|Feminist spirituality burst onto the California scene in the early 1980’s, when classes were offered through the Reclaiming Tradition in the “elements of magic” – the art of changing consciousness at will. The six-week series introduced Goddess spirituality; with that training, I began to meet weekly with a group of 9 friends, operating within a new framework for spiritual inquiry. In a non-hierarchical setting, we have met almost weekly for 25 years.
There is enormous cross-over among the principles of shamanism, of ecopsychology, transpersonal psychology, and feminist spirituality. I frame my description of feminist spirituality here in terms of the way my own coven operates, because an important aspect of feminist spirituality revolves around a level of autonomy that is unique in spiritual inquiry. The fundamentals of my approach have grown out of the long and intimate involvement with the Stone Dancers, my companions of the last quarter of a century.
A peak experience occurred during those first weeks of training, when we were led through the Tree of Life meditation. In that moment, I felt profoundly connected with every woman who was alive anywhere in the world, and every woman who had ever been or would be alive on the planet. I was simply stunned, but it anchored my commitment to use the vehicle of this leaderless group to safely explore my thoughts, feelings, and direction, without the outcome being imposed by an external authority. It fostered also the opportunity for trans-generational healing.
In our meetings; inquiry of a topic we wish to explore may incorporate the wisdom of a god, goddess, or practice from any tradition (including Islam, Judaism,, Christianity, Buddhism, Greek or Norse mythology, etc.). There is no specific liturgy or pantheon; whatever stories or myths are relevant to the current issue may become part of an exploration that may last weeks or one night. We might create an event in which we speak for a fish, an animal, an element, or a state of mind. Representing any of these is just as much speaking as the Goddess as would be personating Noah or the goddess Persephone. For myself, the concept of the Goddess is the force of creation, of life inherent in all beings and in the processes that create them. It is a consciousness that runs through all of existence. It permeates not only tangible forms of life, such as birds, animals, humans, and plants, but also stones and the elemental forces of air, fire, water, and earth.
Our topics of inquiry grow out of current issues any of our members may be dealing with; we devise approaches for their exploration that may include ceremony, dance, song, story telling, chanting, breathwork, trance, art, divination, energy work, research, environmental or political outreach. The wheel of the year provides a cyclical framework, as do cycles of human life.. The exploration of the sacred sites surrounding San Francisco Bay includes similar approaches to those used as the coven – now supplemented by the plant spirits, the trees, the mountains, and the waters that feed the Bay.