The Role of Women in Traditional Religions

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The Role of Women in Traditional Religions by Melodi Grundy

This talk will highlight the various roles that women had (or are speculated to have had) from the Stone Age until the early years of the Christianity, along with some Norse/Germanic specific information. The main focus will be on European and some Middle Eastern religions; the idea is to provide an overview of how women (and men’s) roles in traditional religious practices tend to change along when both technology and the tasks of daily life also change. While not intended to be a comprehensive history of women in traditional religion (that could take several books) this slide-show and talk is designed to provide a general overview of the topic; one that hopefully will lead to further research and dialogue on the part of those who enjoy the talk.

The talk will start with a bit of background on what we know (or think we know) about European and related Stone Age Religions (hunting and gathering); move into the Mesolithic (gardening and villages); Agricultural Stone Age/Bronze Age (specialist farmers, specialist priests/priestesses, urban living); Iron Age (same as Bronze Age only often more codified official State Religions); and a section on Norse/Germanic examples to tie things all together. More recent findings on women buried with “magical” staffs and a bit on the comparisons of women’s roles in Germanic/Norse life as compared to their religious roles and that of the Goddesses will also be discussed.