Chapter

The Rebirth of the Goddess

Nevill Drury

in Stealing Fire from Heaven

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199750993
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894871 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199750993.003.0007
The Rebirth of the Goddess

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Much of the current interest in Western occultism, and contemporary paganism in particular, is directly related to the rise and importance of feminism as a contemporary social movement. Contemporary witchcraft—often referred to as Wicca—and its more eclectic variant, Goddess worship, both focus on the veneration of the sacred Feminine—the Universal Goddess—in her myriad manifestations. There is, however, no single spiritual pathway within contemporary paganism. Some neopagans are highly structured in their ceremonial practices, while others are more spontaneous. Some emphasise lineage and authority within their respective covens, others are more egalitarian. Nevertheless, there are many shared perspectives across the broad spectrum of pagan beliefs and ritual practices. Wicca began as a substantially British movement that developed rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s and was subsequently exported to the United States. Goddess worship, on the other hand, has its roots in the contemporary feminist movement and its leading adherents are American. However, like modern Wicca, it now attracts an international following. This chapter describes the nature of Wiccan ritual and focuses on the contributions to modern pagan witchcraft made by such figures as Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Alex Sanders, and Janet and Stewart Farrar. It also explores the rise of Goddess spirituality in the United States since the late 1970s, profiling the contributions made by such figures as Z. Budapest, Starhawk, and Margot Adler.

Keywords: feminism; Wicca; neopagans; spirituality

Chapter.  11354 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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