A Serpentine Path by Carol P. Christ

A Serpentine Path

Mysteries of the Goddess
Email this review


A feminist theologian shares her journey from despair to rebirth while leading her first “Goddess tour” in Greece in this revision of her 1995 memoir. 

Teaching summer courses about Greek goddesses on Lesbos turned out to be life changing for Christ (Goddess and the God in the World, 2016, etc.). Finding it “more and more difficult to return to a culture that sapped the life energy I felt so strongly in Greece,” the American academic, whose marriage had “suddenly ended,” eventually “resigned the tenured full professorship I had worked so hard to achieve” to live full time on the island. While she initially felt blessed by a joyous new love affair, “the voice of my despair returned” after that relationship ended. Christ, who then moved to Athens, soon coped with the death of her mother, struggled with writer’s block, and entered group therapy. In this memoir, Christ describes how she then came to a freeing sense of self-worth while leading her first “Goddess tour,” or female-only pilgrimage, throughout Crete. She relates that the women visited caves, museums, and other special sites showcasing Crete’s matriarchal spiritual and cultural roots. They left food offerings to goddess figures, danced within mystical labyrinths, dined, and reveled in Cretan culture, embracing their female energy. By the book’s end, Christ, who had often felt exhausted and disorganized during the tour, experienced rebirth, realizing that she had drawn strength from the goddess spirit and that “part of the healing process is losing control.” The author, who now runs ongoing “Goddess tours,” fuses relatable personal angst and thought-provoking feminist commentary in this memoir. She paints an alluring portrait of Crete by way of many colorful anecdotes, including learning about raki making (“After the wine is pressed, they put the skins and stems into barrels.…The mixture takes six weeks to ferment, and then they bring it to a still, where it is heated over a fire. The steam that rises is directed through long curved pipes, and comes out as raki”). She also offers many intriguing “herstory” insights, including that Crete’s “royal” palaces were likely goddess-focused religious and administrative centers. While the author notes in her new preface that her book originally received criticism for its discussion of her male relationships, most readers will likely enjoy this Eat, Pray, Love flavor.

An evocative celebration of Cretan—and female—power.

Publisher: The Far Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


IndieMOTHERLINES by Patricia Reis
by Patricia Reis
NonfictionEAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert
by Elizabeth Gilbert