Women and World Religions

We review a variety of ancient lineages that document women's spiritual power and religious experience from the ancient world to the present. The study of women and world religions begins with an examination of the evidence for the transmission of reverence for a dark mother of Africa to all continents of the world. We explore the sacred iconographies and roles of women in African, Native American, Meso-American, South American, Asian/Pacific Islander, old European, and other indigenous, Goddess and God spiritual traditions. We examine women's spiritual roles and practices in historical and contemporary expressions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, and more. Canonical and orthodox religious beliefs are studied alongside the submerged, subterranean, and heretical streams that run beneath the accepted doctrines of established religions - found in the folklore, heresies, and everyday rituals of subaltern cultures. We encourage women's spiritual quests, interfaith dialogues, and the study of the Sacred Feminine or Feminine Divine of all traditions.

Feminist and Ecofeminist Philosophy and Activism

Feminist philosophy has long emphasized a relational approach to key philosophical issues; it encourages us to live well and to generate happiness in our own lives and the lives of others. This holistic approach eschews reductionist and mechanistic dualisms to generate a worldview of dynamic interconnectedness in the web of life. Ecofeminist philosophy explores the embodied, embedded, ecosocial context of philosophical issues, focusing attention on the emergent field of relational or holistic thought, as well as rational-intuitive thinking. Courses include work with process philosophy and process theology/thealogy, postcolonial womanist-feminist and indigenous worldviews, and literary responses to major ecological and philosophical issues.

Women's Mysteries, Sacred Arts, and Healing

Many elements of language, ritual, and the arts have roots in cultural responses to the elemental powers of the female and the ineffable mysteries of the cosmos. An honoring of the women's mysteries of birth and sexuality, transformation, death and rebirth informs our coursework in ritual, music, dance, literature, painting, and film appreciation. The experiential as well as intellectual study of diverse sacred arts is intended to evoke one's innate creativity, revealing personal and cultural sources of mystical insight, embodied healing, and artistic blossoming.

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