In honor of their second anniversary (congrats!), the Goddess-focused group blog Medusa Coils looks at recent trends in feminist spirituality. One of the biggest trends they have noticed? The splitting off of Goddess religion from under the “Pagan” umbrella.
“One of the major trends I’ve noticed is a growing conscious differentiation between Pagan and Goddess, with either Goddess being a distinct path of current Paganism or Goddess being separate from Paganism–as a distinct path of its own. A growing number of people making this distinction identify as Goddessians. Many Goddess folk assert that their path differs greatly from New Age, with which it is sometimes confused.”
So why have some Goddess-worshipers begun to define themselves as entirely separate from the Pagan movement? According to Medusa, the persistence of patriarchy in some Pagan communities, the weakening of feminism, and the growth of independent Goddess Temples all feed into this trend.
“There are now Goddess temples with physical structures in England, the Netherlands, Australia, and the USA. Other groups are operating as Temples, but as yet without specific buildings, in Hungary and other European countries, and in Australia and North America. Many of these Temples are not affiliated with (other?) Pagan paths, but rather gather many participants under a large umbrella, focusing specifically on Goddess worship often with original, creative ritual.”
So is the Goddess movement part of a larger pan-Pagan movement, or an entirely separate entity? Personally, I believe our Goddessian sisters are still part of a larger family of faiths, all sharing similar ancestors and goals. But then I’ve always been a “big-tent” sort of Pagan/Heathen, seeing room at “the table” for Asatruar, Witches, Wiccans, Polytheistic reconstructionists, Druids, Discordians, and the Goddess worshipers/Goddessians. We are separate faiths, with separate beliefs and practices, but ultimately part of a larger religious movement.
I think a problem (though surely not the only problem) with the notion of “Pagan unity” that leads to groups wanting to completely disassociate, is that it assumes that “Paganism” is a sort of ur-religion that, like Voltron, is constructed of lesser parts. Leading some to inaccurately portray religions like Asatru and Wicca as “denominations” of Paganism. When instead we should be seen as a diverse movement that shares some commonalities in practice and community. We are (at best) a coalition, not a unified whole, and any attempt to rally us to a cause or goal should take that into account.
I welcome your opinions and comments here, but head over to Medusa Coils and comment there as well. Be sure to wish them a happy anniversary!