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She Lives!
The Return of Our Great Mother
by Judith Laura

Preface to the 10th Anniversary EditionSlgmsm.jpg (11240 bytes)

She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother was first published by The Crossing Press in 1989. Ten years later, its approach remains unique among Goddess spirituality books.

Through myth-like short stories, rituals, songs, and meditations, it encourages readers to experience Goddess energy directly in a number of different settings. When I wrote these myths and rituals, my aim was to describe how the divine, embodied as female, might return to people on diverse paths. Therefore, the material in She Lives! cannot be said to fit neatly into any one Goddess category, such as Pagan or Wiccan. Rather, the book speaks to a variety of issues in a multiplicity of religious and secular settings.

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 and I have adapted or rewritten the lyrics. For other songs, I've written both the words and music. Notated music for these are included at the end of the Seasonal Rituals section. Dance steps have been drawn from various folk traditions, which themselves often have Goddess roots. For this 10th Anniversary Edition, I have added a guided meditation to each of the Seasonal Rituals.

In a way, the1989 version of She Lives! represented my own explorations in making a transition from the patriarchal father god to imaging the divine as female–as well as experimenting with a non-oppressive divine male image. Today, although some Pagan paths offer an egalitarian view of divinity, and while some Jewish and Christian denominations make attempts at either incorporating the "feminine divine" or degenderizing, 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.

As I reviewed the 1989 book when preparing this version, I found that my thinking on some matters had changed. I suppose this should come as no surprise. Our views on just about anything can be expected to change over the course of a decade. And, in the case of Goddess spirituality, additional historical and anthropological information, as well as a more cohesive community, has meant that thinking about Goddess spirituality in general has evolved.

Though my departure from certain wording in the 1989 edition of this book is not extensive, in a few cases it is noteworthy. I'm glad to have the opportunity in this revised and expanded version to update the text.

I've made changes on more than half of the pages of the 1989 book. Some are minor editorial changes, others represent a change in my understanding of Goddess concepts. The most significant of these changes involve reducing remnants of hierarchy and dogma. For example, in the original version, in "The Convent," I describe Our Great Mother as "descending" to Earth. This implication that divinity must be lowered to come to Earth has been changed. Another example is the repetition in the original version of formulaic statements that contain Our Great Mother, the Father Her Son, and the Eternal Spirit. This was originally intended as a re-visioning of the Christian trinity, but its too frequent repetition might be said to form its own dogma. I have left some of these statements in, for many people have told me they find them valuable. But they don't appear as frequently as in the first edition, and should be taken only as a suggested re-visioning, not dogma. Another example, was the implication, especially in the Men's Celebrations, that man needs woman as a go-between to experience divinity. I now feel this implication is inappropriate and have changed these sections accordingly.

In addition to adding guided meditations and other material to the Seasonal Rituals, I've also added :

–Two new Modern Myths, "Lillian's Husband," and "She Who Heals."
–"Reflections on Seasonal Rituals," an entirely new section that explores the significance of a wide variety of seasonal holidays
–Several additional meditations, including "The Castle," an extensive guided meditation.

Also new in this edition:

–Instructions for a belly dance have been added to the Menopause celebration. When I wrote the Women's Celebrations (originally for the journal WomanSpirit in the late 1970's) 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 as a symbol that women's sexuality can still be strong past our child-bearing years. So in the Menopause Celebration in this edition of the book, women are given the option of continuing this dance.

–Instructions for the "Self-Blessing Belly Dance" in the Meditations section of the book have been changed to bring it more in line with how this dance-meditation has evolved for me, and to provide information about the origins of belly dancing not widely available at the time this meditation was first written.

I have been gratified over the years by the number of people who have told me that they discovered She Lives!–or that the book "found them"–at crucial times in their spiritual development and helped them take the next step on their path.

I hope the changes and additions in this edition expand the meaning and meaningfulness of She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother.

May She bring blessings to your path.

Judith Laura
February 2, 1999

from She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother copyright 1999 by Judith Laura. All Rights Reserved.

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