male-dominated Judeo-Christianity bring a direct look at attitudes women have about themselves and their spirituality. Patricia Lynn Reilly, who holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, presents a journey of spiritual growth, healing, and discovery that can be followed by women (alone or in small groups) who are intent on exploring their past and searching for new insights into mysteries surrounding the feminine manifestations of the Divine. Explorations into the lost glory of Eve, Lilith, and Mary speak of the relationships of women to our mothers and sisters, our bodies, our sexuality, and our journey into old age. Each chapter provides a rich sampling of stories, p oetry, myth, history, and suggestions for meditation as well as insights into the sense of powerlessness and trauma many women have felt from their early experiences with religious images of judgement, punishment, and shame. This will be a lasting book in the field of religious discovery. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written, seeking a timeless embrace of the sacred feminine nature of divine spirituality.—Hart

The Artemis Chronicles: A Trilogy of Metaphysical Novels
by Lillian R. Yeshe
$24.95, paper, 520 pp., ISBN: 0-9646369-0-5, Lillian R. Yeshe Publishing
One pleasure of my weekend at the New Age Metaphysical Expo in Denver was meeting author Lillian R. Yeshe, who graciously presented me with her book and her recommendation to read it. When I finally did so, I was pleasantly surprised. I think Ms. Yeshe, alone or more likely in step with a handful of other authors, has pioneered a 21st-century genre: metaphysical romance. Her three novels clearly present a feminine point of view and will appeal especially to women readers. They resemble genre fiction in concentrating on plot (though main characters are well drawn…) and personal conflicts, and in drawing on typical and recognizable settings. Don’t get me wrong—as a male reader I enjoyed their unusual qualities, including 1) not necessarily happy endings, 2) a deep, if somewhat caricatured, critique of suburban life (in the second novel), and 3) a radical revisionary view of the Salem witches (in the third novel, set in 1600’s New England). I also appreciated the thematic link of the three novels—Artemis as a transformative guide to women in three different goddess aspects. What I noticed above all in Yeshe’s narratives is that the contemporary culture of metaphysics, i.e., spiritual quest, mediumship, alternative modes of healing, out-of-body experience, personal transformation as a guiding value, and so on, are the assumed background for her protagonists. In these fictions, shamanism, wicca, healing, clairvoyance are not a novelty or forms of “black magic” or psychosis a la Steven King (you gotta love the guy…), but a basic text, elements of viable lifestyles. In fact, from Yeshe’s perspective, the oddballs and weirdos seem to be those who resist expanded consciousness, those who abuse legal drugs, those who persecute good-hearted healers raised in the ancient goddess religion, for “witchcraft.” Has the New Age arrived with the end of the millenium? Perhaps not, but my guess is that some romance or mystery or adventure publisher will snap up these novels and begin a successful series of New Age romances by breaking them up and publishing each on its own. So why not stock this edition while it lasts, and offer fans of 90’s metaphysical fiction a three-in-one bargain? —Lourie

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