Reviewed by Carolyn Lee Boyd
“The serpentine path is the path of life, a snakelike, meandering path, winding in and out, up and down, with no beginning and no end, into the darkness, into the light."
Carol P. Christ is one of women’s spirituality’s founders and the author of the inspiring and enlightening books She Who Changes, Rebirth of the Goddess, Laughter of Aphrodite, and Diving Deep and Surfacing. In these works and A Serpentine Path, Carol explores the Goddess in ways that are both grounded in sound theology and based on the experiences of herself and others. A Serpentine Path is a revised version of 1995’s Odyssey of the Goddess, a life-changing book for many readers, which has been refined and boasts a new prologue and epilogue.
A Serpentine Path is Carol’s memoir of her journey into the depths of her own inner darkness, then back out into light, life, and an understanding that the Goddess is “the intelligent embodied love that is in all being.” In the book’s beginning, she has found success as a women’s spirituality leader, writer and scholar but still she is mired in despair over what she feels is a life without love, especially that of a romantic partner, and grief from the death of her mother. She feels betrayed by the Goddess in the form of Aphrodite, to whom she had been devoted and dedicated herself as a Priestess.
The story of Carol’s “serpentine path” to emotional and spiritual wholeness begins when she reluctantly agrees to lead the first of the Goddess pilgrimages to Crete that still continue today. Along the way, she discovers the Goddess in a centuries-old nunnery with an ancient and revered tree, deserted temples, and natural sacred sites, as well as in her companions, rituals of worship of the Goddess, and in the Greek people who share their generosity and wisdom. She learns that the Goddess has not abandoned her, but is all around her, guiding and loving her. She is slowly able to give up her lifelong need for control and allow herself to be led from experience to experience back to both herself and the Goddess.
A Serpentine Path is a “page turner,” fascinating and poetically written in a style that draws you forward. It is also narrative thealogy, a true and deeply honest story that illuminates the nature of the Goddess more richly than can abstract academic theology alone because it grows out of personal experience. It holds important messages for today — of the sacredness of the landscape at a time of environmental peril, of the importance of letting go of the need for control, an obsession that poisonously dominates the political and social life of many western nations, and of the truth that the Goddess is everywhere and can be found in our folk life and religious traditions, the simple joys of life, and omnipresent love revealed if we will only look.
For more information about the Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete, go to goddessariadne.org.