Whatever our spiritual belief is, Cait Johnson and Maura Shaw write, "the one thing we all share is existence on this planet." As more people are coming to realize that our lives—and our planet her­self—are threatened by the teachings of the standard brand religions that give man domination over nature, more and more people are learning that to honor the earth is to honor ourselves and children of the Goddess.


"This book is for those of us who want to share our love of the earth with children," the authors continue. "After all, most families seek to create traditions that each the values they hold sacred...and that give community, security, closeness, and a sense of magical wonder to their children. The eight festivals celebrated in this book are the traditions of the human family" (p 5).


It's a terrific book, and you don't even need to be a parent to enjoy it. You can play with your own inner child. The first half of the book introduces parents and children to the basics: elemental ener­gies, the Goddess, dreams, meditation, healing, and other topics. Chapter 4, "Nature's Sacred World," is especially fun, with its suggestions on how to talk to fairies and other "green allies in your backyard" and take "weed walks." We're even given a list of weeds we can eat. Another chapter explains how to make and use talismans, and lists of correspon­dences are included in the back of the book.


Celebrating the Great Mother is thus a book for every body. You don't really need to have children to want to do the rituals and activities given in the second half. For Mabon, for example, we learn to make and use a talking stick. How many of us, adult or child, need to learn to listen? For Samhain, we draw runes on lima beans and carve a spirit guide out of a turnip. For Imbolc, we make both music and bees­wax candles, two things both adults and children always need more of. For Beltane, we create a garden goddess, and for Litha we make a sun child crown. These are all wonderful, inspiring rituals, and they're especially good for adults who are too highly serious about their religious prac­tices. And that, no doubt, includes all of us.


Because the book is written for par­ents to use with young children, please don't think it's simplistic or contains stepped-down magic. The writing may be simple, but it's also profound. Chapter 6, for example, discusses teaching a child to own his or her inner wisdom: "The entire structure of our society rests on the con­cept of power-over. And in submitting to outward authority, we often lose our sense of inner worth, inner power, spiritual authenticity.


In reclaiming for ourselves and our children the concept of power-within, we can be wonderfully and dan­gerously subversive" (p. 41). Now, whether this subversive being is our own inner child or our offspring, isn't that the kind of kid we want to raise? Celebrating the Great Mother is a book we all need to read and use.


~review by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.

Authors: Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw

Destiny Books, 1995