We need the feminine spirit of openness, mystery, listening, hospitality, and intuition in a world ravaged and savaged by wars of all types. In this edifying collection of interviews with eight contemporary mystics, Hilary Hart offers a refreshing antidote to all the sound and the fury of recent times. For these women, shock and awe has nothing to do with military might and everything to do with silence and reverence. Hilary Hart lives in northern California where she works as a writer and editor. After practicing Tibetan Buddhism for a number of years, she met her teacher, a Sufi Sheikh, in 1998. This is her first book.

Angela Fischer, who leads meditation retreats and is on the Naqshbandi Sufi path, states: “Longing is the way women live. Longing carries the feminine qualities of openness and the power of attraction as it is lived through the passion and sometimes also the suffering of love.” Her spiritual teacher, Irina Tweedie, used to tell her that she should express her love for the Beloved in tender acts of kindness for her own loved ones. For example, “If you wash your children, remember you’re washing the Beloved.”

Andrew Harvey, an imaginative spokesperson for the marriage of the masculine and the feminine in all people, is an enthusiastic believer in passion as an essential ingredient in the mystical consciousness. He speaks out against the patriarchal culture and its emphasis upon the gaze upward: “The addiction to transcendence keeps everybody in a coma, tells you your emotions are too much, your desires are absurd and obscene, your passions for justice are naïve. This addiction, in fact, is the ultimate heroin because it keeps you high, self-absorbed, and falsely detached.”

The gaze inward is advocated by Pansy Hawk Wing, a pipe carrier in the Lakota Sioux tradition. Jackie Crovetto, who lectures on dreamwork, is convinced that listening is an important aspect of the feminine that needs to be emphasized in this era of busyness and barriers of separation. Sobonfu Some, speaking out of her African tradition, notes “Women are on the front lines. Women have always been the first to see what is coming.” Right now, every one is squinting toward the horizon, trying to see what is emerging. These women mystics caution us to stay in the present moment and to relish the mystery that abounds while living passionately and lovingly.