Ruether explains within this chapter, “The Return of the Goddess,” that feminist spirituality during the 1970s began to reclaim ideas of a matriarchy, which was taken from Bachofen and Briffault (anthropologists during the nineteenth and twentieth century). With this new discovery new feminist took these findings and turned to worshiping the Goddess. “Goddess worship was linked to “female” values that promoted peace, harmony with nature, equality, and love for all…opposition, “masculine” values, enshrined in the male supreme deity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, promoted male domination, aggressive violence, subjugation of women, and exploitation of the earth” (Ruether, 2005; 274).
She explores the beginnings of feminist Wicca came from two books published in the 1970s, Elizabeth Gould Davis’s The First Sex (1971) and Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman (1976). She examines that both Davis and Stone blame the Christianity and the church for the rise of patriarchy and the death of the Goddess. Even though, they both start further back, Davis blaming the Semites and Stone blaming the Indo-Europeans for the rise of worshiping a male war deity, it was because of this male deity that pushed Christianity to take over the Goddess worshippers and to force women into subordination. Another thing that Davis and Stone agree with is that because of the continue oppression that women have suffered has caused women to fight back, which began in the nineteenth century to the present. Ruether explains that Davis believes this is a “matriarchal counterrevolution of the coming “Aquarian Age,” which sees the world turning away from patriarchy to embrace matriarchy.
Two women Ruether gives credit and rise of feminist “witchcraft” or Wicca are Z. Budapest and Starhawk. Both these women began their journey in California, Starhawk being a student of Budapest for a while, who had developed her covens in Venice, CA. Starhawk (her real name, Miriam Simos) became interested in witchcraft from an anthropology class that she took at UCLA, where she and a friend offered their own class in witchcraft so that they could learn more about it. Budapest published two books in 1979 and 1980, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, Part 1 and the Holy book of Women’s Mysteries, Part II. Starhawks has published many different books, but her popular book is the Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (1979). Ruether feels that these two women made a huge landmark on Goddess worship and the ideas that it was patriarchy that destroyed the original matriarchy groups of Goddess worship.
Ruether believes that the leading thealogian of the 1970s was, and probably still is, Carol Christ. In this section she states Christ’s major works and theological ideas of who and what the Goddess is, along with Christ personal journey to find the Goddess within her. “Christ believes that the symbol of the Goddess has the metaphorical power to unsettle deeply rooted cultural symbolisms that enshrine and perpetuate these patterns of violence, hierarchy, and domination” (Ruether, 2005; 292). Christ still does work today about the Goddess and does Goddess pilgrimages to Crete twice a year.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. 2005. “The Return of the Goddess.” Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History. University of California Press: Berkeley.