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Thealogy views divine matters with feminine perspectives including but not only feminism. Valerie Saiving, Isaac Bonewits (1976) and Naomi Goldenberg (1979) introduced the concept as a neologism (new word) in feminist terms.Its use then widened to mean all feminine ideas of the sacred, which Charlotte Caron usefully explained in 1993: "reflection on the divine in feminine or feminist terms". By 1996, when Melissa Raphael published Thealogy and Embodiment, the term was well established.
Valerie Saiving (1921–1992) was a feminist theologian. She is the author of the influential essay The Human Situation: A Feminine View.
Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits was an American Neo-Druid who published a number of books on the subject of Neopaganism and magic. He was a public speaker, liturgist, singer and songwriter, and founder of the Neopagan organizations Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Aquarian Anti-Defamation League. Born in Royal Oak, Michigan, Bonewits had been heavily involved in occultism since the 1960s.
Naomi Ruth Goldenberg is a religious studies professor, in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at University of Ottawa since 1977. Since then she has been teaching for 41 years in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies. Goldenberg is a member of school of Graduate Studies and Research since 1980. Goldenberg specialties teaching in: religion and popular culture; religion and gender; critical study of religion; politics and religion; religion and psychoanalysis. Goldenberg is a feminist and has joined Women's Movement groups. Goldenberg has applied her feminist ideals to her work as she thought the Women's Movement was going to change myth. That it would uncover the politics hidden in mythologies and she had hoped to see mythologies representing women differently.
As a neologism, the term derives from two Greek words: thea, θεά, meaning "goddess", the feminine equivalent of theos, "god" (from PIE root *dhes-); and logos, λόγος, plural logoi, often found in English as the suffix -logy , meaning "word", "reason" or "plan", and in Greek philosophy and theology the divine reason implicit in the cosmos.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3500 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
-logy is a suffix in the English language, used with words originally adapted from Ancient Greek ending in -λογία (-logia). The earliest English examples were anglicizations of the French -logie, which was in turn inherited from the Latin -logia. The suffix became productive in English from the 18th century, allowing the formation of new terms with no Latin or Greek precedent.
Thealogy has areas in common with feminist theology, the study of God from a feminist perspective, often emphasising monotheism. Thus the relation is an overlap as thealogy is not limited to deity in spite of its etymology;the two fields have been described as both related and interdependent.
Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts and matriarchal religion.
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The term's origin and initial use is open to continuing debate. Patricia 'Iolana traces the early use of the neologism to 1976 crediting both Valerie Saiving and Isaac Bonewits for its initial use.The coinage of 'thealogian' on record by Bonewits in 1976 has been promoted,
A neologism is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often driven by changes in culture and technology, and may be directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. In the process of language formation, neologisms are more mature than protologisms.
In the 1979 book Changing of the Gods , Naomi Goldenberg introduces the term as a future possibility with respect to a distinct discourse, highlighting the masculine nature of theology.Also in 1979, in the first revised edition of "Real Magic", Bonewits defined "thealogy" in his Glossary as "Intellectual speculations concerning the nature of the Goddess and Her relations to the world in general and humans in particular; rational explanations of religious doctrines, practices and beliefs, which may or may not bear any connection to any religion as actually conceived and practiced by the majority of its members." Also in the same glossary, he defined "theology" with nearly identical words, changing the feminine pronouns with masculine pronouns appropriately.
Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions is a non-fiction book written by Naomi Goldenberg.
Carol P. Christ used the term in "Laughter of Aphrodite" (1987), claiming that those creating thealogy could not avoid being influenced by the categories and questions posed in Christian and Jewish theologies.She further defined thealogy in her 2002 essay, "Feminist theology as post-traditional thealogy," as "the reflection on the meaning of the Goddess".
In her 1989 essay "On Mirrors, Mists and Murmurs: Toward an Asian American Thealogy", Rita Nakashima Brock defined thealogy as "the work of women reflecting on their experiences of and beliefs about divine reality".Also in 1989, Ursula King notes thealogy's growing usage as a fundamental departure from traditional male-oriented theology, characterized by its privileging of symbols over rational explanation.
In 1993, Charlotte Caron's inclusive and clear definition of thealogy as "reflection on the divine in feminine and feminist terms" appeared in "To Make and Make Again".By this time, the concept had gained considerable status among Goddess adherents.
Situated in relationship to the fields of theology and religious studies, thealogy is a discourse that critically engages the beliefs, wisdom, practices, questions, and values of the Goddess community, both past and present.Similar to theology, thealogy grapples with questions of meaning, include reflecting on the nature of the divine, the relationship of humanity to the environment, the relationship between the spiritual and sexual self, and the nature of belief. However, in contrast to theology, which often focuses on an exclusively logical and empirical discourse, thealogy embraces a postmodern discourse of personal experience and complexity.
The term suggests a feminist approach to theism and the context of God and gender within Paganism, Neopaganism, Goddess Spirituality and various nature-based religions. However, thealogy can be described as religiously pluralistic, as thealogians come from various religious backgrounds that are often hybrid in nature. In addition to Pagans, Neopagans, and Goddess-centred faith traditions, they are also Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Quakers, etc. or define themselves as Spiritual Feminists.As such, the term thealogy has also been used by feminists within mainstream monotheistic religions to describe in more detail the feminine aspect of a monotheistic deity or trinity, such as God/dess Herself, or the Heavenly Mother of the Latter Day Saint movement.
In 2000, Melissa Raphael wrote the text Introducing Thealogy: Discourse on the Goddess for the series Introductions in Feminist Theology. Written for an academic audience, it purports to introduce the main elements of thealogy within the context of Goddess feminism. She situates thealogy as a discourse that can be engaged with by Goddess feminists—those who are feminist adherents of the Goddess who may have left their church, synagogue, or mosque—or those who may still belong to their originally established religion.In the book, Raphael compares and contrasts thealogy with the Goddess movement. In 2007, Paul Reid-Bowen wrote the text "Goddess as Nature: Towards a Philosophical Thealogy", which can be regarded as another systematic approach to thealogy, but which integrates philosophical discourse.
In the past decade, other thealogians like Patricia 'Iolana and D'vorah Grenn have generated discourses that bridge thealogy with other academic disciplines. 'Iolana's Jungian thealogy bridges analytical psychology with thealogy, and Grenn's metaformic thealogy is a bridge between matriarchal studies and thealogy.
Contemporary Thealogians include Carol P. Christ, Melissa Raphael, Asphodel Long, Beverly Clack, Charlotte Caron, Naomi Goldenberg, Paul Reid-Bowen, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Patricia 'Iolana.
At least one Christian theologist dismisses thealogy as the creation of a new deity made up by radical feminists.Paul Reid-Bowen and Chaone Mallory point out that essentialism is a problematic slippery slope when Goddess feminists argue that women are inherently better than men or inherently closer to the Goddess. In his book Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, Philip G. Davis levies a number of criticisms against the Goddess movement, including logical fallacies, hypocrisies, and essentialism.
Thealogy has also been criticized for its objection to empiricism and reason.In this critique, thealogy is seen as flawed by rejecting a purely empirical worldview for a purely relativistic one. Meanwhile, scholars like Harding and Haraway seek a middle ground of feminist empiricism.
Dianic Wicca, also known as Dianic Witchcraft, is a neopagan religion female-centered goddess ritual and tradition. While some adherents identify as Wiccan, it differs from most traditions of Wicca in that only goddesses are honored.
Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Although they share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and no single set of beliefs, practices or texts is shared by them all. Most academics studying the phenomenon have treated it as a movement of different religions, whereas a minority instead characterise it as a single religion into which different Pagan faiths fit as denominations. Not all members of faiths or beliefs regarded as Neopagan self-identify as "Pagan".
Various Wiccan traditions hold a wide range of differing beliefs about sexual orientation. British Traditional Wicca is known for stressing "male/female polarity" in their theology and rituals. Gerald Gardner, the founder of Gardnerian Wicca, particularly stressed heterosexual approaches to Wicca, whereas Alex Sanders, the founder of the Gardnerian offshoot, Alexandrian Wicca, came out as bisexual later in life and created new rituals in which sexual orientation was irrelevant. Newer Wiccan traditions do not usually hold to this historical aversion to LGBT-friendly approaches to Wicca.
Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.
Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay is a Hungarian author, activist, journalist, playwright and songwriter living in America who writes about feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca under the pen name Zsuzsanna Budapest or Z. Budapest. She is the founder of the Susan B. Anthony Coven #1, which was founded in 1971 as the first women-only witches' coven. She founded the female-only type of Dianic Wicca.
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc. is a non-profit religious organization dedicated to the study and further development of modern Neodruidism.
The Goddess movement includes spiritual beliefs or practices which emerged predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1970s. The movement grew as a reaction to perceptions of predominant organized religion as male-dominated, and makes use of goddess worship and a focus on gender and femininity.
Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism is a polytheistic reconstructionist approach to Celtic neopaganism, emphasising historical accuracy over eclecticism such as is found in many forms of Neo-druidism. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions.
The gender of God can be viewed as a literal or as an allegorical aspect of a deity. In polytheistic religions, gods are more likely to have literal sexes which would enable them to interact with each other, and even with humans, in a sexual way.
Polytheistic reconstructionism is an approach to modern paganism first emerging in the late 1960s to early 1970s, which gathered momentum starting in the 1990s. Reconstructionism attempts to re-establish historical polytheistic religions in the modern world, in contrast with neopagan syncretic movements like Wicca, and "channeled" movements like Germanic mysticism or Theosophy.
Celtic neopaganism refers to any type of modern paganism or contemporary pagan movements based on the ancient Celtic religion.
Christian feminism is a school of Christian theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women, and an acknowledgment of women's value, are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity. Christian feminists believe that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically-determined characteristics such as sex and race, but created all humans to exist in harmony and equality, regardless of race or gender. Christian feminists generally advocate for anti-essentialism as a part of their belief system, acknowledging that gender identities do not mandate a certain set of personality traits. Their major issues include the ordination of women, biblical equality in marriage, recognition of equal spiritual and moral abilities, reproductive rights, integration of gender neutral pronouns within readings of the Bible, and the search for a feminine or gender-transcendent divine. Christian feminists often draw on the teachings of other religions and ideologies in addition to biblical evidence, and other Christian based texts throughout history that advocate for women's rights.
Wiccan views of divinity are generally theistic, and revolve around a Goddess and a Horned God, thereby being generally dualistic. In traditional Wicca, as expressed in the writings of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, the emphasis is on the theme of divine gender polarity, and the God and Goddess are regarded as equal and opposite divine cosmic forces. In some newer forms of Wicca, such as feminist or Dianic Wicca, the Goddess is given primacy or even exclusivity. In some forms of Traditional Witchcraft that share a similar duotheistic theology, the Horned God is given precedence over the Goddess.
A matriarchal religion is a religion that focuses on a goddess or goddesses. The term is most often used to refer to theories of prehistoric matriarchal religions that were proposed by scholars such as Johann Jakob Bachofen, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Marija Gimbutas, and later popularized by second-wave feminism. In the 20th century, a movement to revive these practices resulted in the Goddess movement.
Semitic neopaganism refers to a group of religions based on or attempting to reconstruct the old religious traditions of the Semitic peoples, mostly practiced among ethnic Jews in the United States.
The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy ; and the right to own property. Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker argues that feminism has reduced domestic violence, especially against men as their likelihood of being killed by a female intimate partner has decreased six-fold.
Postmodern religion is any type of religion that is influenced by postmodernism and postmodern philosophies. Examples of religions that may be interpreted using postmodern philosophy include Postmodern Christianity, Postmodern Neopaganism, and Postmodern Buddhism. Postmodern religion is not an attempt to banish religion from the public sphere; rather, it is a philosophical approach to religion that critically considers orthodox assumptions. Postmodern religious systems of thought view realities as plural, subjective, and dependent on the individual's worldview. Postmodern interpretations of religion acknowledge and value a multiplicity of diverse interpretations of truth, being, and ways of seeing. There is a rejection of sharp distinctions and global or dominant metanarratives in postmodern religion, and this reflects one of the core principles of postmodern philosophy. A postmodern interpretation of religion emphasises the key point that religious truth is highly individualistic, subjective, and resides within the individual.
Although the boundary between feminist theology and thealogy can be a permeable one, the basic division between radical/Pagan and reformist/biblical feminism is a historical product and a microcosm of this internal dissension in the feminist community.
While seemingly inclusive in scope, theology often has a focal handicap – it is monotheistic in its thinking, examining God from a narrow and often monocular lens often concretised by its own dogma, and often exclusivist and hampered by truth claims. Thealogy, on the other hand, is pluralistic, syncretistic and inclusive. It is fluid and comprehensive, able to contain many different belief systems and ways of being. Thealogy does not stand in opposition to, but as a complement to, Theology as a branch of religious study.
According to my research Thealogy or Thealogian was first used in publications by both Isaac Bonewits ("The Druid Chronicles - Evloved") and Valerie Saiving ("Androcentrism in Religious Studies") in 1976. Naomi Goldenberg continued this new thread by using the term in The Changing of the Gods (Goldenberg 1979b, 96). Since then, many have attempted to define "thealogy".
86. In 1974 I wrote, and in 1976 published, the word thealogian in The Druid Chronicles (Evolved), a book about the Reformed Druids of North America and their offshoots.
...C. Taliesin Edwards (the leading thealogian in the Neopagan movements has called “The Da Mind” (in his Essays Towards a Metathealogy of the Goddess), and that others have called by a variety of names.[ permanent dead link ]
The word theology has also come to be used almost exclusively in regard to Christian god-talk. The advent of witchcraft, with its colorful goddess-talk, requires a new term. I hope witches and scholars of feminist religion will adopt my suggestion and name themselves thealogians.
So far however, most writing on the Goddess, when not historical, is either inspirational or devotional, and a systematically ordered body of thought, even with reference to symbols, is only slowly coming into existence.
Goddess thealogy and deasophy are reflections on both past and contemporary Goddess communities' beliefs, wisdom, embodied practices, questions, and values.
The common thread in all of these examples is that feminist spiritual practice raises philosophical questions about the nature of divine power and its relation to our lives. Feminist theology and thealogy began as radical challenges to traditional ways of thinking about God and the world.
Goddess thealogy affirms that we all come from one course while stating that diversity is the great principle of the earth body.... We are both different and related in the web of life.
"Believing" in goddess is more a matter of adopting a new term for an old experience to call attention to its sacredness and its femininity. This is the closest thing one gets to a consensus thealogy in feminist spirituality, but it does not truly do justice to the thealogies that grow up all around it.
The postmodern theological/thealogical shift from a God of law presiding over a cosmic machine to a divinity holding creation in a nexus of complex relations has -- like one of its forerunners, process theology -- brought the divine into the very heart of change: the Goddess does not sit and watch the cosmos but is dancing at its very centre.
[T]his book is not an empirical study of the feminist wing of the Goddess movement. Rather, it is an exposition of a body of thought—thealogy—that derives from Goddess women's experience and from a broader history of emancipatory ideas and which can be defined as feminist reflection on the femaleness of the divine and the divinity of femaleness, and, more generally, spiritual, eithical and political reflection on the meaning(s) of both.
Finally, we point out the antichristian character that animates the construction of this new deity, created "after the image and likeness of man".
First, there are those feminist thealogical claims that suggest that women are essentially caring, nurturing and biophilic, while men are essential violent, destructive and necrophilic.... Second, there are those claims that suggest that women are somehow closer to the Goddess and/or nature than men.
The deployment of such textual imagery in theservice of a woman-centered environmentalism that strongly sug-gested—at times even explicitly asserted and celebrated—that womenhave an inherent, likely biological connection with nature that men donot generated the typical criticisms of ecofeminism already noted.[ permanent dead link ]
While this valorization of experience and suspicion of reason is a valuable corrective, the danger comes when as a result women deny themselves a stake in rational thought. Critics of thealogy have pointed out its lack of rigour, as for example over the issue of valid historical evidence.
One the one hand, there are social constructivists, postmodernists and relativists for whom there are no facts, only rhetoric and power, and on the other, there are positivists and empiricists for whom facts are value-free and given directly to experience, waiting patiently to be discovered.
A feminist standpoint epistemology requires strengthened standards of objectivity.... They call for the acknowledgement that all human beliefs - including our best scientific beliefs - are socially situated, but they also require a critical evaluation to determine which social situations tend to generate the most objective knowledge claims.
So, I think my problem and 'our' problem is how to have simultaneously an account of radical historical contingency for all knowledge claims and knowing subjects, a critical practice for recognizing our own 'semiotic technologies' for making meanings, and a no-nonsense commitment to faithful accounts of a 'real' world