Serinity Young’s New Book

The Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History (2018/19) owes a debt of gratitude to Serinity Young. Dr. Young edited the Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion that was published in 1999. The popularity of that work contributed to the interest of some of the contributors who made the 2018/19 two volume work possible.

When reviewing Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History, The Center for Partnership Studies called it the new encyclopedia on women in world religions. That is because those at CPS remember Dr. Young’s earlier work.

Today I came across a book review of a new work with a great title, Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and other Airborne Females. I was drawn to it because, in addition to its cool title, the author’s name is Serinity Young. A thoughtful review of this work can be found at Reading Religion.

Thanks Dr. Young for your work on women in religion. I look forward to reading Women Who Fly!


Mary Magdalene in Church and History

The reference article, Mary Magalene (ca. first century CE), was written by Susan de Gaia, and was published in Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History, edited by Susan de-Gaia (ABC-CLIO 2019): Vol. 1, pp. 216-221.

It discusses views on Mary Magdalene in the eastern and western Christian churches, her sainthood, and the long-held but erroneous belief within western Christendom that she was a reformed prostitute and how that view was proven wrong and removed from Catholic doctrine.

The article also includes an overview of what are known to be historical truths about Mary Magdalene from original sources in and beyond the Bible, and a brief history of Mary Magdalene in popular culture, art, and folk religion.

Mary Magdalene continues to be a source of inspiration and sacred history for many professed Christians and others.



Miranda Shaw: Women and the feminine in Buddhism

Miranda Shaw has spent many years studying women’s spiritual practices, Goddess traditions, and sacred dance in Indian and Himalayan Buddhism. Her book, Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism, came out in 1994, and has been translated into seven languages. She also wrote Buddhist Goddesses of India, published in 2006, and has written numerous peer reviewed articles. Shaw is currently working on her next book, on the Tantric Buddhist dance tradition in Nepal.

Dr. Shaw contributed five articles to the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions. These can all be found in the Buddhism section of the encyclopedia:

  • Dance
  • Female Divinities
  • Prajnaparamita
  • Tara
  • Tantra (with Kenneth Lee)

In “Dance,” Shaw provides historical trends and details of women’s roles in Buddhist dance. In one passage, she explains that in the dance,  

“The practitioner adopted the appearance of the deity, meditated on the inner nature of the deity, and channeled the presence of the deity through the dance movements. Because the pantheon included female Buddhas, a woman could don the raiment and ornaments of a female deity and dance, evoking the Goddess within herself and bodying forth the presence of the Goddess through her movements.”

“Dance,” Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History (de-Gaia, ed.), page 1:107

An example of Tantric dance exist today, Shaw notes, in the Charya Nritya dance found in Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, where it is practiced predominantly by women and girls.

Miranda Shaw, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at University of Richmond.