"Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal and the Quest for Authenticity", in: Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonial and Nationalist Impulses, edited by Kathryn Rountree, EASA Series, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 239-260 (2015)
"Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal and the Quest for Authenticity", in: Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonial and Nationalist Impulses, edited by Kathryn Rountree, EASA Series, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 239-260 (2015)
"Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal and the Quest for Authenticity", in: Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonial and Nationalist Impulses, edited by Kathryn Rountree, EASA Series, Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 239-260 (2015)
11 Iberian Paganism Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal and the Quest for Authenticity Anna Fedele Introduction On a warm autumn day in 2009 I was taking some pictures of the small building in a suburb in Lisbon where I had been attending workshops and rituals during my fieldwork about Goddess spiritual- ity in Portugal. I had arrived too early for a workshop on the Sacred Feminine and was using the occasion to take some pictures of the spiritual centre and its surrounding neighbourhood. I became gradu- ally aware that two elderly women I had passed on the street some minutes before were watching me from a distance and talking ani- matedly. After some time a third, somewhat younger woman joined their conversation, looked intently at me and then walked towards me with a gentle smile on her face. Pointing towards the workshop building, she asked me: ‘You are one of the folks of this house, aren’t you?’ Somewhat puzzled I explained that I had arrived early for a workshop and that as I liked the paintings on the walls of the centre and also the surrounding area I was taking some pictures. Relieved and triumphant, the woman exclaimed: ‘I knew it, I could tell from the way you are dressed! And I told those two ladies, “She is one of these girls from that house; they are peaceful people”’. While I was self-consciously looking at my long skirt and the long shawl I had resolved to wear for the occasion, the woman continued: ‘I know them; one of the girls who leads this centre grew up in the neighbour- hood; they do harmless activities, such as yoga and belly dancing; they are very friendly’. After some small talk about my being Italian 240 ◆ Anna Fedele and my Portuguese improving, the woman added that she was sorry about the older women’s behaviour. She added that I had to under- stand that their neighbourhood was like a small village where every- body knows everybody and people worry about strangers, possible robberies and foreign religious habits. This ethnographic vignette offers a good example of the difficul- ties faced by groups practising forms of contemporary spirituality not only in Portugal, but also in other countries of southern Europe such as Spain or Italy where Catholicism is still considered the official religion and new religious movements are easily labelled as danger- ous sects.1 This chapter draws on fieldwork about the Goddess spiri- tuality movement in Spain and Portugal to analyse the peculiarities of Iberian Paganism.2 The tensions between local forms of Goddess worship and Pagan traditions imported from the United States and Britain are discussed. Taking as an example the case of the Goddess Conference in Spain, I will argue that in order to be accepted by Iberian Pagans these ‘Anglo-traditions’ need to be adapted through a process of cultural and religious translation that takes into account different factors, such as their Catholic background, their need for secretiveness and their fear of criticism and even stigmatization.3 This adaptation process usually happens through local leaders who act as cultural and religious mediators and transform Goddess spirituality theories for their southern European public. An analysis of their adapted theories and rituals and their criticism of imported British and American Paganisms offers insights into processes of reli- gious colonization and resistance at an historical moment when con- temporary Pagan movements are gradually gaining increased public visibility in mainland Europe, and yearly ‘Goddess Conferences’ are being celebrated not only in Glastonbury (in the United Kingdom), but also in Germany, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia and Argentina. The way in which the Goddess Conference package is trans- planted from Britain to other countries offers a good example of the way in which Pagans negotiate the tensions between local, cul- tural or national identities and wider, international and increasingly globalized influences. There are constant efforts to construct forms of Paganism that are perceived as indigenous and therefore authen- tic, but there is also the wish to connect with a wider, international Pagan movement (see Bowman 2009; and Rountree 2010 and this volume). This phenomenon is particularly interesting in the context of traditionally Catholic countries such as Spain and Portugal, where English is not widely spoken and there seems to be a well-developed Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 241 resistance towards what is often perceived as an Anglo-imperialism that does not take into account local specificities. As will be dis- cussed, this process of resistance is particularly evident among ‘het- erodox’ Pagan groups that are loosely structured and do not identify with a specific international Pagan tradition. Iberian Paganism As the religious historian Ronald Hutton has shown (1999), even if most contemporary Pagans consider themselves as part of a revi- talization process of pre- Christian nature religions, their beliefs and practices are more recent and started to circulate in the 1960s in Great Britain and North America. Contemporary Pagans tend to criticize institutionalized religions, and particularly Christianity, as patriarchal and misogynist and believe that the conceptualization of the body as sinful has led members of Judaeo-Christian religions to despise the material world and perceive their sexuality as sinful. This rejection and denigration of body and matter is, according to Pagans, one of the principal causes not only of the current ecological disaster, but also of widespread sexual perversions such as child abuse and the rape of women. In order to create a safer world and foster an environmentally friendly attitude, Pagans advocate a sacralization of the body and sexuality and a conceptualization of planet Earth as inhabited by divine forces. Pagans want to create non-hierarchical, gender-equal communi- ties, based on a deep respect for nature and for each other’s beliefs and choices. For analytical purposes contemporary Pagan movements have sometimes been united by social scientists and religious histori- ans under the umbrella term ‘Neopaganism’, but so far no consensus about terminology has been reached. Movements considered under the umbrella range from neo-shamanic groups revitalizing Native American or other shamanic traditions,4 to groups that have been described as part of a ‘feminist spirituality’ movement (Eller 1993), to a variety of witchcraft groups, as well as contemporary Druids and Isis fellowships.5 Not all social actors described by social scientists as Neopagans or contemporary Pagans would necessarily call themselves ‘Pagans’ and this is particularly the case in southern Europe (Fedele 2013b). Those following Pagan theories and practices in Italy, Spain or Portugal do not seem to share with their North American equivalents the need to form associations (see Berger, Davie and Fokas 2008: 14); they often 242 ◆ Anna Fedele do not belong to any religious organization and refuse to identify with a precise religious movement. My Iberian interlocutors had been brought up as Catholics and many of them stated that they were not ‘religious’ but ‘spiritual’.6 They did not like the idea of joining an established religion again and seemed thereby to follow a trend in contemporary religiosity also common in North America and Europe (Heelas and Woodhead 2005; Berger, Davie and Fokas 2008: 14).7 The women and few men I encountered during my fieldwork had been disappointed, and sometimes even wounded (Fedele 2013a: 191–216), by what they described as ‘the Church’ and therefore preferred the word ‘spiri- tuality’ to ‘religion’ (Fedele 2009; Knibbe 2013; Fedele and Knibbe 2013). In fact, as can easily be deduced from the ethnographic vignette that opens this chapter, many of my interlocutors preferred to be secretive about their spiritual theories and practices. They often felt watched and judged by their colleagues or neighbours and found that their spirituality could be easily misunderstood by their Catholic families and by the wider social environment. For all these reasons my interlocutors preferred to describe themselves as part of ‘Goddess spirituality’ rather than a religion called ‘Paganism’. My latest findings show that my interlocutors’ fears were well founded. Between 2011 and 2012 some spiritual leaders and groups I studied in Italy and Spain were investigated by the police to deter- mine whether they were sects and to make sure that their activities were not related to Satanist rituals or did not include brainwashing methods. Workshops related to Goddess spirituality in Portugal and Spain tend to be organized in an informal way (that is, having no legal vis- ibility). Once the workshops start attracting a significant number of people and gaining social visibility, the most common solution is to create a non-profit organization. A good example of this constant need for discretion is the group whose workshop I was about to attend in the vignette that opens this chapter. It had a very general name that did not reveal its relationship with religion or spirituality, let alone Paganism. I will call it here: ‘international association fos- tering human creativity’. The group’s activities took place in an area of Lisbon where people still have small gardens in their backyards, know each other and stop to talk with neighbours on the street. The members of the association were attentive not to upset the neigh- bourhood and tended to describe their activities with labels such as ‘yoga’ or ‘belly dancing’ that were more related to leisure and health than spirituality. Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 243 I found that even though in Portugal there were some spiritual leaders who openly stated their commitment to the international Goddess movement and promoted their rituals and celebrations online, other groups and solitary practitioners of Goddess spirituality tended to be very protective, especially when promoting their events or describing their associations. They tend to use neutral terms such as ‘cultural association’ or ‘development seminar’, and it is only by reading in detail the description of an event, visiting a group’s website or participating in their activities that one can see how the contents are clearly related to the Goddess movement. In Spain I was mainly in touch with a women’s spirituality group based in Barcelona that here will be called Goddess Wood (Fedele 2013a, 2013c, 2014a). It had been founded in 2002 by an Argentinean woman in her early fifties called Dana and was one the largest and fastest growing in Catalonia, and probably in the whole of Spain. At the start of this fieldwork in 2004, Goddess Wood comprised up to three hundred women from different areas of the Spanish state who participated now and then in rituals or workshops organized by Dana. A group of thirty to forty committed members regularly attended the group’s activities. Goddess Wood had monthly gath- erings for the celebration of each new moon and the most impor- tant ceremonies were the annual initiation ritual at the beginning of February and the ‘pilgrimage of the blood’ (Fedele 2013a, 2014a) organized every second summer. At the beginning, the group’s activ- ities were organized in an informal way, but the group has grown both in terms of participation and of social visibility and Dana has therefore created a cultural association that gives a legal background to the group. Goddess Wood members are spread all over Spain and monthly gatherings to celebrate the new moon are regularly held by local groups in a number of Spanish cities and towns. Dana often observed that even though she enjoyed reading English ‘classics of Goddess spirituality’ such as Starhawk’s or Diane Stein’s books, she did not feel at ease using terms such as ‘witch’ or ‘Pagan’. She felt that the rituals they described could offer a starting point, but needed to be adapted to the Iberian context. Talking about her book project, Dana observed that there were English books about the Goddess and that since the late 1990s Spanish authors had also written about women’s spirituality, but she wanted to write about the ‘Christian Goddess’. In her opinion women in Europe, espe- cially those living in traditionally Catholic countries such as Spain, could not and should not dismiss their ‘Christian cultural heritage’. According to Dana, women with an important Christian background 244 ◆ Anna Fedele in Europe and also in Latin America could reinterpret it and thereby use it to create their own personal contact with the Goddess.8 While refusing the negative concepts related to gender, corporeality and sexuality they had received in childhood, the Iberian women I encountered did not entirely refuse their Catholic background and reinterpreted Christian figures such as Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene (Fedele 2013a). They found that Goddess spiritual- ity allowed them to address problems related to sexuality and gender that were considered taboo in the Catholic environment in which they grew up. Inversions of Christianity and the Importance of Uncertainty Since 2002 I have been researching the spread of contemporary spiri- tuality in Italy, Spain and Portugal with a particular focus on Goddess spirituality. For my doctoral dissertation I focused on pilgrimages to Catholic shrines in France related to Saint Mary Magdalene or to ‘Black Madonnas’ (Fedele 2013a). Although their pilgrimage leaders (from the United Kingdom, Italy and Argentina) had quite differ- ent spiritual backgrounds and approaches, the pilgrims I accompa- nied (coming from Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States) shared spiritual ideas and practices related to contemporary Paganism internationally, but also to contemporary spirituality more generally, or what is often referred to as ‘New Age’ spiritu- ality.9 My research was based on participant observation, informal conversations, loosely structured interviews and the recollection of life stories. I found that many of my interlocutors initially tended to have a defensive attitude because they were conscious of common critiques about their kind of religiosity as self-indulgent and con- sumerist. Because of this I believe that it is only through participant observation, the recollection of life stories and in-depth, open inter- views that social scientists can gain access to the complexities of con- temporary spirituality (see Bender 2010). As Marion Bowman observed in her long-term research about ‘integrative spirituality’ in Glastonbury (2009; see also Bowman 1993, 2004a, 2004b, 2005 and 2008), although they often fiercely criticize Christian religion and established religions more generally, Goddess spirituality practitioners incorporate many Christian and especially Catholic elements. I found that Catholicism, with its many saints, its emphasis on the cult of the Virgin Mary and its complex Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 245 rituals and colourful processions, is particularly apt for Pagan rein- terpretations. In this context the Virgin Mary appears as the Goddess disguised under Christian robes, and Black Madonnas appear as sur- vivals of ancient Goddess figurines and ultimately as the representa- tion of Mother Earth (Fedele 2013c). My interlocutors considered Christian saints to be Christianized Pagan gods and goddesses; thus female saints such as Mary Magdalene (Fedele 2013a) and Bridget10 (Bowman 2004a, 2007, 2009) appeared in this context respectively as the equivalents of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Celtic Brigid (or Brigit). In the adaptation process of Christian sites, figures, rituals and symbols I found that my interlocutors often used strategies of re-volution, in the original sense of the term. They did not refuse Christian elements in toto, but incorporated them into their ritual practices, turning their meaning upside down. Just two examples: Mary Magdalene is no longer a repentant prostitute turned into a saint by Jesus’s intervention, but the sacred lover of Jesus helping him in his difficult mission; menstrual blood, considered impure and sinful, is sacralized by offering it to Mother Earth in a chalice, thereby attaining a sort of ritual inversion of the Eucharist where male blood is offered to a male God Father in the sky (Fedele 2013a: 145–90; 2014a). Even if Goddess spirituality practitioners believe that they are creating a spirituality that is radically different from, and often directly opposed to, established religions of the past and present, a close analysis of their theories and rituals shows that they have many elements in common with other religious groups of the past and present (Fedele and Knibbe 2013; Fedele 2013a, 2013c). An examina- tion of recent and older anthropological studies of local Catholicism (Christian 1972, 1981, 1996, 2011), historical analyses of Christianity (Bynum 1987, 1991) and anthropological studies of other religious groups (for example, Badone 1990; Lambek 1993) reveals that lived religion (McGuire 2008), sometimes also described as ‘vernacular religion’ (Primiano 1995; Bowman and Valk 2012) or ‘folk religion’ (Yoder 1974; Bowman 2004b), and its multiple and sometimes ambig- uous interpretations are not so different from those of contemporary spirituality. I believe with Bowman that when analysing contempo- rary Paganism, its crafted rituals and its ‘integrative spirituality’, we should bear in mind that ‘although some scholars give the impression that this is a particular feature of modern/post-modern “alternative” spirituality, it is nothing new. This pragmatic, incorporative aspect is common to “traditional” religion as well as to contemporary 246 ◆ Anna Fedele spirituality, as countless ethnological studies have shown’ (Bowman 2009: 197). I would add that what is new is the explicit legitimization of such an incorporative approach and the extent to which it is used (see also Fedele and Knibbe 2013). Following Élisabeth Claverie’s analysis of French pilgrims travel- ling to Medjugorje (2003) and influenced by French pragmatic soci- ologists, during my research I did not consider social actors to be passive victims of their social or religious milieu or of the spiritual theories and practices they had embraced. I believe they are equipped to engage with the social and religious realities they encounter and tend to be critical. Before accepting theories and rules, they find their own ways to put them to test and this also happened in the case of my interlocutors in Spain and Portugal. In my research I paid par- ticular attention to the way in which spiritual practitioners accepted or refused certain theories and the processes that led them to the creation of their own spirituality. Social scientists have often described religion as providing a remedy for uncertainty and the anxieties related to it. In this context uncertainty and doubt are regarded as undesirable and there has been a tendency to emphasize religion’s capacity to offer a reassuring sense of continuity and certainty. Little attention has been paid so far to the role uncertainty plays in religious experiences.11 I found that my southern European interlocutors saw doubts as allies rather than as needing to be neutralized. In fact they were constantly encour- aged by their spiritual leaders not to take anything for granted, to put theories and spiritual practices to the test and see whether they ‘worked for them’ (Bell 1997; Fedele 2013a, 2014b). If they found that a certain theory or ritual was not useful for their process of spiri- tual growth, they should feel free to dismiss it or adapt it in order to make it work. In this context the capacity and willingness to chal- lenge religious knowledge emerged as an ally in the face of dogmas imposed from above that were considered typical of monotheistic, patriarchal religions (Fedele 2014b). These Iberians had managed to distance themselves from the Catholic dogmas they had received from their families, in the Catholic schools they had attended or more generally from their Catholic milieu. Having embraced a (Goddess) spirituality they perceived as opposed to (Catholic) religion, most were not willing to risk becoming ‘religious’ again. Putting to the test theories and prac- tices they found in books or learnt about in workshops was therefore an important element in their defence against institutionalized and potentially disempowering religions. Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 247 Given their resistance to dogmas and refusal to become involved again in hierarchical and potentially controlling religious communi- ties, their attitude towards Pagan theories and practices coming from Britain and the United States is particularly interesting. As will be discussed, they did not accept passively the rituals and ideas they found in English books (or Spanish translations of Pagan literature originally written in English), but evaluated whether they ‘worked for them’ in their local contexts. In their quest for an authentic Iberian Goddess tradition they often resisted what they perceived as a sort of Anglo-imperialism and preferred Spanish authors and spiritual leaders who did not simply follow established international traditions, but crafted their own Iberian tradition taking existing international traditions as sources of inspiration and blending them with local pre-Christian elements along with Catholic elements. The Goddess Conference in Spain In February 2010 I participated in the Pantheacon, the most impor- tant Pagan meeting in the United States (Pantheacon 2013).12 There I discovered that in autumn of the same year the first Goddess Conference in Spain would be held in Madrid, and that it would be modelled on the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury. Surprised and curious, I contacted some of my informants in Spain only to find that they did not know about this upcoming event. They did not seem particularly interested and one of them commented rather sceptically that this was probably ‘some big thing that was being organized by disciples of Kathy Jones in Spain’. Glastonbury is one of the most important centres of contempo- rary spirituality and also a traditional pilgrimage site for Catholics and Anglicans (Prince and Riches 2000; Ivakhiv 2001; Bowman 1993, 2004a, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009). The annual Glastonbury Goddess Conference is a five-day event that was founded in 1996, and Kathy Jones is probably the most important figure in the Goddess spiritual- ity movement in Glastonbury and a central figure of the conference (Jones 2000; Bowman 2009; Trulsson 2010; Goddess Conference 2013). Glastonbury is believed to be the physical site of the mythical Avalon, described in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel The Mists of Avalon (1983) as the home of the priestesses of the Goddess. There is a training programme for priestesses and priests of Avalon that pro- duces ritual celebrants schooled in what is commonly referred to as ‘the Glastonbury tradition’ or ‘the Avalon tradition’. 248 ◆ Anna Fedele The Glastonbury Goddess Conference has been studied by Marion Bowman and others (for example, Trulsson 2010) and it would take too long here to describe it in detail. The following will refer to those elements of the Glastonbury conference that have influenced its Iberian equivalent. Bowman (2009) has also analysed how the ‘Glastonbury Goddess package’, which is being transplanted to different parts of Europe, is taking root in Hungary. The way in which this package has been adapted to the Hungarian context has many similarities with the Iberian case. However, in the Iberian case, apart from the influence of Kathy Jones and her Goddess training programme (‘the Avalon tradition’), there was also the intervention of the ‘Reclaiming’ movement, which has Starhawk as its central figure.13 This was the invitation I received by e-mail (on 20 February 2010) to the first Goddess Conference in Madrid to be held on 24–27 September 2010: We have the pleasure to inform you, that we, a small Group of Priest- esses and Priests of the Goddess, in union of two traditions – Avalon and Celtic-Reclaiming, are preparing the first GODDESS CONFERENCE in Madrid, Spain! This Conference has been happening for many years in Glastonbury, England, nurtured by its founder Kathy Jones and the Priestesses of Avalon, visited by hundreds of people each year. Speak- ers such as Starhawk from Reclaiming San Francisco or Anique Radiant Heart from Australia have been attending for many years to encourage and support the Wiccan tradition in its multiple ways. We feel that the moment has come to reclaim the Goddess in Spain, and so we got together as the weavers of the Spanish Goddess Conference. We are pioneers venturing into the unknown, discovering treasures of this land: its sacred places, the names of the ancient Goddesses honoured in Hispania, traces of Her worship in old traditions. Little by little we start to know that Madrid is a whole Goddess city; that our ancestral Goddesses are eager to be found; to wake up [and come] to life again. Several important elements of this first Iberian Goddess Conference were directly related to its British equivalent: • The ritual celebration of each ancient local goddess was related to a cardinal direction, a colour and a priestess (the goddesses associ- ated with the Iberian peninsula in the first conference were Ama Lur, Ataecina, Tanit, Belisama, Diana, Potnia Hippon, Noctiluca and Cybeles). • A ‘Goddess procession’ with banners to important local sites (in this case, the fountain of Cybeles situated at the heart of Madrid).14 Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 249 • A ‘Goddess masked ball’. • Fringe events to be paid for separately. • The figures of the melissas (‘bees’ in Ancient Greek) as helpers during the conference. Continuity with the Glastonbury Goddess Conference tradi- tion was granted by the presence of its founder, Kathy Jones, and central figures connected with the Goddess Conference in Argentina (Sandra Román) and Australia (Anique Radiant Heart). Other high- profile figures of the international Pagan movement who joined this first occasion were Starhawk, Sally Pullinger, Steve Wilkes and Vicky Noble. To further emphasize continuity with Glastonbury’s confer- ence, Kathy Jones lit a ceremonial candle and ritually invoked the power of the ‘flame of Avalon’ – and thereby the power of the Avalon tradition – to ignite the ‘flame of Iberia’. With this ritual she wanted to bring back to life the veneration of the Goddess in the Iberian peninsula. She reminded conference participants that after this ritual they all ‘carried inside themselves the flame of Avalon and of Iberia’; they were now connected with both the Avalon and the Iberian tra- ditions of Goddess worship. When I asked my Portuguese interlocutors whether they would attend the first Goddess Conference in Spain, many of them did not know about it and once they had gathered information about it they all at first commented that it was too expensive for them. Some added that they felt that the conference organizers should also contact Portuguese Pagans in some way; although on the conference website the organiz- ers addressed the whole Iberian peninsula, as far as my interlocutors knew, no direct contact had been made with Portuguese Pagans to see whether they wanted to contribute. In the second year of the Iberian conference, it became explicit that Portuguese Pagans were also invited to identify with the conference through the goddess Iberia. One of the speakers at the second conference in 2011 came from Portugal and she described herself as having a special link with Glastonbury. Iberia is a goddess who was ‘born’ during the first Goddess Conference in Madrid and is a sort of Iberian equivalent of the Roman goddess Britannia venerated in Glastonbury. The birth of the goddess Iberia, representing the Iberian peninsula, also allowed another feature of the Glastonbury conference to be incorporated: the veneration of a different aspect of the fourfold Goddess (Maiden, Lover, Mother, Crone) (c.f. Bowman 2009: 209). This emerged in the announcement of the second Iberian conference, which was celebrated on 7–10 July 2011: 250 ◆ Anna Fedele IBERIA, THE MAIDEN The Goddess of Iberia, born at the Goddess Conference last September, has been maturing. Our baby girl is no longer asleep in the arms of the Great Cosmic Mother. Our blessed girl is a free maiden, joyful and ex- pressive. She runs through the fields, shaking the still sleeping earth with her little feet. . . . The Maid of Iberia was known by many names: The Gala Belisama (clearly a cousin of the English Brigit), the Basque Ekhi (the healing light of the mild winter sun), Carmenta (one of the Roman Matres, who was in charge of receiving babies, oracles, edges and spells), the Greek Aphrodite Phosphoros (Aphrodite, bringer of light), the Iberian Cabar Sul (Matron Goddess of healing through water) amongst others. Like Brigit of England, she had two common characteristics: healing through the purification of fire and through the purification of the crystal-clear waters, therefore at our Conference we will honour her and ourselves with the purification of fire and water. They are all Divine expressions of the girl that once lived in each one of us. All of them a Divine expression of our inner child. They are all incarnated again as the children who are in our lives now and therefore will be honoured at the Second Iberian Goddess Conference, in early July in Madrid. You are welcome to join us and share laughter, innocence and inspira- tion from the Maiden of Iberia.15 As we can see from this announcement there is a clear effort to find common elements between Iberia and Brigit (or Brigid), the Celtic goddess assimilated with the Christian Saint Bridget venerated in Glastonbury. Something similar happened in the Hungarian case analysed by Bowman (2009: 214). In the third Iberian Goddess Conference the second aspect of the fourfold Goddess was to be venerated, and the reference to Iberia the Lover allowed the introduction of another feature of the Glastonbury conference, the association of each aspect of the Goddess with certain colours and the association of each conference with a preva- lent colour (c.f. Bowman 2009: 210). This is the announcement of the third Iberian conference, which was to be held on 27–30 September 2012: Iberia the Maiden went out to dance to the world at the Second Iberian Goddess Conference. Spinning joyfully She fell in love with the whole creation, She fell in love with Herself reflected in the mountains, in the valleys, in the rivers and the sea, in all creatures . . . So She became Iberia the Lover. Join us to celebrate the Third Iberian Goddess Conference in Madrid from 27th to 30th September 2012. Please wear red, pink and fuchsia in all possible shades to honour the fourfold Goddess of Love of our lands: Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 251 Iberia of the Birds, the Horses, the Snakes and the Crystalline Depths, Iberia the Lover manifesting Self- Love, Sacred Pleasure, Pure Heart Love, and Divine Love. (Conferencia de la Diosa 2013) With every Iberian conference more elements of the Glastonbury conference were incorporated. Gradually an Iberian mythology was being created that also incorporated the Dama de Elche (Lady of Elche), a polychrome stone bust discovered in 1897 near Elche (Valencia, Spain) that has been at the centre of many controversies about its authenticity and is a popular image in Spain. After the first Iberian conference efforts were increasingly made to incorporate not only priestesses from the (British) Avalon and (American) Reclaiming traditions. In 2011 there was also a priestess from the Iberian tradi- tion in the ceremonial équipe and several invited local speakers were heterodox priestesses or spiritual leaders. However, the Glastonbury package failed to properly take root in Spain. In 2011 the organizers experienced a shortage of subscrip- tions and had to lower the price three weeks before the event so as to allow those affected by the economic crisis to participate.16 This created discontent among those who had not been accorded a similar discount the year before and those who had already paid the full price for 2011. In 2012 the third Iberian Goddess Conference was significantly more affordable, but nevertheless it had to be can- celled because of a ‘lack of subscriptions’.17 Those interested were invited to participate in ‘the next one’ (Conferencia de la Diosa 2013). Why Did the Goddess Conference Fail to Take Root in Spain? At the time of this writing, in November 2014, the Spanish website of the conference no longer exists and there is no Goddess Conference scheduled for 2014 in Madrid. What were the reasons that led to the failure of this event? Why did the Glastonbury package not work in Madrid? The reasons are surely manifold and the severe financial crisis in southern Europe certainly was an important factor. However, some other elements played an important role in this process. As described above, the Iberian Goddess Conference was orga- nized by a number of priestesses belonging to the Avalon tradition or the Reclaiming tradition and they consciously modelled the event to reproduce some of the main features of the Glastonbury conference. 252 ◆ Anna Fedele The organizers made an effort to adapt the Glastonbury package to the local context and announced that all Pagan groups of the Iberian peninsula were invited to participate and that they aimed to include all Pagan traditions.18 However, this may have been more compli- cated than they thought, and they failed to involve in the creation and organization of the first Iberian conference other heterodox spiritual leaders and priestesses who had been practising Goddess spirituality all over Spain. The organizers of the first conference all belonged to one of the two traditions related to the conference and indicated their lineage in their biographical descriptions on the website (Conferencia de la Diosa 2010). Some of my Spanish informants complained that those from other local groups who wanted to participate and who offered to contribute by celebrating a ritual were welcomed, but unlike the invited celebrants they would not be paid for their ritual performance and would have to pay a registration fee. They were thereby considered on the same level as all other participants. This created several misunderstandings and conflicts, additionally because the price was considerable by Iberian standards and Iberians are not so familiar with early-registration discounts. As I have explained elsewhere, in Spain and Portugal the cost of workshops and retreats tends to be quite inexpensive compared with other European countries, and this often allows younger participants or those with little income to attend at least some events (Fedele 2013a; see also Fedele and Knibbe 2013). The Glastonbury scheme that involved the invitation of foreign guests such as Kathy Jones and Starhawk implied that the subscriptions needed to be quite high and that there was little space for negotiation about free entry or late discounts. The salience of this problem became particularly evident during the second Iberian conference when the organizers decided to lower the prices for those with financial problems a few weeks before the conference. The lack of explicit involvement in the first Iberian conference of heterodox but well-developed local women’s spirituality groups, which in many cases had been practising Goddess spirituality since the late 1990s, created a gap between the ‘vernacular’ Paganism and a sort of ‘orthodox’ Paganism represented by the followers of the Avalon tradition and Starhawk’s Reclaiming tradition. Although in the second and third Iberian conferences some heterodox priestesses and spiritual leaders were incorporated as speakers, many of my interlocutors had felt disillusioned and decided not to attend. Apart from economic issues and the problematic inclusion of het- erodox Pagan groups, another element that in my opinion played Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 253 an important role in the failure of the transplantation process was that few Catholic elements were incorporated. The official god- desses who were invoked did not include local virgins such as Our Lady of Montserrat or Our Lady of Rocio (see Fedele 2013a) and the conference leaders did not adapt the contents for an audience that had a strong Catholic background. Although in later versions of the Goddess Conference in Spain there were references to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, considered Christianized versions of the Goddess, the ‘Christian Goddess’ was not explicitly addressed or worshipped. Finally, an important factor was the resistance of my Iberian infor- mants to accept theories and ritual rules perceived as imposed from above. Both the Avalon and the Reclaiming traditions have gradually become more crystallized in a set process and certain rituals that were once freshly crafted now form part of an established tradition. Some of my interlocutors had participated in the Glastonbury conference and several had criticized the ‘rigidity’ of certain ceremonies. Some said that they had even been reprimanded because they were doing their own ritual gestures and procedures and were not following suit. In their attempt to escape from the religious rules and dogmas they had experienced as disempowering and sometimes painful during their childhood and early adulthood as Catholics, these women per- ceived the Glastonbury package as too structured and constrictive. Moreover it appeared to them as something imported and coming ‘from above’ that did not really reflect their own experiences of the Goddess or the local specificities of their spirituality. They resisted this process as a sort of Anglo-colonialism that forced them to follow the rules of established traditions they did not really embrace and which had not originated in their country. Conclusion Paganism is becoming increasingly represented and visible in main- land Europe and some international Pagan movements – Goddess spirituality in this instance – have crystallized into established tra- ditions such as the Avalon tradition and the Reclaiming tradition. Pagans tend to describe their own spirituality as non-hierarchical and gender equal in contrast with more established religions and with what they see more generally as ‘religion’. However, power relation- ships are inherent within human relations and therefore also in reli- gious groups. Even if Pagans try hard to protect individual freedom 254 ◆ Anna Fedele and not to create a religion,19 in the creation of their own spirituality they end up being inevitably caught up in power relations (Fedele and Knibbe 2013). It is particularly interesting to observe processes of religious colonization and resistance in a context in which reli- gious power and established religions are described as negative, but Christian figures, places and symbols are still considered as relevant and powerful. Due to their Catholic background Iberian practitioners of Goddess spirituality seem to be particularly sensitive to issues of religious domination and control, and are therefore particularly useful indica- tors of processes of resistance against an Anglo-imperialism within international Paganism. Many of them refuse to be labelled – or to label themselves – as Pagans or witches and prefer to create their own Iberian Goddess spirituality combining Catholic and Pagan elements rather than embracing established international Pagan traditions. Through an analysis of the case of the Iberian Goddess Conference it has been argued here that this ‘package’ (after Bowman 2009) has so far failed to take root in the Iberian peninsula because many Iberian Pagans have perceived it as something essentially imposed from above, coming from abroad and divorced from local specifici- ties. Although the organizers of the Iberian conference made efforts to adapt the Goddess Conference package to the Iberian context, including Iberian goddesses and Spanish places such as the fountain of Cybeles in Madrid, they failed to involve from the beginning what has been labelled here ‘heterodox’ Pagan groups – those which do not belong to the Avalon or Reclaiming traditions. Moreover, they only partially addressed the Catholic sensibilities and the economic difficulties of their potential audience. Planned as a well-structured event with ‘early-bird’ prices, fringe events to be paid for separately and special guests from abroad, the Iberian Goddess Conference looked radically different from the kind of loosely organized rituals I had witnessed during my earlier fieldwork. Time will tell whether the Goddess Conference will again be celebrated in Spain and eventu- ally take root there. If this happens the organizers will have to invest more effort in the process of cultural and religious translation so as to allow Iberian participants to recognize the conference as reflect- ing the complex Catholic-Pagan spiritualities they have created for themselves. Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 255 Acknowledgements I would like to thank Kathryn Rountree for her ongoing support and her suggestions and Marion Bowman for providing useful references. Notes 1 Although there is a growing religious diversity in Spain and Portugal due to immigration and the increasing availability of religious alterna- tives, the general opinion in the media and among people generally is that Portugal and Spain are still ‘Catholic countries’. See Mapril and Llera Blanes (2013) for a discussion of religious diversity in southern Europe. 2 The term ‘Iberian’ is used here to include Portuguese and Spaniards, and also to respect the nationalist sensibilities of Catalan and Basque Pagans who do not like to be labelled ‘Spanish’. As will be shown, the political problems linked to local nationalisms in Spain led the organizers of the Spanish Goddess Conference to refer to the ‘Iberian Peninsula’ rather than to Spain. See the organizers’ comments in the interview at: http:// www.elblogalternativo.com/2010/08/22/la-diosa-en-espana-entrevista mos-a -l as-o rganizadoras-d e-l a-c onferencia-d e-l a-d iosa-e n-m adrid- sobre-este-evento-y-el-neopaganismo/ (accessed 20 June 2013). 3 It is particularly difficult to determine the number of those following Pagan theories and practices in Spain and Portugal, because many may still be nominally Catholics, baptize their children and marry in a church. On the other hand there are also those who refuse to identify with any established religion or with other social labels. These and other attitudes make Goddess spirituality practitioners difficult to spot statistically. 4 In recent years there has been a debate about whether a variety of Native Faith groups in Europe, especially central and eastern Europe, should be included under the umbrella of ‘Neopaganism’. See, for instance, Aitamurto and Simpson (2013). 5 For an early study of witchcraft among Londoners, see Luhrmann (1989, 2001). For ethnographic or sociological studies of Neopagans in the United States, see Berger (1999), Pike (2001), Magliocco (2001, 2004), Salomonsen (2002) and Berger et al. (2003). In Great Britain, see Greenwood (2000); in Malta, Rountree (2010); in Australia, Hume (1997); and in New Zealand, Rountree (2004). See Albanese (1990) for a discussion of ‘nature religions’ in America. See also Harvey (1997) and Pizza and Lewis (2008). 6 All citations come from personal interviews or informal conversa- tions. The translations from Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese are mine. 256 ◆ Anna Fedele Pseudonyms have been used for the groups and persons described in this text. 7 For a detailed discussion of the spirituality/religion dichotomy and the methodological problems entailed in the use of these terms in the social sciences, see Fedele and Knibbe (2013). 8 See also Fedele (2013b) where I refer to this conversation with Dana and her book project. 9 See Wood (2007) for a detailed analysis of the problems related to the term ‘New Age’. See also Sutcliffe and Bowman (2000). 10 Both Brigit and Bridget are used; here I use Bridget, the version that Bowman uses. 11 The importance of uncertainty and doubt in vernacular religion is at the centre of a special issue I coordinated with Élisabeth Claverie for Social Compass (61(4), 2014). 12 For an ethnographic description of the Pantheacon, see, for instance, Magliocco (2004). 13 See Salomonsen (2002) for a detailed analysis of the Reclaiming witches in San Francisco. 14 To view videos of this procession in 2010, see: http://www.youtube. com/user/meryetcrafts#p/u/2/xdSwPxcuKtg (accessed 17 June 2013) and http://www.youtube.com/user/meryetcrafts#p/u/1/FBzpGhD7f4c (accessed 17 June 2013). 15 E-mail announcement received 12 March 2011. 16 Originally the price was 200 euros for early registration and 280 euros full price. The cost for those with economic problems was 150 euros. E-mail announcement received 19 June 2011. 17 The price for early registration was 135 euros and the full price 165 euros. Http://www.conferenciadeladiosa.es/english.html (accessed 19 June 2013). 18 See the organizers’ comments at: http://www.elblogalternativo.com/2010/ 08/22/la-d iosa-e n-e spana-e ntrevistamos-a -l as-o rganizadoras-d e-l a- conferencia-de-la-diosa-en-madrid-sobre-este-evento-y-el-neopagan ismo/ (accessed 19 June 2013). 19 Asa Trulsson (2013: 28) cites Kathy Jones saying, ‘I hope we are not creating a religion. . . . All known religions have been patriarchal’. References Aitamurto, K. and S. Simpson (eds). 2013. Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Acumen Publishing. Albanese, C.L. 1990. Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Iberian Paganism: Goddess Spirituality in Spain and Portugal ◆ 257 Badone, E. 1990. 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Energy and transformation in alternative pilgrimages to Catholic shrines: deconstructing the tourist / pilgrim divide
Che genere di spiritualità? riflessioni antropologiche su donne, maternità e spiritualità nei paesi tradizionalmente cattolici del Sud dell'Europa, Religioni e Società, xxxii: 88, 2017