Prehistoric cultures

The Goddess movement draws some of its inspiration from the work of such archaeologists as Marija Gimbutas,[25][26][27] whose interpretation of artifacts excavated from the region she called "Old Europe" points to societies of Neolithic Europe that were "matristic" or "goddess-centered" worshipping a female deity of three primary aspects inspiring some neopagan worshippers ofTriple Goddess.

Heide Göttner-Abendroth, working in the 1970s to mid-1980s and writing originally in German, called these cultures "matriarchies", introducing a feminist field of "Modern Matriarchal Studies". She presented a theory of the transformation of prehistoric cultures in which the local goddess was primary and the male god, if any, derived his power from the goddess. In what she terms the "Downfall", which occurred at varying times in various cultures, the gods overcame the goddesses and made them subservient.[28] This is believed to mirror the gradual suppression of women and the rise of patriarchy.

Göttner-Abendroth's terminology is idiosyncratic. The term "matriarchy" to describe these cultures has been rejected by many Goddess-movement scholars, especially those in North America, because it implies female domination as the reverse of the male domination present in patriarchy. These scholars make the point that such a reversal was not the case; rather these prehistoric cultures were egalitarian and had a social structure that included matrilineality - inheritance of assets and parentage traced through the maternal line.[1][26][29][30][31]

According to Riane Eisler, cultures in which women and men shared power, and which worshipped female deities, were more peaceful than the patriarchal dominator societies that followed. Eisler proposed the terms "dominator" and "androcracy" instead of "patriarchy", and "partnership" and "gylany" (taking the first letters of the prefixes gyne [female] and andro [male] and linking them with an "l") instead of "matriarchy".[30] Others use the terms matrifocal and matrix.[1][13][17] Carol P. Christ writes, "The term matriarchy is not used by scholars who are aware of its controversial history."[32]

Ian Hodder's reinterpretation of Gimbutas[25] and Mellaart[27] disputes the existence of "matriarchal" or "matrifocal" cultures, as do some other archaeologists and historians in this field.[18][33][34][35] However, mythologist Joseph Campbell compared the importance of Gimbutas' output to the historical importance of the Rosetta Stone in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. Campbell provided a foreword to Gimbutas' The Language of the Goddess before he died, and often said how profoundly he regretted that her research on the Neolithic cultures of Europe had not been available when he wrote The Masks of God.

Marija Gimbutas, dubbed "Grandmother of the Goddess Movement" in the 1990s,[36] continues to be cited by many feminist writers, including Max Dashu. Many other scholars, including Joan Marler and Marguerite Rigoglioso, support her work.[37][38][39] Still, Gimbutas' theories had been widely criticized as mistaken on the grounds of dating, archeological context and typologies[40]  Some archaeologists consider her goddess hypothesis implausible[41] some regard her work as pseudo-scholarship.[42]


Earth or mother Goddesses

Main articles: Earth Goddess and Mother Goddess

Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, a 1988 interview with Bill Moyers,[3] links the image of the Earth or Mother Goddess to symbols of fertility and reproduction.[4] For example, Campbell states that, "There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... We talk of Mother Earth. And in Egypt you have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere".[5] Campbell continues by stating that the correlation between fertility and the Goddess found its roots in agriculture:

Bill Moyers: But what happened along the way to this reverence that in primitive societies was directed to the Goddess figure, the Great Goddess, the mother earth- what happened to that?

Joseph Campbell: Well that was associated primarily with agriculture and the agricultural societies. It has to do with the earth. The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants...so woman magic and earth magic are the same. They are related. And the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female. It is in the agricultural world of ancient Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Nile, and in the earlier planting-culture systems that the Goddess is the dominant mythic form.[6]

Campbell also argues that the image of the Virgin Mary was derived from the image of Isis and her child Horus: "The antique model for the Madonna, is Isis with Horus at her breast".[7]


Historical polytheism

Further information: Polytheism

Ancient Near East

Ancient Africa (Egypt)

Main article: Netjeret



Main articles: Assyro-Babylonian religion and Sumerian religion

Ishtar (Inanna) was the main goddess of Babylonia and Assyria. Other Mesopotamian goddesses include NinhursagNinlilAntuGaga



Main article: Balat

Further information: The Hebrew Goddess

Goddesses of the Canaanite religionBa`alat GebalAstarteAnat.



  • Cybele: Her Hittite name was Kubaba, but her name changed to Cybele in Phrygian and Roman culture. Her effect can be also seen on Artemis as the Lady of Ephesus.
  • Hebat: Mother Goddess of the Hittite pantheon and wife of the leader sky god, Teshub. She was the origin of the Hurrian cult.
  • Arinniti: Hittite Goddess of the sun. She became patron of the Hittite Empire and monarchy.
  • Leto: A mother Goddess figure in Lykia. She was also the main goddess of the capital city of Lykia League (Letoon)


Pre-Islamic Arabia

In pre-Islamic Mecca the goddesses UzzaManāt and al-Lāt were known as "the daughters of god". Uzzā was worshipped by the Nabataeans, who equated her with the Graeco-Roman goddesses AphroditeUraniaVenus and Caelestis. Each of the three goddesses had a separate shrine near Mecca. Uzzā, was called upon for protection by the pre-Islamic Quraysh. "In 624 at the battle called "Uhud", the war cry of the Qurayshites was, "O people of Uzzā, people of Hubal!" (Tawil 1993).

In fact, in ancient times, the goddess and god were known as Allat and Allah, or what would better be termed as deities representing "husband and wife".[8]

According to Ibn Ishaq's controversial account of the Satanic Verses (q.v.), these verses had previously endorsed them as intercessors for Muslims, but were abrogated. Most Muslim scholars have regarded the story as historically implausible, while opinion is divided among western scholars such as Leone Caetani and John Burton, who argue against, and William Muir and William Montgomery Watt, who argue for its plausibility.



Further information: Proto-Indo-Iranian religion and Rigvedic deities

Ushas is the main goddess of the RigvedaPrithivi, the Earth, also appears as a goddess. Rivers are also deified as goddesses. Agneya or Aagneya is the Hindu Goddess of Fire. Varuna is the Hindu Goddess of Water. Bhoomi, Janani, Buvana, and Prithvi are names of the Hindu Goddess of Earth.



Main articles: Religion in ancient Greece and Religion in ancient Rome

  • Eleusinian MysteriesPersephoneDemeterBaubo
  • Artemis: Goddess of the wilderness, wild animals, virginity, childbirth and the hunt.
  • Aphrodite: Goddess of Love and Beauty.
  • Athena: Goddess of crafts, strategy, wisdom and war. Athena is also a virgin goddess.
  • Dione: An early chthonic goddess of prophesy.
  • Eris: Goddess of chaos.
  • Gaia: Primordial Goddess of the Earth. Most gods descend from her.
  • Hera: Goddess of family and marriage. She is the wife of Zeus and the queen of the Olympians. Mother of Ares.
  • Hecate: Goddess of sorcery, crossroads and magic. Often considered an chthonic or lunar goddess. She is either portrayed as a single goddess or a triple goddess (maiden, mother, crone).
  • Iris: Goddess of rainbows.
  • Nike: Goddess of Victory. She is predominantly pictured with Zeus or Athena and sometimes Ares.
  • Selene: Goddess of the Moon.



Main article: Celtic pantheon

Goddesses and Otherworldly Women in Celtic polytheism include:

The Celts honored goddesses of nature and natural forces, as well as those connected with skills and professions such as healing, warfare and poetry. The Celtic goddesses have diverse qualities such as abundance, creation and beauty, as well as harshness, slaughter and vengeance. They have been depicted as beautiful or hideous, old hags or young women, and at times may transform their appearance from one state to another, or into their associated creatures such as crows, cows, wolves or eels, to name but a few. In Irish mythology in particular, tutelary goddesses are often associated with sovereignty and various features of the land, notably mountains, rivers, forests and holy wells.[9]



Further information: List of Germanic deities and heroes § Goddesses

Surviving accounts of Germanic mythology and Norse mythology contain numerous tales of female goddesses, giantesses, and divine female figures in their scriptures. The Germanic peoples had altars erected to the "Mothers and Matrons" and held celebrations specific to these goddeses (such as the Anglo-Saxon "Mothers-night"). Various other female deities are attested among the Germanic peoples, such as Nerthus attested in an early account of the Germanic peoples, Ēostre attested among the pagan Anglo-Saxons, and Sinthgunt attested among the pagan continental Germanic peoples. Examples of goddesses attested in Norse mythology include Frigg (wife of Odin, and the Anglo-Saxon version of whom is namesake of the modern English weekday Friday), Skaði (one time wife of Njörðr), Njerda (Scandinavian name of Nerthus), that also was married to Njörðr during Bronze Age,Freyja (wife of Óðr), Sif (wife of Thor), Gerðr (wife of Freyr), and personifications such as Jörð (earth), Sól (the sun), and Nótt (night). Female deities also play heavily into the Norse concept of death, where half of those slain in battle enter Freyja's field FólkvangrHel's realm of the same name, and Rán who receives those who die at sea. Other female deities such as the valkyries, the norns, and the dísir are associated with a Germanic concept of fate (Old Norse Ørlög, Old English Wyrd), and celebrations were held in their honor, such as the Dísablót and Disting.


Pre-Columbian America


Main article: Aztec religion



The Inca pantheon included: Pachamama, the supreme Mother Earth, Mama Killa, a moon goddess, and Mama Ocllo, a fertility goddess.

The main goddesses in the Maya pantheon were Ixchel, a mother goddess, and the Maya moon goddess. The Goddess I presided over eroticism, human procreation, and marriage. Ixtab was the goddess of suicide.


African religions

Further information: Traditional African religions and African diasporic religions

Further information: Mami WataAla (mythology)Asase YaOshunOya and Yemaja

In African and African diasporic religions, goddesses are often syncretized with Marian devotion, as in Ezili Dantor (Black Madonna of Częstochowa) and Erzulie Freda (Mater Dolorosa). There is also Buk, an Ethiopian goddess still worshipped in the southern regions. She represents the fertile aspect of women. So when a woman is having her period not only does it signify her submission to nature but also her union with the goddess.Another Ethiopian goddess is Atete—the goddess of spring and fertility. Farmers traditionally leave some of their products at the end of each harvesting season as an offering while their women sing traditional songs. A rare example of henotheism focused on a single Goddess is found among the Southern Nuba of Sudan. The Nuba conceive of the creator Goddess as the "Great Mother" who gave birth to earth and to mankind.[10]


Chinese folk religion

Main article: Chinese folk religion

Further information: Queen Mother of the West

  • Mazu is the goddess of the sea who protects fishermen and sailors, widely worshipped in the south-eastern coastal areas of China and neighbouring areas in Southeast Asia.
  • The Goddess Weaver Valentina, daughter of the Celestial Mother, wove the stars and their light, known as "the Silver River" (what Westerners call "The Milky Way Galaxy"), for heaven and earth. She was identified with the star Westerners know as Vega.[11]



Goddess Amaterasu is the chief among the Shinto Gods, while there are important female deities Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, Inari and Konohanasakuya-hime.



Main article: God and gender in Hinduism

Further information: Devi and Shakti

Hinduism is a complex of various belief systems that sees many gods and goddesses as being representative of and/or emanative from a single source,Brahman, understood either as a formless, infinite, impersonal monad in the Advaita tradition or as a dual god in the form of Lakshmi-VishnuRadha-KrishnaShiva-Shakti in Dvaita traditions. Shaktas, worshippers of the Goddess, equate this god with Devi, the mother goddess. Such aspects of one god as male god (Shaktiman) and female energy (Shakti), working as a pair are often envisioned as male gods and their wives or consorts and provide many analogues between passive male ground and dynamic female energy.

For example, Brahma pairs with Sarasvati. Shiva likewise pairs with Parvati who later is represented through a number of Avatars (incarnations): Sati and the warrior figures, Durga and Kali. All goddesses in Hinduism are sometimes grouped together as the great goddess, Devi.

The Shaktis took a further step. Their ideology, based mainly on tantras, sees Shakti as the principle of energy through which all divinity functions, thus showing the masculine as depending on the feminine. In the great shakta scripture known as the Devi Mahatmya, all the goddesses are aspects of one presiding female force—one in truth and many in expression—giving the world and the cosmos the galvanic energy for motion. It expresses through philosophical tracts and metaphor, that the potentiality of masculine being is actuated by the feminine divine. Local deities of different village regions in India were often identified with "mainstream" Hindu deities, a process that has been called Sanskritization. Others attribute it to the influence of monism or Advaita, which discounts polytheist or monotheist categorization.

While the monist forces have led to a fusion between some of the goddesses (108 names are common for many goddesses), centrifugal forces have also resulted in new goddesses and rituals gaining ascendance among the laity in different parts of Hindu world. Thus, the immensely popular goddessDurga was a pre-Vedic goddess who was later fused with Parvati, a process that can be traced through texts such as Kalika Purana (10th century), Durgabhaktitarangini (Vidyapati 15th century), Chandimangal (16th century) etc.

Abrahamic religions


Further information: The Hebrew Goddess and Shekhinah

According to ZoharLilith is the name of Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time as Adam. She left Adam and refused to return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael.[12] Her story was greatly developed, during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism.[13]

The Zohar tradition has influenced Jewish folkore, which postulates God created Adam to marry a woman named Lilith. Outside of Jewish tradition, Lilith was associated with the Mother GoddessInanna – later known as both Ishtar and Asherah. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was said to have destroyed a tree that was in a sacred grove dedicated to the goddess Ishtar/Inanna/Asherah. Lilith ran into the wilderness in despair. She then is depicted in the Talmud and Kabbalah as first wife to God's first creation of man, Adam. In time, as stated in the Old Testament, the Hebrew followers continued to worship "False Idols", like Asherah, as being as powerful as God. Jeremiah speaks of his (and God's) displeasure at this behavior to the Hebrew people about the worship of the goddess in the Old Testament. Lilith is banished from Adam and God's presence when she is discovered to be a "demon" and Eve becomes Adam's wife. Lilith then takes the form of the serpent in her jealous rage at being displaced as Adam's wife. Lilith as serpent then proceeds to trick Eve into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge and in this way is responsible for the downfall of all of mankind. It is worthwhile to note here that in religions pre-dating Judaism, the serpent was associated with wisdom and rebirth (with the shedding of its skin).

The following female deities are mentioned in prominent Hebrew texts:



Main articles: Marian veneration and Sophia (wisdom)

In Christianity, worship of any other deity besides the Trinity was deemed heretical, but veneration for Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, as an especially privileged saint— though not as a deity— has continued since the beginning of the Catholic faith.[citation needed] Mary is venerated as the Mother of God,Queen of HeavenMother of the ChurchOur LadyStar of the Sea, and other lofty titles. Marian devotion similar to this kind is also found in Eastern Orthodoxy and sometimes in Anglicanism, though not in the majority of denominations of Protestantism. That being said, the Virgin Mary is not a goddess under its current definition.

In some Christian traditions (like the Orthodox tradition), Sophia is the personification of either divine wisdom (or of an archangel) that takes female form. She is mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of Proverbs.

Sophia is identified by some as the wisdom imparting Holy Spirit of the Christian Trinity, whose names in Hebrew—Ruach and Shekhinah—are both feminine, and whose symbol of the dove was commonly associated in the Ancient Near East with the figure of the Mother Goddess. In 13th century MilanItaly, followers of the heretical female Saint Guglielma believed she was an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. In Elizabeth Cady Stanton's book, The Woman's Bible, she replaces the figure of the Holy Spirit with a "Heavenly Mother" within the Trinity.

In MysticismGnosticism, as well as some Hellenistic religions, there is a female spirit or goddess named Sophia who is said to embody wisdom and who is sometimes described as a virgin. In Roman Catholic mysticismHildegard of Bingen celebrated Sophia as a cosmic figure both in her writing and art. Within the Protestant tradition in England, 17th century MysticUniversalist and founder of the Philadelphian Society Jane Leade wrote copious descriptions of her visions and dialogues with the "Virgin Sophia" who, she said, revealed to her the spiritual workings of the universe. Leade was hugely influenced by the theosophical writings of 16th century German Christian mystic Jakob Böhme, who also speaks of the Sophia in works such as The Way to Christ.[14] Jakob Böhme was very influential to a number of Christian mystics and religious leaders, including George Rapp and the Harmony Society.


Goddess movement

Main article: Goddess movement

At least since first-wave feminism in the United States, there has been interest in analyzing religion to see if and how doctrines and practices treat women unfairly, as in Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible. Again in second-wave feminism in the U.S., as well as in many European and other countries, religion became the focus of some feminist analysis in Judaism, Christianity, and other religions, and some women turned to ancient goddess religions as an alternative to Abrahamic religions (Womanspirit Rising 1979; Weaving the Visions 1989). Today both women and men continue to be involved in the Goddess movement (Christ 1997). The popularity of organizations such as the Fellowship of Isis attest to the continuing growth of the religion of the Goddess throughout the world.

While much of the attempt at gender equity in mainstream Christianity (Judaism never recognized any gender for God) is aimed at reinterpreting scripture and degenderizing language used to name and describe the divine (Ruether, 1984; Plaskow, 1991), there are a growing number of people who identify as Christians or Jews who are trying to integrate goddess imagery into their religions (Kien, 2000; Kidd 1996,"Goddess Christians Yahoo Group").



Wicca regards "the Goddess", along with her consort the Horned God, as a deity of prime importance. The earliest Wiccan publications described her as a tribal goddess of the witch community, neither omnipotent nor universal, and though recognizing a greater "Prime Mover", witches did not concern themselves much with this being.[43]

Many forms of Wicca have come to regard the Goddess as a universal deity, more in line with her description in the Charge of the Goddess, a key Wiccan text. In this guise she is the "Queen of Heaven", similar to Isis; she also encompasses and conceives all life, much like Gaia. Much like Isis and certain late Classical conceptions of Selene,[44] she is held to be the summation of all other goddesses, who represent her different names and aspects across the different cultures. The Goddess is often portrayed with strong lunar symbolism, drawing on various cultures and deities such as DianaHecate and Isis, and is often depicted as the Maiden, Mother and Crone triad popularized by Robert Graves (see Triple Goddess below). Many depictions of her also draw strongly on Celtic goddesses. Some Wiccans believe there are many goddesses, and in some forms of Wicca, notably Dianic Wicca, the Goddess alone is worshipped, and the God plays very little part in their worship and ritual.


Robert Graves popularized the triad of "Maiden" (or "Virgin"), "Mother" and "Crone", and while this idea did not rest on sound scholarship, his poetic inspiration has gained a tenacious hold. Considerable variation in the precise conceptions of these figures exists, as typically occurs in Neopaganism and indeed in pagan religions in general. Some choose to interpret them as three stages in a woman's life, separated by menarche and menopause.

Some, but not all, participants in the Goddess movement self-identify as witchesWiccans or Wiccens. (Likewise, some, but not all, Wiccans and witches consider themselves to be part of "the Goddess movement".) Other participants in the Goddess movement call themselves Goddessians. Still others use "pagan" as a generic label for their spiritual worldview, or employ no identifying label at all.

Some witches, especially Dianics, attempt to trace the historical origins of their beliefs to Neolithic pre-Christian cultures, seeing Wiccanism as a distillation of a religion found at the beginning of most, if not all, cultures.[45] They regard wise women and midwives as the first witches. Dianic witchcraft first became visible in the 1970s, with the writings of Zsuzsanna Budapest. Her feminist version of witchcraft followed a few decades after the founding (or discovery) of Wicca by Gerald Gardner in the 1940s. In its original and traditional forms, Wicca appears as a duotheistic pagan religion which honors a God and a Goddess equally. Gerald Gardner (1884–1964) who, with Doreen Valiente (1922–1999) founded Gardnerian Wicca in Britain, claimed that a surviving coven of traditional witches worshippers of both a male Horned God and a female Goddess, had initiated him into Wicca in the 1940s.

For their time, Gardner and Valiente advocated a fairly feminist ideal of priestess authority in service to the Wiccan God and Goddess. Covens in "traditional" Wicca (i.e., those run along the lines described by Gardner and Valiente) had and have pretty much equal leadership both of a priest and of a priestess; but often consider the priestess "prima inter pares" (first among equals) - according to the book A Witches' Bible,[46][47][48] by Stewart and Janet Farrar. (Other early authors on Wicca and witchcraft, such as Paul Huson in his book Mastering Witchcraft, and Charles Cardell of the Coven of Atho, and Robert Cochrane of the Clan of Tubal Cain, generally saw the male priest or magister as being of more importance.)

While virtually all Wiccans honor the Goddess as one of their two main deities, they may or may not consider themselves to be feminists. For this reason, they may or may not identify with the label "Goddess worshipper" when it is construed as connoting a feminist ideological position, or when it is regarded as an ideology that aims at elevating the Goddess to a position of more importance than the God. Thus, the worship of a goddess or even a Great Goddess should not necessarily be construed as a feminist position per se. (For example, the worship of feminine deities by both men and women in India was historically very widespread, as it was in ancient Greece; even though both of those cultures can be considered more patriarchal than most.)

Doreen Valiente became known in Britain as the 'Mother of the Craft' and contributed extensively to Wicca's written tradition.[49][50] She is the author of The Witches' Creed, which lays out the basics of Wiccan religious belief and philosophy; including the polarity of the God and the Goddess as the two great "powers of Nature" and the two "mystical pillars" of the religion. One way to characterize the central male-female divine dyad in Wicca is to say that it's a duotheistic religion with a theology based on the divine gender polarity of male and female. Valiente also wrote both the Invocation to the Horned God and the Charge of the Goddess, the latter of which now exists in a number of variations, and is one of the most famous texts of the Neopagan movement.

The existence of witchcraft as the remnants of an old pagan religion as late as the early Modern Age was first suggested to a wide readership by Margaret Murray's books, The Witch Cult in Western EuropeThe God of the Witches (1933) and The Divine King in England. Margaret Murray's books were focused mainly on the worship of a male Horned God, but she saw witches themselves as being either male or female. Murray's theories were widely discredited by experts at the time, and have been thoroughly debunked now, despite still having mass appeal. Gardner's publications on Wicca followed her theories and argued that witchcraft had survived longer than even she had guessed. Gardner's claimed history of Wicca is similarly discredited.

See History of Wicca.


In formulating an outline of Wiccan theology and liturgy, Gardner drew not only upon the writings of Margaret Murray and her ideas about the worship of an ancient Horned God, but also upon the writings of Charles Godfrey Leland, author of Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches - who speculated that witchcraft involved the worship of a moon goddess. In combining ideas from these two authors, Gardner arrived at Wicca as a duotheistic religion that honored both the male and female deities, and that saw them as divine lovers, in a polar male-female dyad.

Wicca and Neopaganism, and to some extent the Goddess movement, were influenced by 19th-century occultism, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,[51] and romantic nature movements in which both male and female were valued and honored as sacred, in contrast to and perhaps in reaction to mainstream Christian spirituality. Such views are described, for example, in the work of Robert Graves, especially The White Goddess (the origin of the neopagan 'Triple Goddess' concept) and Mammon and the Black Goddess.

Wicca was also heavily influenced by the ideas of alchemic symbolism, which emphasized the essential complementary polarity of male and female, and that characterized that basic duality or gender polarity as a partnership of the solar (male) and the lunar (female). In Wicca the moon is the symbol of the Goddess and the sun is the symbol of the God; and the central liturgical mystery and ritual act is "The Great Rite" or Hieros Gamos, which is a symbolic union of the God and the Goddess, as the primal male and female powers of the cosmos. In alchemy this was known as "the alchemical wedding" of the sun and the moon. In a parallel vein, traditional Wicca also draws heavily upon the Western Hermetic Tradition and its roots in the kabbalistic Tree of Life; where the twin pillars of masculine and feminine divine forces are joined by a Middle Pillar that encompasses and transcends both male and female. These "twin pillars" as they are shown in tarot decks are analogous to Valiente's depiction of the God and the Goddess as the two "mystical pillars." In this emphasis on the feminine as the equal and complementary polar opposite of the masculine, Wicca echoes not only kabalistic sources but also the polarity of yin and yang—feminine and masculine—in Taoism.

The main forums for the movement during the 70s and 80s were independently produced magazines and journals such as Green Egg in America and Wood and Water in the UK, among many others. These periodicals attempted to represent the diversity of thought and belief. Mention should also be made of the work of UK feminist groups such as the London-based Matriarchy Study Group which produced the Goddess issue of the feminist periodical Shrew (this was an occasional publication, produced by a different collective each issue) as well as the pamphlets Menstrual Taboos and The Politics of Matriarchy; these featured the early writings of Asphodel (Pauline) Long and the artist Monica Sjoo among others. Internal newsletters of the Matriarchy Study Group and the later Matriarchy Research and Reclaim Network contained much discussion of goddesses and their significance to modern and ancient women, and some of their members produced the periodical Arachne, which brought similar material to the public.

One of the founders of modern American Goddess religions, Zsuzsanna Budapest, (Zee or "Z"), started a women-only Dianic Craft or Dianic Tradition version of witchcraft in the mid-1970s, a few decades after Gerald Gardner. She was a prolific author, and who twinned Tarot and witchcraft from her Hungarian background, with feminism. Z challenged laws in California against Tarot reading and won. Zee is considered by her sect to be the honored Mother of the American Dianic Craft and a primary proponent of modern separatist Goddess theology.

The Dianic view is that separatism, in a world where gender roles were once strictly defined, is sometimes considered dangerous because it challenges what they see as patriarchal assumptions of Western culture.[14]


Later, in America came Starhawk, activist and author of numerous books, as an influential author/priestess in the American Goddess movement. Her 1979 book, The Spiral Dance, played a large role in popularizing the Goddess movement as well as modern Witchcraft among committed feminists, and is considered a classic of modern Paganism.[13]

Many non-Dianics, as well as Starhawk, may reject monotheistic patriarchal culture, but do not agree with Z's justification for separatism. Starhawk's paganism was more broadly based and also drew on the Feri tradition of Witchcraft which, itself, incorporated Hawaiian, European, and Middle Eastern elements. She was initiated into the Feri tradition in California by Victor and Cora Anderson. Starhawk is one of the founders of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, which includes both women and men, and which honors both the God and the Goddess.


Earth as Goddess

Further information: Earth goddess

Many people involved in the Goddess movement regard the Earth as a living Goddess. For some this may be figurative, for others literal. This literal belief is similar to that proposed by Gaia theory, and the Goddess-name Gaia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Earth. Many of those in the Goddess movement become involved in ecofeminism, and are concerned with environmental and ecological issues.[22] Goddess-movement adherents claim the hierarchical scheme giving humans dominion over the Earth (and nature) has led to lack of respect and concern for the Earth, and thus to what environmentalists identify as environmental crises,[30] such as global warming. Rather than having dominion over the Earth, Goddess-movement theorists see humans living as part of the Earth environment, and also refer to Earth as "Mother".[13][14]


See also