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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Living the divine spiritually and politically : art ritual and performative/pedagogy in women's multi-faith leadership Bickel, Barbara Ann


In a world of increasing religious/political tensions and conflicts this study asks, what is the transformative significance of an arts and ritual-based approach to developing and encouraging women’s spiritual and multi-faith leadership? To counter destructive worldviews and practices that have divided people historically, politically, personally and sacredly, the study reinforces the political and spiritual value of women spiritual and multi-faith leaders creating and holding sacred space for truth making and world making. An a/r/tographic and mindful inquiry was engaged to assist self and group reflection within a group of women committed to multi-faith education and leadership in their communities. The objectives of the study were: 1) to explore through collaboration, ritual and art making processes the women’s experience of knowing and not knowing, 2) to articulate a curriculum for multi-faith consciousness raising, and 3) to develop a pedagogy and methodology that can serve as a catalyst for individual and societal change and transformation. The co-participants/co-inquirers (including the lead researcher as a member of the group) are fourteen women, who practice within eleven different religions and/or spiritual backgrounds, and who are part of a volunteer planning team that organizes an annual women’s multi-faith conference (Women’s Spirituality Celebration) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The aesthetic/ritual structure of the labyrinth served as a cross-cultural multi-faith symbol in guiding the dissertation, which includes three art installations and four documentary DVDs of the process and art. New understandings found in the study include: 1) the ethical sanctuary that a/r/tography as ritual enables for personal and collective change to take place within, 2) the addition of synecdoche to the renderings of a/r/tography, assisting a multi-dimensional spiral movement towards a whole a/r/tographic practice, 3) a lived and radically relational curriculum of philetics within loving community that drew forth the women’s erotic life force energy and enhanced the women’s ability to remember the power of the feminine aspect of the Divine, and 4) the decolonization of the Divine, art and education, which took place as a pedagogy of wholeness unfolded, requiring a dialectic relationship between restorative and transformative learning.

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