Review of ‘Priestess Pythoness Sibyls The Sacred Voices of Women who speak with and for the Gods’ Edited by Sorita d’Este
First published in ‘Mandrake Speaks’.
Truth to tell I tend to be narrow in my choice of reading material, so the opportunity to review this book has also given me a chance to challenge my limitations, which can only be a good thing!
I personally am not into gender discriminate spirituality such as Goddess Worship and whilst I acknowledge it is a path for some, it is not my way. Conversely, for many years I was quite outspoken about the lack of strong women’s voices within some magickal groups before I eventually realised there were many other social, racial, and sexual groups that were also not represented in certain magical circles which indicates a greater issue than simple misogyny.
While I was slightly put off by the appearance of this book, with the swirling feminine archetypes on the cover and some of the contained photographs of beautiful and glamorous practitioners, I was also intrigued to read the experiences of trance work by a range of contemporary, female, magical practitioners that were within this book. So I pushed myself and was well rewarded.
The first three essays in the section ‘Ecstatic Histories’ were of a more academic format, and whilst nicely written and well presented, in my mind were too short; however they acted as a good introduction for the work to follow.
The remainder of the book consisted of articles written by eighteen contemporary practitioners from a variety of traditions concerning their experiences with trance. These traditions include Goddess Spirituality, Wicca, The Western Mystery Tradition, Thelema, Candomble, Voudou and Seidr. While this variety of perspectives is of interest for the reader (and shows a fascinating correlation of experience and result, despite differences in approach) and lifts the anthology beyond the narrow focus of what is considered to be ‘women’s spirituality’; what makes ‘Priestess, Pythoness, Sybils’ fascinating is the immersion, studied passion, focus and exploration in all of these women’s writing.
I did note a strong undercurrent of Wicca and frequent mention of the ‘Drawing Down of The Moon’ Ritual throughout the book. However upon reading more closely it can be seen that a study of Wicca has acted as a springboard to some of these writers, such as Sophie Fisher, to explore other traditions. When you think about it, there are few initial routes to study structured magical spirituality in the Western World; Wicca being one.
Janet Farrar’s piece ‘Waking the Gods: Our Odyssey into Trance Prophecy’ was a particularly fascinating chronicle of her journey exploring a variety of trance techniques, and ‘The Republic of Heaven on Earth: Trance Gender and Choices’ by Yvonne Aburrow was superb.
I do suspect that this anthology is targeted at a specific market, considering the cover and magical backgrounds of the contributors and I feel Sorita d’Este has made a mistake here as the book has the potential to have a much wider appeal. However in essence Sorita has done an admirable job. This is a book of voices and experiences of women who are intelligent and articulate explorers in the realm of trance and oracle.
All Content Copyright (C) Charlotte Rodgers, 2010 unless otherwise stated .