with Gayle Kimball
GK: You mentioned your life work was “Priestessing a feminist /womanist community.” How has that developed and changed over the last two decades?
ZB: I am no longer a dimple-cheeked agile young women with an attitude. I am a new Crone groping confidently for the third destiny. While I was having other plans, like becoming a great Hungarian novelist, LIFE has directed the essence of what I was to bring back the ancient Goddess into women’s lives. LIFE is the final editor. What she writes is often better than what I have thought up. She writes bolder herstories.
For the past 30 years I acted as priestess, as well as a writer, initiator, conceptualizer. Priestess is the oldest profession by the way, not prostitution. What does it mean? I facilitated hundreds of circles of women with a spiritual content and experience. I taught women how to pray to the Goddess from the heart. I was the closest to this information. I had all the stars, the Aquarian sun, the Libra moon, humanitarian and equality minded; it all hung together imperceptibly. Plus, I had a psychic mother who prayed on the winds to our ancestors. I inherited the witchy genes that manifested early in my life.
When I was four years old I could frighten away Russian soldiers from our bunker during the WW2 in Budapest. Even as a toddler I had certainty that I could pray aloud to the heavens for a protection with my skinny little arms outstretched. The soldiers were undone by this picture. They knew I was in contact with God. I have always prayed the Big Prayer to the Goddess Boldogasszony. (She was a fairy queen for the Hungarians who birthed a girl, not a boy. We renamed her for political reasons. Mary got assimilated into the local tradition, all the churches were finally to Mary, or her mother Anna, or her friends St. Katherine, or our homegrown saints St. Elisabeth and St. Teresa. There are no churches built in my country to Jesus Christ that I have ever seen.
This prayer is older than Hungarian Christianity. Boldogasszony (Glad Woman) was the power over everything and it saved us many times during the war. I still do this prayer in Hungarian when I do healing work. It goes like this in mirror translation: “Now is the time to help me, oh Maria! You merciful Virgin Mother! The deep prayers of your children you never, never deny. Where humans cannot help, you alone have the power to deliver. Where the need is keen and hopeless, your power alone can turn the tides. Show us that you are our mother! Now help us oh Maria! You merciful Virgin Mother!”
GK: The archetype of the great mother, to use Jungian terminology, always surfaces, despite patriarchy’s efforts to suppress her. What do you think about the appearances of Virgin Mary in Mexico, the US, and various parts of Europe?
ZB: All healing sites are connected with the Mother of God. All springs, healing baths and rivers are the Goddess. She is everywhere and pervades the entire culture. I think humanity noticed that the Mother of all Gods actually does good things for us, heals the sick, gives hope to the hopeless, and warns of pending disasters. She is a working God, a God who never deserted us. A true Good God. Eventually it will be normal to love nature, to love peace.
GK: What is the evolution of your personal relationship and understanding of the Goddess?
ZB: I am still a work in progress. Nothing can be more powerful; nothing is more exuberant in the evening, nothing more worthy to dress up for than a ritual circle with a sacred fire and a few hundred women ready to dance and pray. Nothing compares to the oneness we feel when imagining the Goddess together. When women imagine the world, the world actually gets better. When blending action to our inner life, we are shapers of the new mythology that has bigger power then any President. Imagination and humor has toppled the powerful before.
The spiritual revolution is imperceptible, a stealth revolution. The Goddess is coming in little pieces, a woman at a time. The great awakening is in its almost maturity, we’re almost all getting it. LIFE doesn’t mind discord or unpleasantness, or even death. LIFE doesn’t mind because she made more of us yesterday. It’s a huge continuum. LIFE runs the show.
Our Zeitgeist ( Right now Pluto in Sagittarius) is the humanistic coming to consciousness as the human race. Women always stand for all of humanity, since we have created everybody from scratch; there are only two kinds of people on Earth, the mothers and her children. This is why the Madonna with child is essentially the symbol of our human race. This is the image that occurs in every culture over and over again.
GK: What do you see as the focus of young women today?
ZB: They want to make everyone feel included, not hate each other. They enjoy a gender continuum; the whole arch from extreme masculine and feminine to androgyny they see as “cool.” They don’t hate each other for sexual orientation. They’re kick ass wonderful, they know more than we did. My sons’ girlfriends were feminists; I used to be girlfriend bait. Young women like we had before them, looking for their mission in life.
A young woman like Julia Luna Hill loves nature and acts on her beliefs; that’s is what I hope they all find, a noble mission. More women are graduating from universities with degrees, streaming into white-collar jobs. Women will run this country in ten years. They still need women’s study groups, women’s centers and bars, as existed in the 60s and 70s, although women’s centers do exist in the universities and you don’t have to pay rent for Internet chat rooms.
GK: Is the Sisterhood of the Wicce still an organization? What about other wiccean organizations around the US and other countries? Are there still goddess and wiccean conferences, newsletters and magazines?
ZB: Oh yes there are! The organizations and their public visibility have moved to the Internet. You type in Witchcraft, or Goddess, and hundreds of things will pop up, including my own website, and the Dianic University. The space where the Aquarian Age can grow up is the Internet.
In the 80s I started the Women’s Spirituality Forum, our own San Francisco Bay Area non-profit, and lead it still. We organize women’s festivals and celebrations. We come together in a special place–the redwood forest; we circle to celebrate the seasons eight times a year. For example, Halloween is the New Year when the new calendar begins. We mourn people we lost, lament, speak out, then play music to come back to the present. We use the spiral dance, the most ancient symbol, the Milky Way, spiral down to the center to the house of death, commune with ancestors, and bring them offerings. We spiral back out, purified; the soul comes out as we hold hands with the women and spiral in and out. We dance for health, for peace, what ever the high priestess puts out. She sends a kiss around, a group hug, and then we do final chanting and release it into the universe. (For more details see The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries available only on my website).
Each holiday is different as we celebrate the seasons. Winter solstice is where they stole Christmas (it used to be January 6 and still is for the Greek Orthodox church). Pick a holiday and revive it with friends in your own tradition. We opened up Pandora’s treasure chest, but there’s tons more to do to create a culture with meaning. When everyone feels included, there’s no war.
At a recent festival, we did a big Peace Ritual where we entwined a sword with olive branches and offered it to the Goddess, left it over night in the woods. We burned rose buds in the sacred fire. Working on the ethereal plane is important because manifestation begins there and then we kick it into the physical world. Women’s mysteries, where we celebrate the moons and the seasons, are the fastest growing religious activity in the pagan movement. We’re creating a new mythology, leaving behind patriarchal gods. Old Testicles and New Testicles have been cast away. The goddess represents plurality; the life force is one but it enjoys diversity. The impulse of life has to be diverse.
GK: What have you published over the decades since the first edition of the women’s culture book?
ZB: I published seven more books since the first one, The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows, which is now The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries and twice as long. I published with Harper and Row The Grandmother of Time, about the lost Earth holidays, and Grandmother Moon about the lost lunar holidays.
For example, in Rome, March 17 was Liberale, the celebration of freedom, when slaves were allowed to speak their mind, the foremother of speakouts. The Greek festival of Astarte was the coming together of male and female principles. One of my favorites is Hillaria, the Roman laughing day, the original Easter celebration.
Goddess in the Office was the book for the 80s as women went to work in heels and rode home in sneakers. They were on the edge, the first inheritors of the second wave’s fruits of feminism. It’s still my best seller. I created for them magical spells to do in the office. It aligns office work with the universe, each day has a meaning; I include a scent, color, and gemstone for each day as a way to align your consciousness.
Goddess in the Bedroom is for working women when they return home. It suggests varying your posture in intercourse: When the woman is on top she controls the rhythm of the thrusting. Being a wild woman allows you to revel in your lovemaking. Lesbian sex focuses on the whole body, a spiritual and emotional experience. I also write about solo sex, bedtime stories, and fairy tales from Hungary.
Summoning the Fates was about TIME and Fate and planets and herstory and the three Weird Sisters who rule over life, death and beauty. A sister book about the Spirit of our Times is the Celestial Guide for Every Year of Your Life which came out in 2003, focusing on the transpersonal planets and how they mature our spirits. For example, if you have a Saturn return you can’t unchoose it. It must be lived. The first Saturn return is age 28 to 30; it flips bright women out because things are unclear until the dust settles around age 33 and they see their second destiny and its life mission. The third destiny from 60 to 90 is the most important. More and more I am looking at on-line publishing, and an on-line business selling new books and CDs of the old ones. Being an Aquarian I like change.
GK: Do you think it would make a difference if more women were political and religious leaders? What about Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, and others who don’t seem to lead any differently than men? You hoped for revolution; is it on its way?
ZB: Those leaders were better then men, but were token women and had no role models, almost like orphans without mommies. They only had the ancient queens to look to, and that was too archaic. At least they all fought short wars and won; short wars equal less corruption. They were there first and made sure there will be more women leaders, letting down the mythical roots. We need generations of women leaders, before we can develop the most excellent ones we admire. We need woman leaders who also make mistakes; how else do they develop? Call together Mrs. Arafat, and Mrs. Sharon, and the wives and sisters of all the male leaders in power now and see what they are thinking.
How about the women who have brought down male corruption? In 2002, women exposed Oracle, like Debbie Leibrock. Sharon Watkins brought down Enron, and special agent Colleen Rowley exploded the CIA. Are these women/sisters not our frontrunners? Our noble generals? They don’t have to be witches; we are all used by LIFE
The culture changes, right under our feet, and then the rest follow. We listen to music from the all ages now and from all countries that had a recording machine. We watch TV about historical events reenacted, we look and watch ourselves from around the world. Humanity is watching, bonding, witnessing themselves; the world is shrinking. Bitterness issues are being worked on. Women must resolve their own inner conflicts and step up and take more responsibility for what’s going on in the world. The questions of war and peace must be addressed publicly by women. We also must lift our voices and dare to call on the men to take responsibility for themselves as a group.
GK: What’s your focus for the future?
ZB: For the future I say let PAX, the Goddess of PEACE, manifest with us. Without Peace there is nothing, because all evolution stops when war scorches earth and her culture. All resources are sucked away. Women and children once again go back to the bottom of the list. Have you asked yourself why we never ask how is the Iraq war going to pay for itself? There is unlimited money to kill, and here hospitals are closing down, schools too. Stupefying our population is only good for cheap labor. There are 7 million more women voters registered then males, why don’t we use our votes to rule out all wars? Let a woman be elected President.
I conceived of “The Global PAX Project,” creating infomercials for PEACE. Pax is the only one who doesn’t have her 15 minutes of fame. I think Pax should have infomercials where the women solve problems the men could not. Peace should be not politics; it is the basis for commerce and arts and civilizations.
Women must be visible in the media where our realities blend. “If its not on TV, it didn’t happen,” said Flo Kennedy, the civil rights lawyer. Waiting for the male leadership to make peace when they didn’t do so for 5000 years, is like waiting for fish to grow legs. Now we are in position to make female issues mainstream. And Pax is the number one female issue.
The big picture is that patriarchal wars must fail and become obsolete. I thought this would be done by now, thirty years after Women’s Liberation, thirty years after women coming into consciousness.
After wars there is no victory for anyone, mothers cry and burry their children on both sides; there is only famine, and poverty. The reasons for the wars are quickly forgotten, or never had any (WMD in Iraq) but its takes three generations to recover from a major war.
Women voters are the Sleeping Goddesses, snoozing on their sides. They need to wake up, to use the vote in a block. Only once did we vote with power, when women put Bill Clinton in the White House. We need another gender gap, to vote out war, to vote in as many women as possible. Then we’ll have generations of women with earthy powers as well as spiritual ones, supporting each other, growing out of self-hatred and self-defeat into diverse expressions of freedom and culture.