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Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity Among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco Paperback – December 21, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0415223935 ISBN-10: 0415223938 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (December 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415223938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415223935
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,657,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A tour de force... Salomonsen's rigorous training in traditional theology and cultural anthropology informs the rich description and analysis of this faith community... For those too quick to dismiss feminism, witches, and alternative religions, and even for those already interested in these topics, this book will be a startling revelation.
–Carol Delaney, Stanford University

About the Author

Jone Salomonsen teaches in the department of Religious Studies at the University of Oslo.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Chase on March 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jone Salomonsen's study of 'Reclaiming Witchcraft' is a hybrid document. Trained originally in systematic theology, she also later undertook ethnographic training, and the result is a combined study as a participant observer, complete with thick description, but also intends to uncover implicit theories of practice and heritage. In particular, Salomonsen works to demonstrate that the theological focus on "immanence, interconnection, and community" resembles an older subcultural line of medieval and early modern Christian mysticism, particularly women's mysticism. This broad thesis is not very successful, but other parts of the book are spectacular.

Her most imporant contributions in the book are in the areas of sacred hermeneutics, Reclaiming Goddess thealogy, and Gender.
She contends that Witchcraft hermeutics are vertical--with unifiying of sacred and profane, natural and supernatural, language and action, with the result of creating, magical reality--or what in literary theory would be called Magical Realism--symbol and referent becoming indistinguishable from each other. What Salomonsen calls the embrace of experience as prelinguistic, I would call "phenomenological."

In terms of theology, Salomonsen contends that Witches do not divide holy experience into 'immanent' and 'transcendent.' Rather, they may make a distinction between a horizontal manifest pansacrality, and a vertical sacrality where Goddess is experienced as Power or Deity, even materializing in sacred possession (or what might be more directly called mysticism). Her discussion of multiple selves (or souls) within Reclaming (Deep Self, Younger Self, and Talking Self) are viewed as ways of integrating these pluralist realities concerning phenomenolgical and symbolic experience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christine Hoff Kraemer on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most theologically sophisticated ethnographic studies of a religious community that I've come across. The book is Salomonsen's account of her experiences as a participant-observer (though she problematizes this concept) in the feminist Reclaiming witchcraft community of San Francisco from 1984-1994.

Salomonsen examines the community's ritual, anarchist-feminist politics, immanentist theology, and historical origins in loving detail. She argues that the origins of the groups' immanentism, communalism, and search for ecstatic experience can be found in radical Protestant groups existing from the thirteenth century to the seventeenth century -- for example, the Brethren of the Free Spirit. Ultimately, she argues, Reclaiming witches are continuing the work of the Reformation by finding new sources of spiritual authority and restoring a cosmology in which human beings have a meaningful place, and may be more properly understood as subcultures of the Judeo-Christian tradition, rather than as members of the new religion of Wicca, with its specifically British occult origins.

Although the connections Salomonsen makes between Reclaiming witchcraft and radical Protestant traditions are intriguing and sometimes insightful, her thesis is badly overstated. In particular, she seems to ignore the fact that the historical groups she compares Reclaiming to were marginalized or branded as heretics by the more orthodox Protestant churches. To draw some connections between Reclaiming witches and marginalized Protestant heretics, especially while demonstrating how utterly different Reclaiming practice is from any existing Protestantism, doesn't do a good job of showing that Reclaiming is really part of the Protestant lineage.
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Format: Paperback
At the time this book was published in 2002, Jone Salomonsen was "Senior Research Fellow in Theology and Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo."

She writes in the Introduction to this 2002 book, "This book represents an in-depth study of how contemporary Witches in the Reclaiming community of San Francisco attempt to construct new cultural visions and new religious agency and identity by means of nature-oriented goddess worship and magical, ritual performance... This community of feminist Witches was formed in 1979 by two Jewish women, Starhawk and Diane Baker, who intended to teach others about their newly found goddess and her emancipatory rituals. Twenty years later, Reclaiming has grown into a large movement... The name 'Reclaiming' refers to a spirituality these feminists feel they have reclaimed from ancient paganism and goddess worship in order to heal experiences of estrangement occasioned by patriarchal biblical religions."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"Thus, from an academic standpoint, (Gerald) Gardner (with [Aleister] Crowley and [Doreen] Valiente) must be regarded as the sole inventor of modern Witchcraft, including its practices." (Pg. 5)
"It should be noted, however, that most feminist Witches---also in Reclaiming---choose to refer to their religion as Wicca as soon as they enter public space." (Pg. 8)
"...many historians believed that the people persecuted as witches in the European witch hunts were members of a surviving pagan religion ... When the thesis of an Old Religion collapsed ... there was no social heritage to a living religion, only folklore, folk customs, literature and ceremonial frtaernities.
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