AAR Day 2: Starhawk on Elemental Theology

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I have a lot to report on from Sunday’s presentations and panels at the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting, including issues of indigenous-Pagan relations and the development of modern Paganism on the West Coast, but I’d like to devote this post to the opening panel co-presented by the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group and the Religion and Ecology Group. The panel, “Elemental Theology and Feminist Earth Practices,” featured dual keynote talks from noted Catholic eco-feminist theologian Rosemary R. Ruether (author of “Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing” among many others) and Pagan eco-feminist, activist, and author Starhawk (whose latest book, “The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups” was just released).

Rosemary Ruether and Starhawk

Rosemary Ruether and Starhawk

Here’s the program description:

“Starhawk is the well-known feminist Witch, Earth activist, and writer who initiated the Reclaiming Witchcraft Tradition in San Francisco in 1979. Her books on Pagan ecospirituality, such as The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion (HarperOne, 20th anniv. ed., 1999) and the novel The Fifth Sacred Thing (Bantam, 1993), are still bestsellers. Over the last four decades her thinking and practices have spun off the emergent Goddess spirituality movement, but have also provoked and influenced feminist theologians. One of them is Rosemary R. Ruether, herself a major contributor to feminist theologizing in all Western traditions — be it Christian, Jewish, or Pagan. Over the last ten years, Ruether and Starhawk have developed similar interests in feminist earth practices, honored the four elements and permacultural social principles, and have quoted each other’s work respectfully. In this session all are invited to reflect on the notion of “elemental theology” and/or “feminist Earth practices” as a possible crossroad for feminist theology of different faiths to meet.”

I was lucky enough to get permission from the Contemporary Pagan Studies group to record this talk so that they could make a transcript available later. I’d like to post an excerpt of the entire panel, featuring Starhawk’s opening remarks.

You can download this audio, here.

As you can hear, its a wide-ranging speech that touches on elemental theology, activism, the Occupy movement, permaculture, and other topics. I hope to, in the future, feature more excerpts from this panel, as the contributions were important, not only from Starhawk and Rosemary R. Ruether, but from the responders: Marion S. Grau, Jone Salomonsen, and Heather Eaton. In addition, there was a spirited and interesting Q&A period that should also interest readers here. Once details emerge as to where and when the transcript will be published, I’ll post that information.

There’s more AAR coverage to come, so stay tuned!