Chapter

Introduction

Susan Starr Sered

in Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister

Published in print December 1996 | ISBN: 9780195104677
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853267 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195104677.003.0001
Introduction

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Ethnographic and historical studies of women and religion have thoroughly documented patterns of women's exclusion from positions of significant religious leadership. Scattered throughout the world and the centuries are instances of religions dominated by women—in which women have been the leaders, the majority of participants, and in which women's concerns have been central. The key examples presented in this book range from ancestral cults among Black Caribs in contemporary Belize to Korean shamanism and the Feminist Spirituality Movement in 20th-century United States. There are cross-culturally relevant social patterns in women's lives. To begin with, in every known culture adult women grapple with motherhood. Most women are, have been, or try to become mothers, or conversely, make efforts—sometimes even life-threatening efforts—to avoid becoming mothers. Many, if not most women, are concerned with controlling the number of children whom they bear and raise, and with determining the way in which their children are raised. The diverse implications of motherhood, as this book shows, strongly resonate with women's religious beliefs and rituals.

Keywords: women; religions; cults; religious beliefs; rituals; religious leadership; motherhood

Chapter.  3833 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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