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Thread: Feminism & Religion

  1. #1
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    Feminism & Religion

    How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

    Curious on different perspectives!

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    I never had the sense that there was a difference between the importance of male and female deities in Pagan religions. What have you noticed specifically?

    *waves to fellow feminist*

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    I think you will find women WERE quite important in religion, especially from what we can learn about pre-agriculural societies, where the male was not nessesarily tied in their minds to begetting babies....

    this is seen in the tracing of decent by the mother in many societies, both anceint and current (including in Judism)

    Have a read of "When God was a Woman" by.... Stone

    for starters... its not without flaws as a piece of research but its not a bad start.

    also consider.... that in many societies men had to marry the Queen to become king...consider even theodessy in this respect.....

    some evidence in the Mediterranian and into Europe suggests the idea that the king served for a certain amount of time then was ritually sacrficied to fertilize the fields, while the Queen, the representitive of the goddess, remarried again and again until she was no longer able to produce children... the dying king is a very common motif which i believe is connected to the pre-emenence of women in the ancient world... and comes down to us even now in the wider society in the myth of jesus...
    Mitakuye Oyasin

  4. #4
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    Well, goddesses were powerful to the people but not always women in general. Athens was named after Athene/Athena, yet it was very patriarchal and not kind to women there.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by novimarra View Post
    How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

    Curious on different perspectives!
    I have a few different perspectives:

    In my "older Pagan religion", Irish ReConstructionism, woman have many of the same rights as men by law.

    Cultures vary widely---I don't think that it's possible to generalize about "ancient paths" very broadly. Even the generalizations that are possible---nomadic societies devalue women more than agricultural societies fr'instance--can be disproven in the specific.

    History is different than now. The development of contraception and the medical extension of life expectancy have had an enormous impact on feminism, imo allowing the ides "that men and women are of equal importance" to develop.

    In history, women had babies as their primary career--one at the feet, one on the back, one in the belly was the goal. And it's a hard, debilitating, dangerous career that doesn't leave a lot of time or energy for much else. And one that severely limits what else the woman can do; she can't undertake anything too physically demanding because she's gravid and she can't go too far from 'home' because she's nursing.

    As well, much of what is in the mythology or reported by anthropologists in extant cultures is 'men's culture'---it wasn't even recognized that there is 'woman's culture' until feminism sent female anthropologists out into the world and so much of the woman's culture from "ancient paths (esp for recons) that [seem to] only value the masculine" is lost.

    I agree in specific with your generalization---I don't think that the Greeks valued woman much as a culture; but again every city-state was different.
    *I am a mystic and work through Imbas rather than re-constructive archeology. Lore, history, and research are vital tools and permit us to validate and amplify communications we recieve. Disagreement and referencing of materials are also welcome benchmarks. What I say is not the 'Truth' but only my perception/opinion/belief and I am happy to give the same consideration to everyone else's point of view.*

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  6. #6
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    I wondered about that too, novimarra. When researching the Greeks for example, you can't miss the gender differences. I suspect it is also true of the Norse. I'm interested to see what people who are recons can share about this.
    Om Namah Shivaya.

    "Im finding seeking the sacred, well, that its rather like falling in love, the harder you seek it, the less likely it is to happen." - Brightshores

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  7. #7
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    An excellent resource: Radical Goddess Thealogy

    It's a bit extreme in places, but the scholarship is airtight on ancient goddesses and the sociological conflict between female life goddesses and male war gods.

    And the original poster is absolutely correct; whatever laws were passed, women have been seen as inferior and property in just about every culture and religion since ~4000BC (when, oddly enough, we also get the first archeological evidence of wars and supreme male war deities).

    Even the vaunted Iroquoi Nation relegated women to the role of baking cookies (almost literally) for the men of the Nation's governing council. The fact that women elected those men doesn't really make up for the fact that it was the men with all the power and women, no matter what they wanted, could never have it; only give it to one man or another.

    As for Ireland, some research into ancient Celtic marriage customs should clear up the "equality" myth in that region. That's usually the best place to start when someone claims their favorite culture was very fair to women, or "worshipped" women.
    Last edited by Belgalad; November 16th, 2007 at 11:45 AM.

  8. #8
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    Thank you for reminding me about that site, I used to have it bookmarked but must have lost it.
    Om Namah Shivaya.

    "Im finding seeking the sacred, well, that its rather like falling in love, the harder you seek it, the less likely it is to happen." - Brightshores

    "When your consciousness is directed outward, mind and world arise. When it is directed inward, it realizes its own Source and returns home into the Unmanifested." ~ Eckhart Tolle

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilly-nilly View Post
    I have a few different perspectives:

    In my "older Pagan religion", Irish ReConstructionism, woman have many of the same rights as men by law.
    Quote Originally Posted by Belgalad View Post
    As for Ireland, some research into ancient Celtic marriage customs should clear up the "equality" myth in that region. That's usually the best place to start when someone claims their favorite culture was very fair to women, or "worshipped" women.
    I don't know who you're quoting when you quote "equality" and "worshipped", but not me. I meant exactly what I said, "many of the same rights".
    Or, to quote the CR FAQ

    http://www.paganachd.com/faq/howdifferent.html#godwoman


    "The Celts were basically a patriarchal society, and this is reflected in the lore..........While they were far from being egalitarian in a modern sense, the Ancient Celts were more egalitarian than most other IE-derived peoples, with some women owning property, fighting, and having more rights than women in other cultures of the time. "
    *I am a mystic and work through Imbas rather than re-constructive archeology. Lore, history, and research are vital tools and permit us to validate and amplify communications we recieve. Disagreement and referencing of materials are also welcome benchmarks. What I say is not the 'Truth' but only my perception/opinion/belief and I am happy to give the same consideration to everyone else's point of view.*

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

    "everyone [is] entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." Stephen Colbert

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by skilly-nilly View Post
    I don't know who you're quoting when you quote "equality" and "worshipped", but not me.
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