The mother, the warrior, the midwife and the holy whore: An ethnographic study of women’s faith, sacralisation and embodiment.

Authors: Ashencaen Crabtree, S.

Journal: Feminist Theology

Publisher: SAGE

ISSN: 0966-7350


This paper selects findings from a feminist, cross-cultural, multi-faith ethnographic study of women’s religious identities, interpretations and practices in Malaysia and Britain, drawing narratives from self-identified Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, together with syncretic, contemporary religions, like Western Esotericism and eclectic Pagan pathways.

Here a theme that pertains to the embodied sacred has been extracted from a larger database of findings for an examination of the religious significance of a sacralised female iconography, together with an exploration of subaltern or marginalised gender representation. In focusing on sacred female representations three distinct sacralised domains emerge relating to symbolic, sacred regenerative powers and the potency of a gendered infecund deification, where each relate to aspects of religious and ritualistic aspects loosely conforming to goddess typology. A nuanced account is offered regarding how participants reconcile subordinated spiritual positions within patriarchal structures and discourses in the seeking and embracing of responsive and enduring woman-centric faiths.

Source: Manual