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          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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