A New Era
It has occurred to me lately that women have been less prominent than men in terms of visible impact on spirituality and religion. But the times they are a-changing in oh so many ways. It seems that women’s voices are rising and there is a new receptivity and a new more public empowerment in the air. In the Episcopal Church women are becoming bishops. Catholic nuns are performing masses in Latin America. The cultural force of Oprah has made spirituality front-page news. Feminine Power, an online podcast of female spiritual masters is drawing upwards of 20,000 women a week.
These changes suggest a new and exciting era. But what of our spiritual foremothers, the women of the past who swam upstream and paved the way for all of the cultural changes that we are the beneficiaries of today? Throughout human history women have been praying, grieving, weeping, suffering, and trying to make sense of a world filled with unspeakable joy and unbearable sorrow. Who were some of these great teachers of the past? And wouldn’t it be lovely to pay tribute to them in a gallery-type setting so that women of ethics, conscience, and spiritual desire can see their own history?
In an attempt to record some of these great spiritual pioneers, I offer the following short list of names with simple criteria — that they taught higher truths, they helped humanity, and they illuminated a deeper sense of that great spirit within us and the potential in all human beings. A partial naming of our spiritual ancestors (some of whom are still alive and kicking):
Spiritual Women who Helped Change the World
Pema Chodron Hildegard of Bingen
Mary Baker Eddy Quon Yin
Aimee Semple McPherson Makeda, Queen of Sheba
Kathryn Kuhlman Mechtild of Magdeburg
Jean Huston Catherine of Siena
The Virgin Mary Mirabai
Mary Magdalene Joyce Myers
Rickie Byers Beckwith
Emma Curtis Hopkins
Joan of Arc
Saint Teresa of Avila
Of course this is only a partial list, an appetizer, perhaps serving as food for thought. Please feel free to add your own names.