Cover image for A woman's journey to God : finding the feminine path
A woman's journey to God : finding the feminine path
Borysenko, Joan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Riverhead Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 313 pages ; 22 cm
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BL625.7 .B67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Women now make up the largest group of religious "dropouts" in Western society, and Joan Borysenko is asking why. Just as medical developments made by and for men were expected to apply to women, so religions created by and for men are somehow expected to work equally well for women. But the religious and ritual forms that have been shaped so much by men can be alienating to women who spend much of their lives searching for their faith.Through a fresh look at old traditions, case studies, new rituals, her own story, and the stories of others Borysenko has encountered in their struggle to find God, A Woman's Journey to God seeks to help women heal the anger they've felt toward their own spiritual traditions and find a way back that incorporates their needs.

Author Notes

Joan Borysenko is the author of several bestselling books. She is a well-respected medical researcher, a pioneer of mind-body health, and one of the leading authorities on women's spirituality. She leads dozens of women's retreats every year and has gained firsthand knowledge--from her own experience and the experiences of those she meets--of the movement afoot to find a feminine path to God. Borysenko also is cofounder and former director of the Mind/Body clinic at the New England Deaconess Hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. She received her doctorate in anatomy and cellular biology from Harvard Medical School. Borysenko has been seen many times on national media, including two appearances on Oprah. She lives in Boulder.

Visit her on the Web at

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A distinctly feminine spirituality is emerging in our culture, according to Borysenko, a Harvard-trained medical researcher and author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and other titles. Drawing on her intensive experience leading spiritual retreats for women, Borysenko observes that a woman's way of worshipping the divine tends to be "natural, earthy, relational, mystical, embodied, intuitive, sensuous, and compassionate." Yet, the same women (predominantly adventurous baby boomers) who are going on retreat and otherwise expressing their spirituality in a feminine way often have painful relationships with the hierarchical, patriarchal religious traditions of their birth. Here, interweaving ancient myths and Scripture with contemporary stories, the author explores how women can find healing and guidance even within the confines of those traditions. Borysenko replaces the heroic model of step-by-step progress up Jacob's ladder with the image of women walking Sarah's circle (from a stray song lyric by Pete Seeger). She suggests that, like all women, themother of Isaac, came to know herself in a deep, intuitive way through the medium of her relationships rather than strictly in terms of a relationship with a transcendent God. Borysenko shows women, in a work that reads like a down-to-earth conversation between friends, how to make religion their own. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"If the world were run by women, I thought there would be far fewer enemies." Such creative ruminations color this foray into late 20th-century feminist spirituality. Borysenko (who holds a Ph.D. in anatomy and cellular biology) draws from a multiplicity of fields to make the case for a profoundly female experience of the divine. Here, she examines her struggle to find God in a world intent upon, in other words, marginalizing and alienating the experience or background (although Borysenko was raised in Judaism), Borysenko's New Age spirituality is intended as a respite for "thirsty women to drink deeply." Though at times a tad reductive ("women are intrinsically mystical"), the book's strength lies in its overarching appeal to feminist spiritual concerns, rather than to more academic disciplines. Recommended where interest warrants.-Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Power of Bear: Reflections on a Path of Our Ownp. xiii
Introduction: We are All Relations: the Household of God is Big Enough for Allp. 1
Chapter 1 A Spiritual Pilgrimage: the Renewal of Faithp. 13
Modern Miraclesp. 20
The Mystery of Not Knowingp. 37
Chapter 2 Trains to Glory: Religion and Spiritualityp. 44
Religious Dropoutsp. 46
Anger as a First Step to Healingp. 56
Partners in Religion and Spiritualityp. 62
From Religious Anger to Spiritual Experiencep. 63
Chapter 3 Intuition and Reason: Jacob's Ladder and Sarah's Circlep. 69
Jacob's Ladderp. 70
The Dark Nights of Soul Makingp. 72
Trusting the Intuitionp. 76
Sarah's Circlep. 78
A Brain of Our Own for a Path of Our Ownp. 84
Women's Wisdom: The Intuition Networkp. 88
Women's Relationality: Wired for Empathyp. 94
Chapter 4 Naming the Mystery: Father, Mother, or Other?p. 100
The Likeness of the Divinep. 103
God the Fatherp. 106
Embracing the Patriarchy on Our Own Termsp. 109
God the Motherp. 115
Healing Ourselves and Our Image of Godp. 122
God as Mother/Fatherp. 126
Chapter 5 Developing a Relationship to God: Friendship and Intimacy, Sensuality and Sexp. 130
The Anam Cara: Soul Friendsp. 134
Holy, Passionate Sexp. 141
Women as Loversp. 149
God as Belovedp. 151
Sensuality, Not Transcendencep. 156
Chapter 6 Spiritual Identity and Healing: the Heroine's Journeyp. 160
Healing the Woman's Self-Identityp. 167
Authenticity and Wholenessp. 170
The Descent of Inanna: The Secret of Love's True Powerp. 174
Susan's Healing: The Arts of Truth and Lovemakingp. 183
The Spiritual Selfp. 188
Chapter 7 Voices of Our Ancestors: Reclaiming Women's Religious Storiesp. 191
Of Lilith and Eve: The First Storytellersp. 195
Taking Lilith Personallyp. 198
The Primordial Battle of the Sexesp. 200
Taking Eve and the Snake Personallyp. 203
Mary Magdalene: The Most Beloved Disciplep. 208
Jesus and Mary Magdalene: A Heretical Love Storyp. 215
Jesus and Mary: Partners in the Hieros Gamosp. 218
Chapter 8 Ritual and Prayer: Gathering in Spiritual Communityp. 227
Women's Spiritual Groupsp. 229
Altars in the Streetp. 233
The Science of Ritual, Intention, and Prayerp. 238
The Four Types of Women's Ritualp. 243
Earth Cycles, Seasons, and Holidaysp. 246
Rituals Marking Life-Cycle Passagesp. 251
Healing Ritualsp. 253
Chapter 9 Daily Life: Doing and Beingp. 259
White Buffalo Calf Womanp. 261
Balancing Male and Female Aspects in the Workplacep. 263
Being True to Ourselves in a Man's Worldp. 268
Taking Care of Ourselvesp. 272
The Synergy of Doing and Beingp. 276
Being in the Natural Worldp. 279
Surrendering with Humorp. 281
Peace of Mind Is the Journey and the Destinationp. 284
Chapter 10 The Healing of the World: and Strangers Shall Be as Friendsp. 288
Endnotesp. 297
Acknowledgmentsp. 309