Tree Girl by Julianne Skai Arbor

Tree Girl: Intimate Encounters With Wild Nature
Julianne Skai Arbor
Tree Girl Studios, 2016

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Review by Lupa.

There are certain books that are pagan without expressly using that label; this is one of those. Part field guide, part photography book, it beautifully weaves together science and art while being spiritually viable.

The author, Julianna Skai Arbor, aka Tree Girl, has spent the past several years photographing remarkable individuals from fifty different tree species around the world. Many of these photos feature her or other female models in the nude, embracing the trees in sensual communion. Sometimes the models appear to be sleeping comfortably amid great roots and branches; other times there is a playful exploration. But always the human is only one part of a greater ecosystem, something that this book cannot emphasize enough.

For it is more than pretty pictures. Tree Girl shares in detail the natural history of each species she profiles, as well as the relationships humans historically had with it, to include medicinal uses. More importantly, she is quite clear about how our current actions are threatening many of these great plants and the many other beings who rely on them for food, shelter and more. But she also gives many excellent suggestions for how to reconnect with nature and become a better advocate for the beings we share this world with, for the benefit of all involved. This book is a bold combination of ethereal beauty and hard reality.

If this all isn’t overtly pagan enough for you, check out the titles of some of the photos: “Silver Beech Root Fairy”, “Cathedral Fig Dryad” and “Sequoia Meditation” are just a few of the animistic names Tree Girl has given her works. It’s a divinely feminine book, celebrating women’s bodies without heavily sexualizing them, and placing women in the context of the natural world around us. And within the very first chapter, she details the way in which she connects with the tree physically and spiritually. Her process should be familiar to anyone who has worked with nature spirits embodied in wood and flesh.

Whether you be naturalist or feminist, artist or environmentalist, witch or Druid or animist, this is a deeply inspirational book that you may draw deeply from again and again. As there are fifty trees, perhaps you could spend a week meditating on each one’s unique spirit, with a week on either end to prepare yourself to enter this great work or to bring it back out to share with the world. Or simply let it be something you enjoy paging through when you feel the need to live vicariously through a passionate artist’s works.

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Goddess Calling by Karen Tate

Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy
Karen Tate
Changemakers, 2014

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Review by Harita Meenee.

Sometimes a touch of inspiration is what we need to transform our mundane reality and infuse us with the energy of the Sacred. Karen Tate’s new book, Goddess Calling, does precisely that — and a lot more. Going through its nearly two hundred pages was a powerful and uplifting experience. I felt profoundly touched by the thoughtful and empowering views in this book: it calls out to everyone supporting the ideals of the Sacred Feminine to make a difference in the world. In her words, it is time to “find our sacred roar.”

The author is an ordained minister, author, radio show host, independent scholar, and social justice activist, who does not mince her words when it comes to politics. In Goddess Calling, Karen speaks out against corporate greed and right-wing conservatism, denouncing capitalism as a system of exploitation and discrimination, harming both humanity and the whole of the planet. We need such courageous voices, which urge us to take action.

While the author acknowledges and uses the power of ritual and meditation, she also challenges us to reexamine our old ways of thinking and break out of restricting patterns. Over the years, the author has successfully shared the messages and meditations in the book with a large number of people. She has presented related papers in academic conferences and lead services in festivals, Goddess temples, and Unitarian Universalist congregations. Through Goddess Calling, Karen has made her inspiring, transformational work available to all of us.

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