Marjorie always thought of God as a judgmental "man in the sky who punishes you if you're bad and rewards you if you're good." Then she was introduced to the concept of the "goddess," a female deity who was "nurturing, mysterious, and loving like the earth, or like a mother." Goddess worship seemed to provide Marjorie with the mystical experience she'd never experienced in her lukewarm religious upbringing.
Rena, a middle-aged woman who was hurt and angered by a painful divorce, was led through a friendship with a kind older woman to join a group of 13 Wiccans. "We believed we could harness positive female energy for good," says Rena. "It was fun and different, and they were like my sisters." One of Rena's first assignments was to set up a home altar with a statue of a goddess.
Marjorie and Rena aren't the only ones drawn to goddess worship. According to a recent American Religious Identification Survey, 200,000 to 300,000 women actively practice it in the U.S., with numbers growing steadily. Many more nibble around the edges, intrigued by the promise of a religion that empowers women and values their spirituality. In fact, the Internet features thousands of websites devoted to goddess worship, as well as books, magazines, training camps, college courses, fairs, and membership groups, often called covens or groves.
An Ancient Religion Made New
Goddess spirituality, goddess worship, the sacred feminine, and the feminine divine all refer to a deity most often identified as "Mother Goddess" or the "Great Goddess." Other names used include Mother Earth, Gaia, Sophia, Artemis, Diana, and Isis. Often associated with the earth, the moon, and fertility, the goddess is usually described as an energy force inside every living and nonliving thing.1