Third Wave Witch: Feminist Spirituality, Spiritual Feminism

Third Wave Witchcraft explores the intersection of feminism, Witchcraft, Goddess Spirituality, and feminist activism. A place to explore how to make our spirituality more feminist, our feminism more spiritual, and our world more just.

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Weekly Goddess Inspiration: Chang O

I gave a little chuckle when Chang O, Chinese Goddess of the Moon, danced into my life this week. I am a fan of the Chang O card in Kris Waldherr's The Goddess Tarot, as she represents Contemplation -- the equivalent of the Hermit -- and spiritual seeking. I identify greatly with her as a symbol for seeking the Goddess and for seeking my own sacredness as a woman.


"Celebrate your femininity with pride"

I chuckled because one of the things I've been talking a lot about this week is the way I love the diversity of gender presentation in my Goddess community. It is such a joy to me to be among Goddess women and witness all the different ways in which they understand, present, adorn, and celebrate themselves.

And at the same time I have often struggled with my own femininity, or to truly celebrate my own form of femininity. As a strapping, Midwestern milkmaid type, I've often lamented that I couldn't do the petite, ultra-femme, pin-up style of femininity. There's a part of me that longs to be Bettie Page, but that also feels ridiculous when I try. I've spent years refining my gender presentation and finding a way to celebrate myself, my body, and my Goddess-ness.

As a woman who has never been what would be considered conventionally attractive by American cultural standards, it's been a struggle to accept myself, love myself, and not try to change myself. It's been hard to be in my body rather than spending all my time in my brain -- a part of myself I've always been far more confident about.

It's been hard to let go of the cultural conditioning about what "feminine" means and instead embrace the fact that every woman or woman-identified person embodies femininity in her own way.

My way happens to range from tank tops and jeans to flowy dresses -- both of which are worn with motorcycle boots as often as not. My femininity is a broomstick skirt with Doc Martens and a men's undershirt. As a good friend of mine says, "You know the expression 'soft butch'? Susan's more like a hard femme." It's taken me time to embrace this, to be OK with the fact that I feel most powerful, most sexy, most in touch with Goddess when I'm not trying so hard!

So Chang O is coming along at just the right time -- of course. She comes along as I have really started to embrace my special brand of beauty, to explore what makes me feel sensual. She comes along as I take a tentative step into the burlesque world with an intro workshop. She comes along at Beltaine, when we embrace our sexuality and sensuality.

Some questions I'm working with this week, and which I hope you'll consider with me:

What does it mean to be "feminine"?

How do I feel about my femininity?

What messages -- positive and negative -- have a internalized about femininity?

How can I celebrate my body?

What do I love about my body?

What messages -- positive and negative -- have I internalized about my body?

How can I counter those negative messages about my body and femininity?



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Susan Harper is an eclectic solitary Feminist Witch from Irving, Texas. She is a professor of Anthropology, Sociology, and Women's Studies, with a focus on gender, religion, and sexuality. She is also an activist, community educator, and writer. When she's not making magick or fomenting social change, Susan is the head soapmaker, herbalist, and aromatherapist for Dreaming Priestess Creations. She shares her life with her partner, Stephanie, five cats, and two guinea pigs.


  • Mea English
    Mea English Thursday, 24 April 2014

    thank you for the nice article. not being familiar with chinese i only know Quan Yin, because i am trans. So through you i now have Chang O! i like to take these helpers one at a time in a natural ways as it seems more organic.

  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper Thursday, 24 April 2014

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I hope you'll be a regular visitor -- I draw a Goddess card each week and post about it. I find working with card decks like The Goddess Inspiration Oracle a great way to learn about different Goddesses, and I love sharing them with the community too.

    I love Chang O and have been having such a lovely time working with her this week!

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