Interview: The Nature of Women’s Spirituality

April 5th, 2010 by Jhenah

I was recently interviewed by Patricia Anderson, a writer and student at East Central University, about my perspectives on Women’s Spirituality and the role of the Internet in creating women’s spiritual community. I thought her questions were quite thoughtful and would like to share them, along with my responses, here. I welcome your feedback and perspectives!

Patricia: The Sisterhood of Avalon is an international women’s spirituality group that utilizes the Internet to create ‘cyberhearth’ and ‘cybercommunity’ to increase the community aspects of woman’s nature. Would you say that the Internet has helped or hindered the return of an authentic Female Sovereign Spirituality? How so? What would you say to the claim that women are naturally ‘communal’ beings–would you agree or disagree–why?

Jhenah: I think the internet has definitely helped the return of an authentic Female Sovereign Spirituality – and indeed, has positively affected all aspects of women’s lives. The internet is “the great equalizer” – it has evened the playing field in commerce and the presentation of ideas, and given an equal opportunity platform for a whole spectrum of ideas which would otherwise have not found a voice in mainstream media. This has had an enormous impact on women’s socio-economic lives, and especially when it comes to creating community.

I do believe women to be communal by nature, and we need only look at indigenous cultures both past and present to see the cooperative nature of “women’s work.” I think modern non-tribal societies have isolated women, especially those who work in the home, and taught them to compete with and distrust each other. The internet creates a safe place for women to be themselves, and provides them with an opportunity to surround themselves with those who hold the same beliefs, ethics, and interests.

Patricia: There is a big difference between Feminine and Feminist. Would you say that Feminine Sovereign Spirituality is more towards the Feminine or Feminist side of the spectrum? Do the ‘traditional terms’ still apply or could they be considered offensive to feminists in society?
(ie–hearth mother, hearth keeper–do these imply that hearth is a woman’s “job” and if so.. is that feminist offensive?)

Jhenah: I think the Women’s Spirituality Movement is both Feminine and Feminist; it should be up to women to define what it means to be womanly. The Feminist movement, at its core, has always been about choice – women should be able to choose the direction of their lives, and have no options barred from them because of their gender. Unfortunately, the Feminist movement has resulted at times in a backlash against women who do choose to embrace “traditional” female roles, devaluing the work of the mother and homemaker, and creating yet another arena where women are pitted against each other, as in the “Mommy Wars.”

To me, Feminine Spirituality seeks to uplift women to become their Sovereign and authentic selves, as well as to reclaim and honor the traditional roles of women which do so much to support the fabric of our society. There is power in women’s sexuality, deep mystery in childbirth, beauty in motherhood, sacredness in maintaining the hearthfire, wisdom and honor in cronedom. I believe women need to rethink their worth, as well as reframe that which society deems worthy of respect – women should be valued for more than youth, beauty, and success in previously male-dominated fields.

Patricia:  What are some of the reasons that women give, for turning away from the traditional religions and returning to a Goddess spirituality? How have the traditional religions failed them?

Jhenah: Many women begin seeking alternative spiritualities when they come up against teachings in their birth religions that foster a sense of subjugation or limitation in their religious lives because of their gender. Either they are called to be submissive to men, or they are barred from aspects of their religions – such as service as clergy – because they are women. Others are drawn to paths that are dedicated to a Divinity they can relate with – whose sacred stories reflect an understanding of the women’s experience – a God in whose image they were truly made. Most monotheistic religions marginalize women, making them carriers of sin or uncleanliness. Goddess religion empowers women, sanctifies their bodies, encourages their direct experience of the Divine, and teaches acceptance of all peoples and paths – a communal perspective with which most women find themselves at home.

Patricia: The Sisterhood of Avalon follows a spiral or cyclical frame work not unlike a women’s cycle of life. How do you think that is different from the traditional linear system of traditional religions and organizations?

Jhenah: Aside from functioning to make sacred the literal cyclic processes of a woman’s life and body, a non-linear religious philosophy reinforces the holiness of community and encourages a mindset that encompasses the totality of our world. We are not here to subjugate this planet, or to become its masters, or to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of human development on the verge of an End Time — a literal end of the world which some religious sects actively embrace and pursue as a matter of Faith. Rather, cyclic thinking asks us to look back to embrace and honor wisdom of our Ancestors, to form cooperative bonds in support of our planet and community, and requires that we become caretakers of the Earth and to preserve it — and our collective reclaimations –for future generations.

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About Jhenah Telyndru – Seeking the Holy Isle

Bendithion Afallon! Welcome to Jhenah Telyndru's online space for musings, news, and Awen. Topics include the Avalonian Tradition, Celtic Religion and Culture, Welsh Paganism, Druidism, the Bardic Path, and Women's Spirituality.