Indigenizing the Goddess: Reclaiming Territory, Myth and Devotion in Glastonbury
University of Winchester, University of Wales TSD
The Glastonbury Goddess religion in the South West of England began in the 1990’s by a small group of women dedicated to reviving the Goddess of the land surrounding Glastonbury, interpreting and revitalising myths and legends in relation to her, and reclaiming the Goddess as their own after centuries of male Christian dominated religion. Much of this ‘reclaiming’ has been done through loud and colourful presences such as processions, ritual creativity where goddesses are claimed at significant wells and springs, and the exclusive use of willow that is indigenous to the land around Glastonbury to make the statues of the Goddess. Hugely successful, the group have constructed what they claim to be the first Goddess Temple dedicated to the indigenous goddess of Glastonbury in over 1500 years. Currently, people come from all over the world to be trained as priestesses at the Goddess Temple where they are encouraged to take their Goddess training back to their particular locale and set up temples in honour of their local goddesses. Thus this chapter will argue that territorialisation, or ‘re-territorialisation’ as one of the main strategies for indigenizing the Goddess, is carried out through the use and development of Glastonbury Goddess material cultures, as well as international Goddess training programmes. Prompting the reclamation of ancestral indigenous traditions all over the world, the Glastonbury Goddess religion is having global reach.