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Feminism and Spirituality

A couple of years ago I was in a learning circle about Feminism when one of my peers introduced an article that described a new "Fourth Wave" of feminism that was focused on Spirituality. My initial reaction to the article was something like: "That sounds a lot like the Goddess Movement." The Goddess Movement has been a target of feminism since its inception. Women who do feminist work through magic or other spiritual means have been accused of distracting vital energy from the really important causes of feminism. Ever since Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Company first wrote The Woman's Bible, asserting that parts of the Bible allowed for a female side of God, other feminists have called the work of Goddess Women too radical and a diversion.

Last spring I produced and directed a full-cast version of Carol Lynn Pearson's one-woman play entitled Mother Wove the Morning. In the play, women throughout history give their personal accounts of how "Mother," the counterpart to God the Father, was meaningful to them, was taken from them, was returned to them. Not all of the actors were Goddess Women and some had no idea there was any such thing as the Goddess Movement. During one particularly interesting rehearsal, we talked about our associations with the word Goddess. One of the women said she wanted to change "Goddess" to "divine feminine" in the script, because what the word "Goddess" brought to mind for her was a Marilyn Monroe-style sex kitten.

To really change the world, women must be equated with the divine as men are.

The reason Carol Lynn gives for writing the play is that: "Where God is male, the male is God." For me, this is, in a nutshell, why spirituality is not only a valid aspect of feminism, but a truly essential part of changing the world for the better, for good. We can protest and legislate, make and build, but now as in the past, the next turn of the political tide erases most of the strides we've made. To really change the world, women must be equated with the divine as men are. The idea that woman is to blame for "the fall" must be replaced with positive ideas of woman's role in the creation of human culture.

With this in mind, I chose feminism and spirituality to mark, arguably, the most important quarter of a witch's year. More than any other time, this darkening, this sacred Hallows holds women's mysteries that are not understood by our modern culture. Our articles represent a wide range of what feminist spirituality means. Kat Sojourner presents the rich history of religion and spirituality as explored by the first-wave feminists. In our second-wave article, Sara Willow interviews Ruth Barrett, one of the important sculptors and elders of Dianic Wicca, a religion that is inarguably grounded in feminism. Finally Sara gives her own account of what it means to be a maiden walking along the path of feminist spirituality.

Today in Iowa, the last of the autumn leaves are turning, falling, filling the air with sweet decay. The sun is shining and warm and Goddess is glorious in her Hallows gown of russet and gold. I wish you all a wondrous final harvest, no matter your crop.

Forthcoming Seasons
And now the process begins anew. The theme for our Imbolc issue will be the feminist activist. I would love to have articles from women who are current activists, working now to change the world through political action. Represent your generation, or write an article about or from the viewpoint of a first-wave feminist. Let's chat about the possibilities: bebhinn73 [at] hotmail [dot] com.

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