March Author of the Month: Pearl Gregor shows us how to embrace our Divine Feminine for Women’s History Month
Allow me to introduce you to Pearl Gregor, Tellwell’s March author of the month. She is a Dream Worker, three time self-published author, and absolute force of a woman. The Tellwell team had the pleasure of working with Pearl on her three books: Authoring Self, Cauldron of the Feminine, and I, The Woman, Planted the Tree. Each book is a pillar in the Dreams Along the Way series, where Pearl helps readers sift through their dreams in order to find freedom as an individual and wholeness in body, mind and soul.
We caught up with Pearl to see what wisdom she can offer from publishing three books – she has a lot to share! And, to learn more about her work in empowering women. It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating women all month.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born at the end of the war in 1945 and raised with my six brothers in homestead country, northern Alberta. My mom was very fond of saying, “Educate a woman, educate the world.” I became an educator, administrator, provincial government education consultant and along the way, a radical feminist. In 2008, I completed my doctorate “The Apple and the Talking Snake: Feminist Dream Reading and the Subjunctive Curriculum.”
I am mother to three and have six grandsons and one granddaughter.
I live on my farm with 22 head of cattle and my Australian Shepherd, Buddy.
What inspires you as an author?
I continue to be inspired by the faces of women who carry on, despite abuse, centuries of being ignored, left out, and refused acceptance as equal partners in the world. Women lead, inspire, teach and mother. During the Covid crisis, it is the women who continue to provide cheap labour for essential services like food. The janitorial staff in hospitals, the aides, the grocery clerks and so many other low-paying jobs that keep a patriarchal culture intact! And when they retire, the poverty continues. CPP eligibility relies on being employed and receiving a salary.
There are dozens and dozens of reasons for women to feel rage. To be angry. It’s the subtle yet constant drip, drip, drip of daily sexism that both wears me out and inspires me. And let me just say, the continuous belittlement of our fears and our tears? How cunning! How intimidating! And so, just recently, I blew my teapot! The steam rises. I speak out more now than ever. To quote Maya Angelou, “And still I rise.”
Women of the world, until we dig up the cultural roots of our own repression and our own complicity in silence, change will continue at the same pace as continental drift.
It’s Women’s History Month and we’re looking to connect with our Divine Feminine. You’re the expert! Can you share a few ideas with us?
Let’s chat about Women’s History. I begin with an excerpt from Cauldron of the Feminine, p. 346. In my dream,
A voice speaks in the night. For the first time in many months, I am jolted upright. The dream is a vivid swirling fractal of every possible green. “I Am the Sacred Feminine.” Within the fractal swirls are three sharpened pencils.
It’s 3 a.m. I bolt out of bed and draw a multicoloured mandala. The greening of a soul. Veriditas. Hildegard of Bingen, Akashic Records. Voices. Compassion. Forgiveness. Transformation. Destruction. The Womb of the Universe. Emptying. Filling. Recycling. Returning. Reclaiming. Greening soul.
These are all descriptions of the Divine Feminine. An artist’s rendition of that dream graces the cover of Cauldron of the Feminine. That dream came to symbolize the three books. The writer. So, how would you “define” the Divine Feminine? With great difficulty! Divinity cannot be gendered. Our language is gendered. And so, we are stuck with language that falls far short of what we know within us to be true. Divine Feminine is mostly spoken of through examples. Let’s begin with the pre-Christian Divine Goddesses. Move on to Greek Goddesses and finally to Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and many more Divine Mothers! The literature is rich:
- Start with Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman,
- move on to Carol P. Christ & Judith Plaskow, Womanspirit Rising,
- then, Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics,
- and finally finish with perhaps Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul.
As a young person I read every book I could find about any Saint in the lexicon. Once on this journey, books showed up at my fingertips. Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Sienna, Joan of Arc. These women were role models. And each one personifies aspects of the Divine Feminine. My favourite of all time? As Estes says, Mother Mary is a girl-gang leader in heaven. The Divine Feminine is a fierce revolutionary, a weaver, an artist, a gifted writer, a dog talker, a healer, an inspiratrix, a mystic, a prophet, a heartbroken mother, an addicted father. Wherever you find friendship and blessing, wisdom and a soul oriented toward caring for Mother Earth who is our home. That’s the Divine Feminine. She is wisdom, grace and gentle healing. The Divine Feminine is the Death Mother. The Crone. The Mother and the Virgin. The Divine Feminine is rich, textured and buried deep within the collective unconscious. She is emerging in this century.
Also emerging are the unknown women of history. Slowly in the days of the internet, women in education and women with careers that serve as role models for their daughters, their friends’ daughters, their granddaughters, and more women are bringing women onto the History Stage. I leave you with one question, “How much do you know about famous women philosophers such as Aspasia of Miletus?” A famous woman of Classical Athens, mistress of Pericles. I will venture to say you have heard of Pericles the leader of the Peloponnesian Wars. There are dozens, dare I say hundreds of unknown women throughout history. Just rendered invisible! What shall we do about that? I’ll mention one more. Clea, a woman most active around 100 CE, a priestess at Delphi, a highly esteemed woman who gave advice to high-ranking world leaders in need of divine guidance about political matters! She was part of the political religious system. I learned about her after a dream of the Eleusinian Mysteries. I studied and researched and I can highly recommend Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade; Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness and The Creation of Patriarchy. Those books informed my dreams just as did prayer, meditation, journaling and hours and years of dream work.
What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book?
Lessons learned? Let me just say, I am glad I knew nothing when I started!! That way, I had few preconceived ideas and I repeated often to myself, the immortal words of author, Jess Lair, I don’t know where I am going, but I sure ain’t lost!! I found that book for $1.00 in a used book bin. Picked it up and read it. So, what did I learn?
- It is the most delightful and horrible experience you will ever have. Until the next book and it will surpass even your now-experienced horror expectations!
- Good copy editors are worth their weight in pure gold. Structural editors are worth close to the same amount!
- Write every single day. Every day.
- Never give up in the face of meltdowns, inner voice abuse.
- Never listen to the voice that tells you over and over how ridiculous, how trite, how repetitive and how stupid this topic is….
- And in the case of deeply personal writing like mine? See if you can enlist some family members who just might help. Or who will at least believe in your work.
How have your personal experiences shaped the ideas in your books?
That question can be answered by a simple word. Completely. I found the world of dreams in 1988. A family member, concerned I was getting into the occult, sent me a box filled with some of the best philosophic, mystical and creative energy books available at that time. Among them? Louis Savary et al., A Christian Approach to Dreamwork. I had suffered bouts of black, death-like depressions for many years. In fact, probably from the age of 9, I lived with screaming nightmares, complete with blood congealed on the palms of my hands. I was also a tribal child. A child of the earth, a child of the Mother—that is, the Catholic Mother Mary. My books tell the story in vivid detail. And, no, it has not been told from the perspective of the depressed person or through dreams. It was a long, arduous and in places joyful experience. It’s my life. And I did my best to tell it like it was. I promised early in the process to tell the truth as it occurred to me. And, I am rather proud to say, it did take 30 years to get the story to print. But it is honest.
And what wisdom have you gained from self-publishing three books?
I believe in the power of intention. I had intentions written often at the top of my page. Intentions on pieces of paper tacked on the wall in front of my eyes. To write my story so that other women can learn and can benefit from my experience and my healing. To find my authentic soul voice. And so, the question: Is this (what I am doing today) supporting the agenda of my soul?
What advice do you have for those considering self-publishing a book?
I needed to do much more research. I trusted my inner voice and when I stumbled over the Tellwell sandwich board on Fort Street (Victoria) that February day in 2018, I kept going. But a few feet down the street, I turned and went back, climbing up the back stairs and into the deserted office space. One very friendly and kind woman was there. She showed me a few dustcovers, gave me a card and sent me on my way. I got a call the next day. Now, I will say up front: I don’t have a lot of time for, shall we say, smooth talk. Within minutes, I told Rob, “Listen, don’t do the high-pressure BS thing. I’m just too old for that and anyway it makes me crabby. What exactly can I expect?” And he was so honest! My structural editor recommended self-publishing I, the Woman and it was published December 2018. Authoring Self was published May 2019 and Cauldron of the Feminine May 2020.
What have you been doing to market and promote your book?
Tellwell has an excellent marketing plan included in its package. I followed it religiously. Difficulty? Not enough time in the day. Technical expertise needed. Social media guru skills would be helpful! I could have used one personal assistant dedicated to getting interviews, promoting articles, book talks and more! I could have so used an assistant! But not just for technical matters but for letter writing and sending the same article to many outlets around the world!
Here’s what I have done to market my book:
- Launched on every possible social media site. Website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
- Book launch in home town. Invited anyone with a pulse.
- Donated books for auction in local community efforts.
- Library book talks with author presence. Q & A on Dreams and Dream Work.
- Teacher conventions were great until Covid shut those down.
- College Pro Dev Days.
- Teamed up with a friend who does yoga. Free to the public for about a month at the beginning of Covid.
- Womanition Biz Brigade conference. Book sales and signing.
- Womanition Zoom conference in person.
- Women in Bloom Zoom conference.
- I have joined many Facebook pages … carefully and well-researched. Many do not allow any marketing. So, when it is Shameless Self-Promotion Day? I am on that post as quickly as possible.
- Check out my website at https://dreamsalongtheway.com/category/in-the-media/. There you will find everything from interviews and conversation about dreams and mental illness, dreams and spirituality, to dreams and women in depth.
Tell us about the success you‘ve been having with your books. Don‘t be shy!
Those who have the courage to delve into my books often find they have jump started their own inner processes. From there it’s a short step to purchasing a place around the dream table for conversation, workshops, Dream Circles or individual sessions and dream coaching. And, for those absolutely committed? A week with me on the farm studying dreams, visiting with Buddy and walking the forests and fields.
What‘s next for you?
I am seeking to condense three books into one that speaks more directly to the immense power of dreams in everyday life in much more simple language. I have so many “nexts.” I need to clear my desk and write a family episodic memoir, Dreams and Inanna Returns …, Being Fifteen, and a dozen more. I am 76. Hang in there with me.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, for years and years I travelled on “forged papers” as expressed below. I am deeply thankful, grateful to have gained some access to my own mind! Writing does that for me.
“During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer. By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”– Joan Didion
We can’t end without celebrating a few words of praise that Pearl’s received for her books!
“Pearl may be many things, a grandmother, a poet, a dream weaver a professor, a feminist, a mystic, the list goes on and on. But one thing she is not, is boring. It took me a long time to read this book, not because of how it was written, but because of the effect that the writing had on my psyche. I usually read books written by men, and they are typically direct and chock full of logic and proofs. Things like Plato’s Republic, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and when I read these books, I’m convinced of the point the writer tries to make. When I read Pearl Gregor, I’m carried away in a winding river by elegant writing and flowing narrative. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know the river will take me there. When I finish reading, I’m confused, and as my day plays out, my mind starts to piece together Pearl’s thoughts and experiences. I begin to think in new ways. I’ve never read a book like this, this sort of lingering brilliance. Her autobiography is honest, and that is comforting because she truthfully describes how painful her life has been. The most precious moments, the most precious sections, are those where Pearl is no longer the writer, but the spirit of God speaking through her writing. Those who have encountered this spirit of God will recognize these sections for what they are…utterly magnificent.”
-Ale, review for I, The Woman, Planted The Tree
“This third installment of “A Journey Through Dreams to the Feminine” is a must read. Cauldron of the Feminine is an apt title as Pearl continues to incorporate new insights into previous dreams and share her “aha” moments. She brings clarity and a deeper knowledge to the complexity of her journey that captures one’s attention and desire to read more.
The cauldron stirs up deep thoughts and emotions. Pearl’s wisdom weaves them into a beautiful tapestry as she gently tucks in the loose ends and finds the threads that lead her on the path to healing. She skillfully uncovers ways to find hope and love in the shadow as well as in the light.
I, for one, am incredibly grateful that I took the time to immerse myself in the entire trilogy and to begin my own journey of dreams.”
-Shari Paziuk, review for Cauldron of the Feminine
About the Dream Myth Circle:
“In March I had the opportunity to meet Pearl through Zoom meditations. I felt an instant connection. Pearl is a wealth of knowledge and is incredible at holding space for everyone to be able to share and speak their truth. After the meditation, Pearl ran a dream workshop which was not only informative but life changing for me. I convinced Pearl to run a Myth Circle with a group of women discussing her first novel, I, the Woman Planted the Tree: A Journey Through Dreams to the Feminine. This book is healing, transformative and leaves me wanting to dive deeper for the meaning of my own dreams. There are many times throughout this book that I have felt a connection or aha moment. Being able to be part of a Myth Circle of incredible women to discuss and share whatever might come up for us or being free to explore the meaning of our own dreams, has left me feeling quite empowered. We are now starting our next Myth Circle. I strongly encourage everyone to go online to order the books and give yourself the gift of signing up for a Myth Circle through Pearl’s Website, www.dreamsalongtheway.com. You will not be disappointed; in fact, you will be left looking forward to the following week. Here we stand!”
“It is not often that I can find myself in someone else’s words as profoundly as I did while reading Pearl Gregor’s second book in the trilogy A Journey Through Dreams to the Feminine, “Authoring Self”. This inspiring journey demonstrates incredible strength and courage that weave throughout all aspects of Pearl’s many challenging and varied roles. In this book, Pearl continues to explore her dreams chronologically while integrating new thoughts and ideas into previous dreams explored in “I, the Woman Planted the Tree”, revealing greater insight into those dreams. The depth of Pearl’s research, knowledge, forthrightness and courage is evident as she shares her life stories.
I found this to be a thought provoking, insightful read and look forward to the next book in the trilogy, Cauldron of the Feminine.“
–Shari Pazuk, review for Author Self
“It is truly a work of love, courage and faith, a labyrinth of healing!
A book to guide us ever upward in the spiral dance of healing. Her powerful, transparent voice sheds light on her courageous journey through dreams that she generously shares with readers. I recommend this book to all of you seeking a companion to pursue your own journey. You will not be disappointed! Pearl continues to inspire me.
So looking forward to reading the next book!”
–Lucille Mandin, review for I, The Woman, Planted The Tree