So I just read The Girl God, and am delighted to share it with you. It is a children’s book, and like all the best stories for children, it holds deep wisdom for us all. As you might guess from the title, it is on a topic that is dear to me: the divine feminine. The author, Trista Hendren, wrote the book for her children, and it is dedicated to her daughter, Helani Claire, who is the book’s main character—a little girl who needs to discover the divinity within herself while learning the traditions of both Christianity and Islam. Hendren supports her story with quotations about the Goddess from around the globe, and each page is illustrated with Elisabeth Slettnes’ gorgeous depictions of the divine feminine in both nature and humanity. The three elements of this book—story, quotations, and illustrations—interweave to create a work of art that I will enjoy reading and rereading, to myself and to my children.
Each element of this book deserves attention:
- The story: Helani Claire’s mother is a Muslim and her father is a Christian; her parents are divorced, and Helani Claire goes to both her father’s church and her mother’s mosque. In each place of worship, she encounters traditions and language that exclude women and the feminine perspective. Her mother helps her to navigate religious patriarchy by explaining the truth of the world’s history: in the beginning, God was a woman. Helani Claire learns that the Girl God is within her—in fact, within everyone. She is very powerful, and the essence of infinite love.
- The illustrations: The pictures in The Girl God are truly breathtaking. Complex and vibrant, they reflect the abundance and life of the natural world, of women, and of the divine feminine. Filling the space between the narrative at the top of each page and the quotations at the bottom, they anchor the verbal descriptions of the Goddess, celebrating Her in a dance of form and color that includes women and girls standing in their power, people of all nationalities living in peace with animals, trees, and birds, and women nourishing the world.
- The quotations: The book opens with a marvelous quotation from Gloria Steinem: “God may be in the details, but the Goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” (Indeed!) Each page contains a similarly inspiring and fascinating quotation—the words of Gandhi, Alice Walker, Sojourner Truth, Rumi, bell hooks, and many others grace the pages of this book.
The Girl God is simple enough for younger children to understand but won’t alienate older children. My ten-year-old daughter enjoyed learning about the divine feminine within different religions, and was particularly interested in the book’s closing prayer, Patricia Lynn Reilly’s vision for global equality. This book will be one I treasure, for it is rare indeed—the articulation of the divine feminine for both children and adults, a bridge between our spiritual beginning and our spiritual future, a spark for the reawakening of humanity.