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Paperback The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image Book

ISBN: 0140192921

ISBN13: 9780140192926

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image

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Book Overview

A comprehensive, scholarly accessible study, in which the authors draw upon poetry and mythology, art and literature, archaeology and psychology to show how the myth of the goddess has been lost from our formal Judeo-Christian images of the divine. They explain what happened to the goddess, when, and how she was excluded from western culture, and the implications of this loss.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The New Age Bible Of Spiritual Awakening

It's 2003. The world we live in is far more complex, divided, even chaotic than it was when it first began. The millions upon millions of men and women who make up the world each carry with them collective unconscious, traditions, religions, values and individuality. Above all, the world today is best described as a complicated imbalance of opposing thoughts- feeling versus thinking. The dualism of mind seperate from matter began with the splitting of God's female principle from his masculine principle. Every devoutly fundamentalist Christian (as well as Jew or Muslim who read the sacred "texts" as absolute truth) will tell you that God is a man. In the Christian Bible, the Torah and the Koran, God is given masculine attributes- he is a warrior, a conqueror, a father figure, a king, etc. Rarely, does it exalt his feminine qualities- compassion, healing, motherhood, love and kindness. Sparingly, he is described as a mother bird taking loved ones under his protective wings ( I will speak about this further).Anne Baring is a British psychoanalyst specializing in Jungian philosophy, while Jules Cashford is an expert on mythology and folklore. Together, this complimentary duo team of writers have compiled an extensive Bible-size plethora of information on the Goddess. When we speak of "the Goddess" we refer mainly to the Divine Female Principle. God (power, energy, divinity) is both male and female, and not limited to merely one function- he is neither simply a man nor simply a woman. the accurate sources of archaeological, historic evidence proves (the wall paintings of various caves like Lescaux in France and stone figures of pregnant women and various goddess idols of the Middle East) there was a time when the powerful God principle was merely female. The Mother is always the first, direct experience for all of us after we are born ( she provides the child with milk, raises him/her and nourishes him/her child). Because humankind's first life consciousness was the mother, God was thought to be a Mother. The Mother Goddess was worshipped in many forms- a bird flying over the world or the oceans (later this bird image would become the dove of the Holy Spirit). In the Egyptian culture, she was Isis, in Mesopotamia/Canaan she was Asherah, Astarte, and in Greece, Athena and Aphrodite. Female/goddess worship extended in many forms, each of the women were fulfilling various roles and functions- she was a warrior, she was a mother, she was a hunter, she was a cook, she provided all of life. It's very sensible - since women give birth and therefore produce life on earth. The whole earth was a woman. She was even the sun. Later on, Indo-European warriors and expert conquerors demolished the concept of the Goddess, establishing patriarchy. No longer was the one Divinity a Mother, but a Father. Lineage and inheritence was once traced from the mother. The status of power that women once held was seized from them by men. The ancient Jews of Israel

The definitive, no-BS, intelligent story of the Goddess

This book took me about a week to finish, and I count it a week well spent. This is, bar none, the best book I've seen yet about the goddess religions of the ancient world. It has its limitations--it mainly covers Europe and the Middle East--but it is amazingly thorough on the stuff it does cover.Many goddess books have the weakness of bad scholarship--they believe that the world used to be a certain way just because someone else told them so, or because they wish it was so. This is not one of them. To give you an example, an issue often in contention between goddess-folks and other researchers is, were the "Venus figurines" really meant to represent goddesses? Usually, authors either dismiss those statues as pornography, or else laugh off the suggestion that they are pornography with equal disdain. Baring and Cashford tackle the issue head-on, eventually deciding the figures are not simply pornographic based on their abstractness. Writing about prehistory always requires some speculation, but this book is a breath of fresh air in that it provides arguments and evidence every time the authors must make a leap of faith.Baring and Cashford begin there, with the statues of matronly women found in European caves, and trace the transmission of the archetype of the goddess from prehistory to the twentieth century. Each culture was influenced by those before it and near it, and the stories and images they honored can be used as a map of changes in human consciousness. The goddess in ancient times was seen as the spirit of the natural world; as humans began to distance themselves from the natural world, the goddess became seen as a symbol of "mere" physicality and the god as the "higher" symbol of spirit. Finally we get the image of Eve, the first sinner, who carries all the ancient goddess symbols for political reasons--the leaders of the time were trying to distance Judaism from the polytheistic traditions of their neighbors. But this image was blown out of proportion--taken as literal history, the story of Eve was used to denigrate the goddess, human women, sex, and nature all at once. Beautifully written, scholarly, and insightful, this is a very good book about the goddess archetype--and doesn't even fall into the common pitfall of assuming that all human women can be defined by this archetype. This is the kind of book that is good for the goddess movement, rather than embarrassing.

Information-packed and still, concise.

This is a book which explores the goddess myth from its paleolithic beginnings to the current time, and it is both a good read in the sense of possessing clarity of intent and good structure, and also in being consistently interesting. There is more history, scholarship, depth, and intellegence in this work than one might expect, and it is a good reference for those interested in history, in myth, and those who simply wish to understand the feminine aspect of divinity.

The missing pieces of the puzzle.

A "must read" for anyone trying to make sense out of whereour culture is going. The two authors have really done their homework and have tied many important ideas together. This book is what every Christian should read in order to understand the mythic basis for Jesus and Mary. The information doesn't weaken one's christian faith, but rather takes it to a broader perspective of what ego-death and resurrection really mean. The book creates the standpoint of Metamorphosis rather than Apocolypse. Another good book in this realm is "The Great Mother", Eric Neumann, however, "The Myth of the Goddess" is more readable and fills in more of the story-details. Many thanks to the authors for a real contribution to the world's body of knowledge.

A really terrific resource on the history of Goddess culture

I am a United Church of Christ minister. I am using this book for a book study with some women who wanted to explore the Goddess culture. We have been very impressed with both the scholarship of the authors, and their ability to creatively relate some of the myths to later biblical material. We have had many "ah ha" moments as we suddenly saw a correlation with stories and images we were familiar with in the Bible. I find this very enlightening and enriching for my ministry! And I have learned a great deal about a culture I had only known bits and pieces of before. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
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