Woman is the radiance of God, she is not your beloved.
She is the Creator—you could say that she is not created. — Rumi
Let’s talk spiritual activism with a feminist twist. That’s where Trista Hendren steps in — an author with an extraordinary message. Her spiritual journey has inspired her writing, activism and her mission to help women and girls reclaim the divine feminine. Trista openly discusses how her spiritual beliefs affect her social and political views and gives insight into her latest book in The Girl God series, Tell Me Why, which introduces the Divine Feminine to boys.
Tell us about your background and what eventually inspired you to write The Girl God?
I grew up in two very different evangelical Christian homes. Both were damaging in different ways, but both were very patriarchal. I became a feminist and a Muslim in college. My journey back to the Goddess has been a long one with many distractions. Giving birth to a daughter jolted me into action. My daughter was the inspiration for the book because she couldn’t relate to a male God. I hungered to provide her with something different than what I was raised with. I wanted her to know that she is absolutely wonderful just the way she is. I dreamed of raising her to the heights instead of burying her – as we do with most girls. I didn’t want her to spend most of her adult life unburying herself as I have – and continue to do.
Do you still feel connected to your Christian roots? If so, how does it influence your present spiritual beliefs and your projects?
No, I don’t. Christianity certainly shaped and informed much of who I am, but I stopped identifying as a Christian several years ago. It’s been a long process, and one I initially suffered greatly from due to my upbringing and the belief that leaving my faith of origin meant I was headed to hell. For a time, I identified as both Christian and Muslim, but I think that too was fear-based. I now identify as Muslim but I am certainly a mixed bag. This does influence my books as I want my children – and all children – to know that there is more than one “way” out there. Scaring children with threats of hell is not a way to inspire faith or growth. I think in a lot of ways, I’m still coming out of that myself.
Why is it so important to emphasize the feminine aspect of the Divine?
First and foremost, it is the truth. She is truth. We have been living a blatant lie for thousands of years. Women give life. The Goddess IS life. God is not a man. Until we collectively return to this truth, nothing will improve.
Many of the world’s problems stem from this attempt to stamp out the truth and kill the Divine Feminine. We are coming into a time now where many women and men are awakening to the Goddess, but we are also seeing a lot of backlash around this. I believe now is the time where we must stand strong or She will be buried forever – and so will the rights, dreams and livelihood of women and girls the world over.
Amy Logan wrote in The Seven Perfumes of Sacrifice, “Every time they butcher a woman for honor, they’re killing the Goddess.” I believe that’s true with every rape and murder of a female, and to a somewhat lesser extent, every time a woman is hit, verbally abused or forced to live in poverty.
It’s time for us to become really intentional about what we want for ourselves and our daughters.
Most women do not speak about how their faith empowers them as an activist. Can you talk about how your spirituality informs and strengthens your activism?
Activism often results in tremendous burnout. There is a never-ending stream of problems that must be addressed in our world, and just thinking about them all is exhausting.
Z. Budapest once said, “Withouth the Goddess, feminism is not going to work, because you’re going to burn out. You’ve got to have spirituality connected with your political aspiration because that’s how this animal works.” I believe she was spot on.
I also think that without a spiritual component to our activism, we are just putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. We must address the root of the problem, which I believe to be the blatant, murderous attack on the Divine Feminine.
What types of responses do you receive from men about your books?
I don’t have a huge male readership, however, many men have written to me to say that they are purchasing books for their wives and daughters. I have had a few men leave angry Amazon reviews, but I haven’t received a coherent review yet from someone who has actually purchased a book, so I don’t give those much thought. I think the idea of a female goddess is upsetting to some men. I think most would be surprised at how a female god behaves.
My husband does all my book formatting, so he is intimately connected with each of my books and has also given me content suggestions along the way. Because my children have appeared in my books, I always have included them in the editing process as well. For the most part, I have never written with men or boys in mind, so it will be interesting to see how Tell Me Why resonates with grown men.
What influenced you to write your new book, Tell Me Why?
Tell Me Why is a deeply personal book. I have been, for the most part, a single mom, raising a son and a daughter almost entirely on my own. My son is eleven now and it hit me about a year ago that he will be grown and out of the house soon. This is enormously painful for me looking back because I feel like I have missed so many moments with him in my attempts to pay the bills and do what had to be done. There are very few weekends that I have had to myself since my children were born, but I had a rare occasion where my ex had both children for an entire weekend. I wrote out the entire book then and picked out the quotes I wanted to support it. Tell Me Why is the message I want to leave to my son as to how to become a fully human man in a world that worships destruction and abuse – particularly towards the feminine.
What are Goddess Camps for Girls?
Goddess Camps for Girls are meant to be an alternative to the popular “Vacation Bible School” camps that take place all summer. I wanted to create something that would empower girls at the core level. While the majority of programs for girls focus on outward measures, our camps encourage girls to turn inward. We believe the root of the issue is in reclaiming the Divine Feminine. By re-uniting girls with their innate spirituality, our camps hope to empower girls to become the women they were born to be.
There is a group of women across the U.S. who have been planning Goddess Camps for Girls for several years now. We have the infrastructure in place but still lack the funding. We are planning to do crowd funding for the camps later this year so that we can be up and running next summer. We have a website up at www.goddesscampsforgirls.com
Can you tell us about the anthologies you are working on and why they are important to you?
I am currently compiling two anthologies for feminist women of faith: Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess. I hope to gather submissions from women all over the world. There is information about both books on my blog.
It is important to me that women work collectively towards a better world. I believe that by supporting each other and sharing our stories, we will bring truth and light to the world more quickly.
You can find Trista Hendren’s books on her website thegirlgod.com as well as on Amazon. Trista collaborates with illustrator Elisabeth Slettness, a renowned artist living in Lilehammer, Norway, who has created the colorful and captivating images in The Girl God series. You can see more of Elisabeth’s work at elisabethslettnes.net.