Savage Breast: One Man's Search for the Goddess

Overview

THE DA VINCI CODE tapped a deep fascination for the sacred feminine hidden at the heart of Christianity. Best-selling author Tim Ward digs deeper into this mystery, propelling the reader into the pre-Christian Goddess religions of the Mediterranean. Ward confronts tough questions
• Are men threatened by the innate power of the feminine?
• Why do men abuse, rape, and dominate women? Shouldnt loving ...
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Savage Breast

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Overview

THE DA VINCI CODE tapped a deep fascination for the sacred feminine hidden at the heart of Christianity. Best-selling author Tim Ward digs deeper into this mystery, propelling the reader into the pre-Christian Goddess religions of the Mediterranean. Ward confronts tough questions
• Are men threatened by the innate power of the feminine?
• Why do men abuse, rape, and dominate women? Shouldnt loving relationships with the opposite sex be natural and easy?
• Did we all lose an essential part of ourselves when we turned our back on the feminine divine?
• How would opening to the feminine face of God help men resolve their issues with women?
• What would it take for men to really let go of patriarchy and genuinely accept women as equals?To answer these questions, Ward decided to seek out the Goddess, with his own demons in tow. Over a period of three years he travelled to the ruined temples and shrines of the Goddess in the cradles of Western Civilization. At each he encountered one aspect of the many faces of the Goddess. He vividly recreates the experience of ancient believers the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter, the sexual rites of the priestesses of Aphrodite, and a human sacrifice on a mountaintop shrine in Crete. And in Turkey he sits at the feet of the many-breasted Artemis of Ephesus, whose rioting followers once threatened to kill the Apostle Paul. Facing the Goddess unleashes turbulent emotions for Ward. With frank honesty he describes the traumas that erupt in his relationship with the woman he loves, who accompanied him on many of his journeys.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Part travelogue, part self-congratulatory memoir and mostly insecure ramblings, Ward's journey to discover the goddess principle is a thinly veiled attempt to find himself. Since Western religion eliminated goddess worship from its rituals long ago, he observes, young males lack healthy role models for understanding their feminine side. He reveals how such a lack affected his own life in multiple stories about his difficult and failed relationships with women. Taking a page from Bruce Feiler's walks in the footsteps of biblical figures, Ward travels the globe to trace various goddesses and connect with their primal power. His travels take him to Crete, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Cyprus, where he comes face-to-face with the ancient traditions and rituals surrounding the cults of goddesses as diverse as Ariadne, Hera, Athena, Hekate and Artemis. He weaves the story of his relationship with his wife into the travelogues about goddess sites as a way of demonstrating how successfully he believes he has come to terms with the divine feminine. This book is not so much about goddesses as it is about Ward's sexual insecurities and his need to psychoanalyze himself. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781905047581
  • Publisher: Changemakers Books
  • Publication date: 4/25/2006
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,449,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Ephesus, Turkey "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? --The Bible, Acts of the Apostles 19:35[1] The silversmith Demetrius called an emergency meeting of his guild. He warned his colleagues that the two things they cherished most were under attack: their goddess, and the income they derived from selling silver statues of her to the pilgrims who thronged to her great temple in Ephesus. "Men," Demetrius declared, "you know our livelihood depends on this trade. You can see and hear what this fellow Paul is doing. He says gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Not only here in Ephesus, but all over Asia he has managed to convince people that this is the case. Now there's a great danger that our trade will come into disrepute. More than that, there is also the danger that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will itself come to be despised and even She, Artemis-whom not only Asia but all the world reveres-will be stripped of her greatness and come to mean nothing." When they heard this, the men began raging through the street, shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" They found one of Paul's traveling companions and hauled him into the theater. The mob had grown huge and wild. People shouted accusations and chanted over a Jewish representative's attempts to speak to them. But then the city clerk arrived. "Men of Ephesus," he chided, "doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash." He added that if the silversmiths had a grievance against these men, they could take it to court, and reminded them that they were in danger of being charged with rioting, which would bring the wrath of Rome.[2] It was a masterful blend of appeasement, reason, and intimidation, and the Ephesians left the theater meekly. But Demetrius was right. Within a few centuries Christian emperors would ban all pagan practices. The temple to Artemis, four times the size of the Parthenon and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, would be sacked, obliterated, its marble quarried to build churches, its statues ground to powder for making plaster. In 1860 it took a team of archeologists nine years just to find the temple. Today, only a single pillar has been re-erected. It stands in a swamp, like a lonely marble redwood, with a bird's nest on its crown. Walking the excavated streets of Ephesus, less than a mile from the temple grounds, it was easy to imagine what the city must have been like in the first century A.D. when it was then the Roman capital of Asia. These days, foreigners again pack the ancient city, just inland from the Anatolian coast. The entrances are lined with souvenir shops, Turkish money changers, kiosks selling t-shirts and erotic postcards and, after a gap of 1600 years, statuettes of Artemis--plastic now, instead of silver. At the time of Paul the city had broad boulevards, public baths, gymnasiums, fountains, mansions for rich merchants, a port, the famous library that rivaled Alexandria's, and the great theater that was once filled with a bloodthirsty mob. A footstep carved in stone next to a drawing of a penis points the way to a local whorehouse. With half a million inhabitants, Ephesus was the New York of the ancient world. "Devoted to dancers...the whole city was full of pipers and effeminate rascals and noise," wrote the ancient tourist, Philostratus. Paul urged the Ephesian Christian converts to shun the city's licentious ways. "Be like God in true righteousness and holiness," he wrote to them. "Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity....Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking....No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."[3] The goddess was not so harsh in judging humankind. I thought in particular of the goddess Isis' appearance to Lucius, a poor lascivious soul transformed into an donkey by witchcraft in Apuleius' tale The Golden Ass. The story was written in the 2nd Century A.D., contemporary with the cult of Artemis of Ephesus, who like Isis was seen as a manifestation of the universal Great Goddess. After suffering humiliation and brutality, fleeing from those who wish to kill him, poor Lucius sees the full moon above the ocean, and he brays to the goddess for help. She rises up to greet him from the waves: All the perfumes of Arabia floated into my nostrils as the Goddess deigned to address me: "You see me here, Lucius, in answer to your prayer. I am Nature, the Universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all the gods and goddesses that are. My nod governs the shining heights of Heaven, the wholesome sea-breezes, the lamentable silences of the world below. Though I am worshiped in many aspects, known by countless names, and propitiated with all matter of different rites, yet the whole round earth venerates me....I have come in pity of your plight, I have come to favor and aid you. Weep no more, lament no longer; the hour of deliverance, shone over by my watchful light, is at hand."[4] His salvation is to simply eat the petals of a rose. Freed from his donkey body, the restored Lucius enters the goddess' priesthood in Corinth, where he spends the rest of his days "enjoying the ineffable pleasure of contemplating the goddess' statue." Apulieus' contemporaries in Ephesus would have understood exactly what he was talking about, and certainly they would know poor Lucius was not the only man who had to make an ass of himself before turning to the goddess. In the Ephesus museum an entire hall is devoted to three life-sized statues of Artemis recovered from her temple. I sat on the cool marble floor of this hall and gazed up at her, my best shot at that 'ineffable pleasure' Apulieus described. The room is dim. Soft lights play on the idols' curves. Her face is impassive, her posture rigid. Her skirts flow down, making a single column of her legs. In the crooks of her outstretched arms she cradles two lions, reminiscent of the twin leopards from the Çatalhöyük goddess' throne, sculpted some 6,000 years earlier. Her hands reach out to her adorers as if to fold them into her. On her chest, beneath a zodiac necklace, she has rows and rows of breasts. Twenty, thirty, it's hard to count them all. They hang from her like clusters of grapes. She takes my breath away. It strikes me suddenly as so wrongheaded, the claim of scholars that she is a goddess of fertility. This Artemis does not remind me of birth. She's a goddess of abundance, of breasts overflowing, enough for all humanity to suckle. To see them clustered there between her arms intoxicates me. It is the thing we were born to ache for. If Jung is right and there are archetypes hardwired into the brain, then the breast must be the most important: to press against it, latch, suck and gulp is the most primal human instinct next to drawing our first breath. Artemis of Ephesus, she opens it up in me, and I feel the need like a pang. I remember that the Spartans used to put male babies on a mountain top for seven days after birth, then weaned survivors early. It made better soldiers, so they said. It gave them a kind of anger. If we are made to long for the breast, does not having it twist something in us, create an anger and a craving we must carry all of our lives? Especially men like me, born of a bottle-nursed generation, suckled with the taste of a rubber nipple. Is this the root of our culture's grand obsession with the real thing? At age eleven I was flipping though catalogues in search of brassier ads. I tore out pages of Life Magazine featuring topless Las Vegas showgirls or half-naked African tribeswomen and hid them in my closet. At thirteen, I was thumbing through Playboy magazines in the back of the local variety store, terrified I was going to be discovered in my depravity, touching only the edges of the pages so as not to leave a sweaty fingerprint-was somebody going to dust for fingerprints? I still remember the first time I softly placed my hand on the front of a girl's blouse. The ecstasy shivered in me that short instant until she gently returned my fingers to her shoulders. In a crowd, my eyes still find the woman in a low cut top. My head swivels on the beach. I feel the thrill to see the swell of them, the bounce of them, the gorgeous raspberry tips of them though a light summer dress. I think of pornography, strippers, advertising, the breasts pushed in our faces in the rush to get our cash. I remember sitting in strip bars, watching girl after girl expose her breasts for all to see, and me soaking it in like a drunk at his liquor, each pair revealed leaving me wanting to see the next pair and the next and the next, though almost all were pumped and artificially rounded, an identical army of Barbie dolls. In the raw magazines, women's breasts are distended until they are grotesque, and it seems there is no limit to the flesh men crave. Imagine if Artemis of Ephesus could be our centerfold, if multiple breast enhancements became the newest fashion, each woman sporting a dozen, twenty, thirty breasts. Would that assuage this need we have, for more, more, more? Strange how all the breasts we see today never fill us up. They leave us wasted, yet still wanting. What happened that we turned them into a commodity, silicon pillows to be devoured with our eyes? In the act, we lost them, or they somehow eluded us, because what they provided was never in the breasts themselves. Artemis of Ephesus symbolizes a kind of giving we no longer understand. Not an exchange, not love returned for love or money, but a flooding forth from her abundance. This is the goddess that Lucius turned to, a goddess so full that our need, our "depraved and sinful nature," is not an obstacle to her blessing. She gives because she is that giving. And what was my life, but a longing for this abundance, coupled with the belief that it doesn't exist? It makes me want to push those breasts away. At the feet of Artemis, I realized I am a member of the cult of scarcity, that tribe that believes there is never enough to go around: not enough food, not enough money, sex, or love. I grew up in a prosperous middle class family. I have a job, a child, a lover, a hundred times more security than any other human generation has ever known. And yet I fear that it will all be snatched away someday. So I better not to take too much, want too much. Luxury is abhorrent to me. I call it thrift, but it is fear. Sometimes I envy members of that other tribe, the cult of abundance for whom life is overflowing, and they can easily reach out and grab that teat, and suck, and trust that there will always be milk, and not a vulture's beak. I asked Teresa once how North American women felt about their breasts. Her answer surprised me. "Your breasts give you your identity," she explained. "You see it happen at puberty. Girls who develop big breasts get all the attention from boys. They don't have to be smart or even develop much personality. Girls with small breasts, they either develop their brains or character and carve out an identity, something distinctive as a way to be noticed or win power in the same arena as men. If they don't have that spark, they become wallflowers." "What about you?" "Oh, I developed early. In grade six, the boys would sing at me 'way down yonder in the land of cotton,' because they thought I stuffed my bra. But I was a real introvert. The attention from boys didn't really affect me one way or another, because I didn't need it. Of course, later on that meant I could easily get whatever attention I might for a moment want, and that was sometimes nice. But I think it was hard for girls who had big boobs and a strong personality. They wanted to be accepted for who they were instead of for their breasts, and that screwed them up worse than all the rest of us." Artemis, if men had you to look on, would it bring relief to the female sex? Could we bring our ache and craving to you, gaze upon your breasts, and then perhaps look women in the eye? The Ephesus guidebooks say that these days most archaeologists don't think the lumps on Artemis' chest are really breasts, but rather the severed testicles of sacrificial bulls-fertility offerings that were part of her sacred rites. Historically, severed testicles were intimately associated with both Artemis and Anatolian Cybele; her priests cut off their genitals to honor her, and only a man thus unmanned could preside over her temple rites. Some scholars believe these eunuch priests originally conned their way into an earlier hierarchy of priestesses, eventually gaining power and taking over. The robes of Christian priests and the vow of celibacy which they take may be relics of this revolution. Others interpret ritual emasculation as a rite of gender-change: men so drawn to the goddess that they rend themselves to attain her image. The Romans called these self-castrators Galli, and their cult flourished in the heart of Rome. During Cybele's festivals there, scores of men in frenzies of devotion would slice their manhood off, and throw the severed organs in a great bloody heap. This gruesome rite appears again and again in the Near Eastern myths of Attis, Adonis, Tammuz and Osiris, the severed penis a fertile agent of rebirth. In this way the priests of Artemis re-enacted, bloodily, the sacred sacrifice of the ancient kings, whose death brought new life to the land, and in this they earned their role as counterpart, and eunuch consort to the Goddess of all abundance. Which is it, breasts or testicles? An icon may have many meanings. At least one statue of Artemis of Ephesus has clearly defined nipples.[5] But now I see the goddess with a disturbing double vision: with both breasts and swinging testicles around her neck. The gift of abundance and the brutal price that gift demands. To receive that breast, did one have to become her eunuch slave? I had to laugh. Too many of my past relationships had been with the likes of Artemis. Sooner or later, I would be cutting off my balls so she could sling them around her neck. I believed with each relationship that this act was necessary, and would lead to some epiphany. Instead I just lay there bleeding. Eventually I hardened my heart to Artemis' kind. Her offer of the breast took too much from me. I wonder if Paul hit a chord with the Ephesians of his day when he wrote to them, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."[6] Once the woman submits, once she is property, then her husband owns those breasts, those clusters of abundance. No need to slice of your balls to get them. And yet it has not worked out well for men these past 2,000 years. Those breasts still hang before us, a promise and a torment, ours to possess in marriage or the marketplace, and yet strangely out of reach...
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Introduction

Why on earth would a man search for the goddess? "Oh, I get it! You're getting in touch with your feminine side!" my friends say. No, I have to laugh. It's just the opposite. It's my masculinity, the darkest part of it, that yearns for her, like a lost lover, like an orphaned child. It is as if a ghost touched me on the shoulder and as I turned she disappeared. Her shadow lured me deeper into the unknown than the gods of my fathers ever did. Jesus and Buddha, they urged me away from the world, taught me to resist the ways of the flesh and seek a Kingdom of God, heaven, nirvana, a higher consciousness. It's different with her. It's visceral, immediate, a matter of the heart, balls and belly. Years ago I caught my first glimpse of her in India as Kali, the black goddess who for hundreds of millions of Hindus is both Mother and Destroyer. Her statues there have four arms. The upper right is raised in blessing; the lower right is extended, palm out, as if offering a gift. But the upper left holds a bloody machete and the lower left a freshly severed human head. I once asked one of her devotees how one could get the blessing and escape the machete. "No, that's not the point," she replied fiercely. "The blessing is only won when you accept both sides of Kali, including pain, sorrow, loss and death. The real death is trying to hold your tiny ego safe from the pain caused by desire and love. Flee from the dangers of life, and you will miss her blessings too. But embrace Kali as she is, kiss her bloody tongue and feel all four arms around you, and then you have life, you have freedom. This, my young friend, is Kali's boon." On the slum streets of Calcutta, Kali's holy city, littered with human misery and despair, I felt those four arms embrace me once, just for an instant.[1] All through India I discovered a myriad of goddesses worshipped in temples and shines. As I traveled into East Asia, I found many more. In China: Kwan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion. In Japan: Amateratsu, Goddess of the Sun. In Tibet: the Taras, a set of female Bodhisattvas, each manifesting a distinct Buddhist virtue. In Burma: Saw Mon Hla, Queen of the 37 Nats, a group of powerful native spirits. Even on remote islands of the Indonesian archipelago, people honored male and female animist deities and ancestor spirits. So when I returned to North America after six years living in Asia, it struck me as strange that we in the West don't worship goddesses. It was not always so. In pre-Christian times, each ancient civilization had their own pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Greeks for example had Aphrodite, Athena, Hera, Demeter, and a host of others. So did the Romans, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, Celts, even the Lithuanians-the last European nation to convert to Christianity, in 1387 A.D. Everywhere goddesses appeared as primordial creators, protectors, and powerful forces of nature and fertility right back to the dawn of writing. Thousands of prehistoric statues of women have been unearthed in excavations across Europe back to the Stone Age. Only in the past 1600 years has Western civilization embraced the religion of the Father as the one and only God. What have we lost, I wondered, when we turned our backs on the feminine divine? Today, many women are experiencing a spiritual rejuvenation by rediscovering the goddesses of the ancient world. But why not men? These were once our goddesses, too. Why shouldn't we men relate to a Goddess (with a capital "G") as easily as we relate to God? How has this affected us, both spiritually, and in our relationships with flesh-and-blood women? Spiritually, for example, God the Father has traditionally been cast as a lawgiver who punishes those who disobey. Kids with authoritarian dads often grow up to walk away from such a God altogether. Or worse, they use God as a justification for dominating their own children. Might the feminine face of God provide us with more flexible metaphors? On a practical level, I suspected that men's rejection of the feminine divine may have damaged our ability to form healthy relationships with women. I believe we men have a deep need to connect with women, which for most of us feels profoundly thwarted. This vague sense that things are out of sync with the opposite sex rumbles around inside us, mixes with sexual frustration, and leads to resentment, anxiety, anger and despair. All four of the long-term relationships I had before the age of 35-including one marriage-ended not just badly, but wretchedly. As things got worse, I could feel animosity towards my partner growing at the very same time I was trying to "work" on the relationship. One of the toughest parts of encountering the feminine divine was facing up to my own repressed anger towards women which came to the surface as I confronted images of goddesses from ages past. My true feelings had been camouflaged well. To speak and write about them honestly has been difficult. Was this just me, I wondered, or was I beginning to uncover a deeper link between men's disconnection from the feminine divine and our animosity towards women? Psychologist Dorothy Dinnerstein claims that "the hate, fear, loathing, contempt and greed that men express towards women so pervades the human atmosphere that we breathe them as casually as the city child breathes smog." She concludes that most of us are so desensitized, we are scarcely aware of it at all. Before work on this book began, I suppose I too would have rejected the idea I harbored such negative feelings towards women. But in the past few years, I have seen it all too clearly in myself, and heard it in conversations with other men. I was surprised, for example, how many men hold a grudge against some woman-a mother, girlfriend or wife-that seems to taint their other relationships. We may expunge the biases against women from our laws, change the way we talk, the way we joke, share the household chores, sign up for couples therapy, but if we men fail to address this subterranean anger at its root, I believe our desire for intimate connections with women will be thwarted still. But how can a modern man encounter the ancient goddesses of our ancestors? To find out, I traveled to the cradles of Western Civilization, to Greece, Crete, Turkey, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, France, Cyprus and Malta. I wanted to walk the ruins of goddess' temples, to gaze at her statues and icons. I wanted to see if they held a resonance for me. Just as a harp string will vibrate if another instrument strikes an identical note, I hoped the images created by my ancestors could bring to life a corresponding echo within me. To begin with I sought out the goddesses we in the West know best, the ones from Greek mythology: Gaia, Ariadne, Demeter, Hera, Athena, Hekate, Artemis, Hestia, Pandora and Aphrodite. But it soon became apparent that each of these goddesses has a hidden past. The Greek myths were just one page in a much longer story. This led me to an era of European prehistory that began more than five thousand years before Classical Greece. Here there are no names, no myths, only raw and powerful images of women preserved in pigment and stone, clay and bone. Over the course of three years and thirteen trips to Europe, I encountered thousands of representations of the feminine divine. Facing the goddess allowed me to unleash emotions so threatening and painful I never could have imagined expressing them directly to a real woman. It opened doors that I had long nailed shut. It's one thing to contemplate the goddess as metaphysical idea or a psychological archetype, but when the feminine divine took shape inside my psyche, she often terrified me, evoking desperate longing, hostility, fear, shame-and also incredible beauty. For male readers, I hope this journey will resonate with your own experience of women. It's my intention that this story may serve as a springboard to your own discovery of the feminine divine, and that this will enrich your relationships with the women in your lives. Some men may fear getting immersed in the goddess-that it might make them somehow womanish (my sister calls such feminized men SNAGs - Sensitive New Age Guys). For me, just the opposite took place. I was a SNAG before I began this book. Very eager to please women, but behind it was a lot of resentment and buried rage. Through encountering the goddess, and facing my own darkest fears of the feminine, I finally found my own center as a man. For women readers, I hope this book will help you better know the hearts of men: Why do we have so much anger towards you? What are we afraid of? Why are we so magnetized by your appearance, and yet seem to know and care so little about who your really are? In joining my on this search for the feminine divine, I hope you will find some answers to these questions. Also, just as reading books about women rediscovering the goddess gave me valuable insights for my own journey, I hope that looking at the feminine divine through the eyes of a man will likewise deepen your own experience of the goddess. Finally, it's my desire that Savage Breast might inspire dialogue between men and women. I think more women than men are ready for this. Many of the feminist authors I have read call for building a future in which men and women share equally, and in co-creating that future together. So the invitation to forge better relations between our genders has already been sent. It is up to us men to reply. It's a conversation sure to last a lifetime.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    beautiful writing

    Beautiful writing, honest reflections, skillful weaving of personal, factual, and mythic, and solid scholarship. I'm impressed

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