Personal Disarmament: Darkness And Light with Deena Metzger

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Poet, playwright, author and psychotherapist, Metzger takes us on an extraordinary journey into the pain and the ecstasy of engaging life to the fullest. She describes her transformative experience with cancer and how the process enabled her to redesign her life, appreciating the simple and listening to the silences. Highlighting this dialogue is her poignant description of a pilgrimage to the Nazi death camps, where her process of self-healing is both


Deena Metzger is a radical thinker on behalf of the natural world and planetary survival, a teacher of writing and healing practices for 50 years. She is a writer and activist profoundly concerned with peacemaking, restoration and sanctuary for a beleaguered world. She has been convening ReVisioning Medicine, bringing Indigenous medicine ways to heal the medical world, since 2004. She is imagining a Literature of Restoration as the foundation of a new viable culture. She, with writer Michael Ortiz Hill, introduced Dare to North America in 1999. Dare and the 19 Ways Training for the 5th World are unique forms of individual, community and environmental healing based on Indigenous and contemporary medicine and wisdom traditions. After a mastectomy in February 1977, she wrote one of the first books on healing breast cancer. Tree, the journal she kept during this time, was included in her book, The Woman Who Slept With Men to Take the War Out of Them (Peace Press). Coincident with this publication, she and photographer Hella Hammid collaborated with graphic designer Sheila de Bretteville to create the exuberant mastectomy poster variously known as Tree Poster or the Warrior Poster . The photo is featured on the cover of the current edition of Tree: Essays and Pieces (North Atlantic Press). The poster of her tattoo has been featured in articles, books, anthologies and on book covers around the world.

Deena Metzger is the author of many books of prose and poetry including:

  • Looking for the Faces of God (Parallax 1989)
  • Writing for Your Life: The Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds (HarperSanFrancisco 1992).
  • What Dinah Thought (Viking 1989).
  • Tree: Essays & Pieces (North Atlantic Books 1997)
  • From Grief into Vision: A Council (Hand to Hand 2007)
  • Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems (Red Hen Press 2009)
  • Entering the Ghost River (Hand to Hand 2002)
  • Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals (Linda Hogan, Brenda Peterson) (Ballantine 1999)
  • The Rain of Night Birds (Hand to Hand 2017)
  • The Burden of Light (Hand to Hand 2019)

To learn more about Deena Metzger go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How personal crisis can be a profound teacher
  • Why healing is an on-going process
  • What is the inner government
  • How to work with fear
  • Why the holocaust is not just a Jewish experience
    Host: Michael Toms          Interview Date: 9/6/1990             Program Number: 2207