I am a feminist artist, writer, scholar, and wisdom teacher. My work is eclectic and complex—a mix of profound knowledge and practices, beginning with feminism as a path to enlightenment, and then building on that foundation through Buddhism, tantra, shamanism, bodywork, and other forms of spiritual understanding and natural medicine. Informed by four decades of scholarly investigation and grounded in daily practice, my teaching is original and experiential. The female lineage from which I draw is a holistic underground stream that runs from the most ancient times when women were the unquestioned spiritual leaders and teachers at the center of our human communities, and the “language of the Goddess” was a shared one. My research focus is on tracing this lineage back through time and across continents to its origins in deep antiquity, and to revision the role of women as central to shamanism and tantric practice in all of AfroEurAsia for at least ten millennia.
My work does not fit into any orthodox tradition and cannot be described from within any one understanding of contemporary women’s spiritual evolution. However, I appreciate the language of Tibetan Buddhism because it recognizes that the Dakinis (“women who fly”) transmit teachings directly to reincarnated teachers without need of institutions. I like the language of Dzogchen because it recognizes the path of sudden awakening (the “path of no path”) yet embraces the profound teachings and transformative practices of tantric yoga (the yoga of channels and energies). I use the language of cross-cultural shamanism because it accesses the invisible dimension of magic and healing power, remaining undomesticated and embedded in Nature. I love yoga—not for its bodybuilding capacities but for the medicine it truly is; I practiced and taught “lunar yoga” (women’s yoga) for thirty-five years, from the time of my first kundalini awakenings in the late 1970s. [Photo by Irene Young]
The Double Goddess:Women Sharing Power
(Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2003) A synthesis of archaeology, prehistory, and mythology of ancient Goddess cultures using images and icons of sacred double females from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Special focus on Amazons and the long lineage of female shamanism in Asia, Africa, and Old Europe. Received the 2003 Enheduanna Award for Excellence in Women-Centered Literature. Spanish, French, and Italian publications.
Rituals and Practices With the Motherpeace Tarot Cards
(Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2003) Simple everyday rituals and layouts using the Motherpeace cards; fascinating information on Amazons and oracular priestesses.
Down Is Up For Aaron Eagle: A Mother’s Spiritual Journey with Down Syndrome
(Harper SanFrancisco, 1994) Personal narrative of raising a child with a disability as a transformational experience, with a focus on natural medicine.
Uncoiling the Snake: Ancient Patterns in Contemporary Women’s Lives (Harper SanFrancisco, 1993) Created and orchestrated this anthology of writing and artwork devoted to women’s healing and emergent transformations.
Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World (The New Female Shamanism)
(Harper SanFrancisco, 1991) Conceptual handbook for contemporary healers, with historical and ethnographic overview; how-to and hands-on procedures; autobiographical. Many printings, translated and published in German, Italian, Spanish, and most recently, French. (Now available as ebook.)
Snakepower: A Journal of Contemporary Female Shamanism
(self-published, 1989) Conceived, designed, developed and self-published quarterly journal on female shamanism, 64 pages, full color. Won Utne Reader nomination for Best New Publication.
Motherpeace Tarot Playbook
Co-authored with Jonathan Tenney (Wingbow, 1986) Intricate systems of esoteric practices and forms of play using the Motherpeace Tarot Deck. (Now published in Italian)
Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess through Myth, Art and Tarot
(Harper & Row, 1983) The classic Motherpeace text. A scholarly feminist revisioning of world history told through the Motherpeace images. This early intuitive research is now largely corroborated by recent excavations and linguistic evidence. Many printings, re-issued in new cover in 1995; translated and published in German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. (Available as ebook.)
Motherpeace Tarot Deck
(U.S. Games, Inc., 1983) Conceived, researched, co-published with Karen Vogel, the original full-color, popular feminist deck which has sold over 300,000 copies internationally. (Originally self-published in 1981.)