Cultivating the sacred: gender, power and ritualisation in women's-only spaces
Contemporary scholars of ritual stress the fact that ritualisation always involves negotiations of power and further authority. Yet, scholars of alternative spirituality have rarely devoted space to strategic processes of ritualisation, but rather pursued text-oriented approaches which focus on discourses of participants. This paper argues for a practice-oriented approach, where primacy is given to ritualisation and the power inherited in such processes, and uses example from my own fieldwork in women-only workshops in England. I argue that even though women are involved in critique towards mainstream religious institutions, their actual interaction differs little from religious life outside normative confines of theological exegesis. In fact, if religion and spirituality is regarded less as a coherent system of beliefs and instead located in practice, the opposition between the two dissolves. The paper will however discuss how certain practices are authorised as religious, how dispositions are cultivated, power negotiated and certain schemes embodied.
Spirituality against religion: the role of gender and power