Marion Woodman is a Canadian writer and celebrated women’s movement figure. As a Jungian analyst, lecturer and poet, she has shed much light on feminine psychology and embodied spirituality. She overcame uterine cancer as well as many crises of faith and now, at 82, she is at life’s threshold. Thankfully, someone had the foresight to film a documentary about her: Dancing in the Flames.
Huh? Where do you find that? Exactly.
Black American women rooted in Christianity do not have visual representations of our divine nature. To put it bluntly, it is a white man’s religion. “Jesus died for all,” we are assured. And acceptance of that gift solely sustained me… until I started craving stories and images that reflected the beauty of my darkness and femininity. Judaic/Euro-based patriarchy doesn’t quite know what to do with round, chocolate hips. And those brown hips — and the women who carry them — matter. I’ve heard the defense that since we all hail from Africa anyway, it doesn’t make a difference. But it does. This is a long way from this. Clearly, the two are not interchangeable.
How important is it to feel related to, rather than separate from, your idea of Divinity? For me it became very important. So with my love for Jesus firmly planted, I began reading outside my tradition, and learned of African and Indian goddesses who appealed to me on an immediate and visceral level. At first this felt like cheating; some sort of spiritual betrayal. Would I lose my salvation by nurturing a spiritual life that goes beyond the walls and floors of traditional Christian churches? Can I honor the wisdom of dark, divine femininity and soon celebrate Christmas consciously? These are complicated questions, and I’m thankful for a personal faith that’s strong enough to ask them.
(For the loving record, I have never spoken or written publicly about this before because controversy is such a divisive and energetic drain. But my strong weeping last night compels me to be more forthright about having conflict with one’s religion. Truly, I mean no disrespect to any reader, and I pray my candor is received with the earnestness in which it was written.)