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This paper addresses the formation of gender identity through the presence of female deities and related mythology. Using the theory developed by Luce Irigaray in "Divine Women", it proposes that women need a religious mythology that includes complex females in order to create a whole self and to build a healthy society. In order to demonstrate an example of this theory, the paper examines the way that divine women are created in the stories of Santeria as well as how through ritual, female (and male) practitioners gain a better sense of self; they are able to become divine women through their human characteristics, are able to heal through an enhanced intimacy with the deities and through a deeper connection to their selves, their bodies and their environment.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Religion in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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