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Record Type: Review ID: 298
Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America
|Eller’s aim is to provide an introduction to the feminist spirituality movement based on 10 years of personal observation, mainly the primary literature of the movement, which involves not just books, magazines, and newsletters but calendars, promotional flyers, song sheets, and drawings. The "Lap of the Goddess" means return to "the spirit of prehistory, when ... humanity was living peacefully and securely in the goddess’s lap" (p. xi). She writes: "Feminist spirituality is unique in its determination to remain true to the concerns of women, both politically and spiritually. And it is religiously innovative, always pushing beyond tradition and often leaving it behind altogether in its search for spiritual resources that will prove powerful and transforming for women" (p. ix). Eller gives her definition of feminist spirituality and then provides sociological profiles of the women in the feminist spirituality movement. On pp. 25-31 she describes, in effect, the exceptional human experiences spiritual feminists had during childhood. One adult woman was prompted to look into feminist spirituality from an out-of-body vision she had while at the dentist’s. Another was drawn into the movement by a spontaneous vision or epiphany. A chapter is devoted to the beginnings of a new feminist religion followed by one on "affinities and appropriations." This made me feel at home because some of them are those I have adopted in working with the concept of exceptional human experience: new age; Jungian therapy; ancient, Eastern, Native American, and African religions. There is a chapter on "encountering the sacred," and ritual practices of spiritual feminists, which are used for many purposes: "worship, supplication, celebration, personal transformation, ecstatic experience, and management of both psychic and material reality" (p. 83). They serve as a vehicle for encountering the sacred, but some of the experiences are spontaneous, and they are what we call EHEs. Although rituals can be performed by one person, many occasions are used to practice ritual in groups. They are rituals which incorporate individual creativity and are participated in by everyone. Many rituals and their characteristics are described. There is a chapter on spiritual feminists’ views of the goddess, goddesses, and other spiritual beings, including "disembodied spirits, psychic energy, spirits, elementals, auras, plant divas, and many more" (p. 146). A chapter is devoted to "the hallmark of the movement," which is "the story of ancient matriarchies and their destruction by men" (p. 155). As far as the power of the goddess is concerned, "the bottom line is that the goddess has no responsibility toward human beings, but human beings have a responsibility toward her" (p. 181). In Chapter 9 on "Feminist Politics and Feminist Spirituality," the political agenda and methods are discussed as well as feminist Utopian politics. The final chapter asks "Why Feminist Spirituality?" Eller notes that the movement keeps growing because of the experience of empowerment it confers as well as a spiritual feminist identity, and the many rewards of feminist spiritual practice.|
|Publisher Information:||New York: Crossroad, 1993. 276p. Chap. notes: 236-268; Ind: 269-276|
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