Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa

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9780195124873: Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa
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Okinawa is the only contemporary society in which women lead the official, mainstream, publicly funded religion. Priestesses are the acknowledged religious leaders within the home, clan, and village--and, until annexation by Japan approximately one hundred years ago, within the Ryukyuan Kingdom. This fieldwork-based study provides a gender-sensitive look at a remarkable religious tradition. Susan Sered spent a year living in Henza, an Okinawan fishing village, joining priestesses as they conducted rituals in the sacred groves located deep in the jungle-covered mountains surrounding the village. Her observations focus upon the meaning of being a priestess and the interplay between women's religious preeminence and other aspects of the society.

Sered shows that the villages social ethos is characterized by easy-going interpersonal relations, an absence of firm rules and hierarchies, and a belief that the village and its inhabitants are naturally healthy. Particularly interesting is her discovery that gender is a minimal category here: villagers do not adapt any sort of ideology that proclaims that men and women are inherently different from one another. Villagers do explain that because farmland is scarce in Okinawa, men have been compelled to go to the dangerous ocean and to foreign countries to seek their livelihoods. Women, in contrast, have remained present in their healthy and pleasant village, working on their farms and engaging in constant rounds of intra- and interfamilial socializing. Priestesses, who do not exert power in the sense that religious leaders in many other societies do, can be seen as the epitome of presence. By praying and eating at myriad rituals, priestesses make immediate and tangible the benevolent presence of kami-sama (divinity).

Through in-depth examination of this unique and little-studied society, Sered offers a glimpse of a religious paradigm radically different from the male-dominated religious ideologies found in many other cultures.

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About the Author:

Susan Sered is at Bar-Ilan University.

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"The value of this sensitive study rests in its close attention to gender-related issues....This is a valuable addition to the literature on this relatively understudied area of the world."--Religious Studies Review

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9780195124866: Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa

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ISBN 10:  0195124863 ISBN 13:  9780195124866
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1999
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9780788199073: Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa

Oxford..., 1999
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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Although most historical and contemporary religions are governed by men, there are, scattered throughout the world, a handful of well-documented religions led by women. Most of these are marginal, subordinate, or secondary religions in the societies in which they are located. The one known exception to this rule is the indigenous religion of Okinawa, where women lead the official mainstream religion of the society. In this fieldwork-based study, Susan Sered providesthe first in-depth look at this unique religious tradition, exploring the intersection between religion and gender. In addition to providing important information on this remarkable and little-studied group, this book helps to overturn our mostly unexamined assumptions that male dominance of thereligious sphere is universal, axiomatic, and necessary. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195124873

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Although most historical and contemporary religions are governed by men, there are, scattered throughout the world, a handful of well-documented religions led by women. Most of these are marginal, subordinate, or secondary religions in the societies in which they are located. The one known exception to this rule is the indigenous religion of Okinawa, where women lead the official mainstream religion of the society. In this fieldwork-based study, Susan Sered provides the first in-depth look at this unique religious tradition, exploring the intersection between religion and gender. In addition to providing important information on this remarkable and little-studied group, this book helps to overturn our mostly unexamined assumptions that male dominance of the religious sphere is universal, axiomatic, and necessary. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195124873

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