Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine by Joseph Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Joseph Campbell is a well known scholar of mythology who has taught a number if years at the University level and has authored numerous books. His material is gold as far as I am concerned . AT the same time as being scholarly his style is also highly readable and enjoyable. Read this and you will get lots of information. Beware though because this book may well change your perspective on things.
Change it did. Many scholars such as Margaret Murray and Marija Gambutas have stated that in man kinds beginning there was a whorl wide religion that revered the Goddess. Now perhaps that was an overstatement but there were places that venerated the Goddess. Three such areas were identified South Eastern Europe plus Greece and Mesopatamia, South East Asia and part of Central AMerica. THese three areas had mastered agriculture and planting. THe societies tended to be settled into communities and there was at the time no threat of invasion or violence. THe Goddesses reign lasted from the Paleolithic to Neolithic times.
The Earth was seen as the mother. From her came all life and at the end all life returned to her. You did not have to be awesome to pick some fruit. Women were cultivators, admired for their beauty. Men were idolized based on how they performed their tasks. In the houses one would find figurines or Venus statues, These could be goddess statues or fertility votives. Men had their rituals in underground caves which were highly representative of the Goddesses womb. The sun was a feminine sign as was the lion and the cat and the snake. The sun radiated on the earth and represented freedom from time and space. Lions were royalty and serpents represented wisdom and life force.
For the male representation it was the bull. The bull was lunar. It's horns represented the crescent of the moon. The male figure was the child of the goddess who grew into her lover and then dies only tobe born again much like the moon.
During the Iron age when the feminine world was being invaded by Indo Europeans in the north and Bedouin tribes from the south things began to change. The Indo- Europeans were semit nomadic warrior who cultivated livestock mostly cows. THe Bedouin cultivated sheep and goats. As was tendency once these warrior tribes took over the feminine lands they did not eradicate the goddess but rather had there moveable gods move and and marry them. Of course this would change the whole mythology
Joseph Campbell covers these ideas and their evolution by going over Hindu Culture, heavy emphasis on Greco=Roman myth and Middle Eastern Mythology. Carefully showing how three once powerful Goddess was reduced to a subordinate undeeer the ancient paganism to how she was merely venerated under monotheism. But you cannot keep a good woman down. SHe rises up during the romantic period of courtly love and she is making her voice heard again. This book is a must read
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