Divine Ladies in America:
Cultural Icons of the New Millennium



This book describes and analyses the subtle but powerful presence of sacred women in contemporary American pop culture. The mythical and heroic background of these cultural icons takes us all over the world. Their existence in our lives is on several levels: archetypical, spiritual, and emotional.
These sacred ladies are deeply familiar, yet are rarely a part of the official discourse on academic, spiritual, or philosophical level. Currently they exist, as archetypes and symbols for women, outside the patriarchal establishment, and are honored by this establishment as symbols, yet they deeply penetrate our collective subconscious.


This book attempts to offer the curious reader a deeper understanding of our own culture, as well as the cultures that engendered these sacred ladies.


Introduction

The United States of America is an amalgamation of many cultures. This great country is a multi-layered tapestry of civilizations that originated from all over the world. Contemporary American culture, a complex social construct, endows each individual with freedom of spiritual expression. American people experiment with spirituality in an amazing variety of ways. This civilization of the new world, inherited predominantly from the European West, is currently undergoing the most radical metamorphosis since Pagan Europe lost its innocence and its religious freedom to the ascetic Christian dogma during the early Middle Ages.


Conventional spirituality of the United States is usually connected to the mainstream Christian doctrine which was brought in by the original settlers that relocated to America to escape religious persecution of the old world. The founders of America believed in religious freedom, and they made sure that the separation of state and church was written into the constitution. They lived during the Age of Reason, and consequently many called themselves Deists: they believed in a Creator, however did not assign any particular religious beliefs or even gender to this Deity. Even though American religiosity is largely derivative of Christianity, other significant factors make this spiritual heritage a blend that consists of myths from Ancient Europe, Africa, Asia, and the indigenous Native American cultures. Christianity itself, the dominant religion of America, is an amalgamation of earlier, more ancient myths; it has been through a variety of transformations and is still a work in progress, adjusting itself to match the expectations and needs of the population.

 

Any religion that sprang out of a patriarchal social order values men more than it values women, and traditional Christian dogma is not an exception. Almost two thousand years of patriarchal rule supported by a male dominated religion, conditioned women to accept secondary roles within the traditional Christian Church.

Yet the gradual inclusion of women into the work force, politics, and economic development of American culture during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries transformed them into a movement that is changing our society in a radical fashion. Women are no longer the passive, silent gender that does not participate in the cultural-spiritual discourse. During the last quarter of the twentieth century women have been significantly altering American culture, and this powerful female undercurrent is fueling the process of re-evaluating, challenging, and modifying the dominant culture and its established norms. Feminist thinking has changed the way we understand psychology, philosophy, the social sciences, the sciences, and the arts. This change is affecting the way our religious myths and archetypes are perceived and interpreted by both genders and all races.