Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries By Miriam Robbins Dexter and Vicki Noble


*Includes images.

Forty years ago, the Second Wave Feminist Movement was in full swing in America. Besides fighting for legal issues such as equal pay in the marketplace and the right to have a credit card or keep one’s own name, feminists demanded women’s health and reproductive rights, marriage reform, and sexual freedom. Radical women began to question the very concept of God as male, with “man in his image,” and from this revolutionary brew, the Women’s Spirituality movement was born.

Just as foam-born Aphrodite arose from the sea, the revolutionary Goddess movement arose to inspire women around the country and the world to begin researching ancient worldwide Goddess-based cultures and to create spontaneous circles of women’s ritual and Goddess worship. Some called themselves witches, leaving the church or temple to start covens or churches of their own; others worked within mainstream religious frameworks to bring the “feminine” into what had earlier been male-only priesthoods and doctrines.

This seeming explosion of creative religious expression on the part of contemporary Western women is the thematic focus of this book; the 33 chapters are the individual stories of the movement’s founders in their own words.

Although the broad impact of the Women’s Spirituality movement has been sociologically documented in past decades and women’s spirituality circles and meet-up groups can be found in most cities, there is a kind of collective amnesia about the enormous creativity underlying the birth of this movement and the substantive and ongoing results of this emergence.

For example, how many people know that long after the 1970s’ Take Back the Night marches and women’s self-help groups, two accredited graduate programs were created in Women’s Spirituality, thriving for twenty years and facilitating serious Masters and PhD degrees in the subject. Goddess Temples and Churches have taken root in mainstream communities around the world, with women as active ministers—priestesses of their own sacred rites and rituals. This book documents and provides valuable insight into this incredible phenomenon.

Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries is an important book for anthropology, religious studies, sociology, women’s studies, and essential for the study of women’s spirituality.

Read the Huffington Post book review of this book.