Women on the Path of the Goddess: Sacred Technologies of the Everyday
Keywords:lived religion, everyday, body, practice, gender, goddess spirituality
Contemporary spiritualties are often portrayed as a turn to a subjective and individualized form of religion, consisting of individually held truth claims or private peak experiences that are generated sporadically at retreats and workshops. The portrayal is ultimately related to a perception of everyday life in contemporary Euro-America as mundane, rationalized, and secular, but also the exclusion of practices centered on the body, the home and the everyday from what is deemed properly religious. This article explores the sacred technologies of the everyday among women in England who identify as Goddess worshippers. The purpose is to further the understanding of religion and the everyday, as well as the conceptualization of contemporary Goddess-worship as lived religion. Through examining narratives on the intersection between religion and everyday activities, the technologies of imbuing everyday life with a sacred dimension become visible. The sacred technologies imply skills that enable both imagining and relating to the sacred. The women consciously and diligently work to cultivate skills that would allow them to sense and make sense of the sacred, in other words, to foster a sense of withness through the means of a host of practices. I argue that the women actively endeavor to establish an everyday world that is experienced as inherently different from the secular and religious fields in their surroundings; hence it is not from disenchantment or an endeavor with no social consequences. The women’s everyday is indeed infused with different strategies where the body, different practices, and material objects are central in cultivating a specific religious disposition that ultimately will change the way the women engage with and orient themselves in the world.
Ammerman, Nancy (2103): Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Appadurai, Arjun (1986): The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Aune, Kristin (2014): "Feminist Spirituality as Lived Religion: How UK Feminists Forge Religio-Spiritual Lives," Gender and Society 29: 1, 122-145.
Bellah, Robert. (1985): Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bowman, Marion (2009): "Learning from Experience: The Value of Analysing Avalon," Religion 39, 161-168.
Bruce, Steve (2002): God is Dead: Secularization in the West, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Carette, Jeremy & Richard King (2005): Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion, London: Routledge.
Csordas, Thomas (1994): The Sacred Self: A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Csordas, Thomas (1997): Language, Charisma and Creativity: The Ritual Life of a Religious Movement, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Eliade, Mircea (1959): The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, New York: Routledge.
Eller, Cynthia, (1993): Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America, New York: Crossroads.
Fedele, Anna (2015): "Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal and the Quest for Authenticity," Kathryn Roundtree (ed.), Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonial and Nationalist Impulses, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 239-260.
Fedele, Anna (2013): Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fedele, Anna & Kim E. Knibbe (2013): "Introduction: Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality," Anna Fedele & Kim E. Knibbe (eds), Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality, New York: Routledge, 1-27.
Ferraro, Shai (2015): "Connecting British Wicca with Radical Feminism and Goddess Spirituality during the 1970s and 1980s: The Case Study of Monica Sjöö," Journal of Contemporary Religion 30: 2, 307-321.
Foltz, Tanice (2006): "The Commodification of Witchcraft." Helen Berger (ed.), Witchcraft and Magic: Contemporary North America, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania University Press, 137-168.
Foucault, Michel (1988): "Technologies of the Self," Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman & Patrick H. Hutton (eds), Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 16-49.
Gemzöe, Lena & Marja-Liisa Keinänen (2016): Contemporary Encounters in Gender and Religion: Introduction," Lena Gemzöe, Marja-Liisa Keinänen, & Avril Maddrell (eds), Contemporary Encounters in Gender and Religion: European Perspectives, Cham: Palgrave McMillan, 1-28.
Griffin, Wendy & Chas Clifton (2004): "Preface," Jenny Blain, Douglas Ezzy & Graham Harvey (eds), Researching Paganisms, Oxford: Altamire Press, vii-viii.
Heelas, Paul. (1996): The New Age Movement: The Celebration of Self and the Sacralization of Modernity, Oxford: Blackwell
Heelas, Paul & Linda Woodhead (2005): The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality, Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Holloway, Julian (2003): "Make-believe: Spiritual Practice, Embodiment, and Sacred space," Environment and Planning A 35:11, 1961-1974.
Hornborg, Ann-Christine (2011): "Are We all Spiritual?" Journal for the Study of Spirituality 1: 2, 249-268.
Keinänen, Marja-Liisa (2010a): "Introduction," Marja-Liisa Keinänen (ed.), Perspectives on Women's Everyday Religion, Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 9-37.
Keinänen, Marja-Liisa (2010b): "The Home, the Sacred Order and Domestic Chores in Premodern Russian Orthodox Karelia," Marja-Liisa Keinänen (ed.), Perspectives on Women's Everyday Religion, Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 119-153.
Klassen, Chris (2004): "The colonial mythology of feminist witchcraft", The Pomegranate 6.1, 70-85.
Lund, Anna (2019): "'I feel sorry for them and I should do something, but I don't': Spatial imaginaries and resistance to feminist change in the dramatic arts," Emotion, Space and Society 30, 27-33.
Luhrmann, Tanya (1989): Persuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic and Witchcraft in Present-day England, Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Magliocco, Sabina (2005): Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
Mahmood, Saba (2005): Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Maya, Kavita (2019): "Arachne'sVoice: Race, Gender andthe Goddess", Feminist Theology 28.1, 52-65, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0966735019859469 McGuire, Meredith (2008): Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Orion, Loretta (1995): Never Again the Burning Times: Paganism Revived, Illinois: Waveland Press.
Orsi, Robert (2005): The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Pike, Sara M. (2001): Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Plummer, Ken (1995): Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change, and Social Worlds, London: Routledge.
Prince, Ruth & David Riches (2000): The New Age in Glastonbury: The Construction of Religions Movements, Oxford: Berghahn
Rappaport, Roy (1999): Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2008): Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences, Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Salomonsen, Jone (2002): Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco, London: Routledge.
Sointu, Eva & Linda Woodhead (2008): "Spirituality, Gender, and Expressive Selfhood," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47:2, 259-276.
Trulsson, Åsa (2010): Cultivating the Sacred: Ritual Practice and Creativity among Women in Contemporary Europe, Lund: Mediatryck.
Trulsson, Åsa (2013): "Cultivating the Sacred: Gender, Power and Ritualization in Goddess-oriented groups," Anna Fedele & Kim Knibbe (eds), Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches, New York: Routledge, 28-45.
Utriainen, Terhi (2014): "Doing Things with Angels: Agency, Alterity and Practices of Enchantment," Steven Sutcliffe & Ingvild Saelid Gilhus (eds), New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion, New York: Routledge, 242-255.
Utriainen, Terhi (2016): "Desire for Enchanted Bodies: The Case of Women Engaging in Angel Spirituality," Lena Gemzöe, Marja-Lissa Keinänen, & Avril Maddrell (eds), Contemporary Encounters in Gender and Religion: European Perspectives, Cham: Palgrave McMillan, 175-193.
Wood, Matthew (2007): Possession, Power and the New Age: Ambiguities of Authority in Neoliberal Societies, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Zwissler, Laurel (2007): "Spiritual but not Religious: 'Spirituality' among Religiously Motivated Feminist Activists," Culture and Religion 8:1, 51-69.
Copyright (c) 2020 Åsa Trulsson
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Copyright for all manuscripts rests with the author(s). The editors reserve the right to edit manuscripts. Contributors are responsible for acquiring all permissions from the copyright owners for the use of quotations, illustrations, tables, etc. Each author must, before final publication fill, in a publishing agreement provided by LiU E-Press.
Since 2021 Culture Unbound uses a Creative Commons: Attribution license for new articles, which allows users to distribute the work and to reform or build upon it without the author's permission. Full reference to the author must be given. For older articles please see each article landing page.