Women's spirituality is one of the richest and most dynamic forces in modern Paganism. Women are respected in all Pagan traditions and have enriched Paganism with a powerful vision of the Goddess - the long-ignored feminine aspect of the Divine. In Paganism, women are Priestesses in their own right, strong and proud, with their own vision.
As well as working in the various traditions of Paganism, women have established their own traditions. These traditions have many forms and are often deeply entwined with the aspirations of the Women's Movement.
Drawing upon the inspiration of the image of the Goddess, women explore their own feminine mysteries. For some women, this involves a denial of all things seen as patriarchal; for others it is a spiritual calling to throw off the conditioning chains of society's stereotypes of women. These women see themselves as reclaiming or creating a new understanding of what it is to be female. They explore the mythologies of the world to discover the deeper meaning of what it is to be a woman. They seek to bring their discoveries to life in their own lives, sharing this new found knowledge by way of myth, song, dance and, where needed, political action.
One of the best known women's traditions is the Dianic movement, named in honour of the Goddess Diana. There are many expressions of this tradition. Two of the founding streams were developed by Z. Budapest and Morgan McFarland in the USA. Greatly inspired by the idea of matriarchy, many Dianic groups exclude men and see their tradition as a sisterhood, as wimin's religion. Others work with men, but see their role as less important than that of women.
Many Dianic groups worship only the Goddess and those that acknowledge the God see the male deity as a part of the mystery of the Goddess.
Women's traditions are often eclectic and loosely- structured. They tend to be highly creative with many spontaneous elements. Some women's traditions are modelled on Wiccan practice and use rituals and celebrate seasonal festivals in a similar way. Other groups are more Shamanic. Others have blended aspects of different traditions to create new unique pathways.
Women's traditions have an especially powerful vision of the Earth as the Goddess and are deeply involved with caring for the Earth and protecting her from the rape of modern civilization. They are concerned with the healing of the Earth and with the healing of the image of women.
'The Goddess awakens in infinite forms and a thousand
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, Harper and Row, NY, 1989 edition.
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