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The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image
Author: Jules Cashford - Anne Baring
ISBN 13: 9780140192926
ISBN 10: 140192921
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 1993-06-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 800
List Price: $28.00

The myth of the Goddess is the oldest myth we know; the evolution of that myth tells the story of how our understanding of ourselves--as we have achieved it through the images of our goddesses and gods--has developed over the millennia of human history. Yet today the Goddess seems to have disappeared, and only the God remains. But it has not always been so. In this definitive and powerfully argued study, scholarly yet accessible, Jules Cashford and Anne Baring draw upon art and mythology, poetry and literature, archaeology and psychology, to show how the myth of the Goddess has been lost from our formal Judaeo-Christian images of the divine. They explain what happened to the Goddess, when and how she was excluded, and the implications to us of this loss. They trace the image of the Great Mother Goddess of the Palaeolithic and Neolithic times through the Bronze and Iron Ages to the Virgin Mary, 'Queen of Heaven'. They show how the God separated from the originally androgynous Goddess and eventually came to stand alone as the creator of the world. But the Goddess, however devalued and debased, did not go away; the image of the universe as an organic, living and sacred whole--which is the essence of the Goddess myth--could not be eradicated, and went underground. This leaves an imbalance in the masculine and feminine images of the psyche. The authors argue that successive patterns of myth, legend and history demonstrate the importance of bringing the feminine and masculine images into harmony with each other, which is only possible when both are acknowledged. In earlier times the 'Sacred Marriage' of Goddess and God symbolized this harmony: Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumeria, Ishtar and Tammuz in Babylonia, Isis and Osiris in Egypt, Cybele and Attis in Anatolia, Aphrodite and Adonis in Greece--and, in the language of the image but not the doctrine, Mary and Jesus in Christianity. The parallels and similarities in all the Goddess myths are so striking that they suggest a

Publishers Weekly

The authors of this ground-breaking, rich, ambitious work attempt to trace the evolution of consciousness by following humanity's changing attitudes toward female deities, from the Paleolithic mother goddess enshrined in figurines to Inanna of Sumer, Isis of Egypt, Aphrodite of Greece, and beyond. Baring, a London-based Jungian analyst, and Cashford, who writes on mythology, regard the formal disappearance of goddess myths as a pivotal event signaling the devaluation of the feminine and the opposition of feeling to thinking. They interpret the Virgin Mary as the unrecognized mother goddess of Christianity, identify hidden images of the goddess in the Old Testament and demonstrate that a Hebrew goddess existed in various forms such as the Shekhinah, founder of the world in Kabbalism. A wonderfully readable synthesis, this monumental study is packed wth scores of riveting illustrations. It will serve as a sourcebook for students of myth, feminists and those seeking to balance and integrate masculine and feminine components of their psyche. (June)