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A Spiritual Autobiography

About the Author : Susanna de Chenonceau

Headshot Joshua Tree_edited.jpg

If you ask me about my spirit, I could tell you a story of that Appalachian land so rich and poor, of that house in the beautiful valley of trees, that house with no indoor plumbing for five generations, until 1984. I could tell you of that valley of clear creeks to swim in, and of the small white country church on the hill where my great grandmother died and crossed the veil, after the sermon, on the day she foretold. I could tell you of sailed Europeans cut off from centuries of land and learning, and of one small daughter—me—who went to university and books, and broke that dirt-poor poverty cycle.


And then I flew.


The first place I flew, oddly, was to Greece. There I met the Pythia and touched my Temple of Venus on Acro Corinthos. I breathed the air of Carol Christ thirty years before I knew her name, and drank clear Delphi spring water that would one day open my Appalachian-born eyes to the Truth that Jesus didn’t come to christen any patriarchy, though they had hijacked him.


My spirit flew then slowly through universities and teaching jobs, my fingers trailing silently across the souls of sweet students and touching the hallowed dust in the footsteps of faculty far more read than my mind could fathom. I kept reading. Then my spirit grew strong across two divorces from the patriarchy that I tried and failed to marry into, and the stone realization that the soil of Appalachia had only been a landing place after the voyage from whence my roots had really come and the place where they still so mystically remained in the earth, glowing and alive and frighteningly powerful to me—in France.


My spiritual story means I must tell you how my feet feel as soon as I step there, in France, how my lungs exhale so deeply of rest at once, and how my eyes grow wider taking in every sight simultaneously, because I am home. This is a language of soil and soul, a language not understood or told easily in words; it is our universal language of roots. I left France across many lifetimes thousandly and many times in this one life so far—yet every time I am ripped away again the wound is still a cracked soul crevasse of invisible pain, silently walked, silently held, longing. For years I did not understand, was bowled over even and shamed by this sacredness, but with time I have learned through reading, through listening, that the soil holds our souls, and my soul has told me a hundred thousand times at least and counting that she is profoundly, historically, intimately French.


Midway through life, like a female Dante, I have walked the dark night of my soul’s nothingness, and awoke to see and hear nature howling with gale forces mysterious and magnificent around all of life in every synchronistic, quantum moment. Then I heard both god and goddess name my quest in roaring sea-waves—when I asked first, and next accepted. So, I named myself, chose my new name fresh and full, because the old names were tired or used or man-made hand-me-downs and just so wrong. I chose the name of that place in France where France had held me crying and smiling and dancing and singing, alone and in state and at home, there in that pristine place where my many soul mothers—and fathers—had lived and loved and saved the town, the farm, the country, and the castle. From the Gallic birthplace of my Pegasus spirit, by a Loire Valley winemaking stream, I wear the beautiful soul name of ancestor women triumphant, women shining, women strong.


This is the story of my spirit, so far.

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