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Priestess, Mother, Sacred SisterReligions Dominated by Women$
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Susan Starr Sered

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195104677

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195104677.001.0001

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(p.279) Conclusion
Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister

Susan Starr Sered

Oxford University Press

This book has proposed two conditions sufficiently widespread to account for the patterns or motifs that we might uncover in women's religions situated in dissimilar cultural contexts: patriarchy and motherhood. It has also argued that women's religions tend to occur in societies characterized by a relatively high level of autonomy for women. Most of the patterns described in this book can be understood as functions of women's social role as mothers in societies in which that role is granted both esteem and structurally recognized authority. Ornate fertility rituals, myths of mother goddesses who gave birth to the world, and ceremonies that extol the wonders of lactation are almost totally absent from women's religions. What does receive attention and elaboration in these religions is women's social roles as nurturers and healers, women's rights and responsibilities as primary childcare providers, women's emotional experiences of pain at the illness and death of children, women's social ties with other mothers, matrifocality, and women's proclivity for discovering the sacred which is immanent in this everyday world of care and relationships.

Keywords:   rituals, women, religions, patriarchy, motherhood, authority, social roles, pain, illness, matrifocality

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