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Goddesses and the Divine FeminineA Western Religious History$
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Rosemary Ruether

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231467

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231467.001.0001

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The Return of the Goddess

The Return of the Goddess

(p.274) Ten The Return of the Goddess
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Rosemary Radford Ruether

University of California Press

In the early 1970s, sectors of the new women's movement, seeking a feminist spirituality, began to reclaim the ideas of original matriarchy and the primacy of a female deity. Two books published in the 1970s were important in popularizing the feminist reclamation of matriarchy and Goddess worship: Elizabeth Gould Davis' The First Sex (1971) and Merlin Stone's When God Was a Woman (1976). The 1970s also saw the growth of feminist “witchcraft,” in which Zsuzsanna Budapest played a key role. Perhaps the leading thealogian seeking to create a comprehensive account of the religious and ethical worldview implied by Goddess thought and practice is Carol Christ. This chapter recounts how the renewed feminist movement, from the 1970s to today, reappropriated the nineteenth-century theories of matriarchal fall and redemption. Although still seeing this movement as countercultural, leaders of Goddess spirituality have sought to normalize themselves both in the academy and within the spectrum of religious diversity in American society. This chapter also looks at the emergence of the neopagan movement in the mid-1970s.

Keywords:   matriarchy, Goddess worship, Elizabeth Gould Davis, Merlin Stone, witchcraft, Zsuzsanna Budapest, Carol Christ, neopagan movement, feminist movement, spirituality

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