For as long as humans have sought god, we have found the goddess. Ruling over the imaginations of our earliest civilizations, she played a critical spiritual role as a keeper of nature’s fertile powers and an assurance of the next sustaining harvest. As people began to migrate across the world, the faces of the goddess and the roles she played were forever changed. The Goddess takes us back into prehistory, tracing the evolution of the goddess across vast spans of time to trace the transformation of belief and what it says about who we are.
The metamorphoses of goddess figures that have taken place and the patterns we may discern in these changes, which span the millennia and a wide spectrum of cultures, have much to teach us about the development of human societies and values. This book shows us that the faces of gods and goddesses reflect the lives and souls of the peoples who worship them. It charts the development of traditional Western gender roles through an understanding of the shifting concepts of the goddess, from her earliest roots in India and Iran to her more familiar faces in Ireland and Iceland, and analyses the eventual subordination of goddesses to gods.
From Demeter to Kali and Guanyin to Gaia, and from mother goddesses to warriors, virgins and destroyers, powerful female figures of worship continue to play a crucial role in belief systems today. The Goddess reveals how spiritual thought ties humanity to its ancient origins and shows us that the story of the goddess is also the story of ourselves.
‘This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of the woman as deity. The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother tells the intriguing story of the feminine principle as worshipped in dozens of cultures and across thousands of years. Just about every goddess from India’s Kali to Ireland’s Morrigan puts in an appearance in this amazing and sprawling saga. Learn about Krishna’s wives, the footrace run by Macha (and how she cursed the generations of men), and the fate engendered by the sexual voracity of Fergus. Enjoy the visual pleasures of the illustrations. Open The Goddess to a random page, begin reading, and prepare to be seduced by tales as old as Eve herself. You will not be disappointed.’
– Jeffrey P. Cain, Associate Professor and Chair, Sacred Heart University
‘Spanning the cultures of ancient India, Iran, the Near East, classical antiquity, and Celtic and Germanic Europe, and ranging from the paleolithic to the ascendancy of monotheism, the authors unveil the many faces of the Goddess: Embodiment of wisdom, the incarnation of sexual desire, living nurturer of field, forest and sea, Lifegiving Mother and Sacred personification of Death. The Goddess will stimulate readers eager for an introduction to the cultural and religious identities of these ancient cultures.’
– Stephen Lahey, Happold Professor of Religious Studies, University of Nebraska