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Goddess Pilgrims as Tourists: Inscribing the Body through Sacred Travel

Kathryn Rountree
Sociology of Religion
Vol. 63, No. 4 (Winter, 2002), pp. 475-496
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3712303
Page Count: 22
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Goddess Pilgrims as Tourists: Inscribing the Body through Sacred Travel
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Abstract

The paper examines the religious meanings of journeys made to sites associated with ancient Goddess worship by women who belong to the Goddess movement. While 'Goddess pilgrims' have characteristics in common with other religious pilgrims and with other middle-class tourists, especially those inclined towards ethnic tourism, environmental tourism and historical tourism, they also possess some crucial, distinctive characteristics. Through travelling to sacred sites for explicitly stated spiritual purposes, these women express both their religious identity and their political consciousness. Self-transformation is seen by them as a fundamental component of societal transformation. The paper argues that such journeys contribute to a radical re-inscription of the female body by exposing women to alternative representations of the feminine and by providing contexts in which the feminine can be re-imagined and re-experienced through symbolic activity and ritual. Through the rituals they perform at sites, Goddess pilgrims experience their female bodies as sacred, themselves as divine.

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