Goddess worshipGoddess spirituality is a general description for the veneration of female Deity or female deities. It is also referred to as "Goddess Worship", however, to its devotees this implies too much humility for a faith that does not distance the Divine into a remote, hierarchical separation, but locates Deity as within all life, indeed all reality. The term "veneration" is preferred, implying respect and intimacy without undue deference. "Spirituality" is often preferred to "religion" because organised religion has not typically nurtured Goddess veneration, with the major exception of Hinduism.
Goddess Spirituality can be conservative, and support male dominance, State control and empire building, or it can be radical and challenge those traditions. It can support women's authority or act as a warning against uncontrolled female power (some theories hold that the Kali/ Durga tradition in Hinduism does this). In Western society Goddess Spirituality has developed into a distinct culture since the mid 19th Century.
Pagan sometimes called Neopagan religion/denominations is a Western new religious movement (NRM) that generally recognises Goddess Spirituality as one of its few areas of consensus. However not all Goddess Spirituality is Pagan, nor is Goddess Spirituality necessarily feminist, though in Western societies the feminist version is probably the most articulate.
Sometimes called the Great Goddess, she can be referred to in all inclusive terms, 'The Great Goddess' or 'Queen of Heaven', and/or She may be referred to in more specific terms, 'Kali' or 'Isis' or 'Kwan Yin'.
Goddess veneration appears to go back to prehistoric times, cf Marija Gimbutas. Some of the oldest artifacts known to exist may well be representations of fertility goddesses. However this is a difficult area to prove conclusively as evidence is scanty either way. The figurines in question are also claimed as territorial markers, toys, sex aids, sex education models, and images of priestesses rather than goddesses. (Oeter Ucko et al.) Such controversy tends though, to assume that these artifacts were put to specific, single usage. It is quite possible, particularly before mass industrial production made artifacts commonplace, that the same object served many functions, whether at different times, or even simultaneously.
Examples of Goddess Veneration
See also: Goddess