Carol Patrice Christ

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Carol Patrice Christ (born in California, United States in December 20, 1945[1]) is a feminist historian, thealogian, author, and foremother of the Goddess movement. She studied Women's studies and issues and finished her PhD from Yale University. She has also served as a professor in other universities such as Columbia University, Harvard Divinity School and many others. One of the most well known published essay she has written is "Why Women Need The Goddess".[2] It was initially a keynote presentation at a conference at the University of Santa Cruz in 1978. Why Women Need the Goddess essay helped starting a feminism prominent movement and to launch a goddess movement as well and it became a part of the heresies which is the Feminist Publication on Art and Politics. The essay discusses the importance of religious symbols as well as the effects of male symbolism of God on women. Religious symbols act as a powerful pervasive worth to a society and the people within in. Christ also happens to be one of the world's most influential and premier Thealogians.[3] The idea behind it is centered on female moral, spiritual, biological differences where Christ is imagining females as Goddess.

In the spring of 1978, Christ presented "Why Women Need the Goddess" to address "Great Goddess Re-emerging" conference." Christ has written five influential books on women's spirituality and feminist theology. Carol P. Christ also co-edited the classic feminist religion anthologies Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (1989) and Womanspirit Rising (1979/1989); the latter included her essay Why Women Need the Goddess[4] Both anthologies included feminist religious writing from writers from a very diverse range of religious backgrounds. She holds a PhD from Yale University. Carol P. Christ has taught at major universities in the United States, including Columbia University, Harvard Divinity School, Pomona College, San Jose State, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. As director of the Ariadne Institute, she conducts pilgrimages to sacred sites in Greece containing artifacts of matriarchal religion.[5] She has for many years been a resident of the Greek island of Lesbos, the home of the poet Sappho.[6][7]

Feminist thealogy[edit]

The first conference of Women Thealogian took place in 1971 at Alverno College in Wisconsin, USA. According to Christ, the meaning of thealogy to her is the idea of religious symbols having influence on human beings but also the understanding of ethical decision making. It is having the consciousness rising process where women fit together. She has taken her approach imagining the Goddess in a patriarchal tradition.[8] Judith Plaskow has also contributed to the idea of religion shaping the culture and norm into male dominance and putting men in the hierarchy of societal power. There are multiple different stories depicting the idea of sexuality and the reasons behind the creation of women being from different religious perspectives, from different significant religious prophesies as well as religious books. Judith Plaskow's "Coming of Lilith" story of Lilith, questions the creation of women and the reasoning behind it. [9]

In Genesis 2, it states that "It is not good that Adam should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18) hence, Eve was created. Therefore, it depicts the idea of the reason behind the creation of Eve was solely to serve her husband, Adam and she was infact created "for him", "After Adam". It shows the fact that Eve was created after Adam and for Adam, it implicates the key foundation of Patriarchy. However, since Lilith was technically the first wife of Adam but she disregarded her given norms and performed disobedience towards God as well as Adam, she was sent away due to her willfulness and was represented as the evil character. Lilith was created the same time as Adam and is said to be the first women of the world.[10] She was sent away because she was considered more intelligent and that she would not obey any commands of Adam. Plaskow discussed in her essay that Lilith being witty and disobeying any orders given to her was a not an accurate depiction of how a woman should be or the reason to why woman is born. Hence, Eve was an accurate depiction of a woman who would consider any command given to her and must obey her husband.[11] Plaskow wanted to bring Lilith into the image for better understanding that as a woman, there are more restrictions given to women compared to of men and Lilith show how she wanted to be free of obedience and how her approach to not taking any commands is a representation of disobeying authority of men and hence, it is represented as a crime.[12]

Why Women Need the Goddess[edit]

Since her essay has been influential to many women in terms of opening the possibilities to understanding how religion has a great impact on our lives. Christ also talks about how Religion that is focused solely on the male dominance representation of God impacts how the political and psychological aspects of human being work. Religion that created a male representation of God aid the societal power of a man as well as in the political side as they are automatically given the privilege. Christ specifically mentioned in her essay that "religion centered on the worship of a male God create "moods" and "motivations" that keep women in the state of psychological dependence on men and male authority."[13] which gives a solidified explanation as to how influential a Male given God's representation affects the moods as well as motivation of why women and their privileges are the way they are. There are many restrictions a woman has to follow and go through in either Christianity or Judaism or other religion because of the way Religions has structured men in the hierarchy of everything and women being under it. Because of how religion is controlled in the hands of men, feminists did not want leave it as it is and make amendments so that women are valued as well.

The essay also talks about other important figures in history to supports the idea of needing a female representation of Goddesses like Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, as she said " Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he write; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the supreme being."[14]

Carol discusses four aspects of Goddess symbolism that are important to discuss to order to understand her step towards needing a Goddess in Women's lives to minimized the male representation of God. She talks about

  • the Goddess as affirmation of female power
  • the female body
  • the female will
  • women's bond and heritage

According to Christ, the most simplest and basic idea behind women Goddess "is the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of female power as a beneficent and independent power" meaning that female power should be invested in a way that they are superior to themselves and have independent power to themselves as well and sustaining the power by herself so that she will no longer be dependent on men or male figures as saviors to situations.[15] Feminist Priestess Starhawk also say that the symbol of goddess to her means it depends of how a woman feels and more so "When I feel weak, she is someone who can help and protect me. When i feel strong, she is the symbol of my own power".[16] Another aspect related to the female body is that Christ portrays women as an unique creature. Women are mensrtuants, birthgivers and women's connection of their body is related to the nature and the world around us.[17] Menstruating women have been looked differently for a long period of time and the taboo with this issue is also quite generalized. It was often seen as an issue with a woman's bodily functions and many women were also forbidden to enter holy sacred places of different religions due to seeing menstruation as a negative means of a women's body. Christ has also spoken of how a Goddess is also a representation to a birthgiver which is where women are privileged and it's a life-giving power that women carry. Since Goddess is seen as a creator of the universe and of life, Carol's idea of women as birth-giver automatically aids the idea of women's capacity of creating a new life and bringing into life as an act of Goddess. Then, the female will is also an important one to acknowledge for women and to know their own worth even being in patriarchal society. She needs to understand that her opinions are valid and that she does not devalue herself while trying to please others due to being in a patriarchal society as well. Lastly, women's bond and heritage because that is also often controlled by the men as the dominant source. Christ says that "The celebration of women's bonds to each other, as mother and daughters, as colleagues and co-worker, as sisters, friends, and lovers, is beginning to occur in the new literature and culture created by women in the women's movement"[18] meaning that women empowering each other and making a move for better living standards is only possible when one woman starts supporting another. A mother-daughter bond is known to be a special bond because the mother being the creator of her child, already symbolized herself as a Goddess of birth-giving. Simon de Beauvoir has also mentioned that "The mother daughter relation is distorted in patriarchy because the mother must give her daughter over to men in a male-defined culture which women are viewed as inferior" [19]


According to a scholarly source, Carol believed that "it is necessary to take the risk of writing personally because in that way we remain true to what we know at the deepest levels of our being and to the insights with which we create feminist theology".[20] Christ's ideology is not neglecting or questioning religion, it is solely based on the authoritarian justice and worship of male figures which is demeaning to women. Christ has written another follow up of "Why Women Need a Goddess" to "Why Women, Men, and Other Living Things Still Need the Goddess" [21] It shows that even till today, every one needs a Goddess figure to control the power of hierarchy and patriarchy. The Goddess movement helps people understand the psychological theory behind the idea of male representation of God and Christ has portrayed it through her essays even after 35 years. The Goddess movement is a way for one woman to connect with other women, with their sisters and daughters. Christ has written six books in her areas of Feminism study and the Following are mentioned.[22]

  • She Who Changes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
  • Rebirth of the Goddess (Routledge, 1998)
  • Odyssey with the Goddess (Continuum, 1995)
  • Weaving the Visions (coeditor with Judith Plaskow, 1989)
  • Laughter of Aphrodite (Harper, 1987)
  • Diving Deep and Surfacing (Beacon, 1980/1986/1995)
  • Womanspirit Rising (coeditor with Judith Plaskow) (Harper & Row, 1979, 1989)


  • Christ, Carol P. (Spring 1978). "Why Women Need the Goddess" (PDF). Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics. Heresies Collective. 2 (1): 8–13.
  • —— (2008). "Ecofeminism: Women, Nature, Dualism and Process-Relational Philosophy.". In Weber, Michel; Desmond, Will (eds.). Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought. 1. Heusenstamm, Germany: Ontos Verlag. pp. 87–98. ISBN 9783938793923.
  • —— (2004). "Carol P. Christ". In Braude, Ann (ed.). Transforming the Faiths of Our Fathers: Women Who Changed American Religion. St. Martin's Press. pp. 97–113. ISBN 978-1403964601.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF).
  2. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Thealogy-Definition". Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  4. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need the Goddess". goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Goddess Tours Greece-Sacred Sites Tour-Goddess Pilgrimage Crete".
  6. ^ "report of meeting on Gulf of Kallonis proposals". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 27, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Thealogy-Definition". Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  9. ^ Plaskow, Judith (2007). "The Coming of Lilith: A Response". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 23 (1): 34–41. doi:10.2979/FSR.2007.23.1.34. JSTOR 20487879.
  10. ^ Plaskow, Judith (2007). "The Coming of Lilith: A Response". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 23 (1): 34–41. doi:10.2979/FSR.2007.23.1.34. JSTOR 20487879.
  11. ^ Lahav, Hagar (2006). "Reviewed Work: The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics, 1972-2003 by Judith Plaskow, Donna Berman". Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues. 12: 301–308. doi:10.2979/NAS.2006.-.12.301.
  12. ^ Plaskow, Judith (2007). "The Coming of Lilith: A Response". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 23 (1): 32–41. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  13. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  14. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  15. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  16. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  17. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  18. ^ Christ, Carol. "Why Women Need Goddess". Goddessariadne. Wix. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  19. ^ Thurman, Judith (2010-05-27). "Introduction to Simone de Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex'". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  20. ^ Da Costa, Jacqueline (2006). "From Feminist Theologian to Thealogian: The life and Work of Carol P. Christ". Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology. 14 (3): 311–326. doi:10.1177/0966735006063771.
  21. ^ Christ, Carol (2012). "Why Women, Men, and other Living Things Still Need The Goddess: Remembering and Reflecting 35 Years Later". Feminist Theology. 20 (3): 242–255. doi:10.1177/0966735012436897.
  22. ^ Ursic, Elizabeth (2017). "Interview With Carol P. Christ". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 33: 137–152. doi:10.2979/jfemistudreli.33.1.12.

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