Bethroot Gwynn’s collection of poems PreacherWoman for the Goddess is a new delight for goddess-loving women everywhere.
In this wide-ranging compilation of writings, she moves between personal stories which resound with Everywoman, and a willingness to go simply into sacred space and confide whatever she discovers there, offering it back with compassion, simplicity and keen observation. This is a book of love: of land and creatures, of community and goddess, and it is a book of emotional honesty which is itself a kind of love: a gift.
Bethroot’s sense of the numinous in the everyday is the loom of the work. Her own experiences form the warp and weft; she runs them through her hands and allows the patterns to form— relationships, politics, women, mothering, the beings of the natural world, the mysteries of death—all connecting, all threads returning to the Great Mother. The poems use a quick, confiding language that responds to the heart, sometimes in anger or grief, but often with a kind of soaring joy that lifts us into remembering our own love of spirit, our own sense of care. And the dramas sit like small jewels of colour and imagination, encouraging us to enact ritual, find our own ways to praise the universe.
This writing is indeed from a PreacherWoman, a sane and passionate soul with the courage to give us her voice. She is a clear-sighted and headstrong woman, catching hold of the goddess in prayerful hands, making new stories that tell us to find our own strength in ourselves and in the Divine Feminine, our hope for the future of planet Earth.
PreacherWoman for the Goddess stands apart with a light of clear-eyed vision. Bethroot Gwynn does not shy away from seeing and naming things as they are—both political and personal. She makes art of her observations, constructing exquisite, linguistic altars. Then, stepping out of the way, she turns the work over to a wild array of goddesses, inviting us on a healing journey of engagement and surrender. This book is magic, in the best sense."
—Carolyn Gage, playright and activist
"PreacherWoman for the Goddess expresses profound caring, elegantly and sometimes humorously conveyed. The poems offer a tender, precisely and compassionately observed portrait of life among country women—the many gifts and surprises in nature, the intimacy, ritual and decorum of women living in a consciously ceremonial way, watched over by the goddess in her many forms."
—Sandy Boucher, author of She Appears!
Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion
Preacher Woman for the Goddess by Bethroot Gwynn
Reviewed by Ellen Goldberg
For women around the world discovering the women’s spirituality movement, this book is filled with treasures that will guide and inspire them on their journeys. For others who have walked the path a little longer, there is the recounting of a life lived in service to women and our highest callings, a book that’s an artist’s commitment to the word as tied to the land and the spirit.
Within her poetry, instructions for ritual are embedded—Hallowmas ritual, burying the dead rites and ceremonies. Bethroot is a humble and honest priestess who welcomes us into her country home. Her metaphors are rooted in the nature she wakes up to each day:
Some trees are bowed/Others stand tall, shoulders draped with heavy robes--/
A mute choir….
Her work is a garden of women, portraits that observe, record, remember and raise up women:
I have seen her, countless times, on her back
under the rusty truck, face flecked with truck debris,
using this tool, now that, to insist a bolt will budge.
She draws from Old Testament matriarchs and patriarchs, ancient archetypes. She brings in Hiroshima, Chaos theory and magic. Her poems about her family, especially her mother and their relationship, burn with the fire of a deep knowledge of grief:
Except when you are nowhere to be found:
a gaping tear in the fabric of sky
an empty wound, vacant, bloodless
the open scar of final loss
always fresh, always absurd.
As a member of a community of women on the land who survive and thrive and then face old age, illness and death, Bethroot is a holy recorder. The section that deals with death is strong and remarkably full of music:
One by one/ we are leaving this life…
Nothing—not age, not fairness—/ guarantees our place in line.
And read her wonderful poems about the state of the world, the patenting of seeds, the killing of the bees, the murder of women, the rampages of misogyny! Bethroot’s work like a divine machete cuts impossibly difficult subjects down to a size we can absorb and face. She is a student of Kali and unafraid of addressing despair and destruction. This makes her book the genuine article—not just a whoo-whoo manual of how to rise above the world, but a demonstration of faith by a woman in her full power within the world.
Ellen Goldberg is a poet whose books include Each Perfect One and Meeting Street. She edited the poetry anthology Of Course I’m a Feminist. She is a member of the 29th Street Writers in Portland, OR. the poetry anthology Of Course I’m a Feminist. She is a member of the 29th Street Writers in Portland, OR.
From the 2018 Spring Edition of SageWoman Magazine
Reviewed by Martha Chabinsky
If you already love the We’Moon calendar with its gorgeous images and divinely feminine poetry you will be impressed with this lovely collection of poems, prayers, theater pieces and stories. As an editor of the We’Moon datebook, the author understands that art that celebrates the Earth and the Goddess is a feast for our hearts and minds. She writes about the cycle of life in a matter- of-fact way that clearly and lovingly honors the truth of existence: no overdrawn sentiment here.
My favorite is “Witness.” This is a poem about transformation and the inevitability of change: Trees are being culled while vultures mate nearby.
...when some curvaceous trees lie dead their flesh ripe for human plucking, why should the dark carrion-angelnot also make life....’
Her writing is clear and spare with little elaboration on the concepts presented in each piece. I found strength and power in her word choice and at the same time would have appreciated more depth, sub- text, and meaningful implications.
Ms Gwynn has gifted us with a collection of compassionate and curious observations of the Goddess as she exists in the natural world. It is a fine companion as we tread out path amongst the flowers and flames of life.
Review by: Renee Rabb
From: RCGI: Reformed Congregation of the Goddess International.
The back cover of PreacherWoman for the Goddess reads, “Bethroot Gwynn is a poet, theaterwoman, and a longtime editor of the We’Moon Datebook. Her performance pieces have celebrated lesbian-feminism and Goddess spirituality at conferences, festivals and other venues.” What a joy it is for us to have a collection of her work.
Ms. Gwynn comes from a place and a time I know. Tennessee, Louisiana, backwoods people—religion and life up close and personal. She writes from a theology of immanence, finding the divine in the fateful meeting of puma and goose as well as in the lives of Nancy or Silver. The poems are special and personal. Together she and I cut the rose velvet in “A Stitch in Time” and brown falafel while smelling sausage in “Root Food”.
Each of the seven sections of the book begins with an invocation to an issue of the We’Moon calendar. These, combined with the beautiful artwork from a variety of We’Moon artists, provide the perfect lead-ins to each theme. Friendship, death, ecology, and war are gently examined. Each poem and play is deeply felt.
Bethroot dedicates her book to “all the women—across the millennia—who proclaim Female Sacred and sang Her praises . . . all the women who would have been comforted to find Her Holiness in themselves . . . all the women who adore Her creation enact Her compassions gladly say Her names and hear echoes of their own.” RCGI women, she wrote this book for us. Get a copy.