Restoring the Goddess: Equal Rites for Modern Women


"In the beginning, in the time that was no time, nothing existed but the Womb. And the Womb was a limitless dark cauldron of all things in potential: a chaotic blood-soup of matter and energy, fluid as water yet mud-solid with salts of the earth; red-hot as fire yet restlessly churning and bubbling with all the winds. And the Womb was the Mother, before She took form and gave form to Existence. She was the Deep. . . ."

With this dramatic, poetic recasting of the Genesis myth, Barbara Walker begins this highly ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $4.70   
  • New (2) from $25.48   
  • Used (11) from $4.70   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

1573927864 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!

Ships from: Springfield, VA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by
Sending request ...


"In the beginning, in the time that was no time, nothing existed but the Womb. And the Womb was a limitless dark cauldron of all things in potential: a chaotic blood-soup of matter and energy, fluid as water yet mud-solid with salts of the earth; red-hot as fire yet restlessly churning and bubbling with all the winds. And the Womb was the Mother, before She took form and gave form to Existence. She was the Deep. . . ."

With this dramatic, poetic recasting of the Genesis myth, Barbara Walker begins this highly original and fascinating work, which is both an incisive critique of patriarchal religion and a bold proposal to establish a liberating alternative to the Judeo-Christian myth. She envisions a religion and a spirituality compatible with women's essential role in society and free of all the superstition and demeaning imagery characteristic of traditional, male-dominated religion. In place of theology she suggests "thealogy," replacing the academic study of the God concept with a down-to-earth "knowledge of the goddess" - a knowledge that incorporates the scientific understanding of the universe and recognizes the symbolic nature of religious concepts and the psychobiological foundations of religion. Rejecting the transcendent deity of patriarchal religion, thealogy would revere an immanent personification of the real universe, especially of the sacred Earth, the only source of life we know.

Hearkening back to the widespread worship of a mother goddess at the dawn of civilization, Walker argues for a restoration of this primal religious sensibility, which celebrated the Earth's fertility and woman's innate power to bear new life. Women are already rediscovering this ancient form of spirituality, Walker shows, and redefining modern religion to conform to woman's new appreciation of their rights and the long history of male dominance.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Walker's assessment of patriarchy's suppression of both knowledge and celebration of the Goddess compels her, as it has many before her, to begin restoring the lore of the Great Goddess. But Walker, a feminist author who has explored the dimensions of female myth and symbol in her previous fiction and nonfiction, does an odd thing here. Rather than offer yet another mythographer's source book, she wisely transforms her text away from the usual dialogue with the reader into an effervescent polylogue with other women about what such a restoration could mean and how it should be undertaken. As a result, Walker's enormously challenging and revealing book presents a community of voices. This is a volume of women talking: about the Goddess and patriarchy, about physicality, reproduction and the image of the Goddess, about rituals and purposes, about the New Age and about women's problems and fears as the Goddess re-emerges into secular culture. This format encourages continuing discussion in women's groups across the country about what Walker and other feminists term "thealogy," which she distinguishes from patriarchal theology. Thealogy returns worship tradition to the rediscovery of the sacred in the ordinary and transforms the undervalued lives of women into spiritual adventure. This book offers visible evidence of the advantages of redefining modern religion through women's participatory engagement. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Despite its subtitle, this book addresses few specific rites or practices. Instead, readers are taken on a rambling tour of the horrors of patriarchy and Christianity (which Walker sees as inextricably intertwined) and offered criticisms of Islam and New Age fads. Blending mythology, revisionist history, and biblical criticism, Walker (Feminist Fairy Tales) calls for a new metaphor as a guide to human relationships rather than a new religion. Walker's Goddess is not a specific being but instead the communal spirit of women, particularly the nurturing mother. Readers interested in tracing the historical claims will be frustrated by footnotes that generally lead back to Walker's Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets or Charles Bufe's The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations rather than to original sources. Alternating chapters based on interviews of women involved in Goddess religions offer some insight, but simply stringing together quotes is confusing, and the quality of the quotes varies greatly. Not recommended.--Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573927864
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Pages: 422
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.35 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara G. Walker (Nokomis, FL) is a highly successful feminist writer of both fiction and nonfiction works. Her previous books include Feminist Fairy Tales, Amazon: A Novel, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, and The Skeptical Feminist.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In the Beginning

The First of All Myths

In the beginning, in the time that was no time, nothing existed but the Womb. And the Womb was a limitless dark cauldron of all things in potential: a chaotic blood-soup of matter and energy, fluid as water yet mud-solid with salts of the earth; red-hot as fire yet restlessly churning and bubbling with all the winds. And the Womb was the Mother, before She took form and gave form to Existence. She was the Deep (biblical tehom, Babylonian Tiamat, Egyptian Temu, Greek Themis).

    In the time that was no time, She divided the elements in the Womb cauldron into the two spheres of infinity. By the use of Her magic Om, Her grunt of cosmic birth giving, She caused the fiery lights and airs to collect in the heaven sphere, and the dark waters, salts, and solids to collect in the sphere of earth. She shaped the heavenly lights into sun, moon, planets, and stars. She shaped the earthly materials into continents, rivers, mountains, and seas. By the light of the sun She made Day, and by the shadow of the earth She made Night.

    At the point of contact between the two spheres of infinity, Her blood of the Womb generated living things. To each living thing the Mother gave a temporary form that would eventually dissolve, back once more into the infinite churning cauldron of potential, where matters and energies are constantly exchanged and recombined. She made the world an image of that uterine cauldron, so that every life form sustains itself byabsorbing, decomposing, and assimilating other forms. And She gave autonomy to each form by pronouncing its name in Her primordial language, expressing the verbal magic of creation.

    She made human beings able to imitate Her in the use of language. She formed them of reddened earth (adamah), moistened in the Womb by Her own holy blood. She gave them consciousness capable of remembering their own passage through dark birthways into the light of seeing and knowing; capable, too, of envisioning their own return to darkness and dissolution. She made woman in Her own image, with the female-mammalian power to create new life out of her interior blood. She made man to be woman's consort and helper, to assist in the long, arduous nurture of the world's most helpless offspring. She taught Her people to sow and reap, preserve food, weave cloth, build shelters, carry fire, make tools and vessels, keep records of the seasons, and a thousand other practical arts and crafts for their survival in the world. She taught Her people not to take more than they needed from the earth, the plants, the animals, the waters, and the woods; for if any creature took too much, others would suffer.

    The world and its creatures dwelt in peace until the Mother began to give birth to jealous gods. Each god claimed to be Her firstborn and Her chosen lover, privy to Her secrets, sharer of Her creativity. Each god insisted that he alone was both Her son and Her bridegroom, as well as Her helper in the world's creation. Some even went so far as to claim sole responsibility for creating the earth or its living things.

    It is written that the Goddess's true firstborn took the form of the divine serpent, to slide into Her terrestrial body, to be anointed by Her wise blood, to know Her inner wisdom, and to learn how to become immortal by periodically shedding his old skin and being reborn in a new, fresh one. The phallic serpent represented sexual "knowing" as man's way to contact the blissful life-giving magic inside woman; and so when men made images of the Mother, they often showed her accompanied by Her snake, or even gave Her a snake form.

    Later gods, jealous of the wise serpent, sought ways to discredit him. They pretended that the serpent's connection with the maternal netherworld was an evil rather than a special privilege. They began to claim credit for dividing the Womb into earth and heaven, for the pronouncing of sacred names, and for the molding of clay figures to be brought to life. Some even claimed to be birth givers themselves, despite their male incapacity for that. One even went so far as to declare that he could make man into a birth giver—at least one man, the first, who could then usurp maternal authority over the woman who was his child.

    The jealous gods appealed to men, promising them longer lives, earthly riches, or godlike immortality if they would become dutiful worshippers. They taught men to perform blood sacrifices, to imitate the mysterious blood-magic of the Mother, to claim a connection with the giving of new life. Alas, the men never learned to let blood without pain or harm, as women did. Nonetheless, they mutilated their own bodies to imitate women's lunar bloodletting. They even killed some of their own number and claimed that the victims were transformed into life givers by their outpouring of blood. The men promised to feed their ancestral gods on sacrificial blood, to preserve their immortality, hoping for similar immortality in return. Their gods found blood sacrifices acceptable, but rejected the offerings of grain and fruit that had been customary in the elder times of peaceful agriculture (see Gen. 4: 3-5).

    The new, jealous gods were not kind to the people they claimed as their children. They tyrannized the people and oppressed them mightily for the most trivial offenses. They threatened the people with plagues, wars, fevers, madness, blindness, slavery, famine, and rains of fire (see Deut. 28) for the least infraction of their rules.

    One of the new gods even dared to send a world flood, to drown nearly every creature on earth—even nonhuman ones—because a few of the people had displeased him. The Mother caught him at it and became very angry. She punished him by setting a rainbow in the sky to bar him from feasting on men's altar offerings. She said he should starve, "since rashly he caused the flood storm, and handed over my children to destruction."

    Nevertheless, the jealous gods continued to attract men by a combination of promises, threats, and violence. The gods restricted men's expressions of love for women, even for mothers. They allowed men to seize their neighbors' lands and possessions, to enrich themselves, to make slaves of other people. They allowed men to declare themselves kings, and to choose surrogate victims to be sacrificed in their stead. Men knew that many of the things they did were wrong, and their gods' threats made them guilty and fearful. They submerged their fear in acts of cruelty performed in groups, so that other men could justify their behavior. They appointed male priests to condone everything and write that it was all the gods' will.

    Male priests wrested power from the tribal mothers and priestesses by organizing men into marauding armies, blessing their violence, and rewriting myths to exclude the Goddess or declare Her an abomination. The jealous gods became even more jealous, and fought among themselves, and each pronounced himself the One God. Their warfare was unremitting, until one devoured nearly all the others, diabolized his few remaining rivals, and proclaimed himself superior even to the Goddess who had produced him and taught him all his ideas.

    And so the world was set upon a trail of tears, oppression, and intellectual error that prevails even to this day.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7
Introduction 9
1 In the Beginning: The First of All Myths 21
2 What Is Thealogy? 25
3 Breaking Away from the Patriarchy 35
4 What's Wrong with Patriarchy? 77
5 Physicality 113
6 Reproduction 133
7 Doctrines 163
8 The Goddess Image 193
9 Rituals and Purposes 251
10 The New Age 289
11 Problems and Fears 309
12 Mary 341
13 Visions of the Future 357
14 The Unknown: A Conversation 381
Notes 395
Bibliography 413
Index 419
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2008

    Highly Recommended

    I greatly enjoyed this book. It's well organized and documented, making it a good read, reference text, and jumping-off point to other authors. In addition to the author's sections are interesting segments from other women's perspectives and experiences. I thought these gave the text all the more power since it gives voice to a whole group instead of the author alone. The only problem I had with the book was the chapter on how 'New Age' phenomena relates or doesn't relate to the Goddess religion. I felt this was one area the author could have explained better and presented as objectively as the rest of the topics. The New Age chapter isn't one of the major topics, so its shortcomings hardly affect the overall impact of this book. I think it's a very important read for religious, spiritual, cultural, political, and historical reasons.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2003


    I find Barbara Walkers writing refreshing, respective to both wo/men and right in time for the great shift. Many of us study and gather in women groups to reclaim herstory. Its about women, womens dreams, womens health, and womens responsiblity to children all over the world to reclaim our story and bring peace and non-violent societies back to earth. Start with the self, and women and girls grow to respect, honor and cherish themselves, thus healing the Great Mother Earth and the Garden Paradise once again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2000

    Women, Reclaim yourselves

    Can you confront the fact that the Judeo/Christian/Islamic,the male 'God' religions have been the biggest factor in repressing women and the nurturing cultures? A liberating experience for those who never felt right with the condescending , paternalistic and wrathful 'God' we were taught to 'obey'. Every woman needs to read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)