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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

           Sep-15-93 20:54:00
           From: White Raven                          
           To: All                                  
           Subject: The Goddess Movement
            I was sitting in the breakroom at work this morning (you know, the
           place where bible quotations greet us in the mornings :) and I dis-
           covered the following article in the 'Colorado Living' section of "The
           Denver Post."  Enjoy
           "The Goddess Movement: Woman-based Spirituality gains followers"
            by Leslie Petrovski
            In mid-September in a sparsely furnished Washington Park home, about
           12 women, mostly in their 30s and 40s, will gather to celebrate Mabon
           -- or fall equinox (sept 23). After a vegetarian potluck dinner, the
           group will sit in a circle around a basket filled with apples, tiny
           pumpkins and acorns -- fruits from the harvest.
            One woman, who started this feminist spirituality group two years
           ago, will start the ceremony by casting the circle -- creating sacred
           space by invoking the elements (eart, fire, water and air) and Goddes-
           ses associated with each element.  During the ritual, the women will
           ask for individual healing, then pass around a globe while asking for
           planetary healing. One might request the universe to heal the suffer-
           ing of the world's women; another will seek healing of the oceans; yet
           another asks for healing in Bosnia. More and more, all over the
           country, women (and some men) are gathering together to practice a
           woman-based spirituality.  They give themselves many names, and their
           rituals vary from group to group.  
           "Feminist spirituality combines different movements," explains 
           Starhawk, author of "The Spiral Dance," an introductory text to
           witchcraft. "Some are working within Jewish and Christian traditions
           to ressurrect female images; others are outside any organized tradit-
           ional; others participate in the Wicca tradition.  There is a lot of
           diversity in the movement.  What feminist spirituality does is put our
           experience, as individuals and as woman, at the center of our spirit-
           There are no estimates of the number of people worshipping this way,
           although journalist Margo Adler, in her book "Drawing Down the Moon," 
           estimates there are 100,000 American pagans, people who call themsel-
           ves witches, Druids or Goddess worshippers -- people who "look to the
           old pre-Christian nature religions of Europe."
           There are many clues of the prevalence of the Goddess.  A young
           scholar completing her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado said, "I
           know a number of women who are big into the Goddess."  Bookstores are
           filled with books dedicated to women's spirituality.  Even driving the
           highway, you'll notice discreet bumper-stickers like "Goddess Bless."
           In Goddess spirituality, the cycles of nature are worshipped and
           celebrated -- winter, spring, summer and autumn -- and are viewed as
           metaphors for birth, growth, fading and death.  Attributes tradition-
           ally viewed as femine (i.e., intuition and nurturing) are revered.
            Defining the Goddess religion, however, is about as easy as catching 
           fish with bare hands.  But there is a rich and ancient history as-
           sociated with it.  Old Europe, with its woman-focused religions, was
           settled prior to 4000 B.C.  Similar earth-based, female cultures
           existed in Crete, Greece, Catal Huyuk and elsewhere.
            "A lot of this occurred in rural centers," exlains University of
           Denver a art Historian M.E. Warlick.  "In agrarian societies, they
           think of the earth as the mother and typically the earth is a God-
           dess." Eventually, the Goddess-based religions were displaced by
           warrior gods like Zeus and Yahweh.  Some scholars suggest that Goddess
           worshippers went underground, and that the religion survive in secret.
           In the '60s, that began to change.  The feminist movement, which 
           brought a new ethic of control to women, also allowed women (and men)
           to look toward feminine images for religious sustenance.  Women and
           men began to practice openly in the Wiccan traditions or create their
           own feminist spirituality.
           To oversimplify the Goddess: There are no rules, except freedom; there
           is no bible, no major doctrine; what has survived of ancient Goddess
           religions has come down in fragments.  Most Goddess worshippers do
           share the goal of living in harmony with nature.
           "As a witch," explains Elisa Robyn, a Denver-based spiritual coun-
           selor, "I have an intimate relationship with the deity, that is the
           Goddess and the God.  I believe in reincarnation.  And I believe in
           karma -- whatever I create inside of me are the energies the world
           hands back to me."  "A couple of years ago, I was at Sunday school at
           the church we were attending," she remembers.  "We were talking about
           virgin birth.  I raised my hand, trambling, and I said, 'I think I'm
           not a Christian anymore.  I don't think Jesus intended us to worship
           Confused and troubled by this realization, Rebecca held a birthday
           party for herself, inviting all of her female friends to talk about
           God. Not satisfied with this intellectual approach, Rebecca, 43, began
           organizing rituals in accordance with the eight Sabbats of the Wiccan
           year: Yule to acknowledge the winter solstice; Brigid, or Candlemas,
           dedicated to the Goddess of fire and inspiration; the Ecostar Ritual
           to celebrate the spring equinox; Beltane, or May Eve; Litha, or the
           summer solstice; Lughnasad to mourn the dying Sun King; Mabon, or the
           fall equinox; Samhain, or Halloween, that marks the end and the
           beginning of a new year. Due to Rebecca's urgings, a small group of
           women has evolved to conduct rituals and tentatively celebrate the
           seasons.  Rebecca's mailing list is now up to 30 women.
           The Goddess movement is "attracting a wide range of people," explains
           Starhawk, who was raised Jewish, "from a middle-aged women who have
           lived very conventional lives to young, punk anarchists."
           Lois Yackley, 49, a Denver elementary-school teacher and member of
           Rebecca's Goddess group, sees her involvement as an outgrowth of her
           mental health.  Like many women who are seeking a woman-based spirit-
           uality, Lois, a former Catholic, always felt the absence of women in
           the church.  As she grew in therapy, women's issues became increas-
           ingly important to her. "The next step in the feminist movement," Lois
           says, "is spiritual. Some feminists are saying that there will be nore
           mor progress (in the movement) unless it's spiritual."
           Lois became involved in Rebecca's group through a growing friendship
           with Darcie, the mother of a child in Lois' class.  As their friend-
           ship matured, they shared books on feminist spirituality and attended
           Rebecca's rituals and parties. "Women are getting together to see how
           we feel about things.  We validate out feelings and thoughts.  This
           feels right."
           Darcie, 43, is an artist and homemaker, who struggles with her 
           conflicting feelings for her church (she is a Methodist and a church
           trustee) and her blossoming interest in feminist spirituality.  "I no
           longer have a strong belief (in Christianity), but I'm interested in
           the structure of my family," she explains.  "It's a difficult situat-
           ion for me, emotionally and psychologically.  I feel very strongly
           about the family worshipping together, so I'm not ready to give (the
           church) up until I have something to replace it with."
           Rebecca's group gives Darcie a place to explore her new ideas about
           spirituality with women who feel the same way.  "I'm trying to move
           toward believing not in one power over all, but a multiple power
           within," Darcie explains.
           "This matches the political climates of the times," explains Robyn.
           "Women are looking for something about themselves that's special.  So
           the Goddess is becoming more prevalent."  Robyn, who also was raised
           Jewish and now practices in the Wiccan tradition, adds that, "Women
           are looking for their power.  This is right in line with the ecology
           movement, the women's movement, the personal growth movement."
           "When women get into witchcraft, it is a blossoming experience.  There
           are role models -- women of power, Goddesses -- it's a totally dif-
           ferent energy and perception."
           ... "Never did Nature say one thing and Wisdom say another." -- Burke

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