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The Feminist Movement, which is said to have begun in the late 18th century, arose as a means of challenging the dominant patriarchal system of the western world that relegated women to the level of personal property; subjected them to physical and sexual abuse; denied them equal rights or in some cases, no rights; stripped them of their roles as healers in their clans, tribes and families, and instead, labeled them as witches to be hunted and feared.
The movement as it came to be defined, had a profound effect on religious and spiritual practices as well as social, political and cultural beliefs as a result of women who campaigned through writings and grass-roots activism.
There is one question that bears consideration: Is there a connection (and a resulting effect) on planet earth and the ways that women have been treated?
Springing from the feminist movement, studies of religion and spirituality aimed to reinterpret references of the male-dominated perspective of god in religious texts and spiritual traditions in the Western world.
Feminist theologians subsequently uncovered reverence to goddesses in ancient cultures throughout the world, including Greek, Roman, Iroquoian, African and Incan societies. This revelation has lead many women (and men) to question Western biblical teachings about a masculine, monotheistic divinity, the roots of which are strongly influenced by Christianity, a religious sect that sprung out of Judaism.
Susan Starr Sered, anthropologist and Professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, examined some of the most well-documented spiritual traditions where women are the leaders and where feminine concerns are a focal point. Some of the traditions include the Black Caribs in Belize, Korean shamans, Shakerism and the feminist spiritual movement in America. The results of her study, published in a book entitled Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister: Religions Dominated by Women, demonstrated striking similarities among the differing cultures separated by language and geography. These female-dominated religions revealed a community-oriented rather than an individualistic orientation; an outlook that seeks to eliminate suffering in the here and now; no sense of forcible conversion or holy war; and no worship of a single, all-powerful, male deity.
The common thread in ancient traditions, explains Asphodel P. Long, writer, teacher and feminist theologian, is a pantheon of deities, with goddesses revered as creators and sustainers of life, embodied in the personification of Mother Goddesses. These goddesses of creation were strongly identified with Nature, not merely as an object of admiration, but as “a powerful force which interacts with humans.”
— Referenced from: http://www.asphodel-long.com
While there is much to be said and considered on this topic, suffice it to say that women of all cultures are learning to reclaim their feminine power and the power of the goddess is being re-instituted in the modern era. The sacred feminine or reverence for the divine goddess is one that is universally connected to the Earth, to Nature and to sustenance of life on the planet.
Feminist scholar, researcher and artist, Merlin Stone, sought to reclaim the role of the goddess as the flow of life energy that nurtures and sustains the planet. Her book, When God was a Woman is said to be a significant resource for those who continue to research pre-patriarchal history.
History of civilized societies of ancient times documents the goddesses in Roman, Greek, Celtic, Egyptian and Nordic cultures, many of whom are now deeply embedded in neo-pagan practices. In the Americas, oral traditions abound among Native American tribes of the First Mother, Corn Mother and Grandmother Spirit who offer wisdom, guidance and sustenance.
The relevance of the goddess tradition to students of the Dagara tradition is evident as one of the foundational teachings is that of reverence for the Mother Earth Goddess. Dannabang Kuwabong, Phd. a Dagara native and professor at the University of Puerto Rico elucidates that:
“…Tengbane or Mother Earth, the second most powerful deity after the supreme God, Nangmen. In relation to the Tengbane, we have the Sagbane, Father Sky. But unlike the Tengbane who is responsible for many things that make human life what it is, Sagbane is responsible for rain, sunshine, and moonlight, and the unseen energies of stars, thunder and lightning. Even though Sagbane is the Father, he is secondary in importance to Tengbane during invocatory prayers of Dagaaba. Tengbane comes second to Nangmen.”
— Journal of Dagaare Studies, Vol. 4
In this era of remembrance, the call of the mother goddess reverberates in the dreams and the bones of her daughters. Priestess, mother, sacred sister – it’s time to rise up and reclaim the power, medicine and wisdom of the divine feminine.
© 2014 Aamirah Branch