Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete

Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete

Crowdfunding Completed: March 17, 2018

Amount Funded: $4150

Project Owner: Sophia Lyons

Short Description of Project

I am asking for all those lovers of seeking and spirit to help me get to Crete for a Goddess Pilgrimage with feminist theologian, Dr. Carol Christ

How was this project connected to UU?

This trip would not only be about my personal spiritual formation, but also total immersion in Goddess Theology that will serve my ministry in the Unitarian Universalist tradition. Unitarian Universalism DEMANDS the complex skill of excavating differing faiths and systems of beliefs and translating them in a way that can touch the hearts of a wide tent of belief and non-belief. For me, navigating this well means marinating my whole body, mind and spirit in this time and place, not just intellectualizing its tenets through academia. It is imperative during my time in seminary to gain as much immersive experience and expertise in non-traditional belief systems. Goddess theology and, even more important, work with Dr. Carol Christ in Crete will most certainly provide me with not only an understanding of Goddess theology and even some semblance of Cretan historical expertise, but will also open up vistas that will broaden my understanding of patriarchy, gender, feminist healing, violence against women and the lost Goddess civilization. I believe Unitarian Universalists are aching for this kind of spiritual understanding. I feel called to bring this to them in every way that I can and this trip is a starting point for this work.

I am also acutely aware of this highly charged feminist uprising that is challenging patriarchal systems that adversely effect us all. To return from this pilgrimage with a spiritual vision and story that I can offer to my Beloved Community is just plain exciting–adult education, young church, the reclaiming of the Sacred Feminine through autobiography, meditation and song...the possibilities are endless and I am committed to bringing home a saving and healing message for the wider UU community.

This healing message is one of the main reasons that my seminary, Boston University's School of Theology, has sponsored me on this pilgrimage, supplying me with a portion of the needed funding and allowing me to present on it during the 2018-19 school year. Further, the International Affairs Conference on Star Island (one of our few UU retreat centers in New Hampshire) is enthusiastically supporting this important trip by allowing me to present on my experience over the summer. Last, the continued endorsement of my ministerial formation by my home congregation, the First Religious Society in Newburyport, is looking forward to me bringing this experience back to share with the community. I thank you for being a part of this healing message as well!

Full Description of Project

During my second year of seminary in the fall of 2017 I met an incredible woman. She recently had experienced a spiritually rearranging pilgrimage on the island of Crete, “home of the Goddess,” as she described. It was during her two week pilgrimage, led by feminist theologian Dr. Carol Christ, that this student was captivated by the idea of a historical society of peace that was rooted in the Divine feminine. Listening to this student I was, clearly, captivated too.

I have increasingly become interested in challenging myself where images of Father God are concerned. This has not been an exercise in wholesale condemnation of the male gendered God or its associated faith traditions and texts, but rather a curiosity around why I feel drawn toward the maleness of God, over the potential femaleness of Goddess. Seminary has become a perfect laboratory for this kind of of rumination and there have been so many classes that have offered safe space to do this deep, and often painful, work. This pilgrimage is an opportunity to really get my hands and heart on and around a time, place and theology that lived into the Feminine as the centering source of community, identity and worship, rather than our modern-day Male center. As a 42-year-old woman who is seeking to expand my own spirituality and feminist identity as a vital component of my ministry, this intense immersion in Crete with a sisterhood of women seekers under the guidance of Dr. Christ, seems to be a compulsory component.