Naropa University Oakland

Master of Liberal Arts Program in Creation Spirituality



Feminist Awakening & Women’s Spirituality


 Instructor:  Marlene De Nardo,      (510) 835-4827, ext. 15, [email protected]                      

 Spring, 2005, Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon


Women will draw doors where there are none and open them and pass through into new ways and new lives…” --Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With Wolves




This seminar examines the role of women from the perspective of psychology, spirituality, and the arts.  It is a study of feminism that offers perspectives on the power of the feminine and the empowerment of women.  This course is designed to raise women’s consciousness and to engage women in a process of exploring the sacred dimensions of their own stories, their experience of the Divine and of themselves as divine.

            This course may be used as the basis for a Master’s Integrative Paper.



During the seminar, participants will:




In addition to serious reading and experiential activities, participants will gather in Women’s Circles to consider their own and other women’s stories, to discover common themes and to affirm and celebrate women’s ways of knowing, growing, loving and living.

Assignments: View video “Vagina Monologues”; Create “Family ancestry” photo page.


1. Attendance/ punctuality; personal Journal-keeping, completion of assignments.   (10%)

2. Women’s Circles; weekly exercise practice and body pamper-practice. (40%) 

3. A “woman to remember” presentation; family-photos; two page reflection paper. (20%)

4. Final paper (5-7 pages) and class presentation.  (30%)


N.B.  All written papers must be typed.  Please follow Naropa University MLA Guidelines.





 A few selected readings. (Xeroxed copies available in late January)

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup, M.D. (Revised edition)

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, bell hooks

The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations & Rituals,  Patricia Monaghan

The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion, China Galland


One book from recommended list (below) selected for final presentation/paper.

CLASS BIBLIOGRAPHY ----- Recommended Texts


Wise Women, Susan Cahill

She Who Changes: Re-imaging the Divine in the World, Carol P. Christ

The Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality. Carol P. Christ

Diving Deep and Surfacing, Women Writers on Spiritual Quest, Carol P Christ

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist & Theological Discourse, Elizabeth Johnson

Feminist Theology from the Third World: A Reader, Ursula King, editor

The Language of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas

The Once and Future Goddess, Elinor W. Gadon

At the Root of this Longing: Spiritual Hunger & Feminist Thirst, Carol Lee Flanders

Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality, Judith Plaskow & Carol Christ

Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth & the Politics of the Body, Riane Eisler

The Woman Who Owned the Shadows, Paula Gunn Allen

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, bell hooks

The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner

When God was a Woman, Merlin Stone

A Warm, Moist, Salty God: Women Journeying Towards Wisdom, Edwina Gateley

Towards a New Psychology of Women, Jean Baker Miller

Addiction to Perfection, the Still Unravished Bride, Marion Woodman

The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa and the Repressed Feminine,

Marion Woodman

Dancing the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness,

Marion  Woodman & Elinor Dickson

Crossing to Avalon: A Woman’s Midlife Pilgrimage,  Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body & Soul,

Marion Woodman & Jill Mellick 

Journey from Betrayal to Trust: A Universal Rite of Passage, Beth Hedva

The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical & Emotional Health…, Christiane Northrup, M.D.

To Be a Woman: the Conscious Feminine, Connie Zweig, ed.

The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen Murdock

Through the Goddess: A Woman’s Way of Healing, Patricia Reis

Medicine Women: A Pictorial History of Women Healers, Elizabeth Brooke

The Dinner Party, a Symbol of Our Heritage,   Judy Chicago

Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement, Rosalyn Baxandall and

Linda Gordon

In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Alice Walker

Aphrodite’s Daughters: Women’s Sexual Stories & the Journey of the Soul, Jalaja Bonheim

Sex and Power, Susan Estrich

The Female Advantage, Women’s Ways of Leadership,  Sally Helgesen

Composing a Life, Mary Catharine Bateson

The Quest of the Warrior Woman: A Path of Healing, Empowerment & Transformation, Christina Feldman

Sacred Circles: Guide to Creating Women’s Spirituality Groups

The Storyteller’s Goddess: Tales of the Goddess & Her Wisdom from Around the World, Carolyn McVickar Edwards

The Goddess Workbook A Guide to the Feminine Spiritual Experience,  Fairchild & Schaare



Themes and Study Areas for Feminist Awakening Seminar:


1.  The Sacredness and Mysteries of Woman’s Body

            Re-sacralizing the Female Body; Healing our Relationship with our Bodies

                    The Conscious Feminine and Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality    

2.  “Prehistory” and History: Women’s status and the Sacred Feminine

            Beyond Patriarchy and Misogyny.

                        Feminism, a movement to re-myth our human situation.

3.  Toward a New Psychology of Women; A Different Voice

            Understanding Women’s Ways: Reclaiming conflict.

                        Toward self-esteem, self-empowerment and creativity.                      

4.  Re-mothering Ourselves: healing our relationships with women and the Feminine;

            Re-fathering Ourselves: healing relationships with men and the masculine.

5.   Toward an understanding of the Goddess spirituality movement and its relation to

             to repairing the Web of Life and enhancing the earth community.

             Sophia in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.






Feminist Awakening and Women’s Spirituality                          Spring, 2004


The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

                             Eleanor Roosevelt





February 15, 2005:    Introduction. Class themes. Feminist process.

                                    Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing.

Read:  Reader- selected articles


February 22:              Beyond Patriarchy and toward Feminism.

                                    Read: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom , Christiane Northrup,

                                                Introduction and Part One.  Pages 1-97


March 1:                     No class (Eckhart Intensive week)


March 8:                     Re-sacralizing the female body. Steps and Choices for Healing.

                                    Read: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Northrup

                                                Chapters 5 and 8; Chapters 15 and 19


March 15:                   Women and History. Historical consciousness.

Read:  Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks

                                    Due:  A “woman to remember” presentation.


March 22:                   STUDY WEEK.  No Class. Select book for presentation.


March 29:                   Toward a New Psychology of Women.

                                    Healing our relationship with the Feminine and Masculine.

                                    Read:  Reader- selected articles


April 5:                       The Divine Feminine and Women/Men

                                    Read: The Goddess Path, Patricia Monaghan, pages tba

                                    Due:  Two page reflection paper:  “ Feminine/Body/Self ”


April 12:                     Women’s Circles meet: Family photo page due.                                                                                 No class.


April 19:                     Feminine Consciousness, Eco-feminism and Spirituality.

                                    Read: The Goddess Path, Patricia Monaghan, pages tba


April 26:                   Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality.

                                  Read: The Bond Between Women, A Journey to Fierce Compassion,

China Galland , pages tba


May 3 :                    Women and Compassion.  Compassionate women.

                                 Read: The Bond Between Women, China Galland, pages tba



May 10:                   Celebration and ritual of empowerment and healing.

                                                            Student presentation and paper due.




Following feminist theory, in which the process is seen to be as important as the content, each seminar class will attempt to include the following components:

Ø      Experiential/ritual learning exercises followed by a brief time to integrate the experience and/or journal writing.

Ø      Reflections/lecture re. specific themes/readings/questions followed by group clarification and discussion.

Ø      Periodic review of how participants are benefiting by the learning processes, readings, activities and exercises.


WOMEN’S CIRCLES: (not discussion groups but dialogue/conversation circles)


Ø       Provide for deeper integration and sharing; intentional time spent sharing stories and supporting one another’s learning process;

Ø       Offer a place to listen to and honor women’s experiences as sacred;

Ø       Are the place to do the sacred work of finding our own voices and our collective voice.





“…the Goddess is the power of intelligent embodied love that is the ground of all being.

 The earth is the body of the Goddess.  All beings are interdependent in the web of life.

 Nature is intelligent, alive and aware.  As part of nature, human beings are relational, embodied and interdependent. 

The basis of ethics is the feeling of deep connection to all people and all beings in the web of life.”

- Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality, Carol P. Christ



Note: Naropa University-Oakland will provide accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  To request an accommodation, or to discuss any learning needs you may have, contact the Dean of Students, (510) 835-4827 ext 15.