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    Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa

    By: Susan Sered

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    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. This book is the first in-depth look at this unique religious tradition, exploring the intersection between religion and gender. Based on fieldwork in an Okinawan village, Susan Sered argues that the absence of male dominance in the religious sphere is part of a broader absence of hiearchical ideologies and cultural patterns. 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.

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