The Goddess

The Goddess : Mythological Images of the Feminine

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Praise for The Goddess: "Exciting and important." Library Journal "Remarkable." Psychological Perspective "Direct and intimate." The Journal of Analytic Psychology>show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 17.8mm | 408.24g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0826409172
  • 9780826409171

Review quote

"In a series of chapters each focusing on a different goddess or mythical woman, Christine Downing traces her own path of individuation from maiden-daughter to mature woman. She writes in a direct and intimate way, using to great but effortless effect her deep culture and wide learning."-The Journal of Analytical Psychologyshow more

Back cover copy

The chapters in this book interweave childhood memories, dreams from many different periods, and a complex history of identification from the authors own past--from girl to more

Review Text

Greek mythology as a source of feminist wisdom: the rapturous account of one woman's search for the "immanent She." Downing (Religious Studies-Psychology, San Diego State) is a good amateur classicist, and her attempts to find matriarchal meanings buried in the patriarchal text, or palimpsest, of Hellenic culture are generally successful. But this is no mere scholarly exercise. With undisguised passion and sometimes embarrassing frankness Downing describes how, after sloughing off the Christianity of her childhood, she turned to Persephone, Ariadne (a mortal heroine but originally divine), Hera, Athena, Gala, Artemis, and Aphrodite, not as pale literary-philosophical emblems of the shifting patterns in her sexual experience but as living teachers, helpers, wellsprings of strength. So vividly, in fact, does she feel the reality of her goddesses that Downing writes the whole chapter on Aphrodite in the second person. "Now that it is time to begin to discover who I am apart from you, I realize I must confront you directly," etc. Obviously Downing's more cold-eyed and secular-minded readers will have a hard time with this, but the weakest feature of her quest to satisfy her thirst for sacred images of "the feminine" is its pervasive narcissism. At one point Downing is lying naked and alone in the Southern California desert, communing with Daia, "the divine presence of earth." She is also, as it happens, erotically stimulating herself: "And . . . my fingers in their wanderings came across the moist spot and followed the channel whose opening it marked, deep, deep down into the center within - her sacred place . . . I knew this was . . . a moment of completion, of finding Her." Perhaps, but the masturbatory accents of this episode suggest that Downing's religion is still, in some respects, in an adolescent phase. (Kirkus Reviews)show more