Cristina Biaggi: in Her Own Write

Cristina Biaggi, age 19, sold some jewelry her father had given her and with the money, flew to Turkey. She then boarded a bus where she made friends for the afternoon with a young man who asked her, probably with the intention of seducing her, where she was going. “To the Bosphorus. I’m going to swim it,” she replied. “Would you like to come with me?”

He would. On the beach, she changed into her swimsuit behind some rocks and headed into the water. He did the same. They swam together for a short while until he tired and went back. Cristina kept going. She swam out to the middle of the strait not realizing she was in the path of an on-coming oil tanker too ponderous to swerve to avoid her, but fortune was on her side and it missed her by feet.

She kept swimming. The currents were strong.

She tired just short of the Asian shore and fearing she didn’t have the energy to swim back, hitched a tow from a fishing boat.

When she finally got home, her family was frantic with worry. Cristina was calm. All she’d done was go swimming. And provide a legendary tale about her belief in her own power, her refusal to admit to barriers, her hunger for adventure.

Born in Switzerland as a citizen of the world to an American mother and an Italian father, Cristina has roamed Mother Earth. She’s climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa and Acongagua in Argentina, Shasta and Rainier in the United States, Vilnius in Georgia, Popocatepetl in Mexico, and just two years ago, recuperating from a broken leg, the still active Gorely volcano in Siberia. She climbed Gorely in a nine hour round trip with her 81 year old brother, Gianni, in the rain. Why? To stand at the top and scream and yell, “I did it!” But also to be as near the roiling center of the earth as she can get.

She has spent her career studying Neolithic and Paleolithic prehistory and celebrating the Great Goddess. Her interest began when she was young and struggling with her Catholic upbringing. She felt there must be something more than a paternalistic God and in Joseph Campbell’s The Power Of Myth she discovered the Great Goddess, feminine spirituality, and a cyclical way of understanding the world.

Cristina’s art and scholarly work are inextricably entwined. She studied with the sculptors Clara Fasano and Avard Fairbanks before earning a PhD from New York University in the aesthetics of art and prehistory.

Currently, she is exhibiting an installation Triptych Portal at the Saunders Farm Project in Garrison that illustrates her interest in openings to other worlds. Her next project is to build a Goddess mound evoking the caves of early worship or womb-like spaces within the Great Mother earth.

A recognized scholar in the field, Cristina has been instrumental in resurrecting the concept of the nurturing, fecund Great Mother in contradistinction to the modern concept of a ruthless “Mother Nature.”

She is in demand at national and international conferences and has authored or edited a number of books including Habitations of the Great Goddess, In The Footsteps of the Goddess: Personal Stories, and The Rule of Mars: Readings on the Origins, History and Impact of Patriarchy.

Her fourth book, Activism Into Art, due out at the end of the year, explores the political edge of her art. She hopes to see a woman President of the United States. In her view, because they give birth, women have a feeling for the pulse of humanity. Cristina considers democratic socialism the ideal form of government because it allows for the development of the self and respect for the natural world.

Others may disagree with her or not keep up, but no matter. Cristina Biaggi keeps on swimming. For more information about Cristina’s art and writing, go to