Feminist Spiritual Community records, 1975-2017, undated
Collection Scope and Content
The collection consists of meeting notes, which discuss the Community’s decision-making process, as well as financial documents, newsletters, and by-laws. There are many examples of rituals the Community performed and various objects used in these rituals. The collection contains documents pertaining to the Community’s Women and Power Conference, as well as their 10th and 20th anniversary retreats, and documents pertaining to the Community’s publishing arm, Astarte Shell Press. In the Resources series, there are many sources of information pertaining to feminist spiritual movements across Maine and the nation.
The Feminist Spiritual Community was born in June 1980. The Community formed after Professor Eleanor Haney’s course Women in Religion at the University of Southern Maine in the spring of 1980. About fifteen students, half the students in the course, chose to continue meeting after the course ended. Haney wrote a proposal to the United Church of Christ to fund the Community for three years. It was the first time that a regional Protestant church body funded an alternative spiritual community with no expectation of its becoming Christian. The Community gathered on Monday nights at a series of locations around Portland. The last venue was the Maine Jewish Museum on Congress Street. The Community was a completely volunteer organization made up of a tiered membership (Members, Participants, and Friends). Members sat on a variety of committees and task forces. The Community organized many events throughout Maine, including the grant-funded 1986 Conference on Women and Power, as well as ten and twenty year retreats. In 1993, Astarte Shell Press grew out of the Feminist Spiritual Community as a publisher of feminist, spiritual literature. In 1993, Brigit McCallum wrote her doctoral thesis on the Community. The Community dissolved in 2016.