God said to Abraham: Go you forth from your land, from your kindred, from your father’s house, to the land that I will let you see.
The Talmud describes the five books of Moses as being written “with black fire upon white fire, sealed with fire, and swathed with bands of fire.” This implies two texts, one with black fire and one with white fire. The black letters we understand as the text which begins, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” But what does the white fire say? Perhaps one day we will be able to read the subtle white language that surrounds the obvious black letters. In the meantime, one way to understand the Talmud’s words is to see the black fire as masculine and the white fire as feminine. Like the white background surrounding the black letters, women’s language and lives are often overlooked, unread, and rendered invisible.
The women in this section are writing new pages in their respective sacred texts by exploring new ways of understanding their traditions. They are often theologians and writers who have changed the consciousness of both male and female spiritual leaders. Their narrative tells of leaving the safe shore for uncharted territory. When asked which of the five books best describes their experience, most of the women interviewed for this book chose Exodus.
Luisa Teish, author of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals, is a Yoruba priestess teaching traditional voodoo practices to largely Anglo students. Dr. Beatrice Bruteau, a practicing Christian, wrote her dissertation on “The Reality of the World in the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo.” Drawing on many traditional religious practices such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, she posits a way for Christians to deepen their understanding and practice of Christianity. Lauren Artress, author of w, is Canon for Special Ministries at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Her specialty can be found in her creation of the Labyrinth Project, a ministry devoted to feeding the spiritual hunger of our times. Like Dr. Bruteau, Sylvia Boorstein reaches beyond her tradition, which is Jewish, into Buddhist principles of mindfulness to bring a practice to all seekers. She is the author of several books, including That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist. Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princedom University, has written The Origin of Satan, a brilliantly original explanation of Christian anti-Semitism. Starhawk has written many books, beginning with Spiral Dance, from a Wikka perspective that celebrates the power of the divine feminine to transform the world. Finally, Marianne Williamson’s best-selling A Return to Love offers a spiritual guide with the application of love in the search for inner peace based on A Course in Miracles.