“Daughters of the Earth”, by Cheryl Straffon

Reviewed by Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Cheryl Straffon: Daughters of the Earth – Goddess Wisdom for a Modern Age (O Books)

‘Daughters of the Earth’ is the latest offering from the prolific Cheryl Straffon, editor of ‘Goddess Alive!’ and ‘Meyn Mamvro’ magazines and author of books such as ‘The Earth Goddess’ and ‘Pagan Cornwall – Land of the Goddess’. This new offering is a wonderful addition to these, pulling together many of the ideas contained within them and bringing fresh insight and understanding.

The book is divided into eight chapters, each one dedicated to a festival in the Wheel of the Year, beginning with Samhain and ending rooted in the earth at Autumn Equinox. You might think that you have read many such books before but I can only say that, as someone who has indeed read many books on the festivals, I found something new and exciting in each chapter.

What makes this book different is Cheryl’s breadth of knowledge and experience, combining myth and folklore, knowledge of the goddesses, plants, and practices involved in each festival, and giving an account of the very personal rituals devised and performed by the women’s group that she is part of. She also includes wonderful information from archaeology, anthropology, and science to weave a beautiful web of Goddess-centred inspiration for each one of us. I certainly skipped about with excitement when I read about the Cave of Cats at Rathcroghan in Ireland, and Melangell, the (maybe) Goddess of Hares, in Wales and will definitely be making further investigations into both. That is the beauty of this book; that it seems like a gentle read until some snippet of information hits you right between the eyes!

Throughout Cheryl’s humour and passion for all things Goddess shine through, particularly in her writing about archaeology, folklore, and the landscape, making it in many ways a very personal exploration of the festivals and their meaning that any of us could draw deeply from. Its beauty is in its breadth, from the Palaeolithic and Neolithic to the present day, drawing in goddesses and folklore from all cultures, which begins to bring home to the reader just what an abundant path we follow; there is always more to discover, more to experience, and new ways to look at things.  There is no dogma here, no lists of what to do or what to believe; just the excitement of a writer who has dedicated her life to the Goddess and that must be celebrated.

©Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Daughters of the Earth is available from O Books.

Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Jacqui Woodward-Smith is a Priestess of Avalon, trained in Glastonbury and living in London. She facilitates the group Tribe of Avalon, which meets to connect to and celebrate the ancient British Goddesses through the festivals in the Wheel of the Year and the turning of the moon. She is passionate about connecting to the land as sacred, particularly in London, and about working to heal the wounds to the Sacred Feminine in all of us. She is a writer and a poet and has given many talks in London about the Goddess and the sacred land. She is a director both of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple and of the Southwark Mysteries, a community arts organisation which offers creative ways for people to respond and interact with their inner-city environment. She is also a Pagan Prison Chaplain. She can be contacted at Avalon@pflondon.org
Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Latest posts by Jacqui Woodward-Smith (see all)