The Goddess: Power, Sexuality, and the Feminine Divine

Overview


Drawing on myth, religious beliefs, and a revealing selection of iconography from the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf and ancient Egyptian images of Isis to medieval Madonnas and contemporary visions of female Hindu deities, psychotherapist and folklorist Shahrukh Husain offers readers a comprehensive, cross-cultural panorama of goddess worship through the ages.

Using a wealth of examples from every era and tradition, she traces a long and primal struggle that over the course ...

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Overview


Drawing on myth, religious beliefs, and a revealing selection of iconography from the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf and ancient Egyptian images of Isis to medieval Madonnas and contemporary visions of female Hindu deities, psychotherapist and folklorist Shahrukh Husain offers readers a comprehensive, cross-cultural panorama of goddess worship through the ages.

Using a wealth of examples from every era and tradition, she traces a long and primal struggle that over the course of millennia saw originally female deities usurped by male-dominated priestly hierarchies, a process reflected both in myth and in actual religious practice, which saw the goddess principle attacked, diminished, and eclipsed, but never entirely eliminated. Husain examines cosmic concepts of creation and seasonal fertility, the mythic rivalries and partnerships between male and female divinities, and the explicitly sexual duality personified in the West by the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene (but common to cultures all over the world), as well as such other aspects as the warrior, the queen, and the witch or crone who snips the threads of Fate. Finally, she reviews contemporary attitudes, values, and rites, finding a new vitality after centuries of suppression: the goddess is today a subject of renewed interest to feminist theorists, cultural historians, Wiccans and Paganists, and even environmentalists, for whom the Gaia hypothesis offers a powerful metaphor reconciling modern science with ancient wisdom.

Filled with vivid full-color illustrations and dozens of informative sidebars on subjects as diverse as the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the Matronit of the Kabbala, and the almost universal association of the planet Venus with goddess figures, this is a book that will appeal to a wide audience, from scholars in women's studies, anthropology, folklore, and ancient history to more general readers interested in the female influence on cultural evolution and the antecedents to modern New Age thought.

Shahrukh Husain is a psychotherapist, folklorist, and storyteller. She has lectured extensively and has worked as a consultant on TV documentaries and in an advisory role to members of Parliament on cultural matters ranging from marriage and race to religion and language issues. Her publications include Daughters of the Moon: Witch Tales from around the World (1993) and Handsome Heroines (1996).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472089345
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 2/18/2003
  • Pages: 186
  • Sales rank: 1,443,449
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 6
The Goddess Rediscovered 8
Recent discoveries 10
The Paleolithic and Neolithic ages 12
Creating a Golden Age of woman 16
The Great Mother archetype 18
Conflict and Survival 20
The shifting balance 22
India 24
Australia and Oceania 26
The Americas 28
Africa 30
The triumph of Isis 32
Celtic Britain 34
Rome and Christianity 36
The Goddess and the prophets 38
Festivals of the Goddess 40
The Goddess and the Cosmos 42
The three worlds 44
The Goddess of the primordial waters 46
The river Goddess 48
The sea Goddess 50
The cosmic egg 52
The Goddess as the earth 54
The Goddess in the soil 58
Mother Earth and the cosmic order 60
Light, sun and moon 62
Patrons of the seasons and the elements 68
The gifts of life and grain 70
The Goddess and the natural order 72
Fertility and the Divine Couple 74
The journey into the underworld 76
The Goddess and her son 80
Drought and plenty 82
Divine incest 84
Yahweh, Shekhina and Eve 88
The Sexual Life of the Goddess 92
The creative function 94
The yoni 96
Handmaids of the gods 98
From creatrix to harlot 100
The Goddess of love 102
Mary Magdalene 106
Virgin, Mother and Crone 108
Cycles of the Goddess 110
The changing woman 112
The many faces of Ishtar 114
The virgin as classical ideal 116
Virgins and lovers 118
Mothering the gods 120
The Virgin Mary 122
Mary, Queen of Heaven 124
Nourishing mothers 126
The makers of fate 130
The bringers of death 132
The witch Goddess 134
Warriors and Guardians 136
The divine destructress 138
The Goddess in arms 140
The Goddess of the quest 142
The Goddess of mercy and fortune 146
Liberating the Goddess 148
The Goddess today 150
Searching for the Goddess 152
Wicca 154
The female essence 156
Contemporary pagan festivals 158
Documentary Reference 160
The Goddess and the animals 161
Males as females 164
The Romance tradition 167
Glossary 168
Bibliography 171
Index 175
Picture credits 184
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