Author comment

This is a version of a talk I gave at the "Women and the Divine" conference in 2007. As I recall there were about 90 women delegates and 6 men. In the book that formed the conference proceedings I was the only male contributor, something I am still chuffed about. The book chapter was a chance to present my five-fold scheme of religious development as elaborated on in my book Secularism: The Hidden Origins of Disbelief. (Note that while I have chosen an image of Mother Meera to represent women's spirituality, the essay does not reference her.)

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This paper suggests that Abrahamic monotheism in the form of Judaism, Christianity and Islam has become a constraint on women seeking a feminine spirituality. The West has made an identification “religion = God” that needs to be abandoned as other types of religion become better-known. The breaking down of this assumption is shown to remove much of what is patriarchal and alienating about religion for women, while the spiritual “flat-land” of postmodernism is shown to be unhelpful. Instead a five-fold scheme of the spiritual life is presented in which monotheism stands as an equal alongside shamanism, goddess polytheism, warrior polytheism and the transcendent.

Cutting “God” Down to Size

Transcendence and the Feminine

Keywords: monotheism, shamanism, polytheism, goddess, women’s spirituality, transcendent, Irigaray.

First published: Book chapter in Howie, Gillian and Jobling, J’annine (Eds.), Women and the Divine: Touching Transcendence, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Year: 2009, no of words: 7,334