1st Edition

Women's Spirituality, Women's Lives

By Ellen Cole, Judith Ochshorn Copyright 1995
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    This enlightening book examines how the feminist spirituality movement contributes to the establishment of new paradigms of mental health for women. Women’s Spirituality, Women’s Lives examines possible psychotherapeutic implications for women engaged in feminist spirituality and stimulates much-needed conversation between feminist therapists and feminist theologians/ritualists. Feminist spirituality is part of the current broad challenge to accepted ways of knowing and being. This book argues that as women tell their own stories, they create rituals that enable them to feel a sense of control over the future and to move toward a kind of authority, agency, and autonomy associated with mental health and psychological well-being.

    Women from many cultural backgrounds and religious perspectives have embraced alternative forms of spiritual expression, based on profound theoretical challenges to mainstream religious beliefs, ranging from calls for the radical reclamation and reconstruction of religious traditions to personal involvement in goddess worship and Wicca. Women’s Spirituality, Women’s Lives presents theoretical, conceptual, and experiential chapters that analyze the extent to which these proliferating women’s groups represent the beginnings of new norms of mental health for women.

    Women’s Spirituality, Women’s Lives presents a variety of voices, including Native American, Christian, Jewish, and Wiccan. Chapters are divided into three sections--Laying the Groundwork, Theoretical Challenges, and Living It Out--and explore a diverse array of topics such as:

    • the “shouting” church and Black women’s mental health
    • a traditionalist Native American challenge to New Age cooptation
    • a feminist group and Jewish women’s self-identity
    • lesbian altar-making and mental health
    • feminist Wicca in the U.S. and Germany
    • the martial arts and women’s mental health
    • the use of feminist rituals in therapy and as therapy

      Feminist therapists and theologians, as well as other individuals interested in feminist spirituality or alternative spirituality, will find this book a fascinating exploration of the various aspects of the spirituality of women. Women’s Spirituality, Women’s Lives is also an excellent reader to expand the thinking of students in classes in women’s studies and religious studies.

    Contents Introduction
    • Shall We Gather at the River
    • Rosh Chodesh Dance at the Summer Solstice
    • Section I: Laying the Groundwork
    • Women and Spirit: Two Nonfits in Psychology
    • Psychological Implications of Women’s Spiritual Health
    • Feminist Metanoia and Soul-Making
    • Letter to a Friend: A Reflection on Connectedness and Naming
    • Section II: Theoretical Challenges
    • There Is a Balm in Gilead: Black Women and the Black Church as Agents of a Therapeutic Community
    • Social and Spiritual Reconstruction of Self Within a Feminist Jewish Community
    • Identity, Recovery, and Religious Imperialism: Native American Women and the New Age
    • Altared States: Lesbian Altarmaking and the Transformation of Self
    • Liberating the Amazon: Feminism and the Martial Arts
    • Feminist Wicca: Paths to Empowerment
    • Section III: Living It Out
    • Women’s Spirituality and Healing in Germany
    • A Search for Spirituality: A Mother and Daughter Story
    • Mother Mary Ann Wright: African-American Women, Spirituality, and Social Activism
    • A Class That Changes Lives
    • Women’s Empowerment Through Feminist Rituals
    • Re-Membering Spirituality: Use of Sacred Ritual in Psychotherapy
    • Explorations of the Unrecognized Spirituality of Women’s Communion
    • Reference Notes Included


    Cole, Ellen; Ochshorn, Judith