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Empowered Spirits: Celebrating National Women's Day through the Lens of The Divine Feminine and Spirituality in the view of Anthropology and Cultures

Written by: Vera Mkhsian



In the spirit of National Women's Day, we embark on a unique exploration that intertwines the realms of anthropology and spirituality. Beyond the celebration of achievements, this journey aims to unravel the profound connections between the cultural roles of women and the spiritual dimensions that influence and empower them across diverse societies and our Universe. Throughout the years of this world Feminine energy has been deemed as the energy of creation, life, and love. Yes, feminine energy is found in all, but its sole purpose and meaning have been defined by the nature and history of women before and to become. Women are The Divine Feminine, a sacred and worshiped creation by the Universe. The Divine Feminine was and has been associated in many cultures as a “Goddess” or “The Great Mother Goddess”, in other words has been referred to as Mother Earth which we have seen in multiple mythologies. Gaia in Greek Mythology, the Mother of All Gods, Roman Terra Mater (mother Earth) reclining with a cornucopia, or the Andean Pachamama, the Hindu, Prithvi, “the Vast One,” or the Hopi Kokyangwuti, Spider Grandmother, who with Sun god Tawa created Earth and its creatures. All of them were and are the personifications of the Earth and like all women they emerged from chaos. Our mother's screams and cries echo into our ears as we step into this world, the connection between mother and daughter as we both cry from our first and last breath.


In the tapestry of global cultures, women engage in rituals and ceremonies that transcend the ordinary. These spiritual practices, deeply rooted in cultural traditions, serve as sources of empowerment, shaping the identities of women worldwide. 


Goddess worship, a thread that weaves through civilizations, offers a captivating vista of feminine divinity. From ancient Mesopotamia to classical Greece, from Hinduism to indigenous cultures worldwide, goddesses have played central roles in religious, cultural, and mythological narratives. These divine figures embody a spectrum of archetypal qualities, from nurturing and compassionate mother figures to fierce warriors and wise sages. Exploring goddess worship beyond religious narratives allows us to appreciate the multifaceted nature of feminine divinity and its enduring influence on human consciousness and cultural expression. Through art, literature, and ritual practices, societies have celebrated and honored goddesses as embodiments of the sacred feminine, offering inspiration, guidance, and solace to believers across generations.


In India, artifacts such as figurines of female deities like the "Dancing Girl" from Mohenjo-Daro and various terracotta figurines depicting goddess-like figures found at archaeological sites from excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro suggest the veneration of feminine deities. Ancient Egyptian tombs contain depictions and inscriptions honoring goddesses like Isis, Hathor, and Bastet. Similarly, archaeological findings in Mesoamerica reveal temples and artifacts dedicated to goddesses like Coatlicue among the Aztecs. These archaeological examples complement textual and artistic evidence, illustrating the enduring influence of feminine divinity across civilizations.


Certain societies follow matrilineal structures, where lineage and inheritance trace through the maternal line. This anthropological phenomenon provides a fascinating lens through which to examine gender dynamics and the status of women within these societies. In matrilineal cultures such as the Khasi people of Northeast India or the Minangkabau of West Sumatra, women often hold significant social and economic power, challenging conventional notions of patriarchal dominance. Anthropological studies shed light on how matrilineal kinship systems shape family dynamics, inheritance practices, and gender roles, offering insights into alternative models of social organization and female empowerment.


In religious spheres, women often take on leadership roles, challenging norms and contributing to spiritual discourse. Whether as priestesses, shamans, or spiritual guides, women have historically played pivotal roles in religious ceremonies, rituals, and practices. Priestesses in ancient Egyptian religion, such as the High Priestess of Hathor, wielded significant religious authority. In contemporary times, women like Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) in Hinduism or Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for education and women's rights, exemplify women's leadership in religious and social spheres.Anthropological research explores the social, cultural, and psychological factors that influence women's participation and leadership in religious contexts, highlighting the ways in which spirituality intersects with gender identity, power dynamics, and social hierarchies.


Fertility rituals, embedded with symbolism and cultural significance, form another intersection of anthropology and spirituality. These rituals, often rooted in ancient agricultural traditions, celebrate the cycles of nature and the divine feminine as symbols of fertility, abundance, and renewal. Beltane in Celtic tradition and the Obubura festival of the Efik people in Nigeria are examples of such rites. These ceremonies often involve dances, offerings, and prayers to invoke blessings for fertility and agricultural abundance. By dissecting these practices, anthropologists uncover the intricate connections between spirituality, ecology, and gender, revealing how women's reproductive roles are imbued with sacred meaning and cultural symbolism. From ancient rites of passage to modern-day fertility festivals, these rituals offer profound insights into the intersection of spirituality, gender, and the natural world.


Women's circles, found in diverse cultures worldwide, serve as sacred spaces for support, empowerment, and spiritual growth. Among Native American tribes, gatherings like the "Kinaalda" mark a young woman's coming-of-age, where female relatives and community members form circles to guide her transition into adulthood. In Africa, traditions such as the Yoruba "Iyalode" circles provide platforms for women to discuss community issues and honor ancestral wisdom under the guidance of respected female elders. Celtic cultures have historical ties to women's circles during festivals like Beltane and Samhain, where rituals and storytelling celebrate nature cycles and goddess worship. In Asian cultures like Japan, "Amazake-kai" gatherings bring women together to share dreams and aspirations over sweet rice drinks during the New Year. European traditions, dating back to the medieval period, saw women convening in "coven circles" for spiritual practices and mutual support. Across these cultures, women's circles foster connections, healing, and collective empowerment, embodying sisterhood, solidarity, and shared wisdom.


Anthropology further unveils the roles of women in activism, social change, and political movements. Historical figures like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were instrumental in the suffragette movement, advocating for women's rights. Additionally, indigenous women leaders, such as Winona LaDuke or Rigoberta Menchú, have been at the forefront of environmental justice and indigenous rights activism.This exploration delves into the interconnected narratives of spirituality and activism, portraying how women draw on their spiritual beliefs and values to fuel their commitment to social justice and gender equality. From the suffragette movement to contemporary feminist and indigenous rights activism, women have been at the forefront of transformative social movements, harnessing the power of spirituality to inspire collective action, challenge oppressive systems, and envision a more just and equitable world.


The rich oral traditions of cultures worldwide carry folktales and myths narrating the strength and wisdom of women. Such as Athena, the Goddess of War and Wisdom in Greek Mythology. Similarly, goddesses such as Inanna in Sumerian mythology or Durga in Hinduism symbolize feminine power and resilience. These stories, passed down through generations, offer glimpses into the cultural transmission of values, empowerment, and resilience. Anthropological studies of folklore and mythology reveal the ways in which women's narratives shape cultural identities, challenge gender stereotypes, and inspire individuals to embody the archetypal qualities of courage, wisdom, and compassion. Through storytelling, communities preserve their collective memory, honor their ancestors, and celebrate the enduring legacy of feminine wisdom and power.

But we can’t forget our own divine feminines.




“The Perfect Bride,” A lebes gamikos(Greek pottery used in marriage ceremonies), or nuptial bathing vessel, depicting a bride.


The Divine Feminines Of Our World 


Among the spiritual women leaders, Rigoberta Menchú, a K'iche' Maya woman from Guatemala, rose to international prominence for her activism in advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples. Born into a poor peasant family, Menchú experienced firsthand the injustices faced by indigenous communities in Guatemala, including discrimination, poverty, and violence. Her landmark autobiography, "I, Rigoberta Menchú," detailed her experiences and became a rallying cry for indigenous rights around the world. Menchú's advocacy work led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, making her the first indigenous woman to receive the honor. Throughout her life, she has continued to fight for social justice, cultural preservation, and the empowerment of indigenous women.


Turning to Africa, Wangari Maathai's environmental activism through the Green Belt Movement exemplifies the divine feminine's power to inspire change and foster harmony with nature. Not only did she founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which empowered rural women to plant trees as a means of environmental conservation and sustainable development. Maathai's grassroots movement helped combat deforestation but also promoted women's rights, economic empowerment, and community resilience. Her efforts earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, making her the first African woman to receive the honor. Maathai's legacy lives on through the millions of trees planted by the Green Belt Movement and the ongoing work of environmental activists worldwide.


Within Hinduism, Mata Amritanandamayi, known as the "Hugging Saint," or Amma, is a spiritual leader and humanitarian from India revered for her selfless devotion to serving others. Since the early 1980s, she has traveled extensively, offering hugs and spiritual guidance to millions of people from all walks of life. Through her charitable organization, Embracing the World, Amma has spearheaded numerous humanitarian projects focused on healthcare, education, disaster relief, and environmental conservation. Her message of love, compassion, and selfless service has inspired countless individuals to embrace the divine feminine qualities of nurturing, empathy, and interconnectedness.


In Buddhism, Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun and author, is renowned for her teachings on mindfulness, compassion, and resilience. After studying under the guidance of Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she became one of the first Western women to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. Chödrön's accessible and practical approach to Buddhist teachings has resonated with audiences worldwide, leading to the widespread popularity of her books and teachings. Through her retreats, workshops, and writings, she has helped countless individuals navigate life's challenges with wisdom, grace, and compassion.


Within Judaism, Ruth Messinger's advocacy for social justice embodies the divine feminine's call to repair the world and uplift the marginalized. Messinger's commitment to tikkun olam reflects the nurturing and transformative qualities of the divine feminine, inspiring individuals to strive for a more just and equitable society. As a longtime social justice advocate and former president of the American Jewish World Service, she has dedicated her life to fighting poverty, hunger, and injustice around the world. Under her leadership, AJWS became one of the leading international development organizations focused on human rights and global justice. Messinger's commitment to tikkun olam, the Jewish principle of repairing the world, has guided her advocacy work and inspired others to address systemic inequalities and promote social change. Through her activism, she continues to be a powerful voice for marginalized communities and a champion for a more just and equitable society.

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Spirituality through the eyes of the Divine Feminine has been told through our journeys of Anthropology, Art history, and the lost findings of this world, and more. As the world and universe grows with one another, the divine feminines of today, past, and tomorrow will become the mothers of this universe, their energies coming together to create a world where we as a society can say we witness such growth and healing for the earth and our minds. 

So all the  genders and identities apart of universe both in the 5d and 3d, let it be known the divine feminine in you is waiting for their energy to healed and to be awakened to the air of the nature around us saying welcome home. 






References:


Frymer-Kensky, T. (1992). In the wake of the goddesses: Women, culture, and the biblical transformation of pagan myth. Ballantine Books. https://archive.org/details/inwakeofgoddesse0000frym/page/n3/mode/2up

“Ritual.” Ritual | Cultural Anthropology, journal.culanth.org/index.php/ca/catalog/category/ritual. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Nelson, S. (2006). Women's circles: A guide to creating circles of women around the world. SkyLight Paths Publishing. https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Circle-Meaning-Intention-Purpose/dp/1743797486

Deloria, V. (1998). Spirit and reason: The Vine Deloria Jr. reader. Fulcrum Publishing.

Minangkabau of West Sumatra: "Minangkabau." Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Minangkabau

“Women’s History.” National Women’s History Museum, www.womenshistory.org/womens-history.

“A Pagan Perspective on Feminine Power: The Divine to the Demonic.” The British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/blog/pagan-perspective-feminine-power-divine-demonic.  

Karageorgi, Stella. “The Divine Feminine: 8 Ancient Forms of the Great Mother Goddess.” The Collector, 17 Mar. 2023, www.thecollector.com/divine-feminine-ancient-art/.







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