Book Review of Shadows: Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen


Jailbreaking the Goddess(2)
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Jailbreaking the Goddess is a revolutionary revisioning of the feminine divine. Where the maiden, mother, crone archetypal system is tied to female biology and physical stages of life, the fivefold model liberates the female experience from the shackles of the reproductive model.

In a woman’s lifetime, she will go through several different cycles of beginnings, potential, creation, mastery, and wisdom. This fivefold model is not an adaption of the threefold. It is a new system that embraces the powerful, fluid nature of the lived experience of women today.

Join Lasara Firefox Allen as she explores the nature of the five archetypes; gives examples of what areas of life each might preside over; lists goddesses that fit within each archetype; suggests ways to begin building relationship with the different archetypes; and provides simple rituals for recognition, transition, and invocation.

Here it is, y’all- my review of Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen.

Some of you may remember my podcast episode titled Not every Goddess has a Sacred Womb in which I discussed how left out I felt by the focus on biology in relation to the sacred feminine/goddess in most modern pagan spirituality. Even though spaces like red tents and my own doula education once were helpful in helping me connect with and see the beauty in my own body, those same spaces and ideas have now created a divide between me and other pagan women and witches. A few days after I posted the episode I was flipping through a Llewellyn catalog I had taken home from work and there it was – Jailbreaking the Goddess. I actually screamed when I read the description.

This was EXACTLY what I’d been looking for and I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to see it – I’d had that catalogue for a MONTH.

I posted a little message on the author’s facebook page telling them how excited I was about the book, and told them I had just covered the topic on my podcast (and of course posted a link). This is how I came to get a copy of the book before its release date and an interview with the author themself. CONSIDER ME GEEKED.

This book has proudly been moved into a goodreads list entitled “game changers” because that’s what this was. If I posted a detailed review of every single thought I had while reading the book I’d take up the entire internet. I loved it. I loved every second of it. I loved the things that didn’t even apply to me. I love the poetry of the book, I love the information, I love the journal prompts (which I normally do not love) and I love how unapologetic the book and author are of being a social justice warrior. It is almost aggressively inclusive and I LOVE IT.

The book repeatedly explains cultural appropriation in terms of spirituality, and the affect it can have on those cultures. It goes into detail of how to avoid such a thing and how to explore cultures outside of your own in an ethical way. The book explains why biological markers are not an effective marker of feminitity and why they make kind of shitty rites of passage. It presents a 5-face archetype of the goddess that reaches from childhood into old age, without using age as the only indication of your entrance into that phase.

Format-wise this book is so similar to The Spiritual Feminist (which I reviewed here) that it’s almost funny. The first half of the book takes you through the faces of the goddess and explains how to work with them.

“These are her five faces:
Femella (/feːˈ, or feh MEHL lah) means girl. She is the primal
child, the divine child.
Potens (/po.teːns/, POH tehns) means able (to), potent, mighty, strong,
powerful. She is the woman of strength, full of potential and power,
bursting forth.
Creatrix (/kreˈaː.triks/, kree A triks) means female creator. She is the
creator, the mother, the maker, the author.
Sapientia (/sa.piˈen.ti.a/, sah pee EN tee uh) means wisdom, discernment,
memory, forethought, intellect, perfection of character, a science. She is the
wise woman, master of her craft, teacher, leader, woman of science and art.
Antiqua (/anˈtiː.kʷua/, AHN tee kwa) means old, ancient, aged, timehonored,
simple, venerable, traditional, essential. She is the old woman,
the dreamer, the storyteller, the witch at the gate.”

In each section it talks about the qualities of women and goddesses who are living within this archetype. The book talks about how this goddess will express and present herself in certain times and situations. It gives real life examples of people who represent the goddess. It gives elemental associations, examples of feast days and rites of passage, items and things to use to pay homage to the goddess in this stage, and deities across cultures that already fit into this archetype. The chapters also include a gorgeous sigil and poetic invocation for each archetypal stage.

It’s incredible.

I think the stage that I loved and connected with the most was Femella. Children are almost never mentioned in ritual or magick. Children are often excluded from pagan practices. I know pagan parents who want their children to be more interested in spirituality and bring them to sabbat celebrations – but don’t really teach them anything about magick or spirituality and discourage real study or using tools (like tarot cards) until they’re “older”. They know children are more intune with the magical world and with energy, they want their children to learn to use these gifts and join in, yet there’s no precident or place for them. Not really. Femella changes all of that. For me, personally, Femella also explained a lot about how to came to witchcraft in the first place. I decided I was a witch when I was a young girl, and I’ve been told that’s kind of unusual haha. When reading the section on femella, I very much saw myself in her – before I decided I was a witch. I had never really thought about the timing of my wiccan discovery. It was shortly after we moved to a new town, a town I was never very happy in. I went from being a wild, happy, and free-spirited little girl to being bullied and overly concerned about how I looked and if boys liked me almost over night. (not that that’s unusual for young girls!) All of a sudden I was weird. I was weird, and I was stupid, and my body was wrong, and no one liked me. My childhood was never perfect, but the climate changed drastically when we moved – and that’s when I told my mom I wanted to be a witch. Reading this section showed me how strongly my interest in witchcraft was tied to me desperately trying to reconnect with that wild and magical part of myself that I’d lost. Suddenly this part of my life that I had thought existed outside of my identity as a witch became the very root of it.

I don’t think anyone is shocked that I pretty much cried all the way through this book.

When I wasn’t wearing a ballerina tutu (that came with one for Barbie, obvs) and boys bike shorts, I was totally naked. I’m still the naked kid to some of my old neighbours.

For the first time ever, I took the journal prompts in a book seriously. Despite the fact that I could absolutely say I’m a writer and I wouldn’t be lying, I almost sort of hate writing. I’m irritated by it. It takes time and effort. It hurts, I swear, it makes me cramp. It also slows me down when I want to just read. With this book I read all the way through femella before realizing how badly I wanted to answer those questions. I slowed down. I answered almost all of them. I dedicated a journal just to this experience. My handwriting was sloppy, the pages are stained with tears, and I even glued in pictures and doodled in the margins. When I was prompted to draw a picture of femella, I actually ran (literally) to a box of photographs and found one of myself in this stage that always makes me laugh.

This book offers up an opportunity to connect very personally and proufoundly to the material. Even for a secular witch like me, I found myself feeling the presence of these women with me in the forms of my past selves, people I knew, and people I aspired to be. It felt real. It feels real.

Everything in this book just FEELS real.

The second half of the book dives into the concept of decolonizing your magick. Removing barriers like unecessary gendering, racism, and appropriation from our practices and rituals. It talks in-depth about the importance of having a wider worldview. It talks about the issue with the popular positivity movement and culture – which is something that’s bothered me for a LONG time as someone with both serious mental illness isues and a chronic pain disease.

“When one is in a position that allows them to ignore consensus reality, they are almost undoubtedly in a position of comparable privilege. And when that person uses their privileged life as an example of how it is possible to simply make it so, to “believe and receive,” it is impossible for that person—and for any who support ungrounded prosperity theologies—not to judge and belittle the plight of others who have less access to resources.”

Again. I actually yelled when I read this.

From there you have information for creating inclusive rituals and rites of passage, talks about magickal ways to meet your chosen goddesses, how to dedicate yourself to a goddess and even offers up templates for rituals – all while reiterating the central theme you get through the book which is to do what feels best. If the classical western elemntal associations seem wrong, do it your way. If calling the quarters or inviting in the elements or casting a circle feel wrong the way you learned, figure out somethign that feels right.

This book is free of judgement without being free of acountability and responsibility.

When you read this book be prepared for it to take you a while. Be prepared to cry, to yell, to feel things, and maybe even to have to put it aside. Read it and go back and do the writing or do it as you go – but do it. Draw pictures or glue in photos, talk about it with your friends, lend it out, share it and live it. You won’t be able to keep what you read to yourself.

I mean this in all seriousness, this book could change everything if we let it. This book could revolutionize paganism, spirituality, and the lives and confidence of girls everywhere. I’m absolutely begging you to read it.



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