chapter  3
22 Pages

Healers, missionaries and entrepreneurs of the feminine

The secularization of contemporary women’s spirituality
WithChia Longman

The focus of this chapter is the contemporary cultural ‘mainstreaming’ of women’s spirituality, by questioning the secular–spiritual distinction that often remains under-theorized with regards to women’s spirituality/subjective wellbeing culture today. I draw on ethnographic field research and an analysis of excerpts from life-story interviews across three neighbouring European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany) with women who are professionally active in cultivating and promoting ‘the feminine’, including ritual workers, healers, life coaches, writers, trainers and consultants, and at group and communal events such as women’s circles, conferences, festivals and retreats. I argue that the intersectional identities and experiences of these ‘healers, missionaries, or entrepreneurs of the feminine’ elude simple categorizations in terms of the secular, the religious and the spiritual, and challenge the often-assumed class, age and ethnic homogeneity within the women’s wellbeing milieu.