Feminist Theology Tag - PaganSquare - Join the conversation! http://witchesandpagans.com/latest.html Tue, 23 May 2017 02:16:21 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Visiting the Past to Find Hope for the Future http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/third-wave-witch/visiting-the-past-to-find-hope-for-the-future.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/third-wave-witch/visiting-the-past-to-find-hope-for-the-future.html This post was originally posted at my WordPress blog, Priestessing the Dream

I've been on a bit of a feminist thealogy/feminist spirituality history tour of late. It feels like the moment is ripe for a whole new wave of Goddess Spirituality to be born, with the resurgence in interest in Witchcraft born of the #Resistance, plus the newly visible nature of the feminist movement due to the Women's March. The work of W.I.T.C.H. in Portland and Chicago has also been a reminder of the rich intertwining of feminist politics and witchcraft that gave rise to the Goddess Spirituality I practice . Even though I part ways with many of the movement's founders on issues of trans inclusion, biological essentialism, cultural appropriation, and more, at my core Goddess Spirituality and Witchcraft are what shapes my life and work and gives them meaning.

I've been re-reading The Politics of Women's Spirituality (1981), edited by Charlene Spretnak. Many women who would become leading lights in the Feminist Spirituality movement, including Carol P. Christ, Merlin Stone, and Starhawk, appear in this volume. Many of them were just starting out their careers as the Feminist Spirituality movement was being birthed -- Carol P. Christ's "Why Women Need the Goddess" had been published just 3 years before, and Starhawk's The Spiral Dance came out a year after that. The move to reinsert women into the male-centered historical narratives that underpin Western history was still young, but in full swing. Ronald Reagan and the Moral Majority had yet to appear on the cultural scene. It had been less than a decade since Roe v. Wade.

mini-altarI have to keep reminding myself of how long ago this book was published (though not really that long), and of all the things that had yet to happen and shape American culture and feminist thought when it was published. It is, in many ways, a book of a specific historical moment. It relies on language, largely binary and heavily steeped in biological essentialism, that the feminism I know and practice rejects. But it does so because that was the language of its time -- and while many of the women who contributed to Politics have ultimately shown themselves to be trans-exclusionary and essentialist in their thinking, others have gone on to use more inclusive language and practice. I fall (as you know) into the second camp, advocating for a Goddess Spirituality that is inclusive and affirming of all women, and which does not rely on biological essentialism for its central narrative. So I occasionally do find myself annoyed with the language in some of these essays, until I remind myself to take them as a product of their times. (I let myself eye-roll at the writers who I know to be consciously exclusionary, though.)

Even with the problems, however, I think this book is so important for people in the Goddess Spirituality community to read. It is one of the germinal texts of our movement, and the thinking laid out in these essays helps us understand where we have come from and, hopefully, where we are going.

And what strikes me above all is how hopeful these writers were. They truly believed that a better world was on her way. Not just through Goddess Spirituality, but through the building of a women's culture (however problematic that term might be), through the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (which never has been ratified), through the groundswell of feminist thinking and activism they were witnessing. The flowering of feminist publications, of consciousness raising groups, of social change like Title IX and laws against sexual harassment in the workplace -- it was all such cause for hope. They couldn't know about the backlash against feminism that was just a few years down the line. They couldn't know about the Reagan years and the growth of the anti-abortion movement. They certainly couldn't know about Trump. They believed they were the Amazons come to change the world.

It's easy to look back at that know and find it all kind of hokey and cliche -- even the late Margot Adler, in her 2006 update to Drawing Down the Moon, said she looked back on her essay about Feminist Witchcraft in the original and found it a bit idealistic -- but I think we should be careful here. Yes, the New Amazon Way did not come to pass -- or has not come to pass yet. But the hopefulness, the fierceness, the imagination, and the dedication that the founders of Goddess Spirituality brought to what they did is worth emulating. They may not have enacted culture-wide change, but they left us with an amazing legacy, and the rise of the more general NeoPagan movement in the US owes much to Feminist Witches.

I don't want to see us return to essentialist thinking about gender, and I want to see us move beyond the TERF thinking that mars our community. I want to see us build a Goddess Spirituality that does help to change the world, and does so in part by welcoming and affirming all those who hear Her call. And I want to channel that hope, that optimism, that I find in the pages of The Politics of Women's Spirituality so that I can work to create the next generation of Goddess Spirituality.

dakotawitch@gmail.com (Susan Harper) SageWoman Blogs Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:08:26 -0800
Can Good Theology Change the World? Part 2 http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/can-good-theology-change-the-world-part-2.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/can-good-theology-change-the-world-part-2.html

In the first blog in this series, I argued that one of the hallmarks of a good theology is recognizing that the source of authority must be located in individuals and communities who interpret texts and traditions as they encounter divinity anew in the present. In our new book Goddess and God World, Judith Plaskow and I suggest that a second hallmark of good theology is the “turn to the world.” What we mean by this is not only that divinity is immanent in the world, but also that the purpose of human life is to be found in this world—not the next.

The God of traditional theologies is pictured as an old man with a long white beard who rules the world from heaven. It is commonly assumed by those familiar with this picture that the purpose and meaning of human life is not to be found in this world—but rather in heaven. This assumption is increasingly being challenged. Many people no longer believe in life after death. The purpose of morality is increasingly being understood as improving the conditions for the flourishing of human and other forms of life—not on gaining the approval of a God who has the power to assign individuals to heaven or hell in the next world.

In my earlier book She Who Changes, I argued that western philosophies and theologies took a massive “wrong turn” when they accepted the Platonic dualism of mind and body and argued that the rational soul or spirit can—and should--rise above the body in order to commune with eternal truths. I stated that this “wrong turn” away from the body and the world was rooted in “matricide.”

cpc@otenet.gr (Carol P. Christ) SageWoman Blogs Sun, 28 Aug 2016 23:46:25 -0700
Embodied Theology: Goddess and God in the World by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/embodied-theology-goddess-and-god-in-the-world-by-carol-p-christ-and-judith-plaskow.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/embodied-theology-goddess-and-god-in-the-world-by-carol-p-christ-and-judith-plaskow.html

Our new book Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology has just been released. It just so happens that this is a time for celebrating the harvest. An excerpt from the Introduction introduces the "embodied theological method" we hope will turn the field of theology upside down.

People who reject the popular image of God as an old white man who rules the world from outside it often find themselves at a loss for words when they try to articulate new meanings and images of divinity. Speaking about God or Goddess is no as longer simple as it once was. Given the variety of spiritual paths and practices people follow today, theological discussions do not always begin with shared assumptions about the nature of ultimate reality. In the United States, the intrusion of religion into politics has led many people to avoid the subject of religion altogether. In families and among friends, discussions of religion often culminate in judgment, anger, or tears. Sometimes the conversation is halted before it even begins when someone voices the opinion that anyone who is interested in religion or spirituality is naïve, unthinking, or backward—or, alternatively, that religious views are a matter of personal preference and not worth discussing at all.

cpc@otenet.gr (Carol P. Christ) SageWoman Blogs Tue, 02 Aug 2016 00:13:25 -0700
A Tale of Two Sisters, a Daughter and a Niece http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/a-tale-of-two-sisters-a-daugher-and-a-niece.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/a-tale-of-two-sisters-a-daugher-and-a-niece.html

This continues the story I began last week. Catherina is my 2x great-grandmother; Agnes is my 2x great-aunt; Johanetta is my first cousin, 3x removed, and my step-2x great-grandmother; Henry is my 2x great-grandfather. It is true that Henry had eighteen children with two wives. It is also true that Henry and Johanetta married and had a child soon after Catherina's death. Some of the other details came in waking trance as I allowed the ancestors to tell their stories through me.

Agnes Lattauer Sweitzer: I thought the day Catherina left for America would be the worst day of my life. I did not know I would see Catherina again. I did not know I would outlive my two little sisters and both of my brothers. I did not know what my daughter would do. I read Catherina’s letters from America through my tears. How I wanted to be with her on her wedding day. How I wished she had been with us when we buried our sister Johanetta. My heart nearly burst when Catherina wrote that she longed to take my hand when she gave birth to her first child. My mind contorted itself trying to envision her living in a big city, in a big building, climbing up and down stairs, her feet never touching the earth, her hands never working the soil. What kind of life was that?

cpc@otenet.gr (Carol P. Christ) SageWoman Blogs Mon, 02 May 2016 01:31:07 -0700
Why I Still Need "Why Women Need the Goddess" http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/third-wave-witch/why-i-still-need-why-women-need-the-goddess.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/third-wave-witch/why-i-still-need-why-women-need-the-goddess.html

When I was a young woman in my early 20s, newly on a Pagan path, someone -- I no longer remember who -- put in my hands a copy of WomanSpirit Rising, edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow. I had discovered Goddess-centered Craft a year or so before, when I attended a Spring Equinox celebration and was slightly confused (and then elated) when no male Godhead was invoked. The idea of an explicitly feminist, overtly political, Goddess-centered spirituality excited me -- a young activist who was really coming into her own political consciousness and who had begun to heal the deep wounds left by a childhood spent in the Church of Christ, with its punishing Father God. 

Each essay in WomanSpirit Rising stirred me, but thenI got to Carol P. Christ's "Why Women Need the Goddess," and I read the words


"The affirmation of female power contained in the Goddess symbol has both psychological and political consequences. Psychologically, it means the defeat of the view engendered by patriarchy that women's power is inferior and dangerous. This new "mood" of affirmation of female power also leads to new "motivations" it supports and undergirds women's trust in their own power and the power of other women in family and society."

Something deep inside me clicked, broke loose. It was one of those moments when you know you are hearing Truth. Christ had just put words to something I was feeling, in a far more nascent form. It was like coming home. 

"Why Women Need the Goddess" did more than affirm for me that the path I was on had real-world, material consequences, that it was one of my arsenal of tools for creating the better world that my activism was striving for. It introduced me to the systemic, scholarly study of Goddess religion, and of Goddess religion in its own right and not just as a variation on Wicca. It introduced me to the idea that we can, and should, think deeply about our spirituality even as we find joy in the numinous and also listen to our intuition and soft, small inner voices. 

A few weeks ago, I found myself re-reading "Why Women Need the Goddess" for perhaps the twentieth time, this time when I founded it included in She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? a fabulous collection edited by Helen Hwang. Christ's words hit me with all the force of the first time, and I found myself with tears welling up in my eyes as I read them again, transported for a moment from a train seat in Dallas to the long-ago day when I first found those words in my well-used copy of WomanSpirit Rising

The moment was especially poignant because I had just the day before been having a conversation with a friend and circle-sister of mine, a woman in her 20s, about my fear that the Goddess Spirituality I knew and which had given so much meaning to my life was ossifying, was dying away, both in the face of a culture-wide backlash against feminism and by the refusal of many in the movement to recognize that the feminism which underpinned so much of early Goddess Spirituality was, at its heart, gender-essentialist, transphobic, and generally out of step with feminism in the 21st century. I had expressed my worry that those of us who are working to birth a new generation of Goddess Spirituality are fighting a battle against cultural forces which threaten to make us irrelevant, including forces from within the larger Pagan community that consider a Goddess-centered Paganism to be a fossil, something to be mocked as quaint but ridiculous, as I have so often heard younger Pagan women say. ("I don't want to live all up in my vagina, so I don't do that Goddess stuff," one woman told me in all seriousness when I mentioned that I practiced feminist craft.) 

And yet I consistently find women, of all ages but especially young women in their 20s and 30s, who want to step out of what they see as an increasingly depoliticized Paganism and into a spirituality which feeds their feminist principles and activism. Women who are tired of what they see, especially here in Texas, as the "dude-ification" of Pagan festivals, where they are expected to perform a hypersexualized version of femininity in the name of "honoring the Goddess." Women who simply want to connect with other women -- cis, trans, or otherwise -- in a space that is brave and safe for sharing. 

When they come to me, one of the first things I give them is "Why Women Need the Goddess."

Because 40 years later, we still need this article. We still need the Goddess. We still need each other.

dakotawitch@gmail.com (Susan Harper) SageWoman Blogs Wed, 20 Apr 2016 18:58:00 -0700
The Pope Punts and Catholics Vote with Their Feet by Carol P. Christ http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/the-pope-punts-and-catholics-vote-with-their-feet-by-carol-p-christ.html http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/cretan-musings/the-pope-punts-and-catholics-vote-with-their-feet-by-carol-p-christ.html Reading the recently released papal letter “The Joy of Love,” I was surprised to see that it opens a “new” discussion of marriage and the family with a very old patriarchal trope from Psalm 128:

Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,

who walks in his ways!

You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands;

you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

within your house . . . (see ch. 1, pp. 7-8)

Notwithstanding the “inclusive language” translating the male generic in Hebrew as “one,” there is no way around the fact that this psalm is addressed by a male God to men. It compares women to property owned and tended by men. Nor does it provide any opening to consider the blessings of same sex marriage.

cpc@otenet.gr (Carol P. Christ) SageWoman Blogs Mon, 18 Apr 2016 02:15:10 -0700
PaganNewsBeagle Airy Monday March 16 http://witchesandpagans.com/pagannewsbeagle-airy-monday-march-16.html http://witchesandpagans.com/pagannewsbeagle-airy-monday-march-16.html

In today's Airy Monday, we've got challenges to patriarchal (Catholic) theology; religion vs. academia; Iron Age clothing; Romans in Japan; Ireland before St. Patrick.

As Pagan theologies grapple with our ever-changing world, it can be helpful to note that we aren't alone: this article describes four new fields of study (post-colonial, queer, feminist, and eco-thealogy) are impacting Roman Catholic scholarship.

Why is academia so hostile to religion? (Or is it?) This Salon article examines the fraught relationship between religious belief and intellectualism -- admittedly, from a generally anti-religious point of view -- but with some good questions, nonetheless.

Wondering what Iron Age people wore? There's a whole field of history/archaeology dedicated to finding out.

How wide did ancient peoples trade? Apparently, Roman traders went all the way to Japan, as evidenced by this recent find.

This National Geographic story on ancient Ireland asks "what was Ireland like before St Patrick?"

editor2@bbimedia.com (Anne Newkirk Niven) Pagan News Beagle Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:38:50 -0700