Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with artist Ria Sharon

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Category: Interviews

Ria Sharon is an artist currently working on an Animal Guidance oracle deck, who crafts items based on the deck’s images and symbolism. Mimosa currently carries her candles and pendants.

Mimosa: How did you come to create the things you make?

Ria: When I was 13, I left my home in the Philippines and came to live with my aunt in Madison. She is a counseling psychologist so I spent my teen years steeped in Women Who Run with the Wolves, Jungian archetypes, and mythology. She introduced animals as guides to me back then and I’ve been under their spell ever since!

I’m fascinated by how well animals serve as channels for our intuition and yet, how accessible they are – everyone has a favorite animal, everyone has had a significant experience with an animal. They are part of our shared vocabulary as a species, regardless of culture – the Celts, the Native Americans, the Polynesians, the Aztecs, and even my pre-Filipino ancestors all share animal mythology.

Being of mixed heritage and having emigrated from another country, I’m always looking for common ground. Animals speak to me as part of the language of our souls. So in the spring of 2016, I committed to making an oracle deck of animal guidance (which is still in the works). As my collection of illustrations grew, I started to create wearable art and everyday artifacts out of them that help craft personal self-care rituals – so we can remember that within us are all the aspects we share with the animals and that this medicine is available to us at any time.

Mimosa: What about your work makes it different and special?

Ria: The illustrations are the focal point of my work. My art style is an amalgam of cultures (just like me). I’m inspired by an ancient wisdom tradition from the Philippines – the belief that a maker can infuse objects with positive energy and that others can connect with and benefit from this intention. Being certified in both Healing Touch and Reiki, I consider my art practice a spiritual and healing practice and that’s a really important aspect of the work that I share at Mimosa.

Interview with Clairvoyant Medium Brenda Hammon

Mimosa is truly blessed to have Brenda Hammon as one of our regular readers. Brenda is a clairvoyant medium, delivering gentle but direct messages from guiding spirits for the benefit of her clients. In addition to working through Mimosa, she’s also been a favorite medium at other storefront locations and at the Wonewoc Spirit Camp, and regularly presents psychic gallery group readings and other events. Even with those impressive credentials, in person she’s down-to-earth, playful, and really fun to be around!

When you were growing up, did you ever feel you had unusual abilities?

When I was growing up I never really felt like anything I saw or heard was anything unusual because it had always been there. I remember believing in UFOs and all things magical, and always just knowing that these things were real. When I was little I could always read the energy of the adults around me, and many times I heard what they were going to say before they said it. I just always thought everybody could hear and see things. As a child I would have very prophetic dreams also, which at times was a bit scary.

You have some mad skill with manifesting, and even won a new car recently. What’s your secret?

Manifesting is fun-Thank you for the compliment! I have been using the power of faith. Not hope, which to me feels ‘graspy’ but FAITH-feeling and knowing that I am being led to my desires and that I can manifest anything and everything that I desire. I believe that our desires are heaven-sent and it is the Universe’s way of moving us forward in our lives. I use creative visualization and “I am” messages to keep myself grounded. It is so important to just let yourself be in the flow of source energy and have faith the Universe is leading you. Trust and have faith. I trust every day that the Universe is sending all those to me that I can be of service to, and I have faith in my ability to give them spirit’s messages.

How is a psychic gallery different from work with an individual client?

In a psychic gallery a reader must sort out all the different energy in the room and be able to identify who the message is for. Sometimes in a group, messages can also be meant for more than one person. Spirit is wonderful that way as they will place people in the gallery together for the benefit and healing of all involved. Gallery readings can be a lot of fun, and spirit loves laughter and community also! I would always advise that you come to a gallery reading with an open heart and mind and be prepared to heal and grow together as a group. Although I would get very private messages for you, if it is something that would embarrass you I would not give specifics. Very private messages are best for individual readings. In an individual reading, you will receive messages the entire time meant specifically for you-from your guides, guardians, Angels and loved ones. You have the chance throughout or at the end to ask questions and get clarification.

Does being sensitive to other people’s energy ever create difficulties?

Being sensitive to other people’s energy is hardest for me in a close relationship-as you can sense when words and spirit do not match. It can be quite difficult to know that person is lying (of course, as a mom of four this has come in handy more than once!). I also have problems in large stores where there is so much energy from other people that is connected to worry or finances. I try to go to the grocery store at off hours, or make my trips brief.

Tell us a little bit about your day job working with developmentally disabled adults.

For the last four years I have run a recreation program for adults with developmental disabilities-it is one of the best jobs in the whole world (besides doing readings of course). I get to take people bowling, to sporting events, to camps and every month we hold a dance where you will find us doing the YMCA, the hokey-pokey, and the chicken dance :). It is a rewarding job and I am grateful to be in a position where I can dedicate my time to helping others have fun and get involved in their community.

Do you ever receive personal messages from loved ones on the other side?

I can channel messages through writing for myself and I can get messages in that manner from my loved ones, Angels, guides and spirit. I can hear messages for myself at times also-when I truly listen. I feel the most connected outside, walking in nature, so I try to get outside for a walk as often as possible. I like to talk out loud to spirit as I walk, and I keep myself grounded, connected and grateful through this practice.

Is it harder to read a stranger, or someone you’ve known for a long time?

I don’t really find that there is a difference giving a reading to a stranger or friend as long as you are stepping out and just letting spirit take over. The hardest people to read are the ones who are determined not to be read, and tell you ‘no’ when the answer is really ‘yes’. I just bless those individuals and give them the messages I am receiving for them, regardless of response, because I truly have learned to trust exactly what messages are coming through for my clients.I know that some part of them is absorbing the message and when the time is right they will actually ‘hear’ it. No judgement at all, we are all at a different point on our paths.

How do you experience automatic writing? 

I cannot really find words to explain automatic writing. It just happens. I journal in the morning and ask for guidance. I have to read it back after I am done, as I don’t always remember exactly what came through. During a reading I write down guidance I receive through hearing or seeing, and then as I write other messages come through-it is a magical experience. I think it is part of what makes my readings so very helpful and beneficial-as it is such pure guidance.

Do you feel you’re basically a visual person? If so, how does this relate to your clairvoyant skills?

As an artist, I am a very visual person, and I can easily see things for my clients. I use this in my readings, as I am shown a lot of information, but I use hearing, feeling and knowing also. They all hold hands together to deliver the best messages. I will be shown things and I ask “why?”, “why is this important? and I am shown or told the answer.

What do you do to keep your inner fairy princess happy?

I love this question-it makes me smile!! I don’t think about having an inner fairy princess but I love the image. I walk, I spend time with my children, family and friends. I head to the water as often as possible, my favorite local trail runs along the river. I take art classes and love all art supplies. I love pink and collect items with hand painted pink roses. Paper, markers and stationary make me very happy. I have been known to binge watch both Project Runway and Deadliest Catch. I love to travel and see new places. I also require alone time to truly be balanced and happy-reading, bubble baths and a hot cup of tea are my go-to’s to relieve stress.

Please come and see me at Mimosa! Readings are my all-time favorite thing to do in this world. I am blessed and honored to have these gifts and enjoy being of service to my clients.

Interview with Psychic Mari Powers

Mari Powers, Master Tarot and Oracle card reader, helps you find guidance from the invisible universe. She has been offering tarot classes since 1980 and has been performing readings for over 30 years. In addition, she is an ordained minister for Circle Sanctuary. Pet readings are also a specialty. Mari is also a Reiki II Initiate and a master in guided meditation. Mari is usually at Mimosa Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 11:30 to 7:00 pm. and Saturdays from 11:30 to 6:30.

Your path to becoming a tarot reader has been a long, winding one. What are some of its highlights? Learning from others and learning while teaching. I was honored to have a reading done Z. Budhapest. All the readers I have learned from, taught me something unique. My students and clients teach me daily. Learning to channel better by not knowing, or at least not usually. The exact nature of the question, concern, focus or situation I generally ask not to know, so I get out of my own way and try to form as few personal opinions as possible. Later I ask for feedback and confirmation.

Over the years, have you noticed an increase in interest in the tarot? Yes, and in all rising up of positive spiritual growth, combined with creativity, in general.

You’re also an accomplished astrologer. It seems that people nowadays are looking for something more detailed and personal than a simple daily horoscopes that were so popular in the 60s and 70s. Are you finding this as well? In a limited way. Astrology is slowly educating people, yet it is very detailed and complicated. Most are not inclined to learn that level of detail, or at least they have tried and mastered other self-knowledge techniques. However, most all have learned the limited information in the daily Sun Sign Report.

These days many people have trouble finding ways to relax and focus. Do you have any advice? Ground, Center and Shield, then, at the risk of being “too New Age”, you can find joyful and safe ways to really let go and relax. There are many techniques and if you search for these words online, you will find a lot of good information. If it fits, make it a regular practice.

Here’s a tarot geek question for you: Recently, a customer made a very good point about the Osho Zen Tarot, saying that its creators have made so many modifications to the standard tarot that she considers it more of an oracle deck, rather than a tarot deck. Many other decks also take creative liberties with the tarot to make it fit their theme. What is it that makes a tarot deck a tarot deck? Several things; the basics are 78 cards within a few, court cards, the four suits in our modern playing deck, numerology, a fifth suite of Trumps, (or Major Arcana). Numbered 0 to 21, and finally, the Trump suit relationship to the Tree of Life as preserved in Hebrew Cabbala. I agree that Osho Zen is more of an Oracle Deck.

What are some of your favorite tarot and oracle decks? Are there any newer ones that stand out? So many, and yet I only keep decks that I use. The Tarot I have at Mimosa are all friends of mine, yet picking three at present, I would say, “Shadowscape”, “Sirius Starseed” and the Merryday Tarot (out of print, available online). Bear in mind, it is what the client wants that day, and I change favorites some days, too. My favorite Oracle decks are: “The Faery Oracle and The Heart of the Faery Oracle” by Brian Froud, “The Goddess Oracle” and “Madame Eudora’s Fortune Cards.”

You’ve had a lot of experience helping people access their past lives. Why is this a valuable question for people to pursue? Most of the world believes in reincarnation. Past lives inform this one. We bring gifts and challenges. Becoming aware past lives, we can inform our futures in the present life; the one that counts now.

What exactly is “soul retrieval”? How do you accomplish something like that? This is a difficult question. It is a ceremony that I rarely do. I advise people to read Sandra Ingermann’s, “Soul Retrieval,” before considering doing one. I had my first one with one of her direct students. I have had other teachers and guides. I do it in a person’s home, with others in supportive roles. If a person has read the book, and is interested, they can contact me directly.

When you practice channeling, do you find certain deities come through more easily, while it’s more difficult to communicate with others? Yes. And it varies per person, as well.

Have you had any interesting or funny experiences working at parties? Oh yes. Divination by cards dropping out a deck or onto the floor. Finding the card that was on top of the chosen deck as one of four or five cards in a layout, out of a deck of 78, or three or four Trumps in a five card spread. Also, a few people host periodic parties and it is always magical to see how previous and current readings are linked.

Interview with Candle Crafter Brittany Gibson

Mimosa has recently added a new line of natural votives, made by local crafter Brittany Gibson. To give our customers a better idea of what makes these candles so special, we decided to interview Brittany about her work and about her new business, Magick and Malarkey. Enjoy!

What’s the story behind Magick and Malarkey, and where do you see your new company going? So I was rolling out to California to bum around Venice and Santa Monica. I was in the middle of the desert, thinking about how cool it would be to open a metaphysical store AND a tavern. All of a sudden, it hit me: Magick and Malarkey, a partnership between two completely different businesses!  I can’t guarantee the tavern will ever happen, but I’m very glad the magick pulled through! I am eventually wanting a brick and mortar store, though I still plan to sell in other shops. While I may expand through Wisconsin, I’m glad I get to call it home, and would like to stay local.

Are votive candles the only thing you make? Thankfully, no. As far as candles go, I make pillars, tall tapers, votives, and small tapers for altar use (approximately a few hours of burn time.) When I get my order of tealight molds in, we will be in business for that, too! Soaps are also available. When I find a reliable source of materials, I will add in lotions and cosmetics as well. I’m even getting busy with some bone knives crafting wands for those looking for a quick start.

Where can someone go to buy your soaps? Do you do custom orders? I do custom orders on candles and soaps! Since the online store has run into a few hold-ups, the best way to order is to email me at [email protected], or order through our Facebook page via personal message. Soon, we will have an online store and downloadable order form available on Facebook. I ship flat rate when available, US only (at least temporarily!) All fragrances are available in candles or soaps. Because they are made from essential oils, the oils can be used for both!

What kinds of ingredients do you use, and where do they come from? I’m really into trying to keep things as natural as possible. I love working with beeswax and goat milk as bases for my products, as well as essential oils. Goat milk is strictly purchased locally, but beeswax is harder to get my hands on. I source locally whenever possible, but I have had to import some from some nice beekeepers in Pennsylvania. With bees dying off, wax is getting pricier and harder to come by. Essential oils are also purchased at The Soap Opera when available, though I have had to source in a blend from Ohio. I plan to be 100% locally sourced by Samhain of this year! I am already scouting farmers.

How do you craft a candle to work with a particular intention? I have always done it the same as putting intention into my work. I go through the whole process meditating and keeping the candles and room charged with energy. I focus on what I want the candle to do and call to a deity and ask for his or her blessing. Sometimes I take the candle turn out as an indication on how pleased with my offerings they are (if my beeswax sticks too much, it’s time to put more mead in the offering bowl!) Crafting with intention varies per craftsperson. I allow the energy to flow through me and into my work. I would say I channel the energy rather than pull it out of nowhere!

What are some ways people can use a blessing votive? Specialized spells are excellent options! I would also recommend the votives for work with particular deities. Even if someone isn’t working with Aphrodite, the intention and blessings of the candle can greatly assist in working with a deity of similar function or association. Generic ritual use, especially on high days. You can never have too many candles on high days! Let’s not forget meditation and hypnosis. Maybe you’re a practicing hypnotherapist trying to inspire an active drive in an otherwise submissive person. Strength or Energy blessing votives could definitely add to your practice!

Do you follow any particular spiritual path? If I picked up a label, it would be neo-Druid. I am a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin, currently doing work on my dedicant path. While I believe in all deities from all religions and believe they all have equal power, my rituals tend to lean toward Welsh tradition. I’ve even had several dreams where Arianrhod revealed herself as my matron.

What can you tell us about working with beeswax? It’s very hot and super sticky! But my house always smells a bit of honey. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s the mead or the beeswax! It is very fun to play with though, and very versatile. I’m going to start playing with it to see what cosmetic purposes it has. I’m betting I can find some things. But craftspeople beware: Beeswax is sticky in the extreme. Stock up on mold release, or use some oil, unless you want your candle to stay in the mold forever!

Interview with Greeting Card Artist Linda Morris

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Mimosa: Can you tell us how you started making greeting cards?

Linda: I have used some of my paintings and pastel drawings for personal cards for family and friends for a few years. Last year I painted an Angel which I thought represented my wonderful sister in law, Tressa. I posted it on facebook for her and it seemed to create a snowball effect. Other friends and family asked if I would create an Angel for them also. Each Angel seemed to have a deep meaning for the recipient. Since I was creating so many, I decided to call them “Pay it Forward Angels.” I requested that each recipient of the original signed Angel pay it forward with some act of kindness. Each Angel, Goddess or landscape is created in a meditative space surrounded by my crystals, Angels, and Quan Yin’s. The images seem to create themselves as I just go with the Divine flow.

I asked my husband, spiritual artist Andre Ferrella to help me make them into greeting cards to take to the 2014 Kryon Summer Light Conference at Mount Shasta, California, where he was presenting. Much to my surprise I sold out at our booth, and so Lightworkers Greetings came about. The Goddess images came through after that Light Conference. I was very eager to paint them, even on the plane ride home. I believe the magic and mystical energy of Mount Shasta and the beautiful energy at the Kryon Light Conference helped bring them through. Each image has a pendant similar to a photo I took at night in Northern Wisconsin in 2010. There were six bright blue dimensional objects in the night sky. I was told to put one of those objects in with each Goddess image. So they are depicted as a pendant for each Goddess.

Each card is easily framed in a 5 x 7 matte or frame, so they can be re purposed and each is hand signed. I am hoping to have a Holiday Card available for the season coming up, although any of the cards can easily be used for any occasion.

Goddess of Divine Love

Goddess of Divine Love greeting card

Mimosa: Are the cards’ messages based on the images, or is it the other way around? Or do image and message both come to you simultaneously?

Linda: The messages for each card came to me in one day. I “knew” that there was a special meaning for each image. Using the same technique I used to create the Angels, I spent the day writing the message which correlated to the image. I use the same technique as more paintings and messages come through.

Mimosa: Some of your cards depict figures I’m not familiar with, such as the Goddess of Divine Love and the Goddess of Fairies. Where do these images come from?

Linda: I believe each Angel and Goddess image symbolizes an aspect of all of our Higher Selves, our Angels, Guides and the multidimensional Beings surrounding us. I hope that they evoke a message of Love, Hope and Compassion for the sender and recipient of the cards. That is why despite some of them being created for specific individuals originally, they resonate with all of us. The landscapes convey messages of tranquility and peace.

Angel of Dreams

Angel of Dreams greeting card

Mimosa: Would you like to tell us a little about The Rise of the Fallen, the nonprofit you head with your husband?

Linda: The Rise of the Fallen developed based on a form of art my husband Andre Ferrella created called Spirit Boxes. We have created a nonprofit organization honoring the soldiers fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan using this special form of portraiture to honor each soldier. We hope that it brings healing to the families and country and to the planet. Each spirit box conveys the beautiful eternal essence of the individual. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum here in Madison has the collection of fallen Wisconsin soldiers and California is working on honoring their fallen. Our goal is to honor every soldier who has lost their life. You may see the website at

Mimosa: Do you have anything new and interesting in the works?

Linda: I have written an interactive children’s book entitled The True Adventures of Mystical, Mischievous Sophie..Sophie’s Little Secret about the life of our crystal granddaughter Sophie. It’s based on diaries I have kept of her and more books are developing as she grows. I am hoping to get it published soon.

Interview with Jeremy Anacker

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A talk about reiki, auras and spiritual development with longtime Mimosa event presenter Jeremy Anacker.

Mimosa: When did you first realize you could see auras?

Jeremy: When I was seventeen I was invited to a spiritually oriented group and I sat in back with a friend. As the presenter told his story and was expressing how he applied various transformation principals, a white light started rolling over the crowd and then hit me at the back of the room. I might have been more dismissive of the phenomena if it was not obvious to me that I felt lifted by it as it hit me. I looked over to my friend who was oblivious to what was going on. This began the uncovering of my denial that I was seeing things around me all of the time. It set me up to get very committed to bringing healing energy to the various environments that I found myself in. Especially where there were lower energies.

Mimosa: Do you  believe any of us have the ability to practice Reiki or see auras?

Jeremy: Reiki is a very simple technique and only certain people feel called to practice the modality. If a person is interested in being a healer and they begin the practice it always works. It has become important for me to state and restate a very important point at the Reiki Sharing and in any group that I lead: “The most spiritually advanced person is the one that trusts the life force and the universe completely.” I have known some very un-evolved Aura seers so I know that this ability does not by itself make one the more advanced person in the room. For me witnessing the energy has helped me be aware that the universe is being animated and orchestrated by the every-where-present source energy. With that said, I believe that with work just about anybody can get a glimpse of the energies that dance around the human form. This can be very helpful in that one has direct experiential evidence that there is more to us than the physicality of our body. Very often the students that I interact with are already experiencing the energy around them through their own sensing or knowing. Showing up to a group can be validating for them and it is a chance to be amongst others who know that they are not crazy.

Mimosa: How does the Reiki Share work?

Jeremy: It can serve as an introduction to this very simple touch healing modality as basic information is given to new participants and they are encouraged to receive a treatment. Many new participants are very thrilled and surprised with the effortless results as they might feel as though they melted into the table or that they have expanded into the room. Other participants find that they need to try two or three separate sessions in order for their energy to prime up their energy for the process. At Mimosa during our Sunday night gathering we have from anywhere between 1 and 4 tables up and running at any given time. There are many Reiki Shares where there is a strict rule that only attuned Reiki practitioners do the healing work. At our Reiki Share new participants usually come right in and do healings right away. To me it is very inspiring to find people willing to give the process a try right away. They are also always encouraged to get a Reiki Attunement if they feel called to continue growing in the healing process.

Mimosa: Can you tell us a little about your channeling work?

Jeremy: Channeling itself has become relatively popular. Many people know about the bestselling book, “Ask And It Is Given” by Abraham Hicks. There is also the work of Edgar Cayce, Kryon, Seth, Ramtha and more where the channeler goes into a trance state and allows for a higher expression to give spiritual messages and guidance. In recent years guidance on how to achieve abundance in one’s life has become very popular. There are also many that are very helpful with everyday problems such as difficult decisions with relationships or career paths. I have been working with an energy who gives a very broad and big picture style of wisdom while also working to energetically lift the participants. It calls itself Rhammah. We have a very dedicated group of core participants that are attracted to my channeling work and there are many who come and go. No one is ever pressured to believe any dogmas or made to feel bad if the work is not for them.

Mimosa: If someone is interested in learning Reiki, how should they get started?

Jeremy: Years ago, I started out by signing up for a personal treatment while not even knowing what it was about. There is also the Basic Reiki Concepts class that I lead once a month on the fourth Sunday. I give a basic intro alongside some basic lessons that will help interested people to find a way to relate to the world of healing work and how the practice of Reiki can help them on their journey. Many who attend this event stay for the Reiki Sharing that follows.

Mimosa: What’s your definition of spiritual progress?

Jeremy: I think that just about everybody spends a great deal of time progressing by gathering information and trying out techniques. On the information level one can learn about the various paths and frameworks that people have benefitted from. In my classes I always hope to show participants how to remove the barriers to the truth. This emphasis is very different than learning about the truth as one is encouraged to discover it for themselves. In order to do this a great deal of unlearning needs to occur. I would say that ultimately we unlearn the many layers of control that our egos are hooked into and we learn to trust the ultimate supreme source of life. At some point one can discover themselves as completely non-separate from this source.

Mimosa: Can you name one person, living or dead, who has had a great influence on you?

Jeremy: Dr. Wayne Dyer has been such a great bridge builder as he has managed to speak in very simple terms to everyday people about very big ideas from various traditions in a way that is incredibly practical and transformative. In my Reiki classes I often use his quote, “No amount of feeling bad for someone is going to make them better.” I also run into a lot of people on our community who have gone over his material whether it be his books, his CDs or his PBS television specials. He has prepared many people for the next step which in my view is to join up and get active in a transformation community of like minds.


When God Was a Little Girl: Interview with author David Weiss

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(Click here for the book’s product page.)

Here is a book that is truly “for all ages.” Customers have been unable to keep their hands off this beautifully illustrated picture book — we regularly find adults standing by the display, reading it from cover to cover! 

Nautilus Award-winning When God Was a Little Girl retells the biblical creation story in the form of a conversation between father and daughter, imagining creation as a joyous art project. Joan Lindemann’s illustrations show God as a young girl of diverse races, playing and crafting the brand-new Earth. The book is non-denominational, and friendly to open-minded people of any belief system.

In this interview with author David Weiss, he shares some fascinating insights into what makes God real and relevant to our lives. 

Mimosa: Did this story actually originate from a real-life conversation in the car?

David: Yes and no. After Susanna’s mom and I divorced when she was three years old, I picked her up in Madison every three or four weeks and we made the 3½-hour drive back to Decorah for the weekend. Along the way Susanna did — always — ask me to tell her a story … several times each trip. So I told her countless stories over the years; usually stories about when she was a little girl, or when her brother was a little boy, or even when I was a little boy. Eventually, we began to tell more fanciful tales that we made up together, and these were often “creation”-themed, but never quite as elaborate as this one. But father-daughter stories unfolding during a long ride was our pattern for at least five or six years.

Mimosa: You describe yourself as a “freelance theologian.” Where do you feel you fit within the Christian community?

David: I suppose you would say “at the edge” … which is fine with me. I grew up Lutheran, and I continue to worship in the Lutheran tradition, though I’m definitely at the left edge of the tradition. My parish in St. Paul was the first Lutheran church in Minnesota to grant equal membership to African Americans—in 1953—and the first in the United States to be openly affirming of and welcoming to LGBT persons—in 1981.

Personally, I think of God as an unwavering energy of love that pulses like a sort of cosmic heartbeat. I regard Jesus as one embodied image of holy living; in him we see a person who sought to unconditionally open himself to that energy of love. I don’t think he’s unique in that sense, but his life is startling vivid, and since I’ve known his story since I was a little child it has particular power for me.

Mimosa: Do you write this book to fill an unmet need?

David: Yes—several of them, actually. As a parent who’s also a theologian, I often found myself cringing at the simplistic way that most children’s “bible stories” are told. They typically retell the biblical story by simplifying the language but missing much of the inner richness.

In fact, for a while I was teaching Intro to Bible classes to college students, I would assign them to read several children’s bible story books and critique them on how well they actually captured the richness of the story as we studied it in our class. For instance, in the original Hebrew of the Genesis story, God takes some adamah (the Hebrew word for dirt) and fashions an adam (which we translate as the name Adam, but would be much better translated as “an earthling” made from earth.) It’s clearly a wordplay intended to remind us that we are kin to the dirt beneath our feet.

That’s why in my tale I have God take some rich dark dirt—humus—and use it to make humus beings. Of course, it’s playful, but it’s also profound: the earth’s soil is our distant cousin, and we ought to treat it with reverence and kindness. That’s an echo of the Genesis tale that we desperately need to hear today. And I carry that theme further by explaining why we name the animals in the garden—not to control them, but to befriend them. This idea is also in the Hebrew, where the purpose of naming is to establish relationship.

The Genesis creation tales were never intended to be science, but rather to be rich in symbolism, and kids are as conversant in symbol as adults—so this tale tries to recapture some of that symbolism and offer it to children.

when god

Mimosa: Joan Lindeman’s illustrations depict God in many races, but all show her as a girl. Was gender an important factor in this choice, or did it come about simply because the story is about a girl?

David: Very intentional—as a man who’s been deeply shaped by feminist theology, I am convinced that the way we image—and gender—God affects the way we value gender among humans. A God who is always portrayed as male does harm girls (and women!) by suggesting that the most holy and whole “Person” is male. It absolutely gives femaleness a second-class value. I wanted my daughter to know in her imagination, which is where our deepest truths reside, that she, too, was fully in the “image of God.” And, because Susanna’s childhood joy was art projects, I wanted her to know that the exuberant joy she felt while creating art was one moment in which she knew God’s own exuberant joy.

Beyond this, I also use the story to challenge two other damaging biases we often hold. At least over the last several hundred years, darkness has come to be “coded” as threatening, deficient, even evil. That dys-valuing of darkness undergirds racism, and fills our language with lots of metaphors that inevitably spill over onto the skin and into the souls of persons of color. So in my story, when Susanna says that Love was the color of darkness, she reclaims the dark for Good.

Similarly, whenever a creation account concludes with the first two human beings it implies that somehow these first two—whatever color or size they were—were somehow the “best” against which all of us either measure up or fall short (sort of the way that media images of girls and women today leave most many feeling impossibly inadequate). So in my story God creates “whole bunches of them” from the very start—in all hues and all sizes—and they’re all called “very good.” Diversity and difference are there from the start, as part of God’s plan for the world.

Of course, I don’t spell all of this out, but it’s there, peeking out from within the richness of the story. And as the story is read and re-read it does plant seeds of these ideas in the imagination of both children and adults, and some of these seeds will bear fruit.

Finally, of course, Joan brings the diversity, the joy, and the tenderness of this tale vividly to life in her stunning illustrations. It was her idea to portray God as a little girl with differing ethnic features (and at different ages) in the story, inviting that many more girls to find reflections of themselves in its pages.

Mimosa: Is it tough to market a book with “God” in the title?

David: Well, it’s tough to market this book, for sure. Most Christian bookstores tend to be more conservative in tone, and the book’s feminist tilt isn’t exactly in sync with most of their customers. But many general bookstores and children’s bookstores also don’t quite know what to do with it. It’s got too much “God” to fit with the general picture books, but not quite the “right” God to be at home in the “religious” picture books. I guess you’d say it’s a hidden gem. Actually the two bookstores where it has done the best are the Ten Thousand Villages (Fair Trade crafts) store in St. Paul, where it appeals a customer base that is largely progressive and female—and here at Mimosa, where religion is honored for its richness that spills over many boundaries.

Mimosa: What was it like to win a Nautilus Award?

David: Oh my, my eyes filled with tears when I told my wife, and my voice broke with emotion when I called my parents. This is a self-published book, crowd-funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The odds of us winning a national book award in which we were competing with books published by major publishers were long indeed. But the Nautilus Awards were founded fifteen years ago with the express purpose to identify and lift up “books that inspire and connect our lives” offering “spiritual growth, green values, and positive social change.” That is exactly what we set out to create in When God Was a Little Girl, and Joan and I are both so very pleased that the Nautilus Awards saw these very things in our book. We would have taken great pride in our book no matter what, but it is a truly sweet joy to see its richness recognized by others.

Link to David Weiss’s website