Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Divine Feminine

The third wave of feminism was characterised by a decrease in emphasis upon separatist strategies and by an increased awareness of women-loving women and women of colour and the problematisation of the concept of gender (Juschka, 2001: 568). This development was reflected in theology and the study of religions by feminist scholars engaging with queer theory.

The resurgence of interest in goddesses was a significant feature of the resurgence of Paganism (Hutton, 1999) There is also a move among some Christian feminists to refer to ‘Mother God’.

Whilst it seems logical for feminists to honour the divine feminine, a goddess, or goddesses, this can be problematic if there is assumed to be one God and one Goddess (as is often the case with popular books on Wicca). A single divine essence without gender, or including all possible genders and sexualities, or an assumption that there are many deities, some of whom might be queer, is relatively unproblematic from a queer perspective; but the idea that there is one God and one Goddess excludes the possibility of their being queer, can lead to heteronormativity, and is sometimes used to justify homophobia among Pagans.

However, many lesbians find the idea of a single Goddess attractive, sometimes because they have been molested by men (Foltz, 2000), sometimes because they do not feel the need for ‘balance‘ (Rose, undated).

The divine feminine is still not widely accepted in Christianity, although it is widely considered to be a defining feature of Paganism, belief in it being one of Three Principles of the Pagan Federation. It is very important to feminists and lesbians, although some queer-identified people might prefer the androgynous divine.

Foltz, TG (2000). Sober Witches and Goddess Practitioners: Women’s Spirituality and Sobriety. Diskus, 6: 1. [online] Available from: Accessed 3-5-2007

Hutton, Ronald (1999), The Triumph of the Moon: a history of modern Pagan witchcraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Juschka, Darlene M., ed. (2001), Feminism in the Study of Religion: a Reader. London and New York: Continuum.

“Mama Rose” (undated). Why go Dianic? Accessed 3-5-2007

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