The Goddess movement includes spiritual beliefs or practices (chiefly neopagan) which has emerged predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1970s. The movement grew as a reaction to perceptions of predominant organized religion as male-dominated, and makes use of goddess worship and a focus on gender and femininity.
The Goddess movement is a widespread, non-centralized trend in neopaganism, and therefore has no centralized tenets of belief. Practices vary widely, from the name and number of goddesses worshipped to the specific rituals and rites used to do so. Some, such as Dianic Wicca, exclusively worship female deities, while others do not. Belief systems range from monotheistic to polytheism to pantheistic, encompassing a range of theological variety similar to that in the broader neopagan community. Common pluralistic belief means that a self-identified Goddess worshiper could theoretically worship any number of different goddesses from cultures all over the world. Based on its characteristics, the Goddess movement is also referred to as a form of cultural religiosity that is increasingly diverse, geographically widespread, eclectic, and more dynamic in process.
Goddesses refers to a local or specific deities linked clearly to a particular culture and often to particular aspects, attributes and powers (for example: the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna/Ishtar; Athena; or Hindu goddesses like Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, poetry, music, inspiration and wisdom; and Lakshmi goddess of wealth and sovereignty).
One can regard a goddess (in this sense) as an aspect of the Great Goddess as well as a specific goddess with a particular role within a pantheon. The Hindu goddess, Durga, is a case in point. The name Durga can refer to a specific aspect of the Goddess but in the Shakti forms of Hinduism generally refers to the Great Goddess as AdyaShakti: the primordial Shakti who incorporates all aspects. There is also the Kali-type goddess, which has several local variants in India including Lumrahi and Bhadra Kali. A goddess can also be independent - one who is not linked or associated with other deities as a variation or some epithet of another. The association of independence in goddesses can also mean that a deity has not been married off or subverted to another in the course of subsequent adaptations. The latter, particularly, is preferred as reflected in Indian texts, because "independent goddesses" tend to have destructive nature.
Capitalization of terms such as "Goddess" and "Goddesses" usually vary with author or with the style guides of publications or publishers. Within the Goddess community, members generally consider it proper to capitalize the word "Goddess", but not necessary when generic references are made, as in the word "goddesses".
In the 19th century, some first-wave feminists such as Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton published their ideas describing a female deity, whilst anthropologists such as Johann Jakob Bachofen examined the ideas of prehistoric matriarchal Goddess cultures. However, these ideas were largely ignored in the North America and much of Europe until second-wave feminism. In the 1960s and 1970s, feminists who became interested in the history of religion also refer to the work of Helen Diner (1965), whose book Mothers and Amazons: An Outline of Female Empires was first published in German in 1932; Mary Esther Harding (1935), the first significant Jungian psychoanalyst in the United States; Elizabeth Gould Davis (1971); and Merlin Stone (1976).
Since the 1970s, Goddess Spirituality has emerged as a recognizable international cultural movement. In 1978 Carol P. Christ's widely reprinted essay "Why Women Need the Goddess," which argues in favor of the concept of there having been an ancient religion of a supreme goddess, was presented as the keynote address to an audience of over 500 at the "Great Goddess Re-emerging" conference at the University of California, Santa Cruz; it was first published in the The Great Goddess Issue of Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics (1978). Carol P. Christ also co-edited the classic feminist religion anthologies Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (1989) and Womanspirit Rising (1979/1989); the latter included her essay "Why Women Need the Goddess."
From 1974 to 1984, WomanSpirit, a journal edited in Oregon by Jean and Ruth Mountaingrove, published articles, poetry, and rituals by women, exploring ideas and feelings about female deity. The journal The Beltane Papers, which started publication at about the same time until mid-2011. In 1983, Jade River and Lynnie Levy founded the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International (RCG-I) in Madison, Wisconsin. RCG-I continues today with groups called "Circles" in many U. S. localities, as well as an educational program, priestess training, and ordination. The Goddess movement has found voice in various films and self-published media, such as the Women and Spirituality trilogy made by Donna Read for the National Film Board of Canada.
Participants in the Goddess movement often invoke myths. However skeptics claim that these have been reconstructed from ancient sources and others are modern inventions. Indeed, these myths are not interpreted literally, but rather figuratively or metaphorically as reflecting ancient understandings and worldviews. For instance, creation myths are not seen as conflicting with scientific understanding but rather as being poetic, metaphoric statements that are compatible with, for example, the theory of evolution, modern cosmology, and physics. Also, the bulk of mythological sources of the Goddess movement are ancient myths that predated the patriarchal period and, therefore, very little was written about them. Aside from the reflection of ancient understanding of these, there are adherents who also turn to contemporary scholarship and literature such as Robert Graves' The White Goddess. Some of this work's interpretation of the Greek mythology such as the ritual year and annual sacrifice of the king were adopted as the basis to describe the goddess' aging and rejuvenation with the seasons.
Myths from ancient cultures are often reinterpreted as new evidence comes to light. Reinterpretation becomes necessary because myths from religions that included goddesses, those after the Bronze Age, including Greek and Roman mythology, are believed to have a patriarchal bias. These new interpretations by Goddess movement authors and women scholars help to provide a truer mirror of the social set up of the period in which the story was written. The myth of Demeter and Persephone is one that has been reinterpreted.
Also, the Goddess movement highlights the legitimacy of the mythological sources from ancient matriarchal societies by citing that these were also behind key elements in Christianity, particularly in the beliefs that "matriarchies fostering goddess worship influenced the attitudes of early Christians toward Mary" and that "the Catholic Church was originally matriarchal with Mary Magdalene, not Peter, as its head." This can also be demonstrated in the devotion to female Christian figures such as the female saints, which the Goddess movement views as Christian continuities of the ancient Goddess worship.
Goddess Spirituality characteristically shows diversity: no central body defines its dogma. Yet there is evolving consensus on some issues including: the Goddess in relation to polytheism and monotheism; immanence, transcendence and other ways to understand the nature of the Goddess. There is also the emerging agreement that the Goddess fulfills the basic functions of empowering women and fostering ethical and harmonious relationships among different peoples as well as between humans, animals, and nature.
One question often asked is whether Goddess adherents believe in one Goddess or many goddesses: Is Goddess spirituality monotheistic or polytheistic? This is not an issue for many of those in the Goddess movement, whose conceptualization of divinity is more all-encompassing. The terms "the Goddess", or "Great Goddess" may appear monotheistic because the singular noun is used. However, these terms are most commonly used as code or shorthand for one or all of the following: to refer to certain types of prehistoric goddesses; to encompass all goddesses (a form of henotheism ); to refer to a modern metaphoric concept of female deity; to describe a form of energy, or a process.
The concept of a singular divine being with many expressions is not a new development in thought: it has been a major theme in India for many centuries, at the very least as far back as the 5th century, though hymns in the early Vedas too speak of a one-Goddess-many-goddesses concept.
Another point of discussion is whether the Goddess is immanent, or transcendent, or both, or something else. Starhawk speaks of the Goddess as immanent (infusing all of nature) but sometimes also simultaneously transcendent (existing independently of the material world). Many Goddess authors agree and also describe Goddess as, at one and the same time, immanently pantheistic and panentheistic. The former means that Goddess flows into and through each individual aspect of nature—each tree, blade of grass, human, animal, planet; the latter means that all exist within the Goddess.
Starhawk also speaks of the Goddess as both a psychological symbol and "manifest reality. She exists and we create Her" (italics hers). Carol P. Christ (2003), describes what she sees as similarities between Goddess theology and process theology, and suggests that Goddess theologians adopt more of the process viewpoint.
The theological variations that characterize the Goddess movement can also be classified into two: the views that describe the Goddess as a metaphor and those that consider the Goddess as a deity. The former emerged from among Jewish and Christian adherents and maintains that the Goddess serves as the means of talking about, imagining, or relating to the divine and this is demonstrated in the push to recover the feminine face of God based on scriptural and historical sources. On the other hand, the theology that the Goddess is a deity, with importantly and unchangeably female persona, emerged out of the feminists who came from polytheistic faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American, and traditional African religions. The goddesses in this theology are rarely understood as metaphors or images since they have distinct individual features and that worshippers can interact with their suprahuman personages or symbols.
Although the Goddess movement has no specific code of behavior, there are commonly held tenets and concepts within the movement that form a basis for ethical behavior. Those participants in Goddess spirituality who define themselves as Wiccan, usually follow what is known as the Wiccan Rede: " 'An it harm none, do what ye will", ("an" being an archaic English word understood to mean "if", or "as long as"). Many also believe in the Threefold Law, which states that "what you send (or do), returns three times over". Some traditions believe that this means it will be returned to the sender three times, or in a portion three times in volume, while others say it will instead be returned to the sender on three levels of being- physical, mental, and spiritual. Still others postulate that the number "three" is symbolic, meant to indicate a magnified karmic result for one's actions.
Some people in the Goddess movement honor the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Maiden aspect of the Goddess shows women how to be independent and strong; the Mother aspect shows women how to be nurturing; and the Crone aspect shows that respecting elders is important and focuses on wisdom, change, and transformation.
Because the Crone aspect of the Goddess is understood by some to be destructive at times, some consider it to contain both positive and negative imagery and to present an ethical quandary. The Hindu Goddess Kali, or Kali Ma, is often seen as an example of the Crone aspect. The concept is that the corrective force in a Dark Age must be a righteously directed dark force. Thus, to combat the demons of ignorance, ego, anger, etc., the darker aspect manifests. Later on, even her fierce image softens in the love of her devotees. Her duality is easily reconciled with the monism of Hinduism, which claims to understand the fundamental unity of truth as being impersonal and stratified in an ego-knotted existence (such as the human condition), and thus to the evil or unrighteous she is destruction personified and to the loving and moral devotee she is nothing but the love of the mother.
Other Goddess ethical beliefs are that one should not harm the interconnected web of life, and that peace and partnership should be the goals, rather than war and domination. According to Goddess theologian Carol P. Christ the following are ethical touchstones:
"Nurture life; Walk in love and beauty; Trust the knowledge that comes through the body; Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering; Take only what you need; Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations; Approach the taking of life with great restraint; Practice great generosity; Repair the web."
The Goddess movement draws some of its inspiration from the work of archaeologists such as Marija Gimbutas,Gimbutas, Marija (1982) . The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, 6500-3500 B.C.: Myths and Cult Images. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-5202-5398-8.</ref> whose interpretation of artifacts excavated from "Old Europe" points to societies of Neolithic Europe that were "matristic" or "goddess-centered" worshipping a female deity of three primary aspects inspiring some neopagan worshippers of Triple Goddess.
Heide Göttner-Abendroth, working in the 1970s to mid 1980s, called these cultures "matriarchies", introducing a feminist field of "Modern Matriarchal Studies". She presented a theory of the transformation of prehistoric cultures in which the local goddess was primary and the male god, if any, derived his power from the goddess. In what she terms the "Downfall", which occurred at varying times throughout a multitude of cultures, the gods overcame the goddesses and made them subservient.
Göttner-Abendroth's terminology is [idiosyncratic]. The term "matriarchy" to describe these cultures has been rejected by many Goddess-movement scholars, especially those in North America, because it implies female domination as the reverse of the male domination present in patriarchy. These scholars make the point that such a reversal was not the case; rather these prehistoric cultures were egalitarian and had a social structure that included matrilineality - inheritance of assets and parentage traced through the maternal line. According to Riane Eisler, cultures in which women and men shared power, and which worshipped female deities, were more peaceful than the patriarchal societies that followed.
Ian Hodder's reinterpretation of Gimbutas and Mellaart's works disputes the existence of "matriarchal" or "matrifocal" cultures, as do some other archaeologists and historians in this field. However, mythologist Joseph Campbell compared the importance of Gimbutas' output to the historical importance of the Rosetta Stone in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. Marija Gimbutas, often dubbed "Grandmother of the Goddess Movement" in the 1990s, continues to be cited by many feminist writers, including Max Dashu. Many other scholars, including Joan Marler and Marguerite Rigoglioso, support her work. Still, Gimbutas' theories had been widely criticized as mistaken on the grounds of dating, archeological context and typologies Some archaeologists consider her goddess hypothesis implausible some regard her work as pseudo-scholarship.
Wicca regards "the Goddess", along with her consort the Horned God, as a deity of prime importance. The earliest Wiccan publications described Wicca as a tribal goddess of the witch community, neither omnipotent nor universal.
Many forms of Wicca have come to regard the Goddess as a universal deity, more in line with her description in the Charge of the Goddess, a key Wiccan text. In this guise she is the "Queen of Heaven", similar to Egyptian goddess Isis; she also encompasses and conceives all life, much like the Greek goddess Gaia. Much like Isis, she is held to be the summation of all other goddesses, who represent her different names and aspects across the different cultures. The Goddess is often portrayed with strong lunar symbolism, drawing on various deities such as Diana, Hecate and Isis, and is often depicted as the Maiden, Mother and Crone triad popularized by Robert Graves (see Triple Goddess below). Many depictions of her also draw strongly on Celtic goddesses. Some Wiccans believe there are many goddesses, and in some forms of Wicca, notably Dianic Wicca, the Goddess alone is worshipped.
Some, but not all, participants in the Goddess movement self-identify as witches, Wiccans or Wiccens. Other participants of the Goddess movement call themselves goddessians Goddessians while others identify as the more generic "pagans".
Some witches, especially Dianics, attempt to trace the historical origins of their beliefs to Neolithic pre-Christian cultures, seeing Wiccanism as a distillation of a religion found at the beginning of most, if not all, cultures. They regard wise women and midwives as the first witches. Dianic witchcraft first became visible in the 1970s, alongside the writings of Zsuzsanna Budapest. Her feminist interpretation of witchcraft followed a few decades after the acknowledgment of Wiccan culture by Gerald Gardner in the 1940s. Today, there are at least 800,000 individuals who consider themselves Wiccan followers or witches in North America.
Gardner and Valiente advocated a proto-feminist ideal of priestess authority in service to the Wiccan God and Goddess. Covens in "traditional" Wicca (i.e., those run along the lines described by Gardner and Valiente) had and have pretty much equal leadership both of a priest and of a priestess; but often consider the priestess "prima inter pares" (first among equals) - according to the book A Witches' Bible, by Stewart and Janet Farrar.
Doreen Valiente became known in Britain as the 'Mother of the Craft' and contributed extensively to Wicca's written tradition. She is the author of The Witches' Creed, which lays out the basics of Wiccan religious belief and philosophy; including the polarity of the God and the Goddess as the two great "powers of Nature" and the two "mystical pillars" of the religion. One way to characterize the central male-female divine dyad in Wicca is to say that it's a duotheistic religion with a theology based on the divine gender polarity of male and female.
The existence of witchcraft as the remnants of an old pagan religion as late as the early Modern Age was first suggested to a wide readership by Margaret Murray's books, The Witch Cult in Western Europe, The God of the Witches (1933) and The Divine King in England. Her works have since been largely discredited by other scholars but have left a feminist legacy upon Wiccan culture.
Wicca and Neopaganism, and to some extent the Goddess movement, were influenced by 19th-century occultism, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and romantic nature movements in which both male and female were valued and honored as sacred, in contrast to and perhaps in reaction to mainstream Christian spirituality. Such views are described, for example, in the work of Robert Graves, especially The White Goddess (the origin of the neopagan 'Triple Goddess' concept) and Mammon and the Black Goddess.
Wicca was also heavily influenced by the ideas of alchemic symbolism, which emphasized the essential complementary polarity of male and female, and that characterized that basic duality or gender polarity as a partnership of the solar (male) and the lunar (female). In Wicca the moon is the symbol of the Goddess and the sun is the symbol of the God; and the central liturgical mystery and ritual act is "The Great Rite" or Hieros Gamos, which is a symbolic union of the God and the Goddess, as the primal male and female powers of the cosmos. In alchemy this was known as "the alchemical wedding" of the sun and the moon. In a parallel vein, traditional Wicca also draws heavily upon the Western Hermetic Tradition and its roots in the kabbalistic Tree of Life; where the twin pillars of masculine and feminine divine forces are joined by a Middle Pillar that encompasses and transcends both male and female. These "twin pillars" as they are shown in tarot decks are analogous to Valiente's depiction of the God and the Goddess as the two "mystical pillars." In this emphasis on the feminine as the equal and complementary polar opposite of the masculine, Wicca echoes not only kabalistic sources but also the polarity of yin and yang—feminine and masculine—in Taoism.
The Dianic view is that separatism, in a world where gender roles were once strictly defined, is sometimes considered dangerous because it challenges what they see as patriarchal assumptions of Western culture.
There are, however, Wiccan groups that do not subscribe to the male-female dualism of the divine. For instance, there is the case of the Budapest Dianics. Although these retained many Wiccan rituals and symbols, they only used female imagery and created a creation myth that eliminated the need for the male. While Wiccans also accept male members, the Dianics called themselves a "wimmin's religion" and, thus, rejected males from their ranks.
Later, in America came Starhawk, activist and author of numerous books, as an influential author/priestess in the American Goddess movement. Her 1979 book, The Spiral Dance, played a large role in popularizing the Goddess movement as well as modern Witchcraft among committed feminists, and is considered a classic of modern Paganism.
Many non-Dianics, as well as Starhawk (herself considered to be one of Budapest's students), who also reject monotheistic patriarchal culture, do not agree with Z's justification for separatism. Starhawk's paganism was more broadly based and also drew on the Feri tradition of Witchcraft which, itself, incorporated Hawaiian, European, and Middle Eastern elements. She was initiated into the Feri tradition in California by Victor and Cora Anderson. Starhawk is one of the founders of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, which includes both women and men, and which honors both the God and the Goddess.
First broadcast on PBS in 1988 as a documentary interview with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, written by Joseph Campbell, was also released in the same year as a book created under the direction of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Power of Myth links the image of the Earth or Mother Goddess to symbols of fertility and reproduction. For example, Campbell states that, "There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... We talk of Mother Earth. And in Egypt you have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere". Campbell continues by stating that the correlation between fertility and the Goddess found its roots in agriculture:
Bill Moyers: But what happened along the way to this reverence that in primitive societies was directed to the Goddess figure, the Great Goddess, the mother earth- what happened to that?
Joseph Campbell: Well that was associated primarily with agriculture and the agricultural societies. It has to do with the earth. The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants...so woman magic and earth magic are the same. They are related. And the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female. It is in the agricultural world of ancient Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Nile, and in the earlier planting-culture systems that the Goddess is the dominant mythic form.
According to Joseph Campbell,
...half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.
One of these metaphors is Eve. Campbell argues that Christianity, originally a denomination of Judaism, embraced part of the Jewish pagan culture and the rib metaphor is an example of how distant the Jewish religion was from the prehistoric religion—the worship of the Mother Goddess or the Goddess.
Many people involved in the Goddess movement regard the Earth as a living Goddess. For some this may be figurative, for others literal. This literal belief is similar to that proposed by Gaia hypothesis, and the Goddess-name Gaia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Earth. For the Goddess-movement practitioners, Gaia personifies the entire earthly ecosystem and is the means to achieve harmonic symbiosis or the wholeness and balance within the natural worlds and physical environment. Many of those in the Goddess movement become involved in ecofeminism, and are concerned with environmental and ecological issues. Goddess-movement adherents claim the hierarchical scheme giving humans dominion over the Earth (and nature) has led to lack of respect and concern for the Earth, and thus to what environmentalists identify as environmental crises, such as global warming. Rather than having dominion over the Earth, Goddess-movement theorists see humans living as part of the Earth environment, and also refer to Earth as "Mother". Here, humans are considered on equal level with non-human inhabitants since all must be accorded the same moral and religious consideration, respect, and reverence.
There are sources who cite that this focus on the environment is one of the aspects that distinguishes the goddess movement with the New Age movement. This emerges as the former is sometimes mistaken as a subcategory of the latter due to the way the goddess movement draw from many resources that are New Age in character such as esoterica, mystery traditions, magic, astrology, divinatory techniques, and shamanism, among others. Both are also concerned with valuing one's self as inherently sacred. The goddess movement, on the other hand, is equally concerned with valuing the environment, including its human and non-human inhabitants. This attitude towards the environment is reflected in the way the movement view the concepts of femaleness, the deity, and politics. In comparison with the traditional theology where God is placed at the top of the hierarchical system, ruling over man and nature, the movement maintains that humanity and divinity must not be distinguished from nature or that earth is the body of the goddess and all beings are interconnected in the web of life.
Reclaiming Witchcraft is an organization of feminist modern Witchcraft, aiming to combine the Goddess movement with political activism (in the peace and anti-nuclear movements). "Reclaiming" was founded in 1979, in the context of the Reclaiming Collective (1978–1997), by two Neopagan women of Jewish descent, Starhawk (Miriam Simos) and Diane Baker, in order to explore and develop feminist Neopagan emancipatory rituals. The specific period of its founding can be traced back to the civil action during the 1970s called Diablo Canyon protest, which opposed the construction of a nuclear plant.
The reclaiming is guided by a shared, "Principles of Unity, a document that lists the core values of the tradition: personal authority, inclusivity, social and environmental justice and a recognition of intersectionality". Particularly, Starhawk contributed a strong feminist stance drawn from the influences of the Dianic Wicca and Feri Tradition, which is an eclectic kind of witchcraft taught by Victor Henry Anderson. Starhawk maintained that Western societies suffer from a spiritual disease caused by the value systems of patriarchal religions, which deny the nature of reality such as the way human habitation is conditioned on ecological interrelation and anthropological interdependence; and the sexed, embodied nature of the elemental birthing power is female.
Today, the organization focuses on progressive social, political, environmental and economic activism. Reclaiming integrates magic rituals and instruction to its political activism. For instance, followers performed the spiral dances during its protest meetings against the World Trade Organization and other agencies of globalization. The Reclaiming also encourages its members to seek knowledge and enlightenment outside of the movement since it does not claim a monopoly of the so-called Wiccan truth.
Spencer, Aida Besançon, Donna Hailson, Catheirne Clark Kroeger, The Goddess Revival: A Biblical Response to God(dess) Spirituality, The House of Prisca and Aquila Series (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1995).
The Babalon Working was a series of magic ceremonies or rituals performed from January to March 1946 by author, pioneer rocket-fuel scientist, and occultist Jack Parsons and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. This ritual was essentially designed to manifest an individual incarnation of the archetypal divine feminine called Babalon. The project was based on the ideas of Aleister Crowley, and his description of a similar project in his 1917 novel Moonchild.Carol Patrice Christ
Carol Patrice Christ (born 1945) is a feminist historian, theologian, author, and foremother of the Goddess movement. She is the author of the widely reprinted essay "Why Women Need the Goddess," which argues in favor of the concept of there having been an ancient religion of a supreme goddess.Feminist theology
Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts and matriarchal religion.Feraferia
Feraferia is a Neopagan religion with a community that began in Southern California and now spans the United States and parts of Europe. Members of this community practice Hellenic-inspired Goddess worship.
The founder of the group, Fredrick McLaren Charles Adams II, experienced an ecstatic religious conversion in 1956 when he became viscerally certain of the primacy of the Goddess. Among many other intellectuals with whom he corresponded and exchanged ideas, Adams met and was deeply influenced by Robert Graves and his book The White Goddess. In 1957, Adams founded the classically inspired Fellowship of Hesperides and in 1959, he started a multi-family intentional community in Sierra Madre, California.
Following on the Fellowship of Hesperides, Feraferia was established in 1967 as a nonprofit corporation in the State of California, and as such, is one of the oldest organizations of Neopaganism in the United States. The name Feraferia is a combination of the Latin root words fera, denoting “wild” or “feral,” and feria, or “festival.” The religion is based on the celebration of wild nature with a focus on the maiden Goddess Kore. For six years, Adams published the newsletter Korythalia once a month with inspiration and updates for Feraferians.
During the 1970s, Adams, with Carroll "Poke" Runyon of the Ordo Templi Astartes, and Oberon Zell of the Church of All Worlds formed The Council of Themis, the first attempt to unite various hermetic, Neopagan, and ceremonial magic groups in the United States. Adams, and Feraferia, were represented in Runyon's early Neopagan magazine, The 7th Ray, with Adams illustrating as well as writing expositions on the Feraferia approach to what later became known as the Goddess movement.
In 1989, Feraferia member and award-winning filmmaker Jo Carson began shooting and directing the documentary film Dancing With Gaia to explore the meaning of Feraferia through words and images. The film features interviews with Adams and other prominent Neopagans and visits to sacred sites around the world.
Adams died in August 2008, followed by his wife and co-founder of Feraferia, Lady Svetlana of Feraferia (Svetlana Butyrin) in 2010. Adams named Jo Carson as literary executor of his estate and charged her with the mission of disseminating the messages of Feraferia to other Neopagan communities and the world.
Carson has since published Celebrate Wildness: Magic, Mirth and Love on the Feraferia Path, a handbook of Feraferia and a showcase for Adams’ prolific artwork. Carson has presented on aspects of Feraferia numerous times at the Neopagan conference PantheaCon, and maintains a physical library for and about Feraferia as well as an extensive website with more than 150 articles. Currently, Carson is working on a new publication, The Green Pulse Oracle: A Tool for Eco-Psychic Insight, based on a system of oracular glyphs first developed by Adams.Full Circle (1993 film)
Full Circle is a 1993 Canadian documentary, third and last of the National Film Board of Canada's Women and Spirituality series, focusing on women's spirituality in the Western World at the end of the 20th century, the Goddess movement and feminist Wicca new religious movements, as the preceding Goddess Remembered and The Burning Times featuring neopagan activist Starhawk.
In this documentary, authors, teachers, social activists and feminists explore manifestations of contemporary women's spirituality in the Western world. Drawing on the customs, rites and knowledge of the past, Full Circle envisions a sustainable future where domination is replaced with respect. At the centre of these discussions is a reverence for the Earth.Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. Goddesses have been linked with virtues such as beauty, love, motherhood and fertility (Mother-goddess cult in prehistoric times). They have also been associated with ideas such as war, creation, and death.
In some faiths, a sacred female figure holds a central place in religious prayer and worship. For example, Shaktism, the worship of the female force that animates the world, is one of the three major sects of Hinduism.
The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic "Great Goddess" is advocated by some modern matriarchists as a female version of, preceding, or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean Axis Age.
Polytheist religions, including Polytheistic reconstructionists, honour multiple goddesses and gods, and usually view them as discrete, separate beings. These deities may be part of a pantheon, or different regions may have tutelary deities. The reconstructionists, like their ancient forebears, honour the deities particular to their country of origin.Goddess Remembered
Goddess Remembered is a 1989 Canadian documentary on the Goddess movement and feminist theories surrounding Goddess worship in Old European culture according to Marija Gimbutas, and Merlin Stone's When God Was a Woman.
This poetic documentary is a salute to 35 000 years of "pre-history," to the values of ancestors only recently remembered, and to the goddess-worshipping religions of the ancient past. Goddess Remembered features Merlin Stone, Carol Christ, Luisah Teish, Starhawk, Charlene Spretnak, and Jean Shinoda Bolen, who link the loss of goddess-centred societies with today's environmental crisis. They propose a return to the belief in an interconnected life system, with respect for the earth and the female, as fundamental to our survival.
Goddess Remembered is the first film in the National Film Board of Canada's Women and Spirituality series, followed by The Burning Times.The main theme of the film, composed by Loreena McKennitt, was released as the track "Ancient Pines" on her album Parallel Dreams.Human female sexuality
Human female sexuality encompasses a broad range of behaviors and processes, including female sexual identity and sexual behavior, the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political, and spiritual or religious aspects of sexual activity. Various aspects and dimensions of female sexuality, as a part of human sexuality, have also been addressed by principles of ethics, morality, and theology. In almost any historical era and culture, the arts, including literary and visual arts, as well as popular culture, present a substantial portion of a given society's views on human sexuality, which include both implicit (covert) and explicit (overt) aspects and manifestations of feminine sexuality and behavior.
In most societies and legal jurisdictions, there are legal bounds on what sexual behavior is permitted. Sexuality varies across the cultures and regions of the world, and has continually changed throughout history, and this also applies to female sexuality. Aspects of female sexuality include issues pertaining to biological sex, body image, self-esteem, personality, sexual orientation, values and attitudes, gender roles, relationships, activity options, and communication.Matriarchal religion
A matriarchal religion is a religion that focuses on a goddess or goddesses. The term is most often used to refer to theories of prehistoric matriarchal religions that were proposed by scholars such as Johann Jakob Bachofen, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Marija Gimbutas, and later popularized by second-wave feminism. In the 20th century, a movement to revive these practices resulted in the Goddess movement.Modern Paganism
Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Although they do share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and no single set of beliefs, practices or texts are shared by them all. Most academics studying the phenomenon have treated it as a movement of different religions, whereas a minority instead characterise it as a single religion into which different Pagan faiths fit as denominations. Not all members of faiths or beliefs regarded as Neopagan self-identify as "Pagan".
Adherents rely on pre-Christian, folkloric and ethnographic sources to a variety of degrees; many follow a spirituality which they accept as being entirely modern, while others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Academic research has placed the Pagan movement along a spectrum, with Eclecticism on one end and Polytheistic Reconstructionism on the other. Polytheism, animism and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology. Rituals take place in both public and in private domestic settings.
The Pagan relationship with Christianity is often strained. Contemporary Paganism has sometimes been associated with the New Age movement, with scholars highlighting both similarities and differences. From the 1990s onwards, scholars studying the modern Pagan movement have established the academic field of Pagan studies.Monica Sjöö
Monica Sjöö, (December 31, 1938 – August 8, 2005), was a Swedish painter, writer and a radical anarcho/ eco-feminist who was an early exponent of the Goddess movement.Her most famous painting is the controversial God Giving Birth (1968), which depicts a non-white woman giving birth; it was censored multiple times and at one art show, Sjöö was reported to the police for blasphemy.Sjöö was the main author of 'Towards a Revolutionary Feminist Art' (1971) one of the first, and most militant, feminist art manifestos. It was discussed widely in the feminist press, and The Guardian published an article in response. Ann Pettitt, one of the founders of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, subsequently contributed to a later iteration.
In 1976 Sjöö was the subject of a film documentary shown at the ICA and NFT.Monica Sjöö wrote the original pamphlet that, with Barbara Mor's re-write and expansion, would become the book The Great Cosmic Mother (1987). It covers women's ancient history and the origin of religion, and is one of the first books to propose that humanity's earliest religious and cultural belief systems were created and first practised by women. It is currently in print and has been, and still is, a part of many women's studies, mythology and religious studies syllabi. Her research and writing helped uncover the hidden history of the Goddess. Sjöö's successful use of interdisciplinarity in her research has led to its acclaim within the Goddess movement.Her art and writing became well known outside of the UK, and throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s she had extensive correspondence with influential American writers, artists and pagans such as Jean & Ruth Mountaingrove, Starhawk, Zsusanna Budapest, Lucy Lippard, Alice Walker, and Judy Chicago.Mother goddess
A mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.
There is difference of opinion between the academic and the popular conception of the term. The popular view is mainly driven by the Goddess movement and reads that primitive societies initially were matriarchal, worshipping a sovereign, nurturing, motherly earth goddess. This was based upon the nineteenth-century ideas of unilineal evolution of Johann Jakob Bachofen. According to the academic view, however, both Bachofen and the modern Goddess theories are a projection of contemporary world views on ancient myths, rather than attempting to understand the mentalité of that time. Often this is accompanied by a desire for a lost civilization from a bygone era that would have been just, peaceful and wise. However, it is highly unlikely that such a civilization ever existed.For a long time, feminist authors advocated that these peaceful, matriarchal agrarian societies were exterminated or subjugated by nomadic, patriarchal warrior tribes. An important contribution to this was that of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. Her work in this field is now however largely rejected. Also with feminist archaeologists this vision is nowadays considered highly controversial.Since the sixties of the twentieth century, especially in popular culture, the alleged worship of the mother goddess and the social position that women in prehistoric societies supposedly assumed, were linked. This made the debate a political one. According to the goddess movement, the current male-dominated society should return to the egalitarian matriarchy of earlier times. That this form of society ever existed was supposedly supported by many figurines that were found.
In academic circles, this prehistoric matriarchy is considered unlikely. Firstly, worshiping a mother goddess does not necessarily mean that women ruled society. In addition, the figurines can also portray ordinary women or goddesses, and it is unclear whether there really ever was a mother goddess.Motherpeace Tarot
The Motherpeace Tarot is a deck of tarot cards inspired by the Goddess movement and second-wave feminism. Created in the 1970s, it has never been out of print, and in 2017 was given a new lease of life in a Christian Dior fashion collection.Reclaiming (Neopaganism)
Reclaiming is a modern witchcraft tradition, aiming to combine the Goddess movement with feminism and political activism (in the peace and anti-nuclear movements). Reclaiming was founded in 1979, in the context of the Reclaiming Collective (1978–1997), by two Neopagan women of Jewish descent, Starhawk and Diane Baker, in order to explore and develop feminist Neopagan emancipatory rituals.Today, the organization focuses on progressive social, political, environmental and economic activism. Guided by a shared, "Principles of Unity, a document that lists the core values of the tradition: personal authority, inclusivity, social and environmental justice and a recognition of intersectionality".Starhawk
Starhawk (born Miriam Simos on June 17, 1951) is an American writer, teacher and activist. She is known as a theorist of feminist Neopaganism and ecofeminism. She is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and for On Faith, the Newsweek/Washington Post online forum on religion.
Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance (1979) was one of the main inspirations behind the Goddess movement.
In 2012, she was listed in Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.Stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany
The stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany are a megalithic tradition of monuments consisting of standing stones arranged in rings. These were constructed from 3300 to 900 BCE in Britain, Ireland and Brittany. It has been estimated that around 4,000 of these monuments were originally constructed in this part of north-western Europe during this period. Around 1,300 of them are recorded, the others having been destroyed.Although stone circles have been erected throughout history by a variety of societies and for a variety of reasons, in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages, this particular tradition was limited to the British Isles and the neighbouring area of continental Europe now known as Brittany. The rings were not distributed equally across this area, but were concentrated in several highland regions: north-eastern and central Scotland, the Lake District, the south-west peninsula of England, and the north and south-west of Ireland. Sparser groupings can also be found in Caithness, the Outer Hebrides, the Peak District, the Wicklow Mountains, Wales and Wessex.Their original purpose is not fully known, but archaeological investigation has shed some light on it. It is widely thought that they served a ritual or ceremonial purpose, particularly in relation to solar and/or lunar alignments. In a minority of cases, some were also used as cemeteries, with burials being made in and around the circle.
Antiquarian investigation into the circles began in the Early Modern period, intensifying after the publications of notable English antiquarian William Stukeley in the 18th century. At the time, scholars understood little of prehistoric Britain, with the megalithic circles typically being ascribed either to the druids of the Iron Age or to the Danish settlers of Early Medieval times.
In the 20th century, with the development of archaeology, archaeologists could investigate the circles in more detail. They dated them to the Late Neolithic and Bronze ages. Since the late 20th century, many of these monuments were adopted as "sacred sites" by adherents of contemporary pagan religions such as Neo-Druidism, Wicca and the Goddess movement, and they had used the sites as places to conduct their magico-religious rites.The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy is a book of religious history and archaeology written by the English historian Ronald Hutton, first published by Blackwell in 1991. It was the first published synthesis of the entirety of pre-Christian religion in the British Isles, dealing with the subject during the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman occupation and Anglo-Saxon period. It then proceeds to make a brief examination of their influence on folklore and contemporary Paganism.
In keeping with what was by then the prevailing academic view, it disputed the widely held idea that ancient paganism had survived into the contemporary and had been revived by the Pagan movement. In turn, it proved somewhat controversial among some sectors of the Pagan community, with two prominent members of the Goddess movement, Asphodel Long and Max Dashu publishing criticisms of it.The Spiral Dance
For the dance, see Spiral Dance. For the band, see Spiral Dance (band).The Spiral Dance: a Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess is a best-selling book about Neopagan belief and practice written by Starhawk. It was first published in 1979, with a second edition in 1989 and a third edition in 1999. Since its publication, it has become a classic book on Wicca and modern witchcraft, spiritual feminism and the Goddess movement, and ecofeminism. The book has been translated into other languages, including German and Danish.Thealogy
Thealogy views divine matters with feminine perspectives including but not only feminism. Valerie Saiving, Isaac Bonewits (1976) and Naomi Goldenberg (1979) introduced the concept as a neologism (new word) in feminist terms. Its use then widened to mean all feminine ideas of the sacred, which Charlotte Caron usefully explained in 1993: "reflection on the divine in feminine or feminist terms". By 1996, when Melissa Raphael published Thealogy and Embodiment, the term was well established.As a neologism, the term derives from two Greek words: thea, θεά, meaning "goddess", the feminine equivalent of theos, "god" (from PIE root *dhes-); and logos, λόγος, plural logoi, often found in English as the suffix -logy, meaning "word", "reason" or "plan", and in Greek philosophy and theology the divine reason implicit in the cosmos.Thealogy has areas in common with feminist theology, the study of God from a feminist perspective, often emphasising monotheism. Thus the relation is an overlap as thealogy is not limited to deity in spite of its etymology; the two fields have been described as both related and interdependent.