The Goddess Is Alive in Every Woman: The True Story of How She Came to Be, How She Disappeared, and How She Returned
In the beginning, everything began, as it always does, with birth. The Great Mother of All gave birth, and the Earth began to breathe. Again, and again, and again, the Great Mother gave birth. And the plants began to breathe and the animals began to breathe and the two-legged ones began to breathe. All forms of life began to breathe. To breathe, to live. In the air, on the land, in the water, and even in the fires of deep sulfurous vents where light never shines, all forms of life began to breathe. And they were all very hungry.
"What shall we eat?" they asked the Great Mother. "You eat me," she said with a smile. And they did. They ate of Her body. The plants sent their roots down into the earth and they ate of Her flesh and Her bones. The plants drank Her clear blood. From her deep springs, from her flowing waters, the plants ate. And they grew strong. And they gave birth. The grasses multiplied and rippled in the wind. Roots grew fat and juicy. And everywhere there were amazingly shaped leaves, and flowers of many colors, and fruits wondrous to behold.
The animals ate Her. They did not eat Her flesh and Her bones as the plants did. They could not send their roots into Her, for they had legs and they moved about on the face of the Earth. Some of the animals ate of the grasses that grew from the Mother. Some of the two-legged ones ate the seeds of the grasses and the roots of the plants and their leaves. They ate and they ate and they ate. They began to give to birth, too. Soon there were many, many mouths eating the Mother. There were many, many feet stirring up the red dust of the Mother. There were many mouths to praise her abundance. And many mouths to feed.
"I am you and you are me. I am here for you to eat. Now eat me. Eat all of me." she urged them. And some of the animals ate Her flesh and Her bones in the form of the other animals. And some of the two-legged ones ate Her flesh and Her bones in the form of the animals. And her clear blood became red. And this red blood flowed in the bodies of the animals and the bodies of the two-leggeds who ate of the animals who ate of the plants who ate of Her. And the Great Mother was well pleased.
Now this red blood flowed in the bodies of the two-legged ones. It flowed in their bodies and it sang to them. This red blood sang to them of the endless wisdom of the Great Mother, and the endless dance of the moon, and the endless spiral of birth and life and death. And the ones who were round and full like the Mother felt the blood stirring in their bellies. The good red blood moved in their bellies and they were full of wonder, and they said to the Mother: "What shall we do with the red blood that moves so strongly in our bellies, Mother?" And she replied: "Give it to me. Return this blood to me. Nourish me. Allow me to replenish myself from your blood." And so they did.
Each month when the moon grew dark and disappeared, the blood began to flow from between the legs of some of the two-legged ones. From the wombs of the two-legged ones, the blood flowed: red and rich and nourishing. The red blood flowed into Her and she said: "You are me and I am you. Your blood is my blood. And my blood is yours. Forever and forever, we will nourish each other. And if you will keep holy the days of your bleeding, I will teach you all the secrets of the plants and the animals. And if you will keep holy the days of your bleeding, I will teach you all the secrets of Heaven and Earth." And so the women kept holy the days of their bleeding, and they grew wise in the ways of the plants, the ways of the animals, and the ways of Heaven and Earth.
Yet there were those who were so foolish. Deluded, they grew arrogant, and began to tell the story of creation in a strange way. They began to believe that a man gave birth to the Earth and to humans! They said that man was the source of all nourishment and wisdom. They said that man was the image of God, and that God was jealous, and angry, that God demanded pain and blood and despised the simple pleasures of the body, of the earth. They said that God lived above, not within the earth, that God lived in heaven and was above all life. They said that men were above all life, too. That man had dominion over all of life, over all of the Earth herself, to do with as he pleased.
Oh, how silly their stories were. Surely no one could believe such stories! Surely everyone could see clearly that woman was the source of life, and nourishment. Surely it was clear that the women's blood was the life of the Earth and the life of the people. And that the pleasure of the body was holy, was sacred, was good. That the Earth was alive, was our true Mother, and must be respected. That we are part of Her, dependent on Her for our very breath.
But, like a small fire left alone when the wind is blowing, the strange stories of God, of man as creator, grew and multiplied. The small fire of deceit rapidly became a raging storm, a storm that threatened all life. For the men began to say that the blood of women was bad, that women's moon time blood was dirty, unclean, even dangerous. They began to say that women themselves were dirty and dangerous. They began to say that the Earth was dirty and dangerous. They began to think of themselves as apart from the Earth, as separate from the Earth, as better than the Earth. They began to think of themselves as apart from women, as superior to women, as the master of women.
The women did their best to tend to the holy fires. The women did their best to keep the days of their bleeding sacred. The women did their best to teach their daughters how to learn from the plants and the animals and the Earth. And the women did their best to be true to the mysteries of the moon-time and the wisdom of the Great Mother.
But the men were lost. Without the wisdom of the women, alone and apart, the men forgot the ways of peace. They forgot that the Earth was their Mother. They forgot that all women were sacred. And they began to fight. At first they fought only among themselves. But soon the sickness spread and the men began to fight the women. They began to torture the women. They began to kill the women. They bound women's feet, for this pain gave men pleasure.
The men told each other that women were inferior, that the animals were inferior, and that the plants were inferior. Soon, puffed up with false pride, the men began to devise ways to use the women and the animals and the plants without respect for their power, without respect for their sacredness. The men began to believe that their view of the world was the only view of the world.
From one side of the Earth to the other, they abused the women and the plants and the animals. They used them without regard and kept them locked away. They ignored the cries of pain. They came to believe that women and plants and animals actually enjoyed being hurt. They confused some women so terribly that these women began to believe that they actually were dirty and in need of punishment. They tortured so many women that the wisdom of the women seemed to be the lie, and the lies of the men took on the trappings of truth.
But the Great Mother lives in every woman. In every place and every time, the Great Mother shows herself in the form of every living woman. "Eat me." she whispers in the dreams of the woman. And the woman throws off the bed covers and walks barefoot into the moonlit night. She is yearning. She feels a deep stirring in her belly. She looks at the moon and she fancies that she hears the moon speaking to her. "You are sacred. You are the beginning and the end of all existence. I am you and you are me. Keep sacred the days of your bleeding and I will share with you the wisdom of the plants and the animals and the very Earth."
Can she believe it is true? Dare she believe the truth of the words she seems to hear? All her life she has been told that she is not pretty enough, nor smart enough, not strong enough. Everything seems to tell her that she is too round, too emotional, too sensitive. And not sacred, in fact, the complete opposite of sacred. All the days of her life she has heard the stories of the wonders of man, the creator. She has heard it so often that it has the sound of truth: God is a man. God is all powerful, so men are all powerful (and women are weak). God is clean, so men are clean (and women are dirty). God is pure, so men are pure (and women are filth). God never bleeds from between his legs and men never bleed from between their legs (so the flowing blood of women is a sickness, a curse, a punishment). How can she believe that her blood is sacred? How can she allow herself to feel pleasure, to name it good, to name it holy? How can she dare to believe that she is the Goddess?
Yes, the Goddess! The Goddess who is alive in every woman, in every place, in every time. The Goddess who whispers in our dreams. The Goddess who smiles in our lives. The Goddess who stirs the blood in our bellies. The Goddess who knows that every woman is wise and powerful and sacred. The Goddess who calls to us: "Keep the days of your bleeding sacred. Remember that your blood is the blood of life, the blood of peace. Feed me your blood, your moon-time blood, oh my daughter, my lover. Feed me, for I hunger and I thirst for you.
"Return to me. Return to yourself. Remember yourself. Remember me. I am the Great Mother. I am the Goddess. I am the Wise Woman. Listen to my words. Listen to my song. I am in you, thus I can never be lost. My story is your story. And it is the true story of birth and life and death. Eat me. Feed me. You are woman and so am I. Through me, you exist; through you, I exist. We are the ones who create. We are the ones who nourish. We are the ones who open the gates between the worlds. We are the ones who must reclaim ourselves, who must reweave ourselves.
"Oh sister, dear sister, the threads are thin, the song is faint. Tell me it is not too late. Tell me that you hear me. Tell me that you believe me. Tell me that the Goddess has returned. Tell me you are listening to the plants and the animals and your own deep knowing. Tell me you are looking past the slick, simple lies and into the messy, complex truth. Tell me that you feel the red blood stirring in your belly.
"Tell me it is not too late. Tell me the sisters are awakening. Tell me the moonlodge is rebuilt. Tell me that the words of White Buffalo Calf Woman were not in vain. Tell me that Kwan Yin's heart is not breaking. Tell me that Venus is safe. Tell me that Artemis roams free in the woods. Tell me that Lilith is welcome at your table. Tell me that you remember that pleasure is holy to me. Tell me that you refuse to believe that you delight in pain.
"Tell me that you feel me reaching out to you from the deep core of your being, from time out of mind. Tell me that you feel me waking up inside you, waking you up to your beauty and your power. Tell me that you are reclaiming your truth and turning a deaf ear to the lies. Tell me that you remember that you are the Goddess. Tell me that you remember that you and I are the same. Tell me you keep sacred the days of your bleeding. Tell me you honor your crones.
"I have been with you since the beginning, and I will be with you at the end. I am part of you and you are part of me. Allow me to love you. Allow me to honor you. Allow me to return."
has been living the simple life for more than 30 years as an herbalist, goat keeper, homesteader, and feminist. In addition to being the author of four highly acclaimed books on herbs and women's health, Susun lectures world-wide as the voice of the Wise Woman tradition, personally supervises 400 correspondence students, is editor-in-chief of Ash Tree Publishing, and directs the activities of the Wise Woman Center, where she trains apprentices (240 to date) in the shamanic arts, and plays with the fairies. Her four books: Healing Wise; Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way; Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way and Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year are used by more than a million women, and have been translated into German and French.