Carol Christ died yesterday July 14, 2021 peacefully in her sleep at her new home in Crete, Greece. One year ago she was diagnosed with a rare stomach cancer and received extensive treatment to extend her life. Jeanne and I had plans this fall to join Carol and a few other women on the scheduled Goddess Pilgrimage on the island of Crete. Last month I wrote “Ancient Crete Pulls Me Back: September 2021!” Now Carol is dead at age 75. Carol, who in Greece was Karolina, carved out a meaningful life when faced with all the challenges women experience in a woman-hating culture.
I was profoundly influenced by the keynote address she gave in 1978 at the Great Goddess Re-Emerging Conference in Santa Cruz, CA. I was one of the 500 women listening to her words “Why Women Need the Goddess”. (You can read it here: https://www.goddessariadne.org/why-women-need-the-goddess-part-1). The impact of her observation about the power of symbol systems on each of us individually and the influence symbol systems have on all of us collectively helped guide my own life.
We did not meet until the fall of 2017 when I was one of ten women on the Goddess Pilgrimage that she had organized. Carol described herself as a ‘feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator’. Please view this eighteen minute video of Carol speaking at the Harvard Divinity School where she spoke about her life. This was the 2014 Religion and the Feminist Movement Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwYygffNCAg I’m always moved by women speaking on their own behalf about their lives with no intermediary to interpret their life from afar. You will certainly gain a sense of who Carol was in her world. If you are interested in viewing her formal credentials visit here: https://prabook.com/web/carol.christ/2489386
In the presentation, Carol explained that in academia, despite her credentials as a scholar, she was overworked and then discriminated against because she rejected patriarchal religions. As a result Carol left her position as a tenured professor at San José State University in 1987. She moved to Greece and earned a dual citizenship. She learned to speak fluent Greek as an adult which proved to be very helpful to us many times on our two weeks of adventures and discoveries in Crete.
Her books and lectures have reached women around the world who are hungry for a religion that honors women. With the bold move of creating the Ariadne Institute Carol was able to offer women a grounded-in-history introduction to the Goddess. In 1992 she began offering pilgrimages to sacred sites in Greece containing artifacts of matriarchal religion.
I’ve gathered candid photos of Karolina on some of the earlier Pilgrimages. Carol put incredible energy into each day of those two weeks she escorted us around the various sites that linked us to the ancestors.
Carol P. Christ was an innovative educator!
In 2018 Carol wrote,”One of the things that separates the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete from other Goddess tours in Greece is the fact that ancient Crete in the Neolithic and Bronze Age precedes the Olympian pantheon. [The Greek pantheon was] headed by the serial rapist Zeus and his warrior daughter Athena, who exonerated a mother-murderer and stated that the father is the only true parent of the child.
Archaeologist Marjia Gimbutas believed that Bronze Age Crete is the final flowering of the Neolithic cultures of Old Europe. According to her, the cultures of Old Europe were settled, agricultural, highly artistic, peaceful, matrilineal and probably matrilocal, and worshipped the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and renewal in all of life.”1
Carol dared to examine the deeply embedded beliefs of our patriarchal institutions including academia and religion. She invented a new life for herself. She ‘shed the skin’ of an academic. Karolina was determined to reach other women like herself willing to look beyond the familiar goddesses of the patriarchy to discover the much more ancient Earth Goddess of our Neolithic and Paleolithic ancestors.
Karolina/Carol earned my respect because she found a profound way to please herself and to educate, inspire, and delight the senses for many other women and men. Her path lead her to the Goddess of Birth, Death and Re-Generation, the Serpentine Path she wrote about. Blessed Be.