“Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again–it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together.”
–Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River
It has taken me many months to review this book and as I sit down to write about it, I find myself at a loss for words. Go. Read it. It is a powerful book.
The Other Side of the River is a lyrical personal narrative that runs in multiple streams and ripples of thought to one rushing river: Women’s lives matter. Women’s stories matter. Women’s bodies matter. Women’s voices matter. Women’s lives and the health of the planet are inextricably intertwined. It is gorgeous and also stunning in its complexity. As I read it, I kept thinking, “how did she do this?” How did she weave so many experiences and thoughts and insights into this one text that flows so powerfully together? In The Other Side of the River, author Eila Carrico’s personal experiences and stories of her life are interwoven with descriptions, thoughts, and experiences from the world’s waters and her travels to many different bodies of water. Eila has listened to the river, learned from the waters, and these many ripples blend together into a juicy, creative, thought-provoking, complex web of questions, thoughts, and lessons. As we journey with her from the Florida marshlands to New Orleans, to San Francisco, to Africa, to India, to London, and even some time in the Mojave Desert, we also meet many water goddesses from world culture and are treated to an evocative exploration of the Goddess, the sacred feminine, at work in women’s lives and in the world as a whole. We learn from Tara and Aphrodite and Ganga and Oshun and Cailleach and Kali, all swirling together in a labyrinthine journey of depth and profundity.
Published by Womancraft Publishing, The Other Side of the River is not only a personal memoir, but a treatise on ecofeminism, ecology, and environmentalism. I discovered ecofeminism during my doctoral studies and have often returned to a phrase womb ecology reflects world ecology, world ecology reflects womb ecology. In this book we come to see how the damming of the rivers, the polluting of the oceans, the re-routing of the streams, reflects the stifling of women’s voices, the control of women’s bodies, and the oppression of women’s lives.
“I imagine that women look outside for answers because they cannot feel the wisdom of their own bodies anymore. Years of creating an icy barrier to keep out the stares, the calls, the threat of rape and worse. Women take care of their friends and families, but they do not take care of themselves. Women have lost what sustains them, forgotten what brings them to live, pushed down their rage and denied their need for rest..
…I think of the time during and after the witch burnings in Europe as a time when once fluid women chose to turn themselves into ice for self-preservation. They decidedly slowed and suppressed their wisdom of ways sensitive to the natural landscape and began to lives much further beneath the surface of their skin. They learned to conceal, conserve and control themselves to survive.”
I am reminded of a quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes: Be wild! That is how to clear the river.
It is hard for me to write as compellingly as I would like to about such a compelling book. Please read it and let its magic stream through you too.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.