Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Ronald Grimes

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


A number of contemporary Western feminists are re-defining their spiritual beliefs and creating ritual practices to reinforce feminine values in their lives. Advocates of feminist spirituality believe that the personal and spiritual dimensions of women’s lives are interrelated. The experience of transcendence and unity is often preceded by personal healing and empowerment for many women. The creation of alternative women’s rituals, a dynamic force in contemporary feminism, is well illustrated in the world of Diane Mariechild. One purpose of this work is to interpret Mariechild’s rituals from a feminist and psychological perspective and to suggest that feminist ritual may function as a catalyst for healing, transformation and empowerment. I will include a review of the sources and underlying values of feminist spirituality, as well as a description of three of Mariechild’s rites, in which I was a participant observer, and an interview with her. The ritual research that has transpired primarily in anthropology and ritual theatre offers valuable insights for feminists who are pioneering in the creation of original ritual processes. Drawing on this research, which examines several contemporary approaches to transformative ritual processes, I will focus on the psychological aspects of liminality as a process of exploring unconscious material by suspending analytical functions and surrendering to emotional impulses. A ritualized descent into the unconscious can result in a new conscious orientation and increased feelings of unity and well-being. I will conclude with an examination of some of the strengths and weaknesses of Mariechild’s ritual work and feminist spirituality in general.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season