Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History [1 & 2] 2018025824, 2018039892, 9781440848506, 9781440848490, 9781440848513, 9781440848520

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Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History [1 & 2]
 2018025824, 2018039892, 9781440848506, 9781440848490, 9781440848513, 9781440848520

Table of contents :
Cover
Volume 1: African Religions to Indigenous Religions
Title
Copyright
Contents
Alphabetical List of Entries
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion
African Religions
Introduction
African Religions-in-Diaspora
Art in Africa
Body Art
Candomblé
Female Genital Mutilation
Life-Cycle Ceremonies
Orisha Veneration
Priestesses and Oracular Women
Rastafari
Vodou
Yoruba Religion
Ancient Religions
Introduction
Athena
Delphic Oracle
Diana
Egyptian Religion
Eleusinian Mysteries
Gaia
Gorgon Medusa
Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of
Homosexuality
Hypatia (ca. 351–ca. 415 CE)
Inanna
Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions
Mesopotamian Religion
Ninḫursaĝa Mother Goddess
Ninlil
Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon
Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece
Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions
Roman Women
Sappho (ca. 630–ca. 570 BCE)
Shamans in East Asia
Sibyls
Sun Goddess
Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia
Baha’i
Introduction
Divine Feminine
Education
Gender Roles
Tahirih
Women in Baha’i Scriptures
Buddhism
Introduction
Abortion
Bodhisattvas
Buddhism in the United States
Dance
Dance of Tara
Engaged Buddhism
Female Divinities
Feminine Virtues
Funeral Practices
Gender Roles
Guan Yin
Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism
Mahayana
Nuns, Theravada
Ordination
Pajapati
Prajnaparamita
Sacred Texts on Women
Sōka Gakkai
Tantra
Tara
Tea Ceremony
Therigatha
Women in Early Buddhism
Women’s Buddhist Networks
Zen
Christianity
Introduction
Abbesses
Abortion
African American Women
Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious
Apocrypha
Art, Modern and Contemporary
Charity
Chastity
Christianity in Africa
Christianity in Europe
Christianity in Latin America
Christianity in the United States
Christine de Pizan (ca. 1364–ca. 1430)
Clothing
Divorce
Education
Eve
“The Fall”
Founders of Christian Denominations
Fundamentalism
Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)
Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity
Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women
Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342–ca. 1416)
Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood
Mary Magdalene (ca. first century CE)
Middle Ages
Ministers
Missionaries
Monastic Life
Monasticism, Contemporary Women
Monasticism, Medieval Women
Mormonism
Mother of God
Mystics
Orthodox Christianity
Pilgrimage
Polygamy
Protestant Denominations
Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archeology, and History
Roman Catholic Women Religious
Saints
Sex and Gender
Sophia
Stigmatics
Widowhood
Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE)
Women in the Reformation
Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity
Confucianism
Introduction
Books for Women
Classical Confucianism
Confucian Revivalism
Cult of Female Chastity
Feminine Virtues
Filial Piety
Motherhood
Women’s Changing Roles
Daoism
Introduction
Daoism in China
Goddesses
Healers
Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination
Wu Wei and the Feminine
Hinduism
Introduction
Aditi
Bhakti
Caste
Dance
Devadasis
Devi
Draupadi
Durga and Kali
Festivals
Fundamentalism
Gopi Girls
Gurus and Saints
Household Shrines
Ideals of Womanhood
Kali
Lakshmi
Marriage
Matriliny
Pilgrimage
Prakriti
Radha and Gopi Girls
Renunciation
Sacred Texts on Women
Saints
Saraswati
Sati
Shakti
Stage-of-Life Rituals
Tantra
Vedic Hinduism
Yoginis
General Bibliography
About the Editor and Contributors
Index
Volume 2: Indigenous Religions to Spirituality
Title
Copyright
Contents
Alphabetical List of Entries
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion
Indigenous Religions
Introduction
Activism (Native American)
Ancestors (Native American)
Arts (Native American)
Ceremonies (Native American)
Clothing (Native American)
Creation Stories (Native American)
Kinship (Native American)
Marriage and Social Status (Native American)
Matriarchies
Medicine Women (Native American)
Nature (Native American)
Sacred Place (Native American)
Sacred Spirits (Native American)
Shamanism in Eurasian Cultures
Shamans in Korea
Women Warriors (Native American)
Islam
Introduction
Coverings
Diaspora
Divorce
Druze Religion
Education
Fatima (605/615–632 CE)
Female Genital Mutilation
Feminism
Hadith
Hagar
Hawwa
Holy Days
Honor
Ideal Woman
Islam in Africa
Islam in Europe
Islam in the Middle East
Islam in the United States
Marriage and Divorce
Maryam
Peacemaking
Pilgrimage
Polygamy
Prophet’s Wives
Purdah
Qur'an and Hadith
Reform
Saints, Sufi
Shari‘a
Sufism
Women’s Organizations
Jainism
Introduction
Female Deities
Jina
Laywomen
Monastics and Nuns
Ritual
Judaism
Introduction
American Denominations: 1850 to Present
Ancient Judaism
Art
Bat Mitzvah
Divorce
Education
Eve
Feminist and Women’s Movements
Festivals and Holy Days
Food
Goddesses
Hasidism
Israel
Judaism in Europe
Judaism in the United States
Kabbalah
Lilith
Marriage and Divorce
Midrash
Mitzvah
Mizrahi Judaism
Modern and Contemporary Judaism
Peacemaking
Performance
Priestesses
Rabbis
Rosh Hodesh
Salome Alexandra (d. 67 BCE)
Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaisms
Sex and Gender
Shabbat (Sabbath)
Synagogue
Women and Work
Paganism
Introduction
Druidry
Eco-Paganism
Elders
Heathenry
Magic
Paganism
Priestesses and Elders
Reconstructionist Paganism
Ritual
Seasonal Festivals
Wicca
Prehistoric Religions
Introduction
Burials
Crete, Religion and Culture
Gimbutas, Marija (1921–1994) and the Religions of Old Europe
Guardian Spirits in Eurasian Cultures
Neolithic Female Figures
Sacred Script
Shamanism
Upper Paleolithic Female Figures
Women in Prehistoric Religious Practices
Shinto
Introduction
Amaterasu Omikami
Feminine Virtues
Filial Piety
Founders of New Religious Movements
Kami
Kinship and Marriage
Marriage
Priestesses
Shamans and Ritualists
Shinto Weddings
State Shinto
Tenrikyō
Sikhism
Introduction
Art and Performance
Feminist Issues in Sikhism
Guru Period
Ritual and Festival, Women’s Roles
Sikh Scriptures and Women
Spirituality
Introduction
Art and Performance
Astrology
Deep Ecology
Divination
Drumming
Ecofeminism
Goddess Spirituality
Green Funerals
Healers
Kirtan
Meditation
Pilgrimage, Goddess
Radical Women’s Spirituality
Sex and Gender
Sheela na gigs
Spiritualism
Spirituality and Gender In Social Context
Syncretism
Women of Color
Yoga
General Bibliography
About the Editor and Contributors
Index

Citation preview

Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions

Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions Faith and Culture across History Volume 1: African Religions to Hinduism

SUSAN DE-GAIA, EDITOR

Copyright © 2019 by ABC-CLIO, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: De-Gaia, Susan J., editor. Title: Encyclopedia of women in world religions : faith and culture across history / Susan de-Gaia, editor. Description: Santa Barbara, California : ABC-CLIO, [2019] | Includes    bibliographical references and index. | Identifiers: LCCN 2018025824 (print) | LCCN 2018039892 (ebook) | ISBN    9781440848506 (eBook) | ISBN 9781440848490 (set : alk. paper) | ISBN    9781440848513 (volume 1) | ISBN 9781440848520 (volume 2) Subjects:  LCSH: Women and religion—History. Classification: LCC BL458 (ebook) | LCC BL458 .W5835 2019 (print) | DDC    200.82—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018025824 ISBN: 978-1-4408-4849-0 (set) 978-1-4408-4851-3 (vol. 1) 978-1-4408-4852-0 (vol. 2) 978-1-4408-4850-6 (ebook) 23 22 21 20 19  1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available as an eBook. ABC-CLIO An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC ABC-CLIO, LLC 130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911 Santa Barbara, California 93116-1911 www.abc-clio.com This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America

Contents

Alphabetical List of Entries

xvii

Acknowledgmentsxxiii Introductionxxv Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion

xxxvii

Volume 1: African Religions to Indigenous Religions

1

African Religions

1

Introduction1 African Religions-in-Diaspora

3

Art in Africa

7

Body Art

10

Candomblé11 Female Genital Mutilation

14

Life-Cycle Ceremonies

16

Priestesses and Oracular Women

17

Rastafari22 Yoruba Religion

23

Ancient Religions

27

Introduction27 Athena29 Delphic Oracle

32

Diana33 Egyptian Religion

35

Eleusinian Mysteries

39

vi Contents

Gaia42 Gorgon Medusa

43

Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of

48

Homosexuality52 Hypatia (ca. 351–ca. 415 CE)

53

Inanna55 Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions

56

Mesopotamian Religion

58

Ninhursagˆa Mother Goddess 62 ˘ Ninlil63 Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon

65

Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece

67

Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions

68

Sappho (ca. 630–ca. 570 BCE)

71

Shamans in East Asia

73

Sibyls77 Sun Goddess

78

Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia

81

Baha’i85 Introduction85 Divine Feminine

87

Education88 Gender Roles

91

Tahirih93 Women in Baha’i Scriptures

95

Buddhism97 Introduction97 Abortion100



Contents

Bodhisattvas101 Buddhism in the United States

103

Dance106 Dance of Tara

108

Engaged Buddhism

111

Female Divinities

114

Feminine Virtues

118

Funeral Practices

120

Gender Roles

122

Guan Yin

125

Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism

127

Mahayana129 Nuns, Theravada

132

Ordination133 Pajapati135 Prajnaparamita136 Sacred Texts on Women

138

So¯ka Gakkai

140

Tantra142 Tara144 Tea Ceremony

148

Therigatha149 Women in Early Buddhism

150

Women’s Buddhist Networks

152

Zen154 Christianity157 Introduction157 Abbesses160 Abortion161

vii

viii Contents

African American Women

163

Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious

166

Apocrypha168 Art, Modern and Contemporary

170

Charity173 Chastity175 Christianity in Africa

176

Christianity in Europe

178

Christianity in Latin America

180

Christianity in the United States

184

Christine de Pizan (ca. 1364–ca. 1430)

188

Clothing189 Education193 “The Fall”

197

Founders of Christian Denominations

199

Fundamentalism201 Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

204

Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity

206

Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women

208

Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342–ca. 1416)

211

Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood

213

Mary Magdalene (ca. first century CE)

216

Middle Ages

221

Ministers223 Missionaries225 Monastic Life

227

Monasticism, Contemporary Women

230

Monasticism, Medieval Women

231

Mormonism233



Contents

Mother of God

235

Mystics239 Orthodox Christianity

242

Pilgrimage243 Polygamy245 Protestant Denominations

247

Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History

250

Roman Catholic Women Religious

253

Saints255 Sex and Gender

260

Sophia263 Stigmatics265 Widowhood267 Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE)

271

Women in the Reformation

273

Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity

276

Confucianism281 Introduction281 Books for Women

282

Classical Confucianism

284

Confucian Revivalism

286

Cult of Female Chastity

289

Feminine Virtues

290

Filial Piety

291

Motherhood294 Women’s Changing Roles

296

Daoism299 Introduction299

ix

x Contents

Daoism in China

300

Goddesses303 Healers305 Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination

307

Wu Wei and the Feminine

310

Hinduism313 Introduction313 Aditi315 Bhakti316 Caste321 Dance324 Devadasis326 Devi328 Draupadi329 Durga and Kali

331

Festivals335 Fundamentalism338 Gurus and Saints

340

Household Shrines

343

Ideals of Womanhood

345

Lakshmi348 Marriage350 Matriliny353 Pilgrimage356 Prakriti358 Radha and Gopi Girls

360

Renunciation361 Sacred Texts on Women

363

Saraswati369



Contents

Sati370 Shakti372 Stage-of-Life Rituals

374

Tantra377 Vedic Hinduism

378

Yoginis383 General Bibliography

387

About the Editor and Contributors

395

Index 411 Volume 2: Indigenous Religions to Spirituality

1

Indigenous Religions

1

Introduction1 Activism (Native American)

3

Ancestors (Native American)

6

Arts (Native American)

9

Ceremonies (Native American)

11

Clothing (Native American)

14

Creation Stories (Native American)

15

Kinship (Native American)

18

Marriage and Social Status (Native American)

21

Matriarchies23 Medicine Women (Native American)

27

Nature (Native American)

30

Sacred Place (Native American)

31

Sacred Spirits (Native American)

34

Shamanism in Eurasian Cultures

36

Shamans in Korea

39

Women Warriors (Native American)

41

xi

xii Contents

Islam43 Introduction43 Coverings45 Diaspora48 Druze Religion

49

Education52 Fatima (605/615–632 CE)

56

Female Genital Mutilation

57

Feminism59 Hagar62 Hawwa63 Honor65 Ideal Woman

67

Islam in Africa

68

Islam in Europe

72

Islam in the Middle East

74

Islam in the United States

76

Marriage and Divorce

79

Maryam81 Peacemaking82 Pilgrimage84 Polygamy86 Prophet’s Wives

88

Purdah89 Qur’an and Hadith

91

Reform93 Saints, Sufi

95

Shari‘a97 Sufism99 Women’s Organizations

102



Contents

Jainism105 Introduction105 Female Deities

106

Jina107 Laywomen108 Monastics and Nuns

109

Ritual112 Judaism115 Introduction115 American Denominations: 1850 to Present

117

Ancient Judaism

122

Art124 Bat Mitzvah

128

Education130 Feminist and Women’s Movements

132

Festivals and Holy Days

137

Food141 Goddesses142 Hasidism147 Hebrew Bible

150

Holocaust153 Israel157 Judaism in Europe

160

Judaism in the United States

163

Kabbalah167 Lilith171 Marriage and Divorce

175

Midrash177 Mitzvah180

xiii

xiv Contents

Modern and Contemporary Judaism

182

Peacemaking185 Performance188 Priestesses192 Rabbis 194 Rosh Hodesh

197

Salome Alexandra (d. 67 BCE)

199

Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaisms

200

Sex and Gender

203

Shabbat (Sabbath)

206

Synagogue208 Women and Work

211

Paganism215 Introduction215 Druidry217 Eco-Paganism218 Heathenry220 Magic222 Paganism224 Priestesses and Elders

226

Reconstructionist Paganism

227

Ritual229 Seasonal Festivals

231

Wicca234 Prehistoric Religions

239

Introduction239 Burials243 Crete, Religion and Culture

245

Gimbutas, Marija (1921–1994) and the Religions of Old Europe

249



Contents

Guardian Spirits in Eurasian Cultures

251

Neolithic Female Figures

253

Sacred Script

256

Shamanism257 Upper Paleolithic Female Figures

260

Women in Prehistoric Religious Practices

265

Shinto269 Introduction269 Amaterasu Omikami

270

Feminine Virtues

272

Filial Piety

273

Founders of New Religious Movements

275

Kami277 Kinship and Marriage

278

Priestesses281 Shamans and Ritualists

283

Shinto Weddings

286

State Shinto

287

Tenrikyo¯289 Sikhism291 Introduction 291 Art and Performance

292

Feminist Issues in Sikhism

295

Guru Period

297

Ritual and Festival, Women’s Roles

298

Sikh Scriptures and Women

303

Spirituality 305 Introduction 305

xv

xvi Contents

Art and Performance

308

Astrology 312 Deep Ecology

313

Divination 316 Drumming 318 Ecofeminism 321 Goddess Spirituality

326

Green Funerals

330

Healers 331 Kirtan 334 Meditation 335 Pilgrimage, Goddess

337

Radical Women’s Spirituality

338

Sex and Gender

343

Sheela na gigs

347

Spiritualism 350 Spirituality and Gender in Social Context

352

Syncretism 356 Women of Color

358

Yoga 363 General Bibliography

367

About the Editor and Contributors

375

Index 391

Alphabetical List of Entries

Abbesses (Christianity)

Astrology (Spirituality)

Abortion (Buddhism)

Athena (Ancient Religions)

Abortion (Christianity)

Bat Mitzvah (Judaism)

Activism (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Bhakti (Hinduism)

Aditi (Hinduism) African American Women (Christianity) African Religions-in-Diaspora (African Religions) Amaterasu Omikami (Shinto) American Denominations 1850 to Present (Judaism)

Bodhisattvas (Buddhism) Body Art (African Religions) Books for Women (Confucianism) Buddhism in the United States (Buddhism) Burials (Prehistoric Religions) Candomblé (African Religions) Caste (Hinduism)

Ancestors (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Ceremonies (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Ancient Judaism (Judaism)

Charity (Christianity)

Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious (Christianity)

Chastity (Christianity)

Apocrypha (Christianity) Art (Judaism) Art and Performance (Spirituality) Art and Performance (Sikhism) Art in Africa (African Religions) Art, Modern and Contemporary (Christianity) Arts (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Christianity in Africa (Christianity) Christianity in Europe (Christianity) Christianity in Latin America (Christianity) Christianity in the United States (Christianity) Christine de Pizan (Christianity) Classical Confucianism (Confucianism) Clothing (Christianity)

xviii

Alphabetical List of Entries

Clothing (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Confucian Revivalism (Confucianism) Coverings (Islam) Creation Stories (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Crete, Religion and Culture (Prehistoric Religions) Cult of Female Chastity (Confucianism) Dance (Buddhism) Dance (Hinduism)

Education (Christianity) Education (Islam) Education (Judaism) Egyptian Religion (Ancient Religions) Eleusinian Mysteries (Ancient Religions) Engaged Buddhism (Buddhism) “The Fall” (Christianity) Fatima (Islam) Female Deities (Jainism) Female Divinities (Buddhism)

Dance of Tara (Buddhism)

Female Genital Mutilation (African Religions)

Daoism in China (Daoism)

Female Genital Mutilation (Islam)

Deep Ecology (Spirituality)

Feminine Virtues (Buddhism)

Delphic Oracle (Ancient Religions)

Feminine Virtues (Confucianism)

Devadasis (Hinduism)

Feminine Virtues (Shinto)

Devi (Hinduism)

Feminism (Islam)

Diana (Ancient Religions)

Feminist and Women’s Movements (Judaism)

Diaspora (Islam) Divination (Spirituality) Divine Feminine (Baha’i) Draupadi (Hinduism) Druidry (Paganism) Drumming (Spirituality) Druze Religion (Islam) Durga and Kali (Hinduism) Ecofeminism (Spirituality)

Feminist Issues in Sikhism (Sikhism) Festivals (Hinduism) Festivals and Holy Days (Judaism) Filial Piety (Confucianism) Filial Piety (Shinto) Food (Judaism) Founders of Christian Denominations (Christianity)

Eco-Paganism (Paganism)

Founders of New Religious Movements (Shinto)

Education (Baha’i)

Fundamentalism (Christianity)



Alphabetical List of Entries

Fundamentalism (Hinduism)

Honor (Islam)

Funeral Practices (Buddhism)

Household Shrines (Hinduism)

Gaia (Ancient Religions)

Hypatia (Ancient Religions)

Gender Roles (Baha’i)

Ideal Woman (Islam)

Gender Roles (Buddhism)

Ideals of Womanhood (Hinduism)

Gimbutas, Marija, and the Religions of Old Europe (Prehistoric Religions)

Inanna (Ancient Religions)

Goddess Spirituality (Spirituality) Goddesses (Daoism) Goddesses (Judaism) Gorgon Medusa (Ancient Religions) Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of (Ancient Religions) Green Funerals (Spirituality) Guan Yin (Buddhism)

Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women (Christianity) Islam in Africa (Islam) Islam in Europe (Islam) Islam in the Middle East (Islam) Islam in the United States (Islam) Israel (Judaism) Jina (Jainism)

Guardian Spirits in Eurasian Cultures (Prehistoric Religions)

Judaism in Europe (Judaism)

Guru Period (Sikhism)

Judaism in the United States (Judaism)

Gurus and Saints (Hinduism) Hagar (Islam) Hasidism (Judaism) Hawwa (Islam)

Julian of Norwich (Christianity) Kabbalah (Judaism) Kami (Shinto)

Healers (Daoism)

Kinship (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Healers (Spirituality)

Kinship and Marriage (Shinto)

Heathenry (Paganism)

Kirtan (Spirituality)

Hebrew Bible (Judaism)

Lakshmi (Hinduism)

Hildegard of Bingen (Christianity)

Laywomen (Jainism)

Holocaust (Judaism) Homosexuality (Ancient Religions)

Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism (Buddhism)

Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity (Christianity)

Life-Cycle Ceremonies (African Religions)

xix

xx

Alphabetical List of Entries

Lilith (Judaism) Magic (Paganism) Mahayana (Buddhism) Marriage (Hinduism) Marriage and Divorce (Islam) Marriage and Divorce (Judaism) Marriage and Social Status (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions (Ancient Religions) Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood (Christianity) Mary Magdalene (Christianity) Maryam (Islam) Matriarchies (Indigenous Religions) Matriliny (Hinduism) Medicine Women (Native American) (Indigenous Religions)

Monasticism, Medieval Women (Christianity) Monastics and Nuns (Jainism) Mormonism (Christianity) Mother of God (Christianity) Motherhood (Confucianism) Mystics (Christianity) Nature (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Neolithic Female Figures (Prehistoric Religions) Ninhursagˆa Mother Goddess ˘ (Ancient Religions) Ninlil (Ancient Religions) Nuns, Theravada (Buddhism) Ordination (Buddhism) Orthodox Christianity (Christianity) Paganism (Paganism)

Meditation (Spirituality)

Pajapati (Buddhism)

Mesopotamian Religion (Ancient Religions)

Peacemaking (Islam)

Middle Ages (Christianity) Midrash (Judaism) Ministers (Christianity) Missionaries (Christianity) Mitzvah (Judaism) Modern and Contemporary Judaism (Judaism) Monastic Life (Christianity) Monasticism, Contemporary Women (Christianity)

Peacemaking (Judaism) Performance (Judaism) Pilgrimage (Christianity) Pilgrimage (Hinduism) Pilgrimage (Islam) Pilgrimage, Goddess (Spirituality) Polygamy (Christianity) Polygamy (Islam) Prajnaparamita (Buddhism) Prakriti (Hinduism)



Alphabetical List of Entries

Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon (Ancient Religions)

Ritual and Festival, Women’s Roles (Sikhism)

Priestesses (Judaism)

Roman Catholic Women Religious (Christianity)

Priestesses and Oracular Women (African Religions) Priestesses and Elders (Paganism) Priestesses (Shinto) Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece (Ancient Religions) Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination (Daoism)

Rosh Hodesh (Judaism) Sacred Place (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Sacred Script (Prehistoric Religions) Sacred Spirits (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Sacred Texts on Women (Buddhism)

Prophet’s Wives (Islam)

Sacred Texts on Women (Hinduism)

Protestant Denominations (Christianity)

Saints (Christianity)

Purdah (Islam) Qur’an and Hadith (Islam) Rabbis (Judaism) Radha and Gopi Girls (Hinduism)

Saints, Sufi (Islam) Salome Alexandra (Judaism) Sappho (Ancient Religions) Saraswati (Hinduism) Sati (Hinduism)

Radical Women’s Spirituality (Spirituality)

Seasonal Festivals (Paganism)

Rastafari (African Religions)

Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaisms (Judaism)

Reconstructionist Paganism (Paganism)

Sex and Gender (Christianity)

Reform (Islam) Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History (Christianity) Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions (Ancient Religions) Renunciation (Hinduism) Ritual (Jainism) Ritual (Paganism)

Sex and Gender (Judaism) Sex and Gender (Spirituality) Shabbat (Sabbath) (Judaism) Shakti (Hinduism) Shamanism (Prehistoric Religions) Shamanism in Eurasian Cultures (Indigenous Religions) Shamans and Ritualists (Shinto)

xxi

xxii

Alphabetical List of Entries

Shamans in East Asia (Ancient Religions) Shamans in Korea (Indigenous Religions) Shari‘a (Islam) Sheela na gigs (Spirituality) Shinto Weddings (Shinto) Sibyls (Ancient Religions) Sikh Scriptures and Women (Sikhism) Soka Gakkai (Buddhism) Sophia (Christianity) Spiritualism (Spirituality) Spirituality and Gender in Social Context (Spirituality) Stage-of-Life Rituals (Hinduism) State Shinto (Shinto) Stigmatics (Christianity) Sufism (Islam) Sun Goddess (Ancient Religions) Synagogue (Judaism) Syncretism (Spirituality) Tahirih (Baha’i) Tantra (Buddhism) Tantra (Hinduism) Tara (Buddhism) Tea Ceremony (Buddhism) Tenrikyo¯ (Shinto) Therigata (Buddhism) Upper Paleolithic Female Figures (Prehistoric Religions)

Vedic Hinduism (Hinduism) Wicca (Paganism) Widowhood (Christianity) Women and Work (Judaism) Women in Baha’i Scriptures (Baha’i) Women in Early Buddhism (Buddhism) Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) (Christianity) Women in Prehistoric Religious Practices (Prehistoric Religions) Women in the Reformation (Christianity) Women of Color (Spirituality) Women Warriors (Native American) (Indigenous Religions) Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity (Christianity) Women’s Buddhist Networks (Buddhism) Women’s Changing Roles (Confucianism) Women’s Organizations (Islam) Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia (Ancient Religions) Wu Wei and the Feminine (Daoism) Yoga (Spirituality) Yoginis (Hinduism) Yoruba Religion (African Religions) Zen (Buddhism)

Acknowledgments

Many people helped make this project possible. I am especially grateful to Charlene Spretnak who helped launch the project by introducing me to potential contributors. It was through Charlene that I met Miriam Robbins Dexter, to whom I will be forever grateful; she has selflessly mentored, encouraged, and supported me through the entire production. Many contributors dedicated time and effort to review and sometimes edit my work, including Carol P. Christ, Miranda Shaw, Miriam Robbins Dexter, Lynn Gottlieb, Kathrine Clark Walter, Arisika Razak, Kathryn LaFevers Evans Three Eagles, Riane Eisler, Amanda Haste, and Rachel York-Bridgers. Harald Haarmann compiled the timeline. Joan Marler provided additional support. Numerous others, too many to be listed here, also contributed to the completion of this work. I am deeply grateful to each of them. I wish to remember my teachers at Ventura College and my professors at the University of California Santa Barbara (especially John P. Sullivan) and the University of Southern California (Sheila Briggs and Robert Ellwood). My education also came through life lessons, conversations, and the support of fellow students, colleagues, and fellow writers, with special thanks to Karen Harrison, Amada Irma Perez, Ruth Handy, and Mar Preston. I have also learned from the many conversations I have had over the years with Astrid Potter. For their support and encouragement, I am grateful to friends, family, and colleagues. Foremost among these is my partner, Frank Manning, who generously provided material support without which this project would not have been possible. Thank you, my love.

Introduction

Women are creators and sustainers of culture. Across the span of human history, women have participated in world-building and life-sustaining cultural creativity. Religion is an important area where they have made enormous contributions. Learning about women’s faith practice, creativity, and experience in this area is educational for those in many fields of study. As one half of the human species, in some ways women represent all of humanity. It is a human fact, for example, and not just a fact about one sex, that all humans are mortal. While women’s roles in preparing the dead for burial may differ in some cultures from those of men, the reality and experience of death exists for all humans. Thus, knowledge of women in religion brings us closer to a full knowledge of humanity. Contemporary scholars recognize that a significant number of women’s voices have been suppressed and their lives made invisible by writers of history. The fact is, there is no need for a “men in world religions” encyclopedia because men have been the subject of history en toto for so long that, for the most part, “history” is “men in history.” A project like this comes into existence, in general, to compensate for a lack of exposure of what women have done, how they lived, and who they were. There is currently an enormous amount yet to be made known about women, and Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History is intended to contribute to that effort. In recent years, the study of women in religion has grown, as indicated by new titles such as Women in New Religions (Laura Vance, 2013), Women in Christian Traditions (Rebecca Moore, 2015), Women in Japanese Traditions (Barbara Ambrose, 2015), and Women and Asian Religions (Zayn Kassam, 2017). This two-volume encyclopedia contributes to the field of women in religion with articles on a range of topics and is unique in offering nearly 300 reference entries divided into 17 topical sections with a focus on women in world religions. These volumes gather together information on the many ways women express and experience their faith. Designed to complement general studies of religion, this project provides topical and organizational similarities to other studies in religion for readers who have come to expect them. The entries do not offer general descriptions of the world’s religions. They focus instead on the specifics of women in religion. While, ultimately, it would be best to develop materials that integrate the study of women and religion into a general and inclusive religious studies, the development of such literature is currently in its infancy. Given what is available, a combined reading of this work with general sources on religion will provide a more accurate understanding of religion than one provided by general studies of religion alone.

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Religion

The entries display common threads across faiths and cultures as well as tremendous diversity in women’s religious and spiritual activities. Each woman is born into a society and culture, and it has often been the case throughout history that one’s religion is based entirely on where one is born; a woman born in India to a Hindu family would become a Hindu, and one born in India to a Muslim family would become a Muslim. Such a person’s life may be lived entirely within one set of beliefs and practices; yet, within her society, and even within her religion, there are many faiths. Hinduism may be the most diverse of any group of practices to be called a religion. Other religions, such as those of indigenous peoples, are also very diverse. In Africa, for example, indigenous traditions find unique expression in each of thousands of groups, many blending in unique ways with the major imported religions of Christianity and Islam. In the diaspora, African religions like Candomblé and Vodou thrive in the spaces between continents and cultures— blending, renewing, and becoming. In Christianity, there are currently thousands of Protestant denominations, with new ones starting up and some dying out. Another factor affecting religion is choice, rather than birth. In many regions of the world today, individuals are free to choose from among many nonexclusive religious or spiritual traditions. Thus, a woman in the United States can choose to become a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, for example, and can practice her faith with greater or lesser dedication. She may even choose a variety of beliefs and practices from different faith traditions to create a spirituality unique only to herself. Yoga, for example, can be practiced without connection to or knowledge of its roots in Hinduism, or it can become one’s chosen path to the spiritual goal of “yoking” or uniting with the Divine. The incredible diversity among and within religions raises the question, How can we call something by the same name, religion, when there are such vast differences in practice? Sociologist Thomas Luckmann (1967) claimed that there are as many religions as there are people, expressing the idea that each person engages with religion in her own unique way. For Luckmann, to be human is to transcend one’s biological nature; therefore, all humans, regardless of context, experience religion in some fashion. For the sociologist Émile Durkheim (1912), religion is a function of the social rather than the anthropological nature of human beings. He saw religion as a set of inherited narratives and ritualized practices by which groups build and maintain a cultural world, remain socially cohesive, and share an ethos that undergirds the society’s basic laws and governing principles. Given the diverse social, geographical, and historical contexts in which people exist today, either or both of these perspectives may be helpful. In societies where individualism is prevalent and people can choose from and blend an eclectic array of practices, each is free to develop a personalized center and world view, and in this sense, there will be as many religions as there are people. Yet, the individual, as unique as she is, always remains part of a culture and society with roots in the past and a shared ethos grounded to some extent in the religion or religions of that society, past and present.



Introduction

Seeing patterns of religious elements in diverse cultures—such as belief in divinity, moral guidance, rituals, and sacred stories—is what makes possible naming something religious despite each culture’s unique characteristics, contexts, and histories as well as each individual’s experience and response to her faith. A schema of three forms of religious expression developed by Joachim Wach (1944)—theoretical, sociological, and practical—was used as a starting point for this project. Without accepting Wach’s emphasis on a similar core at the base of all religious expression, the schema was useful. Its emphasis on action—what religions do and say and how they organize (as my former professor, Robert Ellwood, described Wach’s schema)—made for a good fit with the intended focus on women as active agents in religion. A few examples will show the three forms in their application to the project: Related to practical expression (referring to “practices”) are entries on women’s rituals, meditation, pilgrimage, art, and drumming. Related to sociological expression are articles on women’s ordination, priestesses, rabbis, shamans, and gurus. Related to theoretical expression are entries on myths, such as those of Lilith (Judaism) and the Fall (Christianity), and female divinities, which are important to many women today and found in many religions. Wach’s Three Forms of Religious Expression Theoretical: Doctrine and myth—What do they say? Practical: Worship, prayer, pilgrimage, meditation, ritual—What do they do? Sociological: Leadership, groups, relation to larger community—How do they organize? (Ellwood and McGraw 2016, 7)

Whatever schema one uses (and there are many to choose from), care must be taken when drawing comparisons. Bracketing is a tactic used by scholars of religion to support objectivity while observing and describing religions. To bracket means to set aside one’s beliefs and assumptions and open up to another’s cultural, emotional, and intellectual world. This tactic is similar to the way science-fiction fans temporarily suspend their beliefs about reality (or suspend their disbeliefs about the world in science fiction) while watching a film or reading a book in that genre. Bracketing helps scholars achieve objectivity to the extent that may be possible. But, there are some caveats. First is the fact that complete objectivity is not possible. The second caveat flows from the first; where one must choose a side, it is best to err on the side of the women whose lives we discuss. Is it possible, for example, or even desirable, to remain completely objective when reporting that millions of women throughout history have suffered under social systems that were supported by religious ideologies which enabled and ignored the abuse of powers in which those women had no share? It is not for us to decide if a particular practice or system is oppressive to other women, but where women have felt the need to criticize and reform their religions, those voices should be heard and their cries for justice answered. Relevant to the study of women in religion are the ways religion functions as a form of control that perpetuates the social order in which it exists. When scholars began to study religion as an objective science (“the scientific study of religion”),

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the question arose as to what kind of thing religion, and culture for that matter, is. Not a physical entity like a mountain or table, religion is lived through its members. Societies, cultures, and religions preexist us (we are born into them) and perpetuate themselves through socialization and training. Although these systems do change, they depend on our cooperation and include ways of gaining it. Peter Berger (1969) developed a way of looking at religion as functional support for cultural mores and rules of conduct. Though social control is not all that religions do, the fact is undeniable when we consider concepts like “the will of God,” laws revealed in scripture, and creation stories proclaiming that all women must be ruled over by men because the first woman bit into a forbidden fruit. Berger’s explanation is that societies draw on concepts of sacred or divine entities, treat them as concrete realities, and place them at the head of social bodies, such as family, church, and government. This “sacred canopy” guides us like a candle in the night to fulfill the roles we were born to fill. Confucian ritual provides a good example of religion as social control (see the entries in Confucianism). This practice of reifying the Divine into an unquestionable authority over the social order is ingenious; since no one can prove that such entities do not exist, it is all the more difficult to challenge them. Some might say that, on this view, religion is a conservative tool that supports the status quo. They would not be wrong, and many women have left organized religions for this very reason. However, others would argue that religions have a liberating function, and they also would not be wrong; religions can be liberating, but this depends on the specific doctrines promoted and the flexibility of those who hold authority within the religious institution. Do they allow for change? How much change? How difficult is it to budge them, and how far will they go? Because of this function and the ways it plays out within each religion, an encyclopedia on women in religion would not be complete without a discussion of how religion supports the regulation of women’s lives and how some women have sought to change that. Therefore, entries on feminism and women’s movements in religion and spirituality, as well as fundamentalism and other conservative trends, have been included in many of the sections. Women

Wherever they reside, women are part of something larger than themselves; they act in relation to children, to men, to other women, to nature, and to the Divine. Because power is often held by men, and because women are often separated from their natal families and other women in patrilineal and patrilocal social structures, they are sometimes viewed as dependents who partake only of what others create. This project focuses on what women say and do to better see them as agents. It focuses on the issues that are important to women, on how women participate in and work to build, transform, and sometimes leave to create more inclusive faith traditions. The word women refers to more than the female sex and is grounded in society and culture. Societies mark gender in ways far beyond biological difference. When persons are divided according to sex and certain traits attached to each,



Introduction

individuals come to identify and be identified with those traits—a process called the social construction of gender. Over the centuries, societies have regulated what women can wear (such as skirts), what jobs they can take (such as nonleadership positions), and more based on their biological sex. In turn, these limitations have supported particular views of women (as people who wear skirts and are therefore unsuited to certain physical activities, as people who serve but do not lead). Sexism and misogyny have been, and often still are, a part of most religions. We see misogyny in early Christianity, for example, in the writings of Origen, who said that anything coming from the mouth of a woman is of little consequence; Augustine, who wrote that women are only good for procreation; and Tertullian, who said that woman is the devil’s gateway (see Ruether 1993). Similar views are seen in the texts of other religions, and in most cases, such comments are not merely rhetorical. They are used to justify restrictions on women’s lives, including their dress, work, comportment, education, legal capacity, and exclusion from positions of leadership and power. Rejecting all forms of sexism, I take as fact that biological differences do not have to mean differences in education, power, and intellect. It is important to understand that views which deem women as weaker vessels, as persons on whom education is a waste, or as incapable of responsible handling of power are social constructs with serious consequences for women’s lives, for the children who depend on them, and for the societies in which they live. Also of consequence are social limits placed on women according to class, caste, race, disability, sexual orientation, and more. Women do not constitute a singular category. These differences intersect with gender in its social construction and are used to justify forms of oppression, each with greater and lesser consequences for a woman’s ability to access material benefits, social status, freedom, and self-determination. At times, contributors to this work have been tempted to start with a general history of religion and then add women into the mix or to look for causes of women’s situations in what influential men have said and done. This is especially the case where men are or were the main literate ones, where their works were held in highest regard, and where their laws controlled what others, including women, could and could not do. However, it was deemed a better use of space to look at what women have accomplished rather than to detail what they were up against in gaining those accomplishments. Rather than focus on androcentric views and misogynist texts, we have taken as most important what women do and say, because to see women as capable of intent, action, and choice, even where their choices are limited, is to see them for who they are. The facts of the long history of abuses of women have not been ignored, but the chosen focus allows an emphasis on women’s voices, religious experiences, activities, leadership, contributions, and achievements as well as aspects of the traditions that are relevant to the female gender, such as female virtue and feminine images of the Divine. Women’s Issues in Religion

Many women embrace religion or spirituality, and many are adept in the creation and performance of liturgies, rituals, religiously inspired music, dance, song,

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poetry, prose, scriptural interpretation, and historical analysis. Some are great teachers, role models, and leaders. The lesser value that many societies have placed on women’s activities has challenged these women. Some of the ways women resist and rise up will be found in these pages. One especially contentious area where women actively work to gain ground is that of ordination. Many religious institutions have refused to officially recognize the superior insight, understanding, and spiritual advancement of these special women. Where they are refused ordination, spiritually adept women may be offered unofficial roles in which they contribute much to their communities but are denied the prestige and economic rewards of their male counterparts. Such are the shamans, the mystics, the female lay leaders, and, in some cases, the women canonized as saints long after their deaths. With education, which has increased over the past two centuries in most parts of the world, more women are able to get the training needed to prepare for official roles. Many have fought and continue to fight their exclusion from positions of authority as nuns, priests/priestesses, and other ranks within organized religions. Each section contains entries addressing women’s leadership roles. Another issue for women in religion is gendered language. Many of the world’s religions use masculine pronouns that appear to exclude women from the tradition’s history, stories, and liberating ideas. Women seek inclusion, and the use of gender-inclusive language helps make this possible. Beyond the question of ordination is the issue of what to call women should they be ordained. A feminine term many reject, for example, is priestess. Where churches refuse to update to more inclusive language, some women have created their own. See, for example, the entry “Priestesses” in the Judaism section. An especially contentious gendered-language issue is the exclusive use of male pronouns for the Divine in monotheistic religions. Women in Judaism and Christianity, especially, have struggled with this issue. In “Goddesses” (Judaism), Jill Hammer describes the Goddesses of ancient Israel, demonstrating that the Feminine Divine was not always excluded from Jewish tradition. She also relates some of the ways contemporary Jewish women are using feminine language—like God-She and Goddess—for the Divine. Women are also concerned with making the world a better place, and many have a special interest in caring for the natural world, educating children, ending war and poverty, and addressing sexism, racism, and other isms. A number of entries relate women’s involvement in this important aspect of women’s faith-in-action, including “Activism” (Indigenous Religions), “Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women” (Christianity),” “Peacemaking” (Islam and Judaism), “Education” (Baha’i, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), “African American Women” (Christianity), “Women of Color” (Spirituality), “Eco-Paganism” (Paganism), and “Ecofeminism” (Spirituality). When issues are of great importance to women and the changes they seek are withheld, some women do leave. The development of new religious or spiritual traditions in the modern era has been assisted by the exodus of many women from religious institutions. Carol P. Christ is an example of someone who left Christianity and contributed greatly to the development of theologies that address not only



Introduction

issues of gendered language but the gendering of the nature and attributes of the Divine. The Spirituality and Paganism sections cover new religions and spiritualties developed or codeveloped by women, some of whom left their natal traditions. History

This project is not only by women. Some of the contributors are men, and often the sources that contributors drew on in their research were written by men. In many societies, until as recently as the 19th century, most women were illiterate, and this is still true in some regions today. If a rare literate woman wanted to write, she was typically denied the privilege or had to write under a male pseudonym. This left the men of each time and place, limited to those of privilege, to record history. In those records, were women’s stories told, their experiences explained, their creativity and leadership written about? If we want to know what really happened to or by women in history, we have to ask tough questions, such as, Who wrote the existing history? What was their agenda? What was their social location, and what role did that play in their use of the evidence? When the historical evidence is clearly biased, we have to go back to the primary evidence and reinterpret it. Entries in this work that discuss women in history often draw on hard-won knowledge of women in prehistoric, ancient, medieval, and modern periods. This knowledge is hard won because it has had to be gleaned from scarce evidence and interpreted through an ardent process that involves first unlearning male-centric methods of receiving and interpreting the evidence and sometimes starting from scratch. Entries that look at women and religion in times long past, including entries on women in prehistory and ancient history (for example, entries in the Ancient Religions and Prehistoric Religions sections) may involve the application of recent methods over and against traditional methods and applications. One important example is the work of Marija Gimbutas, an archaeologist who combined the methods of archaeology with linguistics, ancient historical evidence, mythology, and folklore to gain what many see as a more accurate understanding of women and religion in prehistory. However, a number of traditional archaeologists, including, for example, Colin Renfrew, sought to discredit her work, and many who failed to even study it dismissed it out of hand (Spretnak 2012). Despite the backlash against her new approach to prehistory, aspects of Gimbutas’s theories continue to be proven correct, and in a lecture at The Oriental Institute (Renfrew 2017), Renfrew himself conceded that evidence has recently come to light that “magnificently vindicate[s]” Gimbutas’s important Kurgan hypothesis. Other methods for overcoming the many biased histories and interpretations written over the centuries were developed by feminist theologians. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, for example, developed a feminist hermeneutics of suspicion for reading, understanding, and interpreting historical evidence. She worked with artifacts beyond texts, such as the tools women used and the clothing they wore, to support more accurate readings of the texts of the earliest Christians and to gain a more thorough understanding of women’s lives, experiences, and contributions

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to early Christianity. Since historical texts were typically written by and for men, additional methods are especially important when searching for historical facts about women. Women and Religion in Contemporary Societies

In the contemporary period, there is vast change happening for women, with great educational opportunities, more female role models in public life, and more opportunities for religious expression than ever before. Women are actively and energetically engaging with religion for themselves, for other women, and for their communities. This shows a new pattern in religion, one of progress for women and, many would argue, for their communities, because the freer women are to contribute, the more the communities gain. This is true not only of women in majority religions, but in minority religions as well. This work offers many entries on women in minority religions, such as Baha’is, Wiccans, Sikhs, and Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries. Religious minorities are often misunderstood—despite the easy availability of interfaith dialogue, college courses that teach cultural competence, and popular and educational books for learning about these groups. Outside of Muslim-majority regions like the Middle East, Muslims are often seen as terrorists, and hate crimes are sometimes perpetrated against them. But there are vast differences between individuals and groups within Islam. Terrorists associated with Islam are limited to a few extremists, while nearly all Muslims have no association whatsoever with violence or extremism. Another group, Sikhs, are sometimes thought to be Muslims (and terrorists) based simply on similarities of dress. Wicca is another religion that is often maligned. Associations of Wicca with those accused of witchcraft during the Inquisition led some people to extreme views about them, such as the belief that witches sacrifice babies and cavort with the devil. Also, doctrinal differences between religions with similar background often have led one group to disrespect another and have even led to war. An important goal of this project is to increase knowledge and understanding to lead to greater tolerance, so that harm, whether intended or not, may be avoided. Language

Language is important, and how we use it may unconsciously perpetuate old prejudices. I have taken seriously the task of finding language that does not repeat old prejudices that, in addition to causing hurt and conflict when used, may also skew the facts. These include pagan with a small p; goddess with a small g; not capitalizing plural words for divinity, such as gods and goddesses; and the word cult. Goddess is foreign to those grounded in monotheism, where only male pronouns are used for the Divine, and God is understood, if not always acknowledged, to be male. Gods and Goddesses are also foreign to monotheists as well as foreign in the sense that they may refer to ancient religions. If, in fact, a religion has many deities, the plural Gods and Goddesses are not common nouns; they are names lumped



Introduction

together in single terms for ease of discussion. If God is a name and not a common noun when referring to any singular male deity of any monotheistic religion (as is often the case in discussions of religion), so are Goddess and Goddesses when referring to the female deities of polytheist religions. Failure to address this problem in language contributes to the colonization of polytheist religions by monotheism. Religions of the past constitute one of the most strenuously vilified areas. It was once thought that culture evolves in a way similar to biological evolution (a view still held by some) and that cultures of the past that have died out, like those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and those of so-called primitives, have been outgrown through evolution. Many of those cultures were polytheistic. Their pantheons included both male and female deities, and their beliefs often linked deities to nature or features and functions of the natural world. They are referred to as pagan, a term meant to be derogatory. But similar beliefs exist in indigenous traditions today and in other religions outside the dominant Western culture within which these prejudices took hold. It is essential to the purpose of learning to understand and empathize with others who are alive today that we do not carry old prejudices forward. The use of pagan with a small p is offensive due to the assumption embedded in its use that “our” religion has evolved and overcome so-called primitive features like multiple deities, female divinities, and nature spirits. Also, today there are groups that self-identify as Pagan. This has changed the meaning of the term and it is now associated with diverse contemporary faith groups that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries and which derive some of their beliefs and practices from ancient polytheistic religions. It is proper to refer to these groups as Pagan with a capital P (see the Paganism section). The term cult, while still commonly used by scholars in some fields, has been replaced in this work by more exact terms, such as religion, worship, and ritual. Cult, which is short for cultus (Latin), can be used for any religion in existence today, but this is uncommon. Instead, it is most commonly used in discussions of ancient religions, rituals, and worship practices, pointing to a possible bias in not naming ancient practices as religions. Another, and more important, reason for not using cult is that it may be taken as derogatory, especially where new religions or spiritualities, such as Wicca, Paganism, and Goddess Spirituality, see ancient religions as inherited traditions. Organization

Each of the entries is placed into one of the following 17 sections: African Religions Ancient Religions Baha’i Buddhism Christianity Confucianism Daoism Hinduism

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Indigenous Religions Islam Jainism Judaism Paganism Prehistoric Religions Shinto Sikhism Spirituality

Some sections are named for a specific religion (e.g., Baha’i, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Paganism). Other sections are named for a specific era (e.g., Ancient Religions, Prehistoric Religions) or region (e.g., African Religions). Another section, Indigenous Religions, covers a variety of indigenous spiritual practices. The final section, Spirituality, includes entries on contemporary or New Age spirituality as well as some broader topics where spirituality is taken to mean the spiritual aspect of religion in general. Each section includes a range of topics related to features seen in religions across cultures. Some of these are particular to women in the religion, and all focus primarily on women in religion rather than on religion more generally. There are entries that discuss women’s stage-of-life rituals, holidays and celebrations, art, dance, and performance in most sections. There are also entries on women’s roles and expectations in family, religious institutions, and education. See, for example, “Filial Piety” in Confucianism and “Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination” in Daoism. Some entries discuss material culture especially relevant for women, such as food, clothing, and household arts. Naming practices for this project evolved out of the need to simplify and make navigation easier. The word for the most important feature of every section and entry—women—is not used in section titles or most of the entry headwords. This is because to do so would create serious challenges for finding different topics, as everything would begin with women in . . . . Therefore, it should be kept in mind that all entries focus on both religion and women. Also, titles on similar topics may vary according to religion due to the different ways members of each religion speak of things. Contributors

Contributors to this encyclopedia bring a wide range of expertise that was recognized in terms of knowledge rather than office, such as academic rank. Openness to expertise outside of higher education is especially relevant in a field where experience, such as that of leadership in a religious organization, is an excellent teacher. Still, a large majority of our contributors work in academia, including as professors, assistant professors, professors emeriti, adjuncts, and well-prepared graduate students. Some are both academics and religious leaders. Religious leaders among our contributors include Wiccan priestesses, Jewish priestesses, rabbis, Christian ministers and lay leaders, a former nun, and a Native American



Introduction

shaman. There are also a variety of healers, ritualists, artists, performers, and museum directors. Each contributor brought expertise that was needed to provide rounded coverage of women in the world’s religions and that worked to ensure comprehensive coverage. Despite limitations of space, our goal was to cover diverse geographical and cultural contexts across historical periods. Some contributors, including Miriam Robbins Dexter, Harald Haarmann, Selena Crosson, Komal Agarwal, Nicol Nixon Augusté, N. K. Crown, D’vorah Grenn, John W. Fadden, and Sana Tayyen, also worked on the sidebars, which are included in most topical sections. More contributors than can be listed here also participated in a peer-review process in which entries by less experienced scholars were reviewed by those with a higher level of expertise. All the above tasks involved excellence of dedication, knowledge, and communication. It is with great pleasure and excitement that I present this work, Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History. Susan de-Gaia Further Reading Berger, Peter L. The Sacred Canopy. New York: Doubleday, 1969. Durkheim, Émile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: A Study in Religious Sociology. Translated by Joseph W. Swain. London: Allen and Unwin, 1912. Ellwood, Robert S., and Barbara A. McGraw. Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in the World Religions. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. Luckmann, Thomas. The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society. New York: Macmillan, 1967. Renfrew, Colin. “Marija Rediviva DNA and Indo-European Origins.” The Oriental Institute Lecture Series: Marija Gimbutas Memorial Lecture. November 8, 2017. https://www​ .youtube.com/watch?v=y5u7fls9CIs. Ruether, Rosemary R. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. Spretnak, Charlene. “Anatomy of a Backlash: Concerning the Work of Marija Gimbutas.” Journal of Archaeomythology 7 (2012). http://www.archaeomythology.org/wp-content​ /uploads/2012/07/Spretnak-Journal-7.pdf. Wach, Joachim. Sociology of Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.

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Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion

Paleolithic Age (“Old Stone Age”)—beginning 2.5 my (million years) BP (before present) • Migrations of hominid species out of Africa (homo erectus, archaic homo sapiens, presence of modern homo sapiens in the Near East since ca. 170,000 BP); archaic homo sapiens develops into Neanderthals and others and spreads into Eurasia • Anatomically modern humans arrive in Southeast Asia ca. 70,000 years BP, in East Asia and Australia ca. 65,000 BP, in Europe and Siberia ca. 45,000 BP, in North America ca. 24,000 BP (Alaska) and ca. 12,000 BP (North American inland), in the Pacific (western part) ca. 3500 BP • Early manifestations of symbolic activity (scratchings of visual symbols on a stone plate from Blombos Cave, South Africa) ca. 77,000 BP

Upper Paleolithic (“Later Stone Age”)—ca. 45,000–12,000 BP • Cave paintings in southwestern France (Cosquer, Chauvet, Lascaux, Pech-Merle) and northern Spain (Altamira) between ca. 35,000 and ca. 18,000 BP • Mobiliary art (figurines) from Europe and Siberia (around Lake Baykal): the HohlensteinStadel lion/human hybrid (perhaps female), female figurines, traditionally called “Venus figurines,” such as the Swabian Eve, the Venus of Willendorf, the dancing Venus of the Galgenberg, the statuettes from Malta near Lake Baykal, from ca. 35,000 BP onward • Cave paintings in the Ural Mountains (Ignatievka) from ca. 14,000 BP • The emergence of shamanistic traditions in Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas, with local developments such as Shinto in Japan and dreamtime animism in Australia

Mesolithic Age (“Middle Stone Age”)—ca. 12,000–10,000 BP • The earliest monumental temples, erected by hunter-gatherers, at Göbekli Tepe in eastern Turkey (engraving of a woman exposing her vulva in sacred display on a doorstep, most probably with an apotropaic function to ward off people who did not belong to the congregation) • Sanctuary at Lepenski Vir in the Danube Valley (with the characteristic feature of trapezoid structures)

Neolithic Age (“Younger Stone Age”)—ca. 8000–3500 BCE (before common era) • The beginnings of plant cultivation (independently in three regional centers at different times) and the spread of agriculture in independent movements: o Middle East and ancient Egypt

xxxviii Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion

East Asia (rice production in China) American Southwest Çatalhöyük—oldest agrarian settlement in Anatolia (ca. 7500–5600 BCE) The origins of pottery making (ca. 7500 BCE) The emergence of early civilizations and the persistence of their cultural heritage in subsequent periods Old Europe (or Danube civilization)—ca. 5500–3500 BCE o metalworking, first writing, religious architecture, religion of a major female divinity, figurines in abstract style, egalitarian social structures, urbanization (with megacities in southern Ukraine and Moldova) ancient Aegean cultures o o

• • • •



Copper Age (an extension of the Neolithic Age)—fifth and fourth millennia BCE Bronze Age—ca. 3500–1200 BCE • Ancient Egypt (beginning ca. 3300 BCE) o monumental architecture (pyramids, temples at Karnak), hieroglyphic writing, social hierarchy ancient Nubia • Mesopotamia (the oldest civilization being Sumer; beginning ca. 3200 BCE) o monumental architecture (ziggurats), urbanization, literacy (early Sumerian pictography, later cuneiform), social hierarchy Akkadian, Hittite, Hurrian, Ugaritic, Old Persian • Elamite civilization (ca. 3050–2700 BCE) major political center was Susa • Ancient Indus civilization (mature period ca. 2600–1800 BCE) centers in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro; egalitarian society • The emergence of Hinduism in India, with its origins in traditions of the Indus civilization and its further development under the influence of Indo-European (Aryan) culture that was transferred to India with the Aryan migrations or invasions around 1700 BCE • Ancient China (Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han dynasties)—ca. 1200 BCE–220 CE o Woodblock printing on paper (before 220 CE) Chinese civilization influencing regional cultures, such as Manchu, Tangut, Naxi, and others; Buddhism and writing spreading from China to Korea and Japan • Mycenaean city-states (ca. 1600–1200 BCE) • The proliferation of polytheism, with statuary depicting divinities with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features (e.g., Egyptian Cat Goddess Bastet) • The establishment of trade networks in the Mediterranean (Mycenaeans, Phoenicians), the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea (merchants from Dilmun) • The beginnings of science in Babylonia and Egypt • The beginnings of alphabetic writing (Sinaitic) ■









Iron Age—ca. 1200 BCE–ca. 400 CE • Pre-Columbian Americas (Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec)—beginning ca. 1200 BCE o Urbanization, writing, social hierarchy



Timeline: Periodization and Developments in Religion

• Greek antiquity (ancient Greece, classical Greece; ca. eighth century–fourth century BCE)—the emergence of historiography, science, philosophy; polytheism with a marked preference for pre-Greek Goddesses (Athena, Hera, Hestia, Artemis) • Hellenistic age (since the era of Alexander the Great; starting in the latter half of the fourth century BCE) • The emergence of monotheistic religions: Judaism (sixth century BCE), Christianity (beginning of common era, CE), Islam (seventh century CE) • The emergence of Confucianism in China (sixth century BCE) • The emergence of Buddhism in India (fifth century BCE) and its spread into Southeast Asia, Central Asia, China, and Japan • Etruscan civilization (ca. 900–200 BCE)—The Etruscans mediated between the Greeks and Romans • Roman civilization and the romanization of pre-Roman populations in southern and western Europe (seventh century BCE–fourth century CE)

Middle Ages (early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages)—ca. 500 CE–15th century • Consolidation of Christianity in Europe; since the end of the fourth-century division into a western branch (Catholicism) and an eastern branch (Greek Orthodoxy, which later, in the 9th and 10th centuries, proliferates into Serbian and Russian Orthodoxy) • Islamic expansion (since the seventh century CE) and the split into Sunni and Shi’a Islam • The rise of Arabic science; the modern way of writing numbers originated from a collaboration of Indian and Arabic mathematicians in Baghdad from where it spread in the Islamic world; adoption of Indian-Arabic numbers by the Europeans during the era when Spain was under Moorish control (eighth century CE–1492) • Roman Catholic Inquisition (13th to 16th centuries) persecutes Jews, Muslims, and Christian sects deemed heretical, such as the 13th-century French Cathars for their veneration of Mary Magdalene • Exploration and conquest: Vikings (cross ocean to North America, ca. 10th century), Vasco da Gama (finds ocean route between Europe and Asia, 15th century), Columbus (finds ocean route between Europe and the Americas, seeks riches, spreads Christianity, and enslaves Native Americans, 15th–16th century)

Modern Era (since the latter half of the 15th century) • Rise of modern science (ca. 15th century), with developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry; religion-science conflicts (e.g., Galileo’s heliocentrism condemned by the Inquisition 1633; Descartes’s mechanistic philosophy supports destruction and pollution of natural world); and discoveries supporting religious/spiritual perspectives (e.g., quantum physics) • Invention of printing with movable letters (Johannes Gutenberg, ca. 1455), contributing to the Christian Reformation and development of Protestantism (16th century) • Colonialism by Christian and Muslim powers (throughout modern period) • Conquest and genocide of Native Americans (1540 through 20th century); Native American resistance and cultural recovery and renewal movements • 1590s–1680s: Large-scale witch hunts in France, Germany, England, and the United States (three-quarters are women) • 1600–1650: Nonconformist Puritans colonize North America

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• Transatlantic slave trade, slavery of Africans leading to spread and syncretism of African religions (16th to 19th centuries) • Holocaust; nationalist and social reform movements (19th to 20th centuries); secularism • Globalization: global economic and political movements; massive movement of people through global transportation (air, rail, and automobile travel); religious pluralism (coexistence and valuing of diverse religions) (20th to 21st centuries) • Digital technology (since 1980), leading to spread of secular and religious thought over Internet Harald Haarmann

African Religions

INTRODUCTION African religions consist of diverse beliefs and practices indigenous to Africa, with some practiced elsewhere after originating in Africa. A vast continent comprising more than 50 countries, Africa is rich in cultural diversity. African religions are dynamic and adaptive living traditions with deep roots in the past and adaptations to present conditions. Changing conditions to which Africans have had to adapt include slavery, colonialism, urbanization, and environmental change. The significant presence of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in Africa has resulted in the blending of African traditions with these imports. African religions, grounded in oral traditions and embodied worship, promote morality, healing, and renewal. The oral nature of African religions contrasts with “religions of the book” like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, which place authority in written doctrines and sacred texts. However, African oral traditions are increasingly being transcribed, especially in the diaspora. Embodied worship practices, including ritual dance, music and drumming, possession, and more, create spiritual wholeness and right relations between the people and the spirits, ancestors, and deities, whose powers influence human lives for good or ill. Many African languages have no word for “religion.” Instead, traditions persist as individuals are born into a culture filled with myths, rituals, art, medicine, and more, where the spiritual is always present, and there is no separation between secular and spiritual worlds. In the Americas, where many Africans were forcibly brought from the 16th through the 19th century, African religions have syncretized with Christianity. In her article, “African Religions-in-Diaspora,” Arisika Razak discusses adaptations of African religions in the West, relating some of women’s significant contributions to the traditions and how these practices helped Africans adapt to slavery. And in “Candomblé,” Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba furthers the discussion, relating the development of Candomblé by slaves in Brazil, its popularity today, and the central roles of women in the religion. In Africa, women have been central to religious traditions for millennia. As Max Dashú shows in “Priestesses and Oracular Women,” women have held significant roles in African traditions since ancient times. In some traditions, women serve(d) as oracles and priestesses, contacting the spirits directly through spirit possession or indirectly through divination and ritual. In ritual sacrifice, worship, and prayer, priestesses propitiate the divinities and enlist their help for the survival and flourishing of the people. African women’s participation in artistic creation and performance is another rich and important aspect of religious practice (see entries “Art in Africa” and “Body

2 Introduction

Art”). Women also participate in rituals that guide and support them through the stages of life. In “Life-Cycle Ceremonies,” Allison Hahn discusses several stage-of-life rituals and celebrations for girls and women. One controversial rite of passage is female genital mutilation (also called female genital cutting). This rite is discussed in the article with that title. The articles in African Religions relate the significant roles and activities of women in African religious traditions. It goes without saying that, given the size and diversity of religions in Africa and African religions-in-diaspora, the selections included here represent a small part of what might be discussed in a larger project. General Bibliography—African Religions Ashcraft-Eason, Darnese Martin, and Oyeronke Olademo, eds. Women and New and Africana Religions. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Badejo, Diedre. Osun Seegesi: The Elegant Deity of Wealth, Power and Femininity. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1996. Beckwith, Carol. African Ceremonies: The Concise Edition. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002 Boone, Sylvia Ardyn. Radiance from the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986. Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Daniel, Yvonne. Dancing Wisdom. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005. Dashú, Max. Woman Shaman: The Ancients. Oakland, CA: Suppressed Histories Archives, 2013, DVD. Drewal, Henry John, ed. Sacred Waters: Arts for Mami Wata and Other Divinities in Africa and the Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. Griffith, R. Marie, and Barbara Dianne Savage, eds. Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Kaplan, Flora Edouwaye S., ed. Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses, and Power: Case Studies in African Gender. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1997. Lesko, B. The Great Goddesses of Egypt. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999. McIntosh, Marjorie K. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. Murphy, Joseph M., and Mei-Mei Sanford, eds. Ò.s.un Across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. Olajubu, Oyeronke. Women in the Yoruba Religious Sphere. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003. Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Malgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007. Olupona, Jacob K., and Terry Rey, eds. Orisa Devotion as World Religion. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Otero, Solimar, and Toyin Falola, eds. Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013. Teish, Luisah. Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. New York: Harper and Row, 1985. Troy, Lana. Patterns of Queenship in Ancient Egyptian Myth and History. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Uppsalensis, 1986. Walker, Sheila. “Candomblé: A Spiritual Microcosm of Africa.” Black Art 5 (1984): 10–22. Washington, Teresa N. Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.



African Religions-in-Diaspora

AFRICAN RELIGIONS-IN-DIASPORA African diasporic religious traditions are based on diverse indigenous African spiritual practices, which were globally disseminated during the Maafa (Great Disaster), or trans-Atlantic slave trade (16th through 19th century). Before enslavement, African women were artists, farmers, healers, diviners, priestesses, and rulers. As spiritual elders, queen mothers, marketplace chiefs, and leaders of spiritual communities, they crowned kings, supported religious festivals, and created ceremonial food, regalia, and artwork. Women were ritual singers, dancers, and instrumentalists—and in some traditions, drummers. Over 90 percent of enslaved Africans were taken to Latin America and the Caribbean, where they often outnumbered Europeans and were better able to practice indigenous religions—including religious drumming—than in the United States. Free and enslaved Africana women (women of African descent) were central players in the preservation and transformation of African religions. They also led slave revolts and established free African communities (known in Jamaica as maroons, in Brazil as quilombos, and in Latin America as palenques). The worship of Yoruba Orisha (Deities)—including the teachings and traditions of Ifa (based on Yoruba divination practices in Ile-Ife, Nigeria)—and the rituals of Vodou are two of the most widely known African diasporic religious traditions. Many of the hundreds of thousands of enslaved Yoruba people brought to the Caribbean in the 18th century were priests. Originally from semiautonomous Yoruba settlements in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Sierra Leone, their efforts enabled the survival of African religions-in-diaspora. Today, Orisha veneration exists in Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Vodou (a.k.a. Vodoun, Vodun, Voodoo) is based on the spiritual traditions of the Ewe and Fon peoples (Benin, Togo, Nigeria). It is practiced by Haitians locally and throughout the Haitian diaspora (e.g., in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada, France). Some Vodou deities (Lwa, Loa) are found in American Hoodoo, New Orleans and Cuban Vodou, and Caribbean Obeah (Belize, Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, etc.). While Orisha veneration and Vodou are often regarded as separate traditions, prior to the Maafa, Yoruba spirituality had spread to neighboring Fon and Ewe communities. Some Vodou traditions contain Yoruba deities, and some Yoruba deities derive from Akan (Ghana) or Nupe (Nigeria) religious traditions. Members of Kikongo/Bantu linguistic groups (Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, etc.) also made strong contributions to African diasporic religions, especially in Brazil, Cuba, and Jamaica. Akan and Nupe spiritual elements exist in Caribbean Obeah and Surinamese Winti traditions. The diasporic practices of Santeria (a.k.a. Lucomi, or La Regla de Ocha), Candomblé, Vodou, and American Orisha-Ifa traditions are characterized by (1) recognition of a Supreme Being/Creator/Creatrix who is conceptualized as being beyond human concepts of gender; (2) reverence for a diversity of deities—male, female, both, and/or neither—who represent forces of nature or deified ancestors, conceptualized as “helpers” of the Supreme Being, to whom human prayers are addressed; (3) embodied worship services driven by highly sophisticated ritual music, dance, and drumming; (4) complex spiritual technologies enabling spirit

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possession and direct communication between the deities and their worshippers; (5) prescribed routes to initiation and membership in the priesthood; (6) animal sacrifice; (7) ethical teachings based on indigenous wisdom and moral values; (8) ancestor veneration; (9) liturgical languages based on Yoruba or Haitian Creole (a.k.a. Kreyol, which combines French, Spanish, Ewe, Fon, and Taino speech); (10) oral rather than written traditions; (11) the use of traditional plants and herbs for healing; and (12) male and female spiritual leadership. The histories, origin stories (patakis), and worship of Yoruba Orisha varied by location, as did the actions, gender, and significance of the deities. The Maafa changed some traditions: Yemoja, Orisha of Nigeria’s Ogun River, became the Mother Goddess of the Atlantic Ocean. Consecration to many Orisha, rather than one, became the diasporic norm. In countries where Catholicism was the primary religion (Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, etc.), male and female African priests hid the worship of African deities by syncretizing them with Catholic saints. They integrated religious traditions from different African nations—and in some areas syncretized African ancestral veneration with 18th-century European spiritism and indigenous Caribbean/Amerindian spiritual practices. The Yoruba city-states of Ode Remo, Osugbo, Oyo, Ogun State, and Abeokuta were particularly significant in establishing diasporic lineages of Orisha veneration. Africana women were major players in this process, for many Yoruba women were initiated priests or iyalorisa. Three African women—Iya Nasso (a.k.a. Engenho Velho, Nigerian priestess of Sango), Iya Deta, and Iya Kala—founded the first Brazilian Candomblé establishments in the early 1800s, and women predominated as spiritual leaders in Brazil into the early 20th century. Afro-Cuban spiritual practices began with the emergence of Kongo-based traditions in the 16th century. However, four 19th-century Cuban women are credited with creating or cocreating many contemporary Santeria practices. They include Mama Monserrate Gonzalez, Oba Tero (d. 1903 or 1907), Nigerian priestess of Shango; her goddaughter Fermina Gonzalez or Ocha Bi (1844–1950); Timotea Albear or Ayaji La Tuan (d. 1930), Nigerian priestess of Sango; and Rosalia Abreu, or Efunche Warikondo (d. late 1920s). Each of these women was highly knowledgeable and influential. While they held spiritual authority in different areas of Cuba (Matanzas versus Havana), they are credited with establishing Lucumi as a liturgical language, commissioning the first bata (ritual) drums, developing modern diloggun (cowrie shell) divination, standardizing diasporic initiation practices, and establishing diasporic rituals for specific Orisha. Their legacy was so strong that Cuban women predominated as ordination specialists (oriate) into the 1930s. While the number of venerated Orisha was reduced in the diaspora, a partial list of those worshipped today includes the following: • Elegba (Eshu, Eleggua, Exu): the Trickster; Guardian of the Crossroads; syncretized with Saint Anthony, Saint Michel, or Saint Martin • Yemoja (Yemaya, Iemanja): Mother of Fishes; Embodiment of Motherhood; syncretized with the Virgin of Regla (Cuba) • Osun (Oshun, Ochun): Goddess of Fresh Waters; the Embodiment of Sensuality, Wealth, Elegance, and Love; syncretized with Our Lady of Charity (patron saint of Cuba)



African Religions-in-Diaspora

• Oya (Yansa, Yansan): Embodiment of the Tornado; Ruler of the Cemetery; Deity of Change; syncretized with Our Lady of Candlemas, Saint Catherine, or Saint Theresa • Ogun (Oggun, Ogou, Ogum): Ruler of Iron and Technology; syncretized with Saint Anthony, Saint George, or John the Baptist • Obatala (Ochala, Oxala, Obbatala): Ruler of the White Cloth; Mother-Father; Shaper of Human Bodies; syncretized with Our Lady of Mercy or Jesus Christ • Orunmila (Orunla, Ifa): Lord of Divination; syncretized with Saint Francis of Assisi • Sango (Shango, Xango): Embodiment of Masculinity; Lord of Thunder; syncretized with Santa Barbara • Ochosi (Ochossi, Oxossi): the Divine Hunter and Master Herbalist; syncretized with Saint Norbert • Babaluaye: Orisha of Smallpox, Contagious Diseases, and Healing; syncretized with Saint Lazarus

Some of the most well-known female Lwa belong to the Erzulie (Erzili, Ezili) family. They include the following: • Erzulie Danto: Mother Goddess; Warrior Defender of Her Children; syncretized with the Black Madonna of Czestochowa or Our Lady of Mount Carmel • Erzulie Freda: the Lwa of Love and Compassion; syncretized with Our Lady of Sorrows • Lasyrenn (Labalenn): Lwa of Fishes; sometimes depicted as a mermaid; syncretized with Saint Martha

Other important Lwa include the following: • Papa Legba: Guardian of the Crossroads; syncretized with Saint Anthony • Damballah: The Serpent Deity; Father of the Lwa and Bringer of Rain; syncretized with Saint Patrick • Agwe: the Lwa of the Sea

Haitian Lwa are venerated with symbols known as veves drawn on the floor with cornmeal, bark, gunpowder, or redbrick powder—and each Lwa has a specific veve. Like the Orisha, Lwa can be male or female or embody aspects of both genders. Many Vodou religious communities have been led by priestesses who serve as healers, social workers, and diviners. Stories of the Lwa and Orisha have provided Africana women with inspiring examples of the strength, courage, patience, wisdom, love, spiritual prowess, and sexuality that enabled African people to survive the Maafa. One notable example occurred on August 14, 1791, during a Vodou ceremony when Haitian priestess Cécile Fatiman was possessed by Erzulie Danto. Erzulie Danto exhorted the enslaved Africans to revolt, launching the Haitian Revolution, which produced the West’s first free black nation. Ghanaian-born Queen Nanny was an Obeah practitioner who successfully battled the British and established a free maroon community in Jamaica. Black anthropologist, human rights activist, and modern dance pioneer ­Katherine Dunham (1909–2006) was a Vodou initiate whose choreography included dance and music from Vodou and Orisha ceremonies. Dunham’s work, and the work

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of her students, introduced thousands of African Americans to these religions. One student, Oba (King) Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I (1928–2005), founded Harlem’s Yoruba Temple (1960) and the Yoruba-style settlement, Oyotonji Village, in South Carolina (1970). Initiated in Cuba, his efforts to remove European and Catholic elements from Orisha worship and promulgate African-centered Orisha-Vodou (a.k.a. New World Orisha Spirituality or Orisha-Ifa) were supported and enabled by two renowned Santeria priestesses, Barbadian Mama Keke and Asuncion “Sunita Serrano” (1902–1996), as well as by black nationalist activist Queen Mother Moore (1898–1997). Other black women who contributed to the development and dissemination of American Orisha-Ifa Spirituality include Chief Oloye Fayomi Falade, Chief Oloye Aino Olomo, Chief Fama, Chief Oloye Luisa Teish, Iyanifa Oshunike, and Iyanifa Ifalola TaShia Asanti. While both male and female initiates are “brides” (iyawo, yawo) of Yoruba deities, gendered religious roles and responsibilities exist in most African and diasporic religious communities. In Cuba, Ifa traditions restrict the title of babalowa (highest level of diviner-priests) to men, even though an equivalent title for women, iyanifa (highest level of female diviner-priests), exists in Africa. Black women in Oyotunji Village were critical actors in successfully demanding reinstatement of this title in the United States. Today, many Africana practitioners are initiated in Nigeria, where an international council was formed to protect, preserve, and sustain Yoruba spiritual traditions both locally and globally. Many same-gender-loving women have been attracted to African diasporic religions that value women’s physical strength, spiritual leadership, and sexuality. In some diasporic communities, LGBTQIQ individuals are associated with particular Lwa or Orisha. Their sexual orientation is viewed as a reflection of their spiritual nature or the demands of their deity, and they can hold the highest level of spiritual authority. While restrictions on women’s and queer people’s religious roles exist, they have been challenged throughout the diaspora, and same-gender-loving priests have introduced and/or initiated thousands of individuals into African diasporic religious traditions. Arisika Razak See also: African Religions: Candomblé; Priestesses and Oracular Women; Yoruba Religion; Spirituality: Divination; Women of Color Further Reading Ashcraft-Eason, Darnese Martin, and Oyeronke Olademo, eds. Women and New and Africana Religions. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Olupona, Jacob K., and Terry Rey, eds. Orisa Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yoruba Religious Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Otero, Solimar, and Toyin Falola, eds. Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013. Teish, Luisah. Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.



Art in Africa

ART IN AFRICA The art of indigenous peoples of Africa was produced in highly developed spiritual cultures. In African societies, the sacred was deeply embedded in everyday acts and functions. Religion and art were intertwined: human art praised and propitiated the spirit world and celebrated the world of humans, which was supported by the spirits. Sacred and secular acts of creativity embodied respectful exchanges between the realm of spirits and the world of humans. Matter was not dead—it was inhabited, alive, and volitional. The creation of jewelry, cloth, costumes, and images; the smelting of iron and gold; and the learning and execution of creative skills in music, dance, and public oration were never simple manifestations of individual artistic genius, although personal skill and exceptional artistry were recognized. Instead, the process of creation involved personal and ritual preparation, ceremonial prayers and invocations, and knowledge acquired through years of apprenticeship that was passed down through generations. The significance and creativity of women artists in precolonial African societies was often marginalized by Westerners. In part, this was due to the West’s separation of “fine arts” from crafts. The making of aesthetically pleasing objects for actual use—ritual, domestic, economic—was not disdained in Africa. In fact, it was the norm. However, the arts of pottery, beading, basketmaking, and weaving, which are done by women—and in some areas by men—were considered crafts rather than art by Westerners. While women’s participation as singers, dancers, and spiritual leaders was recognized, the masquerade—the dances, songs, ritual attire, masks, and ceremonies that collectively form highly valued spiritual rituals in many African societies—was initially viewed by Western researchers as an exclusively masculine form. Moreover, many African societies emphasize patriarchy/patrilineality, and in their encounters with Christianity and colonization, the role of women was increasingly subordinated. What went unrecognized was that many traditional African cultures employed complementary systems of sex and gender balances in the social, spiritual, and artistic realms. The Yoruba Gelede masquerade, which celebrates and propitiates the awesome, protective, lethal female powers, respectfully and collectively titled “Our Mothers,” is danced exclusively by men—many of whom are masked and costumed as women. Gelede has been characterized as a male performance event, although it includes the whole community. However, it is women who donate the head ties and cloths for male performers to wear. Moreover, Gelede female masks depict Yoruba women’s complex and elaborate hairstyles, which, in real life, are designed and executed by women. Research (Glaze 1975) on Senufo funerary activities in Côte d’Ivoire showed that male ritual artistry was paralleled by female ritual artistry. The wives of Senufo blacksmiths created ceremonial baskets, and the wives of brass makers created pots. In other African cultures, the wives of blacksmiths work with clay. Women’s (and men’s) pottery making can symbolize the moment of creation, when humanity was shaped from clay, and pot making is often spiritually, socially, and economically rewarding for women.

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Aronson (1991) notes that while women in Africa don’t make masks of wood, they do create and paint masks of fiber. While Senufo men carve the masks for the Poro society, women as ritual specialists determine the most efficacious placement of masks in male shrines. Among the Mende in Sierra Leone (Boone 1986), masks for the highly prestigious female Sande society are generally made by men, although the most sacred and beautiful masks are said to be carved by water spirits and retrieved from the waters by women. Sande female dance specialists often commission masks that require specific design elements from the carvers. In many African cultures, fertility and generativity were viewed as sacred acts, and the symbolic union of male and female was embodied in the creative process. Makilam (2007) asserts that when a traditional Berber Kabyle woman begins a pot, she starts with a ball, shaped like the feminine moon, on which she places a coil of clay representing the masculine element. The flattened foundation is named after female genitalia and the coil of clay after male genitalia. In Kabyle weaving, the crossing of the warp and weft threads symbolized the act of sexual intercourse; weaving represents the making of life just as lovemaking does. For Kabyle women, these arts are spiritual acts, embodying mystery, secrecy, and power. In African societies where men and women both weave, the looms are usually different. Among the Yoruba, men use a horizontal foot-treadle loom, producing long, narrow strips of cloth. Women (generally) weave on broader, fixed-frame stationary looms, producing a broader cloth. The ritual cloth worn by Oshugbo elders (traditional judges among the Ijebu Yoruba) is woven by women and carries within it symbols of the sacred. Among the Owo Yoruba, women weave the cloth for burials and title taking, and men weave for the mundane realm. In many parts of rural Africa, the seasonally renewed painting of houses is still done by women. Margaret Courtney-Clarke (1990) has documented the striking artwork created by West African women in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. These women create elaborate designs for living quarters, celebrating social, cosmological, and spiritual events. Painting motifs may embody abstract symbols of the body, reconciliation after quarrels, invocations for longevity, iconic representations of the feminine, and animals significant to the group. In South Africa, Ndebele woman may place reproductions of initiation beadwork on the walls of their houses. In Nigeria, Igbo uli patterns—created by women for body adornment—are also applied to house walls. Kabyle pottery patterns are used as decorations for houses, tattoos, and protective amulets. Even though African women’s power has diminished with colonization and modernity, contemporary women still weave sacred cloth and create hair designs commemorating social and cultural events. If they are members of indigenous religions, their songs and dances continue to celebrate the deities, traditional rulers, and other individuals of spiritual importance. Africa through the Eyes of Women Artists by Betty LaDuke (1991) demonstrates that the traditional arts of pottery and mud-cloth design are alive and well in contemporary West Africa. She profiles women artists like Nike Davies, who initially learned weaving from her grandmother and then the making of adire patterns, which are applied to cloth. While now divorced, she was the third wife of



Art in Africa

her husband, who taught her drawing. She now makes scenes in batik based on Yoruba myths, folklore, and her own dreams. Nigerian Yoruba sculptor Princess Elizabeth Olowu is the first Nigerian woman to work as a bronze caster. Born in 1939 to a royal household, she was trained in the creation of ritual artifacts, including textile dying and embroidery, ceremonial beadwork, and mat weaving. She learned to create the elaborate hairstyles that represent spiritual and secular power and adornment for Yoruba women. Finding herself called to sculptural traditions, she observed the palace bronze workers and created tiny items of clay. While the guild initially refused to admit her, as the daughter of the oba (king), she was finally admitted to the royal foundry and has been publicly recognized and honored. Her large cement statue Zero Hour depicts a woman in labor. It incorporates many tropes of traditional Yoruba spirituality and was created while she was pregnant. Unfortunately, Sokari Douglas Camp had to leave her natal environment to become a successful artist. Born in 1958, she, too, transgressed taboos forbidding women to work with metal. Her large moving sculptures evoke Kalbari Ijo masquerades—including movement and sound. Based in London, she uses steel as her medium and has created work honoring murdered Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Contemporary South African artist Laura Windvogel, who uses the name Lady Skollie, draws from the artistic traditions of ancestors of the San people, who may have produced the earliest evidence of human art in the form of incised pieces of red ochre found in a cave in South Africa said to be over 70,000 years old. Figurative art of the San/Khoisan people has been dated to as early as 27,000 years ago. Her work integrates Khoisan traditions that emphasize women’s genitalia and power, nature, and animals. Drawing from that tradition, she has created images that reflect and protest gender-based violence found in South Africa today. Arisika Razak See also: African Religions: Body Art; Yoruba Religion; Prehistoric Religions: Shamanism Further Reading Aronson, Lisa. “African Women in the Visual Arts.” Signs 16, no. 3 (Spring 1991): 550–74. Boone, Sylvia Ardyn. Radiance from the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986. Courtney-Clarke, Margaret. African Canvas: The Art of West African Women. New York: Rizzoli International, 1990. Glaze, Anita J. Art and Death in a Senufo Village. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981. LaDuke, Betty. Africa through the Eyes of Women Artists. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1991. Makilam. The Magical Life of Berber Women in Kabylia. Translated by Elisabeth Corp. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. Power, Camilla. “Women in Prehistoric Rock Art.” In New Perspectives in Prehistoric Art, edited by Gunter Berghaus, 75–103. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.

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BODY ART Women have been making and displaying body art throughout Africa’s history. As far back as 2700 BCE, ancient Egyptian women used multiple types of oils, cosmetics, and pieces of jewelry to adorn their bodies. Statues of Egyptians, often found in tombs, display the ways that kohl, a type of black makeup, was used to outline the eyes. Scholars believe that this makeup was used to protect the wearer from evil and to honor female divinities. Later, around 500 BCE, women living in Nok communities in what is now Nigeria were famous for their intricate hairstyles and jewelry. Records of these ornamentations are found in terra-cotta statues. The designs are believed to have at times illustrated a subject’s beauty and at other times were designed to display images of disease, such as facial paralysis. Modern African communities continue to have strong traditions of body art that can be seen in women’s use of cosmetics, hairstyles, tattoos, scarification, and other body-modification practices. Some of these practices are based on long-held community ­traditions. Others are new practices and styles that have emerged as women par­ ticipate in development projects, globalization, and/or changing local aesthetics. In Ethiopia and South Sudan, Surma women use scarification and facial piercing. Today, some women are forgoing the scarification and instead using body paint to mark their bodies in the same ways that their ancestors did with scars. In other African nations, such as Benin, scarification is now illegal but has remained popular in rural villages where babies are marked to show that they are healthy and to protect them from evil spirits. Men and women in Benin also use tattoos to mark their affiliation with community groups and for spiritual protection. In Key Afer, Ethiopia, a woman of the Banna tribe Less permanent markings are wears a headdress and garment decorated with shells. also popular among some comBody art, both temporary (including headdresses, hairstyles, cosmetics, and jewelry) and permanent (includ- munities, such as the Surma and ing scarification, piercings, and tattoos), is common Mursi communities who live in East Africa. These community among African tribes. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)



Candomblé

members use powders made from volcanic rock to attach natural materials such as flowers to their bodies in intricate patterns. Further south, Masai community members also use natural paints to create designs on their bodies and faces to mark their participation in and successful completion of life-cycle ceremonies. In modern Nigeria, Yoruban body art includes the use of face and body painting to paint one’s ori onto the body. While ori directly translates to “head,” it also applies to an individual’s spirituality, destiny, and essence. These paintings continue today and were made known to American television viewers in 2016 when they were featured on dancers in Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. Allison Hahn See also: African Religions: Art in Africa; Yoruba; Ancient Religions: Egyptian Religion Further Reading Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000. Kalilu, Razaq Olatunde Rom, and Margaret Olugbemisola Areo. “Cross-Currents and Transmigration of Motifs of Yoruba Art.” AFRREV IJAH: An International Journal of Arts and Humanities 2, no. 2 (2014): 108–29. Landau, Paul Stuart, and Deborah D. Kaspin. Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Nevandomsky, Joseph, and Ekhaguosa Aisien. “The Clothing of Political Identity: Costume and Scarification in the Benin Kingdom.” African Arts 28, no. 1 (1995): 62. Silvester, Hans. Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2009.

CANDOMBLÉ Candomblé stands out as a contemporary Afro-Brazilian religion featuring spirit possession in which women play a prominent role. A syncretic religion, Candomblé was created as a consequence of the import to Brazil of great quantities of slaves from Yoruban West Africa in the second half of the 18th through the end of the 19th century. Yoruban slaves brought with them their language, customs, and religion, which underwent transformations due to their new circumstances. In spite of the syncretic adaptations, which were quickened by the fact that slaves had to camouflage their worship of the Orishas (Gods and Goddesses) under a Catholic veneer until the late 1970s, Candomblé is a proudly re-Africanized and widely practiced religion, especially in the northeastern state of Bahia, the place with the most Afro-descendants in the world after Nigeria (Walker 1984, 12). Like other syncretic New World devotions, Candomblé is considered to be a “survival” religion, involved in life on earth, and not a “salvation” religion concerned with the afterlife. It is especially interesting among world religions because of its matriarchal organization. The most traditional terreiros (spiritual communities) are led by women over 40, who are in charge of all the important ritual functions. The iyalorixá or mãe-de-santo (mother of saints) is the spiritual leader or

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chief priestess of a terreiro. She is the intermediary between the Orishas (Divinities) and humans, and she has the ability to interpret divine will through various forms of divination, such as jôgo de búzios (16 cowry divination) and jôgo de Odú (Ifa oracle). She is able to enter into trances and has healing and psychic abilities, and she is knowledgeable in practical matters, such as finances and the organization of the spiritual community. The iyalorixá initiates the abiãos (aspirants) into iaôs or filhas-de-santo (daughters of the saint) and makes all the major decisions regarding the terreiro. Other important functions, such as the iyá bassê (an older woman who cooks) or chief cook, iyá kêkêrê or mãe pequena (little mother), and ékéde (helper in possession trances), are exclusively held by women. Men’s functions, such as those of the ogãos (alabê—drummer, pêgigã—maker of the altar, and axôgún—performer of sacrifices) are considered auxiliary to women’s roles. Together, they constitute the família-de-santo (family of the saint) or Candomblé’s spiritual family. According to the categories coined by Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth in her Matriarchal Societies (2012, xxv), such community corresponds with the definition of matriarchy at the economic, social, political, and spiritual/cultural levels. Although in many religious communities in the world the majority of worshippers are women, a matrifocal structure such as in Candomblé, where older women are spiritual leaders in charge of all major decisions, simultaneously living in harmony with all other congregation members, including men, is uncommon. Is there any cultural basis for such an organization? The woman-centered organization of traditional Candomblé terreiros can be traced to the ancient Yoruba

Mãe de Santo (Mother of Saints) Sylvia de Oxalá, leads a ceremony at the Axé Ilê Obá temple in São Paulo, Brazil. Traditional Candomblé terreiros (spiritual communities) are led by a chief priestess over the age of 40. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)



Candomblé

belief in the great power of women, especially older women, who are connected to the Àwon Ìyá Wa or iyá-mi—the powerful ancestral Mothers who imbue them with the mighty force Àjé. “The power of the mothers is equal or superior to that of the gods, for . . . the mothers own and control the gods” (Drewal and Drewal 1990, 8–9). Older women are in possession of mystical powers and are considered to be protective healers and guardians of morality, social order, and the just redistribution of power and wealth. They are respected but also feared, and they must be paid tribute and soothed in Gelede festivals. Drewal and Drewal (1990, 9, xv) explain the meaning of the word Gelede: “Gè means ‘to soothe, to place, to pet or coddle’; ele refers to a woman’s private parts, those that symbolize women’s secrets and their life-giving powers; and dé connotes ‘to soften with care and gentleness.’” Such festivals are still performed in Yorubaland (Nigeria and Benin) today, and in Brazil they existed until the 1940s. In that country, the power of the iyá-mi or “our Mothers” is still kept by the iabás or feminine Orishas, such as Oxum, Iemanjá, Nanã, Oyá, and Ewa, the iyá-eléye or “owners of the gourd with a bird inside” (Elbein dos Santos 1975, 114–17). Although in Bahia there are also less orthodox terreiros led by male priests (babalorixás or pais-de-santo) who initiate male filhos-de-santo (sons of the saint), the majority of them are known to be homosexuals. This fact is related to the fluidity of gender roles in Afro-Brazilian religious practices. Since the gender of the Orisha that is incorporated by the initiate during trances is independent from the gender of the person who incorporates them, there is a lot of ritual cross-dressing. In fact, the abião is always structurally feminine as she/he is being “mounted” by her/his Orisha during trances. In addition, male and female priests in Brazil wear Baroque-inspired women’s gowns and headdresses. In Africa, the priests and priestesses of the Yoruba religion dress in 19th-century women’s nuptial attire. There is an interdependence between the matrifocal organization of the traditional Candomblé terreiros and the socioeconomic life circumstances of Bahia. After the end of slavery in 1888, it was easier for women than for men to make a living as independent vendors or domestic servants, and men could not play the role of providers of a household. As a consequence, even today, especially in poor neighborhoods, many multigenerational households are headed by women, who are the providers, and their daughters are valued more than sons. In these matrifocal and matrilineal households, children may be of several different fathers, and their last name is usually taken from the mother. As the anthropologist Ruth Landes (1994, 147) wrote in her book City of Women, a famous account of life in Bahia in the 1930s, “Stability is provided by black women. And the women have everything: they have the temples, the religion, the priestly offices, the bearing and rearing of children, and opportunities for self-support.” In addition, several Yoruban religious functions, such as the olúwo and the babalawo, have disappeared in Brazil, and their activities, such as divination, have been transferred to the female priestesses, the iyalorixás. It is interesting to note that although Cuban Santeria or Regla de Ocha have the same Yoruba-Catholic

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ingredients as the Brazilian Candomblé, a similar process did not happen in Cuba, where Regla de Ocha is still dominated by male babalawos and oriyatés. Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba See also: African Religions: African Religions-in-Diaspora; Priestesses and Oracular Women; Yoruba Religion; Indigenous Religions: Matriarchies; Spirituality: Divination Further Reading Capone, Stefania. Searching for Africa in Brazil. Translated by Lucy Lyall Grant. London: Duke University Press, 2010. Drewal, Henry John, and Margaret Thompson Drewal. Gelede: Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Elbein dos Santos, Juana. Os nàgô e a morte. Petropolis, Brazil: Vozes, 1975. Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. Matriarchal Societies. New York: Peter Lang, 2012. Landes, Ruth. The City of Women. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1994. Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Malgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe: Tradition and Transformation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2009. Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Malgorzata. Fierce Feminine Divinities of Eurasia and Latin America: Baba Yaga, Kali, Pombagira, and Santa Muerte. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Walker, Sheila. “Candomblé: A Spiritual Microcosm of Africa.” Black Art 5 (1984): 10–22.

F E M A L E G E N I TA L M U T I L AT I O N Female genital mutilation (FGM), also referred to as female genital circumcision and female genital cutting, is defined as a set of “procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons” (World Health Organization 1997, 3). FGM is still practiced in 29 African countries; however, the incidence of this procedure is steadily decreasing due to effective health-promotion campaigns to eradicate this harmful practice. The highest percentages of girls aged from birth to 14 years who underwent FGM between 2010 to 2015 were recorded in Gambia, Mauritania, and Guinea, where approximately half of the girls of this age have undergone this procedure, followed by Eritrea, Sudan, Guinea Bissau, and Ethiopia (United Nations Children’s Fund 2016, 2). Although most historical scientists and linguists studying major religious texts have concluded that this practice has no religious origins, in some African countries, such as Eritrea, people still have a popular belief that FGM is a religious requirement. The most common indirect links of FGM with religion that circulate in some African communities include girls’ sexual purity, cleanliness, femininity, and attractiveness to the husband. Uncircumcised women in these communities are considered unclean, unattractive, and promiscuous and, therefore, are less likely to be married. FGM practices have ancient roots. Medical historians who studied ancient scripts found that some forms of FGM were practiced in ancient Rome to control the sexuality of female slaves and later in ancient Egypt, in the pharaonic era, as part of girls’ initiation; that is why one of the forms of FGM is called pharaonic



Female Genital Mutilation

circumcision. Nowadays, FGM is internationally considered a violation of human rights, a violence against women and girls, and a form of child abuse. FGM practices have various consequences related to women’s psychological, physical, and reproductive health. Women and girls undergoing FGM may experience immediate health effects, such as severe blood loss, shock, infected wounds, and infectious diseases (including sepsis, tetanus, and AIDS) as well as long-term health effects, including impaired menstrual flow contributing to reproductive-tract infections, inhibited and painful sexual intercourse, and prolonged labor complicated with fistulas. Posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression are the common psychological problems experienced by women who have undergone FGM. In Africa, FGM is practiced by the followers of four major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and animism. FGM was/is widely practiced by various denominations of the Christian Religion, including Catholics, Coptic Orthodox, and Protestants in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, although the Christian Bible has no indication for this practice. Nowadays, Christian authorities in many countries agree that this practice contradicts the major biblical principles. According to Jewish law, FGM, as any other mutilation to the human body, is prohibited. However, it is still traditionally practiced by the Falashas, a Jewish minority group in Ethiopia. Their teaching is based on the Torah, the five books of Moses; they do not have access to the other major canonical scriptures of Judaism, such as the Talmud and the Mishnah. Islam’s sacred scripture, the Qur’an, has no indication for FGM. In many Muslim countries, FGM is not practiced and is even considered a harmful traditional practice, one that is forbidden by Islam the same as all other mutilations of the body. However, some Islamic groups argue that since there is no direct prohibition of this practice by the Prophet Muhammad, it can be practiced. In Africa, FGM is still practiced by Muslim followers in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and other countries. Followers of animism perform FGM for a number of different reasons. For example, some tribes living in the south of Chad perform it as part of the initiation or rite-of-passage ceremony, where girls are also taught some cooking and child care skills. Other tribes, although living in the same proximity, practice FGM as part of their annual harvest festivals. Legislative regulations related to FGM may vary across African countries. In some African countries, for example in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, FGM practices were outlawed and criminalized. Other countries, including Liberia, Mali, and Sudan, have no criminal law against FGM in place to date. In Egypt, this practice was medicalized, and the majority of these procedures are performed by health professionals. Victoria Team See also: Islam: Female Genital Mutilation Further Reading El-Damanhoury, I. “The Jewish and Christian View on Female Genital Mutilation.” African Journal of Urology 19 (2013): 127–29.

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Gomaa, Ali. “The Islamic View on Female Circumcision.” African Journal of Urology 19 (2013): 123–26. Mulongo, Peggy, Caroline Hollins Martin, and Sue McAndrew. “The Psychological Impact of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) on Girls/Women’s Mental Health: A Narrative Literature Review.” Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 32 (2014): 469–85. United Nations Children’s Fund. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern. New York: UNICEF, 2016. http://www.unicef.org/media/files/FGMC_2016_brochure_ final_UNICEF_SPREAD.pdf. World Health Organization. Female Genital Mutilation: A Joint WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA Statement. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1997.

LIFE-CYCLE CEREMONIES Life-cycle ceremonies are important for many women across the world. Ceremonies are as diverse as the people for which they are held, and it is important to remember that there are many unique communities in Africa. Some have traditionally practiced life-cycle ceremonies and carry on those traditions today. In others, the ceremonies change as community members move away from traditional lands. For girls and women, life-cycle ceremonies are rites of passage and have many purposes for the individual and group. For example, ceremonies build and preserve solidarity. Children advancing through a ceremony are welcomed into a new part of the community, frequently with new rights and responsibilities. In addition, as part of completing a ceremony, individuals are frequently given training, advice, or education that helps the individual better understand herself and her people. In some traditions, ceremonies are held at a specific age or a specific time in the person’s biological history, such as when girls enter puberty. In others, children go through the ceremony in groups by age and gender. The form of a ceremony can differ widely and may include dances, tests, tattooing, scarring, travel, or medical procedures. Some life-cycle ceremonies are the same for men and women, but many are different. While women’s ceremonies can be held for many reasons, they are most common at a female’s birth, naming, entering adulthood, marriage, and obtaining elder status. Ceremonies at birth both welcome an infant into the world and celebrate the mother’s good health through childbearing. In some traditions, a set number of days must pass before a girl is named, the same as for boys. For example, the Ga of Ghana hold a ceremony that marks a girl’s acceptance as a moral person within the community. This ceremony occurs eight days after the girl’s birth. Until the naming ceremony is completed, the mother and child may be kept inside and are sometimes isolated from other family members. Animals may also be slaughtered in honor of the new girl child, and the child may be indoctrinated into a religion through baptism or naming rituals. In many traditions, a girl’s body is permanently or temporarily marked to indicate that she is progressing toward adulthood. These marks can take the form of scarification, tattoos, piercing, or radical changes in hairstyle. For example, among the Akan of Ghana, girls have traditionally shaved their heads when they entered



Priestesses and Oracular Women

puberty. As the girl ages, her hair will grow back in, and she will be given hair combs to use during her marriage. This tradition continues today in two ways. Girls continue to shave their heads as a rite of passage into adulthood, and some girls maintain a shaved or short-cropped hairstyle as a required element of West African private Christian school uniforms. In traditions with strong taboos regarding knowledge that can and cannot be shared with children, adulthood ceremonies are preceded with educational activities. For example, Masai girls in Kenya and Tanzania undergo female genital mutilation before they can be married. This process is accompanied by education and guidance by older community members and marks the girl’s acceptance as a woman. This practice can be very dangerous to a girl’s health, and some groups are beginning to either hold the ceremony in a hospital or change the ceremony to other procedures that mark a girl’s passage into adulthood. Marriage ceremonies may begin when a marriage is arranged by a girl’s parents or when a girl agrees to marry a suitor. Oftentimes gifts are exchanged during betrothal and marriage and to mark marriage anniversaries. In other traditions, few celebrations are held at marriage, as celebrations are reserved until a woman becomes pregnant or bears a child. African women go through their last living life-cycle ceremony when they reach elder status. This occurs either at a specific age or when their age group is the oldest group remaining in the community. The final life-cycle ritual occurs at death. Allison Hahn See also: African Religions: Body Art; Female Genital Mutilation; Christianity: Christianity in Africa; Islam: Islam in Africa Further Reading Beckwith, Carol. African Ceremonies: The Concise Edition. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002. Kilson, Marion. “The Ga Naming Rite.” Anthropos 63/64 (1968/1969): 904–20. Nevadomsky, Joseph, and Ekhaguosa Aisien. “The Clothing of Political Identity: Costume and Scarification in the Benin Kingdom.” African Arts 28, no. 1 (1995): 62–73. Winterbottom, Anna, Jonneke Kommen, and Gemma Burford. “Female Genital Cutting: Cultural Rights and Rites of Defiance in Northern Tanzania.” African Studies Review 52, no. 1 (2009): 47–71.

O R I S H A V E N E R AT I O N See African Religions-in-Diaspora PRIESTESSES AND ORACULAR WOMEN African women’s ceremonial leadership is a rich but understudied subject spanning many millennia. It is documented in Neolithic rock art; the archaeology of Egypt, Sudan, and Nigeria; and the oral histories of African countries. Ancient literature also refers to African priestesses; Herodotus says that the oracular priestesses of

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Dodona, known as the Black Doves (Peleiae Melainae), came to Greece from Egypt. But female spiritual leadership remains a living tradition in many African cultures, from women’s ritual societies and womanhood initiations to funerary rites and healing ceremonies. Evidence of women’s ceremonial leadership in the very ancient rock galleries of the Sahara and southern Africa predates written history. At the Algerian site of Tiout, a large petroglyph shows a woman with her arms raised in invocation and a line of energy passing from her to a hunter. Farther south, the rock paintings of the Tassili n’Ajjer depict women in processions, clapping and singing, performing ecstatic dance, and in shamanic flight. In the Brandenburg mountains of Namibia, the mural at Maack rock shelter portrays a woman striding in ceremonial regalia, wearing face and body paint and ritual ties around her arms. She holds a staff, a common theme in portrayals of female shamans worldwide. Women also wield staffs in Saharan rock paintings as well as at Sipolilo, Zimbabwe, where an ancient rock mural shows a woman shaman wearing ritual ties and dancing with a wand. The female invocator is a central image in predynastic Egyptian ceramic paintings, which depict a woman with upraised arms standing in a ceremonial boat. Her gesture is repeated by numerous ceramic female figurines (some of them vulture-headed) and again in protodynastic paintings at Nekhen (Hierapolis). In pharaonic times, stone reliefs depict women dancing, drumming, shaking the sistrum in the temples, and celebrating ceremonies. Snake dancers in elaborate headdresses honor Serpent Goddess Uadjet in a relief carved around 1100 BCE. Another relief in the Cairo Museum shows a procession of women sounding their drums before Hathor or Isis beside heavily laden offering tables. A painted relief shows the Fourth Dynasty princess Nefertiabet (ca. 2500 BCE) wearing a Painted limestone stele shows princess Nefertiabet leopard-skin dress. Leopard hides (ca. 2500 BCE) wearing a leopard skin, which is were a priestly attribute throughassociated with the role of priestess. Queens held out Egyptian history—as they priestess roles in ancient Egypt, as demonstrated continue to be in other parts of in artifacts like this stele, in which they are shown with ceremonial objects and crowns decorated with Africa in modern times. Egyptian the attributes of an Egyptian Goddess. (DEA/G. Dagli queens retained priestly attributes and were often depicted Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images)



Priestesses and Oracular Women

holding ceremonial objects such as the sistrum, and their crowns reflected the attributes of female divinities. The queens’ ritual role appears to decline during the Middle Kingdom but is revived in the New Kingdom, as indicated by depictions of Ahmose-Nefertari and other queens of the 18th Dynasty and later. Nefertiti stands out as “a prime ritualist in the cult of Aten” as depicted on the Nefertiti pylon and pillars at Karnak (Williamson 2015, 182–83). Although male priests predominated in the state religion of ancient Egypt, priestesses also existed. Their title was most commonly hmt-ntr (servitor of the Divine), the feminine counterpart to a common priestly title of men (hm-ntr). The temples of Hathor were the most powerful stronghold of Egyptian priestesses and had a strong ecstatic component reflected in images of the Goddess and her followers playing frame drums and sistrums. Many funerary reliefs commemorate priestesses of Hathor, and some tattooed mummies, such as that of Amunet, have been identified as her hmt-ntr. The kadake queens of Sudan (ca. 800 BCE to 100 CE) had political power, sometimes ruling and leading armies, but their role as priestesses was even more salient. Numerous stelae and architectural reliefs show the queens of Napata and Meroe in the act of pouring libation and shaking the sistrum between the eighth and first centuries BCE. In the 25th Dynasty, founded by Nubians, Princess Amenirdis I (d. 720 BCE) revived the old female priestly title “God’s Wife” at Thebes. In the lineage she founded, each “God’s Wife of Amun” appointed her successor, as Amenirdis I is depicted inducting Shepenwepet in a stone relief at Karnak from around 700 BCE. Queens act as priestesses in many West African traditions. In Old Benin, Nigeria, the Iyobas are depicted in ceremonial acts in the Ikegobo (altars of the hand) and other bronzes. Oral histories remember Iyoba Idia (ca. 1470–1550 CE), in particular, as a queen who not only exerted political power but also acted as a powerful priestess within the royal family, renowned for her protective magic and precognitive power. This same magical potency applied to royal women titled N’kamsi among the Bankim in Cameroon (19th century), who acted as royal counselors, diviners, and healers. Royal women are also described as founders of oracular lineages over much of East Africa. The Shona princess Nehanda (ca. 1500 CE) was said to have fled a traditional requirement of marriage to her brother, taking refuge in the Cave of Mazoe in northern Zimbabwe. She became the first of a line of lion oracles that was named after her. When a Nehanda died, the lion spirit would roam the land and eventually select her successor. This lineage was still active when the Nehanda Nyakasikana (d. 1898) led the Shona resistance to the Rhodesian colonization. The Lobedu of northern South Africa are traditionally governed by Mujaji, “Rain Queens,” who are both political and religious leaders. As their title indicates, the power to bring rains is attributed to them, not only by the Lobedu but also by enemy nations who brought tribute to the Mujaji in appeals to end droughts. Oral history says that the first Mujaji was named Dzuguzini (dating not available). She was by varying accounts a princess of Mwanamutapa or the daughter of the king of Mamba. One account has her fleeing the wrath of her father, Chief Mugodo, either

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because he committed incest with her or because she took a lover. Her mother helped her escape and gave her the sacred beads and the rain secrets that she used to found the Lobedu line of Mujaji, which continues today. In Tunisia, Dahia or Dihia al-Kahena led the Amazigh (Berber) resistance to the Arab conquest of Tunisia in the seventh century. The title al-kahena means “the prophetess, priestess, sorceress” in Arabic. Some say she was Pagan, others Jewish, as Ibn Khaldun wrote in the late 1300s. Dahia al-Kahena won dramatic victories in her early battles, but the invading armies kept coming, and she died in battle around 704 CE. In Mali, the Bosso people had shamans called tungutu, the most renowned of which was a woman named Pa Sini Jobu, centuries ago. Oral histories show that her ceremonies centered on ecstatic dance and that she used ritual pots, as did the Yoruba and other West African priestesses. Sacramental dance also figures prominently in ceremonies led by priestesses of the Fon/Fanti, in Benin Republic (formerly Dahomey), and those of the neighboring Yoruba. Oracular priestesses were very prominent in southeastern Africa before European colonization. Along the Zambezi River, oral histories of the matrilineal Goba people commemorate Kasamba, a Tonga shaman-priestess who founded a hill sanctuary in the time of the Bantu migrations, perhaps around 1300 CE. The Banamainga Goba recount how Kasamba was called from Soli Manyika to unite them against the warlords who were causing chaos. She restored the peace and founded a sanctuary at Njami Hill, the oldest in Zimbabwe. After her death, Kasamba became the tutelary spirit of the shrine, which was so powerful that no one could become ruler without her blessing. It was the business of her successor priestesses, the guardians of the Njami Hill sanctuary, to determine who would become king. The warlords continued to cause trouble, notably a certain Ntambo. But the rains stopped, the drought was widely interpreted as the consequence of his disruptions, and he was forced to make amends to the shrine. Over time, royal, military, and colonial interests undermined the authority of the shrine priestesses, though women elders continue to lead in ceremonies to the land-shrine spirits and the ancestors (Lancaster 1981, 16–19, 194). In Malawi, a line of prophetic women titled Makewana (Mother of Children) were the highest spiritual leaders of the Chewa in the 1800s and earlier, and the country was named after the Pool of Malawi, where the sacred python that inspired them lived. They were chosen by spirit selection, signaled by initiatory illness and other signs. In the south of Malawi, the Mang’anja also had oracular priestesses. In neighboring Zimbabwe, it was a woman who filled the highest prophetic office of the Shona, carrying the title “the Voice of God.” Also, at the clan level, it was predominantly women who acted as channels for the ancestors. African women’s ecstatic spiritual ceremonies survived in some modern societies in the Zar and Bori Religions, in which spirits are evoked by particular drum patterns and songs and enter into the dancers. These spirits have roots in old ethnic divinities as well as later cultural patterns. Zar appears to originate in women’s ceremonies for Goddess Atete among the Oromo of southern Ethiopia. Enslaved captives spread the rites into Sudan, Egypt, Arabia, and other Muslim countries,



Priestesses and Oracular Women

Muhumusa Rwandan queen Muhumusa (d. 1945) became the most renowned of the oracles of Nyabinghi in Uganda, Rwanda, and northeastern Congo. She was a charismatic healer who opposed Tutsi chiefs aligned with colonial Europeans in the early 1900s. The English responded by passing the Witchcraft Act of 1912, which outlawed indigenous religion, and by keeping her under house arrest for more than 30 years. But many other Voices of Nyabinghi arose, although most of their names were not recorded by colonial writers. Most of these bagirwa (oracles) were women, such as Kaigirwa, who led the Nyakishenyi revolt in 1917 and again in 1919.

acquiring new spirits and stories along the way. The ceremonies are healing for the overwhelmingly female congregants, who put on the regalia associated with their spirits (as is also done in Yoruba and other West African traditions). In Hausa country, the spirits are called bori and the women who dance them bori magadjiyar. The magadjas dress in magnificent cowrie-studded regalia for these ceremonies. There are many other instances of women’s ceremonial leadership. In a few places, women still dance the masks, as the Bijagos women do for their matrilineal ancestors in Guinea-Bissau and among the Mende and Mande peoples of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Among the Kunama of Eritrea, ancestral priestesses called Andinna perform healings, divinations, and protective dances with swords as they travel from village to village at certain times of the year. The Andinna undergo spirit selection, enter trance, and show other shamanic qualities, as is true for healers among the BaPende and BaYaka peoples of southern Congo. Women’s shrines once existed in the lower Congo region, often in sacred groves presided over by shaman-priestesses called nganga nkisi. Max Dashú See also: African Religions: African Religions-in-Diaspora; Life-Cycle Ceremonies; Yoruba Religion; Ancient Religions: Egyptian Religion; Islam: Islam in Africa Further Reading Dashú, Max. Woman Shaman: The Ancients. Oakland, CA: Suppressed Histories Archives, 2013, DVD. Hopkins, Elizabeth. “The Nyabingi Cult of Southwestern Uganda.” In Protest and Power in Black Africa, edited by Robert Rotberg and Ali Mazrui, 258–336. New York: Oxford, 1970. Kaplan, Flora Edouwaye S., ed. Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses, and Power: Case Studies in African Gender. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1997. Lancaster, Chet. The Goba of the Zambezi: Sex Roles, Economics, and Change. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981. Martin, Phyllis. Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville: Mothers and Sisters in Troubled Times. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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22 Rastafari

Nzegwu, Nkiru. “Iyoba Idia: The Hidden Oba of Benin.” JENDA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies 9 (2006). http://rainqueensofafrica.com/2012/11/iyoba-idia -the-hidden-oba-of-benin/. Troy, Lana. Patterns of Queenship in Ancient Egyptian Myth and History. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Uppsalensis, 1986. Williamson, Jacquelyn. “Alone Before the God: Gender, Status, and Nefertiti’s Image.” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 51 (2015): 179–92.

R A S TA FA R I The Rastafari Religion draws from Abrahamic traditions, combining Ethiopian Christianity and Jamaican traditions. This combination has created many different roles and regulations for Rastafari women. Central to all Rastafari traditions is the rejection of materialism and oppression. Ethiopia, often referred to as Zion, is believed to be both the birthplace of humanity and the place to which true believers should return. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie I, who was crowned emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, was the 225th in a line of Ethiopian monarchs. This legacy is traced to the Solomonic dynasty, formed in 10 BCE by Menelik I, who was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Today, Rastafarians live around the world, with large communities in Jamaica, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. Studies of Rastafarianism have been predominantly produced by male scholars. However, a number of Rastafari women, such as Sister Carol (b. 1959), Rita Marley (b. 1946), Marcia Griffiths (b. 1949), and Judy Mowatt (b. 1952) have begun to publish, speak, and create music about their lives and changes in their community. Rastafari teachings are centered on the resistance of oppression. However, practitioners and scholars have indicated that many practices are based on patriarchy, which creates unequal practices for men and women. For example, Rastafarian traditions regulate the ways that men and women interact in both private and public life. In the private sphere, the Leviticus Ceremonial Law, which is based on Leviticus 15:19–30, indicates that women are unclean during their menses. The implication of this law ranges from prohibiting women from touching men’s food during this time to calling for women to be secluded. Another example is that while some Rastafari communities allow men to have several sexual partners, women are expected to have only one partner and may be shunned by the community if they violate this expectation. Access to and knowledge of birth control is also restricted, and women frequently rely on the rhythm method for family planning. Many Rastafari women also adhere to a dress code that includes covering their hair in public and not wearing revealing clothing. Sometimes revealing clothing is defined as tight-fitting garments; at other times, the definition includes pants. Rastafari scholars, such as Carole Yawney and Maureen Rowe, have written about changes such as those in the 1970s when Rastafari women rejected these dress codes. As part of their religious practice, Rastafarians hold Nyabinghi Assemblies. These religious ceremonies are typified by drumming, dancing, smoking, and speaking. In some Nyabinghi Assemblies, women may attend but are not allowed to drum, smoke, or speak. At other Nyabinghi Assemblies, women are permitted to speak



Yoruba Religion

but are rarely invited to drum. Today, some Rastafari women have created their own Nyabinghi Assemblies where they can participate in all activities without restriction. Allison Hahn See also: Christianity: Christianity in Africa; Spirituality: Drumming Further Reading Edmonds, Ennis B. Rastafari: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Klobah, Loretta Collins. “Journeying towards Mount Zion: Changing Representations of Womanhood in Popular Music, Performance Poetry, and Novels by Rastafarian Women.” Ideaz 7 (2008): 158–97. Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel. Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

VODOU See African Religions-in-Diaspora YORUBA RELIGION In both Yorubaland (spanning parts of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo) and the Yoruba diaspora, women and the feminine can be found at the heart of Yoruba mythology and the practice of Yoruba Religion. The religion does not delineate spiritual from material but assumes the interconnectedness of the seen and unseen, the born and unborn, life and death, positive forces and negative forces, heaven and earth, male and female. One of the primary intentions behind Yoruba ritual is to achieve balance and harmony between these groups. Because Yoruba Religion aspires to such harmony, both men and women must have access to religious power and participation (McIntosh 2009, 190; Olajubu 2003). Therefore, women in Yoruba Religion occupy fundamental positions as Yoruba deities, Yoruba priestesses and other worshippers, and members of Yoruba women’s groups, including Iya mi (a.k.a. the Society of Powerful Women or the Mothers). The feminine in Yoruba Religion can be located among the worshipped spirits, called Orisha, who represent primordial divinities, deified ancestors, and personifications of natural forces. Though the gender of an Orisha is often fluid and ambiguous, some have distinctly female characteristics. For example, many Yoruba origin stories attribute the creation of humans and nature to an Orisha called Oduduwa, who in some cases has been described as having female characteristics. River Goddesses Yemoja and Osun are also described in feminine terms. Rivers in Yorubaland have long been associated with fertility and motherhood. Women commonly visit the shrines of these Orisha to ask for children or to give thanks for those they already have. Yemoja is Goddess of Rivers and Streams as well as the mother to many other Orisha. It is believed that all waters on the earth flow from her. Osun represents the sacred, life-giving dimension of waters. Women who worship these Orisha as priestesses often have exclusive access to their shrines during

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24 Yoruba Religion

important festival rituals (Olajubu 2003, 106). Priestesses serve as an essential link between the spiritual and material realms. In Yoruba society, a woman’s significance is most obviously rooted in her ability to create life through motherhood. If a woman fails to become a mother, her infertility is not attributed to physical issues alone but also to spiritual ones. Women’s attempts to increase their chances of motherhood demonstrate the fluid boundary in the Yoruba world view between the spiritual and material worlds. In addition to petitioning Orisha such as Yemoja and Osun, Yoruba women can appeal to the supernatural forces of juju and magic to help themselves become pregnant. Women also seek various forms of medicine and healing to maintain their vitality and that of their children. It is not enough that a woman become pregnant; she must also raise a healthy child. Onisegun, professional medicine women with deep knowledge of herbs and other healing rituals, can be consulted to restore and preserve well-being. While all women are revered for their supernatural ability to give life as mothers and healers, certain women are venerated for their possession of exclusive knowledge and spiritual power. For example, members of Iya mi are commonly reputed to practice witchcraft. In an Ifa legend, aje was a power given to select women by the Supreme Being to balance the power wielded by men as the primary decision makers in society. When women use the mighty feminine force aje to curb the abuse of power by men, their actions are seen as beneficial to restoring balance in Yoruba society. Members of Iya mi can be consulted for their healing powers and ability to wield juju. They are also feared for their ability to cause impotence, infertility, and problems during pregnancy in the lives of individuals, or epidemics, droughts, and floods in society more broadly. Certain women also have access to supernatural knowledge through the practice of Ifa divination, Eerindinlogun, or Obi Dida (divination with kola nut). Witchcraft and divination position women as powerful mediators between the spiritual and material realms. Women also play an important role in Yoruba religious tradition in the diaspora, which has taken two major forms: Cuban Santeria/Regla de Ocha and Brazilian Candomblé. For example, oral histories of Santeria highlight the efforts of renowned iyalochas (priestesses) alongside babalochas (priests), whose ritual lineages continue to shape the religion’s rituals and beliefs (Falola and Childs 2004). Though these religions have been influenced by non-Yoruba religious traditions, like Catholicism and others, the worship of feminine deities like Osun and Yemoja remains central to their practice. In Cuba, the feminine deity Osun (called Ochún) has become associated with the Catholic Virgin of Charity, while Yemoja (Yemayá) has become associated with the Virgin of Regla (Falola and Childs 2004, 120). In Bahia, Brazil, Osun (Oxum) devotees congregate at multiple mae d’agua festivals every year (Murphy and Sanford 2001). The centrality of women and the feminine in Santeria/Regla de Ocha and Candomblé is a testament to women’s fundamental significance in Yoruba Religion. Mackenzie J. Finley See also: African Religions: African Religions-in-Diaspora; Art in Africa; Body Art; Candomblé; Priestesses and Oracular Women; Christianity: African American Women; Spirituality: Women of Color



Yoruba Religion

Further Reading Awolalu, J. O. Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites. London: Longman, 1979. Falola, Toyin, and Matt D. Childs, eds. The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. McIntosh, Marjorie K. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. Murphy, Joseph M., and Mei-Mei Sanford, eds. O`.s. un across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. Olajubu, Oyeronke. Women in the Yoruba Religious Sphere. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003.

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Ancient Religions

INTRODUCTION Interest in ancient Greek and Roman cultures has never waned, and their influence is still felt today. The ancient Roman Goddess Diana, for example, is worshipped in Dianic Wicca. She is also represented by Wonder Woman, a pop-culture icon inspired by the ancient Goddess. Articles in this section discuss women’s roles in religious life and female deities of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as those of the ancient Near East and Asia, from about 3000 BCE to 500 CE. Some religions of the ancient world that are still practiced today are covered separately: “Early Christianity” in the Christianity section, “Ancient Judaism” in the Judaism section, and so on. While ancient cultures, unlike those of prehistory, left written texts and inscriptions that help us interpret their thoughts, deeds, and intentions, the scholarly study of ancient cultures is still young. Texts and artifacts from the ancient world are fragmentary, and many ancient languages have only recently been translated. Given the fact that feminist scholarship is even younger, a fair and comprehensive reading of the evidence on women in the ancient world remains a work in progress. Contributors to this section specialize in a field that may require specialized talents, like the ability to read ancient languages or scripts. In “Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia,” Therese Rodin discusses cuneiform script that was invented in ancient Mesopotamia around 3200 BCE. She relates evidence that women used the script in the Sargonic period (ca. 2350–2150 BCE), that women both wrote and read the texts, and that some female divinities of the period were portrayed as literate as well. Some female scribes of ancient Mesopotamia worked for priestesses, while others may have been priestesses themselves. (Also see associations between women, religion, and as yet undeciphered early writing in “Sacred Script” in the Prehistoric Religions section.) The roles of priestess and oracle were important in various parts of the ancient world. In “Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece,” Harald Haarmann discusses women’s ritual and worship functions in ancient Greece, including those of the Pythia of Delphi, a female oracle whose pronouncements were highly sought. In “Delphic Oracle,” Gary Kerley further details this female oracular tradition and its history from early Greece into the Roman period. Another female oracular tradition was the Sibylline Oracle, as related in the entry “Sibyls.” In “Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions,” Lewis Webb examines women’s public roles in ancient Roman religions. He relates how, from the third century BCE to the fourth century CE, women served both priestly and nonpriestly roles in the religion, presiding over public rites and participating in public

28 Introduction

processions. Some ancient women held other important roles, including Sappho (ca. 630–570 BCE), a poet whose fame in the ancient world was equal to that of Homer, and Hypatia (ca. 351–415 CE), a mathematician and philosopher. (See the “Sappho” and “Hypatia” entries.) Also important were women’s roles and experiences at home and in the family. “Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of” and “Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions” offer a view of women’s private lives, with their connections and disconnections to religion. Sexual orientation is also addressed; the entry titled “Homosexuality” relates some of what is known of women’s homoeroticism in the ancient world. Other articles on women in ancient religions include an entry on ancient Mesopotamia and another on ancient Egypt, where some women were priestesses and queens (e.g., Cleopatra). In the regions of China, Siberia, Japan, Manchuria, and Korea, women served as shamans and priestesses from ancient times. In “Shamans in East Asia,” Max Dashú relates the importance of women shamans in ancient East Asian cultures with some links into the present and describes some of their functions, ritual dress, instruments, and icons. Finally, across the ancient world, people venerated and feared powerful female deities. A number of articles highlight Goddesses of the ancient world, such as “Athena,” “Gaia,” “Inanna,” “Ninhursagˆa Mother Goddess,” “Ninlil,” and “Sun God˘ dess.” A fascinating figure from the ancient world is the fearful Gorgon Medusa, discussed in the entry of that title. General Bibliography—Ancient Religions Abrahamsen, Valerie A. Women and Worship at Philippi: Diana/Artemis and Other Cults in the Early Christian Era. Portland, ME: Astarte Shell Press, 1995. Ahearne-Kroll, Stephen P., Paul A. Holloway, and James A. Kelhoffer, eds. Women and Gender in Ancient Religions: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr ­Siebeck, 2010. Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987. Broekema, Henriette. Inanna, Lady of Heaven and Earth. History of a Sumerian Goddess. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Elikser B. V. Uitgeverij, 2014. Connelly, Joan Breton. Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Deacy, Susan. Athena. London: Routledge, 2008. Deakin, Michael. Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr. Amherst, MA: Prometheus Books, 2007. Dexter, Miriam Robbins. “The Assimilation of Pre-Indo-European Goddesses into Indo -European Society.” Journal of Indo-European Studies 8, no. 1–2 (1980): 19–29. Dillon, Matthew P. J. Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion. London: Routledge, 2002. DiLuzio, M. A Place at the Altar: Priestesses in Republican Rome. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016. Fischer-Hansen, Tobias, and Birte Poulsen, eds. From Artemis to Diana: The Goddess of Man and Beast. Copenhagen, Denmark: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2009. Fontenrose, Joseph. The Delphic Oracle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. London: Thames and Hudson, 2006.



Athena

Green, Carin M. C. Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Heimann, Sandra Bart. The Biography of Goddess Inanna; Indomitable Queen of Heaven, Earth and Almost Everything: Her Story Is Women’s Story. Bloomington, IN: Balboa, 2016. Hesiod. Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Keller, Mara Lynn. “The Ritual Path of Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries.” Rosicrucian Digest 2 (2009): 28–42. King, Karen L., ed. Women and Goddess Traditions: In Antiquity and Today. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997. Leeming, David. Medusa in the Mirror of Time. London: Reaktion Books, 2013. Lion, Brigitte. “Literacy and Gender.” In The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, edited by Karen Radner and Eleanor Robson, 90–112. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Macgregor, Sherry Lou. Beyond Hearth and Home: Women in the Public Sphere in Neo-Assyrian Society. State Archives of Assyria Studies XXI. Helsinki, Finland: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2012. Marcovich, Miroslav. “From Ishtar to Aphrodite.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 30, no. 2 (1996): 43–59. Marinatos, Nanno. Minoan Religion: Ritual, Image, and Symbol. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. Marler, Joan. “An Archaeomythological Investigation of the Gorgon.” ReVision (Summer 2002): 15–23. Neils, Jenifer, ed. Worshipping Athena: Panathenaia and Parthenon. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. Parca, M., and A. Tzanetou, eds. Finding Persephone: Women’s Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007. Parke, H. W. Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy in Classical Antiquity. London: Routledge, 1988. Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1975. Raynor, Diane J., trans. Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works with an Introduction and Notes by André Lardinois. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Robins, Gay. Women in Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press, 2004. Rodin, Therese. The World of the Sumerian Mother Goddess: An Interpretation of Her Myths. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Historia Religionum 35. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2014. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228932. Sered, Susan Starr. Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Stratton, Kimberly B., K. B. Stratton, S. Kalleres, S. Dayna, and D. S. Kalleres. Daughters of Hecate: Women and Magic in the Ancient World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Takács, S. Vestal Virgins, Sibyls, and Matrons: Women in Roman Religions. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.

AT H E N A Athena was worshiped by the Greeks from the 17th century BCE, if not earlier, until the late Roman period into the fifth century CE, if not later. Athena is most commonly

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30 Athena

known as Goddess of Wisdom, Courage, and Craftsmanship, but she was complex, and her spheres of influence were diverse. Athena was both Mother Goddess and Virgin Warrior Goddess in the Greco-Roman world. Her famous birth myth involves bursting forth from the head of her father, Zeus. She was one of the few deities who could victoriously challenge both Zeus and Poseidon. While associated with birth, as Warrior Goddess of a warrior culture, she also played a role in death. Depictions of Athena generally appear in two forms, standing with panoply and weapons (in a full suit of armor) or sitting peacefully. Athena’s versatility shows in depictions connecting her to the underworld, and, though virginal, she is depicted with fertility symbols. These include golden ripe grain (associated with fertility), pomegranates and snakes (both related to fecundity and the afterlife), and Goddess Athena wears a peplos (woman’s garment) in owls and crows (both symbols this fifth-century-BCE relief. Athenian women would offer a peplos to Warrior Goddess Athena and ask of the underworld). Olive her to protect them in times of war. (Susana Guzmán branches, a sign of peace and victory, connect to the Virgin Martínez/Dreamstime.com) Warrior as well. Near her Athenian temple grew a great and ancient olive tree. One of her primary motifs was the spindle, which represented one of women’s primary chores in the ancient world. With the motif of the spindle, Athena depicts the daily life and duty of Greek women. Peplos garments (body-length cloth garments worn by women) were an annual offering to the statue of Athena in Athens. The peplos was woven annually by eight young girls as a tapestry depicting Athena’s mastery over the Giants (a race of exceptionally strong warriors). The eight maidens were picked from Athena’s 49 basket-bearer priestesses. Athena revealed innovation in technology (the spindle and farming techniques). Like most Greco-Roman deities, Athena’s worship varied by region, yet, transregionally, women played a substantial role in the religion of Athena. Some of Athena’s priestesses (polias) were pulled from an aristocratic heritage and served



Athena

for life. One inscription honors a priestess for serving 64 years. Some offices were held by married women, as opposed to virgin priestesses as seen in other female worship. In addition to older and married women, young maidens also served as priestesses for Athena. Priestesses for Athena of Victory (Nike, meaning Athena as the victor) were selected equitably from all social groups, not based on socioeconomic status. Typical of ancient religions, the ruling class monopolized the priesthood. For example, the demigod Queen of Athens held the mythical office of the First Priestess of Athena. Athena’s priestesses offered her libations. A barefoot and unadorned maiden, modestly dressed in a white robe, approached the altar while holding the libation bowl at her side to pour the liquid offering. Athena also accepted animal sacrifices and human sacrifices. The Parthenon includes a frieze of human sacrifice, texts suggest she recognized noble suicides as sacrifice, and other accounts portray her requiring an annual offering of a female virgin impaled and immolated in Corinth. In Knossos, she received infant sacrifice from the Mycenaean Greeks (1600–1100 BCE). For the protection of their children, women offered Athena the hair of their firstborn son. For both births and deaths, families gave Athena grain and a silver coin. On the matter of birth, Goddess Athena served as a sexual protector. She remained a virgin despite Hephaistos’s attempt to rape her. In Greek culture, women who left their house independently of a man were unprotected from rape. So, too, women belonging to the losing side of a battle were generally appropriated as sex-slave spoils of war. In the Iliad, Athenian women presenting the peplos to Goddess Athena prayed for both the protection of their own city and the protection of women and children of the Trojan enemies. Greek women celebrated Athena as the protector from rape and the comforter after rape. A sculpture represented in one of Athena’s temples revealed a maiden, impregnated through rape, giving birth within Athena’s temple. Athens rarely saw peace. In perpetual war, women constantly feared capture and rape. Athena represented hope and protection. She modeled evasion of sexual marauders. Her virginity proved her strength and ability to oppose masculine intrusion and to protect both the city and its women from penetration. Kristan Ewin Foust See also: Ancient Religions: Gorgon Medusa; Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of; Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions; Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon; Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece; Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions; Prehistoric Religions: Neolithic Female Figures; Spirituality: Spirituality and Gender in Social Context Further Reading Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987. Connelly, Joan Breton. Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Deacy, Susan. Athena. London: Routledge, 2008.

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Hall, Lee. Athena: A Biography. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997. Lefkowitz, Mary R. “Women in the Panathenaic and Other Festivals.” In Worshipping Athena: Panathenaia and Parthenon, edited by Jenifer Neils, 78–93. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. Luyster, Robert. “Symbolic Elements in the Cult of Athena.” History of Religions 5, no. 1 (1965): 133–63. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1061807.

DELPHIC ORACLE For the Greeks, Delphi, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, was believed to be the literal center of the world. At Delphi, Greek for womb, the site chosen by Zeus himself, the oracle lived in the temple dedicated to Apollo, the God of Prophecy. The Delphic Oracle was consulted before any major undertaking, so rulers, philosophers, and even ordinary citizens came to the temple to ask the Pythia, High Priestess of Apollo, for advice or guidance. Founded originally as a shrine to Earth Goddess Gaia in 1200 BCE, by the eighth century, the temple was presided over by the Pythia, the prophetess who was possessed by Apollo and who spoke on his behalf. The name itself is derived from the original name of Delphi. The Pythia, originally a virgin girl between the ages of 13 and 16, was later replaced by an older woman past 50, dressed symbolically as a young girl. She was unmarried, could have no physical defects, and was probably chosen from the normal—some say elite—women of Delphi. Sources vary on the specific rituals of the Pythia, but most say she underwent some sort of training and purified herself from a nearby sacred stream before entering the temple. There she climbed upon a tall bronze tripod that straddled a chasm. Before a visitor was allowed in, the Pythia was seated, holding a wreath of laurel, and intoxicated or under a spell from chewing laurel and bay leaves. Others say her intoxicated mood was affected by gases rising from a crack in the ground below where she sat. Legend says that when Apollo slew Python, the body fell into a chasm and rotted, thereby producing the intoxicating vapors. When French archaeologists in the 1890s uncovered the remains of Apollo’s temple, they unearthed a fault line and chasm that contained ethylene, a gas that creates euphoria. Petitioners to the Pythia could ask only one question. Some say she talked directly to those seeking advice; others say her answers were written down by male priests. Sometimes portrayed as wild and incoherent, when the Pythia responded, she spoke in verses that were deliberately vague. Oracles in general offered alternative advice rather than predict the future, which may have been the role of the Pythia herself. Since no explicit written account of the questions and answers has survived, the actual consultation is subject to interpretation. Later, when her popularity grew, three Pythia were used, and consultations were given on the seventh day of each month from February to November rather than once a year on February 7, the birthday of Apollo. The last recorded response by the Delphic Oracle is in 393 CE, when Christian emperor Theodosius I prohibited Paganism altogether. Gary Kerley



Diana

See also: Ancient Religions: Gaia; Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece; Sibyls; Spirituality: Divination Further Reading Bowden, Hugh. Classical Athens and the Delphic Oracle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Connelly, Joan Breton. Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Fontenrose, Joseph. The Delphic Oracle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Parke, H. W., and D. E. W. Wornell. The Delphic Oracle. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1956.

DIANA Diana is a Roman Goddess often associated with women, childbirth, the moon, hunting, animals (both wild and domestic), and nature broadly. Although most likely originating in Italy as a local woodland deity, she came to be equated with the Greek Goddess Artemis, who shared many of the same features regarding women, animals, and hunting. Goddess Diana subsumed multiple titles and deities over the centuries: Latonia, Lucina, Juno, Trivia, Luna; she also became known as “Triple Goddess” as she absorbed the roles of Luna and Hecate. Françoise-Hélène Massa-Pairault and other scholars suggest that the multiple manifestations of Diana are products of the worship of Artemis in the sixth century BCE Greek colonies of Italy, especially Cumae and Capua. Ancient shrines to Diana have been unearthed from Évora, Portugal, to Ephesus in Asia Minor. In Roman art, Goddess Diana is often depicted as a huntress, equipped with a bow and accompanied by a deer or dog. Goddess Diana’s primary locus of worship was Aricia, Italy, on the shores of Lake Nemi. Here, veneration of Diana was led by her main priest, the rex Nemorensis. The shrine was used often by members of the Latin League, consisting of Rome and their allies in Latium. At this location, Diana is associated with a local water spirit named Egeria as well as her alleged first priest, a minor divinity named Virbius. Diana’s role included bestowing royal status upon rulers in the Arician woods. She was also venerated by women who were at some stage of childbearing––whether hoping to become pregnant, already pregnant, or in labor––as is attested by votive figurines found in the Arician sacred grove and in Ovid’s poetry. Diana was celebrated on August 13 with a festival that was initiated in the sixth century BCE by King Servius Tullius, who established her shrine on the Aventine Hill of Rome. This

Wonder Woman—Princess Diana of the Amazons The pop-culture icon Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (1893–1947) in 1941. Marston was a comic-book writer, a psychologist, and a feminist. He based his Wonder Woman character on Diana, the ancient Roman Goddess. Wonder Woman gained popularity through comic books, a television series, and recently a film released by Warner Brothers (2017).

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Left: Diana, Roman Goddess of the Hunt, first century BCE; right: Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot in the movie Wonder Woman, 2017). In Roman art, Diana was often portrayed with a bow and arrow, which may be the items missing from her upheld hands in this statuette. Wonder Woman is a story character based on the ancient Goddess Diana. (J. Paul Getty Museum/ Warner Bros./Photofest)

was a festival celebrated primarily by slaves, since the “foreign,” non-Roman deity was often sought after for asylum by Rome’s first slaves in Latium. Goddess Diana is still significant in a form of Italian American witchcraft, Stregheria, and in Dianic Wicca. Stregheria functions as a reconstructionist Neo-Pagan form of witchcraft, since it was revived in the 1970s by Leo Martello’s attempt to connect Stregheria to more ancient forms of polytheism. The medieval form of Italian witchcraft to which Stregheria is connected was known as a religion of Diana. Dianic Wicca, on the other hand, is well known for its exclusive veneration of female deities, in contrast to other forms of Wicca that venerate male deities as well. This form of reconstructionist Neo-Pagan Wicca was birthed in the 1970s by Zsuzsanna Budapest. While technically monotheistic, Dianic Wicca sees female deities of various times and cultures as avatars of the Primal Goddess. This form of Wicca is well known for its matriarchal outlook, feminist celebration of women, and affirmation of female sexuality. Diana’s reception and historical legacy persists through multiple avenues. In The Golden Bough, James George Frazer uses the rex Nemorensis as a symbol of the universal, periodic death of the sacred king. Diana also makes appearances



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in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Carlos Fuente’s Diana o la cazadora soltera, and multiple works of Shakespeare. Along with her common depictions in Baroque and Rococo art, Diana is also used in neoclassical Beaux-Arts architecture alongside Goddess Pomona. In popular culture, William Moulton Marston based his comic-book character Wonder Woman on an archetype of Diana the Huntress. Chance Bonar See also: Ancient Religions: Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon; Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions; Paganism: Reconstructionist Paganism; Ritual; Wicca; Spirituality: Goddess Spirituality Further Reading Coleman, Kristy S. Re-riting Woman: Dianic Wicca and the Feminine Divine. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2009. Dumézil, Georges. Archaic Roman Religion. Vol. 2. Translated by Philip Krapp. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970, 407–12. Fischer-Hansen, Tobias, and Birte Poulsen, eds. From Artemis to Diana: The Goddess of Man and Beast. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2009. Green, Carin M. C. Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Haroian-Guerin, Gil. The Fatal Hero: Diana, Deity of the Moon, as an Archetype of the Modern Hero in English Literature. Writing about Women 21. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996.

EGYPTIAN RELIGION Like many ancient cultures, the ancient Egyptians practiced polytheism. The nature of their religion differed from Greco-Roman polytheism as females faced less subordination to males in Egypt. The Egyptian cosmogony starts with a hermaphroditic deity, Atum, standing over the chaotic waters (Nun/Nunet) and masturbating to create pairs of male and female deities. From the intermarriage of these sibling couples, the pantheon developed. The marriage of siblings in the divine world parallels the royal custom. Pharaohs portrayed themselves as gods, and the population accepted their divinity. To keep the bloodline pure, the pharaohs married their sisters. The role of the royal woman as mother and sister-wife allowed more freedom and influence for (some) women in Egypt than seen in other ancient cultures. Royal women dominate modern knowledge of ancient individual women. Women of importance in ancient Egyptian Religion and governance include ­Hetepheres I (ca. 2575–2551 BCE), Ankhesenpepi II (23rd to 24th century BCE), Nefertiti (ca. 1370–1330 BCE), Hatshepsut (ca. 1507–1458 BCE), and Cleopatra VII (69–30 BCE). Hetepheres I, the wife of Pharaoh Sneferu (her half-brother) and mother of Khufu, two of the most renowned pyramid builders in Giza, received burial in one of Giza’s small pyramids, suggesting her worthy of pomp, funeral rites, and afterlife. As queen, she was called daughter of a god by the population. She gained

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both honor and respect, and her orders were received and obeyed like those of a goddess. Pepi II (ca. 2325–2150 BCE), the last ruling pharaoh of the Old Kingdom, took the throne as a young boy. His mother, Ankhesenpepi II, governed in his stead. Both she and her sister, Ankhesenpepi I, married Pepi I. Their names literally mean “her life belongs to Pepi.” This seems to illuminate much of the status of even royal women in the Sixth Dynasty. The sister-wife’s duty centered on her brotherhusband-God-king. While this seems demeaning to women, it should be noted that all Old Kingdom Egyptians dedicated their lives to serving and pleasing their God-pharaoh. This marital name change may not indicate that the sister-wife’s duties lacked value, as sometimes wives and mothers ruled as regents in authoritative positions over males. For example, Pepi II’s mother ruled Egypt under her son’s crown. Egyptian queens often became deputies in their husband’s absence or in times of crisis. Ankhesenpepi II held titles such as “God’s Daughter” and “Companion of Horus.” Pharaoh Akhenaten’s chief consort, or wife, Nefertiti (14th century BCE), received more depictions in art than any other queen. Most of her images include her husband and son, young king “Tut,” in religious ceremonies. Akhenaten included her in his religious revolution in which worship of the Sun God Aten eclipsed and

Queen Nefertiti (seated right), with her husband Pharoah Akhenaten and three of their daughters, enveloped by the rays of Sun God Aten (ca. 1370–1330 BCE). This queen performed religious rites alongside her husband, and she was often shown with him as his equal. (Ruggero Vanni/Corbis via Getty Images)



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repressed the traditional Egyptian pantheon. Images of the royal couple show the sunrays of Aten enveloping the royal family, but the sunrays’ grasp excluded those who weren’t family members. The elevation of the whole family unit in the religion, with Nefertiti’s polygamous husband, stands in singularity. Unlike previous or later queens, she held a position alongside (yet slightly behind) her husband in religious sacrifices. Her consistent company with Akhenaten underlines the theory that she became coregent of her husband. Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII, themselves, ruled as pharaohs. Hatshepsut, known as God’s Wife, though she relinquished the title when she became GodKing herself, ruled in the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom. As daughter of a mighty pharaoh, wife to another, and mother to a third, her position and relation gave her authority. She ruled successfully in her own right, building temples and expanding territorial boundaries. She adopted male iconography, such as a pharaoh’s goatee, to present herself as the legitimate ruler. Though successful, the population never fully respected her. Sexually graphic and demeaning graffiti depict her in a submissive position. She experienced damnatio memoriae when her exiled son returned to reclaim the throne. In damnatio memoriae, the Egyptians literally chiseled away her name from the monuments and projects she completed to spiritually and magically exterminate her existence. Cleopatra VII took the throne as joint regent with her brother at her father’s death. Her brother died, leaving her as sole leader. Cleopatra’s popularity comes from her romantic affairs with Julius Caesar (with whom she had a son) and Marc Antony (with whom she had two sons and a daughter) in the Roman period (first century BCE). Caesarion, Caesar’s son, whom she declared as the God Horus, posed a threat to the stability of the Roman Empire, so Octavian (later to become Emperor Augustus) eliminated him. During the Roman civil wars, Cleopatra aided in the desecration of the Temple of Artemis by ordering the execution of her sister, who was harbored there. Cleopatra descended from the Greek Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, but she adopted Egyptian religious social traditions. She portrayed herself as the reincarnation of Isis, as opposed to the traditional pharaoh who reincarnated Ra and, at death, Osiris. She believed in the necessity of the physical body to participate in the afterlife. Thus, captured by Rome, she committed suicide instead of being executed by the Romans and her body left exposed until her flesh rotted. Instead of her corpse, the Romans used an effigy of her to depict their conquest of her. Through sympathetic magic, the image, like a voodoo doll, would transfer the shame and torture to the deceased Cleopatra VII, it was believed. In traditional Egyptian Religion, at death, the pharaoh would traverse through the 12 hours of the night. This journey consisted of a series of 12 gated realms collectively known as the Amduat or Duat. Osiris, God of the Dead and the first mummy, judged the deceased and would later merge with the Ra-king. Female deities and sacred women also played an important role in the Amduat. Goddess of Rebirth Nunet (or Nu/Nun), the watery abyss, guards the sixth hour of the Amduat. Nunet often stood for the precreated world from whom the sun emerged. Nunet, sometimes connected to Hathor, (re)birthed Re, the Sun God. The baptism, or second birth, symbolized the resurrection of the deceased incarnate in

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the new pharaoh—that is, the new pharaoh that lived. Resurrection could not happen without childbirth, an exclusively feminine duty. To achieve resurrection, in the underworld, Osiris weighed the heart of the deceased on a scale against the feather symbol of Ma’at. Goddess Ma’at symbolized the concept of truth and uprightness. Mourning and wailing women appear throughout the graves of the pharaohs. Women publicly mourned death as part of their religious duty. Their arms held before them, bent upward, and their hair down and unkempt, the women lined the streets, wailing. The grieving ladies participated in the Amduat journey, lamenting the pharaoh through death to resurrection. Depictions show the wailing women with ashes on their heads and crying. Other depictions present women in procession bearing offerings of flowers, jars, and other odd objects. The bereaved consistently donated food and beverage, necessary for survival in the underworld, to the deceased. In Egypt, as in other ancient cultures, a woman’s appearance and fertility directly determined her worth. Her fertility became inseparable from religion. Sex, sexuality, fertility, birth, and rebirth intertwined with the hierarchy of religion. Individual family houses contained shrines where locals worshiped the fertility God Bes, who protected children. State religion administration did not involve the average Egyptian, though they visited the temples with offerings. Home excavations reveal steles and altars to Bes and Taweret. Food, drink, flowers, and statuettes remained common offerings to these household Divinities. Women invoked Isis and Hathor (Sexual Fertility Goddess, associated with the sky, the sun, dancing, music, weaving, women, and cows) to protect childbirth. Ancient spell books burst with spells to ward off infant mortality. Offerings included nude female statuettes, girdles, and wigs. A plethora of medical-magic papyri have been found describing gynecological remedies and prescriptions to increase fertility. Magical tests determined pregnancy and fetus gender based on the condition of the woman’s breasts and by watering barley and wheat seeds with urine while noting the seeds’ growth. An Isis knot, inserted into the vagina, served as an amulet to prevent miscarriages. Nefertiti and later Cleopatra VII had no qualms about flaunting their sexuality. As “God’s Wife of Amun,” Nefertiti’s duty, in this title, remains unknown, though historians suggest her role was to incite sexual arousal in the God to preserve the fertility of Egypt, not unlike contemporaneous Ishtar priestesses in the ancient Near East. Under Hatshepsut, the chief priest of Amun’s daughter received the office “divine adoratrice.” The office became politicized, and mothers wishing for their daughters to marry the pharaoh angled for this title. By the Third Intermediate Period, the two high priestess offices had merged. Royal and temple prostitutes experienced little or no social marginalization. They maintained religious purposes by using music and dance to incite clients to copulate. Emission was spiritual. Acrobatic dancers with flowing hair performed at the Temple of Karnak. At times women held the position of the official of temple music. Ambiguity exists in the range of gender equality or inequality between a priestess’s role and a priest’s, but even in female-dominated worship, such as that of



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Hathor, males appear to have been in control. Hathor gave happiness and fertility and helped women find “good husbands” per an Old Kingdom inscription on a statue of Nefretimin. By the 18th Dynasty, the priesthood had become a full-time political bureaucracy and excluded women, although women still participated in temple music. Kristan Ewin Foust See also: African Religions: Priestesses and Oracular Women; Ancient Religions: Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of Further Reading Fischer, Henry G. “A Feminine Example of Wd- h.m·k, ‘Thy Majesty Commands’ in the Fourth Dynasty.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 61 (1975): 246–47. Hodel-Hoenes, Sigrid. Life and Death in Ancient Egypt: Scenes from Private Tombs in New Kingdom Thebes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000. Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Tyldesley, Joyce A. Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2006. Tyldesley, Joyce A. Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen. London: Penguin, 2005. Ziegler, Christiane. Queens of Egypt: From Hetepheres to Cleopatra. Larvatto, Monaco: Grimaldi Forum, 2008.

ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES Greco-Roman Mysteries were religious schools and worship practices centered on the mystes, or initiate. The most famous example is the Eleusinian Mysteries, while other examples include the Dionysian Mysteries or the Orphic Mysteries. Full of cathartic and ecstatic practices, the Eleusinian Mysteries emerged out of the worship of Demeter and Persephone (also called Kore, meaning “girl” or “maiden”), Mycenaean traditions (1500 BCE), and the Greek Dark Ages. Performed every year during Anthesterion (February–March) and Boedromion (September–October) to celebrate the sowing, sprouting, and reaping of the harvest, the Lesser and Greater Eleusinian Mysteries connected the life cycle of grain to the cycle of human existence. Through dramatic re-creations, initiates learned the truth of the underworld, the nature of the soul, and the importance of maintaining a virtuous life. Little is known of the rites, rituals, and secrets unveiled within the Mysteries, as practitioners were held to secrecy upon the pain of death. Named after the city of Eleusis, where the Mysteries originated, the religion centers on the story of Demeter, Greek Goddess of Agriculture and Fertility of the Earth, who plunges the world into a famine out of despair. As developed in Greek mythology and in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (ca. seventh century BCE), Persephone, daughter to Great Mother Demeter, was kidnapped by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. Full of grief, Demeter neglected her responsibilities as steward of the natural world, allowing the earth to go barren, while demanding that the people of Eleusis build her a great temple. Although she was saved by

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Hermes, Hades forced Persephone to spend one-third of each year as Queen of the Underworld. In response, and upon Persephone’s earthly return each year, Demeter allowed the seeds of the natural world to be fruitful, revitalizing the harvests necessary to sustain human beings; but, when Persephone was forced into the underworld, the natural world would die, an eternally recurring process that not only explained the changing seasons but also, more significantly for initiates of the Mysteries, reflected the concept of transformation and the cyclicality of life, suggesting that existence does not end with material death, but rather death signals change from one state of being to another. After being reunited with Persephone, Demeter taught the elders and leaders of Eleusis how to perform her rites, which not only commemorate Demeter’s search for Persephone but also symbolically connect the initiate to Demeter and Persephone, who symbolize life, death, and immortality. Although the exact content and structure of the Mysteries remain unknown, the value of initiation was found in its sublime message regarding life and death and in unveiling the immortality and purity of the human soul. The Mysteries echo both the knowledge gained by Persephone’s descent into the underworld and the life cycle of seeds, which lie dormant in the earth only to sprout to life in the spring. Derived etymologically from the Greek words myein (to close) and mysterion (mystery, also refers to a secret rite or doctrine), the term mystery is applied to religious orientations defined by secret initiatory rites and esoteric doctrine. Open to any Greek-speaking individual regardless of socioeconomic standing—women, men, children, and even slaves— who had not committed murder, participation was limited only by access to the proper resources. Initiation required the purchase of piglets (to be used for sacrifice) and the contribution of 15 drachmae to the priest to help pay for the great civic sacrifices that occurred on the first and last days of the festival. Mythology, historical descriptions, poetry, and visual arts show that the Mysteries included varying degrees of rituals and initiations, with the most advanced being the epopteia, and the main form, the telete, including the dromena (the things enacted, likely a sacred pageant dedicated to Demeter and Persephone), the deiknymena (the things shown), and the legomena (the things spoken, likely liturgical and invocational statements). Led by mystagogos (leader of the mystes), hierophantes (revealers of holy things), and dadouchos (torchbearers), initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries began by physically transforming the body through fasting and the drinking of kykeon (a psychedelic substance), thereafter receiving the wisdom located in the kiste (sacred chest) and the kalathos (lidded basket). Initiation purified the soul, helping the individual uncover the value of experiencing altered states of consciousness, including the after-death experience and, for some, the truth of the underworld. Consisting of two main ceremonies, the Eleusinian Mysteries began with the Lesser Mysteries during the spring each year at Agrae (a suburb of Athens) followed by the Greater Mysteries of Eleusis during late September. Commencing with a march from Athens to Eleusis, the festival culminated with rites performed in the Telesterion (Hall of Initiation) following ritual bathing and three days of fasting. The Eleusinian Mysteries revolved around accessing hidden physical objects



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and the secretive knowledge they revealed. Based on a set of rites, and contextualized through a nine-day festival, the Greater Mysteries connected to the tale of Demeter and Persephone through five distinct degrees as outlined by sixth-century Neoplatonist Olympiodorus: the first two degrees involved ritual purification; the third consisted of preparatory ceremonies; the fourth degree signaled the Lesser Mysteries dedicated to Persephone, with those initiated gaining the name mystes (one initiated); and the fifth and final degree indicated the Greater Mysteries of Demeter, with successful initiates called epoptes (one who has seen). Central to the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries was a 10-day sacred journey from Athens to Eleusis (to symbolize Demeter’s search) led by the Priestess of Demeter and Persephone, who carried the basket of hiera (or the Goddess’s sacred things); fasting to illustrate the collective suffering of Demeter, Persephone, and humanity when the earth fails to bloom; a night of revelry known as pannychis that centered on kernophoria, a torchlit special dance led by women who carried the first fruits of the harvest on their head; and breaking the fast by drinking kykeon, a sacramental drink administered at the end of the journey and consisting of some mixture of barley, mint, the cooking herb pennyroyal, and psychoactive ingredients, most likely the fungus ergot, a fungal parasite that grows on barley and contains the alkaloid ergotamine, the chemical precursor to LSD. The sacramental drinking of kykeon manifested strong entheogenic experiences, including mystic visions and revelatory states of mind that purified and transformed initiates prior to entering the Telesterion, where the most secret aspects of the Mysteries took place and were revealed, often amid the singing of hymns (likely the Homeric Hymn to Demeter) by the Priestess of Demeter and the Hierophant. Ingesting kykeon liberated the soul from the body, helping unveil the possibility of eternal life by delineating between the limits of the material world and the sublimity of the divine realm and after-death condition. The Eleusinian Mysteries signify an attempt to personally experience the connection between the human soul and divine consciousness. The Mysteries climaxed with visions that expose the nature of creation and consciousness after death. Just as Persephone journeyed to the underworld and returned to the living each year, and just as Demeter allows for cycles of creation and destruction, so, too, will every human experience death of the mortal body only to uncover another plane of existence, the immortality of the soul. Held from the 1500s BCE until 392 CE, the Eleusinian Mysteries offered Greeks an opportunity for divine perception and revelatory wisdom. Morgan Shipley See also: Paganism: Ritual; Wicca; Prehistoric Religions: Crete Religion and Culture; Spirituality: Divination Further Reading Bowden, Hugh. Mystery Cults of the Ancient World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. Cosmopoulos, Michael. Bronze Age Eleusis and the Origins of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

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Keller, Mara Lynn. “The Ritual Path of Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries.” Rosicrucian Digest 2 (2009): 28–42. Meyer, Marvin W. The Ancient Mysteries, a Sourcebook: Sacred Texts of the Mystery Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Mylonas, George Emmanuel. Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961. Wasson, R. Gordon, Carl A. P. Ruck, and Albert Hofmann. The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2008.

GAIA A primordial elemental goddess (protogenoi), Gaia (derived from ge or ga, the Greek common noun for “land”; also called Gaea, Gi, Ge, and, in the Roman pantheon, Terra) emerges consistently within Greek mythology, not only personifying Earth but also representing the very locus of creation. According to creation narratives of the ancient Greeks (particularly within Hesiod’s poem “Theogony,” which means “the genealogy or birth of the Gods”), Gaia springs into existence without cause or explanation, through parthenogenic birth (without male intervention). While one myth describes Chaos, Eros, and Gaia being born out of a cosmic egg, pointing to an initial spark of cocreation out of nothingness, Gaia is considered the mother of everything and, among ancient Greeks and within Greek mythology, was known as the Original Goddess, or Supreme Goddess, by deities and humans alike. At first, only Chaos existed. Out of this void of darkness and confusion, along with Erebus, an unknowable place where death and Night dwell, and Eros (love), who brought Light and the very beginning of order, Gaia (Great Mother/Mother Earth) willed herself into existence, creating the conditions for the rest of creation to unfold. As Creatrix of the material world and the entire universe, ancient Greek cosmology locates Gaia as supporting the seas and mountains upon her breast. Conceived as a flat disk circumscribed by Oceanus (the river Okeanos, birthed from Gaia), controlled from above by the solid dome of heaven, and contained below by the inverse dome of Tartarus (abyss where souls are judged and the wicked punished), earth ultimately symbolizes Gaia’s womb and emerges in Greek mythology as the physical location out of which and from which creation develops. Appearing as a divine character in both the epics of Homer and the poetry of Hesiod, it is told that, following this initial spark of creation, from the union of Gaia and Chaos, with aid from Eros, Uranus (Father Sky) was born. Along with Gaia, he would birth not only the Titans and Titanesses but also the Giants (Hecatoncheires), Oceanus, and the entire physical world—mountains, plains, seas, and rivers—as we understand it. Responsible for the heavenly Gods and the material realm, Gaia is Great Mother of All Creation, who directly births all mortal crea­ tures from her earthly flesh. She thereafter emerged as the primary antagonist of Greek mythology, literally driving both creation and the conditions that would lead to the pantheon of Greek Gods and Goddesses led by Zeus. The classical pantheon of Greek Gods and Goddesses was born from Gaia’s union with Uranus, while the Sea Gods were born from her union with Pontus (the Sea).



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Outside of her specific Greek context, Gaia has become almost synonymous with Goddess movements that regard Earth as a living being, as the Feminine Divine both figuratively and literally. Whether characterized as Mother Nature or Mother Earth, Gaia personifies the entire earthly ecosystem; she is the means to achieve harmonic symbiosis, a wholeness and balance within our natural worlds and physical environment. Rather than holding dominion over the earth, Goddess-movement practitioners align with their Greek predecessors in understanding humanity as a living part of the earth environment and thus worship Earth in some form, often as Goddess Earth or Gaea, who encompasses and conceives all life. As echoed in Greek mythology, the emphasis on and worship of Gaia captures the dynamism of female-centered spirituality with its emphasis on an immanent Feminine Divine presence. Such a literal reading finds its most contemporary inflection in the Gaia hypothesis, formulated by chemist James Lovelock (1979) in his book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Considering the environmental consequences of believing that humans hold total dominion over the natural world, the Gaia hypothesis replaces a model of domination with one that captures the implications of the Greek understanding. Rather than separative and distinct, all life is contingent, part of a single, all-encompassing planetary consciousness—Mother Gaia—who makes it possible for the earth to support life while also revealing a sacred sense of nurturing that locates the catalyst for life and health within the divine womb of Mother Nature. Morgan Shipley See also: Ancient Religions: Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon; Paganism: Eco-Paganism; Spirituality: Art and Performance; Ecofeminism; Goddess Spirituality Further Reading Berens, E. M. The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. n.p.: Start Publishing, 2012. Hesiod. Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Classics, 1998. Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Classics, 1999. Lovelock, J. E. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Pike, Sarah M. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

GORGON MEDUSA The Gorgon Medusa, with her bulging eyes, head bristling with hissing snakes, and lolling tongue extended between sharp fangs, has haunted the Western imagination for more than 2,500 years. The image of a shaggy, bodiless face with a wide-eyed, devastating glare and fearsome cry predates the appearance of the stylized Gorgon head, or gorgoneion, as it was known throughout the Greek world. This nameless terror first appears in Homer’s Odyssey (ca. eighth century BCE)

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as a grizzly apparition, “the gigantic shape of fear,” that Odysseus encounters in Hades. In the Iliad, Homer identifies this image as the central motif on the shield of Agamemnon: “And thereon was set as a crown, Gorgo, grim of aspect, Glaring terribly, and about her were Terror and Fear.” The name Gorgo, or Gorgon, is derived from the Greek gorgos—meaning “terrible” or “horrifying”—to describe the ultimate female monster. There are three Gorgon sisters—Sthenno, Euryale, and Medusa—representing the circular continuity of mythic time. Only Medusa appears in the present, while her sisters reside in the eternal dimensions of past and future. Their lineage reaches deep into the pre-Greek societies of the ancient world, whose deities reflect people’s intimate association with earth, sea, and sky and the eternal cycles of birth, maturation, disintegration, and regeneration into new life. According to Hesiod’s Theogony (ca. 700 BCE), the Gorgons were direct descendants from the most ancient family of deities. The story of the Greek hero Perseus decapitating Medusa, which circulated in Greek oral traditions, was mentioned in the Theogony, in plays by Aeschylus and Euripides (sixth and fifth centuries BCE), and in other works, including the Biblioteca of Apollodorus (second century BCE) and the Metamorphoses by Ovid (first century BCE). Various versions of the tale were added by other authors over time. Regardless of numerous variations, a canonic form of the myth can be discerned throughout the Greek classical period. In its basic form, Perseus goes on a hero’s journey to decapitate the Gorgon Medusa. He is successful because of the indispensable help from his half-sister, Goddess Athena, who plays a main role in the action. To the Greeks, the Gorgon Medusa, by definition, was a vicious monster who had to be destroyed. This was a perilous challenge for any hero due to the fact that Medusa’s head, even when severed, retained the power to turn men to stone. But according to Ovid in the Metamorphoses, Medusa had once been a beautiful maiden who was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, polluting its sacred precinct. Athena took out her fury not on Poseidon but on Medusa by cursing her and making her hideous with writhing snakes for hair. In the Bibliotheca, Apollodorus mentions that Athena guides Perseus’s hand in cutting off Medusa’s head. When the deed is done, Perseus, wearing the helmet of invisibility, shoves the severed head into a magical bag (kibisis) and flies off in his winged sandals, pursued forever by the remaining Gorgon sisters. The Gorgon is an ancient Triple Goddess, a potent threshold guardian whose fierce frontal gaze was originally used to protect the sacred sanctuaries dedicated to the Goddesses of the Old Religion. Ferocious masks—with bulging eyes, protruding tongue, and fangs—have been worn from ancient times in ritual contexts throughout the world. In Greece, grimacing terra-cotta masks with fangs from the eighth century BCE were preserved in a sacrificial pit associated with the shrine of Hera at Tiryns. Life-sized terra-cotta masks of aged women and Gorgons, worn in rituals and used as votive gifts, were unearthed at the sanctuary of Ortheia in Sparta. Most of the masks from this sanctuary date from the end of the seventh through the sixth century BCE. Ortheia was eventually associated with Artemis,



Gorgon Medusa

who is sometimes depicted with wings and wearing a Gorgon mask. By the seventh century BCE, the Gorgon Medusa’s apotropaic powers were co-opted to serve the Greek establishment. Gorgoneia were used for protection throughout the Greek world—installed on the upper part of temples (the realm of the Olympian deities) as well as on private dwellings, domestic furnishings, ovens, and coins. Ironically, Medusa’s visage was also mounted on shields, armor, and chariots to protect the Greek warriors engaged in destroying all threats to the Greek social order, including her own. The Gorgon expanded into a full sculptural figure during the mid-sixth century BCE. A power- Medusa’s head, even when severed, could turn men to stone according to ancient Greek myth. In this ful example is the eight-foot-high modern rendering, Raging Medusa, contemporary artsculptural relief of Medusa ist Cristina Biaggi depicts the Medusa as an image of installed at the highest position beauty and an expression of women’s legitimate rage. on the pediment of the temple (Cristina Biaggi) of Artemis at Corcyra, Corfu. Her enormous head and upper torso are in a frontal position, while her muscular lower body is in a bent-knee Knielauf pose, with winged sandals and great expanded wings. She appears to be swiftly running or flying through the air. Her tunic is encircled at the waist by two copulating serpents, and snakes with open jaws emerge horizontally from under her open ears. Her children, Pegasus and Chrysaor, are sheltered beneath her arms. While the story of the Gorgon Medusa typically focuses on her hideous looks and the fact of her beheading, she carries a much deeper significance that is usually overlooked. Long before the Gorgon Medusa constellated in the Greek mind as a demonic figure, the potencies she represents were honored as the regenerative source of life in the earliest horticultural societies of the ancient world. The broad outlines of Old European (pre-Greek) beliefs are intrinsic to the seasonal activities of planting, harvesting, and working the soil. Central to the practice of horticulture is the observation that the decomposition of previously living matter nurtures the fertility of the earth. Within this context, concepts of the sacred are analogous to the cycles of the living world. In mythic terms, the Great Goddess as the sacred source of life is a metaphor for life giving birth to itself and absorbing

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itself in death. Therefore, she is also the Death Goddess who presides over the rotting decay that is essential for the regeneration of life. The Gorgon face is analogous to the mask of Death Goddess Hecate, whose powers, described by Hesiod, date from the beginning (the “abysm of time”). The Gorgons dwell in caves, the underworld womb of the earth, as does Hecate. They stand with Hecate (the Triple Moon Goddess) at the end of the cycle of life on the threshold of disintegration where old forms inevitably dissolve so that new life can emerge. Hecate’s staff, with three Gorgon masks facing in different directions, was placed at crossroads where offerings were left by Priestesses of the Night wearing Gorgon masks. The full moon, as the white mask of Hecate, is also called the Gorgon’s head. Gorgons have the wide eyes of a predator: the owl who hunts in the darkness of night and the snake who fascinates its prey before devouring it. Their mouths are wide with the death grin of a skull. Their protruding tusks are those of the wild boar, a scavenger known to devour corpses. The Gorgons and their sisters, the Graiae, were called Phorcydes after their father Phorcys (also a corpse eater) and were daughters of the underworld realm of death and transformation. The snakes that sprout from the Gorgons’ heads carry layers of ancient symbolism. Their hibernation in the earth ties them intimately to the grave, while the shedding of skin emphasizes rebirth. The serpent suggests the umbilical link to the womb during gestation, the lifeline to the mother, a direct source of ancestral knowledge and wisdom. The full-bodied Gorgon Medusa combines the serpent powers with the potent presence of the bird of prey, becoming the plumed serpent who circulates freely in all domains: flying into the great above, slithering into the earth and through the waters, commanding the infinite realms of sky, earth, underworld, and sea. When the Olympian pantheon and the worship of the Greek hero gained ascendancy, the earth deities of the Old Religion were demonized or co-opted. As an extreme concentration of ancient female powers, the Gorgon Medusa posed a direct challenge to male structures of dominance. The murder of Medusa by the Greek hero Perseus symbolized a male rite of passage perpetuating officially sanctioned power dynamics while defining the dangerous consequences of the manifestation of female sovereignty. Medusa in Western History

The Gorgon Medusa remained a popular subject of sculpture, bas-reliefs, and mosaics during the Greco-Roman period (ca. first century BCE–fourth century CE), although her fierceness was progressively neutralized by an emphasis on youthful beauty. As Christianity became established throughout the Roman world, Pagan iconography was considered idolatrous and was obsessively destroyed by zealous believers. Non-Christian female images, and the Gorgon Medusa in partic­ ular, were demonized as abominations. Christian scholars during the medieval period (ca. 5th–15th century) treated the beheading of Medusa as an allegory in which Perseus, as a virtuous son of Zeus, was victorious over Medusa, the epitome of evil. Moreover, all women were



Gorgon Medusa

considered potential threats to men because of their erotic powers. Men’s morality and their very souls were at stake in the presence of this dangerous female force. Renaissance artists (ca. 14th–17th century) produced stunningly rendered images of the beautiful Medusa with frighteningly realistic snakes for hair, bringing the Gorgon—at the grisly moment of her decapitation or after she was already stinking and dead—into visceral focus in the popular mind. These works—painted or sculpted by da Vinci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Bernini, and others—evoked Medusa as the terrible beauty, the ultimate femme fatale, easily recognizable as the girl next door, or as a mother-in-law, or a man’s own wife. These Medusas—not exotically stylized but dreadfully familiar—emphasized a growing distrust of women, amplified by the horrors of the Inquisition, during which any woman could be arrested, tortured, and burned. An iconic bronze sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini (1554) depicts Perseus as the sword-bearing youthful hero standing triumphantly on Medusa’s naked body, holding aloft her beautiful severed head. This masterpiece stood for centuries in the center of Florence as an elegant expression of the culturally sanctioned necessity for heroic males to cleanse civil society of unbridled female powers. This condemnation of women was briefly transposed during the Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries when the intoxication of feminine sexuality was embraced as a forbidden source of ecstasy. Medusa, who embodied both beauty and horror, was seen not as a monster but as a victim. She became a treasured theme in the visual arts and literature of the Decadents and Romantics who cultivated the sensual discord she represented between pleasure and pain, death and the Divine. During the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud used a psychoanalytical interpretation of Medusa as symbolic of women’s danger to men. In his view, the fangs protruding from the Gorgon’s mouth represent the “vagina dentata,” while the snakes writhing on her head are evidence of castrated phalli. The philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich Neumann continued this theme by declaring in The Great Mother (1963, 168), “The hero is the man who overcomes the Terrible Mother, breaks the teeth out of her vagina, and so makes her into a woman.” By the mid-20th century, many women had become increasingly fed up with male domination and the culturally sanctioned myths used to justify patriarchal structures. The decapitation of Medusa was recognized as representing the ultimate bondage and silencing of women. The lid of imposed silence came off as many women began to tell their own stories and to listen to each other—often for the first time. Women’s literature, poetry, oral histories, dance, rituals, and incantations have poured forth to inspire and reclaim forbidden powers. Moreover, as a fundamental boundary crosser, Medusa is embraced by many who do not conform to white mainstream society and who are creating culture on the margins and bringing their work to center stage. The Gorgon Sisters and Hecate, as Triple Goddesses, function as sacred metaphors of inescapable dissolution and transformation. Their deep significance is rooted in the rich, decomposing matrix of earth’s fertility that nurtures all life on earth. Joan Marler

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See also: Ancient Religions: Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon; Prehistoric Religions: Crete, Religion and Culture; Spirituality: Goddess Spirituality; Sheela na gigs Further Reading Bowers, Susan R. “Medusa and the Female Gaze.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 2 (Spring 1990): 217–35. Culpepper, Emily Erwin. “Ancient Gorgons: A Face for Contemporary Women’s Rage.” Women of Power 3 (Winter/Spring 1986): 9–16. Hesiod. Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Homer. The Illiad. Translated by R. Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by R. Lattimore. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Leeming, David. Medusa in the Mirror of Time. London: Reaktion Books, 2013. Marler, Joan. “An Archaeomythological Investigation of the Gorgon.” ReVision (Summer 2002): 15–23. Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Princeton University Press, 1963. Wilk, Stephen R. Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

G R E E K A N D R O M A N W O M E N , D A I LY L I V E S O F The daily life of women in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds from 800 BCE to 437 CE changed through the various phases of life from infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The status of a woman—slave, free, virginal, married, or widowed—dictated her daily activities and expectations. The first struggle for female infants was infanticide. Greek and Roman societies valued male births more than female. In these military societies, females posed a liability to the family. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century BCE) mentions parental requirements to raise all males and the firstborn female. The father determined which children to keep and name. The Greek and Etruscan families gave women unique names, but in the Roman world, she took her father’s name. All daughters, if kept, received the father’s name. For example, Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) named his daughter Julia. A second girl would be Julia II, nicknamed “Two.” A third girl, Julia III, would be called “Three,” and so on. Roman boys received unique names. In poor families, the children worked. Struggling families might sell their children into slavery for financial gain or as a punishment to the child. Slaves had no legal protection from abuse, but free children also routinely experienced beatings. Adults exploited slave children, male and female, for sex. Greeks and Romans considered pederasty as a social norm. It pervaded in both cultures as a form of mentorship for prepubescent children, slave or free. Manumission, in the Roman Empire (27 BCE–476 CE), could not occur until age 30. As daughters offered less perceived value to the family, they probably faced the fate of slavery more than their fraternal counterparts.



Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of

As children, boys and girls played together. They enjoyed the family dog, handball games, and dice games. Girls played with clay or cloth dolls as well as mice, setting them up with miniature carts to pull. Children participated in religious ceremonies; some ceremonies even required children. At the end of their childhood and transition into adulthood, maturing girls would dedicate their dolls to female deities, such as Demeter and Artemis. Girls who died before maturing took their dolls with them to the grave. Roman girls would dedicate their childhood toga (child’s garment) to Fortuna Virginalis and take on a new adult stola (woman’s garment). The average life expectancy in the ancient world ranged between 20 and 30 years (Engels Statue called the Black Artemis of Ephesus, with 1980), but many people lived into what may be multiple breasts or ripe fruits on her their fifties and even seventies. body, a Roman copy of a Greek statue, second century The low life-expectancy statistics BCE. Girls in ancient Greece danced for Artemis at come from a very high infant and her festivals and might spend a year serving in her child mortality rate and from temple. (Musei Capitolini, Rome, Italy/Ghigo Roli/ high death rates in childbirth Bridgeman Images) from adolescent brides. Girls, when they reached puberty, married older, financially stable husbands. The paterfamilias arranged the marriage. Rape victims were encouraged to commit suicide as an honorable escape because they were no longer a valuable political asset in marriage transactions. On rare occasion, instead of marriage, elite members of society could commit their daughters to virginal priestess positions. In the Roman world, they joined the Vestal Virgin religious college. In the Greek world (ca. 800–146 BCE), they became priestesses of a Goddess Religion, such as Athena’s. Adult women played the role of wife, mother, slave, prostitute, or widow. A woman outside of these categories committed social deviance. In Rome and Sparta, women transacted market and legal business independently, though the paterfamilias might send representation with the women. In the rest of the Greek world, women could not conduct business outside of the house. They required a male family member as an escort to festivals or funerals. Greek women faced exclusion from public life, even from the Olympics. Roman women, however, enjoyed public

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spectacles like gladiators and animal fights at the Colosseum and other arenas. Some religious ceremonies segregated by gender; for example, the Roman Bona Dea celebration of the Great Goddess disallowed male involvement. Women made offerings to female deities unique to their gender. For example, Artemis received offerings of mirrors, spindles, and jewelry. Greek couples lived detached lives. Women had separate quarters in the typical Greek house. While generally relegated to the house, wives and mothers essentially ruled the household. Campaigns kept fighting-aged men away from home. Women maintained and managed plantations, slaves, businesses, and children. Women of lower classes would typically weave, work wool, and perform agricultural duties. Women entered marriage with a dowry, which remained her own property within the marriage unless she ceded it to her husband. Women used their personal property for investment opportunities, including interest loans. Divorce occurred frequently in the ancient world. No negative religious stigmas followed divorce. Marriages did not represent a union before, to, or under the deities. Marriage served as a contract between families. Reputable people in the Greek and Roman world had several divorces. Husband or wife could initiate the divorce, but the process posed greater risk for women than for men. In the event of a divorce, the children stayed with their father. The wife needed permission from the head of her family’s house to divorce. Upon divorcing, she returned to her paterfamilias. Infertility, considered the wife’s deficiency, presented a legal ground for divorce, though there are examples of romantic, faithful, and happy marriages without the production of children. In “The Eulogy of Turia,” found on a tombstone, a Roman husband praises his barren wife. She kept the household, mortgaged her dowry for him, saved him from the proscription list, and remained faithful to him. Because they could not produce children, she offered him a divorce. He refused. The eulogy paints a picture of a marriage based on love, but ancient literature suggests that husbands and wives usually found romance outside of their arranged marriage. Love flowered in adultery, companionship within same-sex friendships, and partnerships. Taboos of same-sex physical relationships centered on age, not homosexuality or religion. Slaves provided a frequent extramarital sexual outlet. While female slaves cooked, cleaned, and kept the house, their duties contained another primary expectation of sexually pleasuring their master and guests. Masters used slaves for sex without social or religious dishonor. For example, in The Golden Ass (second century CE), the hostess offers her slave, Photis, to the guest, Lucian. While love and sex occurred outside of marriage, a woman seeking sex outside of her nuptial bed would have been disgraced, stoned, or executed if caught. Love potions and magic spells were used to attract the attention of a desired mate. Both genders used spells and concoctions for sexual encounters. Widows may have been the most liberated category of ancient women. Without a permanent paterfamilias, they found release from traditional roles. The paterfamilias found new marriage arrangements for young widows. If older, the widow remained faithful to her husband’s family but ran the household and legal affairs on



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her own. For example, in the first century CE, Octavia raised the illegitimate children of Marc Antony (through Cleopatra VII). After Antony divorced her, remarried, and died, she continued to raise Cleopatra VII’s children. Her strategy may have been more political than humanitarian, but she was at liberty to act. While women remained subservient to men in all areas of life, they seemed to gain independence during long wars. The women of the warring societies found themselves running the household and even polis affairs. In the fifth century BCE, Aristophanes captures the independent female spirit in the play Lysistrata. Aristophanes depicts Athenian and Spartan women joining together to stop the war by withholding sex from their husbands. The identity of ancient women centered on their physical bodies. Their power over the opposite sex, their position in society, and their role as mothers and wives centered on their sexuality and fertility. The refusal to stay within the standard female roles led to death. Through the story of Thecla (first to second century CE) in “Acts of Paul and Thecla,” the requirement and social obligation of marriage for women in the Roman Empire becomes evident. While betrothed, she converted to Christianity and began following the apostle Paul. In the Pauline fashion, she pledged to remain unmarried and celibate. For violating her father’s marital arrangement and neglecting to yield to social norms, the community, led by her father and former fiancé, attempted to brutally and publicly execute her. Legally, Roman and Greek marriages required consent. In this case, she could “consent” or die. The final aspect of the daily lives of women, prostitution in the classical world, deserves attention. Prostitution pervaded in ancient Greece and Rome. Every major urban center had a brothel, and trains of prostitutes followed military outposts and campaign campsites. Unlike sacred temple prostitutes of ancient Babylon, the occupation of prostitution lacked nobility or religious dedication in the Greco-Roman world. Women and mature girls who served as prostitutes came from poverty or slavery. Without reliable forms of birth control, pregnancy resulted. Near Roman brothel sites, archaeologists find caches of exposed infant skeletons. The author Plutarch (second century CE) describes a particularly famous Athenian prostitute, Aspasia, from the fourth century BCE, who ran a brothel that serviced Socrates and his pupils. Plutarch suggests her influence led General Pericles to start the Peloponnesian War. Some prostitutes had the unique ability to live outside of a paterfamilias domain. They could live and act independently but in shame and disrespect. Kristan Ewin Foust See also: Ancient Religions: Athena; Egyptian Religion; Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions; Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions; Christianity: Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Widowhood; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Engels, Donald. “The Problem of Female Infanticide in the Greco-Roman World.” Classical Philology 75, no. 2 (1980): 112–20.

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Evans, John K. War, Women and Children in Ancient Rome. New York: Routledge, 2014. Fantham, Elaine, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen, Sarah B. Pomeroy, and H. A. Shapiro. Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1975.

HOMOSEXUALITY Female homosexuality and homoeroticism in ancient Greco-Roman contexts is a topic that is often overlooked by both scholars and students of religion. Neglect of such a deeply intimate subject may be, in part, due to men’s lack of interest in female-female interactions—both in the ancient and modern worlds. Broadly speaking, women’s experience and the ordinary lives of women were virtually invisible to elite Greco-Roman men, whose primary interests lay rather in public, political, and military spaces. Because of both the conscious and unconscious ignorance of Greco-Roman authors concerning female homosexuality, only fragmented representations, and some satirical stereotypes used to discredit such relations, survive. Some of our sources for information about female homosexual interactions come from the Lesbian (from the island of Lesbos) poet Sappho, medical texts of Hippocrates, Plato’s Symposium, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the satirical authors Martial and Juvenal. Although one might use the term lesbian to describe female homoeroticism, this word has a complicated history that potentially makes it anachronistic for the Greco-Roman world. The term lesbian was used by 19th-century sexologists to categorize female-female love as a pathological disease; on the other hand, the ancient use of lesbian referred to the island of Lesbos or to fellatio. Although the term is often used in the Western world as part of the female homoerotic identity, it might be more accurate in this instance (although also more biased toward elite male authorial interests) to use the terms of ancient authors: tribas or frictrix, both words that designate the act of rubbing. Most studies of ancient female homoeroticism are instantly drawn to the paragon of female love: Sappho of Lesbos (ca. 612–557 BCE). Sappho is extolled by ancients and moderns as a timeless poet who expresses love and life in intimate ways. Fragments of her poems portray Sappho praying to Aphrodite for the return of a female lover, the comparison of Anactoria to Helen of Troy, and a potentially amorous rivalry with another woman. In a different literary genre, the physician Hippocrates (ca. 460–375 BCE) provides a biological explanation for female homoeroticism in On Regimen. In his view, all humans possess male and female seeds that determine one’s masculinity or femininity. Sex leads to a transfer of these seeds, which then “fight” with one another to become the dominant trait in the child. From this perspective, a female-loving female has an imbalance due to improper seeding at her conception. Both Martial and Juvenal (first century CE) record stereotyped portrayals of homoerotic women as hypersexual and dangerous to Roman society––both sexually and morally depraved.



Hypatia (ca. 351–ca. 415 CE)

Two important deductions from these primary sources should be noted here. First, scholars such as Wayne Dynes have recognized that Roman authors who discuss female homoeroticism often try to “explain it away” as something Greek or “other” to Roman culture. Second, these elite male authors can also be accused of phallocentricity––that is, an overt emphasis on the phallus. Ancient male authors endeavored to describe and satirize female-female love within a male paradigm in which there was often an attempt to mirror male-male and male-female love. Chance Bonar See also: Ancient Religions: Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of; Sappho; Christianity: Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity; Marriage and Divorce Further Reading Augustine. Letter 211. Translated by Sr. Wilfrid Parsons. In Fathers of the Church. Vol. 32: 50. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1956. Brooten, Bernadette. Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Brown, Judith C. Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. Dynes, Wayne R., and Stephen Donaldson. Homosexuality in the Ancient World. New York: Garland, 1992. Matter, Ann. “Discourses of Desire: Sexuality and Christian Women’s Visionary Narratives.” Journal of Homosexuality 18 (1989/1990): 119–31. Murray, Jacqueline. “Twice Marginal and Twice Invisible: Lesbians in the Middle Ages.” In Handbook for Medieval Sexuality, edited by Vern Bullough and James A. Brundage, 191–222. New York: Garland, 1996.

H Y PAT I A ( C A . 3 5 1 – C A . 4 1 5 C E ) Hypatia was a mathematician, philosopher, and leading intellectual who was regarded as one of the greatest teachers of her time. Highly unusual for a woman, she was appointed head of Alexandria’s Platonic academy, where she specialized in Neoplatonist philosophy. Drawing on Plotinus (204–270 CE), Neoplatonists reconciled polytheism with monotheism by arguing that deities of different cultures and historical periods were different aspects of the Divine One. Hypatia’s students included future leaders of the Christian church, such as Bishop Synesius of Cyrene (ca. 373–414), some of whose correspondence to Hypatia has survived. Estimates of Hypatia’s birth date vary from 351 to 370 CE. Her father, Theon Alexandricus (ca. 335–405), was a famous mathematician and astronomer. Nothing is known about her mother. Hypatia’s family were Greeks resident in Alexandria on the coast of northern Egypt. Alexandria was founded around 330 BCE, following the Greek conquest of Egypt, and became an international trading port. It took over from Athens as the leading intellectual center of the Mediterranean, attracting important scholars, such as the mathematician Euclid.

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Theon gave his daughter an excellent education in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy, something rare for women. Like other intellectuals of the time, Theon was concerned about preserving Greek scholarship in a period when Christians were destroying manuscripts perceived as “Pagan.” Hypatia continued this work. Few of her writings have survived, but she is thought to have worked on editions of important texts, including Ptolemy’s Almagest and Astronomical Canon, Diophantus’s Arithmetica, and Apollonius of Perga’s Conics. She was an expert in the design of scientific instruments, including a hydrometer for measuring the relative density of liquids and an astrolabe for calculating the position of the sun and stars. The main contemporary source for Hypatia’s life is Ecclesiastical History (ca. 415 CE) by Socrates Scholasticus (Socrates of Constantinople; ca. 380–439). He records the respect in which Hypatia was held. Her dignity and virtue were widely admired, and she was at ease in the company of powerful men. She was thought not to have married, finding more freedom in her single, celibate status. Life in Alexandria was becoming dangerous, however, even for powerful people such as Hypatia. Alexandria had been annexed by the Roman Empire in 80 BCE, but the empire was in decline, and political turmoil was common. Alexandria was a volatile city with a multicultural population of Europeans, Africans, Arabs, and Asians as well as competing faith communities, including Pagans, Jews, Gnostics, and various branches of Christianity. After 380, when Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, tolerance of other faiths declined. The situation was exacerbated by the appointment in 412 of a new archbishop, Cyril, later canonized as Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Cyril inflamed religious tensions and came into conflict with Orestes, the imperial governor. In 415, Hypatia was accused of siding with Orestes in the dispute. She was set upon in the street by a Christian mob, who dragged her to Cyril’s headquarters at the Cesareum. Here she was stripped naked and her flesh torn from her bones until she died. Her body was burned. In recent centuries, Hypatia’s tragic death has captured the imagination of religious and political reformers. She has been celebrated successively as a heroine of rationalism, Protestantism, feminism, and Paganism. Vivianne Crowley See also: Ancient Religions: Egyptian Religion; Paganism: Paganism Further Reading Deakin, Michael. Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr. Amherst, MA: Prometheus Books, 2007. Dzielska, Maria. Hypatia of Alexandria. Translated by F. Lyra. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. Zenos, Andrew Constantinides. Of Hypatia the Female Philosopher. Vol. 2: Socrates Scholasticus. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series II, chap. 15. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Translated by Andrew Constantinides Zenos. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature, 1890.



Inanna

INANNA The Mesopotamian Goddess Inanna may have derived from the all-powerful Great Mother Goddess of prehistoric times. In Sumer, before the Bronze Age collapse (1200 BCE), she was often the highest-ranked deity. Known as Sumer’s Mother Goddess and War Goddess, she was born from a volcano and symbolized the liminal barriers between life and death, earth and underworld. As patriarchy became normative, many of Inanna’s powers and attributes declined, especially with the rise of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires and the introduction of the worship of Ashur and Marduk. Of interest are Inanna’s iconography, the syncretization of her worship, her influence in women’s daily lives, ritual sacrifices to her, her mythology, and her most important ceremonies—the Sacred Marriage and the Great Wailing. Canaanite cultures called her Asherah, Ashtart, and Astarte; she was Tanit in Carthage, Eshtar and Ishtar in Akkadian and Babylonian, Baalat-Gebal in Byblos, Turan in Eturia, and Aforodita and Aphrodite in Cyprus and Greece. Epitaphs of Inanna include Queen of Heaven and Earth, Silver Inanna, Giver of Life, Wielder of Death, Earth Mother, and Lady of the Largest Heart. Symbols such as sacred trees, childbirth, snakes, sprouts, Asherah poles, date palms, sacred triangles, cones, sparrows, and vulvas represent her power over birth, death, and regeneration. Owls, the crescent moon, horns, leopards, lions, dragons, cows, the morning and evening star (Venus), and storms are also associated with her. The poet and priestess Enheduanna (23rd century BCE) wrote hymns to honor Inanna’s power and strength. She glorified Inanna’s stance against Enlil’s rape attempt, depicting Inanna standing against the whole circle of high Gods. About a thousand years later (1500–1200 BCE), an Akkadian work, The Counsel of Wisdom, cautions against marrying a follower of Ishtar because she will take many husbands. One of the only occasions polyandry is mentioned in any ancient text, this comment apparently disparages the sexual freedom of Inanna’s priestesses or of women who worshipped her. King Gilgamesh disrespectfully tosses Inanna the masculine member of her sacred bull. Biblical judgments on women who worshiped in open-air temples “on every high mountain and under every green tree” (Deuteronomy 12:2; Isaiah 30:25, 57:5–7, 65:7; Jeremiah 2:20, 3:6–13, 17:2) most probably refer to widespread worship of Inanna’s counterpart Asherah in Israel and Judah. Through her high priestess, Inanna played the bride in one of the ancient Near East’s highest festivals, the Sacred Marriage, practiced from 3000 BCE through the Roman Empire. The original 10-day ceremony gathered all the city-states to Nippur. The festival celebrated Inanna’s marriage to her first husband, the shepherd-king Dumuzi (also called Tammuz, Atunis, Adonis, and Adoni). As the power of kings increased, Sumerian and Akkadian kings took the role of Inanna’s husband, entering into symbolic marriages with Inanna’s priestesses. The kings represented the high Gods of their respective pantheon—Enlil, Marduk, or Assur—who became known as Inanna’s husbands. Inanna’s priestess covered her body with precious gems, and the ritual spoke of the power of her sacred vulva. On the final day of the rite, the couple engaged in intercourse. The service included predictions for the

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coming year’s agricultural fertility. The sexual union of the king with the Goddess legitimated his power and ensured the fertility of the land and animals. Inanna’s marriage and fertility were linked to her other main ceremony, the Great Wailing. Inanna descends to the underworld seeking her lost husband, Dumuzi. Women of all ages participated in ceremonies mourning Dumuzi’s death. These rituals provided women with an opportunity to mourn their own losses as well. Women’s grieving rituals are found in many other cultures. For example, in the sixth century BCE, Israelite women mourned at the temple (Ezekiel 8:14). In mourning rituals, women sat on the ground chanting, played the lyre, hugged the ground in tears, and covered themselves in ashes. They stretched out their arms, cursed and pleaded with the Gods and Goddesses, pulled out their hair, beat their breasts, and lacerated their bodies. The sacred marriage and mourning rituals illustrate Inanna’s connection to birth, death, and rebirth. Kristan Ewin Foust See also: Ancient Religions: Mesopotamian Religion; Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon; Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia; Prehistoric Religions: Neolithic Female Figures; Spirituality: Spirituality and Gender in Social Context Further Reading Broekema, Henriette. Inanna, Lady of Heaven and Earth. History of a Sumerian Goddess. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Elikser B. V. Uitgeverij, 2014. Echlin, Kim, and Linda Wolfsgruber. Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2003. Ellis, Elsi Vassdal. Inanna: The Sacred Marriage Rite. Bellingham, WA: EVE, 1987. Harris, Rivkah. “Inanna-Ishtar as Paradox and a Coincidence of Opposites.” History of Religions 30, no. 3 (1991): 261–78. Marcovich, Miroslav. “From Ishtar to Aphrodite.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 30, no. 2 (1996): 43–59. Wolkstein, Diane, and Samuel Noah Kramer. 1983. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper and Row.

MARRIAGE, ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN RELIGIONS Matron expectations varied across Greco-Roman cultures, but general themes exist, such as domestic roles and reproduction. This article details the role of women in marriage and outlines diversity across the Spartans, Athenians, and Romans. Monogamy predominated Greco-Roman marital ideology; however, extramarital and homosexual encounters occurred. Slaves, adolescent boys, prostitutes, and concubines serviced both sexes of the wedded population. The ancient cultures required women to marry, with the exception of virginal priestesses who held perpetual fecundity. With such potential procreative power, virgin priestesses led ceremonies and ritual holidays to invoke fertility of people, flocks, and crops. The paterfamilias used women as transferable economic property. In the case of divorce, children followed their father, while the dowry, which



Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions

the wife brought to the arrangement, followed the wife. Without a dowry, women became concubines, prostitutes, or slaves. Wives remained at home to manage household duties, including weaving and managing assets, slaves, and children, as men spent several months a year in battle. Roman and Spartan wives owned property, contracted loans, and backed investments—liberties Athenian women lacked. Spartan wives expressed more autonomy than their Athenian and Roman counterparts. They practiced public nude gymnastics, while Athenian women wore veils and remained within their quadrant of the house. Religion directed the success or failure of the military. Spartan mothers (800s–192 BCE) played an essential role in the military, as they believed strong women produced strong sons. Spartan women married between age 18 and 20 and Athenian and Roman brides between age 12 and 16. Spartan males lived in a military community apart from their family beginning at age 7. At age 20, males, still in the military commune, gained the right to marry. Though allowed to marry, they could not live with or see their wives, except at night, until they became full citizens at 30 years old. In Roman and Athenian weddings, women wore veils. Spartan bridesmaids, however, took the bride to a dark room, shaved her head, and dressed her in male clothing. She waited for the groom to sneak into the room. He seized her, sexually sealing the marriage. For the next decade, until the groom became a full citizen, the couple only met nocturnally in secret. The Spartans considered the structure religiously crucial for military victory. On the contrary, Athenians held a three-day public marriage spectacle. The bride-to-be dedicated her childhood doll to Aphrodite, signifying her transition from maiden to matron. After a ritual bath, and dedication of the bathwater to the deities, the bride followed a dancing procession through the city. The ceremony began with animal sacrifices. Symbolizing her cessation of virginity, the bride’s hair was cut and sacrificially offered. The bride lifted her veil and glanced at the groom, sealing the groom and father’s contract. She served as the transactional good. Unlike in Imperial Roman law (first century BCE to fifth century CE), Athenian marriages omitted the requirement of bridal consent. After the glance, the bride and groom consummated the marriage. Some Athenian women continued to live with their parents through the marriage. Female silence and seclusion guidelines pervaded the Athenian domestic sphere more than their counterparts in other Greco-Roman cultures. In the Roman world, matrimonial ceremonies varied. The Romans perceived women as sexually promiscuous. Though desired, no one expected female fidelity. By simply acting as a married couple and professing marriage publicly, a Roman couple became married. Another Roman method for matrimony occurred through the manus, or binding of hands together. The manus ceremony released numina or indigitamenta (spiritual forces) who enforced the union. Sometimes the bride and groom consumed bread and sacrificed cakes to the Gods and Goddesses. The husband carried his new bride over the threshold as she first entered his home to introduce the household divinities to her, thus preventing the ancestral spirits from evicting her.

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According to myth, the Romans acquired their first brides through military conquest in the eighth century BCE. Romulus kidnapped Sabine women who acquiesced as wives. In honor of the Sabine submission, Roman men parted the bride’s hair with a spear in the marriage ceremony. Placing the spear on the head mystically bound the bride to submit to her husband. Traditionally, and later by law, the marriage required formal consent by the Roman bride. However, not consenting to the father’s arrangement often resulted in a public punishment or even a death spectacle for the daughter, as seen in Thecla’s refusal to marry after converting to Christianity (second to third century CE). Though objectified and coerced into marriage, counter examples of wives in happy marriages exist. On a Roman gravestone, a man praised his deceased wife’s attributes, behavior, and fidelity. Kristan Ewin Foust See also: Ancient Religions: Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of Further Reading Dixon, Suzanne. Reading Roman Women: Sources, Genres, and Real Life. London: Duckworth, 2001. Hubbard, Thomas K. A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities. Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2014. Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Women’s Life in Greece and Rome: A Source Book in Translation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women’s History and Ancient History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

M E S O P O TA M I A N R E L I G I O N In ancient Mesopotamia, religion was closely connected to the household, whether that was a palace, a temple, a farmhouse, or a smaller household. The deities were treated as royalty, and in the large temples, they were given good food and amusement. Since the women were in charge of the household, they had a central position in the rituals. Further, it was quite common that the daughters or other female relatives of kings and the upper classes were installed as priestesses in temples. Their role was to pray for their fathers and their family. Since most of the written sources from ancient Mesopotamia regarding women and religion come from the court and the upper classes, this entry will primarily deal with women from those classes. The so-called Royal Cemetery of Ur gives us some information of women in the period of archaic Ur (ca. 2700–2600 BCE). This period belongs to the end of the protohistorical time of ancient Mesopotamia that runs from the invention of rudimentary script for accounting (ca. 3200 BCE) to the Early Dynastic IIIb period (ca. 2450–2350 BCE) when we get historical information from the sources. The royal cemetery contained 17 intact royal graves, understood as such because of the lavish grave goods. Two persons with cylinder seals with the inscription queen were found as well as cylinder seal inscriptions referring to two persons who were kings. Besides the lavish grave gifts, there were also attendants who had probably been executed to follow their king and queen to the grave. The queen called



Mesopotamian Religion

Women in ancient Mesopotamia, especially daughters of kings and the upper class, conducted religious rites. This votive plaque, ca. 2500 BCE, shows the daughter of King Urnanše of Lagaš in a position of prominence over her four brothers—first in the row and taller than her siblings (top row). (DEA/G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images)

Puabi was adorned with more jewelry than any of the other buried royalty. Her retinue consisted of 23 attendants, whereas King Mesanepada and King Meskalamdu were accompanied by 74 and 63 attendants, respectively. In general, most of the buried attendants were women. The queen called Ninbanda was followed to her grave by four attendants. Both Ninbanda and Puabi were solely called queens, without any reference to a husband, whereas Ašusikildigˆira was referred to as the wife of Akalamdu, King of Ur. Because of the rich grave gifts and the sacrifice of human attendants, it has been discussed whether the kings and queens of the Royal Cemetery of Ur were comprehended as either divine or semidivine. Regardless, when these kings and queens were buried, they were treated in a highly ritualized way. Urnanše is the founder of the Lagaš dynasty of the Early Dynastic IIIb period. We have a votive plaque from his reign that depicts him accompanied by his children, all with piously clasped hands. Urnanše had eight or nine sons and one daughter. In the upper register of the plaque, the king himself is seen, facing five of his children. His daughter had a prominent position among her siblings, as she is shown coming first in the row and being taller than her four brothers.

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Most of the written sources from the Early Dynastic IIIb period come from the queen’s household in the city-state of Lagaš. The majority of the sources from the queen’s household date to the seventh, eighth, and ninth kings—Enentarzi, Lugalanda, and Uru’inimgina—who were the last kings of the dynasty. Under Enentarzi and Lugalanda’s queens, Dimtur and Baranamtara, the queen’s household was called é munus (or é mí), “the house of the woman.” The queen administered both her own estate and the é Bau, the temple of the Goddess Bau. Bau was the wife of Ningirsu, the main male deity of the city-state. Under King Uru’inimgina and Queen Šaša, the é munus changed name to é Bau, and the queen was removed from the supervision of the estate. However, after one year, the previous order was reintroduced, and Queen Šaša is seen in the sources as supervisor again. We know that both Baranamtara and Šaša were active in religious festivals, bringing offerings both to deities and to the dead. Also, high officials and other staff of the palace and the queen’s estate/the temple of Bau participated at banquets arranged by the queens. During the banquets, the king and the queen offered food for both deities and the human participants. One of the most important women of the Sargonic period (ca. 2350–2150 BCE) is Enheduana, en-priestess of the Moon God Nanna in Ur. She was daughter of ˘ King Sargon, the founder of the Sargonic, Akkadian dynasty. Enheduana is the ˘ first textually attested en-priestess and the first named poet in history (Westenholz 1989). Several literary texts are attributed to her. As en-priestess, she was seen as Ningal, the wife of the Moon God. Because of ritual purity, she had to live her whole life in the temple enclosure. As an earthly representative of Nanna’s wife Ningal, she probably prepared his food and also prayed to him as well as carried out purification rituals in the temple. After Enheduana, there was a long tradition ˘ of the kings installing their daughters as en-priestesses of Nanna in Ur. After the Sargonic (Old Akkadian) period, southern Mesopotamia saw a revival of Sumerian kingship under King Gudea (ca. 2141–2122 BCE) and under the slightly later Ur III kings (ca. 2112–2004 BCE). During the Ur III period, the queen did not own large estates. However, she continued to administer lands and cattle of the state and temples, and she distributed sacrificial animals to the temples. For queens as well as other women, there was a close relationship between household, economy, and religion. An important religious task of the women was to pray for the life of their husband and children. For example, Gudea’s wife Ninalla dedicated a bowl to the Goddess Bau for the life of her husband and for her own life. When we come to the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000–1600 BCE), women’s task to pray for their family, and above all for their father, was systematized in the institution of the nadıˉtu-priestesses. These priestesses usually lived unmarried and in celibacy in a convent area. The nadıˉtu-priestesses came from the elite of the society. One renowned nadıˉtu-priestess is Eristi-Aya, the daughter of the king of Mari, a West Semitic kingdom in the northwestern fringes of Mesopotamia. Eristi-Aya wrote letters to her parents, and among other things she told them that she constantly prayed for her father in the temple (Stol 2016). Other priestesses during the Old Babylonian period were the qadištu, the ištarıˉtu, and the kulmašıˉtu.



Mesopotamian Religion

The textual evidence for the period 1600–900 BCE is sparse; therefore, we will turn to the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods. In the Neo-Assyrian Empire (744–627 BCE), after the crown prince had become king, the relationship between the king and his mother became important in the royal ideology. One example of their close relationship is the inscription on the Queen Mother Sammu-ramat’s boundary stone, where she describes how she and her son Adad-nerari crossed the Euphrates to wage war against an enemy king (Macgregor 2012). Sammu-ramat does not partake in the war, but she and her son erect the boundary stone together after the victory. Under the two last kings of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Esarhaddon and Aššurbanipal, prophecy became a central technique to get information about the future and about the Divine will. The female prophets are more frequent than the male ones in the sources, and this is also the most common type of female religious practitioner during this period. The queen mother used prophets for getting information in difficult times, but most of the prophecies were given to the king. In the Neo-Assyrian society, women like the entu, the šeˉlûtu, the ištarıˉtu, and the qadištu were related to temples. The šeˉlûtu was a votary girl given to the temple. The ištarıˉtu was dedicated to the Goddess Ishtar, but nothing is known of her rites. The qadištu is attested from the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000 BCE) and down to the last century of the Mesopotamian culture (sixth century BCE). She is found in ritual instructions, incantations, and letters. The meaning of the Akkadian word qadištu is “the consecrated one.” In Akkadian, the en-priestess was called entu-priestess. The latest attestation of an entu-priestess dates to the reign of King Nabonidus (556–539 BCE), who was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian period. Therese Rodin See also: Ancient Religions: Inanna; Ninhursagˆa Mother Goddess; Ninlil; Writers ˘ and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia; Judaism: Goddesses; Lilith; Prehistoric Religions: Neolithic Female Figures Further Reading Baadsgaard, Aubrey, Janet Monge, and Richard L. Zettler. “Bludgeoned, Burned, and Beautified: Reevaluating Mortuary Practices in the Royal Cemetery of Ur.” In Sacred Killing: The Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East, edited by Anne Porter and Glenn M. Schwartz, 125–58. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2012. Macgregor, Sherry Lou. Beyond Hearth and Home: Women in the Public Sphere in Neo-Assyrian Society. State Archives of Assyria Studies XXI. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2012. Stol, Marten. Women in the Ancient Near East. Boston: de Gruyter, 2016. Westenholz, Joan Goodnick. “Enheduanna, En-Priestess, Hen of Nanna, Spouse of Nanna.” Dumu-e2-dub-ba-a: Studies in Honor of Åke W. Sjöberg, edited by Hermann Behrens, Darlene T. Loding, and Martha T. Roth, 539–56. Philadelphia: University Museum, 1989.

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ˆA MOTHER GODDESS N I N HU R S A G ˘ Ninhursagˆa was the Mother Goddess of the Sumerian state pantheon in third mil˘ lennium BCE Mesopotamia. As such, she belonged to the top four Deities—An (King), Enlil (King), Ninhursagˆa (Mother Goddess), and Enki (Lord)—each of ˘ whom had an area of his or her own to preside over in the cosmos. An presided over heaven, Enlil over the cultural and political space, Ninhursagˆa over the earth ˘ and mountains and their creatures, and Enki over the subterranean waters. However, this was a result of an effort to coordinate different traditions into one; originally, Ninhursagˆa was also related to heaven and the netherworld. Further, there ˘ were also local Mother Goddesses in each village and city. The Mother Goddess had several names. In Sumerian, besides the name Ninhursagˆa, “Lady of the Mountain Ranges,” among others she was called Nintu, “Lady ˘ Birth” and Ninmah “High Lady,” which might originally have been epithets. A fur˘ ther name was Aruru, which is found both in Sumerian and Akkadian sources. In Akkadian sources, she was also commonly called Beˉlet-ilıˉ, “Mistress of All the Gods” (Asher-Greve and Westenholz 2013, 90). Ninhursagˆa was important primarily during the third millennium, and she is ˘ found in the oldest literary texts as well as in other early texts. Perhaps because her cities became unimportant and/or were abandoned in the early second millennium, her worship is hardly attested at all from that time. This process can also be seen in the literary sources, where she was moved from the third to the fourth place among the highest deities. Initially, the highest deities were enumerated in the order of An—Enlil—Ninhursagˆa—Enki, but in the early second millennium ˘ Ninhursagˆa and Enki change places. ˘ Even though her worship more or less disappeared during the early second millennium, we have a lot of literary attestations of her from that date, since Sumerian literary texts were written down and copied in the schools. There are two myths from the early second millennium where she is one of the two main protagonists: “Enki and Ninhursagˆa” and “Enki and Ninmah” (see Rodin 2014). There is also a ˘ ˘ hymn to her from that period, and she appears in other literary texts (e.g., Rodin 2014, 98). The Mother Goddess is further found in the Akkadian Atrahasis myth ˘ under her names Beˉlet-ilıˉ, Nintu, and Mami, and in the Gilgamesh epic under her names Beˉlet-ilıˉ, Aruru, and Mammıˉtum (Rodin 2014, 172f, 253). The general role of Ninhursagˆa as Mother Goddess is seen in epithets like ˘ “Mother of All Children” and “Mother of the Gods.” She is found in the sources as Divine Birth-Giver, Midwife, and Wet Nurse and often in relationship to kings. Like other Goddesses, Ninhursagˆa is connected to laments. Laments were used ˘ in cases of destruction and death, and Ninhursagˆa laments the death of King ˘ Ur-Namma (ca. 2112–2095 BCE) (Rodin 2014, 103), and in the guise of a cow she laments the loss of her calf. Since Ninhursagˆa occurs in laments, we can infer ˘ that these were part of her religion. Just as the Mother Goddess is a source of life, she is also a source of destruction. She was thought to destroy her creatures, humans, and animals (e.g., by withholding food, the produce of the land). In spite of this, the Mother Goddess was



Ninlil

thought of as a compassionate mother, and she never completely left her creatures. Further, Ninhursagˆa had several traits that are present in Healing Goddesses as ˘ well, and in the myth “Enki and Ninhursagˆa,” she heals Enki and saves him from ˘ death. The sources have their limitations regarding information about worship of the Gods and Goddesses. We know that they were worshipped in temples and that they were treated as royalty and given food and entertainment. One ritual was the sacrifice of animals, which were then eaten. A common practice was to install a statue of a deity in the temple for one’s own life or for the life of one’s family. A few statues installed for Ninhursagˆa are extant. Only the royalty and the elite had the ˘ means to install statues. Ninhursagˆa is further mentioned in two birth incantations, one from the Ur III ˘ period (ca. 2112–2004 BCE) and the other from the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000–1600 BCE) (Rodin 2014, 103). Although the male deities Enki and Asalluhi ˘ are more commonly attested in birth incantations, the two incantations suggest that the religious practitioner who helped women in childbirth could turn to Ninhursagˆa for help as well. ˘ Therese Rodin See also: Ancient Religions: Inanna; Mesopotamian Religion; Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia; Prehistoric Religions: Neolithic Female Figures; Spirituality: Spirituality and Gender in Social Context Further Reading Asher-Greve, Julia M., and Joan Goodnick Westenholz. Goddesses in Context: On Divine Powers, Roles, Relationships and Gender in Mesopotamian Textual and Visual Sources. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 259. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2013. Rodin, Therese. The World of the Sumerian Mother Goddess: An Interpretation of Her Myths. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Historia Religionum 35. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2014. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228932.

NINLIL The Goddess Ninlil was one of the most important Goddesses in the Mesopotamian pantheon beside the Mother Goddess Ninhursagˆa and the love and war ˘ Goddess Inanna/Ishtar. She is attested throughout the cuneiform period, from the Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2600–2450 BCE) to the end of the Neo-Babylonian period (ca. 900–539 BCE) (Beaulieu 2003, 274). Ninlil is her Sumerian name; she was called Mulliltu in the Old Babylonian Akkadian dialect and Mullissu in the Neo-Assyrian Akkadian dialect. Ninlil was married to Enlil, the king of the pantheon until the end of the Old Babylonian period (ca. 1600 BCE), thus making her queen. In the Neo-Assyrian period (934–610 BCE) the God Aššur was king, and Ninlil under her name Mullissu was his wife and queen. Besides being queen, Ninlil also represented motherhood just like Ninhursagˆa. Whereas the Goddesses Ninhursagˆa and Inanna/ ˘ ˘

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Ishtar often acted on their own, without a male partner, an important role of Ninlil was to be her husband’s wife. Unlike the two other Goddesses, Ninlil acts in a world view where marriage is important for the Goddess’s identity. Ninlil had several children, of whom all were sons. The most renowned of the sons is perhaps Ninurta, who in some traditions was seen as the son of Ninhursagˆa. ˘ Ninurta is the hero of the pantheon and he wages war against the enemy countries for his father, King Enlil. With Enlil, Ninlil also had the sons Su’en (-Ašimbabbar), Nergal (-Meslamta’ea), Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Furthermore, in a fragmentary myth, it is said that Ninlil bore the God Išum to the Sun God Šamaš before she was married (George 2015, 2). Most of the Sumerian literary texts were written down in Mesopotamian schools in the early second millennium BCE. Among these texts there are two myths in which Ninlil is one of the main protagonists. These two myths are called “Enlil and Ninlil” and “Enlil and Sud” (see Asher-Greve and Westenholz 2013, 145ff.). We also have a hymn that is dedicated to Ninlil (Asher-Greve and Westenholz 2013, 146). Besides that, she occurs in other texts, but is not central in the narrative. In the myth “Enlil and Ninlil” the young girl Ninlil is advised by her mother not to go along the river, because then Enlil will see her and want to have sex with her. Ninlil nevertheless goes to the river and is raped by Enlil. Now the Moon God Su’en grows in Ninlil’s womb. Because of the rape, Enlil is condemned by the 50 Gods as well as the seven Gods who decree destinies to leave the city of Nippur, his and Ninlil’s hometown. When Enlil leaves the city, Ninlil follows him. Each time she catches up to him he has sex with her and each time a new deity is created. The Gods Su’en, Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu are the result of all the intercourse. In “Enlil and Sud,” the other myth in which Ninlil has a central role, Enlil comes to the city Ereš where the young woman Sud lives. He sees her and says that he wants to marry her. Sud seems to be offended and goes in to her house. Enlil then sends one of his ministers to Sud’s mother to ask for her daughter’s hand. Sud’s mother agrees, and Sud and Enlil marry. After the wedding Enlil gives Sud the name Ninlil. In the hymn to Ninlil the Goddess is praised as having lots of divine powers and being equal to her husband, Enlil. The focus is on her power and majesty. Therese Rodin See also: Ancient Religions: Inanna; Mesopotamian Religion; Ninhursagˆa Mother ˘ Goddess; Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia Further Reading Asher-Greve, Julia M., and Joan Goodnick Westenholz. Goddesses in Context: On Divine Powers, Roles, Relationships and Gender in Mesopotamian Textual and Visual Sources. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 259. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013. Beaulieu, Paul-Alain. The Pantheon of Uruk during the Neo-Babylonian Period. Cuneiform Monographs 23. Leiden, Netherlands, Boston: Brill and Styx, 2003. George, A. R. “The Gods Išum and Hendursanga: Night Watchmen and Street-lighting in ˘ Babylonia.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 74 (2015): 1–8.



Pre-Greek Goddesses in the Greek Pantheon

Rodin, Therese. The World of the Sumerian Mother Goddess: An Interpretation of Her Myths. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Historia Religionum 35. Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2014. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228932

PRE-GREEK GODDESSES IN THE GREEK PA N T H E O N Scholars of Indo-European culture and mythology have always wondered why there are so many female divinities in the Greek pantheon when one would expect male deities to dominate. The presence of Goddesses in ancient Greek society finds a simple explanation in the fact that most of them are of pre-Greek origin, and this is true for their names as well as for their ritual practices. The heritage of the pre-Greek Goddesses is anchored in Old Europe (see the entry “Gimbutas, Marija (1921–1994) and the Religions of Old Europe”). Over time, the all-embracing figure of the Old European Goddess transformed into many different divine personalities, distinguished according to their functions. For the ancient Aegean cultures of the Bronze Age, the presence of a major female deity—perhaps presiding over a pantheon of male deities—can be reconstructed. The pre-Indo-European Goddess Religion continues in ancient Crete with its Minoan civilization that flourished in the second millennium BCE. Scholars’ opinions are divided over whether there was one mighty female Divinity or a pantheon of male and female Divinities. Even if Minoan Religion knew various Divinities, the prominence of Female Deities among them remains striking. “That a powerful goddess of nature was the chief deity of the Minoans . . . has never been seriously questioned” (Marinatos 1993, 147). A heritage of female power is reflected in Goddess worship in classical antiquity, where the Old European Goddess has proliferated into a kaleidoscope of individualized divinities that continue, each in her own sphere, to reproduce a religion with a mythical network involving pre-Greek terminology and specific aspects and qualities of the former Great Goddess. The domains of the Greek Goddesses ranged from the most private (i.e., Hestia) to the most public (i.e., the state religion of Athena). Their functions were specialized (i.e., Themis) as much as comprehensive (i.e., Artemis). Female Divinities were the protagonists at places that were of great significance for the formation of a sense of Greek unity (i.e., Hera at Olympia, Gaia at Delphi, and Demeter at Eleusis). The Goddess Athena (A-ta-na in Mycenaean Linear B texts of the 13th century BCE) was one of the most powerful of all Goddesses of the Greek pantheon. As Protectress, Athena watched over the safety of Athens and the well-being of its citizens. The Athenians were aware that the Goddess whom they venerated, Athena, had been worshipped long before their arrival. The sanctuary of Olympia is famous as the venue of the Olympic Games, and Zeus is often said to be its dominant divinity. However, Olympia’s early patroness, in fact, was Hera, the pre-Greek Earth Mother and Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth. The oldest temple at Olympia, the Heraion, is dedicated to Hera. The temple of Zeus was constructed later.

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Greek Goddesses with Roots in Prehistory The following Greek Goddesses represent an inheritance of the Divine Feminine from Neolithic Europe (ca. 6500–3500 BCE): • • • • • • • •

Gaia: Earth Goddess, worshipped at Delphi and other places Hera: Goddess of Fertility, Matrimony, and Childbirth; Patroness of Olympia Demeter: Grain Mother, Patroness of Agriculture Hestia: Guardian of Hearth and Household Artemis: Patroness of Nature and Wildlife Themis: Goddess of Customary Law and Righteousness Dike: Goddess of Justice Athena: Patroness of Technologies, such as pottery, ship building, and weaving; Patroness of Justice, Arts, and Science

The Goddesses of ancient Greece have roots in Neolithic Europe, where, according to archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, the earliest agrarian societies were peaceful, highly creative, egalitarian, and female centered in social structure and religious life. The presence of female deities in the Neolithic period is evidenced by a tremendous production of female imagery. These Goddesses are themselves deeply rooted in earlier prehistory. From the Pre-Paleolithic (9000–7000 BCE) and Upper Paleolithic (ca. 43000–9000 BCE), female figures have been found in much greater numbers than those of males. During this long stretch of prehistory, the feminine form was depicted often in eastern, western, and central Europe, in carvings, sculptures, and paintings on cave walls.

Hera’s role in the Greek pantheon of classical times may seem somewhat marginal, but this impression is misleading; “the Iliad nevertheless preserves traces which suggest that Hera had once been a truly powerful goddess, and of course her importance in worship continued to be very significant in later times” (Yasumura 2011, 57). There are sacred sites in the Greek world where Hera is featured in her own glory, not in the shadow of her husband, Zeus. One of those sanctuaries with a mighty temple dedicated to Hera is Paestum (Greek Poseidonia) in southern Italy (south of Salerno). Harald Haarmann See also: Ancient Religions: Athena; Delphic Oracle; Gaia; Gorgon Medusa; Prehistoric Religions: Crete, Religion and Culture; Gimbutas, Marija (1921–1994) and the Religions of Old Europe Further Reading Dexter, Miriam Robbins. “The Assimilation of Pre-Indo-European Goddesses into Indo-­ European Society.” Journal of Indo-European Studies 8, no. 1–2 (1980): 19–29. Haarmann, Harald. Roots of Ancient Greek Civilization: The Influence of Old Europe. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004.



Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece

Marinatos, Nanno. Minoan Religion. Ritual, Image, and Symbol. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. Yasumura, Noriko. Challenges to the Power of Zeus in Early Greek Poetry. London: Bristol Classical, 2011.

P R I E S T E S S E S A N D T H E I R S TA F F I N A N C I E N T GREECE Priestesses of public worship in ancient Greece were recruited from the ranks of aristocratic women. This was true for the office of the functionaries in the worship of the various Goddesses. For instance, the status of the high priestess of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in Athens, dedicated to Athena, was one of the highest prestige in Greek society. The highest office among some of the most prestigious religious rites of the Greek world was always held by women of influential aristocratic families. One of those families stands out because their women set a record for the history of priesthood in Athens and in all of Greece. Those were the Eteoboutadai, an aristocratic kin group (genos) that could claim to have a prestigious genealogy. Twenty-five women of the Eteoboutadai held the office of Priestess of Athena Polias, in an uninterrupted sequence, from the end of the sixth century BCE to the end of the second century CE. The most prestigious functionary at Delphi was a priestess, the Pythia, guardian of the oracle. The popularity of Delphi and the significance assigned by worshipers to its oracle show in antique sources, and there is ample literary documentation of the contents of particular oracular pronouncements. Famous writers of antiquity dedicated parts of their work to the description of sacred activities performed at Delphi. Those who are mentioned in the literary sources as visitors to Delphi are not only living people but also figures of Greek mythology. For instance, Delphi is in focus in Sophocles’s play Oedipus. Delphi’s fame reached far beyond the Greek world, and once all of Greece had been integrated into the Roman Empire, many Romans also visited Delphi. Among them was Cicero (106–43 BCE), the famous orator and writer who discussed the oracles of Delphi in his work On Divination. All great figures of Athenian history frequented the sanctuary of Delphi to consult the oracle. One stands out in the history of democracy; while exiled, Cleisthenes from Athens made inquiries at Delphi about what the future might hold for him. The Pythia pronounced an oracle encouraging him to remain steadfast and envisaged Cleisthenes’s successful return. Cleisthenes did return to Athens and carried out his reform work. In 507 BCE, he established the principle of democratic governance on the communal and state level. Communal festivities, accompanied by processions, played a central role for celebrating the spirit of community life in the Greek cities. Those processions were led by female protagonists, by priestesses, respected members of their community. “It was the priestess’s responsibility to carry the holy things in sacred processions, which gave visibility, not just to the instruments of worship, but also to the priestess herself” (Connelly 2007, 167).

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In addition to the offices of public worship that were held by female functionaries, women were engaged in the religion on various levels, including the maintenance of sanctuaries and public places of worship. Furthermore, women were engaged in the popular business of divination. In this domain, associated with ritual activities (i.e., the functioning of oracles) and religious beliefs, women acted alongside men on equal footing. Divination was an economic factor in its own right since it included the selling of oracles and communication concerning divine guidance. Harald Haarmann See also: Ancient Religions: Athena; Delphic Oracle; Sibyls; Spirituality: Divination Further Reading Connelly, Joan Breton. Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. Dillon, Matthew P. J. Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion. London: Routledge, 2002.

R E L I G I O U S L E A D E R S H I P, A N C I E N T R O M A N RELIGIONS In the city of Rome, women held leading priestly and nonpriestly roles in religious rites for over 700 years (evidence extant from the third century BCE to the fourth century CE). They worshipped male and female deities and led and maintained civic and noncivic religious activities and property, and many acted “in their own right on behalf of the Roman people” (Schultz 2006, 79). Women presided over sacrifices (e.g., of animals, libations, grains, fruits, cakes, and incense) and were highly integrated into public religious rites and annual feriae (festivals), particularly for those of Juno, Venus, Ceres, Mater Matuta, and Bona Dea. Contrary to long-standing beliefs, women were not confined to marginal roles in domestic, private, or female-centered religious rites. The women who led religious rites were from diverse social classes, ranging from the most elite, as defined by birth, wealth, and relationships (e.g., female relatives of senior magistrates and emperors), to the nonelite (e.g., freedwomen and slaves), and came from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Important criteria for the religious leadership of elite and nonelite women were “pristine reputation and marital or sexual status” (Schultz 2007, 107), criteria typically irrelevant or absent for their male counterparts, with some notable exceptions. The Greek historian Polybius’s account of Tertia Aemilia (d. ca. 163 BCE), an elite woman and female relative of senior magistrates, is an exemplary witness to female religious activity, especially as Polybius almost certainly knew her: Aemilia, for that was this woman’s name, used to display magnificent circumstances in the women’s processions, since she had shared in the life and luck of Scipio [Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus]. For apart from the decorations of her clothing and of her four-wheeled carriage, all the baskets, cups, and instruments for the sacrifice—some of silver, some of gold—were brought along on the splendid processions with her, and the crowd of female slaves and household slaves following along was correspondingly large. (Polyb. 31.26.3–5; above translation by L. Webb)



Religious Leadership, Ancient Roman Religions

Women were undeniably vital participants and leaders in the religious life of the city of Rome, as they were in other cities of the Roman Empire. Female priestly and nonpriestly roles “positioned them [women] right at the heart of civic community” (DiLuzio 2016, 118). Roman Republic (509–27 BCE)

Literary and epigraphic evidence indicate that women held leading priestly roles as virgo vestalis (vestal virgin), regina sacrorum (queen of the sacred rites), flaminica (she who burns, priestess), sacerdos (priestess), magistra (magistrate), and ministra (minister) for civic (e.g., Vesta, Juno, Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus, Fortuna Muliebris, Ceres, and Liber) and noncivic (e.g., Bacchus) worship during the Republic. The regina sacrorum and rex sacrorum (queen and king of the sacred rites) were a priestly couple appointed for life by the pontifex maximus (chief priest) and the pontifical college. The couple were from elite Roman families and were married in an elaborate confarreatio ceremony, involving the sharing of panis farreus (spelt cake) and witnessed by priestly families. The regina sacrorum presided over public animal sacrifices for Juno on kalendae (first days of months) and supported her husband in his religious duties. Similarly, the flaminica Dialis and flamen Dialis (priestess and priest of Jupiter) were another priestly couple appointed for life by the pontifex maximus, were married by confarreatio, and were from elite Roman families. The flaminica Dialis presided over public animal sacrifices for Jupiter on nundinae (market days) and over purification rites in February, held a prominent role in pompae (religious processions), and supported her husband in his daily religious duties. She and her husband were subject to elaborate religious restrictions (related to dress, bodies, diet, sleeping arrangements, transport, and to seeing or coming into contact with certain people or objects), and her death led to the dissolution of her husband’s appointment. Less is known about the flaminica Martialis (priestess of Mars) and the conjectural flaminica Quirinalis (priestess of Quirinus), although they presumably supported their husbands the flamen Martialis (priest of Mars) and flamen Quirinalis (priest of Quirinus) in a similar way. These joint priesthoods and priestly roles indicate that “priesthood itself was a fundamentally cooperative endeavor” (DiLuzio 2016, 10). An elite woman may have served as sacerdos Fortunae Muliebris (priestess of Fortuna Muliebris), presiding over ritual activities for Fortuna Muliebris, but evidence for this priesthood is scant. Greek women (with Roman citizenship) from elite families in southern Italy served as sacerdos Cereris publica (public priestess of Ceres), presiding over public sacrifices for Ceres and engaging in the annual festival for Ceres in April. These women were reportedly celibate during their tenure and may have been elderly or widowed. Elderly women of unknown status also served as sacerdos Liberi (priestess of Liber), distributing liba (sacrificial cakes) to worshippers during the annual festival for Liber in March. Nonelite women served as sacerdos Bacchi (priestess of Bacchus), presiding over private sacrifices for Bacchus, and others served as magistra and ministra Bacchi (magistrate and minister of Bacchus), administering religious activities and property. Little is known about the exact nature of these latter roles, and they were curtailed after the Bacchic

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scandal, when the Roman Senate suppressed the noncivic worship of Bacchus in Italy in 186 BCE. Elite women also held leading nonpriestly roles in spectacular pompae (e.g., for Juno and Magna Mater), marking out their marital, sexual, and social status before all the people of Rome, with some like Quinta Claudia (204 BCE) memorialized in statues and on the stage for doing so. Particularly prominent individuals like Sulpicia (ca. 215 BCE) were selected by other women to dedicate statues of divinities (e.g., of Venus). Others sung hymns to propitiate (regain the favor of) deities, like the 27 girls who sung a hymn composed by the poet Livius Andronicus to Juno (207 BCE), or dedicated religious objects, or like Publicia (ca. first century BCE) built and restored religious structures out of their own money (e.g., for Hercules). Wives of senior magistrates like Terentia (63 BCE) and Pompeia (62 BCE) hosted the December rites for Bona Dea at their own homes, while other women organized large-scale donations: elite women to Juno (217 and 207 BCE) and lower-status freedwomen to Feronia (217 BCE). Some elite women like Sulpicia (186 BCE) even counseled senior magistrates on serious religious matters, such as the Bacchic scandal. The breadth and scale of female religious leadership attest to widespread female networks and influence in the Republic. Western Roman Empire (27 BCE–476 CE)

Female priestly roles expanded during the Empire, with literary and epigraphic evidence indicating that women continued serving as virgo vestalis, regina sacrorum, flaminica, sacerdos, magistra, ministra, and in other capacities in preexisting civic (e.g., Vesta, Juno, Jupiter, Quirinus, Fortuna Muliebris, Ceres, Liber, Venus, Bona Dea, and Magna Mater) and noncivic (e.g., Bacchus) rites of worship, while also taking up roles as flaminica, sacerdos, and other capacities in new civic (e.g., Imperial) and noncivic (e.g., Isis) rites. Elite and nonelite women served as sacerdos Veneris (priestess of Venus), sacerdos Bonae Deae (priestess of Bona Dea), sacerdos Matris Deum Magnae Idaeae (priestess of Magna Mater), and sacerdos Isidis (priestess of Isis), presiding over public and private sacrifices for these Goddesses. Furthermore, nonelite women served as magistra and ministra Bonae Deae (magistrate and minister of Bona Dea), administering worship activities and property. A small number of imperial women (female relatives of emperors) held privileged priestly roles for deified emperors of the Imperial religion, acting as flaminica and sacerdos Divi Augusti (priestess of Divus Augustus) and as flaminica Divi Claudi (priestess of Divus Claudius). Several imperial women were themselves deified after death, like Empress Livia (58 BCE–29 CE), receiving worship of their own. Outside the city of Rome, these roles were even more extensive, with many women serving as priestesses of various religions, particularly the Imperial religion. Women continued their leading nonpriestly roles in public religious rites (e.g., in pompae and feriae), with some elite women holding central and public places in exceptional ceremonies like the ludi saeculares (secular games) of 17 BCE, when 110 married women held sellisternia (religious banquets) for Juno and Diana and



Sappho (ca. 630–ca. 570 BCE)

prayed to Juno on behalf of the people of Rome, and 27 girls sung a hymn composed by the poet Horace to the Deities. Many others dedicated statues and religious objects. Imperial women like Livia constructed, restored, and dedicated elaborate religious structures, like those for Divus Augustus, Bona Dea, Concordia, and Fortuna Muliebris. Female religious participation and leadership in the Empire was vibrant and omnipresent. Lewis Webb See also: Ancient Religions: Diana; Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of; Marriage, Ancient Greek and Roman Religions; Priestesses and Their Staff in Ancient Greece Further Reading DiLuzio, M. A Place at the Altar: Priestesses in Republican Rome. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016. Hemelrijk, E. Hidden Lives, Public Personae: Women and Civic Life in the Roman West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Hemelrijk, E. “Women and Sacrifice in the Roman Empire.” In Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire, edited by O. Hekster, S. Schmidt-Hofner, and Ch. Witschel, 253–67. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2009. Holland, L. “Women and Roman Religion.” In A Companion to Women in the Ancient World, edited by S. James and S. Dillon, 204–14. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Macrobius. Saturnalia. Vol. 2: Books 3–5. Translated by R. Kaster. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Polybius. The Histories. Vol. 6: Books 28–39. Fragments. Translated by W. Paton. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. Schultz, C. “Sanctissima femina: Social Categorization in Women’s Religious Experience in the Roman Republic.” In Finding Persephone: Women’s Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean, edited by M. Parca and A. Tzanetou, 137–68. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007. Schultz, C. Women’s Religious Activity in the Roman Republic. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

ROMAN WOMEN See Greek and Roman Women, Daily Lives of SAPPHO (CA. 630–CA. 570 BCE) Sappho was born on the island of Lesbos, four nautical miles from the coast of Asia Minor. Known as the greatest lyric poet of antiquity, her fame was equal to that of Homer, the greatest of the epic poets. Plato was said to have called her the “10th muse.” The library of Alexandria in the Hellenistic era collected her poetry in nine volumes, possibly 10,000 lines. It is estimated that up to 97 percent of her work has been lost. What we do have is gathered from quotations from Greek and Roman writers on the nature of poetry and from strips of papyri used to wrap

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mummies. Renaissance writers believed that Pope Gregory VII had her manuscripts burned in the 11th century. Little is known about Sappho’s life, as all extant biographies were written many centuries after her death. The poems mention a possible daughter named Cleis and two brothers. It is believed that she came from an aristocratic family and spent some time in exile in Sicily following a political conflict in Lesbos. While the first-person voice used in her writing cannot be assumed to be autobiographical, Sappho’s poems suggest that young women came from Asia Minor to learn from her. We know of several other female poets of her time, including Corinna of Boetia. Although Sappho is called a Sappho with a lyre and plectrum, accompanied by poet, she is equally a songwriter, Alcaeus, ca. 470 BCE. Sappho’s poems were typically set to music. Though most of her poetry has as her “lyrics” were meant to be been lost, what remains provides a unique look into sung to the accompaniment of ancient women’s spirituality. (Drawing by Valerie the seven-stringed lyre. Sappho’s Woelfel, courtesy of the Center for Hellenic Studies) lyrics have an intimate feeling created by her use of I and you and by her ability to capture a specific yet fleeting moment in time. Many of Sappho’s poems are addressed to Aphrodite and primarily female divinities; some of them are intended for use in weddings, others may have been used in rituals, and a large number describe the relationships of Sappho and the young women who studied with her, expressing women’s love for each other in terms we would call homoerotic. Still, it is believed that Sappho was married, and the poems suggest that though the young women longed for each other’s company after they parted, they returned to their homes to be married. Sappho may have created the Sapphic stanza and the ancient mixolydian musical mode, which is suitable for expressing emotions, including longing and loss. Sappho’s lyrics addressed to Goddesses, particularly Aphrodite, provide a unique opportunity to understand women’s spirituality in antiquity. Sappho calls Aphrodite to come “here to me from Krete to this holy temple / where is your graceful grove” in one of her most famous poems, and in another pleads, “I beg you / do not break with hard pains, / O lady, my heart.” Sappho’s Aphrodite is Goddess of Love and Beauty, and Sappho seems to either not know or not care about traditions of



Shamans in East Asia

Aphrodite’s subordination to Zeus on Mount Olympus or stories of her limping off the battlefield at Troy. In a complex poem addressed to Anactoria, a student or companion who may have gone back to Lydia to marry a soldier, Sappho states, “Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot / and some men say an army of ships is the most beautiful thing / on the black earth. But I say it is / what you love.” Sappho “proves” this point in a reinterpretation of the story of Helen. Knowing that Helen’s choice to leave her husband was condemned as the act that launched the Trojan War, Sappho states that Helen was right to follow her heart. She then compares Helen’s choice, Paris, to Anactoria, stating that, like Helen, she does not care about power but would rather see Anactoria’s “lovely step / and the motion of light on her face / than chariots of Lydians or ranks / of footsoldiers in arms.” In this poem, Sappho not only provides an alternative to the heroic tradition but also explicitly criticizes it, asserting that it is better to make love than war. Carol P. Christ See also: Ancient Religions: Homosexuality; Judaism: Goddesses; Prehistoric Religions: Crete, Religion and Culture Further Reading Sappho. If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Bilingual ed. Translated and edited by Anne Carson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. (Quotations from this translation.) Sappho: A New Translation. Translated by Mary Barnard. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958. Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works with an Introduction and Notes by André Lardinois. Translated by Diane J. Raynor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

SHAMANS IN EAST ASIA Female spiritual leadership is a very pronounced cultural pattern over most of East Asia. Women are especially prominent in the shamanic cultures, in contrast to state-backed priesthoods. The word shaman originates in the Tungusic languages of northeast Asia, among the Evenks and Manchu. It refers to a person who is able to access spiritual power through ecstatic ceremonies, after a calling and period of initiation, often marked by “spirit sickness.” The criterion for leadership is most often selection by spirits rather than possession of social rank. Many oral histories name a woman as the first shaman. The Puyuma of Taiwan credit a woman named Udekaw. The Jinuo of Yunnan say that it was two women, Mili Jide and Mupu Shaode. In the Baikal region of southern Siberia, the Buryat say that a shepherd girl was the first udgan. In Korea, Bari Gongju was the first mudang, while the oldest Japanese literature describes Ame-no-Uzume as the foundational mikogami. In the Siberian Arctic, a Chukchi proverb declares, “Woman is by nature a shaman” (Czaplica 1914, 243). Yet some scholars have slighted female spiritual leadership. Mircea Eliade believed that women shamans represented the degeneration of an originally masculine profession.

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Female shamans go back a very long way in northern Asia. The ancestors of the Chukchi engraved rock art of people crowned with the psychoactive mushroom Amanita muscaria on rocks along the Pegtymel River. Women are prominent in these petroglyphs, which are dated to 4000 to 3000 years ago. An old woman shaman was buried at Ekven, across the strait from Alaska, in the Old Bering Sea culture of 2,000 years ago. Among her ceremonial regalia was a magnificent wooden mask placed between her knees. In modern times, female shamans were active among the Evenk, Even, Manchu, and Numinchen (all Tungusic peoples using some form of the word shaman), the Ainu (tuskur), the Sakhá (utagan), and the Buryat and Mongolians (udgan). Many peoples from northern Asia used some variant of the udagan title for women, indicating its great age. An old Russian ethnographic photo shows Olga of the Evenk in full ceremonial regalia—shaman’s coat, knotted leather veil, “snake” streamers, amulet pendants, and medicine bag—holding a large frame drum. Siberians speak of the drum as a “horse” that conveys shamans across the worlds. Women predominated among the wu of ancient China. The archaic character for wu depicts shamans dancing around a pillar, waving their sleeves. Chinese writers describe the entranced wu receiving spirits into their bodies, healing and prophesying, speaking in tongues, swallowing swords, and spitting fire. In the third century BCE, the history classic Guoyu identifies wu as a female title. Several centuries later, the oldest Chinese dictionary, Shuowen Jiezi, underlines the word’s female signification, describing the wu as an invocator (zhu), “a woman who is able to render [herself] invisible, and with dance to invoke gods to come down” (Erickson 1994, 52). Chinese archaeology substantiates a strong pattern of female ceremonial leadership. Bronzes of the Warring States period (fourth century BCE) show women making offerings, playing drums on stands, striking gongs hung from the temple roof beams, and dancing among cranes. Some of them dance with raised staffs, others with bows and arrows. The wu are also depicted in the lacquer art of Chu and in a rare old silk painting showing a woman calling up a crane spirit—which hovers above her—and a dragon. The ancient Shan Hai Jing (fourth century BCE) describes the Goddess Xi Wangmu as a shaman in several places. She is a shapeshifter with tiger teeth and a leopard’s tail. She sits on Snake Wu mountain among spirit animals with a ceremonial headdress and staff. The Zhuangzi (fourth century BCE) casts her as an adept who realized the Tao: “Xi Wang Mu attained it and took her seat on Shao Guang mountain. No one knows her beginning and no one knows her end” (Feng 1974, 125). Tomb tiles and sculptures depict Xi Wangmu sitting on a tiger-and-dragon throne, surrounded by a host of shamanic spirits: the three-legged raven, ninetailed fox, dancing frog, and elixir-making hare. In Sichuan (100–200 CE), Xi Wangmu on her tiger-dragon throne is placed atop spirit trees whose stylized tiers of branches represent the planes of the world mountain, Kunlun, along which spirits and shamans travel. Other traditions connect the Goddess with shamanic initiation and cosmic journeys, especially on her festival of the Double Sevens, “the perfect night for divine meetings and ascents” (Cahill 1993, 167).



Shamans in East Asia

If the attributes of a shaman were ascribed to a goddess, some female mortals also came to be deified for their spiritual prowess. Chen Jinggu, born in Fuzhou in 767, was adept in rain making, spirit calling, and healing. She cured all kinds of diseases and injuries and was said to have founded a shamanic sisterhood who practiced the mystic arts of Mount Lü. Chen was later deified as the Lady of Linshui and venerated in a triad with her two sworn sisters. Temple statues, some from as early as the eighth century CE, depict her dancing with a noose and water buffalo horn, her ceremonial tools, or seated with a sword and snake. Japan

Haniwa figure of a shamaness, Japan, fifth–sixth century CE. Haniwa were ceramic statues placed in circles around tombs during the period 200–600 CE. (Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus, 79.278.1)

Around 712 CE, the oldest Japanese chronicle, the Kojiki, describes the strong and fierce Ame-no-Uzume as the first mikogami. Wreathed with sacred plants, she danced with her torimono staff, stamping her feet and chanting and playing a catalpa bow (itako) while all the spirits kept time with clappers. She had adorned a sakaki tree with streamers and mirrors. The round bronze mirror was sacred to Sun Goddess Amaterasu (whom the miko was enticing to emerge from a cave). The catalpa bow, mirror, bell, and sword figured in the ceremonies of historic mikogami, who are attested in archaeology. Miko are prominent among the haniwa, ceramic statues that were placed in circles around tombs in the period 200–600 CE. They wear headdresses, necklaces, and sashes—and often face paint. Some of them have a mirror hanging from their belt; others offer libation cups or make ritual gestures. Chinese sources also refer to the shaman-queen Himiko (ca. 170–248 CE) of Yamatai (which they called Wa). They describe Himiko as engaged in magic and sorcery in unflattering terms that reflected a growing prejudice against such women in China. As the Japanese borrowed Chinese characters to write their own language, they rendered mikogami as shen zi (spirit child). These women invoked spirits into ritual pillars or living “spirit trees.” They did not marry and were considered to have spirit husbands.

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The mikogami were leaders in the temples up to the early Heian period (ca. 800 CE), when a male priesthood took over Shinto (Spirit Way) and reduced women to the role of assistants and temple dancers. However, Japanese women continued to act as spirit diviners and healers, especially in rural areas. They take many names and forms: the itako, blind old women who speak with the dead; the tataki miko, “drumming shamans”; and the ecstatic ichiko and kuchiyose and waka, to name a few. To the south, in the more sex-egalitarian society of Okinawa, women retained both priestly and shamanic powers, as noro priestesses and yuta (ecstatic healer-diviners). Manchuria

A woman is portrayed as the most powerful shaman in Manchuria in the epic Nishan Shaman (a 19th-century manuscript containing much earlier oral traditions). She is called upon to revive the son of a rich man after other shamans failed. She beats her drum, chants, and sinks as if lifeless while her spirit journeys to the otherworld. There she meets up with Omosi-mama, the “Divine Grandmother” who causes everything to grow and souls to be embodied. It was she who ordained that Nishan would become a great shaman. Nishan finds the soul of the dead boy and brings him back to the world of the living. She is hailed as a heroine and showered with riches. But afterward she faces repression from Confucian authorities on accusations of being a disobedient wife, and they burn her shamanic regalia and drum. Korea

An antlered crown with a spangled Tree of Life was one of several found in the royal tombs of Silla. Tomb 98 had been assumed to belong to a shamanic king, but an inscription of “a belt for Milady” is now recognized as identifying a queen. In later centuries, Korean women predominate in the long-standing tradition of Mugyo (Shaman Religion) or Musindo (Shaman Spirit Way). The female shamans are called mudang or mansin (10,000 spirits). In the kut ceremony, the mudang enters ecstasy to the music of drums, cymbals, and bell-sticks, chanting invocations, whirling, and rocking on her feet. She may use lengths of cloth, fans, tridents, or flag-sticks, assisted by mostly female attendants. Bari Gongju (Pali Kongju) is seen as the ancestor of all the mudang. Her name means “Princess Thrown-Away.” Her father cast her off at birth for being a girl, but she was rescued by turtles or dragons and raised by a peasant couple. She became a mudang. Later she journeyed to the underworld to get the elixir of life to heal her parents or her brother. Modern mudang reenact the story of her passage through the portals of the Underworld, wearing robes with rainbow-striped sleeves. Bari Gongju, who helps souls of the dead journey to the otherworld, was elevated to the rank of Goddess. But the modern mudang face social stigma in spite of the fact that many people come to them for healing, divination, and resolution of life problems. The East Asian pattern of female shamans extends across Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The Vietnamese then priestesses call in spirits from a wide pantheon, changing their costume and regalia for each divinity as the Koreans



Sibyls

do. In Burma, the dancing ecstatics are called nat kadaw (spirit wives) within a Nature Religion that coexists with Buddhism. In Laos and neighboring countries, Hmong healers wear ceremonial veils and journey in the spirit on benches called “flying horse.” The primary healers and seers in the Philippines are the babaylan (Visayan) and catalonan (Tagalog). Another name for them, aniteras, refers to their invocation of ancestral spirits (anito). Max Dashú See also: Ancient Religions: Sun Goddess; Daoism: Daoism in China; Goddesses; Healers; Indigenous Religions: Shamanism in Eurasian Cultures; Shamans in Korea; Prehistoric Religions: Burials; Guardian Spirits in Eurasian Cultures; Shamanism; Women in Prehistoric Religious Practices; Shinto: Priestesses; Shamans and Ritualists Further Reading Cahill, Suzanne E. Transcendence and Divine Passion: The Queen Mother of the West in Medieval China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993, 167 Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters. Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English. New York: Knopf, 1974. Czaplica, M. A. Aboriginal Siberia, a Study in Social Anthropology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1914, 243. Dashú, Max. “The Wu: Female Shamans of Ancient China.” Oakland, CA: Suppressed Histories Archives, 2010. http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/wu.html. Erickson, Susan N. “‘Twirling Their Long Sleeves, They Dance Again and Again’: Jade Plaque Sleeve Dancers of the Western Han Dynasty.” Ars Orientalis 24 (1994): 52. Fairchild, William P. “Shamanism in Japan.” Folklore Studies 21 (1962): 1–122. Nowak, Margaret, and Stephen Durant. The Tale of the Nishan Shamaness: A Manchu Folk Epic. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977. Sered, Susan Starr. Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

SIBYLS In times of distress, men in antiquity sought the advice of an aged female prophet known as the Sibyl. She alone had the ability to communicate directly with the deities and forecast their future. Her prognostications changed the fate of nations. The Greeks even minted a coin that calls her “the Goddess Sibyl.” No other woman ever achieved such fame. The Greek poet Ovid preserved a legend that claimed the God Apollo promised the Sibyl would live as long as there were grains of sand on the seashore. However, she failed to ask him for eternal youth. Consequently, she gradually became a shriveled, shrunken old woman who lived for thousands of years. Yet, her soul revolved around the moon as she continued to deliver prophecies after her death. Over time, the number of Sibyls proliferated as many kingdoms of the ancient Near East and Europe believed this female prophet had lived in their midst. Her prophecies were first transmitted orally and eventually copied in books that became the most sacred of all Pagan writings.

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The collection of Sibylline Oracles kept in Rome was the most famous in the ancient world and aroused the greatest fear. The Romans banned anyone from reading them since they foretold the fates of rulers and nations alike. They entrusted these sacred books to a select body of loyal men who consulted them when the state faced a crisis, and only by official decree from the senate. When the temple of Jupiter in which they were housed was burned down in 83 BCE, the Romans traveled everywhere a Sibyl purportedly had lived to collect new Sibylline Oracles. These texts were written down in epic hexameters and contained the utterances of Sibyls from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Because the Sibyl was so highly regarded in antiquity, Pagans, Jews, and Christians alike forged prophecies in her name. These books literally changed Western history. Roman emperors cited the Sibyl’s predictions to justify their embracing of Christianity and their persecutions of Pagans. Christian leaders for centuries, including the greatest theologians and popes alike, cited the Sibylline Oracles in their sermons and writings alongside the Bible. The influence of the Sibyl is evident in much medieval Christian literature and art: five Sibyls are painted in the famed Sistine Chapel. During the Middle Ages, people held the Sibyl in such high regard that many theologians fabricated Sibylline Oracles to prove their end-of-time predictions. Today, the Pagan Sibylline Oracles are mainly preserved in quotations of Pagan Greek and Latin writers. A large collection of Sibylline Oracles in Greek by Jews and Christians survives in 14 books that date from the mid-second century BCE to the seventh century CE. Christians continued to write oracles in the name of the Sibyl during the Middle Ages; many theologians, writers, and artists consulted them. Around 1600 CE, some Sibylline Oracles were even set to music, showing that this female prophet’s influence extended almost to the present day. Kenneth Atkinson See also: Ancient Religions: Delphic Oracle; Judaism: Hebrew Bible; Priestesses; Shinto: Shamans and Ritualists Further Reading Collins, John J. “Sibylline Oracles.” In Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth, 362–472. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1983. Parke, H. W. Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy in Classical Antiquity. London: Routledge, 1988.

SUN GODDESS In the cultures of the world, the association of the major celestial body, the Sun, with gender is ambiguous. In some cultures, its personification is male oriented (e.g., Ra in ancient Egyptian Religion, Shamash in Mesopotamia, Mithra in Persia, Helios in ancient Greece). In Chinese mythology, the Sun is perceived as male and the Moon as female. In other cultures, the Sun is venerated as Goddess. This is true for Hittite society of the second millennium BCE. The Sun Goddess was a major deity for the Hittites, and her name was Wurushemu.



Sun Goddess

Arguably, the oldest tradition of religious practices associated with a Sun Goddess are found in Eurasian cultures, from Saami culture in northern Europe, via the cultures in the Arctic zone throughout the Siberian North as far as Japan. In the northern parts of Europe and Siberia, the Sun has preserved her prominent place in mythology into the modern era, whereas in those cultures with a long tradition of worship of a Sun God, old beliefs have been replaced by religions that do not recognize the Sun as a divinity (e.g., ancient Egypt, where polytheistic religion was overtaken by Christianity and later by Islam; ancient Greece, where the divinities of antiquity were replaced by the God of Christianity). In the Siberian tradition, the Sun is the Creatrix, the one who gives and maintains life. In the mythic tradition, the beginnings of the world are associated with the Sun. In the beginning, there was Mother Sun. The earliest depictions of this Divinity as a female figure can be seen on stone stelae from western Siberia. In some of those pictures, snakes are seen curling around the central Deity; their function has been identified as spirit helpers of the Siberian shaman. A popular motif on the Siberian stelae is the transcendental flight of reindeers to Mother Sun. These stelae are called “deer stones.” The Sun is radiant. Light and warmth stream from her. In the Arctic and sub-Arctic zones, Mother Sun provides the conditions for life to persist. The snakes, undulating as the flames of the Sun, are symbols of the regenerative potential of a deity who takes over the task of creation, the great labor of generating and regenerating life. Mother Sun is the Creatrix, the great Ancestral Mother, the force that generates all living things—human beings, animals, and plants alike. In the carved pictures of Siberian rock art, representations of the Creatrix are often associated with animals. In some Neolithic rock pictures from the Kuola Peninsula (in northernmost Europe), she is shown giving birth to a reindeer and feeding a reindeer calf. The image of the Creatrix may be associated with the generating energy of certain elements, such as fire. “In the shamanism of the Altaic peoples, the origin of all life was born from Ene, Goddess of Fire” (Dyakonova 2001, 64). In the communities of the Tungus, Mongol, and Turkic peoples of Siberia, there was a special professional group of female shamans, the udagan, whose rituals focused on fire worship. Pregnancy and life giving are the major themes of this deity, expressed in pictorial associations of the Primordial Goddess with the Tree of Life. It is important to emphasize that in the earliest north Asian representations of the Tree of Life, in the Okunevo culture, the figures [insofar as they are human] are female. Moreover, these women are often shown with protruding or pendant abdomens, i.e., pregnant or soon after giving birth. (Martynov 1991, 107)

The Sun, the source of light and life, is venerated in the mythic tradition of the Saami as a female divinity. Her name is Beaivvi nieida (Sun Maiden). When the shaman transcends the limits of the world of the living and flies to heaven, he or she has to be careful not to be burnt by the hot breasts of the Sun Maiden. In Saamic, as in all the languages of Finno-Ugric stock, there is no grammatical gender. Thus, the identification of the Sun with a female divinity is not induced by a marking of

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feminine gender as, for example, in German (Sonne f.). The conceptualization of the Sun as Goddess in Saami mythology is purely metaphorical. In the winter season, the Sun does not rise from behind the horizon during the day. This period (called kaamos in Finnish) lasts for more than three months. When the Sun finally reappears at the end of January, Saami people would bow to the divinity to honor her and, in former times, a reindeer—preferably a white one—was offered to the Sun Maiden as a sacrifice. The symbol of the Sun features on many shamans’ drums and is accompanied by various symbols of mythological significance. The personification of the Sun as Goddess has a long tradition among many of the peoples in northern Eurasia. For instance, in the canon of festivities and ceremonies, certain rites require offerings to the Solar Deity, among the Nganasan in central Siberia, for one. In a spring ceremony, elder women make offerings to the Mothers of nature, and among them is Mother Sun: Kóu-n´ámy “Mother Sun,” Móu-n´ámy “Mother Earth,” Nilu-n´ámy “Mother Life.” The veneration of the Sun as Goddess is also characteristic of an old culture on the other end of Eurasia, on its eastern periphery. The ancient tradition of animistic beliefs, called Shintoism, produced a unique pattern of Sun worship in Japan. The name of the Japanese Sun Goddess is Amaterasu, “Heavenly Shining One.” Amaterasu founded the Japanese nation by sending her grandson Prince Ninigi down from the Plains of Heaven to govern the islands. In the “Kojiki” [oldest written record in Japan from 712 CE], hi [sun and day] is used to designate both the names of gods in Amaterasu’s line as well as those ancient emperors who were her close descendants. (Schultz and Yamamoto 1993, 138)

In the Bronze Age (second millennium BCE), the Hittites (of Indo-European stock) in Anatolia worshipped a Sun Goddess under the name Wurushemu. The main religious center of her worship was Arinna. It is noteworthy that this Goddess was adopted by the Hittites from the Hurrians, who also influenced ritualistic practices in Hittite society. Once a year, the Hittite king would undertake a pilgrimage to Arinna to pay Wurushemu his respects. Harald Haarmann See also: Ancient Religions: Egyptian Religion; Mesopotamian Religion; Shamans in East Asia; Shinto: Amaterasu Omikami; Kami Further Reading Dyakonova, Vera P. “Female Shamans of the Turkic-Speaking Peoples of Southern Siberia.” In Shamanhood—Symbolism and Epic, edited by Juha Pentikäinen, 63–69. Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2001. Haarmann, Harald, and Joan Marler. Introducing the Mythological Crescent: Ancient Beliefs and Imagery Connecting Eurasia with Anatolia. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2008. Martynov, Anatoly I. The Ancient Art of Northern Asia. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. Schultz, Elizabeth, and Fumiko Yamamoto. “The Sun in Japanese Art and Culture.” In The Sun in Myth and Art, edited by Madanjeet Singh, 137–51. London: Thames and Hudson, 1993.



Writers and Poets, Ancient Mesopotamia

W R I T E R S A N D P O E T S , A N C I E N T M E S O P O TA M I A A rudimentary script was invented in ancient Mesopotamia about 3200 BCE. It was initially used only in large households to administer assets such as cattle and land as well as personnel. Thus, writing was used by people of means, kings and queens, courtiers and temple administrators included, and that was the case throughout the period of cuneiform culture (ca. 3200–200 BCE). Cuneiform, as we call the script, became more “democratized” over time though, and this meant that from the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000–1600 BCE), the middle classes also began to use writing for economic and administrative purposes. From the beginning, most attestations of literacy are related to men, and that was the case until the end of the cuneiform culture. However, there are interesting data that inform us about female literacy, and some of it will be discussed here. The first attestation of a female scribe dates to the Sargonic period (ca. 2350– 2150 BCE)—that is, about 850 years after script was invented. Her name, NinUN-íl, along with her professional title of “scribe,” is found in a ration list from the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur (Westenholz 1999). Most attestations of female scribes date to the Old Babylonian period. The palace archives of the Old Babylonian kingdom of Mari have revealed at least nine female scribes (Meier 1991). These scribes were servants of the queen or other women at the court. The city of Sippar is an Old Babylonian site where information about some 20 female scribes has been unearthed. Here the scribes were working for a group of priestesses called nadıˉtu, and some of the scribes might have been nadıˉtu-priestesses themselves (Lion 2011). In the palace archives of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (744–627 BCE), the picture is somewhat different from that of the palace archives of Mari. Here the seven female scribes who are attested were only working for the queen, whereas the other women at the court used male scribes (Svärd 2012 Macgregor 2012). Since there were female scribes, it is likely that there were female pupils in the scribal schools. Sumerian is a gender-neutral language, though, and did not have gender-specific names. Therefore, it is not always possible to determine whether a person was a female or a male in Sumerian texts. However, traditions often developed regarding correlations between name and gender, and sometimes the context can inform us about the gender of the person in a text. There are four Old Babylonian school exercises that do give us information about the gender of the pupil; at the end of them, we read that that they were “written by a female scribe” (Lion 2011). The exercises range from the beginner level up to the most advanced level. Besides female pupils and scribes, there were also other women who could read and write. These women are mainly found in the upper classes, but some came from the middle classes. One example of literate middle-class women comes from the Old Assyrian period (ca. 2000–1600 BCE). In that period, the wives of the male merchants active in Anatolia were also active in their husband’s trade. These women produced textile to be sold by their men, functioned as agents of their men in local business contracts, and wrote letters to their men when absent in trade business. Enheduana is probably the most prominent of the literate women in all cat˘ egories. She was the en-priestess of the Moon God Nanna and the daughter of King Sargon, the founder of the first Akkadian dynasty (ca. 2350–2150 BCE) in

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Mesopotamia. Enheduana is the first named author and poet known in history. ˘ Whereas Enheduana herself lived in the Sargonic period (ca. 2350–2150 BCE), the ˘ texts attributed to her (all in Sumerian) date to the Ur III (ca. 2112–2004 BCE) and early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000–1800 BCE) periods. It was common that older texts were copied throughout the cuneiform period, and these texts are understood as such copies. All the texts authored by Enheduana are so-called literary texts, ˘ which can be understood as belles lettres, or poetry, in the wide sense. Two of the texts attributed to Enheduana are hymns to Goddess Inanna. Another ˘ text that has her signature is a cycle of temple hymns, and a fourth is an alabaster plaque where she is depicted on one side and called “wife of Nanna and daughter of Sargon” on the other side. There is a further text where she is mentioned, which probably relates her enthroning as en-priestess, and another that depicts a love dialogue between the Moon God Nanna and his wife Ningal (Westenholz 1989). As the en-priestess of Nanna, Enheduana was seen as a representative of Ningal. ˘ At the same time, she was an intermediator between Ningal and the humans. Furthermore, she seems to have felt very close to Inanna, whom she identified with in her two hymns to the Goddess. Even though men were in the majority in the guild of scribes, Goddess Nisaba was their patroness up to the Old Babylonian period, when she was replaced by a male deity called Nabû. Thus, this replacement happened at the same time as there were more female scribes (attested) than ever before. Nisaba was closely related to several characteristics of the early agricultural bookkeeping, such as the measuring of fields and writing down of assets (Lion 2011). She was also Goddess of Grain, which was the staple of ancient Mesopotamia. Besides Nisaba, there were other literate Goddesses. One was Goddess Ninimma, whose profile was very similar to that of Nisaba (Rodin 2014). Also, the most prominent Goddesses in the pantheon—Ninhursagˆa, Ninlil, and Inanna—were ˘ literate. The scribe of the netherworld was also female. She was called Ninazimua, Gˆeštinanna, or Beˉlet-s.eˉri. Therese Rodin See also: Ancient Religions: Inanna; Mesopotamian Religion; Ninhursagˆa Mother ˘ Goddess; Ninlil; Prehistoric Religions: Sacred Script Further Reading Foster, Benjamin R. The Age of Agade: Inventing Empire in Ancient Mesopotamia. London: Routledge, 2016. Hallo, William W., and J. J. A. van Dijk. The Exaltation of Inanna. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968. Lion, Brigitte. “Literacy and Gender.” In The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, edited by Karen Radner and Eleanor Robson, 90–112. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Macgregor, Sherry Lou. Beyond Hearth and Home: Women in the Public Sphere in Neo-Assyrian Society. State Archives of Assyria Studies XXI. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2012. Meier, Samuel A. “Women and Communication in the Ancient Near East.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 111 (1991): 540–47.



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Rodin, Therese. The World of the Sumerian Mother Goddess: An Interpretation of Her Myths. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Historia Religionum 35. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2014. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228932. Svärd, Saana. Power and Women in the Neo-Assyrian Palaces. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Department of World Cultures, 2012. Westenholz, Aage. “The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture.” In Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit, Part 1, edited by Pascal Attinger and Marcus Wäfler, 17–120. Freiburg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Freiburg, 1999. Westenholz, Joan Goodnick. “Enheduanna, En-Priestess, Hen of Nanna, Spouse of Nanna.” In Dumu-e2-dub-ba-a: Studies in Honor of Åke W. Sjöberg, edited by Hermann Behrens, Darlene T. Loding, and Martha T. Roth, 539–56. Philadelphia: University Museum, 1989.

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Baha’i

INTRODUCTION The Baha’i faith was founded in 19th-century Iran. It arose out of Shi‘a Islam to become an independent religion, and it teaches that it is God’s will that all people eventually be united in peace and that all religions are expressions of the same spiritual sense and connection with the Divine. Baha’is believe that the founder of their faith, Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892), was the recipient of revelations from God, which contrasts with what Muslims believe, that Muhammad (570–632) was the final prophet of God. This difference of belief has led to the persecution of Baha’is in some Muslim-majority countries. Currently, there are about 7 million Baha’i followers in more than 200 countries, although numbers are hard to determine due in part to the need for secrecy in some regions. Baha’is have no priesthood. They are organized by an elected administration that includes Spiritual Assemblies (local and national), and a Universal House of Justice located in Haifa, Israel. There is also an appointed counseling arm of learned individuals. Baha’i women serve in all appointments and on Spiritual Assemblies, but, according to scripture, only men are eligible for election to the Universal House of

Baha’i Place of Worship Baha’i houses of worship, also called Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs or temples, are built according to scriptural requirements, including that they be nine-sided circular structures with an entrance on each side. This design symbolizes unity in diversity and openness to everyone, regardless of differences. Of those built so far, all are domed and surrounded by gardens. In the interior, Baha’i writings are displayed, and seats face the qiblih, which is a shrine dedicated to Bahá’u’lláh located in Bahji, Israel. Baha’is worship with prayer and scripture readings; scriptures of any religion may be read in any language. There may be live a cappella singing. However, no musical instruments, sermons, lectures, ritualistic activities, images, pictures, statues, altars, or pulpits are allowed. While all are welcome inside, only Baha’is can contribute to the building or upkeep of the temples. Temples have been completed on every continent, and each is envisioned as eventually expanding into each neighborhood, so that the temple comes to be surrounded by adjunct institutions dedicated to social, educational, scientific, medical, and humanitarian purposes. Where there is no physical house of worship, devotional gatherings are encouraged in the spirit of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.

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Justice. Women’s ineligibility for the Universal House of Justice is sometimes seen as an example of inequality. However, the faithful tend not to view this exclusion as a form of gender inequality. Sitting on the Universal House of Justice is not a position of worldly power and status, but one of service, and the scriptures make clear that women are the spiritual and social equals of men, and are fully capable of leadership in the political sphere. Baha’i principles emphasize the sacred importance of equality between women and men, as the entries in this section demonstrate. Baha’i scriptures provide a foundation for equality that is meant to withstand shifting political and social conThe flower-shaped Lotus Temple, the Baha’i House of texts. In the article “Women in Worship in New Delhi, India, is visible behind the Baha’i Scriptures,” Susan Stiles throng of visitors. The building, composed of 27 mar- Maneck elaborates on this topic ble petals with 9 doors opening onto a central hall, in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, serves as the Baha’i Mother Temple for the Indian including his book of laws, the subcontinent. (Luciano Mortula/Dreamstime.com) Kitab-i-Aqdas. In Baha’i worship, there is also equality between diverse groups. In the House of Worship, no one is segregated, and anyone is welcome regardless of physical, social, or ideological differences. Whether in temple or other settings, everyone may enter the place of worship, engage in prayer, read from scriptures, chant, sing, and play instruments. Women have been integral to the Baha’i faith. In the entry “Gender Roles” included in this section, Lynn Echevarria relates some of the ways Baha’i women participate in and contribute to the faith. Unique among women in Baha’i history is Tahirih. In the entry of that title, Maneck relates the moving story of this Baha’i heroine, who, though unique in her historical role, is one of many role models Baha’i women look up to. The work to implement gender equality in all areas of Baha’i life continues. Central to this goal is education; Baha’is have a scriptural mandate to ensure that girls receive a good education. Women are also central in educational development. In “Education,” Selena Crosson relates the significant



Divine Feminine

contributions of Baha’i women as founders, developers, and supporters of education for girls and boys. General Bibliography—Baha’i Bacquet, Karen. “When Principle and Authority Collide: Baha’i Responses to the Exclusion of Women from the Universal House of Justice.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 9, no. 4 (2006): 34–52. Bahá’í International Community. “Statements on the Advancement of Women.” Accessed July 18, 2017. https://www.bic.org/focus-areas/equality-men-and-women. Baha’i International Community (BIC). “Educating Girls—An Investment in the Future.” In The Greatness Which Might Be Theirs: A Compilation of Reflections on the Agenda and Platform for Action for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women: Equality, Development and Peace. New York: Baha’i International Community, 1995. https://www.bic​ .org/statements/greatness-which-might-be-theirs-educating-girls-investment-future. Banani, Amin. Tahirih: A Portrait in Poetry, Selected Poems of Qurratu’l-’Ayn. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 2004. Maneck, Susan. “Women in the Baha’i Faith.” In Religion and Women, edited by Arvind Sharma. McGill Studies in the History of Religions, 211–27. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994. Osborne, Lil. “Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá’í and Christian Writings and Their Implications for Gender Roles.” Baha’i Studies Review 4, no. 1 (1994). https://bahai-library.com/abdo_female_holy-spirit. Ruhe-Schoen, Janet. Rejoice in My Gladness: The Life of Tahirih. Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 2011. Sours, Michael W. “The Maid of Heaven, the Image of Sophia, and the Logos: Personification of the Spirit of God in Scripture and Sacred Literature.” Journal of Bahá’í Studies 4, no.1 (Mar.–June 1991). Universal House of Justice. A Compilation on Women. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. n.p.: Project Gutenberg, 2006. http://www. gutenberg.org/files/19269/19269-h/19269-h​.html. Universal House of Justice. Women: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Thornhill, ON: Bahá’í Canada, 1986. Walbridge, John. Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time. Oxford: George Ronald, 1996. Zabihi-Moghaddam, Siyamak. “Spousal Equality in Baha’i Law: The Emergence of Provisions on the Dissolution of Marriage in Iran, 1873–1954.” Journal of Women’s History 29, no. 3 (2017): 137–60.

DIVINE FEMININE The Divine Feminine is a reference to the Maid of Heaven (huri) said to have appeared to Bahá’u’lláh after he was thrown in the underground dungeon of SíyáhChál at the height of the persecution of Babis in 1852. This event is said to have marked the inception of the Baha’i revelation. Baha’is see the Maid of Heaven as representative of the Holy Spirit, understood not in Trinitarian terms but as the conduit of revelation, fulfilling the same function as the burning bush in Judaism, the dove in Christianity, and the angel Gabriel in Islam.

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The term huri is derived from a reference in the Qur’an to those said to serve the faithful in paradise. While this is one of the few Arabic words that carry no gender, huris have been almost universally described in Islamic traditions as dark-haired damsels. While Bahá’u’lláh will sometimes refer to the hur’in in the plural, these are described as veiled within their celestial chambers, seemingly representing the ultimate unknowability of the Divine. It is the huri in the singular, however, that plays the major role in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings representing revelation itself. The advent of revelation in Bahá’u’lláh’s early writings takes on the flavor of bridal mysticism, with that revelation appearing as a veiled bride, and much of those writings take the form of a dialogue between Bahá’u’lláh and the Maid of Heaven. Bahá’u’lláh’s spiritual ecstasy and longing are depicted while at the same time emphasizing his intense suffering, which brings distress to the Maid of Heaven. In these writings, Bahá’u’lláh is the lover, and the Maid of Heaven represents the beloved while sharing a symbiotic relationship, where the feminine usually represents the divine nature of Bahá’u’lláh and the masculine his human nature. At other times, the “spirit of Baha” is depicted as the mother who gives birth to the Maid of Heaven. Among the writings where Bahá’u’lláh describes his encounters with the Maid of Heaven are Tablet of the Temple, Tablet of the Deathless Youth, Ode of the Dove, Tablet of the Holy Mariner, Tablet of the Maiden, Tablet of the Wonderous Maiden, and Tablet of the Vision. Susan Stiles Maneck See also: Baha’i: Women in Baha’i Scriptures: Christianity: Sophia Further Reading Osborne, Lil. “Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá’í and Christian Writings and Their Implications for Gender Roles.” Baha’i Studies Review 4, no. 1 (1994). Sours, Michael W. “The Maid of Heaven, the Image of Sophia, and the Logos: Personification of the Spirit of God in Scripture and Sacred Literature.” Journal of Bahá’í Studies 4, no.1 (Mar.-June 1991). Walbridge, John. Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time. Oxford: George Ronald, 1996.

E D U C AT I O N Universal education is a core principle of the Baha’i Faith, and its sacred writings are notable for the priority they assign to the education of women and girls. Education is deemed the primary means of fostering the material, social, scientific, and spiritual advancement of humanity and is considered essential in bringing about the goal of the equality of women and men, without which, according to Baha’i teachings, the world cannot realize its full potential. Universal and collectively supported compulsory education, geared to the needs and capacities of individuals and communities, is prescribed, but if resources do not permit the education of all, preference must be given to girls. The same curriculum for males and females is suggested so that women, having enjoyed the same standard of education, can demonstrate their equal capacity and social and economic importance.



Education

Eastern Baha’i communities (est. 1844), the largest of which was in Persia (Iran), promoted literacy and modern methods of education, beginning with village-level schools in the 19th century. Independent investigation of truth is a primary Baha’i dictum, and literacy is required as, in the absence of clergy, adherents are expected to educate themselves about spiritual and theological as well as worldly matters. Persian Baha’is also enlisted the financial aid of Western Baha’i communities, in part through the Washington-based Persian-American Educational Society, supported by women such as artist and philanthropist Alice Pike Barney (1857–1931) and desegregationist Agnes Parsons (1861–1934). Between 1909 and 1933, despite being a stigmatized and persecuted community, Persian Baha’is established over 50 schools open to all religions, including several schools and vocational programs for females. A few Western Baha’is, such as Dr. Susan I. Moody (1851–1934), Lillian Kappes (1878–1920), and Dr. Genevieve Coy (1886–1963), were invited to assist as medical staff and educators with the Tarbiyat School for Girls in Tehran (est. 1911). Even though the schools achieved such excellence as to attract non-Baha’is, including children of the elite, by the mid-1930s most were shut down in a wave of official persecution (Armstrong-Ingram 1986). The best known of Baha’i heroines, Tahirih (1814/1817–1852), a Persian scholar, intellectual, and poet, remains an inspirational symbol of the power of female education as evidenced by her portrayal as one who disrupts conventional femininity by promoting literacy in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani’s 2015 novel, The Woman Who Read Too Much. The liberal-minded early Baha’i community in the West (est. 1898), comprised mainly of women, experimented with progressive education, striving for a “scientific pedagogy” that reflected Baha’i beliefs about the harmony of scientific and rational thought with spiritual and moral precepts. In contrast to common educational practices of the time, Baha’is were enjoined not to strike or verbally abuse children but rather to use praise, reason, and, if necessary, mild verbal correction. Among other methods, Dr. Maria Montessori’s (1870–1952) approach attracted Baha’is such as Louise Dixon Boyle (1875–1953) of Washington, D.C., who worked closely with Montessori and disseminated information about her techniques (Khan 2006). Montreal Baha’i May Maxwell (1870–1940) established one of the first Montessori schools in Canada (ca. 1914) to educate her daughter Mary, who later became international Baha’i representative Ruhiyyih Khanum (1910–2000). Since then, many Baha’i-inspired schools have drawn on innovative educational methods, although no particular pedagogy is endorsed. In accordance with the Baha’i principle of establishing a universal auxiliary language, many early Baha’i women also taught Esperanto, which helped to finance and provide a support network for their travels to promote internationalist ideals and other educational efforts. Baha’is have often suffered for their commitment to education. In some Muslim-majority countries, principally Iran, Baha’is have been denied education because they do not belong to one of the officially sanctioned religions. From the 1870s until the current era, the education of children and youth, especially girls, has been proscribed by governments and clerics in an effort to undermine the roots of the Baha’i community, leading to arrests and even executions. In 1983, teenager Mona Mahmudnizhad was tortured and hanged in Shiraz along with nine

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other women because she was charged, in part, for her efforts to teach Baha’i children who had been expelled from school. In the popular lore of the community, Mona has since become a modern martyr, symbolizing the resolute Baha’i commitment to education and justice. Resisting chronic persecution and ongoing arrests of educators and students, underground education efforts in Iran have continued, particularly with the establishment in 1987 of the coeducational Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), which is assisted by a global volunteer network of academics and supporters. BIHE graduates are now being accepted and earning scholarships in top-rated Western universities. `Abdu’l-Bahá, leader of the Baha’i Faith states, “The girl’s education is of more importance today than the boy’s, for she is the mother of the future race,” adding that all have a duty to care for and educate children (`Abdu’l-Bahá 1982, 91). In “Educating Girls—An Investment in the Future,” a 1995 statement to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Baha’i International Community (BIC) notes that higher levels of education for girls improve social outcomes, in part because education gives girls “unique advantages” in their roles as mothers and educators of children that make them “the most effective diffusers of knowledge throughout society” and “transmitters of core cultural and social values.” The statement advocates for a rounded view of education that includes “material education” to improve physical and material well-being; “human education” in areas such as commerce, arts, sciences, and technical and institutional development; and “spiritual or moral education” aimed at inculcating good character and community values to promote world unity and the ethical, equitable use of knowledge and resources. The Baha’i International Community acknowledges that the support and resources of men are essential for the widespread advancement of education for women and argues that a critical component of the larger effort to educate females must be the “resocialization of males for partnership” (BIC 1995). To this end, the Baha’is recommend that a modest start be made by “educating boys from the earliest stage of their social development” to be aware that “the interests of men and boys are linked to those of women” (BIC 2004). Since the 1990s, Baha’is have promoted participation in a coeducational (Ruhi) curriculum emphasizing the study of the Baha’i writings and community-building service. In addition to acquiring formal education, youth are encouraged to contribute a period of service, at home or abroad, and increasing numbers of girls from regions that traditionally do not encourage young women to travel are engaging in this form of volunteerism. Baha’is are enjoined to work and ideally to choose vocations that suit their interests and capacities as well as contribute to the betterment of the world. Paid or unpaid work performed in “a spirit of service” in arts, sciences, trades, care labor, or other useful fields is accounted as worship. `Abdu’lBahá suggested that women should study nutrition, sanitation, health, and especially the industrial and agricultural sciences, thereby assisting humanity. In this way, women would demonstrate their capability and ensure recognition of their social and economic equality. Internationally, several Baha’i-inspired educational and vocational initiatives for women have been established. Although recognizing the challenges of achieving gender parity, Baha’is believe that when women enjoy



Gender Roles

the same education and prerogatives as men, they will be the greatest factor in advancing the larger goals of sustainable global peace and prosperity. Selena Crosson See also: Baha’i: Gender Roles; Women in Baha’i Scriptures; Islam: Education Further Reading `Abdu’l-Bahá. Abdu’l Baha in London. 1912. Reprint, London: UK Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982. Armstrong-Ingram, R. Jackson. “American Baha’i Women and the Education of Girls in Tehran, 1909–1934.” In Studies in Babi and Baha’i History: In Iran (Studies in Babi and Baha’i History Vol. 3), edited by Peter Smith, 180–210. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 1986. Baha’i International Community (BIC). “Educating Girls—An Investment in the Future.” In The Greatness Which Might Be Theirs. New York: Baha’i International Community, 1995. https://www.bic.org/statements/greatness-which-might-be-theirs-educating-girls​ -investment-future. Baha’i International Community (BIC). The Role of Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality. New York, 1 March 2004. New York: Baha’i International Community, 2004. https:// www.bic.org/statements/role-men-and-boys-achieving-gender-equality. Cameron, Doug. “Mona with the Children.” 1985. http://bahaiblog.net/site/2014/12​ /doug-cameron-mona-children/. Khan, Janet A. “Louise Dixon Boyle and Maria Montessori.” Journal of Baha’i Studies 16, nos. 1–4 (2006): 61–87. Nakhjavani, Bahiyyih. The Woman Who Read Too Much. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

GENDER ROLES The Baha’i Faith is a distinct world religion of modern times and is based on the teachings of the prophet-founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892). A unique feature of this religion is that Bahá’u’lláh abolished the institution of the clergy and gave a blueprint for a worldwide administrative order (governing assemblies) whose elected membership would be open to both sexes. The oneness of humanity and the equality of women and men are foundational Baha’i principles. The achievement of equality is a religious obligation of all followers, female and male. Specific mandates are given in the Baha’i texts to move people conceptually and practically toward equality. The stories of early heroic women of the East and the West model nontraditional roles for women and inspire subsequent generations of both sexes to work for social change. Women’s mandate is to prove their capacity, to be bold, to translate spiritual teachings into action, and to enter all fields of human endeavor, becoming especially proficient in the sciences and arts. Men are admonished to own equality, to see women as equal, to actively afford them opportunities in home and society, to assume responsibilities that nurture close family bonds, and to support women’s advancement in all ways possible. Parents must give preference to girls’ education, as they are the future mothers. The Baha’i view also sees women’s knowledge and contributions as essential for human affairs to reach a point of completion and perfection (Universal House of Justice 1986). This

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means that women and men are freed from past religious and scientific ideas about women’s supposed creational and biological inferiority—ideas that were used to subordinate, exclude, and marginalize. Women have taken on varied roles in the Baha’i community, and each can decide how best to follow a Baha’i pattern of living over a lifetime. Women’s identity is not devoted exclusively to either the private (domestic) or public realm. A woman chooses whether she wishes to marry and to be a mother or not. Her participation in the affairs of the world is seen as key to society’s evolution, and motherhood itself is viewed as sacred. In the propagation and consolidation of the religion, or within leadership positions in the administrative order, women are necessary. The roles of secretary, chairperson, and treasurer on Baha’i Assemblies are open to both sexes. These positions are seen as positions of service rather than positions of power over community members. Women acquire wisdom and spiritual understanding through daily prayer, meditation, the study of sacred writings, and service in everyday life. In Baha’i holy shrines, temples, and local gatherings, there is no segregation of women, and their presence at, and preparation and delivery of, devotional programs is expected and supported (Echevarria 2011, 72–78). Baha’i history shows that women have been at the forefront of the establishment of the Baha’i Faith, particularly in Europe and North America, and have participated in new roles as the religion’s institutions consolidated worldwide. Women historically and currently produce knowledge about the religion. They assume roles as educators: giving informal and formal study classes and public talks locally, nationally, and internationally; serving as translators, writers, poets, artists, and editors of books and materials about the Baha’i teachings; and providing insightful commentary on their societies (van den Hoonaard 1996). How the Baha’i spiritual principles and aims are realized has been a gradual learning process and continues to be so for individual women, families, communities, and countries that are resisting or divesting themselves of patriarchal traditions and values. The tools within the Baha’i administrative order (principles of equity, consultation, and a sacred electoral process safeguarded from interference) can support and protect women’s rights, agency, and roles in leadership and community (Baha’i International Community n.d.). Lynn Echevarria See also: Baha’i: Education; Tahirih; Women in Baha’i Scriptures; Islam: Reform Further Reading Bahá’í International Community. “Statements on the Advancement of Women.” https:// www.bic.org/focus-areas/equality-men-and-women. (The) Bahá’í Faith: The website of the worldwide Bahá’í international community. “What Bahá’í Believe/Essential Relationships/The Bahá’í Administrative Order.” https://bahai.org. Echevarria, L. Life Histories of Canadian Bahá’í Women: Constructing Religious Identity in the Twentieth Century. American University Studies Series 7, Vol. 316, Theology and Religion. New York: Peter Lang, 2011.



Tahirih

Universal House of Justice. Women: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Thornhill, ON: Bahá’í Canada, 1986. van den Hoonaard, W. The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898–1948. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996.

TA H I R I H All too often in religious history, paradigmatic women have served as auxiliaries to their more prominent male figures, whether as wives, mothers, or daughters. Tahirih, the best-known woman in Bábi-Baha’i history, offers a startling contrast to such models. A gifted poet in 19th-century Iran, Tahirih was no dutiful daughter; she opposed the theological positions of her father, Muhammad Salih Baraghani, a prominent Muslim cleric of Qazvin. She is also not admired as a successful wife and mother because she was estranged from her husband and thus forced to separate from her children as well. Yet in popular imagination of the Baha’i community, Tahirih serves as a paradigm of womanhood. Numerous biographies, many of them partly fictionalized, exist of her life, and her name is one of the most popular ones given to Baha’i girls, both in Iran and in the West. Tahirih was born in 1814 as Fatimah Baraghani and was known as Umm-iSalmih to her family. Her father was a leading cleric in the majority Usuli sect of Shi‘ism of Qazvin, while her mother was recognized as a Shaykhi scholar. She would later be known by the title Qurratu l-‘Ayn, meaning “Solace of the Eyes,” and more popularly Tahirih, “the Pure One,” within Baha’i circles. Shaykhism, founded by Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa'i (1753–1826), placed great emphasis on the end of times and the resurrection day but did not consider that resurrection to be physical. While most scholars have credited Tahirih’s education to private tutoring from her father and uncle, the fact that Tahirih later becomes an important figure within the Shaykhi sect suggests that her mother played the leading role in shaping her education and religious beliefs. Eventually she moved to Karbala, taking up residence in the home of the last Shaykhi leader, Sayyid Kazim Rashti, at the behest of his widow. She subsequently became the leader of those Shaykhis in Karbala who took up the Bábi cause. In 1844 (1260 AH), Siyyid Ali Muhammad al-Bab secretly revealed himself to be the Qa'im, the messianic figure expected by the Shi'ite Muslims. He selected 18 followers as his chief disciples and entitled them, along with himself, the 19 Letters of the Living. Tahirih immediately embraced his religion and was appointed a “Letter.” Because she had received an excellent education in all traditional Islamic sciences, Tahirih translated many of the Báb’s Arabic writings into Persian. Despite being the daughter of a cleric, Tahirih’s writings and poetry were fiercely anticlerical. Claiming an authority based on her inner awareness of God’s purpose, she instituted several innovations within the Bábi community. Claiming that much of Islamic law was no longer binding upon Bábis, she refused to perform the daily ritual prayers. But her most audacious act was appearing unveiled at key Bábi gatherings. During Muharram, for instance, Tahirih dressed in gay clothing and

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appeared unveiled in celebration of the birthday of the Báb instead of wearing the traditional mourning attire to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. She later appeared unveiled at a Bábi gathering at Badasht to emphasize the Bábi Religion’s complete break with Islam, abrogating the shari‘a. Tahirih’s paternal uncle and father-in-law, Muhammad Taqi, violently opposed both the Bábis and the Shaykhi sect, inciting riots against them. A Bábi sympathizer retaliated by fatally stabbing him to death. Although the assassin insisted he acted alone, Tahirih’s own husband implicated her. With the assistance of Bahá’u’lláh, Tahirih was able to remain in hiding until she was captured in 1848 and brought to Tehran. Although imprisoned in the house of the chief of police there, she was able to hold meetings with the leading women of the city. Among them was Shams-i Finih, a Qajar princess who became a prominent Bábi and later a Baha’i. In 1850, the Báb was executed. Two years later, a handful of Bábis sought to avenge the Báb’s execution by attempting to assassinate the Shah. This ill-conceived plan failed and was followed by a general massacre of Bábis. While male Bábi leaders were brutally executed in public, Tahirih was taken in secret to a garden and strangled. Baha’i sources quote her last words as “You can kill me whenever you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.” Tahirih’s poetry has received considerable attention among both Baha’is and non-Baha’is. The general themes of her poetry include her ecstatic love for God and his manifestation, the Báb (and perhaps Bahá’u’lláh); her fascination with suffering and martyrdom; her messianic fervor and apocalyptic expectations for renewal of the social order; and her hostility toward the traditional clergy. Tahirih is by no means the only paradigm of womanhood for Baha’is. Some ideal figures like Navaab, Bahá’u’lláh’s wife, and Bahiyyih Khanum, his daughter, played more traditional auxiliary roles. Still, more attention is given to Tahirih within the Baha’i community. As an ideal for womanhood among Baha’is, her life suggests that women are encouraged to be assertive, intelligent, eloquent, passionately devoted to causes, and, yet, still beautiful. Absent are many of those qualities generally found in other feminine ideals: devotion to family, modesty, gentleness, and submissiveness. Susan Stiles Maneck See also: Baha’i: Education; Gender Roles Further Reading A¯ fa¯q¯ı, S· a¯bir. Táhirih in History: Perspectives on Qurratu’l-’Ayn from East and West. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 2004. Banani, Amin. Tahirih: A Portrait in Poetry, Selected Poems of Qurratu’l-’Ayn. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 2004. Momen, Moojan. “Usuli, Akhbari, Shaykhi, Babi: The Tribulations of a Qazvin Family.” Iranian Studies 36, no. 3 (2002): 317–37. Ruhe-Schoen, Janet. Rejoice in My Gladness: The Life of Tahirih. Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 2011.



Women in Baha’i Scriptures

W O M E N I N B A H A’ I S C R I P T U R E S The writings of Bahá’u’lláh unequivocally proclaim the equality of men and women, asserting that men and women are to be considered equal and on the same plane. He also suggested that differences between the sexes were the result of vain imaginings and idle fancies that have been destroyed with new revelation. Kitab-i-Aqdas, the book that contains Baha’i sacred law, was written in Arabic, a language that requires the use of the male gender for collective terms. For that reason, most of its admonitions and laws appear to be addressed to men. However, Baha’is have generally understood the greater part of the Aqdas as addressing both males and females. Shoghi Effendi, who led the Baha’i community between 1921 and 1957, stated that women have the same rights as men to sue for divorce and that in most cases the laws in the Aqdas apply mutatis mutandis to persons of both sexes except when the context makes this impossible. For instance, since the Aqdas allows but does not encourage a man to divorce his wife if she falsely represented herself as a virgin before marriage, a woman may divorce a man for the same reason. However, Bahá’u’lláh considered it more meritorious for both to conceal the matter entirely. Only in the case of membership in the Universal House of Justice has the male-oriented language been taken literally. When read within the context of 19th-century Iran, the Kitab-i Aqdas presents startling contrasts to the norms of male-female relations. Although the Aqdas makes it optional for women to perform the obligatory prayers or fast during their menses, within Islam they are not permitted to do so at all because they are regarded as ritually unclean at such times, a concept that is absent from Baha’i teachings. Perhaps more surprising is Bahá’u’lláh's treatment of sexual issues. The sexuality of women has historically been seen as a potentially dangerous force that threatens the honor of the family and indeed the entire social fabric. For this reason, adultery often carried very high penalties, usually death. In contrast, according to the Aqdas, adulterers are subject to a fine, not the death penalty. There are some minor disparities between men and women in matters of inheritance, with the presumption being that men will provide the major means of support for the family. However, the laws in the Aqdas apply only to cases in which the deceased did not leave a will as required by Baha’i law. This leaves Baha’is free to make adjustments according to their individual situations. The Kitab-i Aqdas appears to allow bigamy; however, Bahá’u’lláh insisted only monogamy was conducive to tranquility. His son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, insisted that bigamy was conditioned on equal treatment of both wives, an impossibility that made monogamy alone permissible. As in Islam, women have independent property rights even when they are married. The dowry or bride-price is presented by the groom to the bride, but there are strict limits on the amount of the dowry, making it a largely symbolic payment. Couples are required to obtain parental permission before marriage but are expected to select their own partners. Monogamous marriage between members of the opposite sex is regarded as the only acceptable outlet for sexual relations; thus, both premarital sex and homosexual conduct are not allowed. Procreation is

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regarded as the primary purpose of sex. Baha’is place no value on celibacy for its own sake, and monasticism is forbidden. Baha’is are encouraged to marry and live productive and reproductive lives. It has been argued that the exclusive use of the male gender in referring to God leads to a perpetuation of male dominance. Although Bahá’u’lláh’s Arabic writings necessitated the use of the male gender in reference to God, the Persian language has no gender. However, thus far, references to God have been translated using the male gender regardless of the original language. Perhaps more interesting is Bahá’u’lláh’s treatment of the symbol of the Heavenly Maiden, or huri. In the Qur’anic vision of paradise, black-eyed damsels, or huris, are thought to serve believers. Within the Baha’i context of fulfilled eschatology, the huri comes to symbolize the Holy Spirit, the personification of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation and the vehicle through which he receives it. While Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed the spiritual equality of women and men, `Abdu'lBahá applied to the social and economic dimension, especially during and after his trip to the United States in 1912. There he insisted that there should be no difference in the education of males and females and that women may develop equal capacity and importance with men in social and economic life (`Abdu'l-Bahá 1972, 184). While Bahá’u’lláh insisted on the education of girls, `Abdu'l-Bahá took that requirement further by giving girls preference in cases where only some children could be educated. He further asserted that women should enter political affairs. The only area (aside from membership on the Universal House of Justice) where `Abdu'l-Bahá did not extend full and equal participation was in military endeavors, since he regarded the taking of human life as incompatible with women’s role as mothers. The exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice is based on a reference in the Kitab-i Aqdas to the men (rijal) of the House of Justice. `Abdu'l-Bahá, in answer to a question regarding the exclusion of women from the Chicago House of Justice, replied that the House of Justice, according to the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, was confined to men and that the wisdom of this would be known later (`Abdu'l-Bahá 1972, 80). Seven years later, `Abdu'l-Bahá ruled that this exclusion applied only to the as-yet-unformed Universal House of Justice and allowed women in the United States to serve on local bodies. Susan Stiles Maneck See also: Baha’i: Divine Feminine; Education; Gender Roles Further Reading `Abdu'l-Bahá. Paris Talks. London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1972. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. Women: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Thornhill, ON: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 1986.

Buddhism

INTRODUCTION Buddhism arose in India in the late sixth to early fifth century BCE. Today it is the religion of nearly half a billion people, including millions in North America and hundreds of millions in Asia, with the largest numbers in China, Japan, and Thailand. The three main branches of Buddhism are called Theravada, meaning “teachings of the elders,” referring to the original branch of Buddhism; Mahayana, meaning “great vessel,” in reference to the expanded body of practices that developed over time; and Vajrayana, the “diamond vehicle” or “adamantine vehicle” of esoteric Tantric methods, rituals, and yogic disciplines. The veneration of female deities is practiced by many Buddhists. In “Female Deities,” Miranda Shaw examines the Goddesses of Buddhism, from the Indian Prithivi, who made the Buddha’s enlightenment possible according to Buddhist hagiographies, through the savioress Tara in Mahayana Buddhism, to Hariti in Nepal. Major Goddesses and their transformations in Buddhist iconography are related in separate entries, including “Tara,” “Guan Yin,” and “Prajnaparamita.” Not all Buddhists venerate deities, but all see the Buddha as a human being who found the answers to life’s suffering. According to Buddhism, to become a Buddha is to become awakened to reality as it truly is. Once awakened, a person no longer suffers and need no longer be reborn. Another kind of figure, found in Mahayana Buddhism, is the bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is a person on her or his way to becoming a Buddha; instead of jumping off the wheel of rebirth, a bodhisattva chooses rebirth, spending lifetime after lifetime helping others become awakened. Brigitte H. Bechtold explains in “Bodhisattvas” that women can become bodhisattvas and take the bodhisattva vow of commitment to liberating all living beings from suffering. While bodhisattvas are beings of great compassion, an engaged Buddhist is a compassionate person who engages politically for the benefit of people in this world. To be an engaged Buddhist is to address social issues and the living conditions of communities rather than the enlightenment of individuals. As Bechtold explains, the movement begins with “an understanding that individual salvation or enlightenment cannot be the sole purpose of Buddhist practice” (“Engaged Buddhism”). Women in Buddhist literature are often cast in a negative light, especially in early texts emanating from the male monastic sector. Women’s roles in Indian society during the founding and early years of Buddhism were typically restricted to

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the domestic sphere, and women were viewed as dependents with little worth beyond their service to men, attitudes that are reflected in early Buddhist texts (see “Sacred Texts on Women”). Despite the limited perceptions of some men, women exhibited spiritual attainment within Buddhism from the beginning. When the Buddha first created a monastic order, the sangha, only males were allowed to join. The Buddha’s foster mother, Pajapati, prevailed on the Buddha to allow women to take monastic vows, and she counted hundreds of women as her followers. From this first generation of female Buddhist renouncers, the lineages of ordained Buddhist nuns originated, and the path to enlightenment was recorded in women’s own voices. The Therigatha is a collection of poems composed by the earliest nuns. Entries relating women’s roles in early Buddhism include “Pajapati,” “Therigatha,” “Women in Early Buddhism,” and “Nuns, Theravada.” In “Feminine Virtues,” Pascale Engelmajer relates how motherhood is the ultimate ideal for women in much Buddhist thought. While providing a positive role for women, not all women want marriage and motherhood, which typically preclude a life of spiritual devotion. Yet, even when a woman is unmarried and chooses to dedicate her life to religious discipline, low social status and restrictions on ordination may limit her success. Where women are not ordained, female novices (who have taken vows but not been ordained as nuns) are commonly perceived as less worthy of social support than monks. The same attitude extends to fully ordained nuns in some regions. With lower social status comes fewer benefits, and both nuns and novices struggle from lack of financial support for nunneries. Entries that address Buddhist women’s ordination include “Gender Roles,” “Laywomen in Theravada,” “Ordination,” and “Women’s Buddhist Networks.” Other entries look at women’s roles in various Buddhist contexts. Women in specific Buddhist traditions and settings are discussed in “Zen,” “Mahayana,” “Tantra,” “Soˉka Gakkai,” and “Buddhism in the United States.” “Tea Ceremony” relates women’s special connection to the ancient Japanese Buddhist art of making tea as a contemplative and ritual practice. Finally, in “Dance,” Shaw relates an engaging history of women, art, music, and dance in Buddhism, and in “Dance of Tara,” Susan de-Gaia and Phyllis Moses describe the formation and practice of a new form of Buddhist movement meditation for women, the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. General Bibliography—Buddhism Allione, Tsultrim. Women of Wisdom. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000. Ambros, Barbara. Women in Japanese Religions. New York: NYU Press, 2015. Anderson, Jennifer L. “Japanese Tea Ritual: Religion in Practice.” Man 22, no. 3 (1987): 475–98. Aral, Paula Kane Robinson. Women Living Zen; Japanese Soˉtoˉ Buddhist Nuns. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. Women under the Bo Tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.



Introduction

Blackstone, Kathryn R. Women in the Footsteps of the Buddha: Struggle for Liberation in the Therigatha. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 1998. Boucher, Sandy. Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism. Boston: Beacon, 1993. Cabezon, Jose Ignacio, ed. Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Caplow, Zenshi Florence, and Reigetsu Susan Moon, eds. The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 2013. Chau, Adam-Yuet. Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006. Chen, Fan Pen Li. Chinese Shadow Theatre: History, Popular Religion, and Women Warriors. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007. Cho, Eun-su, ed. Korean Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen: Hidden Histories, Enduring Vitality. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011. Collett, Alice. Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. DeVido, Elise Anne. Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. Engelmajer, Pascale. Women in Pali Buddhism: Walking the Spiritual Paths in Mutual Dependence. New York: Routledge, 2018. Faure, Bernard. The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity and Gender. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. Gregory, Peter N., and Susanne Mrozik. Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences. Boston: Wisdom, 2008. Gross, Rita M. Buddhism after Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. Hallisey, Charles, trans. Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. Havnevik, Hanna. Tibetan Buddhist Nuns. Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1990. Karetsky, Patricia Eichenbaum. Guanyin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Meeks, Lori. Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2010. Mohr, Thea, and Jampa Tsedroen, eds. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. Boston: Wisdom, 2010. Murcott, Susan. The First Buddhist Women: Translations and Commentaries on the Therigatha. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1991. Ohnuma, Reiko. Ties That Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Rinpoche, Bokar. Tara: The Feminine Divine. San Francisco: ClearPoint, 1999. Ruch, Barbara, ed. Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. Schireson, Grace. 2010. Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters. Somerville, MA: Wisdom. Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. Simmer-Brown, Judith. Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Tisdale, Sallie. Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

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Tsomo, Karma Lekshe, ed. Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Willson, Martin. In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress. London: Wisdom, 1986. Yü, Chün-fang. Kuan-yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokites´vara. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

ABORTION For the nearly 500 million Buddhist followers worldwide, there is limited direction on abortion in scriptural and sacred texts. The first Buddhist precept is to avoid killing, and some specific references to abortion appear in the Vinaya Pitaka, the monastic code for men and women. Buddhist leaders do not often make strong statements about abortion. In a recent interview on the topic of birth control and abortion (Dreifus 1998), the Dalai Lama took on a secular view that is consistent with the Buddhist precepts, explaining that, while “abortion, from a Buddhist viewpoint, is an act of killing and is negative, generally speaking,” there are circumstances when it is not disapproved, notably “if the birth will create serious problems for the parent.” State policies in Asian Buddhist countries and culture affect abortion rates and often trump religious ethics. This is especially the case in China, where the onechild policy combined with son preference has resulted in both high abortion and infanticide. The Chinese government has also promoted this policy in neighboring Tibet, and there are reports of women forced to undergo abortions and sterilizations.

These mizuko statues represent the bodhisattva Jizo, caretaker of infants and children who have died. Mizuko ceremonies are rituals of memorial and mourning, and can be performed for those who have had abortions or have suffered the death of a child. (Bettmann/Getty Images)



Bodhisattvas

While Korea and Japan both have very high rates of abortion, the procedure has been legal in Japan since 1948 but is only allowed under limited conditions in Korea. In Japan, the mizuko ceremony helps women and some men deal with conflicted emotions and sadness about abortions. The ceremony includes prayers to the Jizo Bodhisattva, who is revered by Mahayanists as the caretaker of infants and children who have died. Parents bring toys and age-appropriate gifts to the dead child, as if it had grown up since the death or abortion took place. Mizuko ceremonies have become big business in Japan, and a similar type of ceremony has recently become popular in Korea. In Thailand, Buddhism is the state religion, and abortion is not normally permitted, although therapeutic abortions are easy to obtain. With the high rate of prostitution among young women in the country, it may seem surprising that most abortions are performed on married women who use it as a form of birth control. Thai prostitutes often carry pregnancies to term because they see their own gender as the result of bad karma and believe that this can be ameliorated if they raise a son to become a monk (Keown 1999). Where Buddhist views have been adopted outside Asia, women’s views on abortion are influenced by the mainstream culture in addition to Buddhist traditional values. Overall, abortion practices vary widely among Buddhists around the world, and the decision is influenced by balancing religious and cultural beliefs and economic circumstances. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Gender Roles; Christianity: Abortion; Confucianism: Women’s Changing Roles Further Reading Bays, Jan Chozen. Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers and Other Voyagers. Boston: Shambala, 2003. Craig, Mary. Tears of Blood: A Cry for Tibet. Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 2000. Dreifus, Claudia. “Interview with the Dalai Lama.” New York Times, November 28, 1998. Keown, Damien, ed. Buddhism and Abortion. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1999.

B O D H I S AT T VA S In Mahayana Buddhism, a religious belief system that sees everyone as (potentially) enlightened, a female bodhisattva is a woman who has dedicated herself to a life of compassionate service to sentient beings. Rather than seeking enlightenment just for herself, she seeks to serve others by skillful means. To become a bodhisattva, a woman takes the following four basic vows: (1) sentient beings are uncountable, and I vow to save them all; (2) suffering and attachments in the form of desires and dislikes are endless, and I vow to overcome them; (3) the dharma gate is boundless, and I vow to enter it; and (4) the Buddha way is beyond measure, and I vow to become (attain) it (Fronsdal 2000). These four vows correspond to the four basic truths in Buddhism (suffering is everywhere, it is due to attachments, there is an end to suffering, and this end is attained by following the way of the Buddha)

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and are supplemented by the precepts, which are taken on by the bodhisattva upon basic ordination (Fronsdal 2000). When her vows are taken in a formal ceremony, the bodhisattva receives a set of precepts or life rules (16 in Zen) from her teacher or master, who may also bestow a bodhisattva name on the recipient. The first three precepts are to take refuge in Buddha, dharma, and sangha, while the following three are not to increase evil, to practice good, and to do what is good for others. The 10 remaining precepts are related to not killing, not abusing sex or intoxicants, and others. Buddhism originated in the Iron Age, and women were at that time considered devoted wives and child bearers, on the one hand, and as wicked and adulterous and the cause of problems on the other. They were not afforded high standing in religious hierarchies nor in the various narratives of the Buddha’s previous lives as a bodhisattva, notably the Jataka tales (Pandey 2015). Since the beginning during Buddha’s life, and increasingly so, women have practiced Buddhism, and one of the major historical bodhisattvas—the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokites´vara (Guan Yin in Chinese)—has over time become more frequently depicted as a female, especially in the East, notably China. She is depicted with numerous arms, each of which carries a tool (symbolic of a skillful means). In Northern Buddhism, the origin of Guan Yin goes back to Tara, Goddess of Compassion, who grew out of Avalokites´vara’s tears. The so-called green Tara is said to be the original among several Taras and is thought to have emanated from the self-born Buddha Amitabha and to have reincarnated as the wife of one of the Tibetan kings. The bodhisattva vows and precepts are to a large extent commensurate with the roles women play as giving nurturers and mothers and do not appear overwhelming to many women. In today’s world, it is generally easy for women to take the bodhisattva vow. Ordination into the orders of nun or monk, however, and recognition in the long direct lineage of monks going back to the Buddha Sakyamuni is more difficult. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Engaged Buddhism; Female Divinities; Feminine Virtues; Guan Yin; Mahayana; Ordination; Sacred Texts on Women; Tara; Daoism: Goddesses; Spirituality: Sex and Gender; Women of Color Further Reading Adler, Joseph A. “Daughter/Wife/Mother or Sage/Immortal Bodhisattva? Women in the Teaching of Chinese Religions.” ASIANetwork Exchange 14, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 11–16. Fronsdal, Gil. “Bodhisattva Vows and the Four Noble Truths.” Lecture given October 14, San Francisco Zen Center. Palo Alto, CA: Insight Meditation Center of the Midpeninsula, 2000. Olson, Carl. The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005. Pandey, Neelima. “Women in Primitive Buddhism.” Clarion 4, no. 1 (February 4, 2015): 134–39.



Buddhism in the United States

B U D D H I S M I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S Women have played a role in American Buddhist institutions since their inception in the mid-19th century up to the present day, establishing Buddhist women’s associations, engaging in translation and scholarship about Buddhism, and teaching as Buddhist monastics and lay practitioners. Although American Buddhist communities are incredibly diverse and complex, scholars have proposed three categories of American Buddhists: Asians, Asian Americans, and non-Asian American Buddhists, who may be Euro-American, African American, Hispanic, or multicultural (Tsomo 2008). In each group, women have made significant contributions by assuming leadership roles, discussing how to integrate Buddhism with everyday life, seeking to reestablish ordination lineages for all Buddhist women, and emphasizing the need to clarify boundaries to prevent sexual misconduct between teachers and students. Chinese immigrants first brought Buddhism to the United States in the mid19th century, establishing Buddhist temples in an effort to preserve and transmit their cultural identity to their descendants. While we have no record of women participating in the religious life of these institutions, we do know that some temples were dedicated to Guan Yin, the Chinese bodhisattva of compassion. In the 1880s, Japanese immigrants also established Buddhist institutions in the United States, and wives of Buddhist priests sent by the group later known as the Buddhist Churches of America often acted as liaisons between the Japanese and Euro-American communities. They also formed women’s leagues that would clean temples, provide flowers and other ritual offerings, organize fund-raising events, and operate the Sunday dharma school and Japanese-language schools. Their temples attracted some Euro-American converts, such as Sunya Pratt (1898–1986), who became head of the Tacoma Buddhist Society in 1934, was ordained in 1936, and was appointed as minister in the Buddhist Churches of America in 1953. In the 19th century, Euro-Americans encountered Buddhism through Transcendentalist and Spiritualist movements as well as the World’s Parliament of Religions. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804–1894) published the first English translation of a Buddhist sutra in her Transcendentalist periodical, The Dial, in 1844, and Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891) traveled with Henry Steele Olcott (1832– 1907) to Sri Lanka in 1880, where they became the first Euro-Americans to officially convert to Buddhism. They encouraged the young Sri Lankan Buddhist Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933) to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893, and he converted several Euro-American women to Buddhism, including Marie deSouza Canavarro (1849–1933) and Mary Elizabeth Mikahala Foster (1844–1930). Women assumed leadership positions within American Zen groups in the early and mid-20th century. Beatrice Erskine Hanh Lanee Suzuki (1870–1939) founded and coedited Eastern Buddhist with her husband D. T. Suzuki and published work about Mahayana Buddhism. Ruth Fuller Everett Sasaki (1892–1967), one of the first Western women to train at a Zen monastery in Japan, taught meditation

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alongside Sokei-an at his First Zen Institute in New York in the early 1940s. Mary Farkas (1910–1992) carried out the administrative work of the First Zen Institute; edited its journal, Zen Notes, that recorded Sokei-an’s teachings; and became its general secretary in 1949. Elsie Mitchell (1926–2011) cofounded the Cambridge Buddhist Association with her husband in 1957. Women also played an instrumental role in establishing the Vipassana movement in the United States. Otherwise known as insight meditation, Vipassana trains students to observe their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in a nonjudgmental way to develop insight into impermanence, suffering, and the insubstantiality of self. Ruth Denison (1922–2015) trained in Burma, began teaching meditation in the United States in 1975, and established the Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center near Palm Springs, California. Sharon Salzberg (b. 1952) and Jacqueline Schwartz (b. 1954)—now Jacqueline Mandell—returned from Asia in the mid-1970s and cofounded the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in 1976. Salzberg remains affiliated with IMS and Theravada Buddhism and focuses her teachings on the idea of loving-kindness. Tara Brach (b. 1953) founded the Insight Meditation Community in Washington, D.C., and Sylvia Boorstein (b. 1936) is another prominent teacher who writes popular books on Vipassana meditation and teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. Following a liberalization of immigration policy, in the 1970s and 1980s, many Southeast Asians immigrated to the United States and brought Theravada Buddhist traditions with them. Most Theravada Buddhist institutions claim that women cannot be fully ordained in their tradition; however, many American Buddhist women have sought to reestablish ordination of Theravada nuns. An example is Ayya Khema (1923–1997), who became a U.S. citizen after having survived incarceration in a German concentration camp, was ordained at a Chinese Buddhist temple in Los Angeles in 1988, and became a prominent spokeswoman for ordination of Theravada nuns. While Tibetan Buddhist teachers have largely been men since its introduction to the United States in the 1970s, increasingly, women have been given authority to lead meditation practices, retreats, and workshops as either laywomen or nuns. These include Tsultrim Allione (b. 1947), ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1969; Pema Chödrön (b. 1936), resident teacher and abbess of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia; Thubten Chodron (b. 1950), founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey—the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the United States; and Karma Lekshe Tsomo (b. 1944), Tibetan Buddhist nun, professor at the University of San Diego, and president of Sakyadhı¯ta¯: The International Association of Buddhist Women, an organization founded in 1987 that brings together millions of women nuns, scholars, lay practitioners, and activists worldwide to work toward gender equity and world peace. Women in American Zen groups have assumed greater leadership responsibilities than their earlier Asian predecessors who could not receive dharma transmission—which gives one the authority to teach students—because it was passed from fathers to sons. Peggy Jiyu Kennett (1924–1996), the first female Zen teacher in the United States officially recognized by the Soto Zen sect in Japan,



Buddhism in the United States

founded the Shasta Abbey Zen Monastery in 1970. Deborah Hopkinson (b. 1952) and Susan Murcott (b. 1952), members of the Diamond Sangha led by Robert Aiken (1917–2010) in Hawai‘i, began the journal Kahawai Journal of Women and Zen in 1979. Recently, women have not only represented the majority of Zen practitioners but have increasingly attained dharma transmission and occupied more prominent positions, such as head abbess of large and well-established American Zen centers. These women leaders include Sherry Chayat (b. 1943), the first American woman to receive official Rinzai dharma tradition and current abbess of the Zen Center of Syracuse and the Zen Studies Society; Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926–2016), who studied with D. T. Suzuki and served as abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1996 to 2002; Linda Ruth Cutts (b. 1947), who served as coabbess of the San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 to 2007 and became central abbess of the center in 2014; and Wendy Nakao (b. 1948), who became abbess of the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1999. These women have focused especially on how to integrate Buddhist practice with everyday life and have adopted a more horizontal approach to leadership instead of the hierarchy characteristic of the Zen tradition. Women have also played an important role in drawing attention to significant issues facing American Buddhist communities, including sexism and racism. They have highlighted the need to clarify boundaries between teachers and students, an issue that came to the fore in the wake of sexual scandals in American Zen centers during the 1980s. Sandy Boucher (b. 1936) addressed sexual exploitation by male teachers and sexual misconduct in Zen groups in her book Turning the Wheel in 1988, and Rita Gross (1943–2015) criticized Buddhist patriarchal values and began identifying Buddhist women role models in Buddhism after Patriarchy in 1993. bell hooks (b. 1952), a Zen practitioner, has drawn attention to the racist tendency to marginalize African Americans and Asian immigrants in American Buddhist groups, and Jan Willis (b. 1948) has emphasized the need to nurture more racially integrated American Buddhist groups. Beverley McGuire See also: Buddhism: Guan Yin; Mahayana; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Zen Further Reading Findly, Ellison Banks, ed. Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s Women: Tradition, Revision, Renewal. Boston: Wisdom, 2000. Gregory, Peter N., and Susanne Mrozik. Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences. Boston: Wisdom, 2008. Gross, Rita. “Helping the Iron Bird Fly: Western Buddhist Women and Issues of Authority in the Late 1990s.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 238–52. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Sakyadhı¯ta¯. International Association of Buddhist Women. 2016. http://www.sakyadhita​.org/. Tsomo, Karma Lekshe. “North American Buddhist Women in the International Context.” In Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences, edited by Peter N. Gregory and Susanne Mrozik, 15–31. Boston: Wisdom, 2008.

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DANCE Female dancers have had an enduring presence in Buddhist history. Their roles have varied according to the religious settings in which they appear, reflecting the ideals and practices of different movements, communities, and cultural settings. Literary and visual sources make it possible to trace the evolving roles of female dancers as Indian Buddhism developed through the formative period (third century BCE through second century CE), Mahayana movement (first century CE onward), and Tantric tradition (7th to 12th century CE). As Buddhism spread beyond India, the roles of dance established in these three paradigms of Buddhist practice underwent regional variations and flowed into living traditions, several of which will be touched on below. In early Buddhism, female dancers (nartaki) represented the sensory pleasures that detract from meditative serenity. The life of Shakyamuni Buddha as a prince growing up in a palace included entertainment by female dancers and singers. On the night he set forth on his quest for truth, he stepped among the sleeping bodies of the royal singers and dancers, symbolizing the worldly enjoyments he was leaving behind. In early Buddhist literature, female dancers epitomize the feminine beauty that challenges the equanimity of male renunciants. The tempting allure of dancers garlanded in flowers, wearing tinkling ornaments and colorful raiment, with swaying hips and fragrantly oiled skin, tested the detachment of monks who encountered them in the open-air settings and processions in which they performed. Dancing was prohibited for monks and nuns. The contrasting ways of life of a dancer and a nun drives the plot of a beloved Tamil Buddhist literary classic. Named after its heroine, the Manimekhalai (ca. sixth century CE) centers on a divinely lovely dancer who eludes the amorous demands of a prince and her future as a courtesan to pursue a life of study, contemplation, and service as a nun. Although dance was unsuitable for nuns, dance was part of the homage due to South Asian royalty and exalted persons. The dancers who honored the Buddha were the Celestial Goddesses who danced in their heavenly realm to celebrate his enlightenment and the Buddha relic in their possession. Turning to the Mahayana movement, there are scant references to female dancers in sources dating from the first through fifth centuries CE, and dance is absent from the many Mahayana guidelines for devotional worship. The sixth century, however, saw a new role for female dancers in Buddhist settings as part of a pan-Indian trend to bring the courtly arts of music and dance into religious ceremonial life under royal patronage. Historical records from far-flung sites across India where Buddhism flourished at different periods between the 6th and 12th centuries attest to female dancers in residence at Buddhist temples. These women were Buddhist counterparts of the well-documented Hindu temple dancers known as devadasis. A composite description gleaned from pilgrim accounts and inscriptions shows the Buddhist dancers to have resided on temple grounds and participated in the regular round of worship by dancing, singing, and offering flowers, food, lamplight, and other votive gifts of homage two or three times each day.



Dance

Signaling this shift in the religious import and status of dancing women is a sixth-century relief at the Buddhist cave complex at Aurangabad, where a female dancer and six female musicians and drummers are sculpted along the entrance to a Buddha chapel. The dancer’s lightly clad, voluptuous body curves into a sinuous pose as she gestures toward her suggestively parted thighs. This portrayal and its placement proclaim that the sensuous grace of the female dancer no longer epitomizes worldly temptation but now befits a sanctified ritual specialist and heralds the threshold of enlightenment. With the advent of Tantric Buddhism, or Vajrayana, dance moved to center stage as a visual motif and religious practice. In Tantric imagery, Buddhas in peaceful repose gave way to dynamic Buddhas in dancing form. Some of the Tantric gurus were female dancers. In Tantric writings, female dancers are among the groups of women to be included in Tantric circles and to receive honor and ritual worship. Foundational Tantric scriptures of the seventh and eighth centuries CE, such as the Hevajra Tantra and Cakrasamvara Tantra, promoted dance as a meditative and yogic discipline for both male and female practitioners. The main purpose of Tantric dance was to cultivate divine qualities and enlightened awareness by dancing in a state of union with one of the deities of the Tantric pantheon. The practitioner adopted the appearance of the deity, meditated on the inner nature of the deity, and channeled the presence of the deity through the dance movements. Because the pantheon included female Buddhas, a woman could don the raiment and ornaments of a female deity and dance, evoking the Goddess within herself and bodying forth the presence of the Goddess through her movements. A living Tantric dance tradition is found in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Charya Nritya, translatable as “dance as a spiritual discipline,” is a sacred art of those of Tantric priestly lineage, known as Vajracharyas. In the highly esoteric rituals that are their preserve, dance is an essential element used as a way to make the deities bodily present in the ceremonies. Men may learn and perform the dances of female deities and vice versa. In a formal ritual setting, however, such as in initiation, women dance the part of female deities as one of many ritual roles in which women channel the powers and blessings of Tantric Goddesses. Still on the whole a secret art, Charya Nritya is now widely taught and performed in Nepal in the form of a small repertoire of dances appreciated for their cultural significance rather than undertaken as a Buddhist contemplative and yogic practice (Shaw 2011). Girls and women predominate among those who pursue the dance in these public venues. As Buddhism spread across Asia, other dance traditions and roles for female dancers arose in different cultural and geographic settings. There is a long tradition of female dancers honoring the national treasure of Sri Lanka, a Buddha relic housed in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Reliefs lining the temple walls represent the women, including the queen, who danced in the temple in centuries past (George 1999, 67–68). In modern times, women dance in public processions during the main national celebration and holy day of Sri Lanka, the Festival of the Sacred Tooth. A spectacular female dance tradition is immortalized on the temple and palace walls of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, where scores of

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12th- and 13th-century carved reliefs of dancing figures and women in exquisite dance raiment and intricate ornaments represent heavenly dancers (apsaras) and their human counterparts. These sculptures bear witness to a dance tradition that flourished under royal patronage for centuries and was ceremonially essential for channeling divine blessings for a harmonious, prosperous Buddhist kingdom. The delicate gestures and symbolic crowns and other adornments of the sculpted figures reveal continuities with Cambodian dance today. In the United States, where Buddhism has influenced literary and visual arts since the 1960s, the last decade has seen increasing Buddhist inroads in the overlapping realms of dance, performing arts, and conscious movement modalities. As in the dance world at large, women are more numerous than men among those who study traditional Asian dance forms as well as among those who integrate Buddhist themes, symbolic elements, and practices with Western dance styles and somatic disciplines. This trend is seen in a recent collection of essays by pioneers and practitioners of Buddhist and Buddhist-inflected dance and movement practices, in which 20 of the 26 contributors are women (Blum 2016, 267–69). Charya Nritya is one of the Asian dance forms taught in the United States, in a Buddhist temple setting in Portland, Oregon, where the meditative and ritual dimensions of the dance are emphasized. A chapter in the aforementioned anthology is by the woman instrumental in establishing and promoting Charya Nritya in the West (Blum 2016, 155–63). Miranda Shaw See also: Buddhism: Buddhism in the United States; Dance of Tara; Female Divinities; Mahayana; Tantra; Hinduism: Devadasis Further Reading Blum, Harrison, ed. Dancing with Dharma: Essays on Movement and Dance in Western Buddhism. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016. Cravath, Paul. Earth in Flower—The Divine Mystery of the Cambodian Dance Drama. n.p.: DatASIA, 2014. Danielou, Alain, trans. Manimekhalai (The Dancer with the Magic Bowl) by Merchant-Prince Shattan. New York: New Directions, 1989. George, David E. R. Buddhism as/in Performance: Analysis of Meditation and Theatrical Practice. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1999. Shaw, Miranda. “Tantric Buddhist Dance of Nepal: From the Temple to the Stage and Back.” In Nepal: Nostalgia and Modernity, edited by Deepak Shimkhada, 101–10. Bombay: Marg Foundation, 2011.

D A N C E O F TA R A The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara (Dance of Tara) is a meditative movement and dance practice for women in honor of the Goddess Tara. The dance was the inspiration of Prema Dasara, a trained classical Indian Odissi dancer, who introduced the dance in 1986 and established over 90 circles for its practice around the world. Prema is the founder and spiritual and creative director of Tara Dhatu, a



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nonprofit organization dedicated to awakening humanity through the sacred arts. The main purpose of the Mandala Dance of Tara is to encourage each participant to manifest her or his enlightened potential. Engaging in the dance can produce a powerful experience of meditative absorption. Esteemed lamas have declared this dance to be an accumulation of wisdom, compassion, and merit, all necessary on the path to awakening. The dance is based on a Tibetan sadhana, a mind treasure revealed by Chokjur Lingpa, devoted to Goddess Tara. Prema Dasara explains that while translating the 21 Praises of Tara into English, she was spontaneously moved to dance to the verses and was prompted to develop the Dance of Tara in collaboration with another dancer, Lauryn Galindo (Dasara 2010, 5–9). Prema first performed the dance with friends on Maui, where she lives. When word of it spread, she was invited to travel throughout the world and teach the dance to communities of women. Although the dance is primarily a dance of empowerment for women of all ages and abilities, men are invited to participate in supportive roles as protectors. Goddess Tara is revered in Tibetan Buddhism as Mother of Perfected Wisdom and Great Mother of Liberation. She is the Ultimate Mother who uses her omniscience and divine powers to awaken inherent wisdom and compassion in practitioners to realize their true nature. Legends circulating in India and Tibet tell of the many lifetimes in which Tara ascended to her role as Savioress and Enlightener. In one much-told tale, Tara was born from the tears of Avalokites´vara as a bodhisattva, one who has vowed to hold back from enlightenment and continue to serve until every being is liberated. Another account tells how, in a former life in an age long past, Tara vowed to be reborn as a woman throughout her spiritual journey as aspirant and Divine Liberator. A group of 21 Taras is widely worshipped in Tibetan Buddhism and is a popular object of artistic and literary treatment. A lengthy prayer devoted to the 21 forms, known as the 21 Praises of Tara, provides the theme and pattern of the Tara Dance, in which each woman embodies one of the forms of Tara. Prema has modernized and refined the invocations and language of the prayers that accompany the dance to enhance their meaning Women perform the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises and impact. of Tara. (Courtesy of Tonasket Buddhist Center)

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The Dance of Tara is what is known in Tibetan Buddhism as a terma (hidden treasure), a sacred teaching revealed at a specific historical moment to an individual who is sensitive enough to receive it and sufficiently skilled to transmit it for the benefit of his or her generation and the world. The person who receives a terma, often in the form of a vision or a dream, is vested thereby with authority to introduce a new practice or teaching. Many teachings passed down for generations originated as termas. Prema’s story resembles those of women in ancient India who received revelations of sacred dances and practices, adorned themselves in colorful costumes, and offered the dances as inspiration within temples and charnel meeting grounds. The Tara Dance has been performed in the presence of eminent Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama, who have encouraged Prema Dasara to continue the dance, teach it to others, and protect its lineage. The Dance of Tara begins with the dancers invoking Tara within a crescent moon mandala. After calling on Tara to be present and share her blessings, the dancers walk in a spiraling pattern that forms a set of concentric circles. As the dance proceeds, they move through profound geometric shapes, such as the peace symbol. Following the spiral formation, each dancer progresses to the point of being “birthed” out of the spiral to dance her praise. As the dancers move through their self-choreographed ritual, they undergo mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation and an expansion of consciousness. Dancers lose their identification with their smaller, or everyday, self and reveal their inner nature as Goddess Tara. The body moves, and Tara appears through their expressive dance. The dance is rooted in the practice of Tantric Buddhism, which includes all the senses of the body revealed as divine. During formal offerings of the dance, colorful costumes, such as saris, are worn. Diverse Dancing Tara groups around the world have designed a range of elegant costumes. Each of the Taras appear in sacred colors with symbolic meanings. These correspond to the qualities of the forms of Tara to which the dancer is assigned and help to embody the quality. For instance, reds are for magnetizing; black symbolizes wrath, the force needed to accomplish enlightened activities; yellow is for increasing; and white is pacifying. The dance symbolically enacts and represents the journey of awakening. The 21 Praises of Tara can be correlated with 21 “knots” in the subtle energy system of the body. Saying the mantras and doing the dances begins to untie the knots. The dance unfolds in the traditional order of a complete sadhana, or spiritual practice, which starts with invocation, motivation, refuge, and bodhisattva vows. It then goes into the main body of the practice—dancing of praises, meditations with mantra. It proceeds through a confirmation of the benefits of the dance and a dissolution practice (all is empty). The dancers arise again as the deity and the merits of the practice are dedicated to the benefit of all beings. The dance is believed to bring blessings to those who dance and witness it, and to manifest the presence of Tara and spread her inspiring, empowering, and enlightening influence. Susan de-Gaia and Phyllis Moses



Engaged Buddhism

See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Dance; Female Divinities; Guan Yin; Mahayana; Sacred Texts on Women; Tara; Hinduism: Durga and Kali; Spirituality: Meditation Further Reading Dasara, Prema. “Dancing the Goddess Tara: Praise Her, Embody Her, Discover Your Own Perfection.” In Dancing on the Earth: Women’s Stories of Healing through Dance, edited by Joanna Leseho and Sandra McMaster, 66–80. Forre, Scotland: Findhorn, 2011. Dasara, Prema. Dancing Tara: A Manual of Practice, How to Live the Dream. Phoenix: Tara Dhatu, 2010. Dasara, Prema. “The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara.” In Dancing with Dharma: Essays on Movement and Dance in Western Buddhism, edited by Harrison Blum, 164–69. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016. Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen, and Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche. Skillful Grace—Tara Practice for Our Times. Translated and edited by Erik Pema Kunsang and Marcia Binder Schmidt. Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe, 2007. Sherab, Khenchen Palden, and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. Tara’s Enlightened Activity: An Oral Commentary on the Twenty-One Praises to Tara. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2007. Tara Dhatu. Dance the Goddess. 2018. www.taradhatu.org.

ENGAGED BUDDHISM Women who are Engaged Buddhists extend the bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings to social action. The term Engaged Buddhism was coined by Thich Nhat Hanh in the 1960s and describes techniques and actions to channel the religious teachings of the dharma to the resolution of numerous social problems that exist in societies and in the natural environment and that accompany globalization. It would not be correct to say that Buddhism was not engaged with social issues from its beginnings through the middle of the 20th century, because the four types of Buddhist ethics include discipline, virtue, altruism, and engagement, and these virtues overlap and are cumulative. From the middle of the century, however, the combination of the effect of world wars; the Korean and Vietnam Wars; international human rights legislation under the auspices of the United Nations; and the increased communication, forced migration, gender injustice, poverty, human trafficking, and deterioration of the environment that accompanied globalization led to an understanding that individual salvation or enlightenment cannot be the sole purpose of Buddhist practice. Consequently, increasing numbers of Buddhists are extending their bodhisattva commitments to social action (Romberg 2002, 167– 68). Women are very prominent in this movement and in areas that range from meditation techniques on one end to political movements on the other. Consistent with traditional gender roles, some Engaged Buddhist nuns and dharma masters apply meditation techniques to help actualize compassion and their vow to save suffering beings, while others are founders of entire organizations devoted to compassionate relief. In one of the typical Western Engaged Buddhist approaches, Sharon Salzberg (1995) advocates the use of metta or loving-kindness, a meditation technique in which practitioners express loving thoughts and well-being, beginning with themselves and then extending them to

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others, including those they may once have considered inimical. In this fashion, each person can learn to cultivate love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Others channel engaged practice into comprehensive compassionate organizations; for example, Taiwanese nun Cheng Yen founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation in 1966 (see www.tzuchi.org.tw). In the United States, female Engaged Buddhists have founded and contributed to organizations that address the spectrum of social problems and humanitarian causes. Notably, Project Dana, founded in 1989 by Rose Nakamura, combines the efforts of several temples in Hawai‘i and California to serve those who are elderly or disabled and is the only Buddhist organization in the National Association of Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers. At the Upaya Zen Center (www.upaya.org), emphasis is placed on compassionate service related to death and dying, prisons, and the environment. The founder, main teacher, and abbess of Upaya, Joan Halifax (b. 1942), received a PhD in medical anthropology and has delivered numerous lectures on death and dying. In the early 1970s, she worked with dying cancer patients and developed support mechanisms for the dying with her then-spouse. She is one of many women who came to Buddhist practice in the process of their professional work. Her social engagement has led her to found the Project on Being with Dying, the Nomads Clinic in Nepal, and the Upaya Prison Project. Prison reform and so-called prison dharma (contemplative programs for inmates) is an area in which many women Buddhists have been active. While it is easier for women to serve female prison populations as dharma teachers, some tend to all-male populations. Although the Buddha did not reproduce the Hindu caste system in the sangha and allowed women to practice, the concern with gender and social hierarchy has been part of the sangha since early Buddhism, and misogyny affecting the sangha is a reality. It has been persistently manifested in differential rules for women practitioners and even denial of full ordination in some settings. Engaged Buddhist women work individually and in transnational networks to open full ordination to women. Like Thubten Chodron (b. 1950), an American Tibetan Buddhist who is a student of several masters and obtained full ordination in Taiwan, some Engaged Buddhist women practitioners use parallel and sideways lineages. A slightly different approach is embodied in the actions of persons such as Chatsumarn Kabilsing (b. 1944) (Ven. Dhammananda), who seek to obtain gender equality in ordination and directly establish or reestablish female clerical orders. This is particularly critical in Thailand, where women clergy are severely subordinate to male monks, the latter of whom receive numerous privileges, including free public transportation. This gender hierarchy in religious practice in Thailand is being gradually eroded by the Network of Thai Bikkhuni Sangha, opening the way to enlightenment and escape from future rebirths for women practicing in the Theravada tradition. What’s more, since gender hierarchy in Buddhist practice corresponds with cultural and social disempowerment of women in Buddhist societies, such movements may help to address the massive human rights violations against women in lay society. Several women have been actively engaged in nonviolent Buddhist political liberation movements, particularly in Tibet, Vietnam, and Myanmar. When Sister Chan Khong (b. 1938) was a teenager, she already worked for the underprivileged



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in the city slums in Vietnam. Later, she became the first full-ordained monastic disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926). Khong organized the Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace Talks in 1969, and at the end of the Vietnam War she organized humanitarian help to rescue the boat people and led numerous sponsorship programs for thousands of orphans in Vietnam. Together with Thich Nhat Hanh, she started Plum Village monastery in southwestern France, and she serves as the elder nun there (www.plumvillage.org). In Burma (now Myanmar), Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945) became the leader of the National League for Democracy after she returned in 1988 from her studies abroad. The military junta that had ruled the country since the early 1960s was overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box in 1990 but refused to yield power, and Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest, during which time she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights. She now holds a government post similar to that of prime minister. In the United States, Paula Green brings her background in meditation, intergroup counseling, and nonviolent activism to international conflict resolution at the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding in Massachusetts (Green 2000). Compassion for the dignity of all sentient beings also requires activism aimed at the protection of the environment and the realization that human beings are part of nature together with all its other manifestations, and several well-known Engaged Buddhists, including Joanne Macy, have drawn attention to deep ecology and the need to preserve the natural environment. Macy focuses on both the despair and empowerment that accompanies environmental decline, especially in relation to the potential of nuclear disaster, and draws attention to the need for nuclear guardianship. Engaged Buddhist women have contributed to numerous publications and play leadership roles in several networks and academic programs. Joanna Macy (b. 1929) and Stephanie Kaza (b. 1947) are active in the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and Sandra Jishu Holmes (1941–1998) cofounded the Zen Peacemaker Order. Naropa University in Boulder offers an accredited master of arts degree in Engaged Buddhism that is headed by Judith Simmer-Brown (b. 1946), and Susan Moon (b. 1942) edits the Buddhist Peace Fellowship quarterly Turning Wheel. The emphasis in these centers, programs, and publications is not on religious Buddhist practice per se but on the development of nonviolent, compassionate approaches to healing the ills of the world and the building of communities infused with social justice. While the social activism of many notable women is mentioned above, Engaged Buddhism is practiced by numerous unsung heroines who are either laypersons or ordained practitioners, whose compassion and altruism address assaults on human dignity and social and environmental injustice and who unceasingly emphasize the equivalence of genders, of races/ethnicities, and of human and other sentient beings. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Buddhism in the United States; Gender Roles; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Zen; Hinduism: Caste

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Further Reading Green, Paula. “Walking for Peace: Nipponzan Myohoji.” In Engaged Buddhism in the West, edited by Christopher S. Queen, 128–58. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2000. Queen, Christopher S., ed. Engaged Buddhism in the West. Boston: Wisdom, 2000. Romberg, Claudia. “Women in Engaged Buddhism.” In Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 3 (2002): 161–70. Salzberg, Sharon. Lovingkindness; The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Boston: Shambala Publications, 1995.

FEMALE DIVINITIES Buddhist history reveals an ongoing and profound engagement with the Feminine Divine. From the beginning, Buddhism advanced female figures for reverence alongside the Buddha and other exalted male figures. The female pantheon developed along with the tradition as a whole, evolving to reflect the distinctive theologies and practices of the early, Mahayana, and Tantric movements. Over the centuries, female deities filled every echelon of the divine hierarchy, from Nature Goddesses embedded in the landscape to Cosmic Goddesses representing the highest truths and attainments of the tradition. As Buddhism expanded beyond India, regional and local variations of the pantheon emerged. An Indic Goddess might be adapted to the new cultural setting by absorbing features of indigenous female divinities. In some cases, new female deities were introduced to reflect the geographical terrain and long-standing social, ritual, and cosmological patterns. Following an overview of the core Indian Buddhist pantheon, several regional developments beyond India will be addressed to convey the pan-Asian scope, historical dynamism, and ongoing vitality of Buddhist reverence for Goddesses. In the earliest Buddhist sources, dating from the third century BCE through the second century CE, divine females long venerated on the South Asian subcontinent were integrated into Buddhist art, narratives, and devotional life. One such Goddess is Prithivi, Mother Earth, heralded as a guardian of truth and holder of the throne of world sovereignty. The Buddha-to-be took his seat at her navel, the site of her throne, for his final attempt at enlightenment. When a demonic detractor, Mara, sought to taunt, tempt, and force the seeker from the hallowed seat, Prithivi herself emerged from the earth and banished Mara, making possible the enlightenment event and foundation of Buddhism. Lakshmi, the Lotus Goddess, was incorporated into early Buddhist worship for her familiar benefits of life-giving rains, plentiful harvests, and glowing health and good fortune. Most prominent in early Buddhist veneration were Nature and Tree Goddesses known as yakshinis, bestowers of vegetative fertility, abundance, and all manner of blessings. Yakshini images graced the railings encircling early Buddhist stupas, the monuments built to commemorate Shakyamuni Buddha. Pilgrims to the stupa sites rendered offerings to the yakshinis, whose portrayal as voluptuous beauties with ample hips and jeweled hip-belts proclaimed their life-enhancing powers. One yakshini rose from the ranks and became a permanent mainstay of Buddhist institutional life. An elaborate legend relates how Hariti was driven by grief at the



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loss of a child to prey on the children of others until the Buddha consoled and converted her, eliciting her vow to guard his monasteries. The stone statues of Hariti installed on monastic premises portray her as a stately matron with children clinging to her body and playing at her feet. Monks and nuns offered her a portion of every meal, while laypersons flocked to the shrines to pray for healthy children, prosperity, and cure of disease, a pattern that endures throughout the Buddhist world. The Mahayana movement, which gained momentum in the first and second centuries CE, introduced new female divinities to meet perennial needs and embody explicitly Buddhist ideals and attainments. The exalted female pantheon was supported by Mahayana theology, which envisions reality as a wondrous, infinitely creative womb. A philosophy grounded in nondualism disallowed the body-mind, matter-spirit, and nature-culture dualities that in other religious systems serve to relegate femaleness to the devalued categories of body, matter, and nature. Accordingly, Mahayana literature includes many exalted female figures and voices of wisdom. At the outset, in the original literature of the movement, a female deity was installed at the head of the pantheon as the eternal source of wisdom and mother who gives birth to all Buddhas. The radiant wisdom-mother Prajnaparamita inspired lavish devotion as the Goddess who embodies the feminine quality of nondual wisdom (prajna) that crowns the spiritual quest. She holds a scripture in her hand or supported on a lotus, representing her role as the font of liberating wisdom. Mahayana Goddesses proliferated in her wake. They are envisioned as regal, serene benefactors of extraordinary wisdom, compassion, and miracle-working powers. Each has a sphere of human need to which she responds when invoked with mantras, prayers, and offerings. Details of a Goddess’s appearance reflect her specific powers and gifts. The role of Vasudhara as a bestower of sustenance, abundance, and agricultural plenty is conveyed by her golden hue, the presence of vases overflowing with gems and grain, and an upraised hand displaying a sheaf of rice, the staff of life. Marici, glowing archer of the dawn, circles the earth on her golden chariot to ward off thieves, armies, wild animals, stormy seas, and other mortal perils. Sitatapatra is a formidable protector, with her thousand heads, arms, and legs. She is invoked to overcome supernatural dangers such as sorcery, negative astrological influences, and harmful spirits and demons. The savioress Tara gained special prominence in this galaxy of maternal nurturers. Like the northern star after which she is named, Tara became the brightest light in the Mahayana firmament. Introduced as an emissary of compassion in the sixth century, she quickly rose in status to become a universal mother of cosmic expanse, with every perfection and power at her command, garnering unequaled popularity in the Indian and Himalayan Buddhist worlds. With the advent of the Tantric movement, beginning in the seventh century CE, a new type of female divinity made her debut, namely, the Tantric female Buddha. Unlike the elegant, maternal Mahayana Goddesses with their circumscribed qualities and roles, the Tantric female Buddhas embody the state of full awakening, or enlightenment. They are dynamic figures shown in poses of flight and dance.

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Proclaiming their inner freedom, they are naked except for a tiara, bone ornaments, flowing scarves, and long hair swirling around them. They blaze with intensity and flaming wisdom that consumes all negativity and illusion. Their appearance reflects their ultimate attainments rather than specific gifts they bestow. Tantric female Buddhas embody differing facets of supreme enlightenment. The primary and by all evidence original Tantric female Buddha is Vajrayogini, meaning “Adamantine Yogini,” designating her as a female who attained perfection through the practice of yoga and became a divine, all-knowing yogini. Her body is brilliant red, signifying her passionate nature as she embraces all the energies of life. She brandishes a curved knife symbolizing nondual wisdom and a bowl brimming with bliss-bestowing nectar. The female Buddha Nairatmya is blue, the color of the sky, signifying the vastness of her being as she flows through the universe without impediment, for she has transcended self-centered mind-states and is at one with infinite space and all reality. Simhamukha, the lion-headed female Buddha, embodies the untamable sovereignty and freedom of the enlightened state. Female Buddhas figure in advanced yogas and esoteric rituals aimed at attaining Buddhahood in the present lifetime and body. For women on the Tantric path, female Buddhas offer the inspiration of Buddhahood in female form. A woman can focus her practice of deity yoga (deva-yoga) on a female Buddha and cultivate the enlightened awareness of her divine exemplar by meditative, yogic, and ritual means, including sacred dance. In the 12th century, when Muslim invasions displaced Buddhism in India, worship of these Goddesses had already taken root in varied settings across Asia, and the female pantheon continued to evolve. In what follows, I highlight the distinctive contours and cultural inflections of the living Goddess traditions of Himalayan and East Asian Buddhism. The Buddhism of Nepal, which is practiced by the indigenous Newar population, is marked by the prominence and omnipresence of female deities in the sacred landscape, ritual life, and communal celebrations. The geography of the country is a matrix of female manifestations and powers. The Buddhist origin story of the Kathmandu Valley begins with a vast primordial lake, the womb-waters of Goddess Guhyeshvari. Her sacred waters still flow underground. Two shrines where her subterranean springs emerge draw crowds of worshippers to seek the life-enhancing blessings of her waters each day. Tantric female Buddhas reign supreme and preside over the valley in four far-flung temples whose inner shrines are carefully guarded to preserve their potent powers. Shrouded in mystery, these Goddesses are entrusted with matters of state and communal well-being and hold sway over Tantric rites. The Goddess Hariti, introduced above, is a mainstay of Buddhist devotional life in Nepal. She heals and safeguards children and holds every aspect of familial well-being in her maternal purview. Her blessings are sought at thriving temple sites and channeled through female trance mediums known as dyah-ma (divine women), who voice Hariti’s counsel and dispense her cures. These and other Goddesses of the Newar Buddhist pantheon represent life-giving, creative, transforming powers that women share. Women striving to make progress on the spiritual



Female Divinities

path need not renounce or transcend their femaleness but rather seek to awaken their innate divine qualities. Newar Buddhists have many practices, ritual occasions, and public festivals that evoke the divinity of women as embodiments of the Divine Feminine. Augmenting the pantheon inherited from India, Tibetan Buddhism introduced new female deities suitable for Himalayan heights and climes and a terrain replete with natural and demonic dangers. Most prominent among the deities of Tibetan inspiration is Palden Lhamo, a wrathful demon tamer more fearsome in guise than any Indic Goddess. A preexisting political pattern wherein royal clans claimed descent from a divine ancestress arguably prompted the selection of Palden Lhamo as supreme guardian of the Dalai Lamas when they became leaders of the nation. When the current Dalai Lama escaped Chinese captivity and made his way to India, the only possession he took with him was a treasured painting of his divine protector. He attributes his safe passage through Chinese troops, mountain ranges, and hazardous river currents to the prophetic guidance and interventions of Palden Lhamo. The Tibetan landscape, too, shaped the Buddhist pantheon. Long-revered mountain Goddesses who preserved the sanctity and ecological integrity of their slopes were enlisted to support the Buddhist presence in their domain. Under Buddhist influence, they were personified as beatific females in voluminous robes suitable for frosty heights and endowed with animal mounts, an affinity with their equestrian populace. Mount Everest was personified as Tashi Tseringma, the Auspicious Mother of Long Life, a sparkling beauty riding a white snow lion with a turquoise mane, while four lower peaks were cast as her sisters. The Buddhist ritual repertoire expanded to include invocation of the mountain Goddesses and techniques of divination and trance possession that came within their purview. In East Asia, Avalokites´vara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion introduced in the Lotus Sutra (first or second century CE), was initially adopted in the male form featured in the scripture but reenvisioned as female beginning in the ninth century to become the preeminent female deity of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. In China, Guan Yin (also spelled Kuanyin) is a serene Goddess whose tender smile, delicate beauty, and flowing robes convey her compassionate heart and harmonious spirit. Guan Yin is often shown floating on a lotus, the pan-Buddhist symbol for spiritual purity and transcendence. She also acquired a dragon, a creature revered in East Asia, to deliver her swiftly through bodies of water and celestial heights to wherever she is needed. Local legends, miracle tales, and pilgrimage sites accrued to Guan Yin. Her identity merged with that of women famed in folk traditions for their exemplary lives and deeds. The preeminent example is Princess Miao-shan, a cultural heroine whose life evinced extraordinary compassion, self-sacrifice, and miraculous powers. Both figures are revered at Mount Putuo, a scenic island studded with temples, overseen by a towering statue of Guan Yin, and host to celebrations that draw millions of pilgrims each year. In Japan, the same Goddess of Compassion is the foremost Buddhist deity. Addressed as Kannon or Kannon Bosatsu, she is enshrined in virtually countless shrines and temples. A set of 33 forms of Kannon gained currency and is replicated

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on varying scales, from a group of statues assembled in a single temple to 33 shrines spread through the grounds of a temple, village, town, or entire region. The grandest scale is groupings of 33 temples, each devoted to one of the forms, located along pilgrimage routes spanning many miles and varied terrain. Three such routes (the Saigoku, Bando, and Chichibu), with one temple added, form the 100 Kannon Pilgrimage, an ambitious undertaking and expression of the profound devotion Kannon inspires in Japan. Further afield, Guan Yin, or Kannon, was embraced across the pan-Pacific Buddhist domain, with specific trajectories and worship profiles in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Korea. Any survey can only highlight major figures and overarching themes of such a burgeoning pantheon. The above-mentioned Goddesses and numerous others would reward investigation into their complex histories and multifaceted practice traditions. Miranda Shaw See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Dance; Dance of Tara; Guan Yin; Mahayana; Prajnaparamita; Tantra; Tara; Hinduism: Durga and Kali; Lakshmi Further Reading Michaels, Axel, Cornelia Vogelsanger, and Annette Wilke, eds. Wild Goddesses in India and Nepal. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 1996. Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Shaw, Miranda. “Palden Lhamo: Supreme Guardian Goddess of the Dalai Lamas.” In As Long as Space Endures: Essays on the Ka¯lacakra Tantra in Honor of H. H. the Dalai Lama, edited by Edward Arnold, 155–70. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2008. Yu, Chun-fang. Kuan Yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokiteshvara. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

FEMININE VIRTUES The virtues associated with women in Buddhist texts are predominantly those associated with women’s social roles as wives and mothers. This is not surprising since Buddhist textual sources describe the ideal woman as the perfect wife, implying that the natural role for a woman is to be a wife. On the other hand, the same texts describe the activities that mothers engage in as deeply rooted in Buddhism’s ultimate virtue, compassion. It is therefore in the context of women as mothers that the most striking feminine (and Buddhist) virtues fully emerge. In the Pali texts (the texts of Theravada Buddhism), the dominant feminine qualities appear in descriptions of the ideal woman and focus on her beauty, her faithfulness, and, most significantly, her obedience to her husband. The ideal woman is the woman-jewel, a woman who appears in the world as the perfect wife for the wheel-turning monarch, a mythical emperor who lives righteously and spreads the Buddhist teachings to all corners of the Indian continent. The woman-jewel epitomizes all feminine virtues. She is physically beautiful and morally pure. Notably, she is perfectly faithful and obedient: she would never betray the emperor whether in thoughts, words, or deeds, and, to emphasize that, she embodies obedience;



Feminine Virtues

the texts describe her in the same terms used to describe a servant or slave. Significantly, the Buddha uses the same description in a sutra (Buddhist discourse) to describe the good wife who deserves a good rebirth and is lauded as one who obeys her husband’s every word (Engelmajer 2014). Taken together, these passages indicate that, in the context of the canonical scriptures, feminine virtues are intrinsically related to a woman’s status as wife and that obedience is the feminine virtue par excellence: an obedient wife is a virtuous woman. These qualities are clearly inscribed in the patriarchal framework of religious texts written by men for men in which women’s voice is barely heard, if at all. These texts portray women in ways that justify and perpetuate their subordination to men. However, other descriptions reveal different qualities that women, and especially mothers, uniquely display. In Buddhist thought, inasmuch as women are given attention, motherhood appears as a natural role for them, and therefore virtues associated with mothers are intrinsically feminine virtues. These arise not only in women’s descriptions of their social roles as wives and mothers but also in metaphors and narratives in which maternal attitudes and behaviors related to nurturing and protecting are the ideal against which all others are compared. Mothers exemplify nurture by giving their children milk and food. The Buddha’s own stepmother is a vivid example: after his mother died, a few days after his birth, his stepmother nursed and raised him, saving him from certain death. The Buddha himself recognized her crucial role by addressing her as “mother” and recounting how she fed him with the milk from her own breast. Maternal milk further appears as a symbol for nurturing and great kindness. The Buddha encourages his listeners to consider that the amount of maternal milk one has drunk over the course of one’s many rebirths exceeds the amount of water contained in all the earth’s oceans to emphasize the great kindness of mothers and therefore of all beings who, at one point or another, have been one’s mother. In some passages, he even refers to the Buddhist teachings as “Dharma-milk,” comparing them to maternal milk that gives and maintains life (Engelmajer 2014). This nurturing activity is not limited to its material aspect. In many instances, mothers encourage their children to listen to the Buddha’s teachings or to pursue the spiritual path, whether by sending them to study with a teacher or urging them to relentlessly pursue the ultimate spiritual goal. In addition to encouraging them, mothers also nurture their children spiritually by offering a role model. For example, all the Buddha’s mothers are portrayed as having achieved the greatest virtues and being perfect role models. His birth mother, Ma¯ya¯, is portrayed as morally pure, living a semiascetic life within the confines of the royal palace. One of his mothers in his penultimate incarnation, Queen Phusatı¯, manifests her great generosity by building almshouses all over the kingdom and distributing food, drink, and money daily. In contemporary Theravada countries, women are usually the main sponsors of boys’ ordination, extending their nurturing activities (both material and spiritual) to the monastic community itself by the giving of a son and providing material

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support to the monks. The generosity they demonstrate toward the monastic community raises their status as celebrated members of the community. Several metaphors are based on mothers’ protective attitude toward their children. A common one enjoins a monk to watch his breath like a hen watches over her eggs. A wife who guards her husband’s wealth and does not squander it is compared to a mother who protects her only child. Narratives, especially in the ja¯takas (accounts of the Buddha’s previous lives), tell of mothers protecting their children from dangers often at great risk to their own lives. A striking metaphor is contained in the Metta¯ Sutra, a sutra still recited today to develop loving-kindness (metta¯) and compassion for all beings. In the sutra, the Buddha enjoins his followers to develop loving-kindness toward the whole world and to have an unbounded mind toward all beings, just like a mother protects her child with her life. Furthermore, the motivation for mothers’ nurture and protection is identified as loving-kindness, the basic building block of compassion. This virtue is perfectly embodied in a mother’s care for her child. In fact, many of the narratives and metaphors discussed above stipulate that a mother’s actions spring from compassion. This clear relationship between mothers and compassion is exemplified when the Buddha is compared to a mother because he teaches the dharma out of compassion for the welfare of all beings, like a mother protects her child out of compassion. In Mahayana Buddhism, compassion even becomes personified in the female bodhisattvas Tara and Guan Yin, manifestly revealing that the ultimate Buddhist virtue, compassion, is a distinctively feminine virtue. Pascale Engelmajer See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Gender Roles; Guan Yin; Mahayana; Tara Further Reading Eberhardt, Nancy. Imagining the Course of Life: Self-Transformation in a Shan Buddhist Community. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2006. Engelmajer, Pascale. “Motherhood in the Ancient Indian Buddhist World: A Soteriological Path.” In Motherhood in the Ancient World, edited by Dana Cooper and Claire Phelan, 55–76. London: Palgrave, 2017. Engelmajer, Pascale. Women in Pa¯li Buddhism: Walking the Spiritual Path in Mutual Dependence. Critical Studies in Buddhism Series. New York: Routledge, 2014.

FUNERAL PRACTICES Funeral practices, and more generally the veneration paid to the dead, are closely connected with Buddhism in East Asian countries. The funerals in Buddhist societies are based on the idea of continuation of the existence of the deceased, as death is not considered the end of life. The relationship between the living and the dead is reciprocal; with the death of a person, a series of rites are initiated to change the status of the deceased, notably from being polluted to being purified, allowing the person’s reincarnation. Despite the fact that every Buddhist society has its own way of organizing funeral ceremonies (with a myriad of local variations due to



Funeral Practices

coexistence with other beliefs), the principal features are the same in each society. In Japan, Buddhist funerals are used by almost everyone when death occurs, while in China, people usually call on different religious specialists. Because Buddhism is often described as a male religion, in this sense the man’s role is strongest during formal ritual occasions like funerals, while women have less of a role in funeral practices. However, funerals are also considered to be a domestic duty, especially with regard to the treatment of the corpse, and consequently within the area of women. To understand women’s major role in funeral practices in East Asian countries, it is necessary first to consider funerals not only as a religious practice but also as a social event. According to Adam Yuet Chau (2006), event production typically consists of two parallel aspects: the liturgical aspect and the hosting or social aspect. It is more common to invite monks rather than nuns to perform the funeral ceremony (liturgical aspect), while traditionally, women play an important role through the hosting aspect, expressing a gendered division of responsibilities. However, in some cases, as in contemporary China, Buddhist laywomen may be called by a family to conduct the liturgical part of the ritual. In East Asian countries, when someone dies, a date is fixed for the burial or the cremation. Then, a series of rites is set in motion, with three main sequences: a postdeath treatment of the corpse, a funeral service, and memorial services conducted by religious specialists. Ideally, this last part is held on the day of the death each week for seven weeks. The period between cremation and the 49th day is the time when death pollution is thought to be at its strongest. The several tasks necessary to prepare the dead for the burial are usually carried out by women and require knowledge and training. Traditionally, death was an event that usually took place at home, and the care of the body was seen as an extension of nursing the sick, which is a responsibility of women. They have to sew the death clothes and prepare the body of the dead by bathing the corpse, plugging all orifices, closing the eyes, covering the face with a white cloth, and sometimes shaving the beard. During the funeral service, friends, neighbors, and relatives of the dead come over to attend the ceremony. This part of the ceremony is considered as the hosting aspect of the funeral: women prepare tea, receive visitors, and cook food for a shared meal. Even if the liturgical aspect of the ritual changes according to local variations, liquor and food are always provided. The quality of the hosting, considered as a social obligation and relying on women, highlights the social prestige and symbolic capital of the deceased and close family members. Women may also be involved in other practices during the funeral. In China, for instance, a custom known as kusang (literally “crying during funeral”) consists of women gathering around the corpse and crying and shouting loudly. Through this regulated practice, they both frighten bad spirits that roam around the corpse and express their sorrow. It could also be considered a way to accumulate merit, one important role for women in Buddhist societies, and transfer it to the dead. In contemporary times, funeral practices in East Asian countries are caught between a historical continuity in ritual practices and changed and invented traditions. In several Buddhist societies, as in Japan for example, modernization and

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urbanization have led to a shift from community-sponsored rites to more isolated urban individual family events. The funeral service, which was universally held at home, is now increasingly conducted at a Buddhist temple hall. Consequently, the functional role played by female relatives gradually decreased. For instance, women are no longer obligated to sew the death clothes, since they can now be purchased. However, even if the privatization of the funeral is more and more widespread in East Asian countries, the double attitude toward a dead body— respect and fear—remains popular, and certain special duties relying exclusively on women, such as the postdeath treatment of the deceased, will not disappear as long as doing everything in the name of the dead remains important for the living. Julie Remoiville See also: Buddhism: Gender Roles; Nuns, Theravada Further Reading Chau, Adam-Yuet. Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006. Chen, Gang. “Death Rituals in a Chinese Village: An Old Tradition in Contemporary Social Context.” Thesis, Ohio State University, 2000. Wijayaratna, Mohan. “Funerary Rites in Japanese and other Asian Buddhist Societies.” Japan Review 8 (1997): 105–25. Williams, Paul, and Patrice Ladwig. Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

GENDER ROLES Buddhism does not prescribe essentially gendered roles for women, be they monastics or laywomen. However, as in other religions, gendered attitudes and roles have developed in several societies and historical times. A religion or spiritual path becomes either patriarchal or friendly toward women to the extent that the society in which it is practiced is patriarchal or views women as equal to men, and this may be exacerbated where Buddhism is also the state religion, creating expectations and roles for women that are subservient to men. In countries where Theravada or Tibetan Buddhism is practiced, we see that monks and male teachers are revered, and the teachings and practices of women are diminished. Gendered roles that are created in a patriarchal environment may consist of subservience in assigned monastic duties, assignment of less prestigious duties, systems of volunteering that coax women into the more subservient duties, outright denial of full ordination, and the creation of stark gender discrimination in lay society based on the example of the religious community. Nowhere is this more the case than in Thailand, where novice nuns or mae chi are required to wear white robes in stark contrast to the ochre ones worn by monks. They can never achieve full ordination, at least not in the Thai lineage, and they are used as spiritually and materially inferior handmaidens by monks. What’s worse, due to the belief that one’s karma leads to birth or rebirth as a woman, women and girls outside the monastic community are prone to be violated and sexually abused by



Gender Roles

men because they think that abuse in this life may cause rebirth as a man in the next. Thus, “Thai society is a particularly egregious example of hijacking religion in the name of a pro-male status quo” (Hay 2014, 2). Today, the rising bikkhuni movement that seeks to ordain women and establishes monasteries for women is effectively challenging the gender hierarchies within both the Buddhist tradition and the lay society. Variations of the dynamic of differential gender roles are found around the world but with some notable exceptions and harbingers of change. Whether or not a particular monastic task is gendered depends on two factors: whether the monastery has both female and male monks and how the particular task figures in both the culture and the religious practice. For example, purity and cleanliness are central in Japanese life. In Japanese Zen, since the body and mind are considered one and the same, polishing the floor is both physical and spiritual, and cleaning is a crucial part of monastic life that embodies the religious teachings. In a Western monastery where men and women practice together, however, assignment of cleaning tasks to women and more prestigious tasks to men is distinctly gendered. The ability to view the task as a way to practice compassion can either be seen as an opportunity by women or become one of the ways in which they work for change in the monastery. A significant aspect of Buddhist practice is teaching and dharma transmission. The major lineages of revered teachers and masters contain few, if any, women’s names, and it is seldom that a woman stands out as a teacher in Tibetan Buddhism, even though numerous women study, practice, and teach in that tradition. Pema Chödrön is one of the exceptions. Not many women are recognized in the Theravada tradition, although women abbots like Dhammananda are likely to have their name included in revered lineages. In the history of Buddhism in China and Japan, several women teachers and masters stand out. From the seventh century, there were powerful women in both political and religious realms. Empress Koˉmyoˉ (701–760) arranged to have national temples established for male and female monks in each province. The national women’s temples were assigned the responsibility to pray for absolution of sins, while the men’s temples were to focus on praying for protection. The empress also supervised the copying of the Lotus Sutra, which contained the story of a princess who turned into a Buddha—proof of the possibility that one can become enlightened while in a woman’s body. Women’s Buddhist activities were influential and received support from influential male members of society until Confucian patriarchal values were adopted by edict in the middle of the seventh century CE. Master Doˉgen, who founded the Soˉtoˉ Zen School in Japan, wrote in the Bendoˉwa (his discourse on the practice of the way) in the early 13th century that male and female practitioners are equal and that women are competent as teachers of both women and men. One of Doˉgen’s successors, Keizan Joˉkin continued his gender-inclusive teachings, and women monastics have been a solid presence in Soˉtoˉ Zen (Aral 1999). However, the names of female teachers are not typically included in lineages recited in Zen monasteries today. When Buddhism developed in the West, it was prone to patriarchal interpretations and translations of religious scripture. When the word for monk or priest

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was translated to French, English, and other languages, translators used terms thought to be equivalent in the Christian Religion. Thus, while words for monks or priests may have female or male endings in an Asian language (e.g., shukke or bikkhu/bikkhuni), translators would choose monk for the male monastic and nun for the female monastic, thus imbuing the very terms with patriarchal interpretations and the inferior societal status that is afforded to nuns compared to monks in Western culture (Boucher 1993, 141–42). In addition to translation and interpretation, Western social hierarchies were installed in monasteries, with male abbots or masters, and tasks were often divided according to traditional gender lines. In the Western culture, the task of cleaning does not equate with cleansing the soul as it does in Japan, and subtle or not-so-subtle gender distinctions have developed. Even in monasteries or retreats where tasks are assigned on a volunteer basis, it is not unusual for women to volunteer for traditionally female tasks, such as serving and cleaning. Beyond the gendered assignment of tasks, numerous large monasteries, notably Zen centers, were exposed in the 1980s for sex scandals, with masters or priests abusing their religious power to coerce women practitioners into sexual acts. Richard Baker, a prominent Zen priest in the United States, whose influence stretched well beyond the monastery into politics and celebrity status, was found to be one of the most egregious offenders. Gendered tasks in Buddhist monasteries and centers, and abuse by male teachers, have been written about extensively, in particular by Sandy Boucher (1993). Sexist interpretations and gender-role assignments in Buddhism are not characteristic of the religion itself but of the society and culture in which it is practiced. Certainly, the pendulum will not swing to the opposite end, with the overwhelming majority of teachers and priests being female. Rather, a more equitable balance is likely to be reached, even in Theravada traditions. Availability of both male and female teachers is crucial where disciples follow a single master on the path to enlightenment. In Thailand, the road to gender equivalence in religious practice is being forged nowadays by female monks who establish monasteries of their own and thereby lead the way to a more equitable society overall. In the West, the scandals of the 1980s and gender-equity considerations in the society at large are bringing about some crucial changes. After the middle of the 1980s, American Buddhism has become a scene where more monasteries have women teachers and abbesses who work together with both female and male monks in environments where tasks are rotated regardless of gender (Boucher, 1993). To create a Western Buddhism in which women can find their true selves free from early-instilled notions of gender inferiority requires maintaining contact with experienced traditional teachers as well as a need to understand Western culture. That is, women must search for a form of old teaching that fits in today’s society, and the same holds for women Buddhists in non-Western societies. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Buddhism in the United States; Mahayana; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Zen



Guan Yin

Further Reading Aral, Paula Kane Robinson. Women Living Zen; Japanese Soˉtoˉ Buddhist Nuns. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Boucher, Sandy. Turning the Wheel; American Women Creating the New Buddhism. Updated and expanded edition. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. Hay, Mark. “Female Monks in Thailand Challenge Buddhism’s Misogynist Tendencies.” Daily Good, November 21, 2014. https://www.good.is./articles/feminist-buddhism. Tomalin, Emma. “The Thai Bikkhuni Movement and Women’s Empowerment.” Gender and Development 14 (2006): 385–97. Wetzel, Sylvia. The Heart of the Lotus; A Buddhist Perspective on Women’s Inner and Outer Liberation. First published in German by Fischer Spirit (Frankfurt). Translated by Jane Anhold. Berlin: BoD, 2015.

GUAN YIN Guan Yin, a popular female bodhisattva, is known by many names. Avalokites´vara (Sanskrit), Guan Yin or Kuan Yin (Chinese), Kannon (Japanese), and Guan-eum (Korean) are but a few, yet all denote the same meaning: perceiving sound, denoting the cries of sentient beings’ yearning for aid in their journey toward enlightenment. Though originally a male bodhisattva from early Indian Buddhism, Guan Yin became a popular female deity in Buddhism revered throughout East Asia as the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Guan Yin originated as Avalokites´vara, a male bodhisattva appearing in the Heart Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, two Mahayana (Great Vehicle) texts of great popularity and influence. Early depictions of Avalokites´vara in China tend to show the bodhisattva as male, and some Buddhist traditions outside East Asia, especially Southeast Asian countries in which Theravada Buddhism is practiced, continue to portray the deity in male form. The Dalai Lama is considered within Tibetan Buddhism as a living incarnation of Avalokites´vara. However, by the Song dynasty (960–1279), Chinese iconography of Avalokites´vara generally displayed the bodhisattva in either female or androgynous form, and Korean and Japanese depictions followed suit. The impetus behind this shift may lie in the Lotus Sutra’s description of Avalokites´vara as able to take any form to save sentient beings, the primary goal of a bodhisattva. In addition, much of the folklore surrounding Guan Yin portrays this bodhisattva as taking the form of a woman. For instance, Guan Yin may appear as a female human and marry a man to save him from his karmic debt, revealing herself as a bodhisattva only later. The medieval legend of Miaoshan, a princess who sought to become a nun in spite of her father’s wishes, toiled in hard labor, sacrificed herself, and turned hell into a paradise, was soon connected to Guan Yin, with Miaoshan considered a manifestation of the bodhisattva and transforming into her at her bodily death. The popularity of these stories may also have had a hand in solidifying the impression of Guan Yin as a female deity. Many folk legends in East Asia concern Guan Yin’s miraculous deeds, especially in taking the place of another in injury or death or forging karmic links between

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people. For instance, several medieval Japanese stories feature a devout person who prays to Kannon and a would-be murderer who tries to kill the worshipper but later discovers the person alive, while a statue of Kannon is found covered in stab marks or blood. In other tales, a dream or sign from Kannon causes an individual to take another path or seek an object, which leads to a reunion or a new connection that brings joy and success to the dreamer. In Japan, famous Buddhist historical personages, such as Prince Shoˉtoku and the nun Chuˉ joˉ-hime, were considered to be manifestations of the bodhisattva after their death. Guan Yin takes many forms, and all are related to her association with compassion. Among these is the 11-Headed and/or 1,000-Armed Guan Yin, whose additional appendages allow her to better hear and respond to the needs of sentient beings. Known as the protector of women and children, she is also entitled as Loving Mother and Child-Granting Guan Yin. As protector of fishers and seafarers, Guan Yin is often portrayed standing on the head of a dragon, a mythical being long connected to the sea in many Asian traditions, or holding a basket of fish. While revered throughout much of Buddhism, Guan Yin plays particularly strong roles in sects that emphasize the Lotus Sutra, such as Tientai, Tendai, and Nichiren as well as Pure Land Buddhism. In the Pure Land school, the Buddha Amita¯bha brings all sentient beings who call his name before their death to the Pure Land, a world where they may practice and attain enlightenment in their next incarnation. In Pure Land imagery, Guan Yin is often seated beside Amita¯bha in recognition of her role as a compassionate bodhisattva who aids in bringing people to the Pure Land. Guan Yin’s popularity and appeal is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that she also appears as a figure in religions other than Buddhism. In Daoism, she is treated as a human woman who became an immortal. In Chinese folk religion, she is revered independently as Goddess, especially in coastal regions where her protection of those at sea is particularly valued. Certain new religious movements in China and Taiwan, such as Yiguando and Zailism, feature Guan Yin as a primary deity. During the Edo period (1600–1868), when Christianity was forbidden in Japan, Christians took advantage of Guan Yin’s connection to children to disguise their worship of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, revering statues of Guan Yin holding a child. These statues are referred to as Maria Kannon or Mary Guan Yin. Emily B. Simpson See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Female Divinities; Feminine Virtues; Guan Yin; Mahayana; Tara; Daoism: Goddesses Further Reading Karetsky, Patricia Eichenbaum. Guanyin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Schumacher, Mark. “Kannon Notebook.” A to Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Statuary: Gods, Goddesses, Shinto Kami, Creatures and Demons. n.p.: Onmark Productions, 2016. http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/kannon.shtml. Yü, Chün-fang. Kuan-yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokites´vara. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.



Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism

L AY W O M E N I N T H E R AVA D A B U D D H I S M In Theravada Buddhism, a form of Buddhism practiced principally in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma), lay religiosity focuses on making merit, a concept based on the idea of karma, which posits that every action is ethically motivated and has corresponding positive or negative consequences. The goal of merit making is, put simply, to build up a store of positive actions to achieve better conditions in this lifetime and, eventually, a better rebirth. Merit making centers on two types of activities: da¯na, communal and individual giving to the monastic community, and devotional activities. Laywomen in Theravada societies are active participants in the whole range of these activities and, more recently, have also become more involved with meditation and Buddhist doctrine, both as students and as teachers. Giving to the sangha (the Buddhist monastic community) is the basis of religious life in Theravada countries and takes many forms. Theoretically, men and women both give to the monastic community, although women engage more frequently in lay activities, in part because they are encouraged to fulfill their role as mothers and, later, as care providers for their parents and, in part, because they have traditionally been barred from entering the monastic order as fully ordained nuns. At home, women usually organize and perform daily worship activities. For example, in a Shan community in Thailand, after they have prepared food early in the morning, and before anyone has eaten, women typically take a small amount from each dish they have prepared to make an offering to the household Buddha altar, along with a glass of water. They then take some of the food to the local monastery to make food offerings to the monks. Similarly, in the evening, the oldest woman in the household lights a candle and incense for the house altar and recites a prayer. Women also often attend temple services more regularly, and during vassa, the Buddhist monastic rain retreat, pious women don white robes (usually associated with novices) and come daily to chant at the temple. They also contribute to regular religious festivals and celebrations by giving food and money and, overall, they are major donors of the four requisites (food, lodging, clothing, and medicine) necessary for monastic life. While most devotional activity takes place at home and at the local temple, women, especially in recent years, are increasingly taking part in pilgrimages to religious sites, usually places associated with the life of the Buddha, or temples that hold relics of the Buddha or relics of Buddhist saints (usually people who are believed to have attained nirvana [awakening]). This means that women travel to other Theravada countries and to India on a regular basis. Another aspect of laywomen’s religious life is related to their role as mothers. Frequently, women whose sons are monks participate actively in the life of the monastery, for example, by preparing food in the monastery kitchen and organizing the daily maintenance and cleaning chores. Actually, women perceive their role as mothers as a critical part of their religious and spiritual life. The care they bestow on their children is understood to stem from compassion, a fundamental Buddhist value. The compassion of a mother is often given as the ideal to emulate

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to develop compassion for all beings as the Buddha did. In addition, the sangha is dependent on mothers for their new recruits, and it is usually women who plan, organize, and fund ordination ceremonies at which young boys and men are inducted into the sangha. In this way, women extend their motherly role from their own children to the whole monastic community, both through the giving of sons and through support of monastic life. A woman’s social status is therefore enhanced through her sponsorship of an ordination ceremony and through her son’s rank in the monastic hierarchy. In recent decades, laywomen who seek deeper religious involvement have started attending meditation and dharma (Buddhist doctrine) classes. In all Theravada countries, there has been an increase in lay meditation, mainly due to women. In fact, a number of laywomen have become prominent teachers and have acquired large followings of students and even disciples. For example, in Thailand, Upa¯sika¯ (female lay devotee) Ki Nanayon (1901–1978) was a famous dharma teacher who attracted a large following. Another Thai woman, Khun Mae Siri Krinchai (1917–2011), who founded the Young Buddhist Association of Thailand, became very respected and honored as a meditation teacher who taught her own version of Vipassana (insight) meditation. Her meditation method is used in hospitals across Thailand to help support patients with a range of conditions. Their followers claim that Khun Mae Siri Krinchai, and other Thai female teachers, have reached a high level of spiritual development described in the canonical scriptures as ariya puggala (noble person), which is said of one who has shed defilements and who is undoubtedly on her path to nirvana. This indicates that society at large values and recognizes women’s spiritual abilities even though women are still outside the conventional establishment of the male monastic institution. In fact, some of these female teachers opted to pursue the monastic life by becoming mae chis (Thailand), dasa sil mata (Sri Lanka), or thila-shin (Burma), the only monastic-like status available to Theravada Buddhist women until recently. Because this status is not recognized canonically and these “nuns” do not benefit from the same advantages as the monks, there have been efforts to reinstate full monastic ordination for women in the Theravada tradition. These efforts have received a lot of scholarly attention, which has resulted in a scarcity of research on the religious life of laywomen, obscuring the fact that, through their daily worship, their active and generous support for monastic institutions, their involvement with festivals and celebrations, and, more recently, their engagement with doctrine and practice (as teachers and followers), laywomen play a most crucial and essential role in Theravada Buddhist life. Pascale Engelmajer See also: Buddhism: Feminine Virtues; Gender Roles; Nuns, Theravada; Pajapati; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Spirituality: Meditation Further Reading Collins, Steven, and Justin McDaniel. “Buddhist ‘Nuns’ (mae chi) and the Teaching of Pali in Contemporary Thailand.” Modern Asian Studies 44, no. 6 (2010): 1373–408.



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Eberhardt, Nancy. Imagining the Course of Life: Self-Transformation in a Shan Buddhist Community. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i, 2006. Seeger, Martin. “The Changing Roles of Buddhist Thai Women: Obscuring Identities and Increasing Charisma.” Religion Compass 3/5 (2009): 806–22.

M A H AYA N A Mahayana refers to one of the major existing approaches to Buddhist thought and practice and the most popular Buddhist school in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, and Vietnam. While Vajrayana, or Himalayan Buddhism, is sometimes associated with Mahayana, it is frequently considered a distinct school. Women in the Mahayana Buddhist traditions of East Asian and Himalayan countries—as well as in the West—have a complex and sometimes ambiguous relationship with religious texts, rituals, and communities of practice. While women in many Mahayana traditions are granted opportunities for full ordination and participation in monastic life as bhikkhunis, or fully ordained nuns (something they are officially barred from in Southeast and South Asian Theravada traditions), they are told that to achieve full Buddhahood, they must first be reborn in a male body. In addition, Mahayana Buddhist texts and devotees simultaneously venerate enlightened nuns and laywomen alike while casting aspersions on women’s bodies and moral capacities. Despite this, Mahayana traditions venerate a number of female enlightenment beings and Buddhas. Mahayana (Sanskrit: Great Vehicle) Buddhism encompasses a number of interrelated traditions and local approaches to practice that developed in South and East Asia beginning in approximately the second century CE. Like other schools of Buddhist practice, Mahayana maintains that women can attain full enlightenment through moral discipline, meditation, and compassionate action. Over and above this, however, Mahayana thought and practice emphasizes the ideal of full Buddhahood—as opposed to individual enlightenment—as its ultimate philosophical and soteriological aim. In addition to religious communities of nuns, monks, and lay Buddhist practitioners of all genders, Mahayana practice valorizes the role of the bodhisattva, a being who takes a vow to become a fully enlightened Buddha in some future time. However, bodhisattvas vow to delay their own Buddhahood to first usher all sentient beings toward full enlightenment. There are a number of prominent female bodhisattvas in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan traditions, with Guan Yin and Tara being arguably the most popular. Guan Yin (Chinese: one who perceives the sounds of the world) is a bodhisattva depicted in female form in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean traditions. In her Indian male form, she is referred to as Avalokites´vara in Sanskrit, or the Lord Who Looks Upon the World with Compassion. However, since at least the Tang dynasty in China (608–907 CE), she came to be associated with a female form in East Asian Mahayana traditions (Reed 1992, 161). Called Goddess of Mercy, she is associated with compassionate action, possessing the power and mercy to act on behalf of sentient beings who call on her for help out of suffering or ignorance. Guan Yin is widely venerated in a number of different forms and local adaptations

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for her compassionate wisdom and willingness to intercede on behalf of the suffering of all sentient beings. Tara, a popular bodhisattva in Tibetan practice, is also associated with Avalokites´vara. In one popular legend, Avalokites´vara worked tirelessly to empty the hell realms of all the sentient beings there, but even with 11 heads and innumerable hands, he lamented that the task was too great and began to weep. Out of his tears was borne Tara, an incarnation of the bodhisattva who comes to offer her compassionate assistance. With the rise of Tantric practice in Tibetan Buddhism, she came to be referred to as Mother of All Buddhas for her enlightenment wisdom (Shaw 2006, 315). Tara is unique among female bodhisattvas. Having cultivated the motivation toward enlightenment as a woman, Tara is said to have vowed to attain Buddhahood in the form of a woman on behalf of all sentient beings (Williams 2009). This is unusual because orthodox Mahayana practice maintains that human beings are only capable of attaining Buddhahood in male form (Shaw 2006). Nevertheless, Tara is frequently regarded as a female Buddha. Unlike Theravada traditions of South and Southeast Asia, and Vajrayana traditions of Himalayan Asia, Mahayana practice is unique for its large and highly respected communities of fully ordained nuns. While there are official prohibitions in place in the Theravadin countries of Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka against the full ordination of nuns, since the Chinese Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279 CE), the full-ordination lineage for Buddhist nuns—known in Sanskrit as bhiks· un·¯ı and in Pali as bhikkhuni—enjoys widespread patronage and respect in many East Asian Mahayana contexts, notably in South Korea and in Taiwan. Recent efforts at reviving the full-ordination lineage for Buddhist nuns in Theravada and Vajrayana traditions have relied on East Asian Mahayana bhikkhuni. In South Korea, Mahayana ordination lineages originating in southern China expanded over the intervening centuries, and a record of female monastic ordination, missionization, and exchange between Japan and Korea exists as early as 588 CE (Cho 2011, 18). With the introduction of women’s full ordination and the standardization of ordination procedures and Buddhist practice during the Silla period (676–935 CE), Buddhism thrived and became the state religion before going through several periods of decline and revival. Contemporarily, fully ordained bhikkhunis comprise approximately half of the ordained Chogye order of Korean monastics. Korean bhikkhunis enjoy widespread social status and prestige in Korean society. Eun-su Cho (2011) attributes much of this to factors including collective power, an ideology toward practice that emphasizes meditation first, and favorable economic conditions for robust Buddhist institutions. In Taiwan, after the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in 1949, a number of initiatives seeking to strengthen and purify Buddhist practice led to the creation of a dual-ordination lineage for nuns along with their recognition as ritual and ordination masters in recent decades (DeVido 2010). Fully ordained nuns are at the center of prominent monastic centers like the Foguangshan monastery in southern Taiwan, which has hundreds of nuns and monks and operates a global network of centers and even a Buddhist university in California.



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Despite thriving and well-respected communities of female monastic practitioners in these and other Mahayana practice contexts, Buddhist women are seen in the tradition more generally in an ambivalent light. Alan Sponberg has argued that Buddhist texts that contain negative portrayals of women reveal an oftentimes discordant multivocality of perspectives regarding women’s moral and spiritual capacities. He identifies four trends in textual references to women and the feminine in Buddhist literature: soteriological inclusiveness, institutional androcentrism, ascetic misogyny, and soteriological androgyny. The perspective of soteriological (doctrines of salvation) inclusiveness holds that the path to enlightenment is the same for women and men, a teaching in line with the Buddha’s rejection of caste (class) distinctions (Sponberg 1992). Institutional androcentrism reflects the tradition’s attempt to corroborate a radically inclusive social message of spiritual liberation with the institutional and social realities of what is conventionally acceptable in Buddhist cultures. Ascetic misogyny refers to depictions of women’s moral inferiority as agents of temptation for otherwise virtuous male monastics, an attitude that according to Sponberg goes beyond the attempt to grapple with the realities of a new renunciant order for women. Finally, soteriological androgyny refers to later depictions of enlightenment as a state of liberation that is inherently at odds with dualistic (and thus gendered) self-conception (Sponberg 1992). Sponberg argues that, in this view, gender is not merely something to be abandoned through pursuit of enlightenment but is ultimately a provisional salvific springboard toward Buddhahood. Thus, women are located in a paradox. On the one hand, in Mahayana practice, the fully enlightened state is understood to be beyond mundane dualistic conceptions such as gender. On the other, a male form is generally understood as a prerequisite for the full attainment of Buddhahood, which in Mahayana is held out as the higher aspiration unique to its paths of practice. Tyler A. Lehrer See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Buddhism in the United States; Engaged Buddhism; Female Divinities; Feminine Virtues; Gender Roles; Guan Yin; Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Pajapati; Sacred Texts on Women; Tara; Women in Early Buddhism; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Hinduism: Caste Further Reading Cho, Eun-su, ed. Korean Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen: Hidden Histories, Enduring Vitality. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011. DeVido, Elise Anne. Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010. Reed, Barbara E. “The Gender Symbolism of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, ed. Cabezón, José Ignacio, 159-80. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Sponberg, Alan. “Attitudes toward Women and the Feminine in Early Buddhism.” In Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender, edited by Jose Ignacio Cabezon, 3–36. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Williams, Paul. Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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N U N S , T H E R AVA D A There is an account in the Pali Tipitaka, the scriptures, of how the ordination of females came to be. The Buddha’s stepmother (also sometimes referred to as his foster mother), Maha Pajapati Gotami, desired to live the life of a disciple. The Buddha refused her request. She had been a queen living in a palace of a small kingdom, so perhaps the Buddha did not think she was ready for the difficult life of a homeless disciple. However, Maha Pajapati Gotami did not give up. With other women from the Buddha’s home city, she started wearing a robe of sewn-together rags, as did her male counterparts. Her determination, and a question from the monk named Ananda, who was also Buddha’s relative, finally led Buddha to change his mind and allow for the start of a bhikkhuni (ordained female monastic) sangha. Ananda had asked if females were as able to achieve spiritual enlightenment as males. Yes, was Buddha’s answer. The Buddha did insist on some extra discipline rules for the bhikkhunis. Some of these rules imply a need to recognize the males as their leaders. The bhikkhunis are not supposed to teach the males, and they are to be guided by males (as well as senior bhikkhunis). Despite the subordination expected of them as females, nuns have equal spiritual status in that their title, bhikkhuni, is the same term as bhikkhu (ordained male monastic) but with a feminine ending. The senior nuns of early Buddhism authored some of the most moving of all early Buddhist writings. These writings take the form of poems about their lives as nuns and especially their deeply spiritual, personal experiences. The canonical book Therigatha contains many of these poems about the freedom of monastic life and of enlightenment experiences. Like their male counterparts, Theravada nuns shave their hair once a month and typically wear bright yellow robes dyed with flowers from the saffron plant. They typically live together in a monastic setting, following the same simple lifestyle as the monks. And like monks, they are not allowed to have close personal contact with members of the opposite sex, except for close relatives. They meditate both as a congregation and in solitude, and their leaders conduct the devotional services in respect to the Buddha. The bhikkhuni sangha spread in the third century BCE from India to Sri Lanka by King Ashoka’s daughter, who had become a bhikkhuni. The women’s sanghas continued in India, Sri Lanka, and mainland Southeast Asia until they faded away around a millennium ago. Some Theravada women have found ways to follow a full-time spiritual life even though they were not entitled to call themselves bhikkhunis or even female novices. They have voluntarily undertaken a lifestyle that bridges the gap between being a laywoman and a bhikkhuni. They do this by following the “10 precepts” (dasa sila), whereas lay Buddhists normally follow only the five basic precepts in which one abstains from harming, stealing, sexual misconduct, incorrect speech, and intoxicants. The list of 10 precepts, which is normally followed by novices, adds abstentions from eating after noontime, from going to see entertainment, from wearing bodily adornments, from sleeping on luxurious beds, and from accepting



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gold or silver (money). The 10 precept practice has helped fill the void left by the demise of full ordination for women as bhikkhunis. The 10 precept women are greatly respected in Theravada countries where they exist, such as Sri Lanka and Thailand. Recently there have been efforts to reestablish the bhikkhuni sangha among Theravada Buddhists in several countries. These newly created orders have gained some acceptance among lay Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Thailand. However, the position of the bhikkhu sangha councils has mostly been to refuse recognition of the new female orders because a valid ordination requires an ordaining committee of senior Theravada bhikkhunis. Since there are no senior bhikkhunis, this makes it impossible to restart a defunct ordination lineage, unless one is willing to make an exception to the traditional rule. Roy C. Amore See also: Buddhism: Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Ordination; Pajapati; Sacred Texts on Women; Therigatha; Women in Early Buddhism; Women’s Buddhist Networks Further Reading Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. Women under the Bo Tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Boucher, Sandy. Opening the Lotus: A Woman’s Guide to Buddhism. Boston: Beacon, 1997. Collett, Alice. Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

O R D I N AT I O N In Buddhism, a woman’s ordination refers to the process and/or ceremony through which she takes on a number of religious precepts and becomes a female monk or nun, committing to monastic life. While such ordination may include dharma transmission, the latter is usually the result of further study and additional ordinations. Dharma transmission is the event in which she is established at the end of an unbroken lineage of teachers and disciples going back to the Buddha. In the Zen tradition, this dharma transmission and accompanying document is referred to as shiho, and the recipient becomes a roshi who can then teach her own disciples in a temple setting and transmit the dharma. Becoming ordained and especially having received dharma transmission positions the recipient in a long Buddhist lineage. Because today there are many forms of established practice, there are numerous living monks—but fewer nuns—with such a high level of recognition. It confers significant status on those who have it, and this status is sometimes abused, especially by male roshis toward female nuns or laywomen who are their disciples. It has also created a few situations where acknowledged lineages and teacher-disciple relations are unclear. In European Soˉtoˉ Zen, for example, this has created a kink in the lineage, where Taisen Deshimaru is venerated in the spiritual if not official lineage following Kodo

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Sawaki but actually received shiho from a different master (Robert 2009, 100). Moreover, since Deshimaru did not convey shiho to any of his close disciples, some of his male followers obtained it in Japan from a successor of Kodo Sawaki. His female disciples did not have that option, since Japanese monasteries are gender segregated. In a religion that originated more than two millennia ago and that has many traditions, it is not surprising that there are many lineages containing breaks, kinks, and parallel lines. This is even more so for women’s lineages, which are often ignored altogether or rebuked for not having a documented solid line going back to the Buddha. In patriarchal societies, dominant male sanghas are intolerant of such “imperfections.” This is the case in Tibet, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, which have Theravadan traditions, but to a lesser extent in China, Japan, and the Western world, where the Mahayana tradition is common. The majority of monks in Tibet still do not agree that an exception can be made for women who want to become nuns or bhikkhunis, since no preceptor is available in the female monastic tradition. Tibetan Buddhist women can only become novice nuns, taking on only a limited number of precepts, and therefore may receive the highest ordination in a different tradition. The definition of female and male monks in Japanese tradition is more adaptable to women because during its Buddhist history most have not taken vows in the full set of monastic disciplinary rules contained in the Vinaya Pitaka (scripture). This designation is flexible in not hinging on which precepts one has taken or lineage in which one is ordained (Arai

Women in Thailand go through an ordination ceremony to become nuns, despite opposition from Thailand’s all-male council of elders, 2015. (Psisaa/Dreamstime.com)



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1999, 9). In Sri Lanka, some Buddhist women who reject monks’ self-proclaimed monastic monopoly have taken to wearing orange monks’ robes and have established significant monastic communities. They trace their spiritual lineage back to Sanˇghamitta¯, viewed by tradition as Emperor Asoka’s daughter, who traveled from northern India with a branch of the Boˉ tree to the island in the third century BCE (Bartholomeusz 1994, xii). In Thailand, where women are unequivocally refused ordination beyond the novice level, one particular nun’s temple has challenged the male hierarchy of 300,000 Theravadan monks. Ven. Dhammananda obtained her ordination in Sri Lanka, encouraged other women to take the same path and elicited the government’s help in this endeavor. Although the council of elders has the final say and continues its opposition, there is increasing acceptance of the growing female clergy. Dhammananda’s grandmother preceded her in this activism, having established a female order of monastics in the 1920s—outlawed by the king in 1928 following the council of male Buddhist elders. Local women have expressed that they find it easier to connect with women monastics because they understand and are interested in women’s issues (Sara 2013). Notwithstanding the sometimes-persistent periods of misogynistic stances on ordination and dharma transmission for women, women will continue to find ways to devote their lives to Buddhist monastic life, transmit their practices, and ordain other women. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Gender Roles; Mahayana; Nuns, Theravada; Pajapati; Women in Early Buddhism; Women’s Buddhist Networks; Zen Further Reading Arai, Paula Kane Robinson. Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. Women under the Boˉ tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Robert, Brigitte. “The Association Zen de Montréal: A Case Study in Soˉtoˉ Zen Nonviolence.” Thesis, McMaster University, 2009. Sara, Sally. “From TV to Temple: Female Buddhist Monk Walks a Pioneering Path.” Mama Asia, June 30, 2013. www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03028/mama-asia-thailand/4599176. Schireson, Grace. Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters. Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 2010.

PA J A PAT I Pajapati, the Buddha’s foster mother (both his stepmother and aunt, she cared for him after his birth mother died), was ordained as the first bhikkhuni (nun) and became the most venerable leader and liberator of women. Pajapati was bestowed with the title “Mahapajapati” (Great Pajapati), the founder of the first women’s sangha. Her story, among many other nuns who chanted songs about their joyful liberation, is preserved in the Therigatha (Songs of Elder Nuns), which is classified in the Sutra Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) section of the Pali canon.

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According to the Cullavagga (Lesser Division, part 5) of the Vinaya Pitaka (The Basket of Monastic Rules), the Buddha was initially reluctant to allow women into the order because he felt that the presence of women in the sangha would shorten the “pure period” of the dharma from 1,000 years to 500 years. When pressed by his foremost disciple and cousin, Ananda, regarding whether women had the same potential to realize enlightenment as men did, the Buddha answered in the affirmative. During the fifth century BCE, women in Indian society were given secondary status and relegated to domestic duties as wives, mothers, cooks, and even courtesans and prostitutes, in some cases. Women’s options were limited, and their sustenance and identity were dependent on their husbands, who provided for them. Hence, there was concern about women renouncing their home life and joining the sangha, thereby causing domestic turmoil and upsetting the existing social order. More significantly, male practitioners viewed women as temptresses who caused men to accumulate bad karma (consequential actions), to lose self-control to satiate their lustful desires, and to abandon their single-minded and devoted practice. The woman who played a significant role in the Buddha’s life and for all future nuns was Pajapati. With her persistence, sincerity, and commitment, Pajapati, who had gained a following of 500-plus beckoning women, repeatedly requested that the Buddha ordain her. Ananda also interceded on Pajapati’s behalf, reminding the Buddha how she selflessly took care of him after his mother, Maya (Pajapati’s sister), died shortly after giving birth to him. Thereupon, the Buddha agreed to ordain Pajapati as the first nun on the condition that women follow eight cardinal rules (Sanskrit: garudhammas; heavy rules). Kenneth Lee See also: Buddhism: Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Therigatha; Women in Early Buddhism Further Reading Horner, I. B., trans. Book of Discipline (Vinaya-Pitaka). Part 5 (Cullavagga), Sacred Books of the Buddhists. London: Pali Text Society, 1975. Murcott, S. First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1991.

P R A J N A PA R A M I TA Wisdom—clear insight, the ability to see reality as it is—has from the beginning of Buddhism been recognized as the primary liberating force, the way to become free from suffering and attain full awakening. Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the tradition in the fifth century BCE, was the iconic face of Buddhism in the early centuries. The rise of the Mahayana movement in the first and second centuries CE brought a paradigm shift in teachings and practices. The feminine quality of wisdom (designated by the feminine noun prajna) and Goddess embodying that wisdom, rose to supremacy in Buddhist religiosity. Goddess Prajnaparamita, or



Prajnaparamita

“Perfect Wisdom,” shares her name with the literature in which she appears and the luminous wisdom she personifies. Prajnaparamita was introduced in a foundational and centrally important Mahayana text, 8000-Line Perfect Wisdom Scripture, compiled in the first century CE. The text expands on what wisdom reveals about reality and overflows with devotion for Mother Prajnaparamita, praising her as the source of knowledge and spiritual awakening. With motherhood as her defining characteristic, Prajnaparamita nurtures seekers of wisdom by extending comfort, safety, and moral guidance. She is the ultimate teacher and font of revelation. One of her titles is Mother of All Buddhas (Sarva-buddha-mata), for she is the origin and content of their teachings. The scripture elevates her as the most worthy object of worship, greater even than Buddha, on the premise that the birth giver is greater than the one who is born. A Buddha may teach for a single lifetime, but Prajnaparamita’s wisdom flows for eternity. Over the centuries, texts were continually added to the Prajnaparamita corpus, extolling the wisdom, elaborating the philosophy, and glorifying the power of the Goddess to bestow virtue, inner peace, and a compassionate heart. The physical form, or body, of Prajnaparamita was originally understood as reality itself when viewed with the pure vision that dissolves the illusion of solid objects into a diaphanous panorama of swirling, intertwining energy patterns. Beginning in the seventh century, the Goddess was envisioned in bodily form as golden in color, royally adorned and crowned, seated in a meditative posture, and displaying a teaching gesture. Variations were introduced over time, but a blossoming lotus supporting a book of wisdom remained her identifying feature. Prajnaparamita established an ongoing association between wisdom and female figures. In Mahayana, female wisdom was paired with male skillfulness (upaya) in liberating beings from suffering and illusion. Enduringly popular Mahayana texts feature female seekers and revealers of wisdom. Lion’s Roar of Queen Shrimala, a second-century scripture, celebrates a queen whose majestic eloquence set her citizenry on the Buddhist path. The women and girls were the first to accept her message, followed by her husband and the male populace. The second-century Flower Ornament Scripture tells of the teachers encountered on a pilgrim’s quest for wisdom. More than half of the narrative, spanning hundreds of pages in translation, is devoted to female guides—laywomen, nuns, queens, courtesans, young girls, and female deities—who voice their practices, accomplishments, and insights. The female exemplars in these and other classics supported the Mahayana goal of broad accessibility and contributed to the embrace and wide circulation of these works in India, China, and Japan. With Prajnaparamita installed at the summit of the Mahayana pantheon, many female divinities arose in her wake. They inherited the titles of “Prajnaparamita” and “Mother of all Buddhas” and continued her legacy. When the Tantric movement emerged in Indian Buddhism in the seventh and eighth centuries, female deities and human women retained an association with liberating wisdom. Tantric annals feature female practitioners and enlightened masters, known collectively

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as yoginis and dakinis, who excel at devising unique lessons on the spot to spark a direct experience of reality. In Tibetan Buddhism, enlightened women may be recognized as human embodiments of Prajnaparamita. A renowned example is Machig Labdron (1055–1153), who mastered Prajnaparamita philosophy by adolescence and later introduced Chod, an important practice in all Tibetan Buddhist sects for healing, exorcism, and fostering nondual wisdom (Allione 2000, 165–220). Miranda Shaw See also: Buddhism: Female Divinities; Mahayana; Sacred Texts on Women; Tara Further Reading Allione, Tsultrim. Women of Wisdom. 1984. Revised, Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000. Cleary, Thomas, trans. The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, Vol. 3. Boston: Shambhala, 1987. Conze, Edward, trans. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and Its Verse Summary. Bolinas, CA: Four Seasons Foundation, 1975. Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Wayman, Alex, trans. The Lion’s Roar of Queen Srimala: A Buddhist Scripture on the Tathagatagarbha Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.

SACRED TEXTS ON WOMEN Stories of how the first women in Buddhism—homemakers, mothers, educators, seekers, and even courtesans and prostitutes—became liberated/enlightened through the dharma can be found in First Buddhist Women, by Susan Murcott (1991). For Theravada texts, preserved in the Cullavagga (Lesser Division, part 5) of the Vinaya Pitaka (The Basket of Monastic Rules) and in As´vaghos· a’s Buddhacharita (part 3, ch. 1), there is the account of the Buddha’s initial reluctance and permission to allow women into the order, beginning with the ordination of Pajapati, his stepmother and aunt. Another rich source concerning women is the ja¯takas (stories of the Buddha’s previous lives), which were mostly written from a misogynist point of view. For Mahayana texts, the Lotus Sutra tells the story of the ­daughter of the Dragon King who cleverly transforms herself into a man before realizing enlightenment. Finally, in contrast to Theravada and Mahayana texts, the Tibetan Vajrayana texts provide a positive view of women with the appearance of female Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Among Theravada Buddhist texts, the earliest sources are called ja¯takas (ca. fourth century BCE), and they contain stories about women that were mostly written from a misogynist perspective that reflected the prevailing view of women in India during the fifth century BCE. Preserved in the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutra Pitaka section in the Pali Canon, the ja¯takas described women as seductresses, sources of temptation, and potential threats to men’s spiritual welfare, particularly endangering monks’ vow of celibacy. Women were also portrayed as angry, ungrateful, and treacherous characters who are base, fickle, deceitful, and not to be trusted. In the Kun·a¯la ja¯taka (536), for instance, a story claims,



Sacred Texts on Women

The mind of women is like that of a monkey, going from one place to another like the shadow of a tree. The heart of women is unsteady like the rim of a wheel. Women are [sticky] like gum, are all-devouring like fire; they are clever deceivers and impetuous like a river. They go both to the man they love and to him they dislike just as a boat goes to both banks of a river. They do not belong to one man or two: they are laid out like goods in the bazaar. He who should think “they are mine” might just as well try to catch the wind in a net. (Bollee 1970, 160)

Although some ja¯takas provide a positive view of women, mainly in leadership and independent roles, as in the case of Yas´odhara¯ (Vessantara ja¯taka; Janaka ja¯taka) or Uppalavan·n·a¯ (Mudulakkhan·a ja¯taka) and the ascetic Bheria¯ (Mahosadha ja¯taka), the vast majority of early Theravada texts provided a negative view of women. In As´vaghos· a’s Buddhacharita (Life of Buddha; ca. second century CE; part 1, ch. 18), there is the story of Sujata, the village girl who played an important role in Siddhartha’s serendipitous realization of the Middle Way. After he meditated and performed various austerities to seek enlightenment for six years in the forest among yogins, Siddhartha, having attained superior meditative abilities through the path of self-denial, received a kind food offering from Sujata, who had compassion on Siddhartha’s emaciated condition. According to legendary accounts, when Siddhartha reluctantly accepted the milk porridge, the five yogin followers were disappointed with Siddhartha’s decision and left him with disgust. However, Siddhartha, upon eating, gained strength and clarity of mind and realized that the path was the Middle Way between self-indulgence and self-denial, the core principle in Buddhism. He then threw the bowl into the river where it went upstream, foreshadowing women’s plight and success. Women had to go against the stream of a male-dominated world in their effort to become enlightened. Among Mahayana Buddhist texts, the story of Longnü, the daughter of the Dragon King, is recorded in the Lotus Sutra (ch. 12), where the Buddha explains that a woman can indeed attain enlightenment, contrary to prevailing views of women in India during the fifth century BCE. In the story, the Buddha tells how the bodhisattva Mañjus´rı¯ (a.k.a. bodhisattva of wisdom) went to the Dragon King’s palace in the bottom of the ocean to preach the Lotus Sutra, which contained the most venerable dharma on attaining enlightenment. The central teaching in the Lotus Sutra is the tathagata-garbha (womb of Buddha), which claims that Buddha nature is inherent in all sentient beings. Mañjus´rı¯ recounts the story of the precocious eight-year-old daughter of Shaktsura, the Dragon King, who was a clever and earnest girl. Despite the prevailing view of women’s inability to attain Buddhahood, but having wholeheartedly embraced the teaching in Lotus Sutra, the Dragon King’s daughter transformed herself as a man before attaining Buddhahood and flying away to the heavens. It is said that she later appeared in the south, sitting on a lotus, endowed with the 32 auspicious signs and 80 characteristics of a Buddha and teaching the dharma in the Lotus Sutra to all the people of that land. In popular Buddhist understanding, to be born a woman is itself the result of bad karma. In the Bahudha¯tuka Sutra, a Theravada text, it clearly states that it is impossible for a woman to be a bodhisattva or become a female Buddha; a bodhisattva can be a human, animal, serpent, or deity, but never a woman. According to

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Theravada Buddhism, women can at best aspire to be reborn as male by accumulating merit. In Mahayana texts, there are both negative and positive images of women. In some texts, women are argued to be inherently weak in intellect and virtue, traits that limit their capacity for Buddhahood. Mahayana texts maintain that a woman can become enlightened, only not in female form; for example, the Bodhisattvabhuˉmi (ca. fourth century CE) also state that a woman about to attain enlightenment will be reborn in the male form beforehand. In Vajrayana texts, particularly with respect to the Tantric iconography of the Vajrayana practice, female Buddhas do appear. Female Buddhas such as Vajrayogini, Tara, and Simhamukha appear as the central figures of Tantric sadhanas (spiritual practice), or they may be the consorts of the main yidam (deity) of a mandala. Vajrayana texts also recognize many female yogini practitioners, such as Yeshe Tsogyal (ca. 796–805 CE)—one of the five Tantric consorts of Padmasambhava— as achieving the full enlightenment of a Buddha. The Karmapa lineage (Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism or “Red Hats”) says that Yeshe Tsogyal emerged from an isolated meditation retreat as a fully enlightened Buddha (samyak-sam · buddha) some 30 years before her passing. Kenneth Lee See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Feminine Virtues; Gender Roles; Mahayana; Tara; Women in Early Buddhism Further Reading Appleton, N. Ja¯taka Stories in Therava¯da Buddhism. London: Ashgate, 2010. Bollee, W. B., trans. Kunala-jataka. n.p.: Pali Text Society, 1970. Murcott, S. First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1991.

ˉ KA GAKKAI SO Soˉka Gakkai is a Japanese, lay Nichiren Buddhist, new religious movement founded in 1930 by Makiguchi Tsunesaburo (1871–1944) and Toda Josei (1900–1958) as a society for championing educational reform. It gained religious status in 1952. Long the subject of controversy, the organization now claims 12 million members worldwide (Soˉka Gakkai 2015) and is politically influential through Koˉmeitoˉ, a political party that was founded by Soˉka Gakkai members in 1964 and formed part of Japan’s coalition government between 1999 and 2009. As with many new religious movements, women are disproportionately represented in membership figures of Soˉka Gakkai (Trzebiatowska and Bruce 2012). The religion, grounded in concepts of individual empowerment and anticipated personal reward, places the Lotus Sutra, with its teaching that women can attain Buddhahood, at its center. This is particularly important as the goal of Buddhism is to gain enlightenment, to reach Buddhahood, something that Haga Akira (1998, 158) notes should not be, but unfortunately has been, viewed as exclusive to a particular gender. Grounding his thought in this theological tradition, the



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president of Soˉka Gakkai, Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928), has championed women’s rights through his modern rereading of the Lotus Sutra and Buddhist history more generally (Kurihara 2009). Ikeda’s theology affirms that women are first and foremost human beings, rather than a societally defined gender role such as mother or wife (Toynbee and Ikeda 2007, 102). Haga goes so far as to assert that it is Ikeda’s praise of women and of the organization’s Women’s Division in particular, alongside his theological thought that views women as human beings capable of anything, that inspires women to convert to the religion and pursue self-improvement therein (Haga 1998). Nevertheless, it is not only an egalitarian theology that has attracted women members; the religion’s Youth Division and Women’s Division have allowed women to enter leadership roles, develop initiatives, and perhaps most importantly have provided autonomy in a society that privileges men. On a more individual level, the organization and its doctrines’ support of women has led many to greater self-confidence (Fisker-Nielsen 2012). Tied together, Soˉka Gakkai’s theology and organizational structure have spurred women in general and the Women’s Division in particular to wield a large amount of influence in the organization. Soˉka Gakkai’s theological tradition and practices are more complicated than a simple championing of gender equality. Indeed, some aspects of the organization appear to illustrate the opposite; the division of men and women into separate suborganizations and the underrepresentation of women in public leadership roles reflect wider societal, patriarchal practices. Similarly, many women employed by the organization are expected to leave their roles upon marriage, as the financial support of a husband will allow her to partake in voluntary religious activities in her community (Fisker-Nielsen 2012). Ikeda’s thought is also less clear than it first appears. For example, he argues that in choosing to abandon the roles of housewife and mother, a woman risks losing her strongest feature (Toynbee and Ikeda 2007), thereby suggesting that traditional gender roles are inherently correct. Illustrating a possible disconnect between word and deed, Ikeda has also been the subject of a number of alleged sex scandals. Drawing on such points, Anne Mette Fisker-Nielsen (2012, 155) writes that in Soˉka Gakkai, “appreciating women’s work is not the same as according her the same status or power as men.” Whether or not Fisker-Nielsen’s conclusion is accepted, it is clear that the Soˉka Gakkai conception of women is a multifaceted one. While gender equality, or more specifically equality of opportunity and pay, is an important tenet of the religion, so, too, is the societal role of women. Men are to be the breadwinners, but women are viewed as unparalleled in their ability to cultivate and care for the young, to teach and guide their children. For Haga (1998), such teachings give men the advantage and perpetuate a patriarchal system in which the man rules the home. On the one hand, women in Soˉka Gakkai are numerous, hold extraordinary influence, and are celebrated for their important role in society. On the other hand, the way in which they are conceived both theologically and socially is complicated; the equality of women is championed, their traditional social roles praised, but the combination of these two positions risks the perpetuation of an

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unequal status quo in which women are appreciated but in which ideals of equality are little more than lip service. James Harry Morris See also: Buddhism: Feminine Virtues; Gender Roles Further Reading Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette. Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2012. Haga, Akira. “Women and Soka Gakkai.” In Women and Religion in Japan, edited by Akiko Okuda and Haruko Okano, 151–78. Translated by Alison Watts. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1998. Kurihara, Toshie. “Buddhism and Women: Soka Gakkai International’s Viewpoint.” Journal of Oriental Studies 19 (2009): 51–60. Soka Gakkai International. SGI: A Snapshot. Soka Gakkai International Website. 2015. http://www.sgi.org/snapshot/. Toynbee, Arnold, and Daisaku Ikeda. Choose Life: A Dialogue. Edited by Richard L. Gage. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007. Trzebiatowska, Marta, and Steve Bruce. Why Are Women More Religious Than Men? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

TA N T R A Women were pioneers of the Tantric movement, or Vajrayana Buddhism, that flourished in India from the 8th to 12th century CE, and they retain significant roles in the Tantric Buddhism of Nepal and Tibet. In contrast to the bodhisattva path in Mahayana Buddhism, which may require eons of merit making and compassionate deeds to reach enlightenment, the Tantric path offers potent esoteric methods meant to accelerate progress toward Buddhahood. The word tantra derives from the Sanskrit verbal root tan, “to weave.” Under the guidance of a Tantric master, the practitioner learns to “weave” the Buddha’s body, speech, and mind into her own to realize enlightenment in one lifetime. Tantric practices are often grouped into three categories as mudra (bodily gestures), mantra (sacred syllables), and mandala (a circular diagram depicting an enlightened being and her retinue and sacred environment), which serve in the goal of attaining a Buddha’s body, speech, and mind, respectively. Women hold a special place in Tantric Buddhist history as founders, famed gurus, and adepts who helped to shape its ethos and practices. The Tantric tradition promotes respect for women, includes a practice of ritual worship of women, and offers a lay path of practice in which men and women may practice together as spiritual companions. These features may well bear the mark of the female influence on the traditions during their formative centuries. Tantric annals also report all-female gatherings and the transmission of Tantric teachings from female gurus to female disciples. The authority of a teacher stemmed from his or her character and deportment; there was no institutional bar on female leadership.



Tantra

Biographies of the female adepts of Indian Buddhist Tantra include many selfstyled gurus whose eccentric ways and creative teaching methods bespeak the freedom from convention sought through Tantric practice. A female master could follow any way of life she chose. There were those who secluded themselves in a cave or remote hut, those who dispensed their wisdom as perpetual wanderers, and those who maintained their former occupations as arrow makers, wine pressers, and tavern owners. One theme that emerges from their collective stories is that a seeker of Tantric teachings could not predict what kind of woman might offer them. The Tantric pantheon includes female deities among the powerful objects of visualization for Tantric practitioners. One of the main divinities is the beautiful Tara, who often appears with an emerald-green hue and nurturing persona, seated on a lotus. As a cosmic female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism, Tara is a liberator par excellence who helps practitioners overcome obstacles to spiritual progress and attainments. Another powerful figure featured in Tantric visualizations is the female Buddha Vajrayogini, a crimson-red divinity with dark flowing hair. She dances gleefully atop vanquished forces and wears a tiara of skulls while drinking from a skull cup filled with blood, symbolizing her clear, nondualistic, and blissful mind. Vajrayogini aids practitioners in gaining yogic mastery and fosters their realization of the emptiness, or illusory nature, of all phenomena. Both men and women meditate on male and female deities, but the female deities have special importance for women, providing inspiring models of Buddhahood in female form. The sexual symbolism that pervades Tantric discourse and imagery has many layers of meaning. Sexual union can refer to an internal process wherein the practitioner envisions, imagines, and meditates on the female and male energies within her own body and mind. The union in this case is a balance and equilibrium between wisdom (understood as a female quality) and skillfulness in compassionate activities (the male half of this metaphorical equation). Tantric meditation can help the practitioner bring these two qualities to fruition. The sexual imagery also alludes to sexual union undertaken as a meditative and yogic practice between partners who integrate their relationship into their spiritual path. Meditative stability and progress in karmic purification are required to refine and channel the powerful energies of desire that are heightened through sexual union. Today, Tantric Buddhist practices may be among those taught at the Tantric yoga seminars and retreats (including woman-only retreats) that draw Western seekers to India and other centers around the world, in such far-flung locales as Indonesia, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The rubric of Tantra in a given case may, however, refer to teachings of Hindu or intermixed Hindu-Buddhist provenance. The Tantric training usually devolves on time-honored yogic practices, such as asanas (yogic postures), control of breathing and bodily energies, and mantra recitation. It is rare to find teachers of the advanced sexual practices, which were traditionally transmitted by a female or male master to a small circle of advanced disciples. In the United States, the label of Tantra is commonly misapplied to teachings and

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techniques aimed at enhancing couples’ sexual experience. In India and the Himalayas, where Tantra originated, such practices would fall in the category of erotic arts described in the Kama Sutra and other writings of that genre, to distinguish them from spiritual disciplines with enlightenment as their aim. Kenneth Lee and Miranda Shaw See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Dance of Tara; Female Divinities; Prajnaparamita; Hinduism: Tantra Further Reading Allione, Tsultrim. Women of Wisdom. Revised and enlarged ed. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000. Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. Simmer-Brown, Judith. Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Yeshe, Lama. Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire. Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 2001.

TA R A Tara is the most beloved Goddess of the Indo-Himalayan Buddhist world. She is a paragon of maternal compassion who responds unstintingly to every human need. In a history spanning the seventh century to the present, Tara has inspired an immense body of artistic images, meditative and ritual practices, metaphysical writings, devotional poetry, and tales of her marvelous deeds and powers. She is revered as Divine Mother who cherishes all beings and acts in myriad ways to deliver them from suffering and lead them to enlightenment. Her name means both Star Lady and She Who Carries Across—that is, Savioress. Like the northern star (after which she is named), Tara is a beacon and guiding light for those tossed on the stormy seas of life. She is comparable to the Virgin Mary by virtue of her prominence in the religious landscape, maternal persona, ready response to prayer, and miracle-working powers. Tara made her historical debut in the seventh century CE, appearing as an attendant of Avalokites´vara, the lord of infinite compassion. Within decades, however, Tara came to the fore as an object of reverence in her own right. Buddhist writings of the seventh and eighth centuries celebrate her as a cosmic figure and Supreme Savior. Tara was endowed with unlimited powers, from the most intimate ministration and maternal attention to personal and familial well-being through miraculous rescue to bestowal of supreme liberation, or enlightenment. Each generation added new meditations, liturgies, and rituals to elicit Tara’s blessings, a process that continues to this day. Tara is so prominent in the religious landscape that she came to the notice of Indologists in the late 19th century, who seized on Tara’s association with Avalokites´vara and concluded that she was his wife or consort. That view stood uncorrected for almost 100 years; therefore, one still finds it in circulation and repeated from time to time in studies that touch on Tara.



Tara

A hallmark of Tara worship is her direct and immediate accessibility. Anyone may call on her by intoning a prayer or mantra, voicing her name, or simply bringing her to mind. Tara’s answer to prayer is said to be as unfailing and swift as a mother attending to the cry of an only child. The petitioner need not be a devotee of Tara or even Buddhist. One finds many instances in which a person in need simply calls on the Holy Mother for assistance or deliverance, eliciting a miracle. Stories abound of her miraculous interventions and timely deliverance from danger, disease, and disaster. Many a fortunate has been snatched from the proverbial jaws of death and rescued from one of the “eight great fears” from which she offers salvation, namely, lions, elephants, venomous snakes, demons, thieves, fire, drowning, and captivity. Tara is most commonly envisioned as green in color and seated on a lotus blossom with her right foot extended and resting lightly on a lotus, poised to spring into action. Her right hand rests on her knee with an open palm to dispense blessings. Tara is envisioned as the epitome of feminine beauty, with a moonlike face, gentle smile, lustrous tresses, and splendid attire. The treatment of her facial features and bodily proportions varies widely, for she embodies the feminine bodily ideals of the geographically and culturally diverse peoples who have revered and portrayed her. Tara also appears in other colors and bodily forms. Her primary form is often designated as Green Tara. Second in popularity to her green form is White Tara, who is especially important for her powers of healing and prolonging life. The outpouring of devotion inspired by Tara has given rise to a profusion of visual representations, from tiny talismans and portable shrines to large stone effigies and bronze statues installed in public worship spaces. Paintings abound, from detailed compositions glimmering with golden accents to hastily executed portraits. Simple effigies of clay are mass-produced, White Tara, a popular manifestation of Tara associated while royal wealth and temple with healing and prolonging life, portrayed here in treasuries have funded statuary one of her many temples, from an early 12th-century manuscript. Tara is the Divine Mother and most conveying Tara’s magnificence beloved savior of the South Asian and Himalayan with gold and silver gilding, Buddhist pantheon. (The Metropolitan Museum of gemstones, turquoise and coral Art/Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2001)

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insets, and lapis lazuli and other precious pigments. Most Asian collections in museums around the world include at least one Tara image of high quality, for such images have been produced in vast number. Another distinction of Tara effigies over the centuries is the miraculous powers of her icons. A statue might ooze liquid with curative properties, dispense gold coins or jewelry, change location, burst apart, consume food offerings, become too heavy to lift, and, most commonly, speak. By the time Indian Buddhism came to a close, in the 12th century, worship of Tara was already thriving in Himalayan Buddhism. Tara attained her zenith of adoration in Tibet. Tibetans claim a special relationship with Tara, exalting her as the divine ancestress of the Tibetan people and the patron Goddess whose compassion shaped the Tibetan nation. The two wives of the first Buddhist king of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, are recognized as emanations of Tara. Hailing from Nepal and China, the queens were devout Buddhists and imported votive images, texts, and artisans and influenced their husband to promote their faith, thereby altering the course of Tibetan history. Tara is woven into the fabric of Tibetan cultural life. Her icons are present in temples, homes, and roadside chapels and are worn as amulets attached to a sash or belt. Colorful prayer flags spread her blessings on the wind. Masked dramas enact her miraculous interventions. The most popular hymn to Tara is the 21 Praises of Tara and Their Benefits, in which each verse describes a different quality or power. This lengthy prayer is memorized starting in childhood, recited daily in many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and homes, and figures in communal celebrations marking Buddhist holy days (Beyer 1973, 232, 241). Special concerns of women fall within Tara’s purview. She figures in protective rites for pregnant and postpartum mothers and newborn infants. Tara mantras are chanted over water, butter, and medicinal mixtures and then used to anoint expectant mothers and newborns (Beyer 1973, 234, 289–90). Laypeople sponsor priestly recitations of Tara texts, mantras, or prayers accompanied by votive offerings that last between one night and, in the case of the Hundred Thousand Tara Prayers, three months. Nuns are preferred to monks to perform these services, on the conviction that the Tara rites of female monastics are more effective, with the fortuitous result that Tara rituals may generate significant income for a nunnery (Havnevik 1990, 122–23, 175–76). Tara also garners reverence in the Buddhism of Nepal, or Newar Buddhism, which is practiced by the indigenous Newar population rather than by Nepalis. Tara’s presence is felt throughout the art, architecture, ritual life, and sacred landscape of the country. Her images are ubiquitous, appearing in homes and among the abundant statuary and relief carvings in Newar shrines and temple complexes. Tara is a popular subject, too, for Newar painters and sculptors. Many of the most exquisite representations of Tara in collections around the world are Newar creations, produced for use in Nepal and for Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian patrons. In Nepal, Tara is invoked and worshipped for a range of blessings, but her primary role at present is that of healing deity. In cases of serious illnesses or even mild conditions that have not yielded to medical treatment, it is common for the family to enlist priests to perform a Satvavidhana Tara Puja, which features an elaborate



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assemblage of rows of flickering candles and a colorful array of food offerings, jasmine flowers, peacock feathers, greenery, and green vegetables and fruits. An important Newar Buddhist observance is the Tara Vrata. A vrata is a practice in which participants fast, maintain a state of ritual purity, and evoke divine energies into themselves and into the world. Women are the primary participants in vratas devoted to Tara. The women wear green, for they will embody Green Tara and channel her presence and blessings at the culmination of the rite. This reflects the Newar Buddhist belief that women are human representatives of Goddesses, both in ritual and in daily life, sharing their life-giving, healing powers. The Tara Vrata may be held in any temple courtyard, but two favored sites represent local traditions of Tara in Nepal. The Itum Baha temple complex holds the most famous Tara image of Nepal, which marks the spot where Tara appeared in person to dispense Buddhist teachings. Tara Tirtha is a riverbank where Tara has appeared to bless her devotees in dramatic ways. Therefore, Tara Tirtha is held to be an auspicious place to perform the vrata or simply to meditate, pray, and make offerings to the Goddess (Lewis 1989, 119–29). The Buddhist tradition celebrates motherhood in many ways and through a range of female divinities, but in no case is motherhood more complete or exalted than in the case of Tara, the ultimate embodiment of mother love. Her maternal tenderness, bolstered by omniscience and miracle-working powers, has made her the supreme and most beloved savior of the South Asian and Himalayan Buddhist pantheon. The cornerstone of her character is her ability to save her devotees from any peril, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. This tender and powerful motherhood has enshrined her in the hearts of millions of South Asian and Himalayan Buddhists over the centuries. Tara continues to garner new devotees across the globe, as Tibetans sent into exile by the genocidal Chinese occupation of their country bring their faith to new constituents in the Asian, European, and North and South American countries where they have settled. Miranda Shaw See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Dance of Tara; Female Divinities; Feminine Virtues; Guan Yin; Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Mahayana; Christianity: Mother of God; Hinduism: Durga and Kali; Spirituality: Sex and Gender Further Reading Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. Havnevik, Hanna. Tibetan Buddhist Nuns. Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1990. Lewis, Todd T. “Mahayana Vratas in Newar Buddhism.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 12, no. 1 (1989): 109–38. Rinpoche, Bokar. Tara: The Feminine Divine. English ed. San Francisco: ClearPoint, 1999. Rinpoche, Khenchen Palden Sherab, and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche. Tara’s Enlightened Activity: An Oral Commentary on the Twenty-one Praises to Tara. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2007. Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Willson, Martin. In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress. London: Wisdom, 1986.

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TEA CEREMONY Women became the main practitioners of the Way of Tea (Chadoˉ or Sado) from the beginning of Japan’s modern period, or Meiji period, in 1868. The Way of Tea was considered a way to instill etiquette into young women and promote the betterment of society through Zen art and its aesthetic qualities. In general, the tea ceremony prepared women for a life of marriage and domestic responsibilities. The first women’s preparatory school opened in 1875 and included a course on the Japanese tea ceremony as part of the curriculum. The tea school taught women not only to master the procedures of serving tea but also to appreciate the art of the tea ceremony, including flower arrangement, and to serve with grace, humility, and attentiveness to her guests. The Way of Tea originated during the ninth century when Buddhist monks brought powdered tea making to Japan from their journey to China. Drinking tea helped to heal both the body and mind and helped nuns and monks to stay awake during meditation. The Way of Tea was quickly adopted as a staple practice in Zen Buddhism. Over the course of several centuries, monasteries developed and refined the tea ceremony, incorporating rules and procedures for the service based on Zen philosophy, which birthed an intricate ritual that was more than just the mere consumption of tea. The tea ceremony typically takes place in small, tatami-​ floored buildings (tea house or chashitsu) with an adjoining area where guests clean and prepare themselves for the ceremony (mizuya). The ritual itself starts with the guests washing themselves with water in the mizuya. The hostess will allow the guests to enter the room, and the two will sit in silence as the hostess whisks powdered tea, tea leaves, and hot water over a coal hearth at the center of the room. The tea is served in bowl-like cups and given to the guests. When the guests finish, they will leave the room, and the hostess will clean up. Rituals change according to the time of year and the type of A woman serves tea in a traditional Japanese tea cer- ceremony performed; changes emony. The Way of Tea was developed and refined include the type of tea, cups, in Buddhist monasteries and embodies Zen philosophy with elements of etiquette, aesthetics, and grace. and furniture arrangements used in the tea house. The service (Oluolu3/iStockphoto.com)



Therigatha

provided by the hostess ranges from simple snacks to full-course meals, depending on the type of tea service. The ceremony itself is riddled with Buddhist symbolism due to the several Zen principles evident in the Way of Tea. The first principle of Zen Buddhism in the tea ceremony is the dynamic relationship between master and student. There is an obvious power structure in the ceremony: the hostess instructs and guides the guest through the whole service. The guest has no role in the ceremony besides experiencing what the hostess provides for him or her, reflecting the relationship of the master and student. The hostess serves as a master for the guest, not only teaching the practice but also passing on the tranquility the tea can provide. Another principle of Zen observed in the ceremony is the connection to the harmony of nature. The tea house is outfitted with a chabana, or minimalistic flower arrangement, that typically consists of single, in-season flowers. Its simplicity and natural aesthetic is a means of connecting the participant to the tranquility of nature. Because the arrangement is in a simple pot and free of artificial decor, the blossom stands as an example of nature’s harmony through simplicity. Zen Buddhism stresses a strong belief in one’s return to nature, and these flower arrangements are a means of re-creating the outdoors. Also, ceremonies often take place in vast gardens, especially in the case of picnic-style ceremonies, allowing the participants to interact with their natural surroundings and to return to the peace that only nature can provide. The peacefulness of nature makes it easier for Zen practitioners to enter a meditative state, allowing them to achieve a level of enlightenment through the ceremony. Kenneth Lee See also: Buddhism: Gender Roles; Zen Further Reading Anderson, Jennifer L. “Japanese Tea Ritual: Religion in Practice.” Man 22, no. 3 (1987): 475–98. Mori, Barbara. “The Tea Ceremony: A Transformed Japanese Ritual.” Gender and Society 5, no. 1 (1991): 86–97. Tanaka, Sen’O. The Tea Ceremony. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1973. Varley, H. P., and Isao Kumakura. Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1989.

T H E R I G AT H A Buddhism may perhaps claim to be the only world religion to have in its scriptures a book written exclusively by women. That book is the Therigatha, meaning poems (gatha) by female elders (Theri). In Theravada Buddhism, a woman earns the title “Theri” after several years of life as an ordained nun. There is also a Theragatha that is the collected poems of the male elders. The Therigatha poems, and the poems by nuns in another section of the Pali Canon, are among the oldest known from India and are also some of the oldest poems by women anywhere.

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A gatha is a style in which the poetic nature lies in the rhythm and cadence of the syllables rather than in end rhythms. A gatha is brief, often only two stanzas of 16 syllables each. Though using few words, the poems express the deeply felt spiritual experiences of the nuns. One common theme contrasts the spiritual life as a nun with that of being a housewife. For example, one nun writes about the joy of her newfound freedom from the drudgery of kitchen chores (the freedom from mortar and pestle) as well as the freedom from her bad husband (I.11). Several poems recall the exact moment of the nun’s mystical experience, the moment in which her mind broke through to a state of bliss. For example, one elderly nun’s poem focuses on a morning when she was going through the streets for alms, as both Buddhist monks and nuns historically did each morning. On this particular morning, her old legs failed her, and she fell to the ground. While lying there, her mindfulness of her frail and failing body touched off, in contrast, a deep sense of freedom of her mind. In another poem (II.3), a nun talks about cutting passion and aversion with a chop of a knife, leaving herself in a state of bliss. A nun named Uttama speaks of how troubled she was before, even to the point of running away from home five times, until she became a nun under the instruction of a teaching nun. Having undertaken a prolonged session of meditation, she achieved a breakthrough on the eighth day. While the Theri named Dantika was meditating deep in the woods, she watched an elephant obeying its mahout. Her reflective comparison of the taming of the wild elephant to the taming of her passions sparked her enlightenment. In Buddhism, one understanding of nirvana is the extinguishing of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion. In one poem (V.10), the nun first laments about years of struggle without a breakthrough. Then she joyfully relates how at bedtime she slowly puts out her oil lamp by turning down the wick. As the flame slowly fades, she experiences the extinction of her own mental flames. The “nirvana” of the little lamp leads to her own spiritual nirvana experience. As in the much later haiku poems of Japanese Zen, the poems of these early women draw us into their own, deeply felt spiritual transformations. Roy C. Amore See also: Buddhism: Nuns, Theravada; Pajapati; Women in Early Buddhism; Zen Further Reading Hallisey, Charles. Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. Murcott, Susan. First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 2006. Murcott, Susan. The First Buddhist Women: Translations and Commentaries on the Therigatha. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 1991.

W O M E N I N E A R LY B U D D H I S M There were two main spiritual traditions in India around 2,500 years ago. One was the Brahmanic Hindu tradition, which centered on sacred sacrificial rituals



Women in Early Buddhism

in which priests (brahmins) chanted verses from the Vedas while conducting offerings to the various Gods and Goddesses. Only males from the brahmin caste were qualified to be priests, and only the three upper social castes were allowed to attend the most sacred rituals. In contrast, the other spiritual tradition, known to us as the Disciple (Sravaka) or Ascetic tradition, was open to any social caste and to both male and female disciples. Buddhism arose from this Disciple tradition, and as such its women adherents were able to participate fully in religious practices. Most women in India at the time of the Buddha, around 2,500 years ago, did not have an easy life or equal status. Many were servants, some were slaves or courtesans, and those who lived the “householder” life were expected to serve and obey the males. As the Hindu law book Manu mandates, young women were to obey their fathers, wives were to obey their husbands, and widows were to obey their grown sons. It is unlikely that the gender subordination of women changed dramatically in early Buddhist societies, but there were some significant improvements. One important difference was that Buddhist teachings tried to end the discrimination against the lowest social classes and castes. Buddha, like Jesus later, went against traditional practice when he accepted water from a low-caste woman at a well. He taught that one’s conduct and character, rather than one’s birth status, made one pure or impure. This would have been a liberating teaching for lower-caste persons, whether male or female, but lower-caste women suffered from both gender and caste discrimination. Another improvement for women was that they now, as Buddhists, had the option of departing the householder life and entering the monastic order for females, the bhikkhuni sangha. This provided a refuge for widows, orphan girls, impoverished women, or women in an abusive home. Widows have traditionally been regarded as inauspicious in Hinduism, but by becoming a nun, a Buddhist widow’s status, in sharp contrast, became that of a respected holy person. It also provided a respected institution for women who desired a life devoted full time to spiritual development. Several Buddhist women who entered monastic life were so advanced in their spiritual achievements, and so skilled as poets, that their poems about their enlightenment experiences were included in two sections of the Buddhist canon. One such collection is the Apadana, and the other, more famous collection is a separate book known as the Therigatha, the “Poems of the Theri” (senior female monks). Many laywomen gained great respect for their material contributions to the poor and the sick or to Buddhist monastic life. One such example is Visakha, a wealthy laywoman who gave such things as food for the poor, medicines for the sick, support to medical clinics, and robes for the nuns. Other women, such as Queen Mallika or the nun Dhammadinna engaged the Buddha in religious discourse and were not expected to keep quiet in public as in many traditional societies. The Buddha himself is said to have praised the words of instruction uttered by Dhammadinna, saying that they were consistent with what he would have answered to the questions. Queen Mallika, in keeping with the Buddhist denunciation of animal

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sacrifices, is credited with talking her husband into forgoing the traditional royal duty of sponsoring an impressive ritual of animal sacrifices. Beside the more lofty roles played by outstanding laywomen benefactors and spiritually advanced bhikkhunis, most Buddhist women practiced their Buddhism in more everyday ways, such as offering food to the monks and nuns who made the alms rounds each morning. And, as Buddhism took on more of the trappings of other institutionalized religions, women were quite active in participating in the devotional services (pujas) at stupas, Bodhi trees, and shrines. Along with the males, but perhaps seated or standing separately, they put their palms together in front of themselves, in the anjali position, and bowed before monks, nuns, and the Buddha images as a way of paying respect to the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. In one way, the options open to Buddhist women in the early centuries were better than for many of their modern counterparts, for regrettably the Buddhist order of nuns has died out in many countries. Roy C. Amore See also: Buddhism: Gender Roles; Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Pajapati; Therigatha; Hinduism: Caste; Vedic Hinduism Further Reading Bodhi, Bhikkhu, trans. “Bhikkhuni-samyutta—Discourses of the Ancient Nuns.” Alliance for Bhikkhunis, 1997. http://www.bhikkhuni.net/bhikkhuni-samyutta-discourses-of​ -the-ancient-nuns/. Caplow, Zenshi Florence, and Reigetsu Susan Moon, eds. The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 2013. Engelmajer, Pascale. Women in Pali Buddhism: Walking the Spiritual Paths in Mutual Dependence. New York: Routledge, 2015. Hecker, Hellmuth. “Buddhist Women at the Time of the Buddha.” Translated by Sister Khema. Alliance for Bhikkhunis, 2010. http://www.bhikkhuni.net/buddhist-women​ -at-the-time-of-the-buddha/. Tisdale, Sallie. Women of the Way: Discovering 2,500 Years of Buddhist Wisdom. New York: Harper One, 2007.

WOMEN’S BUDDHIST NETWORKS Organized networks of women have been integral to the success and spread of Buddhist traditions since the religion’s origins in northern India in the fifth century BCE. Numerous women, including Mahapajapati Gotami, the Buddha’s stepmother, and Yashodhara¯, his former wife, were among the first women in history to join a celibate religious order with similar social standing to their ordained male counterparts. The songs and poems of their enlightenment utterances constitute some of the earliest extant poetry composed by women. Many of the Buddha’s first patrons included respected queens, noblewomen, courtesans, and prostitutes alike. According to early Sri Lankan chronicles, as Buddhism began to spread outside of India in the third century BCE, its earliest missionaries included Sanˇghamitta¯



Women’s Buddhist Networks

(ca. 308–229 BCE), the enlightened nun and daughter of Emperor Asoka. She traveled south to Sri Lanka to ordain Anula, consort of the Lankan prince regent, and her retinue of virtuous noblewomen (Oldenburg 1879). Contemporarily, global women’s Buddhist organizations like the Sakyadhı¯ta¯ (Sanskrit: Daughters of the Buddha) International Association of Buddhist Women formed in 1987 by Asian and Western ordained and lay Buddhist practitioners and scholars, continue to fight for gender equality in Buddhist institutions across various communities and practice traditions. In 433 CE, 11 fully ordained nuns (bhikkhunis) sailed from Sri Lanka to China during the Southern Song dynasty and introduced the dual ordination for Chinese nuns (Heirman 2010), where it soon flourished and spread to Taiwan and South Korea. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, as well as in other Theravadin and Tibetan practice contexts, the full ordination lineage for women either lapsed or was never available in the first place. In many Theravadin countries, some nonordained renunciant roles for women exist, such as the maechii in Thailand and the thilashin in Myanmar. Due to the lack of a viable ordination lineage for women in Theravada traditions, Buddhist women have in recent times come together in organizations that cut across distinctions of nationality and Buddhist practice tradition and work toward reinstating the bhikkhuni (fully ordained nun) lineage and addressing issues of gender inequality and discrimination in Buddhist communities and institutions. Sakyadhı¯ta¯ is an organization that demonstrates the mobilization of Buddhist women and men across national boundaries and practice traditions. It was formed following the first International Conference on Buddhist Women, which convened in Bodhgaya, India, in 1987 (Tsomo 1988). Such organizations integrate key concepts and monastic communities to organize for the resuscitation of a women’s ordination lineage and to raise awareness of gender subordination in Buddhist institutions (Ohlson 2004). In 1996, Sakyadhı¯ta¯ organized the first international ordination for 10 Theravada nuns from Sri Lanka, which was held in Sarnath, India. Ten South Korean Mahayana nuns conferred the ordination, which was then followed by another ordination conferred by Theravada monks (DeSilva 2004). Since then, there have been a number of ordinations for women throughout India, Sri Lanka, Australia, North America, and Southeast Asia. Tyler Lehrer See also: Buddhism: Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Mahayana; Nuns, Theravada; Ordination; Pajapati; Therigatha; Women in Early Buddhism Further Reading De Silva, Ranjani. “Reclaiming the Robe: Reviving the Bhikkhunı¯ Order in Sri Lanka.” In Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements, by Karma ­Lekshe Tsomo, 233–52. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Heirman, Ann. “Fifth Century Chinese Nuns: An Exemplary Case.” Buddhist Studies Review 27, no. 1 (2010): 61–76.

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Mohr, Thea, and Jampa Tsedroen, eds. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. Boston: Wisdom, 2010. Ohlson, Caren I. “Resistance without Borders: An Exploration of Buddhist Nuns across Cultures.” In Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements, edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo, 119–35. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Oldenberg, Hermann, trans. The Dîpavam·sa: An Ancient Buddhist Historical Record. London: Williams and Norgate, 1879. Tsomo, Karma Lekshe, ed. Sakyadhita: Daughters of the Buddha. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1988.

ZEN Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word chan, an abbreviated form of chan’na, which is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit dhyana ­(meditation). The Zen tradition was established on the core teachings of innate wisdom uncovered through meditation as the way of vigilance and self-discovery that helps unearth one’s essential nature: the Buddha-nature. As such, there should not be an essential difference in the spiritual experiences available to human beings, regardless of class, race, and gender. Yet, Japanese Zen Buddhism has historically been a predominantly male tradition whose records refer to patriarchs’ Zen teachings, largely oblivious of the few female Zen masters, the numerous nuns, nunneries, and lay female practitioners and followers that have historically participated, alongside men, in the spread and refinement of this Buddhist school. In Japan there are at present three main Zen lineages: the Rinzai, the Oˉbaku, and the Soˉtoˉ school. From the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century throughout the Heian period (794–1185), women belonging to the upper elite played a significant role as Buddhist patrons: female monarchs like Empress Koˉmyoˉ (701–760) and rich laywomen’s donations secured much financial support to nuns in the female monasteries that were included in the state-sponsored temple system. A dominant figure in the history of Japanese Zen is Doˉgen (1200–1253), a Soˉtoˉ Zen master. Doˉgen lived in a time when the spread of Confucian values and ideas of women’s “three obediences” (to father, husband, and son) were gradually combined with the Buddhist notion of “the five obstructions” hindering women’s salvation in Buddhism. As a consequence, hierarchical structures, including religious organizations, became increasingly male dominated. Despite the prevailing culture placing a variety of restrictions to religious spaces and roles on women while barring them from reaching higher levels of spiritual enlightenment, Doˉgen unambiguously articulates in his text Bendoˉwa (1231) that male and female practitioners are equal. In the impassionate chapter “Raihai-tokuzui” (1240) of his work the Shoˉboˉgenzoˉ (written between 1231 and 1253), he supports the spiritual capability of women in that the desire to enter Buddhahood is not limited to men but is also among women, as all sentient beings without exception have Buddha-nature. However, Doˉgen’s eagerness did not solve the contradiction of Japanese Zen women having equal capacity of awakening but limited entry to ordination and access to master roles or higher ranks. A second dominant figure in Japanese Zen is Hakuin Ekaku (1686–1769), an 18th-century Rinzai Zen master. Compared to Doˉgen, Hakuin had no such written



Zen

defense or praise of women, but the community that grew up around him accepted women readily. One of his famous students was Satsujo, a laywoman and great disciple of Hakuin. Several stories or koan used in Rinzai Zen practice tell of this woman, who allegedly sat on the sutras after attaining enlightenment because she understood them as being not special. There are various details of her encounters with her teacher or with other practitioners. In most of these encounters, she excelled in Zen ideas and values. Entering modernity, alongside nuns and lay practitioners, another group of women in Zen Buddhism has made itself known: Zen priests’ wives. The Meiji (1868–1912) government in 1872 issued a law allowing priests (and in 1873 also nuns) to eat meat, get married, and have free choice of tonsure. Prior to the cabinet decree of 1872, however, temple inheritance was an old custom often accepted and legitimated in many Buddhist orders, despite the members professing celibacy and renunciation of secular married life. Zen Buddhism was the most resistant toward this sort of laicization, but the institutionalization of married priesthood empirically legitimated as social facts the inheritance of the profession and the temple. Marriage has since become a norm for most Zen priests, making the jitei fujin (temple wife, also called jizoku, temple family) an integral and indispensable part of temple administration. This, however, has come with struggles and difficulties for women in a rigid patriarchal system: their lives are locked into the traditional virtues of the mother and wife whose primary role is to bear and bring up a boy as a future priest-to-be. The temple wife embodies the complexities of a relationship that is bound by a fictional principle of priestly renunciation and has to adjust to former categorizations of temple women being taboo. While priestly marriage is acknowledged in the outside world, Buddhist orders remain unable to affirm the fact of marriage within themselves. Even today, temple wives are sometimes referred to as obasan (aunt) rather than okusan (wife), emphasizing the institutional rather than the marital status of the wife. Priest’s wives often have to give up their own career to live with their parentsin-law and have to regard their home as the shared property of the local community. This places a lot of pressure on wives, who need to balance between being in a married couple and being representatives of an institutional temple family. Renunciation is still a practice among Zen practitioners, though renouncers are extremely few and mostly women. For a Zen nun to marry and not be tonsured means a return to the secular world and therefore counters the strict idea of renunciation. However, although females may be qualified and interested in taking over a temple, biological and social hierarchical orders implicitly make male priests the only suitable instructors and temple owners. Temple wives are not renouncers, nuns, nor female lay followers. While laywomen have been present and part of actual temple life almost from the beginning as practitioners, donors, and followers, temple wives must stand aside since they cannot take an active role in rituals or preaching, even if they want to. This poses an issue of gender inequality in that it forces male priests’ spouses into an ambiguous position that renders them powerless. Starting with numerous Soˉtoˉ Zen temple wives in the late 1990s, a movement of laywomen, temple wives, academics, nuns, and practitioners has come together

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from all over Japan, transcending distinctions of their various schools and orders. They have been voicing criticism of present-day Zen Buddhism to raise awareness of the problem of gender inequality and seek institutional reform that implies the involvement of women and men who hold themselves apart from gender problems. Paola Cavaliere See also: Buddhism: Bodhisattvas; Buddhism in the United States; Gender Roles; Laywomen in Theravada Buddhism; Mahayana; Ordination; Tea Ceremony; Spirituality: Meditation Further Reading Arai, Paula Kane Robinson. Women Living Zen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Faure, Bernard. The Read Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998. Kawahashi, Noriko. “Women Challenging the ‘Celibate’ Buddhist Order: Recent Cases of Progress and Regress in the Soˉtoˉ School.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 44, no. 1 (2017): 55–74.

Christianity

INTRODUCTION The 47 articles in this section cover the earliest days of Christianity through the present and follow its spread across the globe. Starting in small and diverse groups known collectively as the Jesus movement, Christianity at its earliest was largely open to, and supported by, women as well as men. Women participated as disciples, apostles, missionaries, martyrs, and material supporters, as we read in “Women in Early Christianity.” Extant yet often fragmented texts from this period relate the narratives and ideas of numerous groups, only a few of which were included in what came to be the canon of the Christian Bible. In contrast to the canonical scriptures, where women are seen on the peripheries, women were central in a number of apocryphal texts, as noted in the entry “Apocrypha.” As Christianity advanced into an increasingly powerful and institutionalized church, women were largely excluded from leadership, yet they continued to engage in pastoral care as deacons and priests’ wives. However, with the rise of unmarried priests in the Middle Ages (celibacy became a requirement of the priesthood in 1139), women’s roles within the hierarchy were further diminished. The Middle Ages saw the further incorporation of folk traditions into Christianity among the common people. This would later impact women, as authorities through the early modern period sought to purify Christianity of magical and nature elements often associated with women, who served their communities as folk healers and midwives. Also increasing in the Middle Ages was the veneration of the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, female saints, and Christ with feminine aspects. These features of medieval piety are related in the entries “Mother of God,” “Mary Magdalene,” and “Saints.” The Feminine Divine within esoteric Christian mysticism is discussed in “Sophia,” and “Mystics” discusses female Christian mystics. “Middle Ages” provides an overview of the rise of chastity and mysticism as features of medieval women’s piety and of women’s growing involvement in monasticism as founders, leaders, and nuns. Monastic women, whether dedicated by their families, joining voluntarily, or founding and running monasteries (see “Abbesses”), lacked clerical authority and were often dependent on male clergy for their organization, rules of conduct, and oversight. Despite these limitations, monastic life was seen by some as a welcome alternative to marriage and motherhood in an era when few women worked outside the home. Monastic life also offered some women educational opportunities rarely available elsewhere. The writings of medieval monastic women are important to our understanding of their roles, motivations, and faith practices, as related in “Women Writers of the Middle Ages” and “Education.”

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Further articulating these developments are the articles “Monasticism, Medieval Women” and “Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity” and entries focused on particular medieval women: “Julian of Norwich” and “Hildegard of Bingen.” “Monastic Life” and “Chastity” both describe in some detail the practices of women in monastic communities and women’s ascetic practices within the home. “Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious” and “Roman Catholic Women Religious” provide the same with a focus on the monasticism of women in these traditions. “Monasticism, Contemporary Women” relates changes occurring in the practice of modern women’s monasticism as a result of challenges in the 20th and 21st centuries, including secularization and the church’s response to it. And, “Ministers” discusses changes in various Christian denominations regarding women’s ordination, while “Founders” tells the stories of women, like Ann Lee of the Shakers, who founded new Christian denominations. Women’s faith practices and roles in the churches are also related in region-specific entries, including “Christianity in the United States,” “Christianity in Latin America,” “Christianity in Europe,” and “Christianity in Africa.” Other articles, such as “Mormonism” and “Orthodox Christianity,” discuss women in specific branches. “African American Women” discusses womanist Christianity and the importance of the black churches as community support systems for African American women. For the most part, entries relate how women have chosen to practice their faith, whether inside or outside of the institutional church. However, several entries discuss restrictions on women and rationales used to justify them. “The Fall” relates a story from scripture that has been widely used in Christian societies to justify the subordination of women. Interestingly, this story, recorded in Genesis 2:3, was not the only one circulating in the ancient world that blamed women for death and destruction. Perhaps the most famous rival to the story of the Fall is that of Pandora’s box (ca. 700 BCE), according to which the woman Pandora brings disease, death, and more into the world when she opens a jar (see Hesiod 2009). Other entries, including “Chastity,” “Fundamentalism,” “Clothing,” “Sex and Gender,” “Homosexuality,” “Marriage and Divorce,” “Widowhood,” and “Abortion,” relate specific topics and issues of importance to women in Christian societies. General Bibliography—Christianity Bitel, Lisa, and Felice Lifshitz, eds. Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Bourgeault, Cynthia. The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity. Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 2010. Brooks, Joanna, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, and Hannah Wheelwright, eds. Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Clark, Elizabeth A. Women in the Early Church. Wilmington, DE: M. Glazier, 1983. Clark, Elizabeth A., and Herbert Richardson. Women and Religion: The Original Sourcebook of Women in Christian Thought. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. Conn, Marie A. Noble Daughters: Unheralded Women in Western Christianity, 13th to 18th Centuries. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.



Introduction

Coon, Lynda L. Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Craig, Leigh-Ann. Wandering Women and Holy Matrons. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2009. Daynes, Kathryn M. More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. Dickens, Andrea Janelle. The Female Mystic: Great Women Thinkers of the Middle Ages. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009. Eisen, Ute E. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Evidence. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000. Epp, Eldon Jay. Junia: The First Woman Apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005. Flanagan, Sabina. Hildegard of Bingen: A Visionary Life. London: Routledge, 1989. Hesiod. Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Jansen, Katherine Ludwig. The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. Jantzen, Grace. Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian. New York: Paulist Press, 2000. King, Karen L., ed. Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000. Kraemer, Ross Shepard, and Mary Rose D’Angelo, eds. Women and Christian Origins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Margolis, Nadia. An Introduction to Christine de Pizan. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2011. Martin, Phyllis. Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville: Mothers and Sisters in Troubled Times. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. Matter, Ann. “Discourses of Desire: Sexuality and Christian Women’s Visionary Narratives.” Journal of Homosexuality 18 (1989/1990): 119–31. McNamara, Jo Ann, John E. Halborg, and E. Gordon Whatley. Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992. Mooney, Catherine, ed. Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and Their Interpreters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Oduyoye, Mercy Amba. Beads and Strands: Reflections of an African Woman on Christianity in Africa. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004. Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve and the Serpent. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Raab, Kelly. When Women Become Priests: The Catholic Women’s Ordination Debate. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Robert, Dana L. Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002. Salinas, Maximiliano. “Christianity, Colonialism and Women in Latin America in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries.” Social Compass 39, no. 4 (1992): 525–42. Sawyer, Deborah F. Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries. London: Routledge, 1996. Solomon, Dorothy Allred. The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Stjerna, Kirsi. Women and the Reformation. 5th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2011. Torjeson, Karen, When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. Ursic, Elizabeth. Women, Ritual, and Power: Placing Female Imagery of God in Christian Worship. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014. Williams, Delores S. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. n.p.: Orbis, 2013.

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ABBESSES Abbeys and convents were first established in Europe as places of contemplation and study where nuns and monks could pray for the souls of deceased kinsfolk in purgatory and venerate the Virgin Mary for both her chastity and her maternal love for Christ. During the Early Middle Ages or Dark Ages (ca. 400–1000 CE), European convents were led by the most senior nun, the abbess, or, in smaller nunneries, the prioress. Besides her exceptional religious zeal and decade or more of experience, the abbess frequently had noble blood, which legitimized her right to exert authority over lower-born nuns, like a high-status mother over her daughters and maidservants. Early abbesses included Hilda, a famous poet and the niece of seventh-century Saxon king Edwin, who established Whitby Abbey in 657 CE; Scholastica (480–543), who used her inheritance to establish a convent in Italy and became an expert on early Christian religious texts; and Leoba and Walburga, who assisted the missionary work of Bishop Boniface, their kinsman, in eighth-century Germany (Schmitt and Kolzer 1996). Deeming themselves subjects, not clergy, pre-Reformation abbesses and their dependents usually remained within their abbey once Christianity had established itself. Typical tasks for abbesses during the High Middle Ages (ca. 1000–1300) and late Middle Ages (1300–1500) included delegating routine chores to the servant-nuns from poor backgrounds, managing the convent’s finances, attending daily prayers under a priest’s direction, caring for the sick, writing religious songs or proverbs, and maintaining political neutrality by neither endorsing nor criticizing royal policies that contradicted papal infallibility. Sixteenth-century English abbesses like Catherine Bulkeley (fl. 1535–1539) and Margaret Vernon (d. ca. 1546) generally cooperated with the secular authorities in return for peaceful retirement after Henry VIII’s schism from Rome and 1536–1540 Dissolution of the Monasteries. However, a few older nuns, including Isabel Whitehead of Arthington (d. 1587, while imprisoned at York Castle), stayed in England until Elizabeth’s reign, performing itinerant charitable works, collecting alms, and healing poor women’s spiritual and physical afflictions in the priests’ absence. Many English recusant women (so called for their refusal to accept royal church supremacy) joined existing convents in Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, or in the case of Benedictine abbess Anne Neville (1605–1689), established their own overseas abbeys as a mirror image of their confiscated ancestral estates. From about 1560 to 1700, these women aided the Counter-Reformation mission to reconvert countries under Protestant control by commemorating martyred priests and perpetuating pre-Reformation saints’ days. In addition, some 17th-century nuns actively involved themselves with missionary and scholarly work, including Mary Ward (1585–1645), who established schools for the poor and founded a secret convent in Yorkshire; Francisca Josefa del Castillo (1671–1742), who gained fame in Colombia for her devotional writings; Mexican scientist and composer Juana Ines de la Cruz (1645–1695), who argued for female education; and Spanish noblewoman Luisa de Carvajel (1568–1614), who was imprisoned in London for leading a community of female converts. During the early 19th century, nuns fleeing the French Revolution, such as abbess Lucy Blyde (1729–1816) and the English Benedictines from Cambrai,



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took advantage of the emerging Catholic emancipation movement to establish new abbeys and convent schools in Britain. Previously, 18th-century English recusants worshipped secretly at home or joined overseas convents, while others, including Carmelite prioress Frances Dickinson, established communities in the United States. Aware that Catholicism’s long-term survival depended on properly educating the younger generation, mid-19th-century abbesses, including British-born nuns trained on the Continent, established schools in England for the children of wealthy Catholics fearful of the European revolutions of 1848 and for newly arrived Irish families fleeing starvation in their homeland. Goals of Victorian and Edwardian nunneries were to provide educational opportunities, a surrogate family unit for the women who joined, and a simple yet spiritually fulfilling lifestyle. However, for some, there were long-standing rumors of repression, corruption, enslavement, and abuse. Like their European counterparts, British, Irish, and American abbesses frequently established hospitals, farms, and laundries to employ and shelter destitute, sick, disabled, impoverished, or elderly people as well as orphans. These charitable services were, variously, intended to ensure the convent’s self-sufficiency, reverse an apparent nationwide moral decline, improve living conditions to maintain support from the poorest members of the Catholic congregation, and promote nuns’ carebased work as a vocation distinct from the priesthood. N. K. Crown See also: Christianity: Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Chastity; Christianity in Europe; Education; Hildegard of Bingen; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Women in the Reformation Further Reading Alcock, John. The Abbaye of the Holy Ghost. London: Wynkyn De Worde, 1497. British Library STC/13609. Lindley, Susan, and Eleanor Stebner. The Westminster Handbook to Women in American Religious History. London: Westminster John Knox, 2008. Neville, Anne. “English Benedictine Nuns in Flanders, 1598–1687.” Catholic Record Society. Vol. 6. Miscellanea V. Edited by Mary Rumsey. London: W. H. Smith, 1909, 1–72. https:// wwtn.history.qmul.ac.uk/publications-static/pdfs/Annalsof5communitiesJan09.pdf. Partington, Anne. “A Brief Narrative of the Benedictine Dames of Cambray, 1795.” Catholic Record Society, Vol. 13. Misc. VIII: Records of the English Benedictine Nuns at Cambrai 1620–1793. Edited by Cecilia Heywood. London: Catholic Record Society, 1913, 20–73. https://wwtn.history.qmul.ac.uk/publications-static/pdfs/CambraiBens.pdf. Schmitt, Miriam, and Linda Kolzer. Medieval Women Monastics. Collegeville, PA: Liturgical Press, 1996.

ABORTION Women have terminated pregnancies by means of abortifacients or other methods throughout recorded history and across cultures and for reasons that include physical considerations, such as the health of the mother, or social considerations, such

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as an unwanted pregnancy or lack of resources. While popular beliefs in several religious denominations are often at odds with abortion, religious and sacred texts generally do not specifically mention the practice. The Bible does not refer to abortion directly but contains passages that may refer to abortion when taken out of context, notably Exodus 20:13, prohibiting murder, and the oft-quoted Deuteronomy 30:19, on choosing life, and Exodus 21:22, which addresses the need for a financial penalty in cases where a woman suffers a miscarriage as a result of a scuffle. At the time of early Christianity, most religions in its region of origin allowed women to have abortions or kill newborns by exposure to the elements. The prevailing Aristotelian view was that a male fetus became animated or endowed with a human soul after 40 days and a female fetus after 90 days, leaving ample room for abortion up to that point, and this view was also held among Christians. It wasn’t until the second century that Christian philosophers began to denounce abortion, starting with Barnabas’s epistle, which condemned both abortion and infanticide, and in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint John Chrysostom, and others. Beginning in the fifth century with Saint Augustine, and continuing with Saint Thomas Aquinas and others, the earlier Pagan view returned, namely that only abortion of an animated or “ensouled” fetus was murder. The interpretation that abortion in the early stage of pregnancy and under certain conditions is permitted has continued to exist. For example, the Jesuit theologian Thomas Sanchez (d. early 17th century) stated that he and his contemporary theologians approved of early abortion to save the life of the woman (Macguire 2001, 36). From the 17th century onward, abortion was generally forbidden by the Christian church. Pope Leo XIII issued a decree in 1886 prohibiting all procedures that directly ended the life of a fetus, and this became the dominant view. Pope Francis (b. 1936), however, has softened the approach and has stated that priests can show forgiveness to a woman who has had an abortion. While abortion is generally not permitted in Christian traditions today, for many women, Christian religious doctrine is weighed against secular decision making, and the use of both contraception and abortion is evident in the low birth rates in many Christian nations in Europe and Latin America. Where patriarchal and religious values combine to encourage production of offspring, abortion is prohibited by the church and production of large numbers of children highly valued. This view is most strongly present in the so-called dominion theology, which is part of the radical right-wing fringe of Protestantism in the United States, and has sometimes encouraged acts of violence against abortion providers and women seeking to end pregnancies. Brigitte H. Bechtold See also: Buddhism: Abortion; Christianity: Fundamentalism; Sex and Gender Further Reading Juergensmeyer, Mark. “Christian Violence in America.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 558 (1998): 88–100.



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Lindemann, Andreas. “‘Do Not Let a Woman Destroy the Unborn Babe in Her Belly’: Abortion in Ancient Judaism and Christianity.” Studia Theologica 49 (1995): 253–71. Macguire, Daniel C. Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. Schenker, J. G. 2000. “Women’s Reproductive Health: Monotheistic Religious Perspectives.” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 70, no. 1 (2000): 77–86. Stephens, Moira, Christopher F. C. Jordens, Ian H. Kerridge, and Rachel A. Ankeny. “Religious Perspectives on Abortion and a Secular Response.” Journal of Religion and Health 49 (2010): 513–35.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN In recent years, African American Christian women have self-identified as one of the most religious populations in the United States (Pew Research Center 2009). This deep sense of personal spiritual commitment is one with a complex history of enslavement, conversion, transformation, growth, and centuries of perseverance in the face of racial and social subjugation. African American Christianity is, in part, one of many indelible marks of slavery that is still present on the American religious landscape. From the first captivity contact with the West that Africans experienced in the 16th century, missionary efforts were made to convert slaves (who largely adhered to traditional African faith practices or Islam) to Christianity (Diouf 1998). While the motivation for quick, forced conversion was rooted in the fear that captives would unify and rebel in their shared African heritage, Christianity played the unanticipated role of helping to bring together diverse populations of slaves in a common faith tradition. With few firsthand accounts of early slave religion in the United States, scholars can only speculate that the early practices of these communities were syncretistic—melding traditional African faith practices with newly learned Christian rituals, for a decidedly unique Christian practice. When considering the influential roles of women in African spirituality—as mediums, healers, and priestesses in traditions like Yoruba and Vodun—it is possible that women played a more public role in the religious lives of these early communities. Through the century of revivalist religious movements during the First and Second Great Awakenings (1730s–1830s), Christian denominations like the Methodist and Baptist churches gained many African American followers. These movements were especially significant for women, as their race and gender continually placed African American women at the bottom of the social ladder. Religious revival meetings, however, promised (though did not always deliver) egalitarianism, affording women the opportunity to hear religious messages and to have religious experiences, regardless of their race or gender. As African American interpretations of Christianity developed, communities formed in which men took roles as leaders and preachers, and women became responsible for religious instruction of children in the home. While still enslaved, African American women sometimes participated in the religious child-rearing of the white Christian families for whom they worked.

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While these more conventional gendered roles were prevalent, there are notable women who were empowered to preach to fellow believers, despite resistance from their male (and sometimes other female) counterparts. One celebrated example from this period is Jarena Lee (1783–1864), a freeborn member of the African Methodist Episcopal church (AME), whose requests to preach were at first denied by the well-known preacher Richard Allen (1760–1831) (Tucker 2016). Lee was only permitted by Allen to become a circuit (traveling) preacher after exhibiting what were believed to be convincing signs that God had chosen her to be the first female preacher in the tradition. She would go on to travel thousands of miles, delivering her messages in the northern and southern United States and Canada during the racially complicated period before the American Civil War (1861–1865). Lee was not alone in her efforts to prove that “the Savior died for the woman as well as for the man,” with Zilpha Elaw (ca. 1790–ca. 1870), Julia Foote (1823–1900), and Amanda Smith Berry (1837–1915) also finding inspiration to take on more public religious roles in the African American Methodist movement (Chaves 1999, 68). Although questioned and marginalized for their unconventional religious authority, female preachers undoubtedly helped to shape and grow historically black churches (like the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, National Baptist Convention, and later some Holiness and Pentecostal churches) through their charismatic preaching and extensive missionary efforts. By the 19th century, the relationship between slavery and Christianity became more proble­matic, as both slave owners and abolitionists attempted to use Christian scripture and teachings to support their causes (a dissonance that President Abraham Lincoln voiced in his second inaugural address in 1865). African American rights and spirituality were thus very much at stake by the advent of the Civil War, as evidenced in the work of abolitionist Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883) and Underground Railroad “conductor” Harriet Former slave Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883) became a leader in the abolitionist and first wave feminist Tubman (ca. 1820–1913), who movements in the United States. She was a compelling used their Christian faith as speaker and activist with a message of social justice support for their efforts to end grounded in the Christian gospel. (Library of Congress)



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slavery in the United States. The postwar Great Migration of freed southern blacks into northern cities raised further questions about the relationship between race and Christian practice at that time and the postslavery role of women in black churches. Today’s thriving female African American Christian population is in many ways the legacy of historically black churches that were founded in the antebellum era and gained momentum during the period of Reconstruction following the war. For some Christian denominations, like the AME and AME Zion churches, women gained a public voice as the traditions grew, with eventual female ordination and inclusion as bishops in the 21st century, as in the case of AME bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie (b. 1947), who was ordained in 2000. This path to leadership was laid in the opening decades of this period, with female pastors like Florence Spearing Randolph (1866–1951) defying traditional gendered roles in their church communities. For other denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, female leadership has been called into question even in recent years. While formal female ordination was introduced in the 1960s in that denomination, religious conservatism spelled an end for the practice in 2000. In the past several decades, African American women have undoubtedly found the strongest foothold in Holiness and Pentecostal movements, which continue to offer them spaces to preach, educate, and act as healers. For some, like former slave Lizzie Robinson (1860–1945), who with her husband, Edward, founded the Church of God in Christ (the largest African American Pentecostal church today), authority came through coleadership as well as more traditional laywoman work in fund-raising, music ministries, communal food preparation, and missions. For others, like Ida B. Robinson (1891–1946), who founded the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America, charismatic leadership meant preaching the gospel as independent leaders who supported and propelled women’s religious rights. The civil rights era of the mid-20th century was one that underscored the views of black male preachers like Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) and Howard Thurman (1899–1981). As founders, financial supporters, and sometimes leaders of black churches, however, many women also had prominent voices in church politics and civil rights in the United States. For example, educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) used her training from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago to bolster her activism, while Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977) used African American spirituals to link her political action with Christian spirituality. The multilayered conditions of slavery, conversion, religious innovation, and gendered norms have created a variety of African American women’s Christian experiences. While their presence in historically black churches is profound, African American women have also played significant parts in Christian denominations beyond the evangelical and mainline in the United States in the past several centuries. As Shakers, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Episcopalians, and Catholics, African American women have been present in the American Christian experience in many settings beyond historically black churches. With more than 80 percent of African American women claiming that religion is very important

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to them, female presence and perspectives are alive and well, informed by and continuing to shape American Christianity (Pew Research Center 2009). Emily Bailey See also: African Religions: African Religions-in-Diaspora; Yoruba Religion; Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Founders of Christian Denominations; Missionaries; Mormonism; Protestant Denominations; Women in the Reformation; Spirituality: Syncretism Further Reading Chaves, Mark. Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Diouf, Sylviana A. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York: New York University Press, 1998. Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994. Pew Research Center. “A Religious Portrait of African Americans.” Last modified January 30, 2009. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-African Americans/. Raboteau, Albert J. African American Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Tucker, Ruth A. Extraordinary Women of Christian History: What We Can Learn from Their Struggles and Triumphs. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016.

A N G L I C A N / E P I S C O PA L I A N W O M E N R E L I G I O U S In 16th-century England, King Henry VIII’s political and personal situation led to his denying the authority of the pope and creating the Church of England, also known as the Anglican church. Henry VIII also dissolved the monasteries, stripping them of their riches and banning cloistered religious life. Women religious either had to return to secular life or flee to Catholic mainland Europe to create convents abroad. For 300 years, the religious community life in England remained illegal until, under the auspices of the Oxford movement, it was restored as part of the mid-19th-century ecclesiastical revival of the Anglican church. The first Anglican woman to take life vows was Marion Hughes in 1841, and between 1845 and 1960, 90 female communities were established in England; in the United States, a parallel high-church movement in the Episcopal church (the American offspring of the Church of England) also led to 42 female foundations between 1845 and 1974. The early days of the communities were fraught with controversies: they based their restored monastic life on the pre-Reformation (and thus Catholic) model, and their devotional practices included such “heresies” for Anglicans as devotions to the Virgin Mary, meaning they were seen by many to be closet Catholics. Some early communities did indeed secede to Rome, while others remained Anglican but became known as Anglo-Papalists whose aim was reunion with Roman Catholicism; others based their strong sense of Anglican identity on the Book of Common Prayer as their touchstone. This tension between the Anglican communities and their Catholic heritage continues to exert an undeniable pull, and



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in 2012, 11 sisters of the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin (est. 1848, Oxford, England), one of the oldest and most influential of the Anglican communities, were received into full communion in the Catholic church. Anglican communities include enclosed communities, such as the Sisters of the Love of God (est. 1906, Oxford, England), who lead a contemplative life of prayer and rarely leave their convents, but the majority of Anglican and Episcopal orders combine active work with a life of prayer and worship. They have founded schools and hospitals, provided social care in Britain and the Americas, and established missions to the disadvantaged across the world. While religious motive was prominent in the revival, the early Anglican sisterhoods also offered opportunities of service in social and educational work, which were not readily available to women in 19th-century England. Anglican sisters were among those who accompanied Florence Nightingale to the Crimea and whose work was influential in raising both the standards and status of the nursing profession. During the first decades of the 20th century, the communities grew in both numbers and confidence, but despite their role in the worldwide spread of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican religious communities (ARC) are often referred to as “the best-kept secret of the Church of England,” and it was only in 1935 that they gained official recognition. The demographic of Anglican women religious has changed considerably over the 160 years of their existence: the social upheavals of two world wars; the emergence of state-funded training for teachers, nurses, and social workers; and latterly the acceptance of women for ordination as priests have all led to more opportunities for Anglican and Episcopalian women to live a life of service without joining a religious community. There has thus been a corresponding drop in the number of new professions, which is mirrored in the Catholic women’s communities. Even so, there has been a steady flow of novices into the ARC: in 2013, there were at least 1,057 Anglican women religious worldwide (Anglican Religious Communities 2013), and new convents are regularly founded. These are either closely allied to the traditional orders, such as the Benedictines, Augustinians, or Franciscans, or develop a completely autonomous identity. Recent independent communities include the Sisters of Jesus Way (est. 1979, Kirby, England) and the Sisters of the Incarnation (est. 1981, Australia). Amanda Haste See also: Christianity: Monastic Life; Monasticism, Contemporary Women; Roman Catholic Women Religious Further Reading Anglican Religious Communities. Anglican Religious Life 2014–15: A Yearbook of Religious Orders and Communities in the Anglican Communion. Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2013. Losada, Isabel. New Habits: Today’s Women Who Choose to Become Nuns. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1999. Mumm, Susan. Stolen Daughters, Virgin Mothers: Anglican Sisterhoods in Great Britain. London: Leicester University Press, 1999. Stebbing, Nicholas, ed. Anglican Religious Life: A Well-Kept Secret? Dublin: Dominican, 2003.

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A P O C RY P H A The Christian Apocrypha—the noncanonical Christian texts produced from the first century onward—encompasses a broad assortment of documents of diverse genres and from diverse communities and locations in the early Christian context. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the documents reflect a wide range of attitudes about women and their roles in early Christian communities and femininity more broadly understood. What is most intriguing is the frequency with which these texts interact with female characters, feminine identity, and the issue of femaleness, especially when compared with the canonical Christian texts. One of the most prominent female figures within the documents is Mary of Magdala. In the canonical Christian gospels, Mary Magdalene is an important female figure who is the first to see the risen Jesus and is tasked with the job of informing the other disciples of his resurrection. In the Apocrypha, Mary becomes a more dominant figure. In fact, the only Christian gospel attributed to a woman is attributed to Mary and is known simply as the Gospel of Mary (ca. first or second century CE). In this text, it is revealed that the Savior gave Mary private instruction. The apostle Peter is disturbed by such an assertion and challenges Mary. Levi, however, comes to her defense, thereby affirming Mary’s status in the Christian community and the significance of her teaching for the community. Mary, as the apostle to the apostles, teaches the disciples that the gender/sex differences of the body are meaningless and temporary, as humans and the Divine are essentially genderless (King 2007). In another text, the Dialogue of the Savior (ca. second century and possibly redacted from several earlier works), Mary also takes a prominent role as the “woman who understood everything” (King 2007, 139, 11–13). In this document, she comes to understand the teachings of the Savior through dialogue with him alongside the male disciples. She stands as the male disciples’ equal. In the Gospel of Philip (ca. second to third century, containing a collection of proverbs), Jesus kisses Mary Magdalene, demonstrating his own love for her and her favored status among the disciples. The dialogue that follows insinuates that Jesus loved her more than the disciples because she had seen the light while the disciples remained in darkness. Further, in this text, it is possible that Mary should be understood as part of the salvific plan of reuniting male and female after the separation of the primordial union of Adam and Eve in the garden (McGuire 1999, 275–76). In light of such positive portraits of Mary as one who receives private instruction and teaches the male disciples, it might be surprising to note that there are also some rather difficult sayings related to women and even Mary in particular. One of the most challenging to interpret is the final saying (114) in the Gospel of Thomas (ca. first to second century, a collection of sayings of Jesus, likely taken from oral tradition): “Simon Peter said to them: ‘Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of the life.’ Jesus said, ‘Look, I am going to guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.’” While Jesus does not



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agree with Peter’s assertion that Mary is not worthy of the life, neither does Jesus allow for Mary to enter that life in a state of femaleness. It appears that the author, requiring Mary to be made male to enter the kingdom, somehow links salvation and maleness. Interestingly, however, maleness does not directly correspond to biological maleness, as Mary is made male and yet is accepted in her biological state of femaleness (Stefaniw 2010, 344). Rather, maleness appears to be a set of qualities and behaviors, such as goodness and strength, rather than qualities and behaviors associated with femaleness in the ancient world, such as helplessness, passivity, and emotionality (Stefaniw 2010, 344–45). Certainly, this text is not an endorsement of qualities associated with femaleness in the ancient world, but neither is it an outright rejection of biological femaleness. The difficulty arises when one seeks to determine how texts such as these were read in their ancient contexts. It is difficult to offer overarching views about femaleness across the full corpus of these documents. Elaine Pagels points out the vast array of positive female imagery in the so-called Gnostic documents in the Christian Apocrypha and argues for a correlated positive view of women in the communities using these texts. Other scholars, including Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, have pointed out negative comments concerning femaleness in the corpus and argue that a devaluation of femaleness took place in the communities using the texts as well. More recently, a number of scholars, including Anne McGuire, argue that the texts exhibit more variation on the topic of women and femaleness more broadly, and the resulting social implications are far more varied and contextually conditioned as well. Further complicating matters, there is no way to definitively determine which texts were read together and which texts were excluded by a given community. Scholars, therefore, agree that the views of women propagated by these texts affected the communities in which the texts were used; they disagree, however, on the extent to which scholars can determine from these texts the status and roles of women in early Christianity. Stephanie Peek See also: Christianity: Mary Magdalene; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Islam: Hawwa; Judaism: Lilith Further Reading Ehrman, Bart, and Zlatko Pleše. The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. King, Karen. “The Gospel of Mary with the Greek Gospel of Mary.” In The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, edited by Marvin Meyer, 737–47. New York: Harper One, 2007. McGuire, Anne. “Women, Gender, and Gnosis in Gnostic Texts and Traditions.” In Women and Christian Origins, edited by Ross Shepard Kraemer and Mary Rose D’Angelo, 257–99. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Meyer, Marvin, ed. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures. New York: Harper One, 2007. Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Stefaniw, Blosson. “Becoming Men, Staying Women: Gender Ambivalence in Christian Apocryphal Texts and Contexts.” Feminist Theology 18 (2010): 341–55.

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A R T, M O D E R N A N D C O N T E M P O R A R Y Christian women have contributed to every medium of modern and contemporary art. Some artists create work with explicitly religious themes, while others imbue their creative endeavors with spirituality in less direct ways. Some have created art that is embraced by the church and even used in corporate worship, while other women’s art is rejected by segments of Christendom because of the artist’s gender, theology, artistic projects, or elements of their identities. During the modern era (early 15th century to mid-20th century), women had varying degrees of independence and access to artistic training, and some works by women went unattributed or simply did not receive equal exposure to that of their male counterparts. Factors limiting Christian women’s opportunity to create art for religious contexts included geographic location, class, cultural background, and denomination. The Reformation led to changes affecting women specifically. Due to consistent patronage of art in the use of icons in religious practice, there was a well-established place for the visual arts in Catholic worship, both corporate and private. Conversely, iconoclasm in some Protestant streams has led to some exclusion of the arts in worship. Further, diverse doctrines regarding gender roles have at times discouraged or even prohibited women’s participation in the arts or in certain elements of corporate worship. Even when women were not given a voice within the church, many managed to share their perspectives through the arts. Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) was a devout Puritan woman who immigrated to the United States from England and was the first English-language author to be published in the North American colonies. Anne’s poetry describes her everyday experiences and the challenges she faced, yet every topic is filtered through her understanding of God and what he might be teaching her through these events. She writes about the role of women in her society, and though she generally accepts the Puritanical understanding of gender roles, she still advocates for more appreciation of women’s contributions. In the field of visual arts, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653), an Italian Roman Catholic Baroque painter and the first woman admitted into Florence’s Accademia di Arte del Disegno, portrayed women’s diverse roles in biblical stories. Her most famous piece is Judith Slaying Holofernes, in which the Jewish heroine violently beheads the Assyrian general. Gentileschi takes a classic biblical scene and then draws from her personal experience of being raped by her artistic mentor, Agostino Tassi, and later bringing him to trial. In the painting, she casts her abuser as Holofernes and herself as Judith, making an ancient story a tool for personal catharsis and artistic expression. The 18th century ushered in changes affecting women’s place in the church and society in general, including the First Great Awakening, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the expansion of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. In addition to their participation in the visual and literary arts, Christian women became more involved in religious music, which eventually led to their greater participation in mainstream music as well. The Shakers are a Christian sect known for their egalitarian principles, among other distinctive beliefs. As early as 1747, women occupied leadership roles in



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the community, composed songs, developed the choreography of their distinctive dances, and coordinated other liturgical arts. Mother Ann Lee (1736–1784), the founder of the Shakers, composed many songs herself and set a unique precedent for women’s spiritual leadership and artistic work within charismatic communities. In the 19th century, Christian women also used their artistic abilities outside of religious communities, often using new techniques and participating fully in the mainstream arts world. Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879), a deeply religious British woman, didn’t begin her career in photography until the age of 48; however, Cameron went on to become one of the greatest portraitists of the 19th century. Her techniques were unconventional, and the art community greeted her work with mixed responses. Not all Christian women had access to materials or opportunities, as many art forms were considered endeavors for the upper echelons of society. That did not prevent Christian women from creatively using the arts to express themselves and their faith. Harriet Powers (1837–1910) was an African American slave and accomplished folk artist who specialized in the creation of quilts. One of her most famous quilts is the Bible Quilt in which she combines West African motifs and images of biblical stories. Power’s work reimagines biblical narratives within the context of her experience and culture and offers a glimpse into both her personal life and her understanding of Christianity. In the contemporary era, Christian women from all denominations are active in all mediums of the visual and performing arts both within Christian communities and in the larger secular arts world. Within the Catholic church, much of the art created for the church is in the form of religious iconography often viewed as part of worship. Sister Concordia Scott (1924–2014) was a Benedictine nun and a celebrated sculptor whose work has been included in cathedrals and churches in the United States and across Europe. Her work often exclusively centers on Marian imagery. Within Protestantism, visual art often has a very different form within a church setting. At Bethel, a large charismatic megachurch in Redding, California, Theresa Dedmon leads a group called the Creative Arts Team. During each church service, team members paint spontaneously on stage alongside the worship band in a style known as “prophetic painting.” This art is not necessarily meant for permanent display in the church’s building, but rather its creation is meant to be an act of worship and a tool to hear from God. Contemporary women have also taken part in diverse movements of art outside of the church. While being inspired by their Christian identity, such art is often not categorized as religious artwork, despite the fact that faith and spiritual practice may be integral to the work. Many contemporary Christian women are making music for use inside and outside of the church. Sandra McCracken (b. 1977) is a singer-songwriter who takes the lyrics of old hymns and reimagines them for corporate worship. In addition, she writes and records original folk music. Sara Groves (b. 1972) is a singer-songwriter who explores many themes related to her own spiritual journey and life while also calling direct attention to social justice causes, such as the plight of human-trafficking victims. Many of these artists manage to cross

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CeCe Winans performs during the 34th Annual Dove Awards. Winans is a popular song artist in the gospel genre. (R. Diamond/WireImage/Getty Images)

artistic and denominational boundaries through their work, such as Audrey Assad (b. 1983), a Catholic singer who leads at charismatic gatherings and advocates for refugees. Darlene Zschech (b. 1965) from Hillsong Church, an Evangelical church in Australia, was one of the first Christian worship leaders to lead a worship team that packed out stadiums. Gospel is a musical genre in which many female artists have thrived. Mahalia Jackson (1911–1972) was the first gospel singer to sell a million albums, and her work led to the mainstream popularity of gospel music. Gospel artists continue to create and perform for local churches but have also entered the mainstream market. Singer CeCe Winans (b. 1964) created gospel music as well as mainstream R&B music, and, like her, other female artists began to add the influences of many diverse genres into their gospel music. Some Christian women have been criticized for the topics their work explores or their own personal beliefs or identities. Some Christian musicians, such as Jennifer Knapp (b. 1974) and Vicky Beeching (b. 1979), created music that was originally celebrated by the church, but upon their coming out as queer, these women’s art was rejected entirely by conservative Christianity. Other queer Christian artists, like Julien Baker (b. 1995), an alternative musician, have never focused on creating music specifically for Christian communities, so there was never any organized backlash. In certain Christian communities, an artist will only be categorized as Christian if the work is explicitly religious or the artist’s theology is considered orthodox, while in other communities, no hard line between the sacred and the secular exists, and diverse works can be viewed as relevant to Christian faith. The



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role of the arts in contemporary Christian culture remains highly contested, as does the role of women. Despite this, contemporary Christian women continue to make compelling art and make their voices heard. Hannah Sachs See also: Christianity: African American Women; Christianity in the United States; Founders of Christian Denominations; Mary Magdalene; Mother of God; Protestant Denominations; Sex and Gender; Widowhood Further Reading Anderson, Cameron J., and Sandra Bowden. CIVA XXV: Faith Vision: Twenty-Five Years of Christians in the Visual Arts. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2005. Watkins, Jim. “Featured Artist: Sandra Bowden.” Transpositions, October 31, 2011. http:// www.transpositions.co.uk/featured-artist-sandra-bowden/. White, Audrey. “Julien Baker on Being Queer, Southern, Christian, and Proud.” Pitchfork, May 18, 2016. https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/1154​-julien​-baker​-on​-being​-queer​-southern​​ -christian​-and-proud/. Wren, Linnea. “Can Religious Faith and Contemporary Art Flourish Together?” ARTS 20 (2009): 33–36.

CHARITY The definition of charity in Christian texts and teachings reaches into the soul of Christian belief and behavior in both the female and male. Charity in English comes from the Latin caritas, which means love—love of God and one’s neighbor, a spiritual love that goes out from oneself to others. From this root meaning developed the idea that love of God and others leads one to bestow charity or to give alms to those who need love or esteem or whose treasure, whether spiritual or material, is sparse. Many religious women have been exemplary models of Christian charity. Scripture supports both connotations in multiple contexts. The 10 Commandments begin with the order to love God and then one’s neighbor. John’s gospel is a love poem: Jesus loved his sheep as a shepherd loves his flock; and he said to his followers: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Dwell in my love” (John 15:9–10). The first letter of Paul to the Corinthians leaves no doubt about the importance of charity: “the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In Mark 12:43–44, Jesus praises the poor widow who gave everything she had. The Beatitudes in Matthew 25 enumerate the various ways one is to practice Christian charity. Traditionally, religious women have assumed responsibility for feeding the hungry and caring for the poor, the castaways and orphans, the sick and the elderly. In the Middle Ages, wealthy women like Paula (347–404), a Roman noblewoman, and Fabiola (fl. 395–d. 399) sponsored charitable works. In the early 17th century, Louise de Marillac (1591–1660), wife of a French official, virtually invented a new service system by getting the rich women of the Ladies of Charity to support the work of the  Daughters of Charity, who were usually poor rural women serving the needy; at the same time, Marillac also set up a system of shelters for women in distress.

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Many religious orders of women were founded for charitable reasons of care and concern. Angela Merici (1474–1540) founded the Ursulines, originally a company of young Italian women who lived at home, wore simple clothes, and ministered to young women. Katharine Drexel (1858–1955), a wealthy heiress, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indian and Colored People in 1891 and built schools throughout the United States for Native Americans and African Americans. In the 19th century, Ladies’ Benevolent Societies were active primarily within Evangelical Protestant churches. The societies provided a way for women not only to engage in charitable activities but also to “make claims on the public sphere” (Varty 2006). In the United States, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896), Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910), and sisters Sarah Grimké (1792–1873) and Angelina Grimké Weld (1805–1879) campaigned against slavery. President Lincoln called Harriet Beecher Stowe the little lady who started the big war because her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a catalyst for the onset of the Civil War. After the war, women were leaders in reestablishing society: Phoebe Palmer (1807–1874) founded the Five Point Mission; Isabella Graham (1742–1814) began the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children; and Elizabeth Seton (1774–1821) founded the American Sisters of Charity in 1808, which led to the first Catholic hospital in the United States. Dorothy Day (1897–1980), with her partner Peter Maurin (1877–1949), began the Catholic Worker movement in 1933. The Catholic Worker was founded “to live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus” and is now a network of 200-plus independent houses that offer hospitality with a free dinner every day and whose workers are activists in causes of pacifism, social equality, cultural inequity, and service. Clara Barton (1821–1912) was an educator who in 1854 opened the nation’s first free public school in New Jersey. She worked as an independent nurse during the Civil War, where she became aware of the scarcity of medical supplies and services for the soldiers. Barton founded and was the first president of the American Red Cross in 1881. These women are among many others who practiced charity, often transgressing the cultural mores of their day to practice charity in its many manifestations. Karen Halvorsen (1988, n.p.) concludes, “Though feminine ministry has historically been defined in terms of service rather than leadership, the statement throughout Christian history that women have made as they have anointed Christ’s mission with gifts can be clearly heard, even in those eras when their voices are silent.” Carole Ganim See also: Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Education; Middle Ages; Missionaries; Monastic Life; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Durkin, Mary-Cabrini. Angela Merici’s Journey of the Heart: The Rule, The Way. Boulder, CO: Woven Word, 2005.



Chastity

Halvorsen, Karen. “The Benevolent Tradition: The Charity of Women.” Christian History 19 (July 1, 1988). https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-19/benevolent​ -tradition-charity-of-women.html. Varty, Carmen Nielson. “A Career in Christian Charity.” Women’s History Review 14, no. 2 (2006): 243–64.

CHASTITY The word chastity comes from the Latin castus, meaning pure, and is most often taken to refer to sexual purity. However, chastity is an approach to life, promoted by Christianity as well as by other major religions, that extends beyond sexual purity to include purity of thought under the premise that thinking lustful thoughts is tantamount to the act of fornication or adultery (as Christ says in Matthew 5:28). Chastity can include, but is not restricted to, celibacy (abstaining from all sexual activity). It can also refer to a commitment not to engage in sexual activity outside marriage, so that chastity encompasses fidelity within marriage. A woman’s purity has traditionally been of prime importance in terms of securing a good marriage (and thus her future) and ensuring the respect of others; while in practical terms this no longer applies to much of 21st-century Western society, it is still crucial in many cultures and particularly among Muslim families where there is a strict code of honor. In Western Christendom, many techniques have been employed in an effort to save women both from the lustful attention of others and from their own desires. The most notorious invention is the chastity belt, a lockable contraption that prevents access to a woman’s genitals; evidence suggests that these were used from the 15th century onward. The commonly held myth of 12th-century English crusaders leaving their wives locked into a chastity belt for years while they were away fighting the Crusades is unlikely to be true, as there is no real evidence for chastity belts before the Renaissance; in any case, the belts would have had to be removed regularly to ensure the woman’s sanitary health and hygiene. In most cases, chastity has been an individual choice made by the woman herself, and the late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen an increase in the use of purity rings, especially in the United States; they are worn on the ring finger, to be replaced by a wedding ring. These rings are often offered to daughters at puberty and signify that the wearer has made a promise to remain chaste until her wedding night.  There are, however, women who choose to forego all sexual relations to devote themselves to a life of service to God. In the Catholic church, virgins can consecrate themselves to a life of perpetual virginity, and widows can also decide to live in perpetual chastity. A similar undertaking of the single consecrated life also exists for women in the Anglican church. Consecrated virgins live in the world rather than in a convent and work in various professions: notable Catholic examples include the eminent art historian “Sister Wendy” Beckett (b. 1930) and university professor and biblical scholar Joan Frances Gormley (1937–2007). Women joining a religious order—that is, nuns or sisters—also make a lifelong vow of chastity, taking the role of “bride of Christ,” a husband whom they will only

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meet in the next world: in this instance, chastity does indeed mean celibacy, though not necessarily virginity as previous sexual experience is not always a bar to a religious vocation. Although not always an easy vow to keep, women religious say that the effects of chastity are positive, and they often find they can achieve a greater focus on other activities, sexual and procreative energy becoming transformed into creative energy. Amanda Haste See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Marriage and Divorce; Mary Magdalene; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Contemporary Women; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Saints; Sex and Gender; Widowhood; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Women in the Reformation Further Reading Eden, Dawn. The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006. Sue, Amma. “A Fresh Expression of Religious Life in the Anglican Church.” Single Consecrated Life, 2014. http://www.singleconsecratedlife-anglican.org.uk. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Forms of Consecrated Life.” 2016. http:// www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/consecrated-life/forms-of-consecrated​ -life.cfm. Winner, Lauren. “Sex in the Body of Christ: Chastity Is a Spiritual Discipline for the Whole Church.” Christianity Today, May 13, 2005. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005​ /may/34.28.html.

CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA Christianity has a long history in Africa. From the religion’s beginning, many African women have been heavily involved in Christianity, but their history has not always been recorded. In Ethiopia, historical records of Christian communities predate King Ezana, who declared Christianity to be the state religion in 330 CE. For example, the Book of Acts 8:26–38 records the conversion of the Ethiopian Court. Further north in Egypt, the city of Alexandria was home to the Patriarchate of Alexandria, founded in 43 CE by Mark the Evangelist. Although Christianity took an early hold in Africa, political schisms, the emergence of Islam, and divisions about Christian doctrine produced isolations and intersections among African Christian communities. These changes have affected the ways that women participate in their churches. One of the earliest changes was the division of the Coptic church from the Eastern Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic Church that occurred at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. At this time, nuns were forbidden from marrying, and the minimum age for a nun to become a deaconess was set at 40 years old. Changes affecting women have continued to occur in the Coptic church, Eastern Orthodox church, and Roman Catholic Church, as well as the varied Protestant denominations that began working in Africa alongside colonial projects. During the colonial period, which began in the 1400s, the arrival and establishment of



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missionaries, evangelists, and religious schools both opened new spaces for women to participate in the church and caused a clash between European and African traditions regarding gender segregation and education. The Ethiopian Orthodox church is among the oldest in Africa and has maintained a continuous religious tradition while adapting to changing gender norms. Many Ethiopian Orthodox churches are segregated by gender, with different entrances and worship spaces for men and women. While women did not traditionally hold positions of power in Ethiopian Orthodox churches, today, some women’s rights organizations, such as UN Women, are partnering with the church to address development issues in Ethiopia. In Francophone African nations, such as Mali, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Roman Catholic Church has a strong foothold. Large congregations were established during the French colonial period. At this time, many girls were educated in church schools and admitted into the clergy as nuns. European nuns often moved to join Francophone African convents and work in religious schools. While many of these nuns encouraged exchanges between European and African nuns, prejudices in European churches prevented the establishment of an equilateral exchange. As recently as 1949, African nuns were denied places in European convents. However, African nuns are now welcomed into European convents. Interfaith women’s organizations, such as the Consecrated Women of East and Central Africa, have facilitated educational programs and exchanges for clergywomen from different religious groups throughout the region. These groups seek to bring together women from multiple Christian traditions, as well as Muslim women and members of indigenous religions, to address community problems and support development issues, such as family planning and education. In South Africa, Protestant traditions were brought by a diversity of churches and evangelists. In some of these churches, women were often prohibited from holding positions of power. In other churches, such as the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, a women’s movement called Manyano organized prayer meetings and community fund-raisers to support widows and orphans. In other denominations, such as the Anglican High church, single European women were encouraged to move to South Africa to work in schools for both European and African children, to work in hospitals, and to do housekeeping work for church offices. Today, in post-Apartheid South Africa, many private schools continue to be connected to religious institutions, but they now encourage girls to explore their community traditions and the different ways that women can hold power in the community and church. South Africa is home to a diversity of Christian denominations that offer various levels of participation for women as both clergy and lay members. Many African nations are home to multiple Christian denominations. In some countries, women from different denominations are coming together to forge national religious communities as well as serving as missionaries to other nations and representatives for international religious organizations. In some African countries, it is taboo for women to enter the church. And in some nations, women are blending Christian and indigenous traditions. The ways that African women

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participate in their churches will continue to change as girls and women have opportunities to interact with one another in face-to-face and online forums. Allison Hahn See also: African Religions: Rastafari; Christianity: Christianity in Europe; Missionaries; Orthodox Christianity; Polygamy; Protestant Denominations; Roman Catholic Women Religious Further Reading Elphick, Richard, and Rodney Davenport. Christianity in Southern Africa: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Isichei, Elizabeth. A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995. Oden, Thomas. How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. Sunkler, Bengt, and Christopher Steed. A History of the Church in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

CHRISTIANITY IN EUROPE The role of women in European Christianity differs widely in western and eastern Europe and also depends on whether adherents belong to the Catholic (universal doctrine) or Protestant churches. The former comprises the Latin and Greek traditions in addition to some Eastern denominations. The Roman Catholic Church includes 23 rites that recognize the authority of the Holy See. The Protestant denominations include the Lutheran, Calvinist, Baptist, and other, less influential confessions that have gathered followers since the Catholic monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door of Wittenberg in 1517. The duties and tasks that befall women as members of their families and religious communities has changed drastically in the past centuries, and the most notable shift occurred after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). The role of women in all denominations typically models those of female characters depicted in the Bible (mostly the New Testament). The most venerated figure among all is the Virgin Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus, who represents grace, strength, and purity that serve as the backbone of the Christian feminine ideal. Further distinctions besides the East-West, Catholic-Protestant divide can be drawn alongside the lay-consecrated line. The distinct role of women as comforting and nurturing caregivers that serve the family has its roots in the Bible story about Martha, who attended to the needs of Jesus while he was visiting the household. Mary, her sister, on the other hand, sat at Christ’s feet and listened intently to what he was saying (Jesus also broke with contemporary practices of teaching only men: he regarded women and children as just as important). When Martha complained, Jesus stated that Mary chose the better part, but both roles were valuable to the same extent. These differences are also visible in how contemplative and active monastic orders organize their lives. The former focus more on silent prayer and spiritual sacrifices while the latter serve via teaching, healing, or in more active and



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visible ways in the world. Yet, the church recognizes the equal value of both paths, as there cannot be active service without a solid spiritual backbone. The teachings of the Catholic rite also equate women and men as ontologically equal but with different roles. Thus, it is considered just as sinful for a man to be unfaithful to his wife as vice versa (though social practices still tend to have double standards), and divorce, incest, and polygamy—along with infanticide (including abortion)—are on the illicit list. While the Catholic church recognizes lay celibates, most laywomen are expected to fulfil four roles: having children, being caregivers, serving in church communities, and becoming good wives to their husbands. Consecrated women differ in that they do not give physical birth to their offspring, though some orders count spiritual motherhood through prayer. Nuns list Jesus Christ as their spouse. Within church communities, women are not permitted to perform certain tasks that men can readily undertake and perform. Yet again, these activities have gone through changes since Vatican Two. For instance, girls were banned from serving at the altar before 1965, the idea being that altar boys would receive their priestly vocation while fulfilling their duties. Since women are not permitted to become priests in the Catholic tradition, their altar service was not seen as viable. After the liberalization of the practice, however, girls have typically outnumbered boys around the altar in many countries as they tend to be more steadfast in their undertakings (some eastern European parishes still do not look favorably on girls serving during mass). The East-West divide is also palpable when the role of eucharistic ministers is discussed. While women may not become deacons by law, in western Europe, with special permissions from the diocese’s bishop, they can still assist the residing priest by handing out communion. At the same time, in more conservative eastern Europe, this would be untenable (although nuns might occasionally serve in this capacity). While the duties available to women might be lesser in number, when it comes to merit, the total of female saints and blessed women makes up for the imbalance. Many of history’s abbesses, thinkers, and mystics have been elevated to sainthood, and spiritual greatness was also recognized in laywomen: ordinary mothers who have stood out with their everyday simplicity, religious devotion, or fervor. The Reformation itself, ideally, allowed women to acquire more influential roles in society through learning. Luther and Calvin agreed that mothers could only raise children in a responsible manner if they themselves were educated and well-read. Future wives and mothers in the early Protestant tradition were thus more accomplished than their Catholic counterparts. Typical classes included reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in the immediate aftermath following the Reformation, women were encouraged to hold prayer meetings and preach. However, these initiatives were soon eradicated, and women were assigned to the sole role of spouses and mothers. As choosing a religious vocation was not available to Protestant women, their only option besides matrimony was spinsterhood, which was not looked upon favorably until the beginning of the 20th century. The Counter-Reformation (from 1545) and religious persecution (on and off between the 16th and 19th centuries) periods were much harsher on women than

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on men because it often came down to the mothers to pass down their faith to their children in secret. Exceptional females as role models abound in the Protestant traditions, and their numbers have swelled even more since the 19th century, which saw many of them contribute to social work through volunteering and philanthropy. In recent decades, most Protestant churches—but not all—have not had quibbles about the ordination of women as pastors, priests, or bishops, for that matter. To mention only a few, the German and Swiss Baptist churches ordain women, but the Southern Baptist Convention does not. Most of the Mennonites ordain women, and so do the Reformed churches of France and Hungary, but the Netherlands is an exception. As for the Lutheran denominations, Germany has several female bishops, while Latvia reversed its previous stance and stopped ordaining women pastors. Along the same line, some Anglican churches have allowed females to become bishops, while others do not follow in these footsteps. Judit Erika Magyar See also: Christianity: Mary Magdalene; Ministers; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Orthodox Christianity; Protestant Denominations; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Saints; Sex and Gender; Widowhood; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Women in the Reformation Further Reading Bokenkotter, Thomas. A Concise History of the Catholic Church. New York: Image Books, 2005. Hause, Steven C. Western Civilization: A History of European Society. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2005.

C H R I S T I A N I T Y I N L AT I N A M E R I C A Christianity in Latin America has played a role of both oppression and emancipation for women in their everyday lived experiences. Christianity first arrived in continental Latin America in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, with the European conquest and the conquistadores who brought Christianity to the indigenous civilizations that had flourished throughout what we know today as Mexico, Central America, and South America. This imposition of a muscular, European, Christian, and patriarchal social order has contributed significantly to Latin American religious history. Equally important are the forms and methods by which women—Spanish, Portuguese, Indigenous, and Afro-descendent—figured into the story of Christian conquest, religious hybridization, and struggles for independence and resistance in the Americas. Colonial Christianity

In the lives of Latin American women, Christianity has always been a fluid, hybrid, and cross-fertilized tradition, influenced by indigenous spirituality as well as the forces of politics and economics. Before the arrival of the Europeans, robust and diverse indigenous civilizations thrived throughout the continent. Millions of people populated the continent upon Christopher Columbus’s arrival, and hundreds



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of different indigenous communities lived throughout the Americas. While the Spanish and Portuguese brought their religion of Roman Catholic Christianity, the indigenous nations they encountered already held religious traditions that had survived, in some cases, for millennia. This is perhaps nowhere better exhibited than through the many apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary is a predominant figure in Latin American Christianity, yet she was initially introduced by the conquistadores as a strategy for the domestication of women. The European conquistadores used religion and force to control the indigenous populations, and women were no exception. The original manifestations of the Virgin Mary were the representations of noble Spanish women and connected primarily to the Spanish ruling class. She was also white. Mary represented the embodiment of a racialized hierarchy and a distant and detached expression of God. During the colonial era, the imposition of a colonial political and social order rendered women as impure objects, inherently flawed, and second class. They were the essentialized Other, meant to be seen and not heard or felt. Women were expected to be submissive to their fathers, brothers, husbands, and priests. Indigenous, Afro-descendent, and mixed-race women were doubly othered, or oppressed, as they were categorized by their race into lower social castes than white, European women. Black, indigenous, and mixed-race women were prohibited from participating in religious ceremonies and from being nuns or leaders in the church and were subject to sexual violence from not only Spanish conquistadores but also priests themselves on some occasions. The influence of the images of the white Virgin Mary worked to give symbolic weight to these new social orders. For the first few centuries of colonial rule in the Americas, to be a woman of God, or to be a worthy woman, meant to be white and Europeanized. Otherwise, women were slotted into secondary, tertiary, or lower social rungs in the hierarchy of power that was put into place by an imperial Christianity. However, just as Christianity was essential for the colonizing process and the “invention” of Latin America (the continents were named after the arrival of the Europeans), Christianity in its different forms also played a central part in processes of decolonization, independence, and equality. And women were important figures in the emergence of these new manifestations of a hybridized Christian expression. It was an indigenous woman who encountered La Virgen de Chinquinquirá in Colombia (1586), a mixed-race woman who spoke to Our Lady of the Bark in Venezuela (1702), and an indigenous woman who saw Our Lady of the Angels in Costa Rica (1635). These apparitions resignified the feminine and the role of women in the church. Throughout the Americas, new expressions that mixed together Euro-Mediterranean folk traditions with pre-Columbian and African divinities arose in efforts to resist imperial Christianity. For example, a subversive image of Mary began to emerge in the later 16th century and onward that challenged the social and racial orders being imposed by the Europeans. La Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to an indigenous farmer in 1531. She was warm, mothering, involved, and indigenized. This apparition, who has become the patron saint of the Americas, had dark skin, rose from the earth, existed outside the boundaries

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of the church walls, and exemplified a Mary that had been liberated from colonial versions of a purified, whitened, and European Christianity. Pluralization and Contemporary Latin America

In almost all Latin American countries, and almost all Christian denominations, women make up the majority of affiliates (Pew Research Center 2014). In part, this is due to the fact that Christianity in Latin America today has developed into a highly diverse and complex religious tradition with practices and rites that differ from region to region and country to country. Within the Christian tradition, there are varying denominational branches that include Roman Catholicism, Charismatic Catholicism, liberation theologies, Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity, Evangelical Christianity, historical Protestant Christianity, Seventh-Day Adventists, and more. While in 1960, 90 percent of Latin America claimed to be Catholic, today the numbers are down to 69 percent, and a diverse plethora of different denominations are growing throughout the region. Women have influenced Catholic traditions by claiming elements of liberation theology through a Latin American feminist lens. Liberation theology is a Catholicbased theology that interprets scripture from Marxist analyses of the lived socioeconomic realities and concrete historical contexts of colonialism that emerged in the 1970s. For the feminist theological movement that began to evolve in the 1970s, liberation theology fell short. Using the principles of liberation theology, however,

Women in Honduras pray to Our Lady of Suyapa, a local version of the Virgin Mary. Celebration of this patron saint of Honduras blends local tradition with Catholicism, a European import. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)



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Catholic feminist theologians developed their own voices and agendas, challenging the patriarchal structures that have historically oppressed women. Today, feminist liberation theologians continue to develop interpretations of church practice in society and forms of emancipation for women in the Catholic tradition. Pentecostal and Protestant Christianity

Women have also become increasingly influential in the growing spheres of Pentecostal and Protestant Christianity. These traditions began to arrive in Latin America in the early 19th century (some, like the Methodists, even earlier) and have grown most significantly since the middle of the 20th century. Historical Protestant traditions, including Lutherans, Mennonites, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, among others, have been present in Latin America for over a century yet remain small in number. In these churches, equality of gender is generally accepted, and women can be pastors or priests and even bishops, as is the case with the Methodist church. Pentecostal Christianity, on the other hand, is not only the fastest-growing Christian movement in the region but potentially also the most influential for women. Within this broad gamut of religious expression, denominations include the Assemblies of God, the Foursquare church, the United Pentecostal church, the Baptist church, the InterAmerican church, and so on. In these denominations, women have found different forms of leadership. Although many churches still maintain traditional gender inequality in terms of leadership, churches are increasingly led by couples, and women have become more visible in leadership roles. Since many Pentecostal churches emphasize small-group meetings, home gatherings, and more democratized forms of biblical interpretation, women have found that they are assigned new roles. As the main authority in the home, women became new authorities in their small groups. They found certain emancipation in bringing the church out of the temple and into their kitchens, living rooms, and patios. Here, the women are the leaders. Pentecostal churches are primarily filled by women, and most of them have converted from Catholicism to Pentecostal Christianity. Scholars of women and gender in Latin America have noted that Pentecostal Religion “provides positive social and economic benefits for many poor women in Latin America and . . . involves them in large communities of women” (Hallum 2003, 171). One of the unique characteristics of Pentecostalism is also a factor of hybridization with indigenous spirituality; emphasis on health and healing, miracle work, the presence and even possession of the Holy Spirit, and negotiating with God are ideas shared with popular Catholicism and indigenous traditions. Importantly for women, however, strict adherence to spiritual rules, such as sobriety, fidelity, and prohibition of gambling, tend to improve their domestic economies and personal lives as less money is spent on such endeavors, and domestic economies become more stable. Conclusion

The relationship between Christianity and women in Latin America has been a fraught and complicated endeavor over the last 500 years. Women have been overlooked in many historical narratives of the church, while the influence of a

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patriarchal social and political order remains indebted to the regimes established by the church of the conquistadores. However, women in Latin America, as always, have reinterpreted, reimagined, and reclaimed spaces and places in the making of the contemporary church, both Catholic and Protestant. They have forced open dialogues to consider feminist readings of the Bible, the role of women in leadership, and the very colonial inheritance that they are responding to. Rebecca C. Bartel See also: African Religions: African Religions-in-Diaspora; Christianity: Christianity in Europe; Christianity in the United States; Founders of Christian Denominations; Fundamentalism; Mother of God; Protestant Denominations; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Sex and Gender; Spirituality: Syncretism Further Reading Brusco, Elizabeth. The Reformation of Machismo: Evangelical Conversion and Gender in Colombia. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Cassanova, Carlos C. “The Influence of Christianity on the Spanish Conquest of America and the Organization of the Spanish-American Empire.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15, no. 4 (2012): 125–44. Hallum, Anne Motley. “Taking Stock and Building Bridges: Feminism, Women’s Movements, and Pentecostalism in Latin America.” Latin American Research Review 38, no. 1 (2003): 169–86. Pew Research Center. “Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region.” November 13, 2014. Rosado-Nunes, Maria José. “Religious Authority and Women’s Religious Experience.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 19, no. 2 (2003): 85–92. Salinas, Maximiliano. “Christianity, Colonialism and Women in Latin America in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries.” Social Compass 39, no. 4 (1992): 525–42. Truitt, Jonathan. “Courting Catholicism: Nahua Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Mexico City.” Ethnohistory 57, no. 3 (2010): 415–44.

C H R I S T I A N I T Y I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S From 17th-century Roman Catholic saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680), the first Native American Algonquin-Mohawk woman to be canonized, to 21st-century Bible teacher, speaker, author, and blogger Priscilla Shirer (b. 1974), American Christian women have shared a lived experience in response to the monotheist belief that the resurrected Jewish Jesus is a unique incarnation of God in human history, as the second “person” of the Trinity: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The main communities situated under the wider Christian umbrella in the United States include Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Nondenominational Protestant churches. Though doctrinal divergences exist among these traditions, the core of Christian life follows what Jesus claimed to be the two greatest commandments of Jewish law: love God with your entire heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–40; Mark 12:30–33; Luke 10:27). American Christian women translate these commandments by serving both the body of Christ (the Christian community) and others by praying, prioritizing



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family, serving the poor and oppressed, joining religious orders, constructing theology, promoting social justice, speaking against patriarchal structures, leading congregations as ordained leaders, and establishing evangelistic global ministries. Seventeenth- and 18th-century American Christian women lived the faith in varied ways. While the majority of women dedicated themselves to Bible study, prayer, and serving in the home, others, such as Anne Marbury Hutchinson (1591–1643) and Mary Dyer (1611–1660), challenged male-dominated religious ideals: Hutchinson, banished from Massachusetts, served as one of the first voices to contest Christian legalism during the Antinomian controversy (1636–1638); Dyer was hanged in Boston Common for practicing her Quaker faith. Later colonial Protestant women served as itinerant preachers, speaking to their audiences about social issues, the evils of slavery, and the plights of the poor and prostitutes (Bizzell and Herzberg 2001). Quakers such as Jane Fenn Hoskens/Hoskins (1694–1764), Sophia Hume (1702–1774), and Elizabeth Ashbridge (1713–1755) preached openly on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as spiritual truth. Ursuline Catholic nuns arrived in New Orleans in 1727, operating the local hospital and establishing a school for Native American, African American, and European American girls. As educational opportunities increased with time, more women would write and speak about their Christian experiences, notably Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784), the first African American woman to publish a volume of poetry. Nineteenth- and early 20th-century upheaval and transition saw Christian women playing important roles igniting and sustaining many movements. The Second Great Awakening, temperance, abolitionism, suffrage, civil war, and reconstruction, Jim Crow through civil rights, and two world wars all would be woven into the fabric of the United States’ first wave of feminism (1830s–1900s), including the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first American women’s rights convention. Jarena Lee (1783–1864) and Phoebe Palmer (1807–1874)—part of the greater Holiness movement—advocated for women’s rights to preach; Lee was the first woman authorized to preach in the African Methodist Episcopalian church, walking thousands of miles to spread God’s word. Women’s messages demanding authority to profess the gospel from the pulpit also included an array of civil rights issues. Most notable in this arena were Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879), Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883), Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911), Prudence Crandall (1803–1890), Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896), sisters Sarah Grimké (1792–1873) and Angelina Grimké Weld (1805–1879), and Laura Haviland (1808–1898), who in 1837 founded the Raisin Institute—one of the first schools to admit both African American and European American students. Frances Willard (1839–1898), president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, led one of the most visible and successful campaigns of the century, fighting against the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse (domestic violence against women and children), and for women’s property rights, ordination, and suffrage. Twentieth-century Christian women participated in the civil rights movement, the Azusa Street Revival (1906–1915), and the second wave of feminism (1960s–1980s). African American woman Neely Terry’s introduction of William Seymour to her Holiness pastor Julia Hutchins would lead to the Azusa Street

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Revival, a multicultural, continuous revival where African Americans, European Americans, and Latino/a Americans experienced glossolalia (praying/speaking in tongues), singing, shouting, and miraculous signs and wonders. Later, in 1967, Patti Gallagher Mansfield (b. 1946) would be part of the Duquesne University student group that sparked the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 1933, Dorothy Day (1897–1980) commenced the Catholic Worker movement with her penny newspaper, The Catholic Worker; her group opened “a number of hospices or ‘houses of hospitality’ for the poor and unemployed and established a farm commune . . . [they] walked picket lines, opened soup kitchens, studied and prayed,” living simple lives rooted in social justice (McGonigle and Quigley 1996, 194). Ella Baker (1903–1986) helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In carrying out the Christian mission, women have served as foundresses of schools and hospitals. Saint Katharine Drexel (1858–1955), foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, opened boarding schools for Native Americans and African Americans. Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774–1821) established the Sisters of Charity, devoted to serving poor children; Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School (now Saint Joseph College) was the first American parochial school for girls, inaugurating American Catholic education. The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first African American religious order, founded (1829) by Elizabeth Lange (1794–1882), Maria Balas (d. 1845), Rosine Boegue (ca. 1790–1871), and Almaide Duchemin (1810–1892), opened an academy for girls in its Baltimore, Maryland, convent—Saint Frances Academy is the oldest American Catholic academy still serving African American children. Catharine Beecher (1800–1878) taught women household management, health care, and teaching. And, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (born Maria Francesca Cabrini, 1850–1917) established 67 hospitals, schools, and orphanages throughout the United States. Scriptural interpretation of biblical women has both limited and liberated the American Christian woman’s experience, preventing and permitting hierarchical decision making and ordination. Views of Eve as either a/the cause of the fall of humanity and original sin or as a helpmate and equal with Adam, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and many others have contributed to a wide spectrum of perceptions on women’s participation in the church. While some traditions prohibit women from serving in church hierarchy, others promote a more egalitarian world view, fully ordaining women. Orthodox and Catholic churches prohibit female ordination, but women in some other traditions have enjoyed organizational, hierarchical equality for centuries: Ann Lee (1736–1784) founded the American Shaking Quakers, and Barbara Heck (1734–1804) is credited with launching the first American Methodist group. Later foundresses include Seventh-day Adventist foundress Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827–1915) and Church of Christ, Scientist foundress Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910). Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944) founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. In 1863, Olympia Brown (1835–1926) was the first ordained woman in the Universalist church. The 20th century brought full ordination rights for women in Presbyterian and United Methodist churches (1956), the Lutheran church in the United



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States (1970), and the Episcopal church just four years later (a rogue act ordaining the Philadelphia 11 and then officially in 1976). The year 2012 witnessed the ordination of Christine Lee (b. 1972), the first female Episcopal Korean American priest, and 2016 brought the election of Rev. Karen Oliveto (b. 1958), the first lesbian bishop of the United Methodist church. Many 20th- and 21st-century feminist and womanist theologians have emerged, writing about the female Christian experience. Prominent voices include Anne Carr (1934–2008), Rosemary Radford Ruether (b. 1936), Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (b. 1938), Jacquelyn Grant (b. 1948), and Katie Geneva Cannon (b. 1949). The Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus (1973), now known as Christian Feminism Today, promotes Christian feminist education and equality within the church. Catherine Clark Kroeger (1925–2011) served as the first president of Christians for Biblical Equality in 1988; the Priscilla Papers is the international organization’s peer-reviewed journal. Two main attributes that Christian women exemplify mirror the faith’s objectives: love God and love your neighbor. Loving your neighbor implies acting in a self-sacrificing way that benefits others; these benefits/values include sharing Jesus, meeting people’s basic needs (clothing, sustenance, shelter), and treating others like family. An early example of these attributes in action was the 1858 Ladies Christian Association—later known as the Young Women’s Christian Association—now a staple for women’s empowerment and civil rights in the United States. Saint Pauli Murray (1910–1985), the first female African American Episcopal priest, along with Roman Catholic sisters Joel Read (1925–2017) and Austin Doherty (1927–2015), helped to start the National Organization for Women, the United States’ largest feminist organization to date. In 2003, Dr. Khouriya Maggie Hock (b. 1953) cofounded, and now serves as the North American director of, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries of the Antiochian Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America; she works with global partners to provide clerical training support and seminars about mental health issues and marriage and family counseling. The advent of the information age has allowed Christian women from the Silent Generation to Generation Z to serve their neighbors, employing global platforms such as television, the Internet, and social media. Television network foundresses include Eternal Word Television Network foundress Mother Angelica (1923–2016); Trinity Broadcasting Network cofoundress with husband Paul, Janice Crouch (1939–2016); and Daystar Television Network cofoundress with husband Marcus, Joni Lamb (b. 1960). Prominent evangelists using these avenues include Marilyn Hickey (b. 1931), Joyce Meyer (b. 1943), Anne Graham Lotz (b. 1948), Beth Moore (b. 1957), and Johnnette Benkovic (b. 1950). Women using media include social justice activists like Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil (b. 1955) and Rev. Jo Anne Llyon (b. 1940); celebrity advocates for education and children such as Rev. Bernice King (b. 1963), Roma Downey (b. 1960), and Jordin Sparks (b. 1989); and authors and bloggers such as Elyse Fitzpatrick (b. 1950) and Priscilla Shirer (b. 1974). Websites, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have helped female-led ministries make a national and international impact in outreach areas such as prison

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ministry, medical mission, children’s rights, world hunger, water relief, disaster relief, and human trafficking. Nicol Nixon Augusté See also: Christianity: African American Women; “The Fall”; Founders of Christian Denominations; Mary Magdalene; Mother of God; Orthodox Christianity; Protestant Denominations; Saints; Spirituality: Syncretism Further Reading Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present. Boston: Bedford’s/St. Martin, 2001. MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. New York: Penguin, 2011. McGonigle, Thomas, and James Quigley. A History of the Christian Tradition: From the Reformation to the Present. New York: Paulist, 1996.

CHRISTINE DE PIZAN (CA. 1364–CA. 1430) Christine de Pizan was a prominent writer and thinker whose works continue to engage scholarly translation and analysis and to inform literary, historical, political, and feminist studies. Born in Venice, de Pizan spent most of her life in France, where she was educated primarily by her father and participated actively in court society. Her writings, influenced by classical and contemporary rhetorical styles and by a range of thinkers, including Augustine, Dante, Aquinas, and Petrarch, garnered such attention that, after being widowed, she was able to support her family with her writing. Her work affected public intellectual debate during an intense period of civil discord and ecclesiastical disorder. Consistently championing the underrepresented female voice, de Pizan was a prolific writer capable of effectively employing a breadth of genres. Select works include The Vision of Christine (1405), The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), and The Treasure of the City of Ladies (1406), which address the role of women understood inclusively, attending to individual and collective contributions that benefit all humanity and attesting to ways of reading constructively within and against normative operating assumptions of classical and religious traditions. In The Book of the City of Ladies, for example, de Pizan relies on the insights of Lady Reason and astute exegetical strategies to disrupt conventional readings and interpretations of biblical texts and to dismantle arguments for social hierarchy based on the order of creation contained in the early chapters of the book of Genesis. It deploys an equality of soul that is ungendered and designed by the Creator to reflect the Divine image. Later, in the same work, with the assistance of Lady Justice, de Pizan exalts the Virgin Mary and the members of her court, virtuous Christian women including martyrs, mothers, and monastics who embrace and embody the cultivation of the virtues. The Virgin Mary also features prominently in several prayers, attesting to de Pizan’s personal Catholic piety and contributing to constructions of Marian devotion. Drawing on themes of virtue and righteousness, courage and



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conviction, de Pizan weaves together religion, nationhood, and female heroism in her final poem, The Song of Joan of Arc (1429). As a laywoman, de Pizan’s work promoted theological, ethical, and spiritual developments within the Roman Catholic world view of her day. Reframing tradition and appealing to the validity and authority of female experience— broadly construed to encompass women in all walks of life—de Pizan engaged and challenged societal and ideological boundaries. Bernadette McNary-Zak See also: Christianity: Education; “The Fall”; Mother of God; Widowhood; Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity Further Reading Altmann, Barbara K., and Deborah L. McGrady, eds. Christine de Pizan: A Casebook. New York: Routledge, 2003. Brown-Grant, Rosalind. Christine de Pizan and the Moral Defense of Woman: Reading beyond Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Margolis, Nadia. An Introduction to Christine de Pizan. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2011. Willard, Charity Cannon, ed. The Writings of Christine de Pizan. New York: Persea Books, 1994.

CLOTHING In the Old Testament account, sin entered the world when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit. The story simultaneously integrated sin, shame, and clothing when they “sewed fig leaves together,” and God subsequently fashioned sturdier garments from “skins” (Genesis 3:7, 21 NSRV). The Hebrew verb in the passage, ta-fa˘r (to sew), implies that knowledge of sewing and garment construction are instinctive and have existed since the beginning of human life. The tale posits a connection between sin and attire that through the ensuing centuries subjected clothing to external moral policing applied to both sexes in attempts to protect domestic manufacturing and to control boundaries of social class, gender distinctions, and perceived excesses of fashion. Throughout fashion history, men and women have fought these boundaries through class and gender slippage; a significant number of female ascetics, for example, dressed and even lived as men during the early formative centuries of Christianity. The Bible provided numerous specific injunctions that had lasting effects in terms of dress control for women and determined the themes subsequently repeated and emphasized through the ensuing centuries. Deuteronomy 22:5 expressly forbade women from wearing men’s clothing. However, elements of male attire represented a higher status relative to that of women throughout Christian history; the adoption of men’s fashion is a nonverbal representation of the assumption of male privileges and constitutes a declaration of equality at best or emasculation of men at worst, when seen from the masculine perspective. In The Anatomie

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of Abuses (1595), for example, Philip Stubbes described women’s fashions of the late 16th century, consisting of tightly buttoned doublets and jerkins that resembled “[men’s] apparel . . . in all respectes” and that were suitable for men only. He expressed shock that the ladies were not ashamed to wear mannish styles and suggested that they would change their sex: “I thinke they would as verily become men indeed” (Stubbes 1595 and 2002, 118). He further labeled such women as “Hermaphroditi, that is Monsters of both kindes, halfe women, half men.” Three centuries later, Sarah Josepha Hale (1868, 44) insisted, “Are not those nations most morally refined in civilization and Christianity where the costume of men and women differs most essentially?” When Hale wrote, the layers of women’s clothing had not changed much over the centuries: a chemise or shift formed the initial layer, followed by a corset, under-petticoats, and petticoats. Different types and shapes of bustles, hoops, and cage crinolines extended and reshaped hemlines during the different decades. Men, in contrast, had been wearing recognizable versions of the three-piece suit since the mid-1660s. The heart of the issue resided in the fear that women genuinely want to “change their sex” and assume male prerogatives through manly dress. In terms of fashion history, Deuteronomy consequently locked women into long skirts until World War  I (1914– 1918), during which time hemlines began to rise for all, not just for women laboring in factories. It was not until the mid-1920s that the flapper’s skirt barely covered her knees. The masculine clothing debate ultimately crystallized over the question of women wearing trousers, a dangerously suggestive garment due to its bifurcated leg construction. The (in)famous “bloomer” costume of 1851–1852 exposed latent fears about women in pants. The costume, consisting of full trousers gathered at the ankle and a knee-length dress that allowed freedom of movement, Young lady poses in “gymnastics” clothing and dumb- was not new to women’s wardrobes bells, ca. 1868. The outfit was considered appropriate at the time. The combination, usufemale attire for gender-segregated physical fitness exercise. (Carte de Visite photograph from the studio ally of wool, had long been the approved standard for sea bathing of Reed & Co., Sacramento, California)



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and for the new exercise fad of women’s “gymnastics.” Women on the frontier and in the gold fields of California had found it essential as they pursued physically demanding labor. However, swimming and gymnastics were gender-segregated pursuits in the 19th century; the frontier represented a drastically reduced social circle and hospitality obligations. The bloomer costume transitioned trousers out of specialized activities for women into daily, public, and mixed company, which is one reason why it failed to enter mainstream fashion. Similar debates and fears about women in trousers reappeared during the bicycling craze of the 1880s, and particularly in the 1890s, when full, knee-length bloomers reemerged as suitable sporting attire that appeared in mixed company. Issues surrounding the appropriateness of trousers for women continued throughout the 20th century. When they did appear as part of sports and leisure fashions in the 1930s, trousers for women fastened on one or both sides; a zipper or fly at the center front caused anxiety as it drew inappropriate attention to female sexual organs. It was only in the 1970s that hospitals and professional office spaces grudgingly allowed women to wear tailored pantsuits instead of dresses. The apostle Paul issued injunctions that also ruled women’s church life in the centuries that followed when he asked, “Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled?” and advised that “a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:13, 10 NSRV). Although the nature of the head covering naturally changed with time, women could not attend church services with their heads uncovered. The fad for “whimsies” in the 1950s, which were tiny circles of decorated net fastened to the head, caused great consternation in the Catholic church in particular because there was simply insufficient material to qualify them as genuine hats or head coverings. The oversized bouffant hairstyles of the 1960s were a severe blow to the hat industry as it was difficult to design hats that looked good with teased hair and would actually remain on the wearer’s head. Massive cultural changes in the 1970s that continued to reject the traditional status quo finally put an end to the hat requirement in church, illustrating how centuries-old edicts could erode in a relatively short time when the right elements suddenly combined. Other fashions came under attack in the name of religion. Throughout the Middle Ages, any attempt to alter God’s creations through cosmetics, dyes, piercings, or body-shaping garments such as corsets or false padding represented an affront to God: if “God created humankind in his image” (Genesis 1:27 NSRV), any alteration of that creation implied unacceptable criticism of God’s very image. Thus Cyprian, bishop of Carthage as of 249 CE, wrote, “All females alike should be admonished, that the work of God and his fashioning and formation ought in no manner to be adulterated, either with the application of yellow color, or with black dust or rouge, or with any kind of medicament which can corrupt the native lineaments.” He further equates hair dyes with seduction, and warns “when those things which belong to God are corrupted and violated, you are engaged in a worse adultery” (Cyprian 1868, 344–45). An Elizabethan sermon claims that a woman who uses beauty products “doth work reproofe to her Maker, who made her[.] As though she could make her selfe more comely then God hath appoynted the

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measure of her beauty” (Sermons 1635, 106). This interpretation survived through the centuries, and some denominations continue to forbid the use of cosmetics and beauty products. However, a fundamental shift occurred in the early modern era: corsets, for example, became necessary as disciplined correctives to a weak, infantile body dangerously inclined to crookedness. In a convoluted argument, corsets, worn by both boys and girls until the boys transitioned to trousers, were a moral necessity and even a sign of superiority: “Are the mothers of men who rule the world found among the loose-robed women, or among the women who dress in closer-fitting apparel?” (Hale 1868, 44, italics in original). Christianity also limited women’s dress through a denial of fashion as sinful on multiple levels. Good Christian women eschewed the latest styles: “Women should dress modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God” (1 Timothy 2:9–10 NSRV). The theme of the refusal of fine clothing and fashion repeats in 1 Peter and further adds, “Rather let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight” (3:4 NSRV). Instead, women should prefer “the sober, yet transparent veil of a more comely mind” (Young Lady’s Book 1836, 259). Furthermore, rich dress implied insufficient charitable succor to the poor and needy: Cyprian noted, “Let the poor feel that you are wealthy; let the needy feel you are rich,” a view echoed by many other writers. Fine clothing also implies another grave sin: “Certainely, such as delight in gorgious apparell, are commonly puffed up with pride, and filled with divers vanities” (Sermons 1635, 104). Instead, a woman’s jewel is her husband and his virtues (Sermons 1635, 106), and she should not dress with a mind to please him, any other man, or society at large. However, the force of the “fickle goddess of fashion” is such that women, esteemed the weaker vessel, were always deemed particularly susceptible to its lures, and thus they consistently represented a potentially dangerous lack of financial self-control that could ruin their family’s fortunes. The injunctions above attempted to determine how a Christian woman should dress; further core contradictions, difficult to reconcile, still remained. In times when washing both the body and the clothes represented an extremely heavy burden, women nonetheless received instructions to be extremely neat and always perfectly attired. The unkempt “Christian lady, by making herself a slattern, brings reproach upon the cause of Christ, instead of glorifying God” While an investment in one’s personal appearance is considered necessary for religion’s sake, women must reconcile that with the injunction that “your time is the Lord’s. You have no right to waste it in useless attention to dress” (Newcomb 1851, 176–77, italics in original). In modern times, some denominations, such as the Amish, continue to set themselves apart with fossilized dress and headgear. The dresses and aprons currently associated with Amish women, and those of closely related sects, represent a popular and mainstream style of around 1910. Their bonnets visually distinguish married and unmarried women and perpetuate earlier head-covering requirements. In an invisible form of dress control, the temple garments worn as underwear by



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active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), commonly nicknamed the Mormons, define acceptable parameters of modesty. The garments must remain invisible; hence hemlines cannot rise above the knee, and sleeveless and low-necked garments are also not permitted. The garments of LDS women today represent an updated form of the earlier ankle-length versions originally worn in the 19th century. Fundamentalist polygamous Mormon wives, not recognized by the LDS church, typically wear sweatpants under their dresses—trousers are forbidden to them—to conceal the ankle-length garments that they continue to wear. Such practices represent an exception, and ultimately, few regulations regarding the dress of Christian women exist in contemporary religion. Karin J. Bohleke See also: Christianity: Chastity; “The Fall”; Marriage and Divorce; Mormonism; Orthodox Christianity; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Garber, Majorie. “Dress Codes, or the Theatricality of Difference.” In Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, edited by Marjorie Garber, 21–40. New York: Routledge, 1992. Hale, Mrs. [Sarah Josepha]. Manners; or, Happy Homes and Good Society All the Year Round. Boston: J. E. Tilton, 1868. Jones, Ann Rosalind, and Peter Stallybrass. Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Newcomb, Harvey. Practical Directory for Young Christian Females; Being a Series of Letters from a Brother to a Younger Sister. 5th ed. Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1851. Saint Cyprian. “On the Dress of Virgins.” In The Writings of Cyprian Bishop of Carthage. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis, 1:333–350. Ante-Nicene Christian Library 8. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1868. “Sermons or Homilies Appoynted to Be Read in Churches.” In The Time of the late Queene Elizabeth of Famous Memory. London: Printed by Iohn Norton, for Ioyce Norton, and Richard Whitaker, 1635. Stubbes, Philip. The Anatomie of Abuses. 1595 ed. Edited by Margaret Jane Kidnie. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Conjunction with Renaissance English Text Society, 2002. The Young Lady’s Own Book: A Manual of Intellectual Improvement and Moral Deportment. By the Author of the Young Man’s Own Book. Philadelphia: Desilver, Thomas & Co., 1836.

DIVORCE See Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood E D U C AT I O N Historically, the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church was patriarchal in structure; priests traditionally instructed the laity through use of daily, regulated

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prayers and rituals, and women were deemed childlike, irrational, lustful, and in need of guidance from a male figure. Priests distrusted female preaching due to their belief that only learned men could understand the Bible as well as the association of outspokenness in the secular sphere with disorder and sexual immorality. Although convents provided opportunities for wealthy women to learn literacy and numeracy—either in preparation for running her future husband’s household or for a life of prayer and contemplation in the cloisters—a nun’s educational opportunities were limited by her social class. Sisters from high-status backgrounds were often chosen for privileged positions as choristers, teachers, financial administrators, illustrators, scribes, and advisers to the abbess, while poor nuns normally worked as servants. Despite the church’s male-dominated hierarchy, many Renaissance-era clergymen supported female education in the belief that high-status women had the capacity to learn from the priests and in turn instruct their own children in basic Christian morality. The schoolmaster Richard Hyrde praised Sir Thomas More’s daughter Margaret for translating Erasmus’s Latin texts into English and proclaimed female education beneficial to the soul because it enabled women to reflect on morality rather than seek idle pleasures (Erasmus and Roper 1526). However, few 16th-century European women attended university because in Catholic and Protestant societies alike, these institutions were intended to train clergymen, lawyers, physicians, and other traditionally male professions. During the Reformation, educated women played an important role in the early Protestant movement; Anne Boleyn was credited for convincing Henry VIII to reform the post-1533 Church of England on more Protestant lines, and English gentlewoman Anne Askew was praised by John Bale for her writing of prayers, poems, and ballads to instruct female readers (Bale 1547, 58). As Protestant countries stabilized during the 1600s, female education generally focused on basic literacy and godly behavior rather than intellectual development and was primarily intended to counter internal religious schism, immorality, and disorder in society and instill discipline and self-control among the lower orders. During the late 17th century, however, a few female Protestants began to question the restrictions on female education, including Dutch artist Anna van Schurman, one of the few women to attend university at this time. Quaker women like Anne Docwra deemed familiarity with scripture vital not only for broadening one’s mind or defending the sect from allegations of heresy but also for averting the damnation of oneself and one’s kinsfolk due to reports of corruption, sexual misconduct, ignorance, and incompetence among established Protestant ministers (Docwra 2004, 164). Women’s educational roles evolved in the 18th century with the Great Awakening. Although not officially ordained as ministers, Methodist women were encouraged to participate in public prayers and organize meetings. During a second religious revival in the early 1800s, some women became unofficial missionary preachers in their own right, including self-taught black American Methodists like Jacinta Lee and Julia Foote, who learned to read with a copy of the Bible. These abolitionist women established schools for black children before the Civil War, traveled the country preaching against slavery, and distributed books, newspapers,



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and pamphlets to their congregations through their belief that both religious zeal and universal literacy were vital for confirming the black community’s humanity, autonomy, and worthiness to demand freedom (Bale 1547). Many white Methodist women crusaded against drunkenness in the United States and the industrial cities of Victorian Britain. Trained in the use of speeches, newspaper articles, printed pamphlets, poems, songs, protest marches, and mass meetings to promote their message among lower-status women, these temperance activists used both emotional persuasions and diplomatic but logic-based arguments derived from their own rigorous study of the Bible to convince men to renounce alcohol for their families’ well-being (Mattingly 1998). The Regency and Victorian eras represented a time of increased tolerance toward nonconforming Protestant sects and the Roman Catholic Church, with convent schools returning to England from continental Europe for the first time since the Dissolution of the Monasteries; universities throughout Europe and the United States opened to female students at this time. Some 19th-century academics criticized the hastily introduced courses intended exclusively for female university students due to the poor quality of teaching and lack of intellectual challenges. Inspired by the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Calvinist arguments that all souls of the chosen elect were equal before God, the antislavery activist Horace Mann argued that the state had a duty to provide outstanding education for all and to create an inclusive, diverse, rational, and politically aware American Christian identity (Anthony and Benson 2011). Driven by missionary zeal and the desire to improve everyday living conditions, Protestant philanthropists like the Irishman Thomas Barnardo opened institutions to instruct working-class orphaned girls in a combination of Christian morality and practical, vocational education with the intention of transforming them into useful and productive domestic servants. In the African and Asian colonies, British, Danish, and Swiss evangelical missionaries established schools for young indigenous girls and argued that a Christian education not only instilled a sense of obedience toward the Victorian colonial authorities but also benefited the natives due to their exposure to civilizing and modernizing influences (Sill 2010). Both at home and abroad, the schoolmistress was an important figure for instructing, encouraging, inspiring, and disciplining these girls; assisting the resident clergyman with his administrative work; planning lessons; and (particularly in African countries with high mortality rates) independently reading scripture to the class on the basis that every educated white colonist was duty-bound to spread Christianity. In the United States, Britain, and Ireland, nuns played an equally important role in the spread of universal public education from the 1840s to the 1960s by founding and teaching at schools for Catholic girls from poor backgrounds. In 1884, the bishops ruled that every parish in the United States was to have its own school, to be funded with tithes and charitable donations. Although remembered as austere and sometimes authoritarian institutions, these schools provided educational opportunities for Irish, Italian, Polish, and Mexican immigrant girls; offered pastoral care and support for those without families; and assisted with assimilation by teaching the children in English and identifying

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values common to both the Catholic congregation and the host country (Smarick and Robson 2015). The ordination of women, now widely accepted by many universities specializing in the training of Christian ministers (including UC Berkeley, Brigham Young in Utah, and Westcott House in Cambridge), can be credited to early British and American protofeminist organizations that took a revisionist approach to the traditional interpretation of Christianity as a bolster to patriarchy and a means to uphold long-standing norms of female domesticity and submission. Christian feminism originated within 19th-century female evangelical societies, especially the temperance movement, whose leaders Frances Willard, Mary Livermore, and Annie Wittenmyer believed that granting the vote to well-educated women would safeguard the perpetuation of the Sabbath, prevent a repeat of the godlessness that preceded ancient Israel’s collapse, and eventually herald legal prohibition of alcohol. Following the suffragettes’ success in winning the vote after World War I, a debate emerged within the Church of England on the question of female ordination, which was opposed by conservative bishops but supported by many laypeople. By the 1950s, some Presbyterian and Reformed Protestant churches in the United States had begun accepting women into universities for training and ordination into the ministry. Many American schools of divinity, where university students could study religion in preparation for the ministry, began to admit women during the late 1950s and early 1960s (including Emily Gage, the first female divinity student to graduate from Harvard in 1957), and by the 1970s, several colleges had established interdisciplinary courses for the study of gender in relation to religion—most notably Harvard’s Women’s Studies in Religion program, which was so successful that by the 1980s, female divinity students outnumbered the men. Yale had admitted a limited number of female divinity students from the 1930s onward, including Bernice Buehler and the children’s author Terry Allen, but the male-dominated status quo was not challenged until the 1970s, when feminist students questioned traditional concepts of a male patriarchal God and formed organizations inspired by the civil rights movement to protest against poor living conditions and institutionalized discrimination (Christ and Plaskow 2016). However, female admission was not without controversy; prior attempts to enroll women at Harvard in the 1890s had been opposed by conservatives who believed that priority should be given to male students, especially from poor or immigrant backgrounds, and feared that many women attended university with the sole aim of finding a husband (Braude 2006). N. K. Crown See also: Christianity: Abbesses; African American Women; Christianity in the United States; Christine de Pizan; Julian of Norwich; Ministers; Pilgrimage; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Sex and Gender; Women in the Reformation Further Reading Anthony, Michael, and Warren Benson. Exploring the History and Philosophy of Christian Education. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011.



“The Fall”

Bale, John. The First Examination of Anne Askew. London: Nicholas Hill, 1547. Christ Church, University of Oxford STC/851. Braude, Ann. “A Shift in the Created Order: 50 Years of Women and Transformation at the Harvard Divinity School.” As cited in Harvard Magazine, Harvard University, May/June 2006. http://harvardmagazine.com/2006/05/a-shift-in-the-created-o.html. Christ, Carol, and Judith Plaskow. Goddess and God in the World. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016. Docwra, Anne. “An Apostate Conscience Exposed, 1699.” In Autobiographical Writings of Early Quaker Women, edited by David Booy, 161–67. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004. Erasmus, Desiderius, and Margaret Roper. A Devout Treatise on the Paternoster. Edited by Richard Hyrde. London: Thomas Berthelet, 1526. British Library STC/10477. Mattingly, Carol. Well Tempered Women. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998. Sill, Ulrike. Encounters in Quest of Christian Womanhood. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Smarick, Andrew, and Kelly Robson. Catholic School Renaissance. Washington, DC: Philanthropy Roundtable, 2015.

EVE See Lilith (in Judaism section) “ T H E FA L L ” When we consider “the fall,” a religious moment that establishes the spiritual trajectory of humanity’s redemption and the truth of original sin within Christian theology, a more common signifier would be “the fall of man [humankind]” signaling the ways in which sex and gender concerns have been written into the history of Christian religiosity. Theologically, the fall introduces evil and sinfulness to manifest the possibility of experiencing God’s grace through the redemption made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. At the same time, however, as the archetypal woman and man of Western culture, the story of Eve and Adam’s fall from the Garden of Eden has emerged as apparent proof of women’s inherent inferiority to men, and that supposedly led to and justifies the universal subordination of women. While never specifically named within the Bible, interpretations of the fall develop from Christian exegesis of Genesis 1–3, which describes the transition of humankind from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of sinful disobedience and free will. According to Genesis, the formation of heaven and earth culminates on day six when God breathed life into the “first man,” Adam. After settling Adam in the Garden of Eden, God then creates Eve from Adam’s rib to be his companion, restricting both only in his command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Tempted by a serpent, Eve and Adam disobey God’s command, committing the first sin by eating from the tree, and subsequently bring divine judgment on both nature and humankind. Adam and Eve’s innocent existence was over; the fall introduced moral evil into the world, helping to establish the doctrines of original sin and salvation while also engendering heteronormativity and a hierarchy of sexualized identities within the Christian world view. According to early church theologians, as the antihero of the fall narrative, Eve’s decision to transgress the will of God leaves a stain on all women and thus

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sanctifies sexual and gender difference, including Eve’s (and hence women’s) secondary role in the conjugal state (see 1 Corinthians 11:9). According to his context and interpretation, Paul stresses that man retains authority over woman exactly because, from the perspective of creation, Adam came first and because Eve, not Adam, was deceived by the serpent and transgressed God (see 1 Timothy 2:12–14 and 2 Corinthians 11:3). Saint Augustine’s notion of original sin draws inspiration from the belief that Eve’s conduct destroyed the image of God, causing all humanity to become a massa damnata (condemned mass). As this narrative goes, the depravity of humanity begins with the transgression of Eve, resulting in the story of the fall serving for centuries as the divine source for patriarchic laws that—often violently—curtail the rights and status of women. It is important to note, however, that such a narrative relies on the assumption that (1) a distinct sexual and gender hierarchy existed within the Garden of Eden before the fall and (2) that Eve’s conduct reifies this hierarchy by revealing her role as a sexual temptress and the cause of the fall. Strictly patriarchic interpretations of Eve, Adam, and the fall rely more on the nature and aim of interpretation than on the vitality of the text itself. Meaning, while Genesis absolutely includes patriarchal tendencies, to read the text itself as patriarchic ignores the roles and voices of women within biblical narratives, the interpretative conduct (and misogyny) of theologians and scholars alike, and the fact that gender is a social construct and thus a matter of power. As Bible scholar Phyllis Trible argues, rather than a hierarchy at the time of creation, Adam and Eve were equals—any inequality between them, and thus between the sexes generally, was not originally part of God’s plan but emerges as a direct consequence of the fall and their disobedience, which resulted in the gained knowledge of, and shame connected with, their bodies (Genesis 3:16) (Trible 1973, 39–42). Moreover, as Mieke Bal (1985) develops, through Eve’s decision, humanity gains not only its independence through free will but also the capacity to enter into a genuine relationship with the Divine. In other words, to demonize women vis-à-vis Eve ignores the meanings found within the Book of Genesis, the historical and linguistic contexts that developed patriarchic thinking, and, as Danna Fewell (1999, 271) develops following Bal, the true implications of the fall, which, rather than fallen, presents Eve as “a character of great power” because her “choice marks the emergence of human character.” Morgan Shipley See also: Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Mary Magdalene; Mother of God; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History; Sex and Gender; Islam: Hawwa; Judaism: Hebrew Bible; Lilith; Sex and Gender Further Reading Bal, Mieke. “Sexuality, Sin and Sorrow: The Emergence of the Female Character (A Reading of Genesis 1–3).” Poetics Today 6, no. 5 (1985): 21–42.



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Fewell, Danna Nolan. “Reading the Bible Ideologically: Feminist Criticism.” In To Each Its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application, edited by Steven L. McKenzie and Stephen R. Haynes, 268–282. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1999. Trible, Phyllis. “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 12 (1973): 30-48. Trible, Phyllis. “Eve and Adam: Genesis 2–3 Reread.” In Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion, edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, 74–83. New York: HarperOne, 1992.

F O U N D E R S O F C H R I S T I A N D E N O M I N AT I O N S Although women have been influential in every variety of Christianity, only a handful of women have founded a significant new denomination. Ann Lee founded the first Shaker community in 1776. Ellen Gould Harmon White cofounded the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 1863. Mary Baker Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879. Aimee Semple McPherson founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, opening Angelus Temple in 1923. In very different, often unorthodox ways, each founder described her work as witnessing to Jesus’s ministry and the appearance of the Christian millennium. Ann Lee (1736–1784), an English textile worker, joined the Wardley Society or “Shaking Quakers.” Renouncing Quaker (Society of Friends) theology, they worshiped with ecstatic dancing and shaking, considering this an effect of God’s presence. None of Lee’s four children survived, and she embraced the values of celibacy, communal property, and the feminine and masculine nature of God. Lee and others were jailed and beaten for street preaching and interfering with state church services. Lee emigrated to New York with a Wardley remnant and refashioned the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or the Believers. Others called them Shakers. Renouncing a fleshly life of private possessions and private relationships, Shakers believe that the visions and revelations of “Mother Ann” explain Bible truth. Lee met opposition for her pacifism, radical theology, and social practices. Yet converts and orphans swelled the ranks to 26 villages of about 6,000 believers by 1850. They opposed slavery and welcomed women’s leadership. Lee’s motto “hands to work, hearts to God” elevated physical labor to a form of spiritual meditation and worship. Shaker furniture and other handmade goods remain popular for their beauty and simplicity. Inventive as well as industrious, Shakers created the flat broom, circular saw, spring clothespin, washing machine, and more. Shakers became the most successful communitarian religious movement in the United States. Converts gradually declined after the Civil War. One Shaker village remains in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Ellen H. White (1827–1915) was raised a “Shouting Methodist” in Maine. A classmate threw a rock at Ellen when she was just nine years old, hitting and disfiguring her face and rendering her unconscious for three weeks and too ill to attend school. Her religious interests grew during her convalescence, and she was baptized at the age of 12.

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White’s family soon left Methodism for Millerite meetings. William Miller predicted that the end of the world and the Christian millennium would come on October 22, 1844. This nonevent became known as the Great Disappointment. In December 1844, White reported a vision that Miller’s prophecy had been misunderstood. She galvanized a new movement that anticipated the (undated) second coming of Christ and celebrated this in worship on the seventh day of the week (Saturday on chosen cultural calendars). White and her husband, James Springer White, cofounded the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 1863. A prolific writer, White claimed about 2,000 visions throughout her life and produced 26 books based on her visions. Her 1892 Steps to Christ saw roughly 100 million copies published in 165 languages. Plagiarism charges dogged her, which historians have since begun to carefully dissect. Widowed in 1881, she took 24 train trips to California from the Midwest, spent almost two years in Europe, and lived eight years in Australia, all to spread the global reach of her church. An abolitionist, health reformer, and educator, she promoted vegetarianism and established several schools and hospitals. White’s religiosity paralleled many 19th-century intellectual currents as it yielded early radicalism to institutionalization and a more maternal idea of the Divine. Today, Seventh-Day Adventists number about 20 million globally and operate many hospitals and schools. Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) was raised in New Hampshire by Congregational parents. She read the Bible daily and joined the church in 1838. Her education was acceptable for a girl of her time, though it was interrupted by illness. Widowed young and pregnant, she sought to rebuild her family with an unfortunate second marriage ending in her husband’s desertion. She experimented with various medical treatments for chronic illness, but none proved lasting. In midlife, Eddy experienced a severe accident but quickly recovered, attributing this to an insight into God’s love for creation found in a gospel account of Jesus’s healing. Although at first she struggled to explain this experience, she soon came to feel she had received a new discovery or revelation meant to restore biblical healing to modern Christianity. She gradually separated from curative approaches she once considered impelled by Christ, notably the work of Phineas P. Quimby, which she later deemed sincere but based on human willpower. She married Asa Gilbert Eddy, her supporter until his death in the 1880s. In 1875, Eddy published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, her Bible interpretation and statement of Christian Science. In her view, God’s mothering and fathering love rests on God’s own fixed, provable laws, making Christianity a compassionate science. Eddy first hoped the established churches would accept her teachings but later founded her own, obtaining charters for both her church and a teaching college. In 1898, she founded the Christian Science Publishing Society. Concerned about global social issues and balanced media reporting, at age 87 she founded the Christian Science Monitor, a respected international daily news source. In 2017, the mother church of Christian Science added members from 33 countries, many of them African. Christian Scientists have seen their popularity ebb and flow but have never published membership statistics.



Fundamentalism

Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), a Canadian, had a Methodist father and Salvation Army mother. She married Pentecostal minister Robert Semple. Like Mary Baker Eddy, she was a young widow and expectant mother who sought stability in a second marriage that failed. Traversing the United States with her children, she preached her signature “four-square gospel”: Jesus the Only Savior, the Great Physician, the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and the Coming Bridegroom. “Sister Aimee” settled in Los Angeles, building the massive Angelus Temple. She preached a forgiving God who was against evolution and for prohibition, nationalism, faith healing, feeding the needy, women’s equality in churches, and (unevenly but eventually) racial inclusivity. McPherson was the first to blend revivalism with mass media: radio broadcasting, advertising, movies, and glamorous public appearances. Her sermons included musical bands and elaborate costumes rivalling those of Hollywood. In 1926, McPherson mysteriously disappeared. After a thronged memorial service, she reappeared and claimed to have been kidnapped. Prosecutors could not establish contrary evidence, though rumors swirled of a (voluntary) romantic tryst. Some Foursquare churches seceded, and family relationships frayed in disputes over the authenticity of her story. An impulsive third marriage ended in bitter divorce. McPherson redeemed herself by returning to her Pentecostal roots in 1936. She died of an apparently accidental drug overdose in 1944. Mocked by some as a sexual vixen manipulating her followers with false eyelashes and false doctrine, revered by others for her warm and successful ministry, she influenced the course of modern Christian conservatism. The Foursquare church today includes 68,000 churches in 136 countries. Its ministries still focus on aid to the needy. Amy B. Voorhees See also: Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Education; Protestant Denominations Further Reading Aamodt, Terrie Dopp, Gary Land, and Ronald Numbers, eds. Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Gottschalk, Stephen. Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy’s Challenge to Materialism. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2006. Stein, Steven. The Shaker Experience in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992. Sutton, Matthew. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

F U N D A M E N TA L I S M In the early 20th century, a fundamentalist movement swept American Christianity, particularly in Protestant churches. This movement was characterized by a defense of the “fundamentals” of the Christian faith, including biblical inerrancy (the notion that the word of God was completely infallible), the virgin birth of Jesus, the reality of miracles, and belief in the literal resurrection and physical second coming of

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Jesus Christ. The historian George Marsden (2006, 4) defines fundamentalism as “militantly anti-modernist Protestant evangelicalism,” and this definition suggests a certain role for women in the fundamentalist movement. Extremely conservative, fundamentalism reserved (and continues to reserve) a place for women that emphasized their traditional biblical roles as wife, mother, and caretaker. However, there were a few exceptions to this, most notably in the person of Aimee Semple McPherson, a fundamentalist Pentecostal preacher in the 1920s and 1930s. Fundamentalists have historically propagated either a complementarian or biblical patriarchal view of women. Complementarianism suggests that women and men are both equally valued but that they have different roles as mandated in scripture. Biblical patriarchy views the father as head of the household and therefore responsible for the behavior of his wife and children. Both views of women emphasize a theological position known as “biblical womanhood,” which argues that a woman’s virtue is chiefly contained in her being a good wife and mother. Central to these arguments is the fundamentalist conviction that the “fundamentals”—and, by extension, those who believed in them—were under attack by some sort of modernist project. Ergo, when it came to cultural activities, fundamentalists were vehemently opposed to anything that might possibly harm the home (which was, of course, the domain of women). In the movement’s earliest years, some fundamentalists opposed women’s suffrage. They also strongly opposed the teaching of evolution in public schools, believing it would harm children. Perhaps their most successful cause was Prohibition, which many fundamentalists supported in an attempt to keep the home space secure. After 1925, fundamentalism beat a hasty retreat into itself, only to resurge strongly in the 1970s and 1980s. If anything, the fundamentalism of those decades placed more of an emphasis on issues of women and their role. The political fundamentalism of the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition was shaped in large part by their opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. The fight to limit abortion became central to these new fundamentalists, who saw nothing wrong with policing women’s bodies to maintain their political and religious positions. This period also saw the formation of fundamentalist groups dedicated to maintaining traditional views of the home and family, such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. These organizations advanced the fundamentalist position that marriage ought to be “traditional” (between one man and one woman, with the man as head of the household) and that any other variation of the family is dangerous to society. Through their political activities, fundamentalists have positioned themselves against many of the things that both feminist and LGBTQ activists consider important gains. Somewhat ironically, even though fundamentalism reserves a traditional role for women, women have frequently been the public face of the movement. Sometimes they have challenged the fundamentalist assertion that women should not be leaders in churches or in faith formation. The best example of this is Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), who began her very public preaching career by itinerating in tent revivals and churches throughout the country, driving from place to place in a car with the phrase “Jesus Is Coming Soon—Get Ready” on the side (King



Fundamentalism

2013). She eventually settled in Los Angeles, where her preaching drew crowds of thousands, and she was able to raise enough money to build a permanent home for her ministry, the Angelus Temple. Her ministry became known as the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (or the Foursquare church), a Pentecostal denomination that emphasizes faith healing, speaking in tongues, and living a “spirit-filled” life (Foursquare Church n.d.). McPherson’s life and career were an anomaly in the world of early 20th-century fundamentalism, where most prominent evangelists were men. McPherson drew larger crowds than even Billy Sunday (1862–1935), the bombastic revival preacher who personified masculine Christianity. In a movement where women most frequently served in the background, Aimee Semple McPherson stood out. More recently, fundamentalists have used popular culture in an attempt to reinforce their traditional views of women. One of the most visible examples of this has been the Duggar family, whose television show 19 Kids and Counting ran on the TLC cable network from 2008 to 2015 (when it was canceled due to allegations that the eldest Duggar child, Josh, molested several young girls while in his early teens). The Duggars adhere to the Quiverfull movement, a branch of fundamentalism that prohibits the use of birth control and advocates having large families. These families frequently adhere to biblical patriarchy, and the Duggars have used their public forum to advocate for what they consider to be traditional values: supervised courtship, modesty in dress, and an emphasis on women’s role

Genesis—Two Stories of Creation The book of Genesis includes two versions of creation. The first, told in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 (see excerpt below), tells how the first woman was created alongside the first man; both were made from the same substance, at the same time, and in the same manner, with no indication of inequality between them. The second version, told in Genesis 2:4 to 2:24, is different. Here, the man—Adam—is created first, and the woman is created afterward from Adam’s rib. Following the second version, Genesis 3:1 to 3:24 tells the story of “the fall,” in which Eve picks the fruit that was forbidden, eats it, and offers some to Adam, which he also eats. As a consequence, both are expelled from the Garden of Eden, but Adam is punished with toil, while Eve is punished with pain and male domination. The second creation story and the story of the fall have had widespread influence in Western culture, and are familiar stories. But the first creation, included here, is less well known: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Source: Genesis 1:26–27, Bible NKJV.

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as wives and mothers. This popular-culture mainstreaming of fundamentalist views on women reinforces the limited roles that they are able to play within the fundamentalist movement itself. Mary Ruth Sanders See also: Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Founders of Christian Denominations; Ministers; Protestant Denominations; Sex and Gender Further Reading Epstein, Daniel Mark. Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993. Foursquare Church. “Declaration of Faith.” 2016. http://foursquare-org.s3.amazonaws. com/assets/Declaration_of_Faith.pdf. Hankins, Barry. Jesus and Gin: Evangelicalism, the Roaring Twenties, and Today’s Culture Wars. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. King, Gilbert. “The Incredible Disappearing Evangelist.” Smithsonian Magazine, June 17, 2013. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the​-incredible​-disappearing​-evangelist​ -572829/?no-ist. Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098–1179) Hildegard of Bingen, abbess of the convent of Rupertsberg on the banks of the River Rhine in Germany, was one of the outstanding women of medieval Europe. In recent decades, she has become famous for her repertoire of mystically inspired music. In Hildegard’s own era, she was more famous for her mystical visions. These were dictated to a scribe and illustrated with beautiful mandala-style images by her nuns. Hildegard was born in Bermersheim, near Mainz, into a minor noble family. As was common in such families, Hildegard’s future was decided by her parents at an early age. At the age of eight, she was sent to the Disibodenberg Benedictine monastery to study with Jutta, daughter of the Count of Sponheim. Here, Hildegard learned theology, literature, music, medicine, and other skills. Around 1113, she took her vows as a nun. When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected the leader of the growing women’s community. In 1141, Hildegard felt that she received a command from God to make her visions and her interpretations of them more widely available. She began a book she called Scivias, (Know the Ways [of God]) (1141–1151). Around 1147–1148, during the Synod of Trier, Hildegard’s writings were brought to the attention of Pope Eugenius III (1088–1153), who gave papal approval to the text. Hildegard’s fame spread, and she was widely credited with the gift of prophecy. She corresponded with hundreds of people who sought her advice, guidance, and prayers, including popes, secular rulers such as the German emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1123–1190), important religious figures such as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), and many laity.



Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

The beautiful paintings of Hildegard’s visions were artistically innovative and contained much feminine imagery. For Hildegard and her nuns, the lives of the Virgin Mary and other saintly virgins were important role models. Another important concept in her writing is that of viriditas, a Latin-based word she used to express what for her were the essential qualities of the Divine—vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, and growth. During her first decade as women’s leader at Disibodenberg, Hildegard began a concerted campaign to set up a women’s community independent of the male monastery. In 1150, she succeeded and established a new convent at nearby Rupertsberg. This was followed in 1165 by a Illumination shows Hildegard of Bingen receiving a second community at Eibingen, vision, from her book Liber Scivias (Know the Ways), on the opposite bank of the ca. 1151. The book describes 26 of her visions. (PriRhine. Hildegard commuted vate Collection/Bridgeman Images) twice weekly across the river between the two convents for the rest of her life. In an era when few women wrote, Scivias was only one of Hildegard’s extensive writings. Other books included Physica (1151–1158) on plants and their medicinal properties; Causa et curae (1151–1158) on medicine; Symphonia harmoniae celestium revalationum (Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revolution; ca. 1158), which included songs and a rare early oratorio for women; and a major theological work, Liber divinorum operum (Book of Divine Works; 1163–1174). Her spiritual advice was so valued that, highly unusually for a woman, she was invited to preach in public. In her sixties and early seventies, Hildegard undertook four preaching tours of Germany. Although revered as a saint for centuries, Hildegard was not formally canonized until May 1, 2012. On October 7, 2012, in recognition of her work as a theologian, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Hildegard a Doctor of the Church. There is a shrine to Saint Hildegard at the Eibingen parish church, where her body is now buried. Vivianne Crowley

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See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Christianity in Europe; Middle Ages; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mystics; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archeology, and History; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity Further Reading Anon. “Hildegard of Bingen, Abbess.” In The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture, Vol. 2, edited by Colum P. Hourihane, 331–32. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Burnett, Charles, and Peter Dronke, eds. Hildegard of Bingen: The Context of Her Thought and Art. Warburg Institute Colloquia 4. London: Warburg Institute, 1998. Flanagan, Sabina. Hildegard of Bingen: A Visionary Life. London: Routledge, 1989. Newman, Barbara, ed. Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

H O M O S E X U A L I T Y I N E A R LY T O E A R LY MODERN CHRISTIANITY Until the 19th century, the identity of “gay” or “lesbian” did not exist. Women before the 19th century would not have identified themselves as gay or lesbian, and few writings by women about same-sex desire survive. Concern with male samesex desire and sexual activity found far greater expression in the works of Christian authors from the Benedictine Rule to canon law. Scholars have identified textual evidence indicating a self-conscious subculture among monks and other clergy who—despite official church censure of same-sex activity or “sodomy”—celebrated and perhaps engaged in homoerotic sex. John Boswell (1981), for example, argues that what might be termed a “gay” subculture found wide toleration in the central and High Middle Ages but experienced severe and targeted repression by the 13th century CE. Christian writers’ direct discussion of female homosexual desire and sexual activity is more limited but suggests concern about erotic and romantic relationships. Throughout premodernity, Christianity served both as a vehicle for persecuting female homosexuality and as a way for women to express their desire for other women. In some cases, female homosexuality was also thought to be related to other forms of social and religious deviance, such as heresy and witchcraft. The New Testament was heavily influenced by Greco-Roman culture, which generally condemned female homosexual relationships. Many Greek writers of the first century condemned female homosexuality, which was thought to act against nature because it entailed women engaging in male roles and usurping male privilege. First- and second-century writers, such as Seneca, Martial, and Soranos, wrote of the dangers of women becoming like men. In Paul’s (ca. 5–ca. 67 CE) letters to the Corinthians and Romans, the author condemns all homosexual relationships, which threaten the social order by not conforming to sexual expectations. In Romans 1:26–27, the only passage in which he explicitly mentions female homosexuality, he writes of women who “exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” In 1 Corinthians 11:3–7, he orders that women alone must cover their heads in



Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity

churches because while man “is the image and reflection of God; . . . woman is the reflection of man.” Thus, Paul’s condemnation against homosexuality reflected Greco-Roman concerns for the rigidity of gender and sexual roles. Like Paul, the influential North African bishop and theologian Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) argued that the ideal Christian life was one of sexual abstinence. However, since the Bible also called on believers to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), Augustine suggested that sexual activity is justified for the purpose of procreation. In a letter to a community of nuns dated 423, he explicitly condemned homosexual activity among those women: “The things which shameless women do even to other women in low jokes and games are to be avoided” (Augustine 1956, 50). About a century later, church authorities began writing and copying penitentials (lengthy lists of sins with their corresponding penances) first in the British Isles and later in continental Europe. These lists often included sexual sins, as was the case with the Penitential of Theodore, which calls for a woman who “practices vice with a woman” to do penance for three years. Similarly, a woman who masturbates is to do penance for the same amount of time, underscoring the fear that men could be excluded from sexual activity. In the 11th and 12th centuries, church reformers repeated the penances listed in the older penitentials. The writings of Paul and Augustine were read widely by these theologians and were used in support of condemnations of female homosexuality. These theologians focused primarily on male homosexuality, but a few sources also demonstrate theological revulsion to female homosexuality. In his Commentary on Saint Paul, for example, the French theologian Peter Abelard (1079–1142) argues that sexual relations between women is against nature because women’s genitalia was created to be used by men and not by other women. The pattern of primary attention to male homosexuality is reflected in secular law codes, but the French Li livres de justice et de plet (ca. 1260) refers to women convicted of sodomy, stipulating that they shall be mutilated after the first and second offenses and burnt to death after the third. In both secular and canon law, sexual activity between women could be called “sodomy,” but because it did not include penile-vaginal penetration or the emission of semen, it was typically not punished as harshly as male homosexuality. But from the mid-13th century on, female homosexuality was punished just as harshly as the male equivalent in many legal scenarios. Sodomy (any kind of “unnatural” and nonprocreative sex) was commonly associated with heresy or witchcraft in the medieval and early modern eras; both were seen to threaten natural order. One famous example is Benedetta Carlini, an early 17th-century Italian nun. Living during the Catholic Reformation, her mystical visions threatened the spiritual authority of the male clergy. She was tried by a church tribunal and sentenced to life in prison. Her trial transcripts suggest that she engaged in sexual activity with another nun, yet Benedetta did not recall doing this. While it is possible that Benedetta engaged in sexual activity with another woman, historian Ann Matter (1989/1990) has argued that her primary erotic desires were directed toward Jesus, an attitude that highlights the blurred lines between female sexuality and spirituality.

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As Europeans colonized the New World, they carried many of their attitudes regarding homosexuality with them. In colonial Mexico, the office of the Mexican Inquisition was charged with rooting out heresy, but the intersections of sexuality and religion meant that it also acted against suspicions of female homosexuality. In 1621, for example, the office took interest in the 20-year-old mestiza (woman of mixed Spanish and Native American heritage) Augustina Ruiz, who was accused of confessing to her priest that she had both fantasized about and copulated with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. This case reveals that religious beliefs were sometimes eroticized by religious men and women who believed themselves to be good Christians, even while church authorities deemed these thoughts to be deviant. Charles Carroll See also: Ancient Religions: Homosexuality; Christianity: Christianity in Africa; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in Latin America; Christianity in the United States; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Middle Ages; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Augustine. Letter 211. Translated by Sr. Wilfrid Parsons. In Fathers of the Church. Vol. 32: 50. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1956. Bennett, Judith. “‘Lesbian-Like’ and the Social History of Lesbianisms.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 9, no. 1/2 (January/April 2000): 1–24. Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. Brooten, Bernadette. Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Matter, Ann. “Discourses of Desire: Sexuality and Christian Women’s Visionary Narratives.” Journal of Homosexuality 18 (1989/1990): 119–31. Murray, Jacqueline. “Twice Marginal and Twice Invisible: Lesbians in the Middle Ages.” In Handbook for Medieval Sexuality, edited by Vern Bullough and James A. Brundage, 191–222. New York: Garland, 1996.

I N T E R FA I T H D I A L O G U E P O S T 9 / 1 1 , CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM WOMEN For many Christian and Muslim women of faith, participating in the distinct activity identified as interfaith dialogue is an important way of living out their spirituality. While there are many ways to speak of interfaith activities or encounters, the word dialogue is preferred because it emphasizes intentional conversation, interchange, and discussion and suggests that at the heart of every interfaith encounter or activity is a core value placed on effective communications beyond the boundary of religious difference. One of the primary functions of interfaith dialogue is to counter fears, stereotypes, prejudices, and hatred by promoting respect for religious diversity, religious persons, and their sustaining faith systems and institutions. Interfaith dialogue works to create a safe interpersonal space “to define yourself and to learn the self-definitions of others” (InterfaithDialogueAssociation n.d.)



Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women

for the common public good. Because of the violent tragedy of 9/11, wherein 2,977 women, men, and children were killed and thousands of others injured in the name of religion by Islamic terrorists, U.S. citizenry experienced a shock in world view. As a national civic crisis arose centered on how to regard Muslims and Islam, the activity of interfaith dialogue emerged from the shadows, and its role and function within society has become more transparent and valued. Post-9/11 interfaith dialogue partners, whether Muslim or Christian, tend to be women who (1) have had prior positive interfaith encounters, (2) are curious seekers who want to understand Islam or Christianity better, or (3) are participants as the result of an interfaith marriage. Muslim women (Sunni, Shi‘a, and followers of Warith D. Muhammad) who were once hidden from public and religious discourse began to emerge as first respondents after 9/11. As speakers, presenters, and educators, they were sent from Islamic centers, organizations, and mosques to help respond to the numerous inquiries and invitations from social groups (civic and religious, youth and adult) who sought to make sense of the tragedy, and they promoted Islam as a religion of peace. Christian women (U.S. born and immigrants) interfaith partners were most often from mainline Protestant denominations, and some were Catholics. Some denominations, like the Presbyterian church (United States), took a more active role in advocating for interfaith dialogue by adopting the report “Toward an Understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations” and in 2010 commending it to the entire church, including its educational institutions, for study, guidance, and action. While relatively new to the U.S. context, Christian and Muslim dialogues are found worldwide, with one of the oldest being the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa founded in 1959 to foster relations between Christian and Muslim women and to encourage them to communicate effectively on issues that concern them and their environment. At least three key factors that challenge the participation of women in creating and sustaining interfaith dialogues have been identified: (1) fear of conversion, (2) the unwillingness to recognize the intimate and complex relationships that exist between religions and culture (think Islam, Muslim, and Arabic; think the United States, Christian, and Western) and how they affect religious gender identity in the United States, and (3) the need to understand the encounters of geographically diverse immigrating Muslims and Christians and their need to negotiate religious traditions and assumptions with indigenous and historical U.S. Muslims and Christian communities in the face of the growing global interfaith movement. There are five distinct types of interfaith dialogues practiced by Muslim and Christian women. These and their various forms, approaches, and activities are not static but are often fluid and interrelated. 1. The dialogue of life (practical): The dialogue of life, or living dialogue, is concerned with attitudes and behaviors of respect and dignity shown toward other religious women encountered as one goes about daily life. As the United States is a religiously open society, how one treats her neighbor should be governed by the ultimate divine authority in her life—for the Christian, this is Jesus, and for the Muslim, this is the Qur’an.

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2. The dialogue of religious experience (experiential): Dialogue subjects are religious women who are rooted in their own religions traditions and are willing to use their voices to share their faith experiences and spiritual understandings. Both formal and informal in structure, women’s presentations may reflect on common religious themes, such as compassion, suffering, marriage, and spiritually, and often make use of the arts, storytelling, songs, and dramas as their narratives are shared. 3. The dialogue of engagement (practical): Actively engaging in work together to address issues of social justice and human needs, especially among the most vulnerable members of society (such as refurbishing a shelter for abused women) is one of the most preferred types of interfaith activism. Women find it personally and communally satisfying to organize a joint Christian and Muslim Girl Scouts’ event or plan interfaith projects for youth. 4. The dialogue of relationship (relational): Unlike other types of dialogue, the goal of this dialogue is clearly directed toward building friendships and meaningful relationships. A local community-based example is the Common Ground, an informal group of women who attend the mosque and church in the Plymouth, Michigan, community and decided to develop a relationship following the murder of three Muslim youth. A transcultural example is the consultations of the African and African Diasporan Women in Religion and Theology. The dialogue of relationship recognizes that each woman is her own phenomenon as members of the group share of themselves, talking about their families, beliefs, and passions as well as the sorrows and joys they face. Because relationships are both the subject and object of such dialogues, careful attention must be given to matters such as networks and connections, relational and shared models of leadership, inclusion and care strategies, and attending to contextual power dynamics necessary to develop and sustain meaningful dialogues. 5. The dialogue of theological exchange (confessional): The purpose of this dialogue is to allow religious official leaders, professional specialists, and scholars to share publicly understandings of their core religious heritages and to appreciate one another’s religious and spiritual values. Because Christian women do serve as religious pastors, priests, and scholars, but there are no recognized female imams, some interfaith committees and associations do encourage the participation of religious Muslim women as scholars, commentators, and leading civic leaders.

Given the tenor of the times, the major emphasis on relations between Christian and Muslim women indicate that they contribute to positive and constructive interfaith dialogues in a myriad of forms and structures. As interfaith partners, it is important that they continue to take a closer look at events emerging from within the specific contexts where they live, work, and worship to discover new opportunities for deepening dialogues. Consider briefly three illustrations from the contemporary U.S. context. The first case relates to an event in which a young political science professor posted a personal message on Facebook on December 10, 2015, writing, “I believe Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” and as a result was suspended from Wheaton College, where she taught. The same young woman was also photographed wearing a hijab “in solidarity with Muslim women.” The latter act has initiated a dynamic dialogue on the Internet among Muslim women with opposing views on the issue as to whether it is appropriate and desirable for non-Muslims to wear the hijab or whether this act helps radical Muslim clerics. This unexpected and unplanned interfaith dialogue involving social media will surely have significant



Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342–ca. 1416)

implications for gender-based interfaith dialogue in the future. The second case points to a 2016 Pew Research Center report entitled “A Religious Gender Gap for Christians, but Not for Muslims,” which may prove interesting as a current resource to promote interfaith understanding and conversations. The third and final case is focused on the development of the first all-women mosque in the United States housed at an interfaith center in Los Angeles, California, and its implications for interfaith dialogue. An age-old Chinese practice of Islamic female prayer leaders, female imams, and all-women mosques that dates back to 16th-century China appears to be gaining interest in the West. Imam Sherin Khankan set up the first women-led mosque in northern Europe, and the first all-female mosque in the United States, the Women’s Mosque of America, was established in 2015 in Los Angeles by M. Hasna Maznavi, who became interested in Islam and women’s role in Islam after 9/11. Since 9/11, it has become apparent why interfaith dialogue is crucial. Muslim and Christian women in interfaith dialogue are making important contributions toward producing good and thoughtful citizens. Marsha Snulligan Haney See also: Christianity: African American Women; Christianity in the United States; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History; Islam: Islam in the United States; Peacemaking Further Reading Allen, Kathleen E. “Women’s Value Orientation.” In Encyclopedia of Leadership, edited by George Goethals, Georgia J. Sorenson, and James MacGregor Burns, 1688–92. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004. Interfaith Dialogue Association. 2018. www.interfaithassociation.org. Reticker, Gini, and Abigail E. Disney, dirs. Pray the Devil Back to Hell. New York: Fork Films 2008. DVD. Ross, Rosetta, and Rose Mary Amenga-Etego. Unraveling and Reweaving Sacred Canon in Africana Womanhood. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015. Smith, Jane I., ed. “Christian-Muslim Dialogue in North America.” The Muslim World 94, no. 3. Blackwell, Hartford Seminary, July 2004.

JULIAN OF NORWICH (CA. 1342–CA. 1416) In medieval England, one woman rose above the gender limitations of her time to become a Christian theological and spiritual authority. She was the first woman to write any book in English. Her works, A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, recount her vision, in which Christ came to her and showed her a pathway to salvation. She lived in Norwich, England, a wealthy port city. The name by which she is remembered is not her birth name. Rather, on becoming a Christian anchoress, she took on the name of her church; hence, Julian from Saint Julian’s in Norwich. An anchoress was a woman who devoted her life to personal, spiritual reflection in a church or monastery, largely removed from society. In youth, she recounted in her first book, she prayed to God for three things: to see Christ’s crucifixion, to experience extreme pain to the verge of death to

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understand Christ’s sufferings, and to receive the three “wounds” of contrition, compassion, and the desire to seek God’s will. Her first vision occurred on May 8, 1373, while she was on the verge of death. The vision revealed God’s love for humanity through offering Christ on the cross. The two major themes presented in her visions’ explanations are love and that all Christians have the opportunity for this love. Her spiritual vision marked her as a mystic who emphasized a personal connection with Christ through inner visions, prayers, and feelings rather than the solely outward rituals of the medieval church. She first recorded the vision in A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman soon after the original experience, although the exact date of writing is unknown. In this first version, she provides a general account of what she witnessed: Christ’s suffering on the cross followed by a message of love. In the vision, Christ’s human form died for our human sin, leading her to develop a distinction between body and soul: although all of humankind is sinful, sin is connected to the body and not the spiritual soul. Christ, in his death, relieved the burden of this bodily sin so that our spiritual soul may be saved. She also included several self-degrading phrases, highlighting that she saw such visions despite being an uneducated female. This is reflective of her historical context, in which it was rare for a woman to write and assert religious views. She belittles her gender to downplay her role in the vision and highlight that it was God’s will that she receive the vision and spread it to others. About 20 years after the initial vision, Julian released a revision of A Vision (ca. mid-1380s). A Revelation of Love (ca. 1410) was much longer and, although it provided details of the original vision, it was more focused on providing a theological understanding of the vision and how the vision could provide spiritual guidance for all Christians. She also revealed that she had experienced two additional visions in 1388 and 1393 in which God helped guide her understanding and provide a clear theological interpretation. Thus, A Revelation served as a guidebook for seeking Christ through inner spiritual reflection and prayer, greatly connected with the Christian mystic movement. She provided steps through which a person could focus on his or her soul and separate from bodily sin. She also wrote this guidebook for all people, just as God’s love was for all, rather than restricting her religious teachings to the educated monastics or priests, as other medievalists did. Thus, her writings promoted hope for an entire population. Numerous wills in which she received donations to help fund her remaining an anchoress emphasized her credibility and expertise as a spiritual leader. Many of the wills were from Norwich’s leading clergy, nobles, and merchants, including the Earl of Warwick’s daughter Isabel Ufford. Her most famous follower, and one of only a few we know by name, was Margery Kempe, another English Christian mystic, who wrote of seeking out Julian to better understand Kempe’s own religious visions. The few manuscripts of Julian’s works were copied and retained in Norwich, London, and Paris, also highlighting their importance among medieval religious communities. Amanda Wrenn Allen



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See also: Christianity: Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mystics; Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity Further Reading Dinshaw, Carolyn, and David Wallace, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women’s Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Jantzen, Grace. Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian. New York: Paulist Press, 2000. Jenkins, Jacqueline, and Nicholas Watson, eds. The Writings of Julian of Norwich. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006. McAvoy, Liz Herbert. Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004.

MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND WIDOWHOOD In Old Testament times, marriage was overwhelmingly the norm, in keeping with the creation narrative in the first two chapters of Genesis. In the New Testament, the picture differs in that Jesus (as well as John the Baptist, Paul, and Timothy) was unmarried, and Jesus taught that there would be no marriage in the hereafter but that all would be as “angels in heaven,” the only marriage being that of Jesus, the heavenly bridegroom, to his bride, the church. Nevertheless, Jesus referred to earthly marriage, notably in Matthew 10:1–12, citing Genesis in only considering marriage between a man and a woman—“God made them male and female” (Matthew 10:6)—and also defining marriage as an equal contract based on mutual love and respect (Ephesians 5:31–31). These tenets are reflected in the Catholic marriage vows, later codified in the Book of Common Prayer (1552), the text on which the marriage service in most Protestant denominations is based. The premise is that marriage involves a woman entering into a union with a man (“Do you take this man . . .”), that it will be exclusive (“forsaking all others”), and that it is irrevocable (“till death us do part”). The beauty of the marriage vows, in which the woman promises “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health . . . till death us do part,” have since become an integral part of the social fabric. They are closely mirrored in Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Baptist services in which the duality of these phrases is still evident in their more colloquial language (e.g., “in good times and bad . . . in sorrow and joy”). However, the unilateral promise made only by the woman “to love, honor, and obey” her husband is no longer universally accepted. While many conservative Protestant women promise to “obey” or “submit,” reflecting the patriarchal standpoint of fundamentalist Christianity, more liberal-minded women often choose to omit “obey,” a popular alternative being “to love, honor, and cherish.” A woman is now generally free to choose her husband and to marry for love, although women have historically been subjected to arranged marriages as a valuable means of creating alliances between families. The age at which a woman can marry has varied across Europe and the U.S. states, but in the 21st century, the marriageable age is between 16 and 18 years, with parental consent being required for a woman under the age of majority. Women have been considered marriageable

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from as early as 12 years old, this being an age when girls reach puberty; however, in most of western Europe, such young marriages were rare. When conducted by a licensed minister of religion, such a marriage is recognized as legally valid in countries such as the United States and England, although in others (e.g., France) the separation of church and state means that the religious ceremony has no legal status, and the woman must also take part in a civil ceremony. Marriage is seen as the point at which a woman is ready to engage in sexual relations and to build a family life. While some cultures have required proof that a bride is a virgin, traditionally by physically checking that the hymen is intact or by “proof of blood”—the vaginal bleeding that results from the tearing of the hymen during the consummation of marriage—this is no longer applicable in mainstream society. The exclusivity of the marriage contract means it is implicitly monogamous. Although some sects have interpreted the Bible to allow polygamous marriages, this is confined to patriarchal sects (e.g., the Mormons); while in such cases men are granted the right to have several wives (polygyny), women are never allowed to have several husbands (polyandry) but rather are expected to be faithful and obedient. There have been periods such as the early Middle Ages when wealthy men kept multiple partners in addition to the wife allowed under canon law, but this has never been condoned by the church. Polygamy is rare in western Europe, but in places where it is still culturally acceptable some churches allow it, even though this practice disbars them from the World Council of Churches. While same-sex marriages have gained legal status in several countries, the churches still struggle with the concept: the Catholic church does not recognize same-sex marriages at all, and because of objections by the Church of England and Wales to the British legislation, in which they explicitly stated that they did not wish to conduct same-sex marriages, it is accepted that a church (as opposed to civil) same-sex wedding would be illegal (Church of England 2014). Protestant denominations such as Lutherans are also becoming more tolerant, although this is less often the case with evangelical churches, particularly in the United States and Africa. Jesus did not refer specifically to homosexuality, and his message of love has been widely interpreted to mean that he would have been loving and accepting of LGBTQ people. However, Paul did condemn homosexuality as sinful (e.g., Romans 1:26–27) in accordance with Mosaic law (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), and the hardline evangelical view is that, as all scripture is the word of God, homosexual marriage is abhorrent in the sight of God. If a woman’s marriage breaks down, her right to end that marriage depends on her denomination. Both the Catholic church and many Protestant denominations refer back to Jesus’s teaching, especially his statement that a man or woman who divorces and then remarries is committing adultery (Mark 10:11–12); in other words, marriage is a divine, not a human, convention. However, in Matthew’s account, Jesus does cite certain grounds for divorce, such as a wife’s immorality or indecency. Although under Jewish law the initiative in divorce was always with the husband, Jesus taught that either partner could divorce the other (Mark 10:12), recognizing that the gentiles to whom he was speaking lived by a Roman code in which women could also divorce their husbands.



Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood

A Catholic woman’s only recourse is to have her marriage annulled, meaning that the marriage is null and void; the only grounds for an annulment are that the marriage was illegally contracted (because one of the partners was not free or eligible to marry) or that it had never been consummated. Although an annulment means that the woman has in effect never been married, which would imply that her children from the marriage would be illegitimate, Canon 1137 of the Code of Canon Law affirms their legitimacy. The Anglican church also teaches that marriage is for life but recognizes that some marriages fail. Remarriage following divorce is always allowed if the former spouse has died, although remarrying divorcées in church if their ex-spouses are living has been an extremely contentious issue. In 2001, proposals to permit divorcées to remarry in church were rejected by a third of dioceses, but many clergy were already ignoring the official line; in July 2002, the General Synod overwhelmingly passed the motion to allow divorcées to marry in church, although the decision still rests with the minister. Among nonconformists, the Methodist church has a similarly pragmatic liberal approach, possibly because most Methodist marriages involve at least one divorced partner (around 70 percent according to a 2001 survey); likewise, the Baptist church has no centralized policy regarding divorce, and the decision to remarry a couple lies with the minister. Some feel that it is inappropriate and will not perform the ceremony while others will. Attitudes to widowhood have changed considerably over the years in regard to the appropriate length and manner of their period of mourning. In the 19th century, mourning was highly formalized and was distinguished by three periods: one full year of heavy or deep mourning (only black clothing, no colored jewels), six months of half mourning (black clothing with white touches, or white with black touches), and another six months of light or second mourning (clothing largely a mix of black and white with muted colors, such as grey or mauve), making a total of two years. However, if a young widow met someone she considered a suitable suitor after the first year, she was not required to remain in mourning. While modern widows are not bound by any such social customs, it is generally considered that the grief process lasts for around two years, so the Victorian time scale is logical. There are no restrictions on a widow remarrying, although doing so in considerably less than two years could be seen as showing “indecent haste.” Historically, marriage has often meant that a woman’s property has come under the control of her husband, and she has forfeited her legal rights to conduct business or sign contracts. The resulting dependence on her husband meant that widowhood could leave her destitute and vulnerable; Jesus taught that honoring a mother includes giving her monetary assistance in old age (Mark 7:10–13), and he condemned those who take advantage of widows. Paul also recognized this duty of care but stipulated that the responsibility of the church should be limited to the care of believing widows and that they should also be at least 60 years of age, have had only one husband, and have a well-founded reputation for having lived a good life (1 Timothy 5:5–10). Despite the assumption that widowhood means penury and loneliness, it can also be a liberating period, especially if it involves the restitution of legal rights. In Christianity, widowhood does not necessarily lead to a loss

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of social status and, with her childbearing and rearing duties behind her, a woman may adopt a new role in which she may have greater freedom to pursue new goals, using her experience and wisdom for the greater good. Amanda Haste See also: Christianity: Chastity; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in the United States; “The Fall”; Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity; Middle Ages; Mormonism; Mystics; Polygamy; Protestant Denominations; Sex and Gender; Widowhood; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Women in the Reformation Islam: Marriage and Divorce; Judaism: Marriage and Divorce Further Reading Church of England. “House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.” February 15, 2014, 3. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/House%20 of%20Bishops%20Pastoral%20Guidance%20on%20Same%20Sex%20Marriage.pdf Ortiz, Andres. “Divorce, Annulments, and Remarriage.” About Catholics. 2016. http:// www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/divorce-annulments-and-remarriage/.

M A RY M A G D A L E N E ( C A . F I R S T C E N T U RY C E ) Mary Magdalene is one of the most significant female figures in Christianity, second only to the Virgin Mary and perhaps to Eve. Important for her role in the nascent Christian faith, Magdalene was a close companion to Jesus in the first century CE and a woman of exemplary faith, love, and devotion to him before and after his death. She is both a historical woman and a legendary persona whose popularity soared during the Middle Ages. Recently discovered ancient documents and new scholarship add to our knowledge of Magdalene, and show her to be a key figure in the founding of Christianity, an apostle to Christ, and the subject of controversy and gender politics during her lifetime and throughout the two millennia since. New Testament gospels depict Magdalene as a disciple of Jesus, a witness to his crucifixion and burial, and the first to see the resurrected Christ. She is called the Apostle to the Apostles because, according to canonical scriptures, the risen Christ told her to announce his resurrection and tell the others to go out and proclaim the good news. In the Eastern churches, Magdalene is named Disciple of Christ, Apostle to the Apostles, Equal to the Apostles, and “Myrrhbearer” in recognition of her role in anointing Christ after his death—a role that she prepared for but did not perform since he rose from the dead. In Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and some Protestant traditions, Magdalene is a saint. Her relics are considered sacred; thousands of monasteries, hospitals, and churches have been named after her; and the places associated with her life and legends are popular sites of pilgrimage. It is unknown what became of Magdalene after Christ’s death. Some sources claim she went to Ephesus, where she lived out her days in the company of other Christians, but legends about her have been told across the centuries. The Golden Legend, an influential collection of saints’ lives compiled by Jacobus de Voragine (ca. 1260), reports that Magdalene escaped from Palestine with other disciples, landed in Marseilles (current-day France), and continued her role as herald of the



Mary Magdalene (ca. first century CE)

resurrection, preaching and converting the inhabitants. She then retired to some remote caves near Sainte Baume (now an important pilgrimage site), where she lived the last 30 years of her life as a hermit, surviving on divine nourishment. Upon her death, she was raised up into the heavens by angels. Currently, in the West, there is renewed interest in Mary Magdalene and a drive to unearth and revive knowledge of her as a woman of historical importance as well as a significant spiritual teacher. Recently discovered gospels from the same period as the earliest canonical gospels identify Magdalene as the most beloved of Jesus and one of, if not the most, advanced disciples who understood and embodied his message (Bourgeault 2010). There is even some evidence that she—and not Peter, whom some original sources show as her rival—was the intended successor to head the incipient religion after Jesus’s death (Bourgeault 2010; Schaberg and Johnson-DeBauvre 2006). Magdalene in Popular Imagination

While the story of Magdalene as a companion of Jesus is historically true, another long-held belief about her within Western Christianity is false—the story that she was a penitent whore who followed Jesus and wept at his feet for forgiveness. The persona of Magdalene the penitent whore, and the history of errors and mysteries surrounding her life and death, have long captivated artists and storytellers and have led to the production of uncounted works of art, stories and legends, and references in fiction and morality plays. She has been the subject of works by famous artists, including for example, Georges de La Tour (The Penitent Magdalene, ca. 1625–1650; Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, ca. 1640), Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene, ca. 1834–1836), Gregor Erhart (Saint Mary Magdalene, nude sculpture, 1502–1503), Frederick Sandys (Mary Magdalene, 1858–1860), and Carlo Dolci (Mary Magdalene, ca. 1660–1670), all of which depict her alone or with Jesus in the persona of a penitent. Depictions range from modest to completely nude, the latter highlighting the sexual nature of her supposed sins. One recent work of fiction, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003), became a best seller and was made into a popular film (2006), catapulting Magdalene and the mysteries surrounding her into the secular public consciousness. In the Middle Ages, popular sermons by traveling lay preachers, and works of art containing messages for the illiterate, led to immense popular devotion to Magdalene, who became the patron saint of hospitals, mendicants, gardens, and those wanting to have children. Popular sermons drew on legend to portray Magdalene as an example of hope for all sinners. In The Making of Magdalen (2000), Katherine L. Jansen brings to light sources of the period that, while largely fabrications, fed the immense popularity of Saint Magdalene and supported a popular, noninstitutional Christian piety. Popular medieval sermons elaborated on the story of Magdalene as a former prostitute, describing her as an impure and promiscuous woman on the margins of society, whose great faith enabled her conversion to a life of chastity, repentance, and expiation. Hagiographers provided back stories, with Magdalene as a woman of wealth, freedom, and beauty, all of which contributed to her downfall. Sermons

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Early Christian fresco of a woman preaching (as indicated by her outstretched arms and priestly vestments) to an audience, Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, ca. third–fifth century CE. Many medieval Christians believed that Mary Magdalene had become a preacher after Christ’s death, helping to convert the inhabitants of Marseilles. (Araldo de Luca/Corbis via Getty Images)

drew on these to explain how lust and promiscuity resulted from her circumstances. Her wealth led to idleness, her freedom led to seduction, her beauty led to vanity, and all these combined to result in a life of prostitution. Other stories, based on the legend of Magdalene the preacher in Marseille, showed Magdalene as Christ’s apostle after his death, preaching to men and women with great knowledge and charisma (which the medieval church claimed was only by special privilege, as women could not normally preach). In other imagery, she is the mendicant living in a cave for so long that her clothes have disintegrated, leaving her covered only by long flowing hair, an image at once both innocent and seductive (Jansen 2000). Other legends draw on a mix-up between several Marys in the New Testament gospels to portray Magdalene as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and also as Mary, the woman in Matthew 26, who anointed Christ’s feet and wiped away her tears with her hair. Sermons identifying Magdalene with the contemplative or monastic life were based on Jesus’s response to Martha in Luke 10:42, that her sister Mary, who sat attentive at his feet, had chosen the best part. This Magdalene is portrayed in medieval paintings dispensing charity alongside Martha and Lazarus. In other imagery, Magdalene is portrayed as the new Eve making up for the sins of the first woman (Eve the mother of all humanity), a reconstituted virgin identified with fertility, nurture, and the abundant fruits of the garden of paradise (Jansen 2000).



Mary Magdalene (ca. first century CE)

The Magdalene of History

New scholarship shows the portrayal of Magdalene the reformed prostitute, which has persisted for nearly 2,000 years, to be a fabrication (Bourgeault 2010; LeLoup 2002; Schaberg and Johnson-DeBauvre 2006). Feminist theologians and church historians have worked to document this case of mistaken identity. New evidence proving that “Magdalene the prostitute” is a historical error doesn’t change, for believers, the importance of Magdalene as a true example of faith, hope, and love. For the faithful, Magdalene the repentant prostitute has had, and continues to have, great appeal. It promises God’s grace for all who repent, no matter how terrible the mistake or how lowly the person’s social status. Her faith and devotion to Jesus; her having been often in his presence and at his crucifixion, death, and resurrection; and the fact that Jesus loved her make Magdalene an important and spiritually worthy woman for Christians, beyond the question of whether or not she was the penitent of mistaken history. However, the new evidence does change the ways in which Mary Magdalene, the person, exemplifies the faith, and in important ways, it changes the story of Christianity as a whole. The confusion of Magdalene with the repentant sinner in the New Testament is seen by some as part of a smear campaign and an example of the intentional and widespread suppression of important women throughout history. The undermining of Magdalene’s character started early. In The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (ca. 100–150 CE), several male disciples ask her to convey teachings she received from Jesus and then refuse at first to believe her, saying, “Why should we believe a woman?” This and other documents show there was some disapproval of Magdalene by male disciples because of her sex. Despite this, Magdalene remains a central figure in The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and other apocryphal (outside the canon) gospel stories, an apostle with a deep and transformative understanding of Christ’s message. Between the third and fifth centuries, the church fathers further undermined Magdalene’s character and suppressed her importance in their writings, often citing her gender. Also, as the New Testament books were chosen for inclusion in what would become scripture, works that gave much greater importance to Mary Magdalene were excluded. These include the (recently rediscovered) Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Gospel of Thomas, and Gospel of Philip. Another source, Pistis Sophia, is based on a lost work, Sayings of Mary. As the organized church was formed, a hierarchy was created with Peter and his successors as head of the priesthood, and women were excluded from positions of authority. Eventually, it became hard to imagine that women might have been apostles, and the language of scripture in translations reflected this attitude. In 591, Pope Gregory affirmed an error confusing Mary Magdalene with another woman named Mary in the synoptic gospels, one who was said to have been a sinner (which readers have identified as meaning a prostitute), thus making the story of Magdalene the reformed prostitute official. This Catholic doctrine was not repealed until 1969. For some, the history of Magdalene as a woman whose reputation was smeared and her true importance suppressed for 2,000 years exemplifies the androcentric

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and sometimes misogynist suppression of feminine wisdom and power which has long enabled men to dominate power and authority in the church. Some feel this as a tragic loss (Bourgeault 2010) not only for feminists but for all men and women, due to a lack of feminine wisdom in the churches and a loss over the centuries of the equality that Jesus himself sought to create. This sense of loss drives a push for accurate representations of Magdalene and more widespread recognition of her importance to the founding and spiritual message of the Christian faith. For others, the popularity of Magdalene the sinner turned saint, the popular female preacher, the hermit whose ascension to heaven makes possible her ability to intercede on behalf of those who pray to her, raises women in the popular imagination and compensates for the loss of historical truth. And, many remain steadfast in their belief that Magdalene was the penitent who anointed Jesus in the New Testament, continuing to uphold this persona as an example of lust turned to chastity through faith and as an exemplar of the grace available to all penitents. The fact that the office of the pope is the same office that both made the error part of its “infallible” doctrine—and recanted and corrected it—has little sway with those whose doctrines, prayers, literature, liturgies, and art reflect the Magdalene of a mistaken history. Meanwhile, the work to set the record straight continues, and already several scholars have published English translations of the newly recovered gospels and have written extensively on their meaning and the significance of this other face of Magdalene for Christianity (see Bourgeault 2010; LeLoup 2002; King 2003). The recovered sources describe a woman whose understanding of Christ’s message was equal to or greater than that of the other disciples. Rather than focus on sin and redemption, Magdalene’s emphasis is on self-transformation through love and how Christ’s love can be found within. Susan de-Gaia See also: Christianity: Apocrypha; Middle Ages; Pilgrimage; Protestant Denominations; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archeology, and History; Saints; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Islam: Hawwa; Judaism: Lilith; Spirituality: Pilgrimage, Goddess Further Reading Bourgeault, Cynthia. The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity. Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 2010. Jansen, Katherine Ludwig. The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. King, Karen L. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle. Farmington, MN: Polebridge, 2003. LeLoup, Jean-Yves. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2002. Schaberg, Jane, and Melanie Johnson-DeBauvre. Mary Magdalene Understood. New York: Continuum, 2006. Voragine, Jacob. Legenda Aurea Sanctorum. London: William Caxton, 1483. Cambridge STC/24873.



Middle Ages

MIDDLE AGES Religion was an integral part of daily life in the European Middle Ages, and as the dominant religion, Christianity exercised enormous influence over women’s lives. The church limited and regulated women’s authority and behavior but also provided opportunities for women to gain education, status, and authority. Religious institutions and traditions in certain cases offered women autonomy, such as convents that were founded or run with relative independence from male oversight. In the later Middle Ages, devotional practices and societies for laywomen provided outlets for women’s piety and conferred respect and status on women who embraced them. New Testament accounts include women among Jesus of Nazareth’s devoted disciples, particularly Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene, who became important devotional examples for women in the Middle Ages. The apostle Paul bequeathed a mixed legacy to medieval religious authorities; he advised the early churches that Christian women were to be silent, subordinate, and celibate, but he also befriended many women through his missionary travels and encouraged their active role in building and maintaining the new religion. This complicated pattern of admiration for women’s spirituality while simultaneously attempting to control it informed the writing of the great architects of Christian theology, such as Jerome and Augustine, and remained an important model for clerical supervision of women throughout the Middle Ages. Medieval Christian theology assigned a paramount importance to physical virginity—although marriage was a legitimate path for Christians, the higher Christian virtue was perpetual virginity, or, as a second-best alternative, chastity within marriage or after one was widowed. Virginity was considered a desirable and ennobling state for both men and women, but theologians such as Jerome emphasized female virginity as an antidote to what they saw as women’s inherently sinful nature. Thus, Christian authors reviled female weakness but heaped praise on women who elected perpetual virginity to escape this weakness, which conferred considerable status on nuns and other women who chose to live in perpetual chastity. Communities of consecrated virgins (nuns) became important administrative and educational centers throughout post-Roman Europe. Nunneries, like male monasteries, were initially governed by informal rules and customs, but by the mid-sixth century many had adopted more formal documents that outlined the liturgical and practical details that organized communal life. Several rules for women’s monastic houses were in use in the fourth and fifth centuries, but the major text that both men’s and women’s institutions adopted in the Middle Ages was the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia (480–543). The Benedictine Rule described a community led by an abbot (or in the case of women’s houses, an abbess) that engaged in a constant round of prayer, work, and sleep. The Rule included instructions for monastic tasks, such as study, teaching, chores, and finances. The Rule required strict enclosure and stability of abode, meaning that the monk or nun’s life was intended to be a permanent, lifelong vocation dedicated to constant prayer for his or her own salvation and for that of others, particularly the patrons who donated funds to the monastery or convent. While some families forced their sons and daughters into monastic life without their consent (and, likewise, sometimes withdrew them without consent or treated

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the monastery as an extension of their dynastic domain), there is evidence that many girls and women chose to enter nunneries and that the convent offered educational and administrative opportunities to women who accepted this way of life. Nuns taught, wrote, copied and illuminated manuscripts, and conducted the musical and liturgical rituals of the convent. Some nunneries became powerful institutions in their own right through their networks of political and personal patronage; some communities established double monasteries with separate houses for men and women, with the administrative authority for the entire community residing with the abbess. Independent communities such as Gandersheim, which had been founded by relatives of the Roman emperor and was traditionally ruled by the women of the family, enjoyed privileges such as its own law court, army, and coinage, all under the supervision of the abbess. Gandersheim was home to the 10th-century playwright and poet Hrotsvit, who authored Latin plays, verse legends and hagiographies, and histories. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), who is one of the Middle Ages’ most famous examples of a medieval woman leader, visionary, and writer, guided her convent as abbess and wrote extensive works of theology, music, liturgical drama, natural history, and medicine. Benedictine monasticism dominated the religious landscape of the early and central Middle Ages, but a number of factors led to other religious vocations for women in the High and late Middle Ages. A series of institutional church reforms  and movements in popular spirituality led to the creation of other monastic orders, such as the Cistercians, Franciscans, and Dominicans, which offered new directions and choices in monastic life. The period 1100–1300 also witnessed innovations in religious vocations that provided opportunities for women outside the cloister yet closely tied to spiritual communities. The High Middle Ages witnessed a rise in these diverse spiritual practices: anchoresses (recluses who established an enclosed dwelling near parish churches), beguines (who lived in informal communities, often not as permanently consecrated members), and vowesses (who professed a vow of permanent chastity while still living in the world) emulated monastic ideals while allowing women to remain engaged in worldly affairs. These more flexible and dynamic forms of piety were well suited to the increasingly urban culture and economy of the High and late Middle Ages and also reflected the Roman church’s successful cultivation of an ethos of penitence and personal devotion in medieval people’s everyday lives. This rich spiritual environment for women also witnessed an increase in the number of women recognized as saints between 1100 and 1400. While the earliest Christian female saints were drawn from the Bible and from tales of the early Christian martyrs, and female saints in the early Middle Ages tended most often to be nuns and abbesses; by the 13th century, women from different classes and vocations were more often recognized as saints even as the process for official sanctity, canonization, became more strictly regulated. Even for women who never entered monastic life or engaged in an intense religious vocation such as anchoress, vowess, or prospective saint, religion was still an omnipresent force in daily life. Women were responsible for the religious education of their children and the pious reputation of their homes. Medieval sources reveal that



Ministers

rural and urban women were active in parish life, patronized religious institutions through money and other gifts, and venerated saints of particular personal and local importance. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Virgin Mary and particular women saints (such as Mary’s widowed mother, Anna, and Margaret of Antioch, the patron saint of women in childbirth) were important examples and objects of devotion in medieval women’s lives, as their prayer books, wills, and visits to pilgrimage churches and shrines make clear. Patrick Geary (2006, 76–77) notes that “within the Western tradition, one woman retains her place at the beginning and the end” of the Middle Ages through her exceptional example as the mother of the “sacred family.” Throughout the Middle Ages, women experienced a complex and ambiguous relationship with the church’s male clerical authorities: the same men who preached a theology of female spiritual inferiority also praised women for their piety, valued their example to other laypeople, and benefitted greatly from women’s patronage and material support (a key activity for women in the parish, for example, was the maintenance of the altar and the upkeep of the church’s interior). The institutional church both oppressed and empowered women; it elevated them as saints as well as decried them as spiritually weaker than men and even claimed that their feminine bodies and nature rendered them more susceptible than men to demonic influence. As Sandy Bardsley (2007, 27) has argued, women’s participation in medieval religion was characterized by “the interplay between broader patriarchal forces that limited women’s status . . . and the role of individuals who were able to overcome or circumvent that status.” Medieval Christianity admitted women as the spiritual equals of men yet persistently subordinated them to male authority, a dynamic that shaped women’s experiences in both sacred and secular spheres of life. Katherine Clark Walter See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Christianity in Europe; Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Saints; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Spirituality: Sex and Gender Further Reading Bardsley, Sandy. Women’s Roles in the Middle Ages. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007. Bitel, Lisa, and Felice Lifshitz, eds. Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Geary, Patrick. Women at the Beginning: Origin Myths from the Amazons to the Virgin Mary. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Women and Redemption: A Theological History. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998. Weinstein, Donald, and Rudolf M. Bell. Saints and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

MINISTERS The status of women ministers differs significantly depending on religious denomination. Women’s ordination (the process by which someone is granted authority

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and allowed to perform certain religious rituals) is a contested issue among many Christian groups in particular, as ordination has traditionally been limited to men. In Christianity, the definition of ordination is understood specifically as a process through which someone is commissioned to pastoral work. This has historically led to a narrower definition of who can and cannot be ordained, although this differs from denomination to denomination. However, women’s ordination has increased significantly as women have pushed for more equal treatment in the church hierarchy, particularly in Protestant churches. The number of women being ordained grew significantly in the 20th century as women challenged traditional norms of church leadership. In the Baptist tradition, the autonomy of local churches has led to diverse views on women’s ordination. Some Baptist churches ordain women as ministers and deacons while others ordain women as deacons only, and others do not ordain women at all. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest organization of Baptist churches in the United States, prohibits women’s ordination entirely, arguing that scripture forbids women in either pastoral ministry or in other ministries that require ordination (for example, in the role of deacon). Conversely, women are ordained both as ministers and deacons in the American Baptist Churches USA and the Alliance of Baptists. Women are ordained in many Presbyterian and Reformed churches. The earliest was Louisa Woosley (1862–1952), the author of Shall Women Preach, who was ordained by Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1889. The Presbyterian church (United States) began ordaining women as elders in 1930 and as ministers in 1956. Other Presbyterian denominations, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, do not ordain women, arguing for the scriptural imperative that men are to be ordained. Women are frequently ordained in Protestant churches that operate on a bishopric structure. In addition, women have recently begun to serve in prominent leadership positions in those denominations. In 2006, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori (b. 1954) became the first woman elected to the position of presiding bishop of the Episcopal church, overseeing the church’s 2.1 million members worldwide. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected its first female presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton (b. 1955), in 2013. Other Protestant denominations also address the issue of women’s ministry in different ways. For example, women have been able to speak and teach in the Quaker setting since its inception in the 1600s; however, other Anabaptist traditions, most notably conservative Mennonite groups, do not allow women’s ordination. Women are frequently ordained in Pentecostal churches, following the example of one of their earliest founding mothers, Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles, California. In Roman Catholicism, the ordination of women to the priesthood is prohibited by canon law and reinforced by papal declaration, such as Pope Saint John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994). Dissenting Catholic groups do agitate for women’s ordination; recently, Pope Francis agreed to allow the church to study the idea of ordaining women to the diaconate (although not the priesthood).



Missionaries

Women can join monastic orders, but they are prohibited from doing the pastoral work associated with the priesthood, such as administering the sacraments. Mary Ruth Sanders See also: Christianity: Christianity in the United States; Education; Founders of Christian Denominations; Protestant Denominations Further Reading Chaves, Mark. “The Symbolic Significance of Women’s Ordination.” Journal of Religion 77 (January 1997): 87–114. Jewett, Paul K. The Ordination of Women: An Essay on the Office of Christian Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s, 1981. Raab, Kelly. When Women Become Priests: The Catholic Women’s Ordination Debate. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Saint Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, May 22, 1994. https://w2.vatican.va​/conten​t​ /john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii​_apl​_19940522_ordinatio​ -sacerdotalis​.html. Schmidt, Frederick. A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination, and the Church. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

MISSIONARIES Efforts to spread Christianity through missionaries was highly successful; the rapid spread of converts started from the Roman Empire (ca. 380 CE) and spread through Asia and Europe (600 CE) and has culminated in Christianity being the world’s largest religion. While women have played a part in proselytizing from the start, the literature on their work is sparse. From 1800 CE on, women have been counted as two-thirds of the missionary workforce. Christian denominations have had individual women and groups at home and abroad spreading the word, often in conjunction with providing education, medical, or social services. While there is debate over the issue of altruism versus imperialism, as one analyzes the efforts of these women, the impact on their converts could be considered dialectical: cross-cultural exchanges moved some women to fight for the rights of the groups they were attempting to convert while simultaneously obtaining new rights for themselves or, negatively, dealing with the effect that comes with being colonizers. There were and continue to be gendered notions about what manner of work women in these missions could do and which work was valued. However, determined individuals shifted boundaries out of administrative expediency and theological engagement. Women were active in the apostolic age as followers of Jesus and his disciples to leaders of house churches within the Roman Empire. They acted as spiritual directors, accepted by the Christian community. There are some accounts of martyrs who died due to spreading the word, such as Catherine of Alexandria (fourth century). Records of women missionaries from this era to about the 19th century are difficult to recover. From the mid to late 19th century, varying by mission group, the numbers of European women both donating to and going to the Pacific, Africa, and Asia

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jumped, tied to the entry of middle-class women into philanthropy and similar professions. The increase in number was due to single women adding their numbers to the ranks whereas, previously, female missionaries were married women who accompanied their husbands, or occasionally widows. While men were tasked with particular assignments, married women would care for the family, aid their husband’s work, or help with the local church. Accounts of single women abroad were not broadly publicized by the boards of missionary groups because it wasn’t considered to be proper behavior for women to venture out without male supervision or assistance. These women were typically assigned to instructor positions under the guise that it would provide them the most protection. Frustrated by not being tapped to their full potential, women soon turned to creating their own organizations, such as the Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America (1860). A nondenominational group, within their first 10 years they sent out single women to do evangelistic work in Burma, India, China, Syria, Greece, and Japan. Seeing the effectiveness of these groups, Christian denominations soon subsumed these women’s organizations within their general church boards. While at first there were a few women who held administrative positions on missionary boards, by the 1960s, these spots were steadily replaced by men. The Methodist church was an exception, continuing a dedicated women’s division in foreign missions. The steady whittling away of women’s influence and funds due to the Great Depression (1929–1941) resulted in the loss of capable women in the Presbyterian church in the Pacific Northwest. In India, men’s new authority in the newly independent Indian church affected both Indian women and the disempowered female American missionaries. In addition to carrying out missionary duties, both Catholic and Baptist women had to contend with male church leaders who would challenge their authority. Missionary work, while part of the colonizing mind-set, was considered feminine and conceptualized as the morality of the empire. Like women’s work within missions, the task was undervalued yet played an important role in the framework of business and government interests in these regions and as such was met with distrust. Still, within the colonial period, a key connection in successful conversion was made between missionary women and native women. For example, within the first half of the 20th century, on the southeastern coast of India, Telugu women were influenced by Protestant missionaries to reconceptualize their idea of home and work. In the 1920s in China, key women such as Grace Winona Woods (1871–?) and Ruth Paxson (1889–1949) led the success of revivalist churches by conveying their conservative message, as leaders outside of the male-dominated established mission structures. By the middle of the 20th century, the phenomenal growth of Christianity in the Global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America) was due in no small part to the active participation of Christian women functioning as missionaries, both within the boundaries of their own churches and beyond. These Christian missionary women were key in involving Christian indigenous women to function as missionaries. In the modern postcolonial world, the imperialist tone of outsiders coming to convert others and impose their own traditions has caused discord and, in some



Monastic Life

cases, death. Women missionaries still continue their work, however. There are few operating womencentric missionary groups, as the trend for women was either to operate under existing Christian denomination missionary groups that had subsumed women’s groups or to work for dedicated secular women’s organizations. One prevailing women’s missionary group is The Grail, founded by Dutch priest Jacques van Ginneken (1877–1945) in Holland in 1921. Described as “a society of unmarried Roman Catholic lay-women . . . at the disposal of the church to help with the spreading of the Kingdom of God over the whole world” (Kalven 1999, 29), The Grail started in Germany in 1932 and has spread to 24 countries, including the United States, Uganda, and Portugal. The goal was to permeate Christian values rather than a structured orthodoxy, and thus the laywomen named Women of Nazareth lived out in the world rather than in a convent, with no special vows or customs. The Grail still operates today as an ecumenical group working with the civil society in the countries they operate in. The Woman’s Missionary Union has promoted the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denominational missionary force in the late 20th century, with 1 million members. It continues to send both women and men abroad to spread the Christian cause. Maria Gabryszewska See also: Christianity: African American Women; Charity; Christianity in Africa; Christianity in the United States; Education; Pilgrimage; Protestant Denominations; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Beaver, Pierce R. “Pioneer Single Women Missionaries.” Missionary Research Library 4, no. 12 (1953): 1–7. http://www.internationalbulletin.org/issues/1953-00/1953-12-001​ -beaver.pdf. Bowers, Joyce M. “Roles of Married Women Missionaries: A Case Study.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 8, no. 1 (1984): 4–7. Huber, Mary Taylor, and Nancy Lutkehaus. Gendered Missions: Women and Men in Missionary Discourse and Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999. Kalven, Janet. Women Breaking Boundaries: A Grail Journey, 1940–1995. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999. Robert, Dana L. Gospel Bearers, Gender Barriers: Missionary Women in the Twentieth Century. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002.

MONASTIC LIFE Women monastics within Christianity are women who have devoted their lives to God and who live an ascetic life away from the world, wearing plain clothes, eating simply, and praying and meditating several times a day. While there are many variations on this theme, there are also several common factors that define the monastic life, including the taking of lifelong vows, the adoption of a community rule, and the observance of a prescribed cycle of ritual devotions. Monastic life has, until very recently, been unfailingly based on the medieval model: even in the mid-20th century, a woman entering a monastery would

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experience a life almost identical to that of a medieval nun. Women monastics may be called nuns or sisters, terms that used to be very distinct: while both took monastic vows, nun denoted a woman living a contemplative, cloistered life of prayer, whereas a sister had an active vocation of prayer combined with service to the needy. In the Catholic tradition, nuns were answerable directly to Rome and had a higher status than sisters, who were only answerable to their community and bishop. However, all these distinctions have largely become obsolete, and monastics are now called by the term religious, as in a religious. An individual religious may live as a hermit or anchoress (the eremitic life), devoting her life “to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance” (Canon 603 in Roman Catholic Canon Law), or they may live in community (the cenobitic life), which also demands great personal discipline. A woman enters a monastic community as a postulant, becoming a novice when she receives the habit. If accepted by the community, she will then go on to make a first (“simple”) profession, in which she makes vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience (or, in the Benedictine tradition, obedience, conversion of life, and stability). The vow of poverty means living simply, satisfying needs rather than wants so as not to be distracted from God, to whom she pledges herself in spousal love (chastity). The vow of obedience (from the Latin ob, meaning “to” or “intentionally,” and audiens, meaning “listening”) means she strives to listen and respond to God’s will. A few years after first profession, she may make her “full profession,” vowing to live the religious life with integrity and fidelity to the community’s “rule.” The rule is the written text governing the ways in which a community tries to live. It is not simply a set of regulations but encompasses the community’s values, principles, and spirituality. The rule is important in maintaining a code of behavior and sense of identity in the microcosm of a monastery by regulating the rhythm of worship, prayer, work, and rest; setting out the respective authority and accountability of the sisters; and delineating the community bounds and processes of initiation. Communities established within traditional orders (e.g., Benedictine, Augustinian, Dominican, Franciscan, or Carmelite) follow the rule of their order, while other communities write their own. The daily life of a religious is centered on the daily cycle of short services or “hours” known as the Divine Office or Daily Office and also referred to as the opus Dei (work of God). The form of these monastic “hours” developed and became standardized from the third century onward, until by the ninth century they consisted of eight daily offices: lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, and compline, and the night office, sometimes referred to as vigils. They include prayers, readings, hymns, and the recitation of psalms and canticles from scripture, some of which remain constant while others change in accordance with the church year and feasts and saints’ days. The degree to which the Daily Office is observed varies according to the community’s charism, or theology. Contemplative communities, whose entire lives are devoted to prayer, may use anything up to the full eightfold Office as well as



Monastic Life

Arcangela Tarabotti (1604–1652) At one time, girls considered unmarriageable might be sent to live in a convent. This happened to Arcangela Tarabotti of Venice when she was 11 years old; she was considered unmarriageable due to a physical deformity. At the age of 16, she took vows, promising to live in poverty, chastity, obedience, and seclusion for the rest of her life. But life in the convent was hard, and Tarabotti wanted people to understand, so she wrote about it. In her works, Tarabotti described convents as horrible places where society dumped unmarriageable girls. This practice, she argued, contributed to the subjugation of women, which she called a grave sin against the will of God. Instead, she argued, women should be given an education, through which they could be free and equal members of society. Tarabotti also took on sexism in the Bible. Eve was not to blame for the fall, she claimed; instead, Adam was a coward who refused to take responsibility, excusing his actions by accusing Eve. Tarabotti’s writings include Convent Life as Inferno, Paternal Tyranny (condemned by the church in 1660), and Innocence Betrayed (published in 1990, 348 years after her death). Source: Panizza, Letizia. “Arcangela Tarabotti.” World Religions: Belief, Culture, and Controversy (database), edited by David Tipton, Joseph Laycock, Dale McGowan, and J. Gordon Melton. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017.

celebrating Mass (Eucharist) daily so long as a priest (who may be an ordained sister in Anglican communities) is present. For active communities, who may have a busy schedule of teaching, nursing, or other commitments, this may be reduced to a threefold Office, fitted into the day where possible and justified by the maxim that all work is prayer; alternatively, other sisters say the Office on behalf of the working sister. Women’s monastic orders are constantly evolving, and communities now recognize the value of allowing the individual to blossom, albeit within the limits of community life. Women religious have always been in the vanguard of social justice and have carved out professional careers not only as teachers, nurses, and social workers but also as university professors, psychologists, artists, and musicians. Many communities have spent years rendering their Daily Office and liturgy into gender-neutral inclusive language, removing patriarchal terminology (e.g., king, prince, father, son) and militaristic language (e.g., warrior, victor) and affirming their status as human beings on an equal footing with their male peers. Amanda Haste See also: Christianity: Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Monasticism, Contemporary Women; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Roman Catholic Women Religious

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Further Reading Morgan, Sue, and Jacquelin deVries, eds. Women, Gender and Religious Culture in Britain, 1800–1940. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2010. O’Murchu, Diarmuid. Consecrated Religious Life: The Changing Paradigms. Manila, Philippines: Claretian, 2006. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The Vowed Life.” 2016. http://www.usccb​ .org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/discerning-women/the-vowed-life.cfm.

M O N A S T I C I S M , C O N T E M P O R A RY W O M E N Monasticism began when those leading a solitary life of prayer and devotion began coming together to pray. Over the centuries, these communities of religious codified their daily lives with vows and rules of conduct, and by the Middle Ages, the structure of monastic life had become a complex edifice, centered on a communal Daily Office and liturgy most often sung to plainchant; this is the medieval model on which, until very recently, virtually all communities have been based. However, the rapid social changes of the 20th century, compounded by the radical sea change in modern monasticism following the Second Vatican Council, or “Vatican II” (1962–1965), has led to women religious in all denominations redefining their concept of monastic life and latterly to the emergence of communities built on entirely new models. The “new monasticism” is inspired by historic patterns of religious life but reframed for the contemporary world (see Cray, Mobsby, and Kennedy 2010), producing new communities that focus on the key components of monastic life: prayer, community, and mission. Some have been more successful than others, and it seems that the essential elements for success include a clear idea of their theology and mission—what they believe and how they contribute to the world—and also the establishment of a set of conditions by which they will abide. Many choose to distil this into a Rule of Life, as in the medieval model, which generally stipulates communal meals and regular communal worship. Successful communities also require members to take vows: these may be temporary and renewable or a lifelong commitment, but several sociological studies have concluded that vows in any form are an important means of providing clear boundaries and enhancing the sense of belonging. A sense of continuity with traditional religious life is prized among new communities, although externals such as plainchant and Gregorian tones, often seen as anachronistic, may be set aside in favor of homegrown music, and if they wear distinctive dress it is unlikely to be a traditional habit. A good example of this mixture of old and new is the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham (est. 2004, England), who describe themselves as “Carmelite-rooted” and have retained the traditional vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. The sisters live a communal life but keep rules to a minimum so as not to infringe the rights of the individual and have designed their own modern habit of long, light denim dress with white-trimmed scapula and hood; the authority structure is also inverted, with founder Sister Camilla known not as Mother Superior but as the community



Monasticism, Medieval Women

servant. The morning timetable includes communal gathering for “adoration, the divine office, silent prayer, Mass and the rosary” but there is “chill out” time every evening and one day off every week “when the sisters may leave their habits in the wardrobe and visit friends or family [or] whatever they choose” (Combe 2007, 14). Women religious have always proved themselves highly adaptable, and these fresh expressions of monasticism would seem to ensure a promising future for women’s religious life. Amanda Haste See also: Christianity: Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Chastity; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Roman Catholic Women Religious Further Reading Combe, Victoria. “Of a Quite Different Order.” Tablet, April 28, 2007, 14–15. Cray, Graham, Ian Mobsby, and Aaron Kennedy, eds. Ancient Faith, Future Mission: New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church. Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2010. Mobsby, Ian, and Mark Berry. A New Monastic Handbook: From Vision to Practice. Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2014.

M O N A S T I C I S M , M E D I E VA L W O M E N Medieval women’s monasticism is typically divided into three eras: early Christianity (500–1000), early Middle Ages (1000–1250), and late Middle Ages (1250–1500). The period from 1500 to 1950 may be seen as an extension of the late Middle Ages, as religious life remained essentially the same until the mid-20th century. Monastic life valued seclusion from the world (to devote oneself exclusively to God), asceticism, prayer, vows, a rule to establish an ordered life, and service of others; a nun was said to live in a “state of perfection.” Women’s monasticism began as a counterpart to the men’s monastic movement of the fourth century CE. Some women fled the Roman persecutions of the third century and lived as hermits in the Middle East, but other than that, few women became eremites or hermits as men did. By the fifth century, women’s cenobitic (communal) monasteries were formed and patterned after the men’s. In the early Christian period, monastic women often lived in double monasteries (a convent attached or close to the men’s monastery) with a powerful and wealthy woman from a noble family as the abbess of both. Saint Jerome (347–420) founded the monastery of Saint Paula in Bethlehem; Augustine of Hippo (354–430) set out directions for women religious that were subsequently modified into the Rule of Saint Augustine and became the code of behavior and custom for many religious communities. The wealthy women were usually educated, knew Latin, were able to chant the Divine Office, and were called choir sisters; the poorer and less educated performed the more menial labor and were called lay sisters. Some monasteries were cloistered and saw contemplative prayer and devotion to God as their calling. Others were semicloistered and went out to the world to found hospitals, schools, and orphanages and to perform various social services. The monasteries

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were of “vital significance for the mental and moral growth of Western Europe” (Eckenstein 1963, vii). Saint Benedict of Nursia’s sister Scholastica (ca. 480–543) founded the first female Benedictine community in the early sixth century, following the Rule of Saint Benedict, the first clearly defined Christian articulation of a regimented religious life. By the ninth century, a network of organized communities of women who consecrated their lives to praying and serving others existed. Nuns wore religious habits, professed vows, lived in monastic houses, and served at the will of the local bishop. The patriarchal structure of the church reflected the larger culture at that time; thus, women could not be clergy and had no official power or status in the hierarchical church. Founders and abbesses were leaders of their communities, but only ordained clergy had the power to elect popes and serve as officials of the church. Nuns were technically laity yet enjoyed some privilege as women dedicated to God, even at times being called “brides of Christ.” In the 9th and 10th centuries, monastic life declined because of Viking invasions, abuse of the system, and internal conflicts, but reform began in the 11th century. The early Middle Ages (1000–1250), especially the 12th century, are known as the golden age of monasticism. A renaissance in monastic life occurred as the church became more powerful and modeled its institutional structure on the monarchical and class structure of European nations. The period experienced an expansion of individual charisms (distinctive characteristics and missions) in religious life. The Second Order of Franciscans, or the Poor Clares, who were devoted to the care of the poor, was founded in 1212 by Saint Clare (1194–1253). Hroswitha (935–ca. 1002), a German poet and dramatist, was renowned for her artistic genius. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) is the iconic figure of the nun as abbess, poet, scholar, mystic, consultant to popes, exorcist, healer, musician, and holy woman. Herrad of Hohenberg (1150–1195) was the first woman to compile an encyclopedia: Garden of Delights was a history of the world as she knew it with accompanying miniatures, calligraphy, and text. The late Middle Ages (1250–1500) was a period of growth and development of individual female monasteries, with well-known communities such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Daughters of Charity, the Ursulines, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Notre Dame, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and others being founded in the 14th and 15th centuries. Miriam Schmitt and Linda Kulzer (1996, viii) say that in this era “monasticism took on a literary, prophetic, and mystical emphasis.” Some communities remained cloistered and devoted to prayer, while others followed the basic monastic regimen but adapted their lives to take on the female ministries of teaching and caring for the sick and the needy on a broader scale. The proliferation of religious communities signified their importance in the European church and culture of the medieval period. The 16th-century Reformation, along with the dissolution of monasteries in England in the 1530s under King Henry VIII, signaled a dramatic shift in circumstances but not in effectiveness and importance. The fundamental practices and procedures of community life were established during the medieval to Renaissance period by such communities as the Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans and changed little between 1212 and 1954.



Mormonism

However, dramatic adaptations and changes in religious life that began in the 1950s continue to develop. Carole Ganim See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Chastity; Christianity in Europe; Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Contemporary Women; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Eckenstein, Lina. Women under Monasticism. New York: Russell and Russell, 1963. Schmitt, Miriam, and Linda Kulzer, eds. Medieval Women Monastics: Wisdom’s Wellsprings. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.

MORMONISM Although Mormonism, the religious tradition founded by Joseph Smith (1805–1844), is frequently identified with the patriarchal subordination of women and the strict maintenance of gender roles, a closer look reveals a more complex picture. The concept of a Divine Feminine, the so-called Mother in Heaven, is actually more prominent in Mormonism than in mainstream Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Although the Mother in Heaven is not explicitly referred to in the Mormon interpretation of the Bible, or in the Book of Mormon, the religion’s other sacred text, she dates from its early history. The idea of a Mother in Heaven fits the materialism of Mormon theology, which emphasizes the analogy between the human creation of children, requiring both sexes, and the divine creation of spirits. Although the origins of the doctrine of the Heavenly Mother are unclear, its leading proponent in early Mormonism was Eliza R. Snow (1804–1877), a poet and successive plural wife of both the early Mormon leaders, Smith and Brigham Young. The Heavenly Mother in subsequent Mormon history has been linked with the church’s alleged progressiveness on women’s rights, or with the function of women to bear and nurture babies, or with the nobility of “feminine” traits. Mormon feminists have seized on her as an inspiration. The church, however, discourages worship of the Heavenly Mother and emphasizes that her subordination to the Heavenly Father is a model for women on earth. The Relief Society and Other Mormon Women’s Organizations

Mormonism’s principal denomination is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a worldwide organization with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, although there are also numerous smaller Mormon groups. Although the voluminous anti-Mormon propaganda in the 19th-century United States made much of the exploitation of Mormon women by polygamous male Mormon leaders, Mormon women pioneers were able to nurture their own institutions within and outside the church. Even the experience of plural marriage, as painful as it could be for some women, helped foster bonds between women living in the same household. Many women were involved in the defense of plural marriage. Despite the reluctance

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of some of the leaders of the suffrage movement to reach out to Mormon women, Mormons were early supporters of women’s suffrage. Louisa “Lula” Greene Richards (1849–1944) was the editor of the Women’s Exponent (1872–1877), which mixed support for suffrage with housekeeping and child-rearing tips. Margaret N. Caine (1833–1911) was the first president of the Utah Territorial Woman Suffrage Association. Mormon women’s activism led to the inclusion of women’s suffrage in the state constitution of Utah in 1895 and the winning of women’s suffrage in the neighboring state of Idaho the following year. Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, was excomThe most important women’s municated in 2014 for refusing to stop promoting organization in the Church of the ordination of women in the Mormon church. Latter-day Saints is the Relief SociMormonism remains strictly male-led, and feminists who try to change that risk excommunication. ety, whose origins go back to the early days of the movement. The (George Frey/Getty Images) first Relief Society was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, then the center of Mormonism. Its president was Emma Hale Smith (1804–1879), the wife of Joseph Smith. Under her leadership, it became a center of women’s resistance to the imposition of polygamy, which led to its suppression and eventual dissolution by the elders of the church. After several abortive attempts to restore the society, it was finally and permanently restored in Utah in 1880, with Eliza Snow its new and very active president. The early Relief Society was engaged in a range of activities, including the introduction of a silk industry to Utah, the opening of a hospital, and the construction of granaries, in addition to the sewing of clothes for the poor and local Native Americans. Today every adult Mormon woman is automatically a member of the Relief Society. Its organization is based on the same territorial hierarchy as that of the church itself, culminating in a president of the Relief Society and headquarters in Salt Lake City. The Relief Society has a number of charitable and religious functions, although it does not operate economic enterprises on the scale of its early days. Unmarried women between 12 and 17 are organized in the Young Women, another organization with roots in the 19th century. The Young Women are headed at the local and state level by adult women in a hierarchy culminating in a general president in Salt Lake City. Their goal is the formation of spirituality and personal habits along the lines of the ideal pious, domestic, and



Mother of God

child-oriented Mormon woman. Like the Relief Society, the Young Women automatically enrolls Mormon women on reaching the age of eligibility. Women also lead Primary, the Mormon organization for children. Mormon Feminism

In the 1970s, a feminist movement emerged within the Mormon church. Mormon feminists had many issues with the male church hierarchy and the church’s endorsement of strict gender roles. Mormon opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment was particularly influential in radicalizing Mormon women. (The Relief Society was losing a lot of its autonomy at the same time.) Mormon feminists revived figures from the early history of the church, like Snow, who offered role models beyond the church authorities’ emphasis on motherhood and housekeeping. The principal religious issue for Mormon feminists was access to the priesthood, which every Mormon male attains at the age of 12. The opening of the priesthood to men of African descent, which took place in 1978, led to hopes that it could be opened to women. Church leadership has responded by emphasizing the similarity of the spiritual functions of women in the church with those of the priesthood while continuing to reserve the priesthood itself as well as all positions of authority in the church hierarchy for males. However, the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, the second-largest church in the Mormon tradition, opened the priesthood to women in 1984. Many Mormon feminists, such as Sonia Johnson (b. 1936), left the church, either voluntarily or through excommunication. Others have stayed in the church and tried to work out a synthesis between feminism and Mormon beliefs. William E. Burns See also: Christianity: African American Women; Charity; Christianity in the United States; Clothing; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Ministers; Polygamy Further Reading Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach, ed. The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995. Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach, and Lavina Fielding Anderson, eds. Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Cultural and Historical Perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987. Brooks, Joanna, Rachel Hunt Steenblik, and Hannah Wheelwright, eds. Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Solomon, Dorothy Allred. The Sisterhood: Inside the Lives of Mormon Women. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

MOTHER OF GOD In the Bible

Mother of God in Christianity generally refers to Mary of Nazareth, described in New Testament scripture as the mother of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was

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God incarnate; thereby Mary is the Theotokos, from the Greek meaning “God-bearer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] n.d., 423–84). Mary plays a pivotal role in most Christian traditions. The conception, birth, life, and death of Jesus of Nazareth, according to Christians, is the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies about the coming of a divine Messiah. Mary plays an essential role in the fulfillment of these prophesies, the most explicit of which is Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emanuel.” In Hebrew, Emanuel means “God with us.” The gospels of Matthew and Luke (scriptural accounts of the life of Jesus) provide some information about Mary. Matthew opens with a genealogy of Jesus that, while focused on paternity, notes Mary’s role as wife of Joseph: “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16). Matthew further describes how, when Mary is discovered to be pregnant, Joseph doubts her fidelity to him and considers divorcing her quietly. However, an angel appears to him in a dream and assures him that she has been faithful and that the child is “conceived of the Holy Spirit.” Citing Isaiah’s prophesy, the angel tells Joseph that the child will be called Emanuel. In Luke’s story of the Annunciation, Mary’s call by the angel Gabriel to be the mother of the Messiah, Mary’s virginity is stressed, and the divine paternity of Jesus is affirmed (Luke 1:25–36). Mary’s affirmative response and obedience to this supernatural request is interpreted theologically as the turning point for humans in the war against Satan; thereby she is sometimes referred to as “the New Eve,” or mother of the living, relating to the creation story in Genesis (CCC n.d., 726). In Church Tradition

In Christianity, Mary is seen as the human vessel through which the Divine, Christ, enters the world. Though not seen as a divinity herself, theological doctrine, rituals, and worship developed around the Mother of God over the course of church history. Some of these mark a distinction between Christian denominations. Notable among these are Catholic doctrines known as the “Immaculate Conception,” that Mary was conceived without original sin, and the “Assumption,” that Mary’s body was assumed into heaven (CCC n.d., 491, 966). Denominational differences can also be noted around Mary’s virginity. Catholics and Orthodox stress her “perpetual virginity,” wherein Jesus is “conceived of the Holy Spirit” (CCC n.d., 504). One ancient source for this belief is the apocryphal text the Protoevangelium of James (ca. 145 CE), which testifies about Mary’s sacred origin, divine purpose, and eternal virginity. Most Protestants believe that, after Jesus’s birth, Mary and Joseph assumed normal marital relations, citing gospel passages that mention brothers of Jesus (Matthew 12:46; Luke 8:19; Mark 3:31). Catholics and Orthodox interpret these verses as references to cousins, stepsiblings, or spiritual brethren, believing that Mary remained a virgin. Contemporary feminist theologians have examined questions around the conception of Jesus. In a landmark 1987 book, Jane D. Schaberg argues that Mary was raped. Schaberg was vilified by her contemporaries for her insights.



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Transformations of Pre-Christian Goddesses in the Worship of the Virgin Mary The Goddesses of antiquity, worshipped in the countries around the Mediterranean, did not vanish when the Christian faith started to spread. The Pagan religions were officially abandoned, but in popular religiosity, properties of ancient divinities continued among those who converted to Christianity and began to worship the Virgin Mary. The ancient Goddesses were guardians of household and family, venerated as patrons of childbirth, motherhood, and child care. These fundamental functions were transformed and absorbed by Mary’s authority. In the cultural memory of those who had formerly worshipped the ancient Goddesses, their functions fused with the worship of the Virgin Mary. This is true for the Egyptian Isis, nursing her child Horus, who was popular also among the Romans, as well as the Greek Goddesses Hestia, Guardian of the Hearth; Hera, Patron of Childbirth and Matrimony; and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Protectress of the City and Guardian of Justice. Among those Greek divinities whose features were absorbed by Mary, Athena may be the most revered. In the sixth century, the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, which had been Athena’s home, was transformed into a church dedicated to Mary, and this was not the only temple of a pre-Greek Goddess that was later occupied by the Mother of God. In many cities, pre-Christian temples were dedicated to Mary, who was honored as the new “Queen of Heaven.” In the names of some churches, the memory of the previous “owner” of the place is encapsulated. One of the major churches in Rome illustrates this naming pattern; the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (“Basilica of Saint Mary over [the temple of] Minerva”) was built directly on the foundations of a temple originally dedicated to Minerva, the Roman equivalent of Athena.

Marian Devotion

Veneration of Mary through various prayers and rituals can be traced to the second century. The Middle Ages in particular saw growth in Catholic devotion to Mary. Roman Catholicism lists three holy days honoring Mary. Orthodox likewise celebrate feast days in her honor. Some consider her a mediator between humankind and God who can come to the aid of those who petition her. In this role, she is sometimes referred to as “Mediatrix” (CCC n.d., 969). The Catholic rosary is one such devotion, a recitation of the Hail Mary prayer. The first section of this prayer draws from Luke 1:28, the greeting of Gabriel to Mary, “Hail, Oh highly favored one” and 1:42, which describes Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, where, “in a loud voice [Elizabeth] exclaimed, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” The second section of the prayer, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,” became normative in the 16th century after Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to petition for her intercession for a Catholic naval victory over a mighty Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The Catholics were victorious, and the day was later named the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

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The belief that Mary can petition God on behalf of humans is rooted in the gospel of John 2:1–12, where, during a wedding in Cana, the Mother of Jesus (her name is never mentioned in John) coerces her son into performing his first public miracle. As Role Model

For Christians, Mary serves as the quintessential example of holiness, as, though fully human, she is completely subservient to the will of God. For women in particular, she is traditionally considered a model of virtue, as she exemplifies the values of both chastity and motherhood. As Depicted in Fine Art

The Mother of God is a popular subject in fine art. Earliest depictions of Mary date from the Roman catacombs of Pricilla (1–2 CE). Typically, Mary is shown wearing a long blue dress with a veil covering her head. Earlier depictions often show her seated on a gilded throne, as she is sometimes referred to as Queen of Heaven or the angels. Later Renaissance works depict a more human Mary, sometimes seated in a landscape or nature. Masters such as Raphael painted numerous versions of the Madonna and child. However, Michelangelo’s sculpture Pieta is noteworthy as it depicts Mary holding a deceased adult Jesus on her lap. Contemporary Devotion and Apparitions

Marian appearances have been reported, often by children, throughout church history. Nine of these phenomena have been officially authenticated by the Catholic church, notable of which are Guadalupe, Mexico (1531); Lourdes, France (1858); and Fatima, Portugal (1917). Major shrines to Mary have since arisen in these places, drawing throngs of believers. The legend of her appearances throughout Latin America, especially as a mixed-race woman, to Juan Diego in Guadalupe, inspired hope in an oppressed indigenous population. This spurred the development of popular worship of her as the patron saint of Mexico. Images of “Madre de Dios” dressed in traditional garb are ubiquitous in Spanish culture. Latino feasts often include parading a statue of Maria, Madre de Dios on a pedestal. Patricia A. Clark See also: Christianity: Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Art, Modern and Contemporary; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in Latin America; Christianity in the United States; Hildegard of Bingen; Middle Ages; Orthodox Christianity; Pilgrimage; Protestant Denominations; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History; Sex and Gender; Islam: Maryam; Spirituality: Sex and Gender; Syncretism; Women of Color Further Reading Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The Holy See. 2016. http://www.vatican.va​ /archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p6.htm. Cunningham, Mary B. Gateway of Life, Orthodox Thinking on the Mother of God. Yonkers, NY: Saint Vladimir Seminary Press, 2015.



Mystics

Harrington, Patricia. “Mother of Death Mother of Rebirth: The Virgin of Guadalupe.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56, no. 1 (1988): 25–50. “Protoevangelium of James.” In The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas. Translated by Ronald F. Hock, 2016. http://www.asu.edu/courses/rel376/total-readings/james.pdf. Schaberg, Jane D. The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987.

MYSTICS Mysticism is direct experience of the Divine such that the individual perceives a oneness or unity between herself and the Divine; women as well as men have had these experiences. The term mystic is taken from mystery, which has its roots in the Greek word μυω [muo] from the verb μυεω (mueo), meaning to initiate into the mysteries, so that a mystic is one whose direct experience of the Divine reveals mysteries or hidden truths. The term, however, was not in general use until the 17th century, and earlier mystics were referred to, and referred to themselves, in descriptive terms such as visionary, prophet, illuminated one, apostle, or messenger. While most of the Christian women we know of as mystics lived in the medieval period, women have had such experiences throughout history and continue to have them. A mystic may have a single experience that affects the remainder of her life or numerous experiences, and the experience ­varies. For example, the experience may be extrovertive, in which one becomes conscious of the unity of nature overlaid onto one’s sensory perception of the world, or introvertive, in which there is a sense of nothingness or emptiness, with an experience of the Divine resulting from a disengagement from sensory experience. These experiences are then understood and interpreted according to one’s religious, social, and historical context. It is the individual’s response to—and interpretation of—the resulting religious experience that defines its value as a means of revealing hidden truths. William James defined the St. Teresa of Ávila Before the Cross shows Teresa in a characteristics of mystical reli- mystical experience of Christ’s suffering on the cross, gious experience as ineffable, painting by Guido Cagnacci, 17th century. Her crown because they defy expression; of thorns is a sign of stigmata and the lily a symbol of noetic, as a kind of direct chastity and innocence. (Jupiterimages)

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wisdom or inner knowing; transient, although producing a lasting effect; and passive, because the mystic is acted upon rather than actively engaging with the Divine. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) described the first stage of the experience as “dying to self”: “I do not know myself, either in body or soul. And I consider myself as nothing. I reach out to the living God and turn everything over to the Divine” (Letter to Wilbert of Gembloux 1175). Despite such renunciation of a bodily existence, mystical experiences can be very physical, such as Teresa of Ávila’s (1515–1582) vision in which she encountered an angel: “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God” (Teresa of Ávila and Lewis 2011, 226). Such a “dying to self” allows a union of the soul with God, the second stage of mystical experience, to the extent that there is no sense of a separate existence, although McGinn (2005, 6334) argues that “presence” is more accurate than “union,” since not all mystics have spoken of union with God. The third stage is the readjustment, in which the transient experience is transformative, and the mystic’s nature is transformed and deified, while remaining conscious of the self and the world. Meanwhile there is also a continuous sense of union (or presence) with the Divine, as described in Teresa of Ávila’s discussion of the seventh mansion in The Interior Castle (written in 1577, and first published in 1588), and the soul is felt to be the instrument of God. Christian women’s mystical experiences vary widely. Altered states of consciousness and religious ecstasy are typical, and these may be visual and affective: “The mystic saw and felt truth, saw God or Christ or the saints, and was flooded with love for what she saw” (Petroff 1991, italics in original). They may be triggered by the contemplation of beauty, as was the case with Simone Weil (1909–1943), whose conversion occurred upon hearing beautiful music. The gender of God also varies in these experiences. Many women mystics have experienced Christ as a male bridegroom and their union as a mystical marriage. Others saw feminine characteristics of the Godhead; Julian of Norwich, while using male pronouns for the Christ of her vision, described him as an all-loving mother with numerous traits typically ascribed to women, such as suckling and sacrificing. Others have experienced a complete lack of gender in the Divine. Some women mystics have been endowed with authority unusual in Christian society for those of their sex. Throughout much of its history, church authority and doctrine saw women as weak, sinful, and inferior creatures (mentally, physically, and morally), whose primary role was to procreate. When women were believed, their revelations of divine truth and their ability to experience God directly have been of great value to Christian communities and to the church, and their writings given an audience in societies where women were otherwise expected to be seen and not heard. Such authoritative knowledge of hidden truths by women has, however, typically been accompanied by expressions of extreme humility. This was the case of Julian of Norwich (1342–ca. 1416), who, in Showings (1373), is keen to stress her own humility, saying, “But God forbid that you should say or assume that I am



Mystics

a teacher, for that is not and never will be my intention; for I am a woman, ignorant, weak and frail” (Yore 2009, 42). Others were more confident and forthright, like Hildegard of Bingen. While she, too, sometimes expressed humility and inferiority, which was conventional among women who stepped above their normal place, she was skillful and confident in her published works, her extensive travel, her open preaching and prophesying, and her correspondence with popes, emperors, and statesmen. She and certain other women mystics enjoyed acceptance as exemplary women of God, and their visions and interpretations were, and still are, seen as direct messages from the Godhead. Despite not being eligible for the priesthood, some women mystics were at times asked to perform priestly functions, such as forgiveness and absolution of sins. Some remarkable women in Christianity have dedicated their lives to revealing religious truths, and not a few have achieved sainthood. Many medieval women mystics pursued their thirst for spiritual knowledge within the religious life, including Hildegard of Bingen, Beatrice of Nazareth, Hadewijch, and Teresa of Ávila, respectively German, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish nuns. This is not surprising when one considers that convents provided one of the very few environments where women were free to develop their intellectual and spiritual lives, exempt from the expectations of marriage and motherhood. Others, such as Julian of Norwich and Catherine of Siena (1347–1380), did not take the veil but lived ascetic lives apart from society. Still others took full part in secular society; these included Marie D’Oignies (1176–1213), who was married at 14 and then became a celibate devoted to charity and later entered the semimonastic Beguines; Joan of Arc (1412–1431), who led armies and was executed for heresy and later canonized as a saint; and Margery Kempe (1373–1438), a married woman who lived a life of devotion, prayer, and spiritual marriage to Christ within society and not in a monastic environment. Mystics were particularly conspicuous in the Middle Ages, an “age of faith but also an age of crisis” in which such women “were the teachers of the age, [who] inspired leaders who synthesized Christian tradition and proposed new models for the Christian community” (Petroff 1991, n.p.). The 12th and 13th centuries witnessed a remarkable receptiveness to women’s mystical experiences, but in the later Middle Ages, doubts about the authority of women’s and laypeople’s ability to discern the angelic from the demonic—perhaps fueled by the culture of the Papal Inquisition and clerical claims to a unique authority to recognize the Divine—cast greater skepticism on women’s mysticism. This does not, however, mean that mysticism is confined to the distant historical past, as witnessed by the emergence of women such as Thérèse of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity in the 19th century, and Simone Weil and Edith Stein (both born into Jewish families) and Marthe Robin in the 20th. Amanda Haste and Susan de-Gaia See also: Christianity: Christianity in Europe; Hildegard of Bingen; Julian of Norwich; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Saints; Sex and Gender; Sophia; Stigmatics; Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity

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Further Reading James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. Being the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion. Delivered at Edinburgh in 1901–1902. New York: Library of America, 2010. Julian of Norwich. Showings. 1373. Edited by Edmund Colledge, Jean Leclercq, and James Walsh. Reprinted, London: SPCK, 1976. McGinn, Bernard. “Mystical Union in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” In Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 9, 2nd ed., edited by Lindsay Jones, 6334–6341. New York: Macmillan, 2005. Petroff, Elizabeth A. “The Mystics: Why Did Mysticism Flower in the Medieval World— and Why Did Women Often Lead in It?” Christianity Today 30 (1991). http://www​ .christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-30/mystics.html. Teresa of Ávila, translated by David Lewis. The Life of Teresa of Ávila. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2011. Yore, Sue. “In the Footsteps of Julian of Norwich.” The Way 48, no. 1 (January 2009): 37–56. http://www.theway.org.uk/Back/481Yore.pdf.

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY According to Orthodox Christianity, men and women are not interchangeable, and both are created equal in the image and likeness of God. They are called to be holy by being united with him, but complete equality does not imply absolute sameness. Being female and male are part of the charisma (gifts) presented by the Holy Spirit to every individual. Women have their special roles that do not diminish their value in God’s eyes. Thus, the Orthodox church proclaims equality between men and women, and the latter are considered the backbone of the church in that they are the cornerstones in their individual communities and families. It is proclaimed that churches cannot be strong unless the smallest nucleus, the tiniest cell of the parish, is raised and educated in the Christian faith. Women play an essential and indispensable role in the family as wives, mothers, parish leaders, and workers, and this is especially true in the Orthodox church since many countries—where this confession is practiced—went through drastic political and social changes in the past century. In lands where Christianity was either prohibited (e.g., Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, the Ukraine) during the communist regimes or curtailed (e.g., Egypt), the female role in passing down the religious practices and doctrines proved invaluable and served as a continuum that linked the previous generations to the future ones. Women were responsible for preserving the presence of faith in their individual communities and secretly baptized the children. In the New Testament, Jesus broke with ancient custom that excluded women from religious instructions and spiritual teachings. Rabbis at the time typically did not offer theological knowledge to females. The Orthodox tradition has a very strong reminder in its proclamations that women should be considered as loyal coworkers and consecrated virgins or widows. Saint Paul, who evangelized in the Antioch region, emphasized that male and female are all one in Christ. The following centuries saw a plethora of saintly and righteous women, many



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Orthodox Christians, who suffered for their faith. The confession has a high regard for historical women who had professed fervent spiritual devotions, and the Virgin Mary (Theotokos, the Mother of God) is highly revered in the churches and is depicted in icons and hymns. Today, many women are the sole providers of religious instructions in their communities as the parishes cannot make the profession attractive enough for males. Orthodox Christian women can, thus, serve as teachers, public leaders, and musicians, and—similar to the first centuries of the early Christian church—can become deacons in less conservative dioceses. From Greece to Romania and beyond, women are still seen as the backbone of the faith, yet they cannot be ordained as priests. In the Orthodox church, this is a matter of holy tradition as well as a vision of ministry, since there is no strict theological objection to the ordination of women. This holy tradition—which counts as much as scripture in determining the direction of the church—has never supported the practice. With reference to acceptable clothing for contemporary Orthodox Christian women, the ways they dress may differ in terms of their parish’s history and geographical location. Orthodox churches with an older population will require women to wear a head covering of some kind during services. The priests’ wives may also be required to don headscarves in the presence of a bishop. In general, it is more common for Orthodox women in non-Western settings to cover their heads, and tradition dictates that they do so not only in church but also in their homes during prayer. The requirement that all women and girls hide their hair is seen as obedience to God’s command and as a sign of respect for the holy traditions. However, it seems that more young women today prefer to attend Mass without either scarves or hats. Judit Erika Magyar See also: Christianity: Christianity in Africa; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in the United States; Mary Magdalene; Mother of God; Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archaeology, and History; Sophia; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE) Further Reading Abbess Theologia. The Perfection of Women in Christ: According to Orthodox Christian Doctrine and Anthropology. Columbia, MO: Newrome, 2016. Cunningham, Mary B., and Elizabeth Theokritoff, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Milovanovic, Aleksandra Djuric, and Radmilla Radic, eds. Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements in Eastern Europe. New York: Springer, 2017.

PILGRIMAGE Since the time of the early church, Roman Catholics have visited the sites of miraculous occurrences, including the places where ancient saints were martyred and the shrines in which the relics (body parts and personal effects) of these holy individuals were stored. Of particular importance were Christ’s mother—the Virgin

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Mary—and Mary Magdalene. Before the Crusades, the most important place of pilgrimage for European Christian laywomen and laymen was Jerusalem due to the belief that sins could be absolved and one’s time in Purgatory shortened by undergoing the hardship of traveling to the city in which Christ had preached. When Palestine was ruled by the Arabs, Christians were protected as fellow worshippers of Allah and permitted to travel on pilgrimages. After the Turks conquered the area, extortionate fees levied on pilgrims helped spark the First Crusade and the capture of Jerusalem by Christian forces in 1099. The Crusades represented a combination of pilgrimage and holy war due to the crusaders’ restoration and veneration of churches, holy sites, and newly discovered relics before and after the battles. Many European women accompanied the warriors, in general, playing a supporting role to the crusader army. Noblewomen served as companions to the knights, nuns cared for the sick, and lower-ranking camp followers worked as cooks, laundresses, water carriers, laborers, or prostitutes (Hodgson 2007). Following the loss of Jerusalem to the Turks, pilgrimages to holy sites in Europe gained greater importance, especially to the city of Rome. Like the Wife of Bath from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, wealthier women deemed pilgrimages not only proof of their piety but also an opportunity to see the world. Although lower-ranking female pilgrims were uncommon during the early Middle Ages, the 14th century witnessed a resurgence of women from all social classes undertaking pilgrimages to the shrines of the saints due to the increasing popularity of the concept of Purgatory (Sumption 2003). The church encouraged female participation in the hope that pilgrims would leave a donation at the shrines, and although women were expected to request their husband’s consent, some embarked on pilgrimages without permission from their male guardian (Bardsley 2007). In addition, the church could force women to undertake pilgrimages as penance for heresy or repeated domestic disturbances with the intent of both shaming the woman before the community and appealing to her own sense of guilt to ensure that she would purify her soul on earth and thus enter heaven more quickly (Craig 2009). Besides participating in the pilgrimages, medieval and Renaissance-era women, especially elderly widows, supported the pilgrims by providing food and cheap lodgings where low-income pilgrims could spend the night. In addition, from the 12th to the 17th century, French and Spanish nuns ran hospitals, where those under their care included pilgrims who fell sick en route, such as pregnant women about to give birth. Although pilgrimages had been intended to draw people closer to God, many late medieval women deemed them an opportunity to socialize, transcending existing class and gender boundaries by traveling with other women of diverse ages and backgrounds. Renaissance-era Catholics continued to undergo pilgrimages; however, governments influenced by the Protestant Reformation suppressed and destroyed shrines not only because these were deemed superstitious or fraudulent but also through fear that large numbers of unaccompanied female travelers could cause political instability by gossiping or spreading rumors about the monarchy. In Elizabethan England, Catholic recusant women undertook relic collecting as an alternative to visiting the now-lost shrines; the body parts and personal property of



Polygamy

executed missionary priests such as Edmund Jennings were depicted as possessing supernatural power, including the ability to heal the sick and miraculously convert persecutors (Jennings 1614). Catholics and Protestants alike visited places of execution, including Smithfield, where Jesuits had been hanged and pre-Reformation heretics had been burned. On the continent, Catholic women continued to undertake pilgrimages throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and in England the practice resumed on a large scale during the late Victorian era due to growing interest in biblical archaeology, greater official tolerance toward Catholics, and the romanticizing of the Middle Ages. N. K. Crown See also: Christianity: Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Missionaries; Mother of God; Women Writers in Early and Medieval Christianity; Hinduism: Pilgrimage; Islam: Pilgrimage; Spiritualty: Pilgrimage, Goddess Further Reading Bardsley, Sandy. Women’s Roles in the Middle Ages. London: Greenwood, 2007. Craig, Leigh-Ann. Wandering Women and Holy Matrons. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2009. Hodgson, Natalie. Women, Crusading and the Holy Land. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2007. Jennings, John. The Life and Death of Mr. Edmund Geninges Priest. Saint Omer, France: Charles Boscard, 1614. Henry Huntington Library STC/11728. Sumption, Jonathan. The Age of Pilgrimage. Mahwah, NJ: Hidden Spring, 2003.

P O LY G A M Y The marital custom of a husband being wedded to more than one wife is extremely rare within the Christian tradition. Polygamy is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible but not in the New Testament. Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:31–32 are the closest example, in which he warns, “Anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This has been understood by some theologians within the Christian tradition as “successive polygamy”: remarrying after divorce or death. While the apostle Paul championed celibacy, he believed that a wife might remarry after the death of her husband (1 Corinthians 7:39–40). The Pastoral Epistles (ca. 100–150 CE), traditionally attributed to the apostle Paul, explicitly state that church leaders should be the “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6). As Christianity spread across the ancient world, theologians such as Justin Martyr (ca. 100–ca. 165 CE), Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 140–ca. 202 CE), Tertullian (ca. 150–ca. 220), Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260–ca. 340 CE), Basil the Great (ca. 329–ca. 379 CE), and Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) all promoted heterosexual monogamy as the only acceptable form of marriage. Many of their writings include vicious attacks against the sexual immoralities of Greco-Roman Pagan cults and rival heretical Christian sects, some of which they claim practiced polygamy. While Christian writers noted that God permitted polygamy in the Hebrew Bible, they reasoned that these were special occasions, only done under the direct commandment of God.

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During the Council of Hertford (673 CE), the bishops gathered stated that the Catholic doctrine of marriage would be limited to one man and woman, with death permitting another marriage to prevent bigamy. The council decreed that the only grounds for separation was fornication, but this did not mean divorce; rather the two would live separate celibate lives unless reconciled. Although outright polygamy was forbidden by most Christian doctrine, court records show that church enforcement of monogamy was a fraught issue throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period and that this probably cut across lay/secular, gender, and class divides. Both men and women in the medieval and early modern world were tried for bigamy, including male priests. There were many circumstances that led to this: sometimes people married multiple times in different places and were tried for this offence; sometimes a prior marriage had not been properly terminated when a second marriage was contracted (for example, one spouse abandoned another and was presumed dead but turned up again later). The church’s concern with bigamy was a consequence of its decision to enforce its own strict version of monogamous marriage, forbidden to clergymen, in the wake of Gregorian reforms, and aggressive censure of both clerical marriage (which had been frowned upon but licit until the late 11th century) and marriage practices among the laity. Beginning with the Reformation in the early 16th century, Martin Luther (1483–1546) and other Protestant thinkers wrestled with the examples of polygamy in the Bible and what implications they could have due to the authority of scripture. Luther admitted, “I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture.” John Calvin (1509–1564), on the other hand, condemned polygamy. Influenced by Luther’s writings that polygamy was permissible, Philip I of Hesse (1504–1567) proposed to one of his sister’s ladies-in-waiting, Margarethe von de Saale (1522–1566), while already being married to Christine of Saxony (1505–1549). From a similar hermeneutic, the Anabaptists of Münster experimented with polygamy under the leadership of John of Leiden (1509–1536). In reaction to these events and interpretations, the Council of Trent asserted in 1563 that “Christ our Lord has clearly shown that polygamy is not in keeping with the nature of Matrimony.” Within the modern period, a few Christian figures have defended polygamy, with the most noteworthy being the Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr. (1805–1844). Drawing from the example of the Hebrew Bible and claiming to be under the direction of God, Smith secretly taught and practiced polygamy in the early 1840s, marrying approximately 40 women. While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renounced the practice of polygamy in 1890, fundamentalist Mormon churches throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico maintain the practice. In recent years, Christian polygamy has occurred in countries where polygamy is still culturally acceptable, mostly within Africa. The Nigerian Celestial Church of Christ, the Lutheran church of Liberia, and the Harrist churches allow members to have multiple wives. This has resulted in these denominations and others that endorse polygamy being banned from the World Council of Churches. In addition, numerous Christian sects, such as the Oneida Community and the Family International, have practiced open forms of marriage. While commentary and criticism



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of polygamy within Christianity can be traced to the early church and throughout history, rare Christian forms of polygamy have and continue to exist. Daniel N. Gullotta See also: Christianity: Christianity in Africa; Christianity in the United States; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Mormonism; Women in the Reformation; Islam: Polygamy Further Reading Bullough, Geoffrey. “Polygamy among the Reformers.” In Renaissance and Modern Essays, edited by G. R. Hibbard, 5–23. London: Routledge, 1966. Daynes, Kathryn M. More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. Falen, Douglas J. “Polygyny and Christian Marriage in Africa: The Case of Benin.” African Studies Review 51 (2008): 51–74. McDougall, Sarah. Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. Witte, John, Jr. The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Zeitzen, Miriam Koktvedgaard. Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, 2008.

P R O T E S TA N T D E N O M I N AT I O N S The role of women and the place of the feminine in Protestant denominations vary significantly, from conservative fundamentalists who limit women to private places that emphasize their roles as wives and mothers to denominations that embrace women’s participation in every aspect of religious life. Women have different places in both mainline and evangelical churches in all the major Protestant traditions (Anglican, Episcopalian, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian/Reformed, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Holiness) as well as in smaller Protestant sects, such as the Shakers. There are different scriptural positions on the role of women in the church (the most prominent of which are the contrasting ideas of complementarianism and Christian egalitarianism), and Protestant denominations exhibit these positions in different ways. Even when denominational structures limit women’s ordination or public participation in church life, women are active in creating religious art and sacred music, practicing liturgy and leading worship, and using their faith to make a difference in the world. Conservative evangelical denominations tend to promote a complementarian view of the role of women. Complementarians believe that, while men and women are equal in the eyes of God, they have different and complementing roles. Denominations that adhere to this view reinforce more traditional views of the role of the feminine. An example is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In the SBC, women cannot serve in any position requiring ordination (such as a pastor, elder, or deacon), but they do serve in other places, such as children’s ministries, mission boards, and publication arms.

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The SBC encourages women to pursue “biblical womanhood,” which suggests that a woman’s greatest virtues are submission (to her husband and/or church leaders) and diligence (in caring for her household and children). Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers a bachelor’s degree in homemaking, which offers women such courses as “Principles of Biblical Womanhood” and “Biblical Model for Home and Family.” Complementarianism does not limit women from serving in prominent positions when those positions are seen as being within their unique purview. Southern Baptist women have historically been prominent missionaries. The most notable of these was Lottie Moon (1840–1912), who worked with the Foreign Mission Board in China between 1873 and 1912. Missionary work attracted many single women, and Moon was one of the first. Moon helped to develop the concept of “women’s work,” the idea that evangelizing and education of women and girls was a central part of missionary work. Moon’s letters home called for the support of women missionaries, expanding their role and giving them financial and spiritual support. Moon’s life also served as the impetus for the creation of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU—the first organized group of laypeople in the SBC) in 1888. Today, the WMU has a membership of roughly 1 million, making it the largest Protestant organization for women in the world. It dedicates itself to educating and supporting women in missionary work. Annie Armstrong (1850–1938), its founder, lends her name to one of the two major yearly offerings of the SBC, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering; the other is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In mainline Protestant traditions, there are frequently denominational splits between those who embrace complementarianism and those who emphasize Christian egalitarianism (which holds that all people are equal before God and that, therefore, gender, class, or race have no bearing on their ability to lead). While complementarianism reinforces traditional views of the feminine, Christian egalitarianism opens the door to women’s ordination, a theme embraced by mainline Protestants: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist church, and the Anglican and Episcopal churches all ordain women. The early 2000s saw an increasing number of women promoted to very high levels of church office. The Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori (b. 1954) became the presiding bishop of the Episcopal church in 2006; Rev. Elizabeth Eaton followed in the ELCA in 2013. Christian egalitarianism also makes room for notions of alternative femininity in the church. Perhaps the most prominent woman in the ELCA today is Nadia Bolz-Weber (b. 1969), pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver and author of the best-selling books Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint (2013) and Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (2015). Bolz-Weber is an unconventional figure, outspoken and covered in tattoos (including one of Mary Magdalene, who brought the news of Jesus’s resurrection to the disciples on Easter morning). Other Protestant traditions also embrace Christian egalitarianism. Women have had perhaps the largest influence in the Holiness tradition, a branch of Protestantism that has resulted in multiple denominations, including the Salvation Army,



Protestant Denominations

the Church of the Nazarene, and the Church of God. Holiness teachings were first popularized by Phoebe Palmer (1807–1874), whose public preaching and teaching helped to move the Holiness movement from a branch of Methodism to a separate denomination in the 19th century. Throughout the history of the movement, women have served not just as preachers but also as church leaders and founders of organizations and denominations. In Pentecostalism, an outgrowth of the Holiness movement, the role of women is tied to the theological emphasis on the manifestations and gifts of the Holy Spirit. According to Pentecostal theology, both men and women can equally receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many women serve in leadership positions in the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. This trend has been true throughout much of the history of Pentecostalism. One of the earliest prominent Pentecostals was Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), who drew enormous crowds with her preaching, teaching, and faith healing. McPherson founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles and hosted weekly radio shows beginning in the 1920s, eventually launching the church’s own radio station. Women have also been important in minor Christian sects, such as the United Society of Believers in Christ (also known as the Shakers), which was led by Mother Ann Lee (1736–1784). Lee’s teachings emphasized the equal nature of men and women and argued that practicing celibacy (even within marriage) was the best way to avoid sin. Eventually, her followers came to see her as the female embodiment of Christ. This idea of a feminine embodiment of the Divine is central in Christian feminism, a perspective similar to Christian egalitarianism, but goes further both in religious practice and in leaving room for the idea of the feminine nature of God. Christian feminism, which emerged in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the feminist movement as a whole, emphasizes the primacy of women’s experience and criticizes the patriarchal structure that has dominated Christian history and biblical scripture. Christian feminist theology (or thealogy, using the feminine form of the Greek theo) prioritizes uncovering women’s experiences and celebrating their contributions to Christianity. Some Christian feminists see themselves squarely within Christian orthodoxy, while others reject it as hopelessly compromised by the patriarchal nature of Christian tradition and abandon it in favor of Goddess traditions of pre-Christian faiths. Two of the most prominent Christian feminist theologians are Mary Daly (1928–2010) and Rosemary Radford Ruether (b. 1936), both of whom emerged from the Catholic tradition but have a much broader influence. In the wake of Vatican II deliberations in the 1960s, Daly, a prolific writer and longtime Boston College professor, published The Church and the Second Sex (1968), which asserted that the Catholic church systematically oppressed women and argued for a more equal role for women. In 1973, she published Beyond God the Father, arguing that Christianity is a patriarchal system as evidenced by the strictly masculine language used to refer to God. Rosemary Radford Ruether’s feminist theology argues for recovering ideas of equality that the church has suppressed or marginalized out of mainstream Christianity. For Ruether, patriarchy is the prime example of the sinful, fallen nature of the world.

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Many Protestants reject Christian feminism, arguing that because Jesus Christ (the human embodiment of the Divine) was male, there can be no female Divine. However, there are distinctions, even within this overall theme. Episcopalians and Anglicans, with their close theological and liturgical ties to Roman Catholicism, are more likely to emphasize the role of the Virgin Mary in the Christian story of redemption; conservative evangelicals, in contrast, view the veneration of any human individual except Jesus Christ as heretical. In addition, Christian feminism has influenced major Protestant denominations through the use of gender-inclusive language and feminine images of the Divine in liturgy and song. The strongest example of this is the United Church of Christ’s New Century Hymnal, published in 1996 and designed to be gender inclusive in both language and imagery. Mary Ruth Sanders See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Abortion; African American Women; Art, Modern and Contemporary; Charity; Christianity in Africa; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in the United States; Education; Founders of Christian Denominations; Fundamentalism; Interfaith Dialogue Post 9/11, Christian and Muslim Women; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Mary Magdalene; Ministers; Mother of God; Pilgrimage; Polygamy; Saints; Sex and Gender; Sophia; Widowhood; Women in the Reformation Further Reading Daly, Mary. Beyond God the Father. Boston: Beacon, 1973. Pope-Levison, Priscilla, and John R. Levison. Sex, Gender, and Christianity. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012. Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston: Beacon, 1983. Ruether, Rosemary Radford, and Rosemary Skinner Keller. Women and Religion in America. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981. Scott, Joan Wallach. History and Feminism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Walsh, Mary-Paula. Feminism and Christian Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography and Critical Introduction to the Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.

R E L AT I O N S H I P A N D S O C I A L M O D E L S I N S C R I P T U R E , A R C H E O L O G Y, A N D H I S T O R Y Christian scriptures and other writings contain contradictory relationship and social models, especially in regard to women and men. Some passages support mutuality and caring, but many present inequality and male dominance as divinely ordained. These models have been criticized on the grounds that they help maintain inequitable and unjust family and social structures. Some feminists have tried to reform Christianity by focusing on interpretations of biblical passages that can be used to support gender equity. Others have looked to archaeology in search of more equitable and less violent models in older belief systems. Still others have suggested that progressive theologians and thealogians come together to sort out contradictory messages using the partnership-domination social scale, a new



Relationship and Social Models in Scripture, Archeology, and History

system of classification in which the cultural construction of the roles and relations of the female and male halves of humanity plays a key role. Conflicting scriptural messages regarding women and men have been identified by scholars, from the influential Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century to feminist theologians such as Rosemary Radford Ruether in the 21st century. These include, for example, the two contradictory stories of human creation in Genesis, contradictory views about sex, and care versus violence against women and children. In Genesis 1, woman and man are both created in God’s image. In Genesis 2, God creates woman as an afterthought out of the first man’s rib. The Song of Solomon extols sexual love between woman and man, while in other passages, only sex for procreation is condoned, and even then, grudgingly. Though there are commands to care for widows and orphans, violence against women and children is presented as ordered by God, as in laws that women who are not virgins and sons whom their parents accuse of disobedience and dissolution be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:20 and 21:18–21). Another theme running through these writings is that an authoritarian, male-dominated family and social structure are presented as normal and moral to the degree that, as in passages attributed to Paul, women are to be silent, and only men are permitted to teach and lead (1 Timothy 2:12). To counter the authoritarian and violent models of relations in scripture, some feminists, going back to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible (1895), have written scathing biblical critiques. They point out that many religious writings simply reflect the historical realities of their time, justifying norms of inequality and top-down control in both families and the state or tribe. They note that Jesus challenged the authority of the religious leaders of his time, associated freely with women, and, according to noncanonical gospels, had an egalitarian relationship with Mary Magdalene (Gospel of Mary Magdalene, ca. first century CE). But, after the church allied itself with Emperor Constantine, it supported absolute imperial or royal rule, the ranking of men over women, and rigid male control in families. Some feminists who situate religious teachings in their prehistoric and historic context have looked to archaeology in search of more equitable and less violent relational and social models. For example, there is evidence of prehistoric societies (e.g., Çatalhöyük in Turkey, which dates back approximately 8,000 years) that were more peaceful and egalitarian and where women were not dominated by men. Ian Hodder, an archaeologist excavating Çatalhöyük, noted with some amazement in his Scientific American article “Women and Men at Çatalhöyük,” that “even analyses of isotopes in bones give no indication of divergence in lifestyle translating into differences in status and power between women and men,” suggesting “a society in which sex is relatively unimportant in assigning social roles, with neither burials nor space in houses suggesting gender inequality” (Hodder 2004, 77–83). There is also evidence from the Minoan civilization, which flourished on the Mediterranean island of Crete until about 3,500 years ago, contradicting the claim that more centralized, complex, and technologically and artistically advanced cultures require massive inequalities, male dominance, and control through violence. As the Greek archeologist Nicolas Platon noted, in the highly

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technologically developed Minoan civilization, the influence of women is evident, writing that this was a remarkably peaceful and prosperous society in which the whole of life was pervaded by an ardent faith in the Goddess Nature. In their nature-celebrating art, the Minoans seem to have had a great respect not only for women but for our Mother Earth, what we today would call an ecological consciousness (Platon 1966). Some scholars call these earlier societies matriarchies (Stone 1978). There is no evidence that because women in these societies seem to have held high social and religious positions, women dominated men. Instead, they have been described as orienting to a partnership rather than domination model of social organization: a form of organization that offers an alternative to gender and social relations based on domination and subordination (Eisler 1988, 1995). The domination model supports relations based on rigid rankings of domination ultimately backed up by fear and force: man over woman, man over man, religion over religion, race over race, and man over nature. In contrast, the partnership model supports relations based on mutual respect, mutual accountability, and mutual benefit. Here power is defined as power to and power with. There are hierarchies of actualization that empower, rather than hierarchies of domination where power is defined as power over. From this perspective, what is today generally called religious fundamentalism can be understood as domination fundamentalism. While it uses selected scriptural passages to support its goals, it is designed to reimpose a system of top-down rule in both the family and state or tribe. Notably, in fundamentalist teachings, a top priority is ensuring that partnership parent-child relations and partnership gender relations do not replace the kinds of gender and parent-child relations that are foundational to a domination-oriented society. This ideology can also be secular. Feminist scholars have also noted that relationship models in which women and the “feminine” are devalued contradict basic Christian teachings about compassion, nonviolence, and caring. For example, they point to passages such as Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” psalms that often present a gentle and comforting deity, and 2 Isaiah 66:13 where, in sharp contrast to the many threats of eternal punishment for those who fail to follow the commands of a divine Father or Lord, we find a feminine voice of God saying, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” This reclamation of a feminine voice and face of God is an important feminist religious theme today that is integral to a shift in religious models for relations and social structures from the domination to the partnership side of the social scale. For instance, there are attempts to reinvest the Christian Mother of God with divinity. This reclamation of divinity for Mary counters the idealization of a family in which only the father and son, and not the mother, are divine and provides a model for families in which all members are equally valued and respected regardless of gender. It also provides a model of power in which stereotypically “feminine” values such as nurturance and nonviolence are incorporated into social and religious governance.



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Feminists are making some progress in changing religious language to be more gender inclusive. To buttress their case, they cite biblical passages where God is identified as female. For example, Isaiah 42:14 speaks of God crying out “like a woman in labor.” Isaiah 46:3–4 describes God as having carried the house of Jacob “from the womb.” In Numbers 11:12, Moses says that God should carry the Israelis “in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child” to the Promised Land. In Isaiah 66:13, God tells Jerusalem, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” But despite assertions that God has no gender, the view of God as male persists in both scripture and general culture. While a number of Christian denominations are now ordaining women as pastors, they remain a small minority. Pope Francis as head of the Catholic church still maintains that women must be excluded from the priesthood. This reinforces religious gender and social models of inequality, which in turn maintains a gendered system of values in which not only women but also anything associated with the “feminine” is devalued. Nonetheless, the challenges to this core aspect of domination systems are increasing worldwide, helping to pave the way for a shift to a more equitable and peaceful partnership system. Riane Eisler See also: Christianity: African American Women; Charity; “The Fall”; Fundamentalism; Mary Magdalene; Ministers; Mother of God; Orthodox Christianity; Sex and Gender; Indigenous Religions: Matriarchies; Judaism: Hebrew Bible; Prehistoric Religions: Crete, Religion and Culture; Neolithic Female Figures; Spirituality: Spirituality and Gender in Social Context Further Reading Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1988. Eisler, Riane. Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1995. Gimbutas, Marija. The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. Hodder, Ian. “Women and Men at Catalhoyuk.” Scientific American (January 2004): 77–83. Platon, Nikolas. Crete. Geneva: Nagel, 1966. Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. New York: Mariner Books, 1978.

R O M A N C AT H O L I C W O M E N R E L I G I O U S The phenomenon of holy women, such as deacons, prophetesses, sibyls, vestal virgins, and witches, occurs in every religion. In the Roman Catholic Church, nuns, also referred to as women religious, have been the token of female holiness. In 2014, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the Institute of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life asking all consecrated men and women “‘to wake up the world,’ since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy” (Pope Francis 2014, II.2). Women religious from the time of Jesus have found a life of dedication

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to God and neighbor and the role of prophet or witness to the gospel compelling and worthwhile. As Christianity developed in the Middle East and Europe, the role of women religious gradually became formalized and institutionalized. Because women were considered to be “imperfect men,” and women religious were laity not clergy, they were not permitted to become priests; thus, the status of nun became a kind of substitute for ordination to the priesthood. Women religious were sequestered in convents and subjected to the governance of the local bishop. Internally also, there was a hierarchical structure of a Mother Superior, a council, a chapter, and the rank and file. The rule and the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience bound the members to norms of belief and conduct. In particular, the vow of chastity and the state of virginity became emblematic of the life of purity and dedication. The earliest organized religious communities of women were in Germany, France, and Italy, but the monastic movement spread throughout the world as the church spread. The missionary impetus sparked by the Reformation of the 16th century led women religious into remote corners of the world to convert and save the “heathens” as well as to found schools and hospitals. For example, Marie of the Incarnation came to Canada in 1639 to educate young girls, especially the native girls, and in 1727, 12 Ursuline nuns founded their convent in Louisiana. In 1790, the persecutions during the French Revolution led Clare Joseph Dickinson, a Carmelite, to settle her monastery in Maryland; Portuguese missionaries went to Indonesia. In 1899, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, called the White Sisters because of the color of their habit, were called to work in Uganda, Zambia, and later Tanzania in schools and orphanages. The missionary spirit that led nuns to remote places far from their own Western culture resulted not only in good works and conversions but in leading many sisters to a realization that the people they served had their own justifiable culture, including profound religious beliefs and customs. For many communities, this realization led to a new openness to the world. In many ways, missionary sisters paved new roads for women and nuns as they acknowledged cultural differences among peoples and religions. Some were prophetic leaders in respecting other faith traditions and helping women religious to move toward greater respect for those people different from them. The nuns lived communal lives and worked as nurses, teachers, and social workers. They saw their work more as mission and vocation than as profession. They were esteemed within the Catholic world and worked to maintain and model the Catholic community’s identity. For many people, priests were often distant figures, and the nuns represented the Catholic church to them. In general, women religious maintained a semicloistered life and a sheltered apostolic mission until the mid-20th century, when decrees from Pope Pius XII (Sponsa Christi 1950) and the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) opened the windows of the church. The Sister Formation movement began in 1954 as a response to Pope Pius, who said that women religious should be the professional equals of their secular counterparts. Communities immediately began a formal process of sending sisters to college before they went to work in the schools, hospitals, and other missions. Furthermore, women religious were once again defined



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as laity, albeit special laity. The questions raised by such issues as professional credentials, exposure to and increasing engagement with the world, women’s identity and position within the church, social justice, and civil rights led some women religious to question the validity of their state of life. The Second Vatican Council began a process of deep change within the church, but Catholic nuns were the first to understand the social and religious implications of the personal and social issues challenging them and were the first to respond. Change occurred dramatically and quickly after 1965. In 1965, there were 179,954 American Catholic nuns; in 2014, there were 48,546—a 77 percent loss. Worldwide, there were 1,004,304 nuns in 1965; in 2014, there were 705,529—a loss of 30 percent (CARA 2014). More opportunities for women, greater equality in the home and in the workplace, and a loss of numbers in organized religions contributed to this decrease. Roman Catholic women religious today have shed their habits, rewritten their rules, opened their doors, and are living as contemporary women. New communities of women are forming in the 21st century: ecumenical; female and male; married and single; issue-oriented communities, such as the Green Sisters; and other configurations of intentional community with the prophetic motive of the earliest religious communities. Carole Ganim See also: Christianity: Anglican/Episcopalian Women Religious; Christianity in Europe; Missionaries; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Contemporary Women; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Women in the Reformation Further Reading Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). “Frequently Requested Church Statistics.” 2016. http://cara/georgetown.edu/frequently-requested-church-statistics. McNamara, Jo Ann Kay. Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996. Pope Francis. “To All Consecrated People on the Occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, 2014.” November 21, 2014. https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters​ /documents/papa-francesco_lettera-ap_20141121_lettera-consacrati.html. Pope Paul VI. Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. November 21, 1964.

SAINTS Women have been recognized as holy figures in Christianity since its inception, and, like men, the pious deeds of exceptional Christian women were recorded in a genre called hagiography, or “holy writing.” A saint’s life (sometimes referred to as a vita, the Latin word for “life”) combines a biography of the saint and a record of his or her miracles in a format that preserves this information for future memory and provides justification as to why the saint should be formally recognized and venerated in church liturgy and popular religion. Hagiographic accounts of holy women’s lives and deeds date back to late antiquity; over time, as the Catholic church grew more bureaucratic in its affairs, a formal process of canonization was

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established with specific standards for proof of a candidate’s sanctity, including miracles performed during her lifetime and continued miraculous influence associated with her relics and tomb and divine intercession after her death. By the High Middle Ages, this process of canonization had a strong legal procedural component and required the testimony of witnesses as well as written documents. The outcome of a process of canonization also became more complicated as popes could declare an individual as sanctus (sanctified) or beatus (blessed or beatified, suggesting that the individual received official recognition as a holy figure without the full status of sainthood). The historian Carolyn Walker Bynum was one of the first scholars to recognize the great value of the history of female saints for understanding social and religious patterns. Her work drew attention to the ways that female sanctity was shaped by broader assumptions about women’s domestic and caretaking roles and how (usually male) hagiographers understood female sanctity through investing a deep spiritual significance to women’s domestic duties, transferring those duties to the spiritual realm by identifying how women focused deeply on the body of Christ. Innovations in the field of women’s history led scholars to read saints’ lives, particularly women saints’, not merely as pious testimonies but as documents that responded to historical and literary developments and offered insight into social and domestic life, theology, popular belief, and gender relationships. As hagiographical texts were usually, though not exclusively, written by men, scholars have focused much attention on understanding the gender dynamics involved in representing female sanctity and encouraging popular devotion to the veneration of specific women saints. Saints’ lives are written for similar purposes across time and place; as hagiography as a genre changed over time in response to social developments, the selection of specific individuals for special holy recognition depended on the mood and politics of the era. For example, while saints of the early Middle Ages (ca. 500–1100) were drawn largely from the ranks of bishops and monastic personnel, such as monks, nuns, abbots, and abbesses, sanctity in the late Middle Ages saw several important changes that mirrored contemporary social developments: the rise of the lay saint, an increase in the number of women saints recognized for veneration, and the format of the saint’s life, which became oriented toward the formal process of canonization that the medieval papacy instituted through a series of reforms in the 12th and 13th centuries. Female saints thus reveal broader patterns of women’s participation in Christian Religion. The earliest men and women identified as saints were drawn from the Bible and from tales of the early adherents of Christianity who were martyred by Roman authorities. The saints’ lives of Christianity’s early virgin martyrs, whose stories often featured physical torture for failing to renounce Christianity and marry Pagan husbands, were highly fictionalized. Collectively, this type of female saint’s narrative highlighted the innocence of the Christian faithful and compared Christians’ virtues, particularly chastity, favorably to the lust and brutality of their Roman persecutors. Female saints of this genre, such as Saint Barbara, Saint Agatha, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, were celebrated figures in late antiquity. Their



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stories continued to circulate in anthologies of saints’ lives and popular preaching, and their images appeared frequently as devotional figures in medieval art. Hagiography, like other forms of intellectual work in the early Middle Ages, flourished predominately in monasteries and convents. In this context, vitae of important female monastic founders, abbesses, and occasionally nuns illuminated the contributions of those women to the institution’s history and demonstrated its worthiness as an ongoing recipient of local, noble, or royal patronage. Female saints in the early Middle Ages tended most often to be virginal or widowed women who were associated with the convents in which they lived or exercised leadership. Common themes in female saints’ lives were an early religious vocation, entry into and leadership in a convent, and miracles that the saint performed both during her lifetime and at her tomb/shrine after her death. In the 13th century, women from different classes and vocations were more often recognized as saints even as the process for official sanctity, canonization, became more strictly regulated. Since the 12th century, the papacy had simultaneously sought to engage laypeople in church life and to exercise more direct authority over its doctrines and practices. Inspired by preachers who deliberately cultivated a greater personal engagement with the Christian message, laypeople sought to identify with the monastic ideals of chastity and asceticism while still living in the secular world. Church authorities recognized that pastoral care of laypeople benefitted from the holy examples that lay saints provided; thus the church identified more contemporary and married women (for example, Saint Elizabeth of Thüringia, Bridget of Sweden, and Frances of Rome) and women drawn from the urban merchant and artisan classes (such as Saint Clare of Assisi and Catherine of Siena) as saints. The deep influence of the penitential movement in the popular spirituality of the High and late Middle Ages also encouraged enormous popular devotion to Saint Mary Magdalene—considered to be both a disciple of Jesus and a repentant prostitute—as a pre- Saint Catherine of Siena Exchanging Her Heart with mier example to laypeople of the Christ, by Giovanni di Paolo, 15th century. Author, extraordinary power of penitence. mystic, and stigmatic Catherine of Siena was canonized in 1461, and declared a doctor of the church in 1970. The stories of these women’s (The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bequest of Lore lives introduced complications Heinemann, in memory of her husband, Dr. Rudolf J. to the narrative norms in the Heinemann, 1996)

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lives of male and monastic saints and often focused on the conflicts women experienced between fulfilling their domestic and conjugal duties and pursuing a life of celibacy and contemplation. Hagiographers frequently used the biblical story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38–42) to illustrate how these two apparently contradictory sides of the female experience could be reconciled: laywomen saints, though they started their lives as daughters, wives, and mothers, frequently transitioned to a more spiritual way of life through gradually renouncing the everyday domestic world to develop a mystical relationship with God when entry into a convent or some other form of the contemplative life became possible. From the 13th to the 15th century, women saints appeared in hagiographical literature as mystics, visionaries, champions of the poor, and protectors of other women. Toward the end of the 13th century, the papacy, which had been open to petitions for the canonization of new saints throughout the High Middle Ages, responded to such requests “with extreme rigor for fear of being overwhelmed by the rising tide of local cults” (Vauchez 1997, 137). The proliferation of nonclerical candidates for sainthood increasingly engendered suspicion among church authorities who mistrusted laypeople’s and women’s correct understanding of theology and considered them particularly susceptible to erroneous, heretical, or even demonic influences. The rise of witch trials in early modern Europe exacerbated concerns about women’s spiritual and intellectual weakness, and female mystics’ visions and writings received an uneasy reception in ecclesiastical circles. Such concerns intensified in response to the Protestant Reformation’s attack on the church’s practice of canonization and the reforms of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The Catholic papacy greatly limited its recognition of women saints, particularly favoring instead men from the reforming orders of Spain and Italy. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) proved a notable exception to this preference for male saints. Her activities as a Carmelite nun, mystic, writer, and supporter of reformed Catholicism provided church authorities with a valuable model of humble, obedient, and chaste female spirituality. In the modern era, the patterns of canonization that characterized Saint Teresa continued to be the predominant model. Female saints of the 19th century to the present day are most often celebrated for their lifelong chastity as nuns, their dedication to monastic orders whose work focused on care for the sick and poor, and their humility as they served others in dire circumstances. These ancient patterns in female sanctity persisted even as novel developments, such as the colonization of the New World, introduced new possibilities for female saints’ activities. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680) was a convert to Christianity in colonial New York and the first Native American woman to be canonized by the Catholic church in 2012. Several other American saints, such as Mother Elizabeth Seton (1774–1821), Sister Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769–1852), Sister Marianne Cope (1838–1918), and Sister Katharine Drexel (1858–1955), illustrate how medieval and Reformation narratives of female sainthood evolved in the context of the missionary saint’s role in conversion and



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ministry to the subjugated people she encountered through colonial settlement and development. Perhaps the most famous recent female saint of this type is Mother Teresa (1910–1997), an Albanian nun who was beatified in 2003 and canonized in 2015 for her care of the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, India. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta was both venerated worldwide—she was honored in 1979 with the Nobel Peace Prize—and widely criticized for her opposition to abortion and the condition of the hospitals in which she tended the sick and dying. The controversies around Mother Teresa and Saint Kateri, whose veneration has been accused of validating colonialist oppression, illustrate contemporary considerations of gender and intersectionality: modern sainthood elevated the status of women and an understanding of their spiritual capacities yet also illustrates how their veneration was marshaled to support and sustain other forms of religious and social oppression. Most recently, Mary MacKillop (1841–1909), whose canonization process began in 1925 but was only finalized in 2017, typifies the tensions between empowerment and subordination in the pattern of post-Reformation female sainthood. An Australian native and Sister of Saint Joseph, Mary MacKillop and the sisters of her order suffered retaliation from episcopal supervisors in 1871 because she denounced a priest accused of sexual abuse. Her bishop attempted to disband her order, and MacKillop was banned from the church when she failed to comply with his demands. A few years later, her dying and repentant bishop rescinded the ban, but the church only issued a formal apology to the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 2009. The claim for Mary MacKillop’s sanctity resonates particularly strongly in the wake of contemporary revelations of clerical abuse and the difficulties the contemporary church has faced in redressing the incidents of sexual abuse worldwide in local parishes and monastic institutions. Katherine Clark Walter See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Christianity in Europe; Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Saints; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Women in the Reformation Further Reading Alhgren, Gillian T. W. Teresa of Ávila and the Politics of Sanctity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998. Elliott, Dyan. Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004. McNamara, Jo Ann, John E. Halborg, and E. Gordon Whatley. Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992. Mooney, Catherine, ed. Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and Their Interpreters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Salisbury, Joyce. Perpetua’s Passion: The Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman. New York: Routledge, 1997. Vauchez, Andre. Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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SEX AND GENDER Sex and gender are formative concepts for Christian practice and theology. Scholars of religion agree that gender is often an important aspect of religion and spirituality because religious narratives explain essential social questions such as the nature of human existence, the origins of a people, and how a culture’s beliefs and traditions came to be. Religious narratives thus incorporate elements that rationalize gender roles in a given society and reflect the tension and conflict that a culture has endured as these roles have changed over time. Saint Paul, one of the earliest interpreters of Christianity, depended on women as leaders and participants in the early churches. He thus needed to address women’s ability but also position their roles in accordance with existing gender hierarchies. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28 that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus,” emphasizing the radical, apocalyptic nature of Christ on the life of his Christian followers. On a spiritual level, to follow Christ remade one’s entire existence based on this new adopted faith. Yet, in practice, Paul argued that one’s spiritual state did not necessarily extend to changes in daily life; for example, in 1 Corinthians 11:2–11, Paul reinforced ancient Mediterranean gender norms by affirming men’s authority over their wives and the necessity of women’s (but not men’s) veiling as a sign of submission and modesty. Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 14:34, Paul commands women to be silent in the churches. Each of these letters was written for particular congregations and addressed specific concerns that had arisen within these communities, but over time, Christian followers understood Paul’s letters as general and normative doctrines. His interpretations characterized a Christian understanding of gender and supported a conventional understanding of male authority as appropriate to the governance of the church, community, and household. These conventional, patriarchal perceptions of women’s spirituality and roles in the early Christian movement proved a greater normative force in the early church than the more egalitarian interactions between Christ and his female followers, such as Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene. Another powerful belief that influenced Christian thought was the association between women and the body. The influential philosophies of Plato and Aristotle associated femininity with materiality and masculinity with the spirit, a belief that rendered women inherently lesser than men and more prone to the weaknesses of the flesh. As Christian theology developed in the Roman-dominated Mediterranean world—an environment that many early Christian theologians considered carnal and corrupted—a preference for restraint and asceticism concerning sexuality and the body became important markers of Christian identity. Especially for theologians such as Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine, the curbing of physical “appetites” of all kinds was an important indicator of religious discipline, and they characterized such discipline for both sexes as a kind of spiritual virility: spiritual excellence resulted from the triumph of a masculine will over a flesh that was closely associated with feminine temptation and weakness.



Sex and Gender

Early Christian thought also emphasized differences between men and women as indicators for proper roles within the church. Christian authorities depended on women’s participation in and patronage of the church yet mistrusted women’s ability to engage in asceticism, discipline, and leadership as men did. Theologians cultivated female patrons but simultaneously reminded them of the sins of Eve and praised women whose spiritual discipline made them more like men (viragos). For example, the early martyr Perpetua (d. 203), a married woman with a newborn child who was incarcerated with fellow Christians during the persecutions of the Severan dynasty, envisioned her martyrdom in a dream in which she became a man as she faced her executioner in the arena. The image of the Virgin Mary became an extremely important exemplar for women: her powerful intercession on behalf of Christian souls as the Mother of God was tempered with her obedience and submission as the handmaiden of the Lord. Although male authorities were never entirely comfortable with women exercising powerful and influential roles in church affairs, many of the organizers and patrons of the earliest churches were women, often working together with their husbands and/or families to sustain a community after converting. Women served a liturgical function as deaconesses, assisting with the baptism of new converts. Women martyrs were recognized as saints, particularly during the Decian and Diocletian persecutions of the mid-third and the early fourth centuries. By the end of the fourth century, the role of deaconess appears to have declined as a niche for women’s formal replacement in the church, but by the early Middle Ages, the formation of convents allowed women to participate in the monastic life as nuns. Convent life offered an alternative to women’s traditional roles in family life by focusing women’s time and energy on a life of perpetual religious devotion and, in some cases, study and contemplation. Throughout the Middle Ages, nuns who found a lifelong vocation in the monastic life served as teachers, scholars, healers, mystics, and visionaries. A rich tradition of women’s sainthood celebrated female virtue through monastic foundation and leadership; later medieval hagiography also identified holy women drawn from the laity as examples of holiness to be admired and imitated. Women were excluded from official clerical offices such as bishop and priest, but abbesses governed the convent with full authority, and female monastic institutions enjoyed a great deal of autonomy from outside interference. Both abbesses and abbots were considered equivalent in status to the bishop in the early Middle Ages, but this association for abbesses appears to have weakened in the High and late Middle Ages as male clerical supervision of convents became more common. Before clerical marriage was systematically proscribed by the Gregorian Reforms in the late 11th and 12th centuries, priests’ wives fulfilled important functions in the Christian parish. As the Gregorian Reforms established greater clerical authority through stringent celibacy and a sacramental theology, the church adopted policies that deemed women unclean and unworthy of liturgical contact with the altar, the Eucharist, and other sacramental duties performed by the priest. Such arguments continue to support the proscription of women serving as priests in the Catholic church, though several Protestant denominations have in recent times begun ordaining women.

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The sustained conversation about sex and gender in the Christian tradition also invites consideration of the concept of gender itself: though gender norms in the premodern world were organized and expressed as binary—male/female—other ideas about the body, such as chastity for the clergy, complicated these gender dyads. Social roles and identities such as celibate priests, “unmanly” men, “manly” women (viragos), eunuchs, and others have raised questions as to whether a strictly binary understanding of gender can capture these varieties of gender expression. Jacqueline Murray, among others, has suggested that celibacy significantly complicated the male/female binary system. Christian traditions relied heavily on Aristotelian principles that asserted that both masculine and feminine characteristics governed each person’s disposition, and while the binary categories of male and female functioned as powerful social norms upholding the patriarchal traditions into which Christianity was born, Murray (2008, 49) argues that “the very fact that medieval people saw sex and gender as mutable . . . demonstrates a world view that allowed for the accommodation of multiple identities underneath a dominant discourse of binaries.” These reflections on gender categories and experiences in the early and medieval church are instructive for contemporary inquiries into gender that consider whether gender is fluid and based on individual perceptions versus gender as an innate binary phenomenon. They also shed light on the ways in which a “dominant discourse of binaries” introduced conflicting values into Christian doctrine between the inherent equality of all souls before God, on the one hand, and patriarchal perceptions of male superiority and female weakness on the other. Katherine Clark Walter See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Chastity; Christianity in Europe; “The Fall”; Homosexuality in Early to Early Modern Christianity; Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Ministers; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Protestant Denominations; Saints; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Islam: Hawwa; Judaism: Lilith Further Reading Brown, Peter. The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. Elliott, Dyan. The Bride of Christ Goes to Hell: Metaphor and Embodiment in the Lives of Pious Women 200–1500. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. Macy, Gary. The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. McNamara, Jo Ann. “The Herrenfrage: The Restructuring of the Gender System 1050–1150.” In Medieval Masculinities, edited by Clare Lees, 3–30. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Murray, Jacqueline. “One Flesh, Two Sexes, Three Genders?” In Gender and Christianity in Medieval Europe: New Perspectives, edited by Lisa M. Bitel and Felice Lifshitz, 34–51. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Ranft, Patricia. Women and Spiritual Equality in the Christian Tradition. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.



Sophia

SOPHIA Sophia, whose Greek name means “wisdom,” is a feminine form of the Divine, according to certain Christian traditions. Sophia, as the divine form of God’s wisdom, is thought of as permeating all of creation, performing God’s will. Wisdom plays a prominent role in many of the Christian traditions that are now studied as Western esotericism—faiths known as “wisdom” or “mystery” traditions, including Gnosticism, Christian theosophy, Christian Kabbalah, and Rosicrucianism. Sophia is also important in mainstream Christianity to the Eastern Orthodox church, whose symbolic iconography leans toward esotericism. Esoteric traditions focus on the inner workings of the Godhead and its manifestation in creation; and they seek to record and impart these inner revelations through symbolic imagery. Depictions of the Feminine Divine Sophia in scripture, sacred texts, and images reveal the ways she is understood in various traditions across the history of Christianity. In the Christian wisdom tradition, Sophia is the female Creator Goddess ­(Creatrix). This tradition stretches back to the Jewish sages who wrote the Book of Proverbs in the third century BCE. In Proverbs, from the Old Testament of the Bible, Solomon calls Sophia by the name “Wisdom of God,” the “Plan of the Temple.” Solomon (ca. 10th century BCE), who ordered and oversaw the building of the temple in Jerusalem, describes this construction as a creative act of Sophia. In Proverbs 9:1, he refers to building the Temple of Wisdom, the house hewn out of seven pillars. And in this temple, the people of Israel would come to worship Asherah, the Tree of Life and Mother Goddess of ancient Semitic peoples, who was also associated with wisdom. In Gnosticism, both Sophia and Jesus Christ are important figures who together were seen as a single androgynous Savior (Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic scriptures). They are paired specifically in a book called The Sophia of Jesus Christ, written during the first century CE but inherited through centuries-old Egyptian writings. Gnosis is the Greek term for “knowledge” and “inner cognition,” so the Gnostic tradition, practiced even today, naturally evolved alongside Sophia as Wisdom. They conceive of Sophia as uniting all through knowledge and participation in all because she permeates all outer and inner realms of creation. The cosmos is thought of as a hierarchy of beings, ranging from Godhead, to Trinity, to angels, to the divine Sophia, to human beings. Within the practice of contemplation on the cosmic hierarchies, Sophia is perceived as the soul of the human community (church), while Christ is its spirit: she is contemplated as the radiance or breath of Christ directly received by human souls. Where Christ is said to be the Word of God, Sophia may be thought of as the Holy Spirit; together with the Creator, or God the Father, they form the Christian Trinity. In some texts, Sophia is referred to as an archangelic being through whose knowledge the unity of the Trinity becomes perceptible. In the Eastern Orthodox church, Sophia is linked with Mary the Mother of God as the bearer of God’s divine wisdom. After the Great Schism of 1054 CE, the Christian church was divided in two. This split was due in part to the rejection, by what would become the Catholic church, of the prominent iconography practiced by what would become Eastern Orthodox. According to the Eastern

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Orthodox tradition, Mary the human mother of Christ attains theosis—the mystical process whereby human becomes divine—and thus is called Sophia. Sophia is also the name of a saint in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. During the early centuries CE, Christianity was treated as a heretical cult, and martyrdoms at the hands of non-Christians were common. At the turn of the second century CE, a Christian woman named Sophia was martyred by the Romans alongside her three daughters, named for the three theological virtues faith, hope, and charity. Saint Sophia figures prominently in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox church. In the teachings of Christian theosophist Jacob Boehme (1575–1624), Sophia is the Chaste Virgin, or Wisdom of God, Spirit of the Great World. Boehme, who lived during the Protestant Reformation in Renaissance Europe, conceived of Sophia as the World Soul with three principles in it: Eternal Spirit or Divine Virtue, represented by the elements of air and water; Wrath, or the element of fire; and her body, the Holy Earth. Explaining John 1:1–3 from the New Testament of the Bible, Boehme says that Word, or the exhalation of God, is the emanation of divine will and knowledge. He stipulates that what is emanated is Wisdom. Thus, Christ and Sophia, Word and Wisdom, are envisioned as inseparable. The Eternal One beholds itself in the revelation of Wisdom’s powers, colors, virtues, and characteristics. According to German theosopher Friedrich Oetinger (1702–1782), Wisdom is the protoimage of the Invisible Being, which is eternally born from it. Oetinger practiced Christian Kabbalah during the 18th century. During the 17th century, Princess Antonia of Württemberg practiced this esoteric Christian theosophy using her Kabbalistic teaching painting as a memory device. This master tablet consists of esoteric symbolism from Rosicrucianism and Christian Kabbalah. Female personifications of divine principles figure prominently in the painting, including the cardinal virtues and the theological virtues. The cardinal virtue prudence or Sophia embodies the wisdom to judge the most appropriate action. Sophia as Wisdom is depicted sitting next to Ezekiel’s wheels or inner workings of creation, alongside the phoenix of rebirth, with the book of life open on her lap. Sophia as cosmic intelligence is also connected with Archangel Michael, who mediates cosmic intelligence to humanity. During the 1930s in Western Europe, this pairing of Sophia with Michael was particularly important to Valentin Tomberg (1900–1973) of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy movement. Tomberg argued for the necessity of including Sophia as inseparable from Michael, whom anthroposophists saw as the founder of a cosmic spiritual school, reflected in the earthly school of anthroposophy. Tomberg spoke of an unwritten, wordless revelation of the heart of Sophia, side by side with the written book of the Old Testament. He said that comprehension of this invisible book lived in the heart of Mary. Kathryn LaFevers Evans (Three Eagles) See also: Christianity: Apocrypha; Christianity in Europe; “The Fall”; Mary Magdalene; Middle Ages; Mother of God; Mystics; Orthodox Christianity; Judaism: Goddesses; Hasidism; Hebrew Bible; Kabbalah



Stigmatics

Further Reading Benz, Ernst. Christian Kabbalah: Neglected Child of Theology. Translated by Kenneth W. Wesche. Edited by Robert J. Faas. Saint Paul, MN: Grailstone, 2004. Tomberg, Valentin. Christ and Sophia: Anthroposophic Meditations on the Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocalypse. Great Barrington, MA: SteinerBooks, 2006. Versluis, Arthur. The Wisdom of Jacob Böhme. Saint Paul, MN: New Grail, 2003.

S T I G M AT I C S In a Christian religious context, the term stigmata refers to visible marks on a person’s body that represent the wounds received by Jesus of Nazareth during his crucifixion. Stigmata typically take the form of wounds in the hands and feet and may also include scourge marks, the impression of the crown of thorns, and a spear wound in the chest or side. Hundreds of alleged instances have followed the first known stigmatic, Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226). Although Saint Francis was the first, and Padre Pio (1887–1968) the most well-known recent stigmatic, the vast majority—according to the most exhaustive study, around 90 percent— have been women (Imbert-Gourbeyre 1894, xxi–xli). As a result, beliefs about gender and its impact on religious experience have colored popular and scholarly examinations of stigmata. Historical Overview

Saint Francis, who embraced a life of poverty, prayer, and itinerant preaching, was part of a widespread turn to mysticism and asceticism in 13th-century Christianity. Surveying the long history of stigmata, it becomes clear that its rise and fall in frequency has been tied to such trends in Christian piety. Other medieval stigmatics would follow Francis, such as Saint Gertrude (1256–1302), Angela of Foligno (1248–1309), and Saint Rita of Cassia (1386–1456). As the number of alleged stigmatics increased, striking patterns emerged: the typical stigmatic was a woman and most often either a nun or a tertiary (a person affiliated with a religious order without permanent vows). Stigmatics were also usually ascetics and experienced trances and visions. Following the Reformation, stigmata became heavily concentrated in Catholic lands and especially in Italy. Instances of stigmata decreased during the 18th-century Enlightenment but roared to unprecedented heights during the religious revivalism of the 19th century. It was also at this time that stigmatics came under the scrutiny of modern psychology and medicine as well as the glare of mass media. Nineteenth-century stigmatics such as Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774–1824) and Louise Lateau (1850–1883) were the subject of highly publicized medical examinations as well as church investigations. Interpretations of Stigmatics

Many Christians, particularly Catholics, believe stigmata are supernatural marks that appear in response to a person’s deep prayer and meditation on Jesus’s crucifixion. The institutional church, however, has been reluctant to pronounce stigmata

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cases as miraculous. Of over 300 alleged stigmatics, only about 60 have achieved beatification or canonization (Yarom 1992, 11). Scholarly interpretations of stigmatics have often been influenced by psychoanalytic theory. Michael Carroll, Frank Graziano, Nitza Yarom, and others have viewed stigmatics as persons suffering from psychological disorders. In their analyses, “spiritual mortifications” become “masochism,” “religious fasting” becomes “anorexia,” “visions” become “hallucinations,” and “stigmata” becomes a form of self-harm. They construct stigmatics, and mystics more generally, as a product of internalized, psychologically damaging discourses of human (and especially female) imperfection and inferiority. They also frequently suggest that women are uniquely prone to stigmata and similar religious phenomena, as when Carroll connects stigmata to the Electra complex, and Herbert Moller refers to women’s mysticism as characterized by “excited emotionalism and intoxicated eroticism” (Moller 1971, 305). Caroline Walker Bynum, Andrea Dickens, and others, however, have interpreted women’s Christian mysticism in a different light. In their view, mysticism functions as a suite of ideas and practices that can provide Christian women an alternative means of exercising power in the context of the patriarchal institutional church. By making this argument, these scholars shift the point of origin for women’s mysticism from the individual psyche to the individual encounter with her historical context. Meanwhile, the physically punishing asceticism and gory wounds that characterize so many of these women become for these scholars signs to be read in the light of the mystic’s theology and cultural context, revealing meanings other than those attributed to them, perhaps anachronistically, by modern psychology. Cassandra Painter See also: Christianity: Christianity in Europe; Middle Ages; Mystics; Saints; Sex and Gender Further Reading Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. Carroll, Michael P. Catholic Cults and Devotions: A Psychological Enquiry. Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989. Dickens, Andrea Janelle. The Female Mystic: Great Women Thinkers of the Middle Ages. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009. Graziano, Frank. Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Imbert-Gourbeyre, Antoine. La stigmatisation: L’extase Divine et les Miracles de Lourdes. Paris: Bellet, 1894. Moller, Herbert. “The Social Causation of Affective Mysticism.” Journal of Social History 4, no. 4 (Summer 1971): 305–38. Yarom, Nitza. Body, Blood and Sexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study of St. Francis’ Stigmata and Their Historical Context. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.



Widowhood

WIDOWHOOD The ideal of the Christian widow significantly informed the early Christian church’s evolving views on gender and sexual purity. Widowhood in the Roman world and throughout the Middle Ages was conceptualized as a female-gendered status in both linguistic and symbolic terms and was specifically shaped by female roles and experiences. As generations of clerics revised the concept of widowhood as a social space for women, its representation as both an ideal and as a social status provided male authorities an opportunity to reflect on women’s nature, spirituality, and social roles. The early church fathers described Christian widowhood as a state that was precariously balanced against worldly constraints. Clerics created a description of the good Christian widow that discouraged them from remarriage and redirected their piety, service, and wealth toward the church. While at times this interpretation of the widow’s role offered the potential for a spiritual partnership between men and women, it was more often typified by a pattern in which male clergy expressed their authority over laypeople, especially women, through the regulation of the widow’s actions. Clerical preaching on widowhood was thus inherently contradictory: preachers combined high expectations for the chaste widow’s religious devotion on the one hand with misogynistic assumptions concerning women’s lustful nature on the other. These contradictions persisted in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in devotional and secular literature, which warned widows of the perils of sex and remarriage and sharply criticized false widows who used their supposedly devout status as a cover for their lust and greed. The paradoxes surrounding the Christian widow must be seen in a social context in which celibate widowhood was a contested issue for the families involved. Even when a widow preferred to remain single, remarriage was often a necessity for those who lacked other means of financial and social support. A widow’s kin often viewed her remarriage as a renewed opportunity to increase the family’s wealth and prestige through her connection to a new husband. The deceased husband’s family, by contrast, often discouraged remarriage, preferring the widow to maintain her husband’s memory through her image as a perpetually mourning wife. The figure of the grieving widow reinforced important social values, such as spousal loyalty and the strength of the Christian marriage bond. Both secular and canon law were clear that remarriage was a fully permissible decision and did not constitute bigamy in any way, though medieval sources—both sacred and secular—expressed a lingering discomfort with the idea of multiple spouses awaiting the widow someday in heaven. Religious writers chose biblical women to exemplify the qualities and behavior of the ideal widow, and while these figures often bore little resemblance to women’s actual experiences, they allowed male clerics to envision how “real” widows embodied concepts such as chastity, loss, deprivation, and need. Church fathers adopted the language of Paul’s letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 5) to describe “she who was truly a widow” and imagined this ideal widow juxtaposed against the behavior of “real-life” widows, who faced sexual temptation, worldly vanity, and

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social pressure to remarry. The written traditions concerning widowhood were thus largely the products of clerical imagination, but because widowhood was so common in daily life, its interpretation was never a pure abstraction. For women who elected to remain as perpetual widows, their activities in early Christian communities—caring for the poor and sick, tending to their children, and praying “night and day” as the widow Anna in the temple, according to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:36–38)—imitated long-standing biblical examples of widows from the Old and New Testaments. From earliest times, the widow’s dress (or “widow’s weeds”) became a distinctive marker of her status and continued to be associated with mourning and perpetual widowhood into the modern era. Throughout every era, historical records indicate that economic hardship was a concern for all but the wealthiest widows, especially widows with young children, rendering the typical Christian widow more like the biblical widow of the two mites (Luke 21:1–4) than a “merry widow” who could indulge in worldly pleasures in her dead husband’s absence. Early church writers nevertheless devoted a great deal of attention to the widow’s chastity and the fragility of her public reputation as she carried out her worldly duties: the management of the widow’s sexuality, and the balance between her focus on secular and spiritual occupations, were often-mentioned concerns of clergymen, who saw their oversight as essential to Christian widows. The literature describing Christian widowhood throughout the premodern era was overwhelmingly authored by men. One of the few women to speak on her own behalf as a perpetual widow, Christine de Pizan (1364–1430), who was well versed in theologians’ interpretations of and warnings about Christian widowhood. She pointed out the disparities between the actual economic and social difficulties widows faced, especially when they were also the targets of disheartening gossip and widespread disbelief about their reputations, and the authenticity of their grief and religious devotion. In early Christian culture, widows were essential members of their local churches. Significant evidence points to an “order” of perpetual widows in the early centuries of the Christian movement. By the fourth century, this “order” seems to have diminished in importance or disappeared. Many church leaders, however, maintained special friendships with widowed female patrons as their advisers, and their letters of consolation and advice retained the ancient sensibility that widowhood was a special and recognized state. Saint Augustine, bishop of Hippo (354–430 CE), and the scholar-monk Saint Jerome (347–420) wrote letters of instruction to widowed patrons concerning the state of widowhood and its implications for their spirituality. Medieval writers in turn used Augustine and Jerome’s texts, albeit with a certain ambivalence toward women outside the traditional cloister, to illustrate how formerly worldly widows could adjust to the role of nun. Rituals throughout the Middle Ages testify both to the admission of widowed women into convents as nuns and their consecration as perpetual celibates or “vowesses” living in the world. In the 12th century, a new interest in women’s roles in courtly love, sacramental marriage, and pastoral care of secular women also shaped the history of the treatment of widows, and in the 13th century, the rise of orders of lay religious



Widowhood

such as the Beguines and the Third Order of Saint Francis provided an outlet for the work and pious expression in secular life as well as in convents. Clerics emphasized to widows that their perpetual celibacy after their husband’s death, and the more focused devotion to God that this state permitted, conferred significant spiritual powers. These included greater opportunities to achieve their own salvation and heightened insight into the salvation of others, as the meditations of widowhood allowed devout widows the “spirit of prophecy” associated with Anna in the Gospel of Luke. A few women, such as Elizabeth of Thüringia (1207–1231) and Bridget of Sweden (1303–1373), became internationally known exemplars of this feminine spiritual potential in widowhood through their canonization as saints. The Protestant Reformation generally rejected lay chastity as a superior way of life, but chaste widowhood captured reformers’ attention as an appropriate role for women as the head of a pious Protestant household. Renaissance and Reformation authors placed more emphasis than earlier pastoral writers on the themes of the widow’s grief and her consolation, in part because Renaissance authors favored letters of consolation as a showcase for their literary talents and found the consolation of widows an opportune medium for displaying their proficiency in this genre. The husband’s funeral sermon, letters of guidance to widows, and treatises supporting Christian widows in their bereavement became commonplace, and the widespread use of printing facilitated the circulation and preservation of medieval traditions of Christian widowhood in new print genres. Christian widowhood in the Renaissance and Reformation, however, tended to emphasize the widow’s traditional role as her husband’s principal mourner while downplaying the formidable spiritual capacities of the medieval Christian widow to receive the “spirit of prophecy” or to intercede for the salvation of others through their devotions. In the modern era, the idea of the Christian widow changed as the institution of marriage itself shifted toward a more explicit perception of the marital bond as a mutual partnership undertaken primarily for emotional fulfillment. The literature directed to widows in Victorian England, for example, characterized widowhood largely through the widow’s grief for her spouse, illustrated through highly formalized and stylized mourning clothes and demeanor. At the same time, the 19th and early 20th centuries—perhaps animated by Freudian expressions of anxiety about the feminine—saw a renewed interest in the transgressive and lustful widow, reveling in images of the “merry widow” (for example, in Franz Lehár’s opera of the same title). The biblical widow Judith, who beheaded the Israelites’ Assyrian enemy Holofernes, became a source of morbid fascination in literature and art at the turn of the 20th century, transforming the positive medieval interpretation of the biblical heroine Judith as a strong and dutiful example of religious devotion in widowhood into a terrifying example of unchecked female power. Modern Western attitudes overwhelmingly emphasize new relationships and remarriage as legitimate and desirable for a widow’s emotional fulfilment, rendering the expectation of the widow as perpetual mourner rather obsolete. For those who identify with devout Catholicism or other traditional Christian denominations, however, modern discussions of the scriptural consolations of perpetual

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widowhood still echo the logic of the early Christian fathers. For example, a recently published guide, The Undistracted Widow, reminds today’s Christian widow that Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (7:32) promotes acceptance of one’s widowhood as God’s will and the embracing of widowhood as a situation that allows one to better serve God, free from anxieties and distractions (Cornish 2010). The persona of the Christian widow thus resonates throughout history as a site of physical and social negotiations. The widow’s body occupied a contested space between chastity and worldliness, men and women, and clergy and laypeople. The threat of sexual danger lurked around the widow’s body and soul and evoked a discourse of male and clerical control over women. The conversation, however, was more complex and multidirectional than merely applying the ideal of chaste widowhood to reinforce female obedience, since the control of women’s bodies also implied the circumscription of the male sexuality that threatened the widow’s chastity. The expectation of widowed chastity often directed women toward life in a convent but also permitted many women to remain living in a secular context, creating a social and spiritual role for women in the world that allowed women to maintain their marital bond to their deceased husband but also afforded a new social identity: widowhood protected women’s reputations even as they engaged in social life and causes in more independent ways. Throughout history, widowhood affected women very differently according to their social class as well as many other factors that defined their social circumstances; amid these differences, Christian widowhood presented an idealized and iconic role for widows, even though not all women could fully participate in it. Although many women did remarry, the norms of Christian widowhood, even if practiced by only a small number of women, influenced perceptions of how “good” women mourned and memorialized their deceased husband and demonstrated a respectable way of life for all women. Katherine Clark Walter See also: Christianity: Art, Modern and Contemporary; Chastity; Christianity in Europe; Christine de Pizan; Marriage, Divorce, and Widowhood; Middle Ages; Saints; Sex and Gender; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Hinduism: Sati; Judaism: Hebrew Bible Further Reading Bell, Rudolph M., and Virginia Yans, eds. Women on Their Own: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Being Single. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008. Carlson, Cindy L., and Angela Jane Weisl, eds. Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Later Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Cavallo, Sandra, and Lyndan Warner, eds. Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. New York: Longman, 1999. Cornish, Carol. The Undistracted Widow: Living for God after Losing Your Husband. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. Erler, Mary. “English Vowed Women at the End of the Middle Ages.” Medieval Studies 57 (1995): 155–203. Jalland, Patricia. Death in the Victorian Family. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.



Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE)

Mirrer, Louise, ed. Upon My Husband’s Death: Widows in the Literature and Histories of Medieval Europe. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. Rees, Elizabeth. “Christian Widowhood.” New Blackfriars 76, no. 896 (September 1995): 393–400.

W O M E N I N E A R LY C H R I S T I A N I T Y ( T O 3 0 0 C E ) During the first three centuries CE, many women were engaged in the Christian movement. Women helped the new religion gain cultural and political acceptance, assisted the new movement economically, and were accepted as apostles and disciples of Christ and as preachers and deacons in the early church. Key women were witnesses to the life of Jesus, such as Joanna and Mary Magdalene. From Palestine, Joanna was wealthy and was initially excluded by Jesus’s apostles due to her high social status. She was embraced by the group of “new Christian friends” only after she renounced the economic advantages of her privileged background. As a result, Joanna played an important role in the community: chosen as a female disciple, she helped others with education and finance to do “good” in the Christian community (Cohick 2009, 314–15). Another important woman in church history, and a controversial figure, is Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala, a businesswoman who traded saltfish and traveled throughout the north and east across the Sea of Galilee. She was accused of being a prostitute, and she is associated in some accounts with the “sinful woman” in Luke 7:36–50. Although Mary of Magdala was thus accused (falsely), she was accepted as an apostle and according to apocryphal texts was the most beloved of Christ, with an entire gospel written in her name (the Gospel of Mary). Jesus also dined and traveled with Mary Magdalene and other women (including Mary his mother) who were predominant in the movement. Early Christian literature shows that sexism was prevalent among male leaders of the early church. According to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in the third century (ca. 247 CE), Tertullian (d. ca. 220 CE), and most biblical analyses and commentaries of the church fathers, “the woman was mainly responsible for sin, human perdition and she was also the devil’s gateway” (Coyle 1993, 124). The bishop of Milan, Saint Ambrose (a.k.a. Ambrosiaster, 339–397 CE), Diodore of Tarsus (d. 390 CE), and Iranaeus (130–202 CE) all regarded women as inferior to men, not made in the image of God, and therefore not allowed to teach, to take an oath, to govern, or to pass judgment. Even Paul, author of 1 Corinthians, wrote, “Let your women be silent in the assemblies” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Despite these views, female leaders were prominently involved in the growth of the church. There are numerous references to women who contributed as benefactors in the Roman religious and political sphere in the first century: women such as Prisca, Anna, Phoebe, Julia, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Thecla, the martyrs Perpetua and Felicitis (both d. 203 CE), and rich women such as Joanna, Berenice (the mother of Herod Agrippa I), and Poppaea Sabina (30–65 CE; the wife of Nero). The Roman Poppaea Sabina was exceptionally active in the liberation of priests who were kept in chains.

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These women had a powerful influence both in politics and in the Christian community of the time. Aristocratic women used their resources in aiding the needy, offering gifts and providing food to the poor, and promoting ethical values in the early church. Prisca (or the diminutive Priscilla), the companion/wife of the Roman Aquila (supporter of Paul’s mission), and Anna were teachers and prophetesses in the Christian communities, instructing members of the church. Anna also proclaimed the charismatic identity of Christ to those who were waiting for “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36–38). Phoebe, an influential woman in the Christian diaspora (the dispersion of Christians from Palestine), is described by Paul (Romans 16:1–2) as a patron of Christianity and as a minister of the assembly in Cenchreae. Phoebe was a deacon of the church, not just conveying the message and word of God but also assisting the church in its financial and social agenda. She played a missionary role during the apostolic age alongside Junia/Joanna, another prominent apostle in the Pauline churches. In Paul’s letters to the Romans, Phoebe was identified as a spiritual partner in the Christian life, reflecting her virtue and loyalty in the ministry of the church. Among the women of Paul’s church who were influential in early Christianity was Lydia from Thyatira in today’s Turkey. She was a successful trader of purple cloth (known as the woman of purple) and a generous benefactor to the Christian groups. The Orthodox Christian church has recognized her as Equal to the Apostles. Lydia was a Roman citizen who held a prestigious administrative post in the city of Rome. Another woman who had a central role in the development of the Christian movement was Thecla from Turkey. She was one of the female charismatics and itinerant personalities of early Christianity. Thecla was a follower of Paul, and she lived in chastity for the sake of the Christian faith. After many hindrances and persecutions, she became a symbol of the evangelical mission for Christian women who sought the word of God. Among the women who were pivotal in the expansion of the church was the northern African Vibia Perpetua and her slave Felicitis. Perpetua was a catechumen, being instructed in the principles of Christian faith, and she devoted her life to God. She was a woman who put herself in captivity to the Roman Empire to be with her people so that she could free Christians and consolidate a collective Christian identity. Perpetua wrote a prison diary, The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, in which she reports her martyrdom at a very young age (22 years old and mother of an infant son) together with other Christians. This account also displays her enthusiasm for ascetism, prophecy, revelation, visions, and mystical experiences. In addition, Euphemia (d. 303 CE, in Chalcedon) is an early Christian martyr and saint. She is still venerated in the Eastern Orthodox church and in the Roman Catholic Church (on September 16). Euphemia is an example of a woman of faith who was persecuted by “the Great Persecution” (303 CE) under the reign of Diocletian. She was tortured and sent to her death. In the history of the church, Euphemia remains a symbol in Christian iconography and art. Several paintings and narrative images refer to her. For instance, the Basilic of Saint Mark in Venice has a 13th-century mosaic in honor of Euphemia. The Venetian Andrea Mantegna



Women in the Reformation

(15th century) painted Saint Euphemia (1454), and this painting is held at the museum of Capodimonte in Naples. The church (10th century) in Rovinj, Croatia, is very ancient and was built for Euphemia. It keeps the sarcophagus and the relics of Euphemia and also has two frescoes (19th century) that depict the arrival of Euphemia’s tomb in Rovinj and her martyrdom. Similarly, in Verona, Italy, there is another old church (10th century) dedicated to Saint Euphemia, and its believers show their deep adoration to Saint Euphemia by praying to her and bowing in front of her. At its center, Christianity had influential women who contributed to the social and economic world of the church. Women in the early Christian world were seen not only as wives, mothers, midwives, nurses, domestic workers, and slaves but also as public speakers, traders, philosophers, and “guardians/leaders” of the church. Jesus welcomed subaltern (oppressed and marginalized) women, such as prostitutes and the poor working class. The engagement of women in Christianity is important, and it is significant that Paul included women in the Christian communities. In Paul’s famous biblical passage, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28), he expresses solidarity in the face of discrimination and subalternity. Women were therefore essential to Jesus and to Christianity as a whole. Marzia Anna Coltri See also: Christianity: Apocrypha; Chastity; Mary Magdalene; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Orthodox Christianity; Sex and Gender Further Reading Cohick, Lynn H. Women in the World of the Earliest Christianity: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009. Coyle, K. “Renewing the Face of the Earth” [ecofeminism and theology]. Asia Journal of Theology 7 (1993): 114–127. Epp, Eldon Jay. Junia: The First Woman Apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005. Haskin, Susan. Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1993. McGrath, Alister E. Christian History: An Introduction. Oxford: John Wiley, 2013.

W O M E N I N T H E R E F O R M AT I O N The Reformation of the 16th century shattered Christendom by disrupting the church’s monopoly over salvation. Martin Luther’s “Reformation breakthrough,” the doctrine of justification by faith through grace, dismantled the sacramental system of the medieval church. For Protestants and the more radical reformers, the entire hierarchy of the medieval church (priests, bishops, archbishops, the pope) was no longer a privileged sacred arbiter between this world and the next. The early Reformation was thus an exciting, egalitarian movement in which both women and men exercised considerable charismatic authority within their communities of faith. Only later in the early modern period did the movement crystallize into the institutions that we are familiar with today: Anglicanism, Lutheranism, the Reformed churches, and the various Anabaptist groups (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites).

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Women from all social classes and backgrounds contributed to the reforming movements of this period. Some women left their religious lives in cloisters and challenged the religious assumptions behind celibacy, marriage, and the family life. Noblewomen across Europe promoted the Reformation through acts of patronage, while reformers like Katharina Schütz Zell (1498–1562) engaged the debates of the era over free will, salvation, and the nature of the church alongside their male peers. Further, many women among the more radical elements of the Reformation prophesied and preached in Anabaptist and Spiritualist communities of faith. Finally, when persecuting regimes across Europe demanded religious conformity within their territories, women from dissenting communities often chose martyrdom rather than abandon their faith. Nuns were an integral part of the spiritual life of the church on the eve of the Reformation. Like monks, nuns lived according to rules within their own hierarchical power structures, beginning with the abbess at the head of the convent. However, with the spread of Luther’s ideas, there were nuns who no longer wanted to live according to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; some left their communities at great personal risk. The most well-known example is Katharina von Bora (1499–1552), who later married Martin Luther. With Luther’s help, she and 11 fellow nuns escaped in a wagon from the Cistercian monastery of Marienthron in Nimbschen, Saxony. They were brought to the city of Wittenberg, where Luther was a professor at the university. Katharina von Bora’s marriage to Luther in June of 1525 demonstrated the Protestant rejection of marriage as a sacrament, thus depriving it of its sacred status. This, in turn, shifted the focus of marriage to the relationship of the partners in this world. For her part, Katharina von Bora enjoyed particular responsibilities in her marriage to Luther. She and Martin lived in a converted Augustinian monastery, and she ran the business side of things, including the farm and Katharina von Bora (1499–1552) was a nun who, with the brewery. 11 others, escaped her convent during the Protestant Many contributors to the RefReformation. She married Martin Luther, helping to ormation were women in posiredefine marriage and the roles of women and men in the Protestant movement. (Library of Congress) tions of power and authority



Women in the Reformation

relative to their peers in lower social classes. For example, Marguerite of Navarre (1492–1549), princess of France and queen of Navarre, was an open-minded thinker and patron of humanist thought. Humanism was an important educational movement at the time devoted to go ad fontes—that is, back to the classic texts of ancient Greece and Rome. In addition, Marguerite actively protected Protestant reformers in France when such ideas were deemed dangerous to public order. Although a Catholic herself, she sought peace between Catholics and Protestants during the reign of her brother, Francis I (r. 1515–1547). Despite lacking access to formal higher education, there were women who became actively involved in the Reformation. The most well-known example is Katharina Schütz, who was born in Strasbourg in 1497 or 1498 and married the Lutheran pastor Matthäus Zell in 1523. Indeed, Katharina opposed clerical celibacy, and her motivation to marry Zell was partially driven by her desire to blaze a trail for later Christian women (McKee 2006). Largely self-educated, she wrote several pamphlets in defense of the Reformation. Notably, she also engaged in polemical exchanges with her theological opponents on behalf of the Reformation in Strasbourg. After her husband’s death in 1548, Katharina continued to actively support the Reformation in the city. The radical wing of the Reformation may have provided the most opportunities for women during the 16th century. The early Anabaptists and Spiritualists were not satisfied with the Reformation of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, or John Calvin, who did little (they contended) to dismantle the “Constantinian” alliance between church leaders and secular rulers. They wanted to level class distinctions and live in communities that reflected the lives and practices of their biblical heroes, including Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, Esther, Moses, David, and many others. At times this included polygamy as well as charismatic preaching and prophecy. The tolerant city of Strasbourg was not only home to reformers like Katharina Schütz Zell; Anabaptist visionaries and prophets made their home there in the 1520s and early 1530s. A radical group known as the Strasbourg Melchiorites followed the apocalyptic teachings of Melchior Hoffmann (1495–1543), who believed that women, too, could serve as God’s prophets (Snyder and Huebert Hecht 1996). This group included the visionary Ursula Jost (d. 1532/1539) as well as Barbara Rebstock (active 1530–1534), who both received visions and prophesied on behalf of their community. Finally, many women chose to die for their faiths during the Reformation era. With the breakup of Christendom into competing confessional territories, secular rulers across Europe still believed the medieval assumption that religious uniformity ensured political stability. As such, Protestants in Roman Catholic territories, Anabaptists in Protestant or Catholic states, and Catholics in Protestant areas such as England could often expect persecution. Many chose to practice their faith in secret (commonly known as Nicodemism), while others chose to leave these territories altogether. Others, however, refused to comply with the religious and secular authorities, dying for their faiths as martyrs, or witnesses to their faith. Their tragic ordeals and deaths were recorded by their coreligionists. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (The Actes and Monuments, 1563) is the most well known; this includes

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the stories of Protestant martyrs under Henry VIII of England. A notable example is Anne Askew, a young noblewoman who was both tortured in the Tower of London and burnt at the stake in 1546. The Martyrs Mirror, or Bloody Theater (1660) is a collection of Anabaptist martyr stories from the 16th and early 17th centuries. This book includes the martyrdom of countless women and men who chose to die for their Anabaptist faith. Women of all social classes influenced the direction of the Reformation during the 16th century, including former nuns like Katharina von Bora, nobles like Marguerite of Navarre, urban reformers like Katharina Schütz Zell, radicals like Ursula Jost and Barbara Rebstock, and countless martyrs. The Protestant and Anabaptist women of this era made hard choices and vigorously promoted the beliefs and practices of their communities of faith. Many would sacrifice their lives as witnesses to the truth of their beliefs, and many more would be inspired and heartened by those stories as the early Reformation era slowly gave way to a period of bloody religious warfare during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Adam W. Darlage See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Christianity in Europe; Christianity in Latin America; Education; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Pilgrimage; Protestant Denominations; Polygamy; Roman Catholic Women Religious; Saints; Sophia; Widowhood Further Reading Huebert Hecht, Linda A. Women in Early Austrian Anabaptism: Their Days, Their Stories. Kitchener, ON: Pandora, 2009. Markwald, Rudolf K., and Marilynn Morris. Katharina von Bora: A Reformation Life. St. Louis: Concordia, 2002. McKee, Elsie Anne, ed. Church Mother: The Writings of a Protestant Reformer in Sixteenth-Century Germany. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. McKee, Elsie Anne. Katharina Schütz Zell: The Life and Thought of a Sixteenth-Century Reformer. Vol. 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1999. Snyder, C. Arnold, and Linda A. Huebert Hecht, eds. Profiles of Anabaptist Women: SixteenthCentury Reforming Pioneers. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996.

W O M E N W R I T E R S I N E A R LY A N D M E D I E VA L C H R I S T I A N I T Y Women throughout the medieval centuries created a rich body of texts that illustrates their participation in intellectual and spiritual life. Women in the early church were clearly active in the dissemination and teaching of Christian beliefs. Though much of this early activity appears to have been oral rather than written, one of the earliest and most influential Christian texts of martyrdom was written at least in part by a woman, Perpetua of Carthage (d. ca. 203). Her narrative, which includes some of our earliest and most intimate descriptions of a Christian church community and the experience of martyrdom, as well as her visionary dreams and reflections while awaiting her trial, is the starting point for many anthologies on women’s literary contributions in early and medieval Christianity.



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In the early Middle Ages, literacy levels declined in comparison to the Roman era, and monasteries and royal courts constituted the main educational centers. Monastic education offered a handful of talented monks and nuns unique opportunities to gain proficiency in Latin composition and immerse themselves in a study of biblical and classical literature. While not all convents achieved the same level of educational resources and sophistication as male monasteries, many did, and they sometimes worked in partnership with male houses in the study and production of manuscripts. Female monastics such as Baudonivia (fl. 600) who composed a vita of Saint Radegund, and Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (ca. 935–after 973), who wrote a history of the origins of her convent, proved to be significant “rememberers” of their convents’ sacred history and cultivators of patronage and recognition for their institutions in their own day. Monastic authors such as Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, Herrad of Landsberg (1135–1195), and Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) demonstrate the educational potential available to women in the monastic environment, and each contributed unique and monumental works to medieval literature, creating the first theatrical works since the Roman Empire (Hrotsvit), an innovative illustrated scientific encyclopedia (Herrad), and an enormous corpus of works that included visionary literature, scientific and medical texts, drama, and letters (Hildegard). Hildegard’s innovative and original contributions to the theological “wisdom” tradition, liturgical drama, and cosmology of the 12th century cannot be overstated. The High and late Middle Ages witnessed greater urbanization and a rise in literacy, which inspired new forms of writing and composition in vernacular languages and in Latin. Both nuns and women pursuing the religious life while living in the secular world recorded mystic and visionary experiences, often interpreting these experiences to comment on matters of church doctrine (a practice that clerics increasingly viewed with suspicion in the late Middle Ages). The mystic Marguerite Porete (ca. 1248–1310) was condemned and executed for circulating her book, The Mirror of Simple Souls, after 15 articles in her text were declared heretical. Other women who more successfully found protection and acceptance within the institutional church, such as the widow Bridgit of Sweden (1303–1373), the Dominican tertiary Catherine of Siena (1347–1380), and the English anchoress Julian of Norwich (1342–1416), reported extensively on their mystical experiences, often interpreting them in theological terms, in multivolume collections (for example, Bridgit’s Revelations, Catherine’s Dialogues, and Julian’s Showings). Women’s expression of their relationship to the Divine in the late Middle Ages was also informed by developments in secular literature, such as the lyric poetry of the troubadours and vernacular works in the courtly love tradition. Catherine of Siena experienced a vision of mystical marriage with Christ, and many mystics expressed their ineffable love for God in the romantic terms of courtly love and sexual union. The influence of these writers on popular spirituality is evident in The Book of Margery Kempe, which the would-be saint Margery (1373–1438) dictated to a priest in hopes that her piety would gain broader recognition. Margery’s extensive narration mirrors the hagiographical conventions of holy matrons such as Saint Bridget and included Margery’s autobiography, accounts of her pilgrimages, and

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discussions of her mystical encounters with Christ. She consulted the anchoress Julian of Norwich as part of her spiritual journey, and although she was often frustrated in her attempt to be seen as a saint, her book suggests the profound impact of holy women’s writing in the lives of “ordinary” women. The works of these visionary writers of the late Middle Ages shared the depth and complexity of earlier writers such as Hildegard of Bingen but were much more deferential to ecclesiastical authority, reinforcing the church’s preference for female subordination and obedience. In contrast to Hildegard, who ruled her convent with virtual autonomy, women such as Bridget and Catherine exercised their spiritual vocation under the close supervision of male clergy. Julian of Norwich, an anchoress dedicated to permanent, solitary enclosure within a cell adjacent to her church, wrote with some of the unique, autodidactic expression as Hildegard did, but the era of Abbess Hildegard’s remarkable freedom to express and interpret her visions in cosmological terms had passed. Later medieval women’s writing was also strongly influenced by the “penitential ethos,” which expressed a personal identification with Jesus’s suffering and humility and advocated a state of perpetual repentance as important to one’s salvation. In the works of later medieval women mystics, their powerful identification with Christ’s physical suffering also resonated strongly with medieval society’s perception of their own feminine weakness. As Carolyn Walker Bynum has noted, the intense physicality and passion of the penitential ethos also gave women a special role in expressing the embodied humanity of Christ. Already considered more “fleshly,” women writers by the late Middle Ages had fully internalized the role of man as signifying “the divinity of the Son of God and woman his humanity” (Bynum 1991, 179). Female authors frequently acknowledged social norms of gender inequality by defending their authority to speak through a rhetorical declaration of their inferiority. This formulation both acknowledged the perception of female weakness and transformed it into a strength: even though women might be “weak” or “unworthy” vessels, God worked through these lesser creatures to reveal divine wisdom and truth. This “modesty topos”—a preemptive declaration of the writer’s flaws at the beginning of a work and inoculation against critique—was a common rhetorical device for all writers in the Middle Ages, but for women authors, their self-characterization as a “weaker vessel” or “poor little woman” was integral both to the thematic content of their works and their very authority to speak. Female authors of the Middle Ages, such as Hrotsvit of Gandersheim and Hildegard of Bingen, expressed acute self-consciousness about their education and rhetorical skill, recognizing that they were operating in a traditionally male preserve. The beguine and mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1210–1285) likewise expressed her feminine frailty in anticipation of the criticism surrounding her status as an uneducated layperson and as a beguine residing in the world rather than in a formal convent (which clerical authorities increasingly curtailed in favor of women’s strict and formal enclosure as nuns). Very occasionally, women writers such as Christine de Pizan (1364–1430) consciously reflected on the origins of long-standing scholarly and theological claims



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to female inferiority. Christine echoed the 14th-century English poet Chaucer’s sentiments, expressed through his famous Canterbury Tales character the Wife of Bath, about “who painted the lion,” concerning the traditional discourse on women. In her preface to The Book of the City of Ladies, Christine relates that she was distressed by remarks in the Lamentations of Matheolus, a treatise on the vices of women. That text convinced Christine that “judging from the treatises of all philosophers and poets and from all the orators—it would take too long to mention their names—it seems that they all speak from one and the same mouth: that the behavior of women is inclined to and full of every vice” (Richards 1982, 4). Despite the relative scarcity of surviving texts by women, and the tendency of those texts to represent noble and ecclesiastical perspectives rather than the concerns of everyday women, female authors of late antiquity and the Middle Ages engaged in similar genres and reflection to their male counterparts and at times presented a gendered “awareness of themselves, their modes of expression and of self-expression” (Dronke 1984, viii). Many of the works discussed above fell into obscurity after the Middle Ages or remained significant only as part of their national literatures rather than receiving treatment in a broader context. With the rise of women’s studies in the 1970s and 1980s, scholars endeavored to reclaim these works for a wider audience and make them more available outside their countries of origin as well as to consider them systematically within the frameworks of gender and literary theory. An extremely important outcome of this work in recent decades has been the recognition that women’s writing was not a sidebar to history but rather that women’s literary activity both captured and shaped theological reflections on gender and the Divine in medieval culture. Katherine Clark Walter See also: Christianity: Abbesses; Charity; Christianity in Europe; Christine de Pizan; Education; Hildegard of Bingen; Julian of Norwich; Middle Ages; Monastic Life; Monasticism, Medieval Women; Mother of God; Mystics; Saints; Women in Early Christianity (to 300 CE); Spirituality: Sex and Gender Further Reading Bynum, Carolyn Walker. Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion. New York: Zone Books, 1991. Dronke, Peter. Women Writers of the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Richards, Earl Jeffrey, ed. The Book of the City of Ladies. New York: Persea Books, 1982. Wilson, Katharina M. Medieval Women Writers. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.

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INTRODUCTION One of three major religious/philosophical systems in China where it originated, Confucianism is also central to the cultures of Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. The other two primary religions of China are Daoism, which also arose in China, and Buddhism, imported from India. In practice, Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism blend with each other and with local folk traditions. While Daoism and Buddhism are considered religions, there is widespread debate over whether or not Confucianism is. It is not usually considered a religion in China (Sun 2013, 1), and among scholars in the West, debate continues. Although the answer to this question is both “yes” and “no” (see Anna Sun’s Confucianism as a World Religion, 2013), Confucianism is included here. It clearly has traits and elements in common with religions, with its highly developed rituals, its blending of ideas and practices with the more religious systems of Daoism and Buddhism, and its concept of becoming a sage, by which humans perfect themselves in alignment with a universal cosmic order. Of the three major religions/philosophies of China, Confucianism is the most socially conservative; it consciously places women at the bottom of a hierarchy that includes heaven over humanity, rulers over men, parents over children (for life), and men over women. The expectations for women in this system are oppressive: women leave the family home at marriage and are then obligated to honor, obey, and care for both their husband and parents-in-law as long as they live. However, it should be noted that this system has not always been widespread or practiced according to its own ideals, that many women have worked outside of the home, and that some women (more in certain times and places than in others) have found other outlets for their creative energies and pursuits. In addition, the influence of Confucianism itself has waxed and waned. The impact of Confucianism on women’s lives cannot be understood without looking at its social context—whether, for example, it is practiced in a society governed by a totalitarian government or a democratic one (see Xinyan Jian 2009). The importance of social factors should not be underestimated. As Julie Remoiville writes in her entry “Women’s Changing Roles,” “Women in East Asia have known a wide variety of roles and positions, not only throughout different periods but also through differences of social status, region, and individual circumstance.” Remoiville further elaborates on women’s roles in Confucian societies in “Motherhood,” adding two important notes. The first is that women’s status is rapidly rising at present in some parts of East Asia. And, second, many contemporary women in Confucian societies strive to resist the oppressive elements of Confucian values and norms. Several other entries in this section discuss women’s traditional roles according to Confucianism. These include “Cult of Female Chastity,” “Filial Piety,” and

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“Classical Confucianism.” In “Books for Women,” Susan de-Gaia discusses books that were written to educate girls on the virtues of submission, modesty, chastity, and the like. But, as Remoiville notes in “Feminine Virtues in Confucianism,” these books written by women and for women and girls have at times supported female literacy, particularly as it came into increasing favor beginning in the 17th century. Confucianism is currently on the upswing in China—this time with greater opportunities for women’s participation and leadership. This phenomenon, called Confucian Revivalism, is discussed in the article of that title. General Bibliography—Confucianism Chan, Alan K. L., and Sor-Hoon Tan, eds. Filial Piety in Chinese Thought and History. New York: Routledge, 2004. Foust, Mathew A., and Sor-hoon Tan, eds. Feminist Encounters with Confucius. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2016. Gao, Xiongya. “Women Existing for Men: Confucianism and Social Injustice against Women in China.” Race, Gender and Class 10, no. 3 (2003): 114–25. Jian, Xinyan. “Confucianism, Women, and Social Contexts.” In Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36, no. 2 (2009): 228–42. Kim, S. “The Way to Become a Female Sage: Im Yunjidang’s Confucian Feminism.” Journal of the History of Ideas 75, no. 3 (2014): 395–416. Ko, Dorothy, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan Piggott. Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Li, Chenyang. The Sage and the Second Sex: Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender. Chicago: Open Court, 2000. Mann, Cheng, Susan Mann, and Yu-Yin Cheng. Under Confucian Eyes: Writings on Gender in Chinese History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Nyitray, Vivian-Lee. “Fundamentalism and the Position of Women in Confucianism.” In Fundamentalism and Women in World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharma and Katherine K. Young, 47–76. New York: T and T Clark, 2007. Pang-White, Ann A., trans. The Confucian Four Books for Women: A New Translation of the Nü Sishu and the Commentary of Wang Xiang. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Raphals, Lisa Ann. Sharing the Light: Representations of Women and Virtue in Early China. State University of New York Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Albany: State University of New York, 1998. Rosenlee, Li-Hsiang Lisa. Confucianism and Women: A Philosophical Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. Slote, Walter H., and George A. DeVos, eds. Confucianism and the Family. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. Sun, Anna. Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. Widmer, Chang, Ellen Widmer, and Kang-i Sun Chang. Writing Women in Late Imperial China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

BOOKS FOR WOMEN Confucians have long promoted the education of girls on traditional expectations for women, such as ritual decorum, modesty, and chastity. Rites of Zhou, a mid-second-century BCE treatise, is an early example. Written for male guardians,



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it explained the norms of female virtue, female speech, female expression, and female accomplishment. During the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), a number of books were written for female readers, explicitly to prepare them for their designated place in the patriarchal order of the Confucian family and state. Additional books followed, and eventually four books—Admonitions for Women, Women’s Analects, Domestic Lessons, and Sketch of a Model for Women—were chosen for an edited collection called Four Books for Women. Admonitions for Women was written by female historian and educator Ban Zhao (ca. 45–120 CE) and was intended for the instruction of her daughters. It taught traditional female roles and appropriate female behaviors within Confucian society, including feminine virtues, women’s roles in ritual, and women’s place in the patriarchal order. Another book, Women’s Analects, written by Song Ruoxin (d. 820 CE) to instruct her daughter on how to become a “wise and worthy woman,” and annotated by her sister, Song Ruozhao (d. 825 CE), imitated in form the influential classic Analects of Confucius. Like Analects of Confucius, this book purported to be an edited record of didactic conversations. In Women’s Analects, the conversation was an imaginary dialogue explaining the proper behavior for women according to Confucian ideals. Domestic Lessons (1404 CE), or Instructions for the Inner Quarters, was produced by Empress Xu (wife of the Yongle emperor) to educate women of the court. An edited collection of texts written by earlier authors on women’s education with commentary by Empress Xu, it taught the value and methods of traditional feminine comportment: “Being upright and modest, reserved and quiet, correct and dignified, sincere and honest: these constitute the moral nature of a woman. Being filial and respectful, humane and perspicacious, loving and warm, meek and gentle: these represent the complete development of the moral nature” (Asia for Educators n.d.). Sketch of a Model for Women, by Madame Liu (fl. 16th c), was based on the Confucian ideals of the “three controls” and the “five constants.” The text used stories of virtuous women as exemplars of domestic rectitude, including virtuous consorts, daughters, wives, and mothers, as well as female martyrs and other women. The “three controls” are the prince controlling the minister, the father controlling the son, and the husband controlling the wife. The “five constants” are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness. Having been widely used to promote traditional feminine virtues and ideals among the elite, these books were eventually collected together and titled Four Books of the Inner Chambers, for Women. Commentaries and subcommentaries were then added, and in 1624, the collection was published by Duowen Tang as The Four Books for Women of the Ladies’ Quarters, with Collected Notes. The Four Books continued to circulate until the Chinese Revolutionary period, educating girls on the virtues and ideals of female behavior—chastity, devotion and submission to one husband for life, and domestic achievement. Despite the collection’s role in promoting female submission, the Four Books for Women did contribute to women’s literacy, particularly among the elite. Written by women for women and girls, their

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authorship and use required literacy. Beginning in the 17th century, they were read by even more females, as girls’ education began to gain favor. Susan de-Gaia See also: Confucianism: Feminine Virtues; Filial Piety Further Reading Asia for Educators. Excerpts from Empress Xu’s Instructions for the Inner Quarters. New York: Columbia University Press. 2018. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/ps/cup/empress​ _xu_inner_quarters.pdf. Chang, Kang-i Sun, and Haun Saussy, eds. Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999. Mingqu, Zhang. “The Four Books for Women: Ancient Chinese Texts for the Education of Women.” Translation originally published in B.C. Asian Review 1 (1987). David C. Lam Institute for East West Studies (LEWI), Hong Kong Baptist University. http://www2​ .kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Reln471/fourbookwoman.htm. Pang-White, Ann A. The Confucian Four Books for Women: A New Translation of the Nü Sishu and the Commentary of Wang Xiang. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

CLASSICAL CONFUCIANISM Confucianism, developed in China during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, supported a social order that relegated women to the service of men. First elevated to state ideology in imperial China’s Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), over time, Confucianism merged with other important philosophical streams in China, such as Daoism, Legalism, and Buddhism. From China, Confucianism spread to neighboring areas, especially Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. One can generally distinguish between classical Confucianism, which lasted until the Sui dynasty (581–618), and the more modern and transformed Neo-Confucianism, which came about during the Tang dynasty (618–907). Due to the Chinese imperial government’s active promotion of it, Confucianism would come to infuse the entire society with its prescriptions to live one’s life per Confucian teachings—affecting the lives of women differently from those of men. Hierarchy was one of the most important hallmarks defining classical Con­fucianism. Mencius (ca. 372–289 BCE; meng zi in Chinese), an important Confucian philosopher, described five (hierarchical) relationships (wu lun, wu chang): familial proximity of father and son, justice between prince (ruler) and subjects, right hierarchy between the old and young, trust between strangers, and the separation of spheres between man and woman. In practice, the separation of spheres between man and woman manifested itself in the distribution of all internal family responsibility to the woman and all external family responsibility to the man. On the one hand, women were given control of family finances, though, on the other hand, this also translated into a spatial confinement of women as having to stay at home at almost all times. Women could only leave the house in palanquins, since they were to avoid being seen by other men. Per this hierarchical thinking, women would serve men for most of their lives, beginning with their father, followed by their husband, and eventually, their son.



Classical Confucianism

This separation of spheres by gender may be seen as reflecting the famous dichotomy of yin and yang, which was originally not Confucian but eventually became absorbed into it and into the amalgam of Chinese state ideology: whereas yin came to be associated with the feminine, weakness, and tranquility, yang stood for the masculine, strength, and movement. The literal translation of yin is “shady side (of the mountain),” and yang is “shiny side (of the mountain)”—clearly also relating back and alluding to the separation of spheres between woman and man. To educate young girls in their expected roles according to Confucianism, they were given the textbook Biographies of Exemplary Women (Lienü Zhuan in Chinese). Compiled by Liu Xiang (77–6 BCE) in the first century BCE, this textbook was used in parenting girls during most of imperial Chinese history. For example, chapter 4 is titled “The Chaste and Compliant,” teaching the female ideal of chastity and obedience. Many expectations for the behavior of women, especially married women and widows, flowed from these teachings. Generally, women did not have a choice in whom they married in the first place. Should their husband die, widows were not only expected to never remarry but were often encouraged to go as far as “suicide and self-mutilation as means to preserve chastity” (Kinney 2014, xv). This should be qualified, though; although this was written into literature presenting the ideal female behavior according to classical Confucianism, reality often differed from the ideal. Remarrying of widows was not unusual at all, for example. Remarriage was an

Women of the Palace Gather Silk for Garments Worn in Religious Rites The following is an excerpt from The Lî Kî (The Book of Rites), which dates to about 200 BCE but is a compilation of religious practices going back to the eighth century BCE. This passage describes how women gather silk to be used in the preparation of garments worn during religious rites: In this month orders are given to the foresters throughout the country not to allow the cutting down of the mulberry trees and silk-worm oaks. About these the cooing doves clap their wings, and the crested birds light on them. The trays and baskets with the stands (for the worms and cocoons) are got ready. The queen, after vigil and fasting, goes in person to the eastern fields to work on the mulberry trees. She orders the wives and younger women (of the palace) not to wear their ornamental dresses, and to suspend their woman’s work, thus stimulating them to attend to their business with the worms. When this has been completed, she apportions the cocoons, weighs out (afterwards) the silk, on which they go to work, to supply the robes for the solstitial and other great religious services, and for use in the ancestral temple. Not one is allowed to be idle. Source: The Lî Kî (The Book of Rites). ca. 200 BCE. Translated by James Legge, 1885. Book IV, The Yüeh Ling, or, Proceedings of Government in the Different Months. Section 1, Part III, Verse 12. http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/liki/.

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Handscroll illustration shows court women preparing newly woven silk, ca. 11th–12th century. Gathering and preparing silk for ritual garments and other uses was a responsibility of court women under classical Confucianism. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Special Chinese and Japanese Fund/Bridgeman Images)

opportunity of choice for the woman; the ability to select her husband was something she was not entitled to the first time marrying. The same can be said of the ideal of the prescribed female chastity, whereby the reality often reflected a more sexually generous understanding. Although many women did have limited choices, women from wealthy families were more likely to experience greater freedom. Today, Confucianism has certainly moved on from these former ideals and practices, though the mark of paternalistic classical Confucianism and its philosophical successors has left on East Asian societies can still be seen and felt to this day. Lukas K. Danner See also: Confucianism: Books for Women; Feminine Virtues; Daoism: Goddesses Further Reading Foust, Mathew, and Sor-Hoon Tan, eds. Feminist Encounters with Confucius. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2016. Kinney, Anne Behnke. Exemplary Women of Early China: The Lienü Zhuan of Liu Xiang. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Ko, Dorothy, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan R. Piggott, eds. Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Li, Chenyang, ed. The Sage and the Second Sex. Peru, IL: Open Court, 2000.

C O N F U C I A N R E V I VA L I S M Confucian Revivalism is a term used to describe a presently developing but loose cluster of efforts aimed at reincorporating the teachings of Confucius into Chinese society at all levels and sometimes in novel ways. It is not to be confused with Neo-Confucianism, which could be considered Confucianism’s first revival. Women play much more prominent and powerful roles in this second revival than they have in the known history of Confucianism, and more opportunities for their involvement continue to be created as the movement expands.



Confucian Revivalism

Confucianism itself dates to the fifth century BCE, when the Chinese philosopher Confucius developed his writings. Women are included in his original teachings, and these are generally interpreted in the modern era as being oppressive to and controlling of women, particularly for the notorious mandate that females must obey their father, husband, and eldest son starting from a female’s birth until her death, respectively. She is, in this sense, never free to decide the fate of her own life; it is instead tied to the lives of the men in her family. The traditional Confucian ethic encouraged women to be supportive, quiet, and passive for the critical maintenance of those relationships, thus contributing to men’s stability and ability to perform as virtuous Confucians in the outside world. Women are thus immeasurably important in the eyes of Confucianism; however, that importance is played out only through behavior that greatly restricts their activity. After being partly eclipsed by Buddhism’s and Daoism’s growth from the Han period (220 BCE) onward, Confucianism experienced its first revival during the late 800s toward the end of the Tang dynasty. This revival led to the creation of Neo-Confucianism, which was incorporated into the official imperial exam system at the time and became solidly integrated into the academy and lives of the scholar-elite. For the most part—though there are a few exceptions—women were excluded from the official examination system and from official institutions of higher education in accordance with certain Neo-Confucian interpretations of the original teachings. Like other of China’s indigenous schools of thought, Confucianism was blamed throughout the political tumult of the 20th century for China’s humiliating 19th-century defeats and exploitations. Although official Confucianism was abolished in 1905, veins of its teachings and methods, including especially rote memorization of texts, survived through the Republican and Maoist eras, even periodically being invoked as potentially useful for restrengthening or recentering Chinese society and norms. It was never officially reinstated, however. From these veins came the preparation for 21st-century Confucian Revivalism, which necessarily involves a reinterpretation of the original ancient texts to accommodate for the new context in which its growth is occurring and for the inclusion of broader segments of society than just educated and elite males. It takes form mainly as a cluster of grassroots and official educational initiatives across all sectors of Chinese society, including within the education system at grade-school and university levels as well as within official work units, government and community centers, temple-organized educational groups, and completely unofficial and even underground home-schools or other community gatherings. Women take active participatory roles in Confucian Revivalism as adults in their government work unit “national study classes,” organized between government cadres and faculty at Beijing University. Community groups are organized through temples or loose neighborhood contacts to study the Confucian classics. In even more direct contrast with what is currently understood about historical Confucianism, women also take public roles in the movement by founding and leading such study groups and being active members in local associations for the study of Confucianism. Women have started music appreciation groups that teach how Confucian propriety can be accessed via musical arts, they have taken leadership and instructing roles in

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Women and men of the traditional court orchestra in Seoul, Korea, perform in Sokchonje, the spring ritual to celebrate Confucius’s birthday. Contemporary Confucian Revivalism offers women more opportunities for participation and public roles. (Nathan Benn/Corbis via Getty Images)

training and education centers for adults, and they have taken up instructor positions for children’s education groups. The large and growing children’s classics reading movement features female students on advertising posters, and girls are included in the classroom as equals, occupying all rows of the classroom, including the front row. The religious dimension of Confucian Revivalism is growing, too, although not every faction of the movement adopts a religious stance, and many openly oppose “religion” categorically. Part of this may be due to the commonly held perspective that religious activity is humiliating for everyone, but particularly for men. Given the gaps opening in China’s relatively loose restrictions on religious practice, the door is open for women to take up religious leadership roles as part of the new Confucian Revivalism. This is particularly important as Confucianism shares with Daoism an understanding of underlying cosmological forces of yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) and also considers the eternal as a female figure: the Eternal Mother. The blending of Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, and Chinese folk religious beliefs makes teasing apart particular thoughts difficult, but the basic yin-yang element persists throughout. Julia McClenon See also: Confucianism: Feminine Virtues; Filial Piety; Women’s Changing Roles Further Reading Billioud, Sebastien, and Joel Thoraval. The Sage and the People: The Confucian Revival in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.



Cult of Female Chastity

C U LT O F F E M A L E C H A S T I T Y The cult of female chastity was a bureaucratically endorsed ideal of female virtue and purity in late imperial China, continuing into the 20th century. The government granted chaste women awards in the form of public honors and donations to construct shrines in their good name. The belief and practice regarding female chastity primarily addressed widowhood in its numerous forms. Though criticized for its overall treatment of women’s rights, at times it allowed women a measure of freedom and choice in their own fate. The cult of female chastity saw precursors in earlier imperial China. However, it was in the Qing dynasty, between the late 17th and early 20th century, that the most well-known government endorsements took hold. It was a “society-wide movement to extol chaste women as cultural heroes and promote the norms of feminine behavior” (Theiss 2002, 47). Qing policies rewarded widows who remained chaste and unmarried after the death of their husbands. Widows could take two acceptable paths to maintain their fidelity: commit suicide or vow to remain unmarried and chaste until their death. Committing suicide was an acceptable response because it reflected the wife’s desire to remain with her partner even in death; such women’s names were honored because they became chastity martyrs. A second option allowed the widow to continue living but remain virtuous and unmarried; these women were also honored by the state because they became chaste widows. By avoiding remarriage, chaste widows were allowed the rights to the late husband’s estate, which allowed them property ownership and a certain amount of freedom for themselves. However, if she was unchaste (adulterous or remarried after her husband’s death), her husband’s estate remained with his family. The cult of female chastity also addressed less straightforward cases of widowhood, such as young girls whose marriages never came to fruition because of their fiancés’ deaths. The cult of female chastity led to the cult of the faithful maiden. Young women intent on remaining faithful to their fiancés could initiate a spirit wedding where the marriage ceremony took place with an effigy or death tablet standing in for the groom. A young maiden could transition from fiancé to bride to widow in a single day. Josianne Leah Campbell See also: Confucianism: Feminine Virtues; Filial Piety Further Reading Lu, Weijing. True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008. Theiss, Janet. “Managing Martyrdom: Female Suicide and Stagecraft in Mid-Qing China.” In Passionate Women: Female Suicide in Late Imperial China, edited by Paul S. Ropp, Paola Zamperini, and Harriet T. Zurndorfer, 47–76. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2001. Theiss, Janet. “Femininity in Flux: Gendered Virtue and Social Conflict in the Mid-Qing Courtroom.” In Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities: A Reader, edited by Susan Brownell and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, 47–66. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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FEMININE VIRTUES In Confucianism, there are four feminine virtues that form the prescribed model of womanhood. These virtues reflect the belief that women should hold high moral standards within wifely virtue, speech, comportment, and work. These virtues are closely tied to the Three Obediences, another Confucian belief, which states that women should obey their fathers before marriage, their husbands in marriage, and their sons during widowhood. The Four Virtues and Three Obediences of Confucianism govern the way women function and behave, historically both restricting and freeing women in different ways. Confucius had little to say about women within the Analects, one of the major texts of Confucianism. However, several other texts were written specifically for women’s education, emphasizing Confucian ideals of female conduct. In 1624, Wang Xiang compiled Four Books for Women. It paralleled the publication of Four Books, a well-known and popular Confucian text addressing male audiences that consisted of Analects, Mencius, Great Learning, and Doctrine of the Mean. Four Books for Women reflected the expectations for women in Confucian cultures and was comprised of four texts from various periods: Admonitions for Women by Ban Zhao, Women’s Analects by Song Ruoxin, Domestic Lessons by Empress Xu, and Sketch of a Model for Women by Lady Liu. It was written by women and for women. Ban Zhao, a Han dynasty female writer and educator, was one of the earliest published proponents to outline the four Confucian virtues for women. Her works were taken as the model for feminine virtue. Zhao outlined how a virtuous woman was defined; according to her texts, a woman should maintain personal hygiene, take care to avoid offending others, devote herself to her family, know how to cook, and take care of her home. Zhao also promoted the idea that the inner sphere, known as the nei, was the proper place for women. The interior sphere for women was both literal and metaphorical. A woman was encouraged to focus on wifely and family duties above all else; she needed to be focused emotionally inward. In addition, a woman’s proper physical place was considered to be within the home. This can be considered a powerful placement, as it gave women control over the inner sphere. In contrast, a man’s sphere was identified as the wai, or exterior world. This split between inner and outer spheres was even reflected in the architecture and city planning of the Ming and Qing eras, where courtyard-focused houses were prevalent (Ko 1994). Women’s rooms were placed farthest from the door and had no windows opening to the street (Ko 1994). The purpose of this separation between the inner (nei) and the outer (wai), both physically and philosophically, was the Confucian belief that it kept order. Not all interpretations of the four feminine virtues were positive. Some were physically painful. For example, foot binding was a practice that was believed to support the Four Virtues. “Enduring the pain tested her moral capacities and taught her to control her will. Caring for her feet and learning to walk with grace improved her deportment. She learned to silence her complaints, marking the boundaries of woman’s speech. And, by making her own shoes, she acquired skill with a needle and thread, the essential form of womanly work” (Bosch and ­Mancoff 2010, 227–28).



Filial Piety

Later interpretations of the four feminine virtues allowed for some further freedom for women. In the 17th century, the concept of female virtue was not abandoned in favor of a new model of womanhood; instead, the Confucian virtues and obediences for women became less restrictive in their interpretation. Support for women’s education and literacy gained favor, and the publication of Four Books for Women assisted in this, as women needed to be able to read to learn about the Four Virtues and Three Obediences. As a result, being able to read became an asset to a virtuous woman. Josianne Leah Campbell See also: Confucianism: Books for Women; Filial Piety; Motherhood; Daoism: Daoism in China Further Reading Bosch, Lindsay J., and Debra N. Mancoff. Icons of Beauty: Art, Culture, and the Image of Women. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2010. Ko, Dorothy. Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. Lee, Yuen Ting. “Ban Zhao: Scholar of Han Dynasty China.” World History Connected 9, no. 1 (2012): 34. http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/9.1/lee.html. Pang-White, Ann A., trans. The Confucian Four Books for Women: A New Translation of the Nü Sishu and the Commentary of Wang Xiang. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

FILIAL PIETY Filial piety was one of the core values of Confucianism. It manifested both in the form of worship of deceased patrilineal ancestors and in caring for, protecting, deferring to, and revering living parents. Filial piety originated in the pre-Confucian practice of the Shang (ca. 1600–1046 BCE) and Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE) nobility, involving ancestral sacrifice with human or animal blood. The role of women in filiality, both as the revered mother and the self-sacrificing daughter or daughter-in-law, was deeply influenced by the structure of ancestral worship. It was believed that even though women, as female ancestors, could enjoy sacrifices from male offspring, daughters or daughters’ offspring were unable to offer sacrifices that would be accepted by patrilineal ancestors. As a result, the succession of the male line was of ultimate importance in terms of one’s filial duties. The notion of strict patrilineal succession circumvented the ways in which women could practice filial piety. Nonetheless, filial piety was one of the most important feminine virtues. An unmarried daughter, like a son, was expected to obey and care for her birth parents. A married woman was regarded as her husband’s partner to assist him in fulfilling his filial duties to his patrilineal ancestors and parents. Ultimately, this married woman would be fully integrated into her husband’s patriline through motherhood, and she would achieve the status of female ancestor who was entitled to sacrifice and veneration from her offspring. In Confucian filiality, children were required to follow both father’s and mother’s instructions without question. Confucius (551–476 BCE) suggested

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that children should never disobey parents (wuwei). Song (960–1279) scholars of Neo-Confucianism further developed the idiom that emphasized that there were no occasions on which parents could ever be wrong (tianxia wu bushi di fumu), which was widely accepted in Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) China. It is true that in Chinese philosophy women in general were often related to yin, the passive and sustaining force of the universe, and in social discourse they were often perceived as possessing inferior intelligence and moral capacity. But Confucian emphasis on filiality, which was in turn treated as the basis of humanity (ren), assigned higher moral position and superior capacity for judgment to fathers and mothers over their adult and minor offspring and thus subjugated both male and female children’s agency to that of their mothers. This modest gender neutrality in the conceptualization of parental entitlement appealed to the indebtedness most people felt toward their mother for the care they received during their most vulnerable early childhood years. Prioritizing generational order over gender order made filiality appear complete, natural, and persuasive, as maternal authority was fully integrated into parental authority. In fact, two of the most-cited morality tales in premodern China, “filial birds feeding mother birds” (ciniao fan bu) and “lambs kneeling down to receive milk” (gaoyang gui ru), featured filial animals’ revering care for and subordination to their mothers. Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars (Ershisi xiao), one of the most famous didactic texts from its creation in the Yuan dynasty (1260–1368) to the end of the Qing, included more stories about children’s filiality toward their mothers than their fathers. That said, many exemplary filial sons offered their filial piety with religious vigor to their stepmothers, as the Chinese patrilineality rendered the father’s legal wife mother to all his children, including his children born to his previous wives and his concubines. In literary Chinese, zi, the word for the person who was obliged to fulfill filial duties, was a generic noun that meant neutral-masculine, similar to the English “man.” Filial piety was not a male virtue, even though daughters occupied a different position as compared to sons. Women did not continue the patriline of their fathers. Hence, daughters’ expressions of filial piety materialized not in producing male heirs but in providing reverential care for their parents, sacrificing their lives or future happiness to secure their parents’ old-age support, dying while mourning for their parents, or refusing to remarry so that they could serve their parents-in-law after the death of their husbands. Like filial sons, filial daughters often endured terrible hardships to materially support their parents. But since daughters were expected to leave their natal families upon marriage, they had to make even greater sacrifices to gain recognition of their filial piety. In exemplar tales, filial daughters without brothers willingly suspended their life cycles by remaining unmarried and deprived themselves of the possibilities of having offspring and becoming female ancestors. Most daughters carried out their filial duties through less extreme means in everyday life, but they were free to perform morally spectacular acts as they, unlike filial sons, were socially expendable and were not restricted by the Confucian requirement of preserving one’s life to perpetuate ancestral sacrifice. As women needed to go further



Filial Piety

than men to demonstrate their filial devotion, filial daughters were less likely to survive in filial piety tales where they threw themselves into dangerous situations to protect parents or where they were overcome by grief after losing parents. Upon marriage, a woman shifted her primary loyalty and filiality from her birth parents to her parents-in-law. A filial daughter-in-law undertook all duties due to a filial son despite the typically high tensions between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. But as an outsider on the inside, a filial daughter-in-law was usually recognized and praised when she performed extraordinary acts. Some filial daughters-in-law remained caring and obedient even when being abused by in-laws. And some refused to remarry, even by mutilating themselves, in order to continue to care for in-laws. As marriage was considered in Confucianism as taking in a wife to continue the husband’s patriline and to serve the husband’s parents, shouldering the filial responsibilities left by one’s late husband often overshadowed a wife’s emotional attachment to her late husband in the cult of chastity, at least in orthodox discourse. Female filial piety was practiced by ordinary women with faith and endurance, but the cost of it was high if it was to be acknowledged in the public domain. Filiality and loyalty were traditionally analogized with one another, with the parent-child bond compared to the ruler-subject bond. The Confucian filiality was sustained by both the legal mechanisms of the Chinese Empire that punished unfilial daughters and sons and by the imperial commendation (jingbiao) system that canonized exemplary filial daughters and daughters-in-law as well as filial sons. The concept of filial piety (kô in Japanese, hyo in Korean) also had a significant presence in early modern Japan and Korea, where Confucianism, especially Song Neo-Confucianism, was adopted as the official doctrine of the Tokugawa and Cho-sen states. As in China, the notion of filial piety made it easier for mothers to command respect and exercise influence. Filial piety required daughters to submit themselves to parental authority while providing them opportunities to gain reputation and acclaim if they performed filial duties exemplarily. In early modern Japan, households without sons often took in sons-in-law to produce heirs through female lines, allowing daughters to extend their filiality to lineage succession. Yue Du See also: Confucianism: Books for Women; Classical Confucianism; Cult of Female Chastity; Feminine Virtues; Motherhood Further Reading Chan, Alan K. L., and Sor-Hoon Tan, eds. Filial Piety in Chinese Thought and History. New York: Routledge, 2004. Du, Yue. “Parenthood and the State in China, 1644–1949: Law, Ritual, and State-Building.” PhD diss. New York University, 2017. Knapp, Keith. Selfless Offspring: Filial Children and Social Order in Early Medieval China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2006. Ko, Dorothy, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan Piggott, eds. Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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Oh, Young Kyun. Engraving Virtue: The Print History of a Premodern Moral Primer. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2013. Pine, Yuri. Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722–453 B.C.E. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002. Yonemoto, Marcia. The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016.

MOTHERHOOD The particular form in which Confucian motherhood is expressed varies from one society to another in East Asian countries, but essential characteristics are consistent among all. The East Asian societies that constitute the “Confucian core” include China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, with various strands of Confucianism originating from China. To understand how Confucianism has shaped motherhood in East Asian societies, it is necessary to come back to a famous traditional Chinese cosmology book, Book of Changes, which divides the world into two complementary elements: the yin and the yang. Yin refers to the feminine or negative principle in nature, while yang refers to the masculine or positive principle in nature. Through this dichotomy, woman and man are expected to enjoy harmony as yin and yang based on role interdependence. By the first century BCE, Confucianism had spread to East Asian countries (except in Japan, where it dates from the seventh century) and exerted a profound influence on women and the meaning of motherhood in those places. It provided the moral principles that guided traditional family life as well as providing religious rituals, which maintained and strengthened family ties. Compared with Western cultures that stress independence and individualism as a main way to understand society, the Confucian philosophy highlights integration and harmony, mainly achieved by the proper relationships and behavior between family members. All Confucian societies are male dominant and emphasize the prevalence of a patriarchal kinship system, where the status of women is considered much lower than that of men. This is supported by Confucian thought, in which it is believed that harmony will result from a specific order of relationships based on the five relations and three bonds. The five relations are respect and care between father and son, separation between husband and wife, order between elder and younger, faithfulness between friends, and loyalty between ruler and subject. The three bonds are loyalty from subject to ruler, filial piety from son to father, and faithfulness from wife to husband. All these work to establish a strict ethical model of social and family relations. Among the five relations, the relationship between father and son is by far the most important, and this is the framework in which motherhood in East Asian countries has to be understood. The meaning of motherhood is culturally and historically constructed and cannot be separated from how society conceptualizes gender, family, and other related constructs. In East Asian societies, Confucianism (as well as Buddhism) is a major source of gender definition and symbolization. The main characteristic of the Confucian gender ideology is its emphasis on the roles and statuses of men and women.



Motherhood

Even after the wedding, a wife’s status remains precarious until she proves fertile and bears a son. Thus, arguably the most important role of motherhood within Confucian societies is to give a social status and an identity to women, inside and outside of the household. Indeed, Confucianism acknowledges women only for the purpose of reproduction; women who fail to produce a son for the family are considered to have committed a moral crime because they have failed their husband’s lineage, and women are honored only when they have produced a son to carry on the family name. We can find here one of the most notable paradoxes concerning women and motherhood in Confucian ideology in East Asia. On the one hand, women are expected to be obedient in front of their husbands. They have to respect chastity and neglect sexual desire that, it is believed, would lead to the collapse of the society. In this way, at the organizational level, the family lineage functions to exclude women, and more particularly daughters and wives. Concerning widows, the absence of a husband to dominate her complicates her position in society. As a widow, she is destined to obey her oldest son. On the other hand, under Confucianism’s extreme idealization of motherhood and the encouragement of reproduction, women can secure their identity only from their status within the family system as a mother. Moreover, particularly in traditional Chinese families, the grandmother has an especially important place; as the one who secures the family line for two generations, she becomes the family’s most powerful person. These two sides of women’s status in Confucian patriarchy give a contradictory image of women and are a common theme in scholarship. Several researchers urge us to reconsider the Confucian idealization of the passive and sequestered mother of traditional East Asian countries. According to Margery Wolf (1972), Chinese mothers have secured their position and exercised their power within a patriarchal family system by creating focal families of their own through the construction of emotional ties with their children and exclusion of the father. Wolf explains the importance of the mother-son bond through her concept of “uterine family,” where the women’s future depends on the quality of their relations with their sons, who are the mother’s single hope for old-age care. In Japan, where Neo-Confucianism was developed and institutionalized during the Tokugawa era (1603–1867), women’s foremost role should be that of good wife and wise mother. Her role sphere, as in all Confucian East Asian societies, should be the domestic one; meanwhile, the male sphere is public and clearly set apart. In the modern era of Meiji through Taisho (1868–1926), there were heroic movements to emancipate women from the structural constraints of Confucianism: women were expected to be good wives and wise mothers not only for their family but also for their country. The Japanese mother tended to feel her child to be a part of herself and developed a sense of double identity in which the child’s identity was fused into her own. In exchange, her grown-up children would not forget her hardship and sacrifice. They would feel thankful and repay her in filial piety. In the Korean version of Confucian family values, women traditionally provide most of the care for elderly in-laws, and now, increasingly, women may provide

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care for their own parents as well. But they also retain the primary responsibility for childcare. In contemporary times in all East Asian countries, because men are not the only breadwinners anymore and women have joined the workforce, mothers are not the “benevolent” parent they were in the past. Many women now see Confucianism as imposing patriarchal values they find unacceptable, and they try to resist it. So despite the persistence of Confucian values in East Asian societies, in some ways they are resisted, especially by women. Even if Confucian ideology still shapes contemporary East Asian concepts of motherhood, contemporary evolutions are characterized by a reinterpretation of Confucian values. Julie Remoiville See also: Confucianism: Classical Confucianism; Cult of Female Chastity; Feminine Virtues; Women’s Changing Roles Further Reading Gao, Xiongya. “Women Existing for Men: Confucianism and Social Injustice against Women in China.” Race, Gender and Class 10, no. 3 (2003): 114–25. Slote, Walter H., and George A. DeVos, eds. Confucianism and the Family. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. Tang, Zongli. “Confucianism, Chinese Culture, and Reproductive Behavior.” Population and Environment 16, no. 3 (1995): 269–84. Wolf, Margery. Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1972.

WOMEN’S CHANGING ROLES Traditionally, the impact of Confucianism on gender roles may be greater than other factors since it clearly presumes different gender roles for men and women in East Asian society and in family relationships. The main characteristic of this division is based on Confucian teachings, which theoretically grant a public status to men and a domestic role to women. In the Confucian book Yi Jing, the hierarchical relationship between men and women is described as follows: “heaven” refers to men’s position and “earth” to women’s. Women’s subordination to men is supposed to be a moral law, and women are described as inferior to men in the Confucian patriarchal family system, in which the father or husband enjoys ultimate authority. Within this family system, gender relationships are systematically created and reproduced: a woman is valued as a daughter, a wife, and a mother but not as an independent individual. A woman must not only be filial to her parents but also must obey her parents-in-law and all the members of the family-in-law. Even though, through control over children and servants, women may have been able to find small ways to control their lives, for the most part, they were always at the mercy of others and of society. In China, during the Song dynasty (960–1279), the rise of a renewal of Confucianism, known as Neo-Confucianism, emerged. This period produced The Book of Filial Piety for Women and Analects for Women, which were written to teach women their roles in society in a more direct language. Neo-Confucianism attempted to



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keep women quiet and subservient and to keep them at home and out of the public sphere. But at the same time, because works were published for the purpose of being read by women, Neo-Confucian women were able to begin their own intellectual discourse. Indeed, these works invited women to think in an intellectual and moral way, even if this was initially confined to the home. In the same way, the rise of Neo-Confucianism has created a paradox: on the one hand, the rebirth of many doctrines kept the subservience of women to men, but on the other hand, it was an occasion to help women become more independent in a male-dominated Chinese society. Interestingly, women’s position in Confucianism has led to many debates and discussions among contemporary and modern scholars. Indeed, the simplistic picture of the traditional Asian woman as a passive victim of patriarchal societies has recently been challenged. In the 1990s, a different voice in the realm of scholarship on women—predominantly on Chinese women—started to rise, arguing that Confucian philosophy itself was not exclusively against women. Through a review of scholarship concerning women in late imperial China, Paul S. Ropp (1994) demonstrates that, in the 20th century, the Western specialist trend to condemn Confucianism as a source of women’s oppression misses much of the complexity and ambiguity of the past. Without denying the fact that women have been oppressed, several authors assert that most of the discussions on Confucianism and sexual equality mainly focus on the textual interpretation of Confucian classics and that women’s status in Confucianism cannot be properly understood without examining its social context. Most of the descriptions of women in the traditional Confucian society emphasize anecdotal accounts, biographies of elite women, or the “ideal of womanhood” depicted in Confucian classics. Many scholars believe that the traditional role of women is considered from a Eurocentric viewpoint, and they argue that a sociological approach is still lacking. East Asian women’s status and history are often taken out of context. For instance, some historians highlight that Chinese women were not as passive as argued before and were active participants in cultural life. They were also considered as the guardians of morality and stability and were in charge of the protection of harmony within the family. Moreover, Buddhist and Daoist gender ideologies were often overlooked, while they represent an alternative source of empowerment for women in traditional Confucian society. Besides, while the idea of differentiation of roles between men and women is present in Confucian thinking, it existed at the beginning only as a form of labor division, and this does not mean that men are higher than women. Women in East Asia have known a wide variety of roles and positions, not only throughout different periods but also through differences of social status, region, and individual circumstance: some authors argue that we cannot consider “a” woman’s status or position but several. Beyond these debates, women’s condition in East Asian countries has greatly improved in contemporary times, and industrialization and modernization have wrought some changes in female lives. Since the mid-1990s, the Japanese government has been implementing comprehensive measures to promote gender equality. These measures give equal opportunities to men and women to participate in social

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activities without being constrained by the stereotyped notion of men at work and women at home. The same trend has occurred in Korea. After the rapid growth of the Korean economy in the 1960s, the increasing number of women participating in the labor market brought changes to traditional ideas about women’s role in Korean family and society. Policies were reformed to extend responsibilities to fathers as well as mothers, and the sexual division of labor has changed since Korea began to modernize. In China, while at the beginning the main consequences of the implementation of the one-child policy in 1979 were male favoritism and female infanticide, today daughters and sons are equally valued. The Confucian norm of daughters’ low value is increasingly diluted by the lack of children in the family and the increased opportunity for girls’ education. Thus, economic, political, and social developments in East Asian countries during the 20th century are challenging traditional values, and the status of women has improved. Nevertheless, in practice, women’s lives have not changed as rapidly as state policy implies. Recent research shows that contemporary Confucian societies are still facing a number of challenges, including the persistence of a traditional gender-biased division of labor and underrepresentation of women in various fields. Despite certain obvious gains that women have achieved in education and participation in the labor force, the notion of male superiority persists within the family and throughout society. Indeed, in contemporary Korean families, the husband still makes all decisions and has primary responsibility for the family’s economic well-being, while the wife, even if she works outside the household, takes full responsibility for the care of children and domestic labor; women are still doing most of the unpaid work regardless of whether they are involved in paid work or not. In every contemporary Confucian society, women who encounter the changes of Western and modern influence in the idea of gender equality experience confusion concerning the social and behavioral norms they are supposed to follow. It appears to be a conflict between traditional values on the one hand and Western influence through economic and social changes on the other; thus, women’s roles are diversified, including traditional, modern, or a combination of both. Julie Remoiville See also: Buddhism: Feminine Virtues; Gender Roles; Confucianism: Confucian Revivalism; Feminine Virtues Further Reading Li, Chenyang, ed. The Sage and the Second Sex. Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender. Chicago: Open Court, 2000. Li-Hsiang, Lisa Rosenlee. Confucianism and Women; A Philosophical Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. Mann, Susan. Under Confucian Eyes; Writings on Gender in Chinese History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Ropp, Paul S. “Women in Late Imperial China: A Review of Recent English-Language Scholarship.” Women’s History Review 3, no. 3 (1994): 347–83.

Daoism

INTRODUCTION In the ancient and complex philosophical–religious system of Daoism, the feminine is central and highly valued. Historically, Daoism can be traced to ancient indigenous traditions in China, including Shamanism and a Great Mother Goddess. The concepts of yin and yang also originate in ancient China and are linked with Daoism very early in Chinese history. In Chinese thought, yin and yang should be properly balanced, as too much of one or the other brings disaster, decay, and death. Yang is associated with the masculine, day, sky, brightness, hardness, assertiveness, and outward direction. Yin is associated with the feminine, night, earth, moisture, harvest, darkness, underneath, and pulling in. In the social milieu, yang, by its very nature assertive and outgoing, tends to overwhelm, while Daoism, with its emphasis on yin, the feminine, serves as a kind of antidote. In this way, Daoism balances other trends in East Asian cultures, such as Confucianism. According to Daoism, the Dao is the Source and Mother of everything, yet the Dao does not act. Wu wei, meaning to not act, is the Way of the Dao and is associated with yin. The entries in this section relate some of the important ways that women have participated in Daoist traditions. In “Healers,” Julia McClenon discusses how Daoist women healers, whose practices go back to at least the beginning of the Han dynasty (206 BCE), work(ed) to heal in both the physical and metaphysical senses. Though the communist revolution (20th century) negatively affected the practice, there are currently new opportunities for Daoist women healers in China. In a society under the influence of Confucianism, Daoism has offered Chinese women a spiritual resource, creative outlet, and monastic tradition as an alternative to marriage and motherhood. In “Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination,” Todd LeRoy Perreira relates the institutional and monastic roles that have engaged women in religious Daoism, which in China is called the Way of the Celestial Masters. These roles have provided women with opportunities outside of traditional marriage, with its emphasis on woman as wife, mother, and daughter-in-law in patrilineal and patrilocal family traditions. In Daoist organizations, women could be administrators, ritual masters, and libationers. They could seek the ultimate religious goal of cultivating the Dao and becoming Immortals and Goddesses. Daoist women’s roles are further discussed in “Daoism in China,” which relates women’s history in Daoism from the first century CE to the present, from their early roles as intermediaries and shamans, to their roles in contemporary Chinese Daoism where they may gain admittance into the Quanzhen lineage. The last entry in this section, “Wu Wei,” discusses the concept of wu wei and its associations with the feminine and the Way of the Dao. Wu wei is an ethos

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according to which Daoist practitioners and sages ought to live. An important feature of Daoist philosophy, wu wei is clearly related to yin and the feminine. As conveyed in the Dao De Jing by the legendary founder of Daoism, Lao Tzu, to live by wu wei is to “do nothing” and become transformed. General Bibliography—Daoism Cahill, Suzanne E. Transcendence and Divine Passion: The Queen Mother of the West in Medieval China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993. Clark, John J. The Tao of the West: Western Transformations of Taoist Thought. London: Routledge, 2000. Cleary, Thomas. Immortal Sisters: Secrets of Taoist Women. Boston: Shambhala, 1989. Despeux, Catherine, and Livia Kohn. Women in Daoism. Cambridge, MA: Three Pines, 2003. Guangting, Du, and Suzanne Elizabeth Cahill. Divine Traces of the Daoist Sisterhood: Records of the Assembled Transcendents of the Fortified Walled City. Magdalena, NM: Three Pines, 2006. Kohn, Livia. Pristine Affluence: Daoist Roots in the Stone Age. Saint Petersburg, FL: Three Pines, 2017. Laughlin, Karen, and Eva Wong. “Feminism and/in Taoism.” In Feminism and World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharma and Katherine K. Young, ch. 4. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999. Reed, Barbara. “Taoism.” In Women in World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharman, 161–81. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987. Wang, Robin. “Kundao a Lived Body in Female Daoism.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36, no. 2 (2009): 277–92.

DAOISM IN CHINA Women joined in the Daoist religious movement when it was still in its infancy in the Later Han dynasty (25 CE–220 CE) and early medieval period. During that era, female Daoists were called nü guan (female officials). Their main activities lay in intermediation and shamanic communication, and they were also key participants in sexual rituals and the practice of longevity techniques. There were five classes of female Daoist followers, namely, young unmarried girls, women unable to marry due to inauspicious horoscopes, women forced into marriage, widows, and rejected wives. The dual cultivation practice called heqi (fusion of energy) was the main method of practice at this time. New cultivation practices appeared later in the Jin dynasties and were called jingsi (delicate thinking) and cunxiang (meditation). The early Daoist classics Dao De Jing and Taiping Jing emphasized the balance and harmony of yin and yang. Thus, both the male and the female were indispensable to human reproduction. In Daoist organizations, females were devotees and could also manage administrative affairs. In addition, women sometimes acted as shi (masters) in religious rituals and played a part in political activities. Mrs. Lu, for instance, the mother of Zhanglu, leader of the Celestial Master, helped her son to establish a military regime in the Bashu and Hanzhong areas. Women were also among the founders of the Daoist tradition. Wei Huacun (251–334) married a leading Celestial officer and herself became a jijiu (libationer). She was granted the Huangting Jing (the Yellow Court



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Classic) scriptures from the High clarity and became an important religious figure. Several female Daoists later became Goddesses through cultivation. According to Yongcheng Jixian Lu (Record of the Assembled Immortals in the Heavenly Walled Cities), Du Guangting (850–933) recorded the stories of several Daoist Goddesses during the period. The widow Liangmu once provided shelter for travelers, and Baogu attained immortality with her husband Gehong (284–364), the conspicuous Daoist alchemist, during the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420). The Tang dynasty (618–907) was thought of as the golden age for female Daoists. This period saw the blossoming of Daoism and support from the nation, as Daoist beliefs were widely accepted by the elite class. Daoist activity involving women, and especially upper-class women, reached its peak with 16 princesses ordained, more than 10 female Daoist temples built in the city of Changan, and 550 female Daoist temples constructed throughout the country. The female faithful were called nü guan (female hats). They had legal advantages and economic privileges. They took an active part in socializing and literature gatherings, and several of them—including Li Zhi (713–784), Yu Xuanji (844–871), and Xue Tao (768–832)—gained fame and became poetesses. The Tang dynasty also witnessed the flourishing of local worship. Zu Shu (fl. 889–904), the priestess to whom Lingguang Shengmu (Holy Mother of the Numinous Radiance) transmitted the Path of Pure Subtlety, was considered as one of the patriarchs of that lineage. The number of females in the Daoist movement dropped significantly in the Song dynasty (960–1279), although during that same period, Daoism was recognized by officials and largely supported by several emperors. The total number of Daoist females decreased sharply to 3–5 percent of the original figure. The nation put restrictions on women, and certain female adherents were even forced to resume secular life during the reign of Emperor Song Shenzong (1067–1085). The female followers at this time were also affected by Confucianism and Buddhism. As for female cultivation, Cao Wenyi (fl. 1119–1125) wrote Lingyuan Dadao Ge (Song of the Spiritual Source and Great Dao), a 128-line poem in which she put forward the way of cultivation in an accessible manner. That work is considered to be the first inner alchemy undertaken by a woman. Nevertheless, the situation improved during the Jin dynasty (1115–1234) and Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), when the Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) school was founded by Wang Chongyang (1112–1170) and his disciples. Female leaders featured in the Daoist movement at the time—Sun Buer (1119–1182), Wole Shoujian (1181–1251), Aodun Miaoshan (1199–1275), and Zi Shoushen (13th century)—were important religious figures. Sun Buer made a breakthrough in self-cultivation called zhan chilong (behead the red dragon), an inner alchemy designed according to the physical and psychological nature of women. It was influenced by the development of gynecological theory in traditional Chinese medicine. Female followers were overseen by governmental institutions, such as the Daolu yuan (School of Daoist Record) during the Jin dynasty and the Jixian yuan (School of the Assembled Intellectuals) in the Yuan dynasty. These bodies were mainly in charge of constructing Daoist temples, organizing rituals, and bestowing official certification on Daoist nuns. Nuns had to take tests before receiving a

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certificate within the Daoist organization. These examinations dealt with reciting and interpreting Daoist scriptures. Female Daoist adherents during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) were called nü zhen (female immortals). Being a Daoist nun became an occupation, although the social status of such women was downgraded to sangu liupo (three aunts and six old women), a term referring to the inferior occupations held by women, including Buddhist and Daoist nuns. Society often demonstrated contempt for their work. Despite that development, nü zhen were often associated with powerful ministers and intervened in the process of political nomination. Emperors such as Shizong (1507–1567) sought out the xian gu (female celestials) throughout the country. In 1373, Ming Taizu (1368–1399) decreed that women should not become Daoist nuns until they reached their forties; in 1391, 50 years became the new age limit. In 1527, Daoist nuns were forced to return home and marry, and the buildings and lands owned by Daoist temples were confiscated. Similarly, the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) also put forward restrictions regarding the age of female adherents. In 1736, the minimum age of ordination was 40 years. In the Tongzhi (1862–1874) period, Ding Richang, the provincial governor of Jiangsu, ordered 30 female monasteries in the region to be closed down. It is noticeable that scant records of female Daoists can be found in sources from that time. During the modern era (1913–present), females in the Daoist movement have been deeply affected by the political movements of the early 20th century, and many Daoist monasteries were replaced by schools and hospitals and only returned to their original purpose later, when the People’s Republic of China was established. Daoism in modern China can be divided into the Quanzhen and Zhengyi lineages. Women are banned from the sacred space of Zhengyi rites. In contrast, Quanzhen has always included women in its lineage and practices on an equal basis. The government set up the national Daoist association, and its executive committee has at least three female members. Some Daoist nuns were elected as representatives of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferences or the National People’s Congress, and that status allows them to take part in politics. Young women who want to become novices must apply to the Front Office of the Communist Party, which supervises religious activity, or to city or provincial Daoist associations. Liang Zhu See also: Confucianism: Women’s Changing Roles; Daoism: Goddesses; Priestesses, Nuns, and Ordination; Spirituality: Meditation Further Reading Despeux, Catherine. “Women in Daoism.” In Daoism Handbook, edited and translated by Livia Kohn, 384–412. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2004. Levering, Miriam. “Women, the State, and Religion Today in the People’s Republic China.” In Today’s Woman in World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharma, 170–224. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994. Reed, Barbara. “Taoism.” In Women in World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharman, 161–81. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.



Goddesses

GODDESSES From earliest times, representations of the Goddess in Daoism, the major indigenous religion of China, relate her numinous connection to the natural world and its celestial counterpart to two overriding and perennial human concerns: the this-worldly need for refuge in the face of adversity and an otherworldly desire for transcendence in the quest for immortality. Daoism, with its dynamic binary scheme of correlating mutually interpenetrating feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) relationships, constitutes a metaphysical framework by which to realize the transformation of the individual into a celestial being. Accordingly, Daoist Goddesses are generally of two types: (1) celestial deities born of utterly pure, cosmic energies, and (2) deified real women who successfully penetrated ordinary physical existence to become translucent immortals by harmonizing themselves with the subtle and mysterious transformations of the Dao at its root, primordial level. Among the most popular and enduring of these deified ancestral women were persons of exceptionally acute perception who lived ambiguously between the  social world of humans and their institutions and the myriad processes of nature and the cosmos. As such, they are evocative of the archaic matrifocal roots of the Goddess in China, which predate Daoism and were predominantly shamanic in character. During the Western Han (206 BCE–9 CE), with the ascendancy of a Confucian ethos as the chief organizing social principle, popular interactions with the Goddess began to express certain tensions within Chinese society. In negotiating the fulfillment of, or else resistance to, the gender norms demanded of women— particularly the expectation that they be dutiful daughters, submissive wives, and self-sacrificing mothers—the need to adapt perceptions of the Goddess to the changing contingencies of people’s lives and situations emerges. These expectations, in turn, were profoundly shaped by China’s bureaucratic view of religion, which maps the institutional realms of the state onto parallel realms in heaven while privileging a hierarchical order based on the patriarchal structure of the family. While female deities like the Mother of the Dao generally served to mirror and legitimize the reification of the ideal life cycle of women from daughter through wife to mother, there are numero