Women's Spirituality Movement

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Charlene Spretnak:

"In 1998 Goodison and Morris repeated, in their introduction to Ancient Goddesses, the unchronological causality asserted by Conkey and Tringham (that Gimbutas’ work was “the impetus” for the “Goddess movement”), yet none of them ever did a shred of fact-checking of their instrumental assumption. As I explained earlier, they got it backwards: the women’s spirituality movement emerged in the mid-1970s, as is well documented. That movement learned about Gimbutas’ work only in 1982 because that was the year the University of California Press brought her book Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe back into print. It was also the year my anthology, The Politics of Women’s Spirituality, was published, to which I had added at the last minute an article by Gimbutas, in the historical section on the perception in numerous cultures of a divine, cosmological presence as female. She did not write an article for that anthology but kindly allowed me to include an abridged version of a scientific paper she had presented to an archaeological conference. The impetus for Gimbutas’ moving ahead as quickly as possible with the two major books she had long planned —Language of the Goddess and Civilization of the Goddess — was her diagnosis of cancer in the early 1980s, not the interest of a group of feminists. Had Gimbutas’ detractors ever used the correct name for the women’s spirituality movement, the second word in the term might have tipped them off to the extremely broad and substantive nature of the phenomenon. It is not a group of simpletons who believed, as Meskell asserted, that “the establishment of an originary myth on the basis of historical scientific reality will facilitate the restoration of women’s power. It then follows that the patriarchy will be dismantled and the lost pre-patriarchal culture can be regained.”95 Rather, the women’s spirituality movement is a loosely constituted, highly diverse part of the feminist movement in which women unsatisfied with patriarchal religions have explored and created numerous paths to authentic spiritual experience, including working within the Abrahamic and other religions to transform them; practicing Buddhist meditation (no godhead of either sex); reading about the 11,000 known goddesses or the various cultural traditions of female shamans; studying the intimate communion with nature in traditional native people’s religions; and creating meaningful spiritual practices. By the 1990s an academic counterpart was well established, which studies women and world religions, the cultural history of women’s sacred arts, and the many philosophical issues that radiate from a shift to a deeply relational perspective on religion, culture, history, politics, economics, and education."