I, the Woman, Planted the Tree
A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine
Yet another nightmare, one more black depression, hearing voices, more psychiatric appointments, the threat of foreclosure, and disappointment in God, her Catholic church and her weak faith–a midlife mother, wife and high school administrator embarks on a frantic journey to heal clinical depression.
Months later, a member of her large family, concerned about her possible involvement with the occult, sends her a large box of books. One book about dreams begins a lifetime of inner work with a dream of falling, prayer and a safe landing. This is the story of Pearl Gregor’s deep and arduous journey into the darkness with the light of dreams to guide her. Little did she know, but that first dream held the energy of the archetypal descent to the underworld. Within every woman lies the energy of the Sumerian myth of Inanna.
A few months and a few thousand mantras after her first Sunday evening meditation, strangely mystical experiences, transcendent light, and a deeply moving vision of sunflowers, seeds, a forest of trees and a beautiful river of silver coins promise deep joy and healing. A series of events including a charismatic breakfast healing service releases floods of energy. After more weeks of intense inner work, the memory of preverbal childhood sexual molestation emerges. From deep within, floods of intense energy transformed her very cellular structure.
The clinical depression never returned. That should have marked the end of the story. Everlasting peace, miracles and sublime peacefulness. Right? No. Only in the movies and televangelism. Pearl’s soul journey took her through the repressed emotions of early childhood trauma and its impact on body, mind and spirit. Through dreams, Pearl learned to question every detail of deeply held and centuries old tribal beliefs. Such a process of finding the repressed feminine, aspects of the goddess and eroding deeply held fears in search of the authentic self requires hard work. The truth is it would take years to integrate, assimilate, and accept that these experiences were in fact real. The path leads through dreams, multitudes of books on feminism, Jungian psychology, spirituality, Catholicism, religion and history. While the road is strewn with barriers, boulders and bogey men, it also provides the resources to work with deeply symbolic material arising through dreams. This book contains 66 life-changing, healing, frightening and transformational dreams as ancient as the Eleusinian Blood Mysteries. Pearl filled dozens of journals.
In her relentless search for her own authority, she learned the depth of generations of inherited cultural constructs about woman’s invisibility, passivity, insignificance and silence. Struggling with fears of ridicule and alienation, and the crushing weight of unhinging the many fixed positions of educated, liberal arts, progressive, spiritual, religious and scientific beliefs, Pearl managed to establish the right to her own beliefs.
This is her story of life seen through the eyes of a midlife woman and her spiritual transformation on the way to becoming Crone.
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Titles often give readers an impression of what a book will be about. The two words Authoring Self implies creating a new narrative of the self, another story, a re-creation or even rebirth. The book is about the author defining her own story and self amidst other existing mindsets and toxic narratives, held in a society that doesn't support or value women's experiences and stories as much.
The format of the book is similar to the first, the dreams are listed with their dates, along with the author's analyses, thoughts, and personal anecdotes and experiences. I recommend that readers start from the first book of the series to get familiar with the author's style, and this book also references the previous and continues her story from there.
In my opinion, the dreams in this book seem to be more vivid and should I say, more 'powerful' than the ones from the first book. The dreams and their details may seem weird, but below the surface, these symbols actually have a deeper meaning. Some are actually enlightening to the author's experience. They may seem like random images and scenes, but the author's enlightened reading of her own dreams from a personal and mythical lens gives them a higher meaning.
What is remarkable to me is that aside from accepting her femininity, the author also recognizes the importance of the masculine traits of the psyche. I like that she is finding balance, not just on one side.
While the author writes about her own dreams, we can also probably recognize the same images and symbols in our own dreams. This is not a handbook on dream interpretation, but it's interesting to see the process of how the author deciphers them in terms of her own experience. There are also many references to books that guided her, which is sure to be on my 'next reads' pile.
Overall, it is a strong follow-up to the first book. Feminists, dream enthusiasts, educators, and psychologists, and anyone struggling with life and looking for answers might find this book interesting.
In Book Two, Authoring Self, Pearl continues her journey to wholeness. She shares honestly and openly her personal journey of healing, search for self and the world of the feminine. Pearl digs through layers of embedded patriarchy to become her own authority. Her journey speaks to all men and women living in a patriarchal society who have the belief, whether conscious or unconscious, that woman is “less than”.
After reading this fascinating, inspiring and informative book I am left with this thought from Clarissa Pinkole Estes’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves,
“A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”
Thank you for your creative act Pearl Gregor.
Pearl generously shares her conversations with Soul. As one privileged reader travelling along this journey I sense it isn't for the feint of heart, nor the heartless. It is for seekers. Thank you Pearl.
Pearl E Gregor creates a safe and fearless environment to explore one's own dreams. I now look at my dreams as to what my sub conscious may be trying to teach me. Reading her book is like having a conversation with her.
This book is a gift. There is the deepest most personal kind of storying here; situated between the world of consensual experience, reason and the realms of the ineffable and meaning.
The writing is mature and poetic and seduces one into reflecting on one’s own dance with the divine feminine.
Born of sinew and blood and seeds, this book of becoming - through madness and sanity -through the feminine and patriarchy, provides a gentle and powerful companion to those willing to courageously enter their own authentic journey to selfhood.
In this first of a planned trilogy of books, Gregor offers herself as sacrifice in the most creative, soul-searching way; an exemplar for others. She writes from the sacred alchemy of her soul. Pearl has sacrificed her “identity as a spiritual daughter of the patriarchy” and bears witness to a resurrection 5000 years in the ripening- a beckoning to other women to follow.
Pearl Gregor’s journey through illness is also testimony to the ravages on the soul made as a result of a legacy of patriarchy and institutionalized religion. The author is seeking her spiritual journey and honoring secret experiences along the way that speak a truth into embodied knowing that is unshakeable and trustworthy. For those interested in entering into retreat for themselves, Gregor also offers her home, land, sanctuary and guidance for this purpose. This book could provide a powerful orientation to that journey as well.
The reader is invited into a deeply personal account of the challenges of living with depression in the most intelligent self-aware and poetic way.
~ Dr. Ara Parker, Registered Art Therapist and Psychotherapist.