A review by Miriam Raven
Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power, by Dorothy Atalla
This book is a surprise. It does not fulfil any expectations a reader might have – and this is a good thing. In hybrid ways and by an eclectic combination of personal spiritual encounters, visions of a Goddess past and a Goddess future, and theoretical critiques of texts dealing with the archetypal feminine in a psychological and evolutionary perspective, the book leads the readers to new approaches to the divine feminine. If you are willing to follow the author through her labyrinthine journey you will be rewarded by a thought-provoking and ultimately very stimulating read.
Nothing is as it seems, not even the title. Deliberately evoking the best-selling New Age Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, Dorothy Atalla's book turns out to be a very different text. For what she channels is less about her personal life but more about theoretical and cultural questions about human evolution and the worship of the Goddess. The subtitle "Encounter at Petra, Place of Power" evokes a travel account focused on Jordan's historical city famous for its rock cut architecture – a place I always wanted to visit. But this is not what Conversations with the Goddess turns out to be, even though the author's personal encounter happens at Petra. The book starts with Dorothy Atalla's awakening to the divine feminine at this place of power where she feels a veil is lifted – one of the many veils of the Goddess – and she intensely feels a presence that comes from the past and into her own life. Her outer journey leads to an inner journey. Years later, this encounter sparks her dialogue with the Goddess that she shares with the reader. Guided by the author, we delve into fascinating archaeological and historical wisdom that is meticulously researched and also arises out of the meditative journeys the author undertakes. We get glimpses of ancient civilisations and ancient memories in mesmerizing scenes from the past. And we are presented with a dialogue with what the author calls "the Presence" about the divine feminine as such – the heart of the book What is female power? How can it be conceived of beyond the culturally constructed gender roles we grow up with? How can a balance between the masculine and the feminine be envisioned? How are gods and humans linked and how can we recognize the divine within ourselves?
Conversations with the Goddess is informed by the author's personal questions and her extensive reading – and Goddess-loving people will know the reading material the author discusses. She especially asks "the Presence" about the theses of Erich Neumann's The Great Mother and Ken Wilber's Up from Eden. Both authors have been received as authorities concerning the archetype of the dark Mother Goddess and concerning evolutionary explanations of human society and the psyche. In the course of the dialogue, a critique of one-sided patriarchal conceptions about the "dark" Mother archetype emerges and – what is central to me – the dialogue counters and criticises the evolutionary view of humanity's necessary progression from a seemingly childlike state of oneness with the dark Mother to a ego-driven, patriarchal thinking that privileges "light" over darkness and separation over connection. This view has heavily influenced Western thinking – male authors as different as Bachofen, Engels, Neumann, Fromm and Wilber have long propagated the evolutionary necessity of leaving the unseparated state of being one with a Mother (Goddess) in order to develop what we call individuality.
Conversations with the Goddess proposes a different view – of our past as well as of our future. And here this book gives the reader much food for thought. In this time of great change, we do need positive, life-sustaining visions of the future to inspire us – and we need to discuss them. This book provides this inspiration as well as material for discussion. Dorothy Atalla's experience is worth reading – an experience that provides a glimpse into how our human past could have been and a glimpse into a future of gender equality, a close connection with nature and the cosmos, a future where together with the Goddess we can become aware again of our own divine nature – and act on it. And it will not happen without the awareness of the divine feminine. Therefore, we need records of such experiences and we need to voice our own experiences to contribute to a future in which the Goddess and the divine feminine is again recognised and honoured.
The book provides material that is moving, inspiring and thought-provoking: it raises questions about the most central issues we need to be aware of in order to step into a different future now. Therefore, this book is the ideal material for a Goddess and spirituality reading group – discussions guaranteed!
Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power is published by Pharos Press and is available from the website.
Latest posts by Miriam Raven (see all)
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