Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book “Goddesses in Everywoman” is not a religious book about worshipping a Goddess but rather it is a book exploring psychological archetypes in women, based on the Greek goddesses.
The purpose of this series is to examine the archetypes that some of these Greek goddesses might represent in our psychological makeup.
But first, why so many goddesses in the Greek pantheon? Historically, long ago there was only one. All quotes are from the book.
“Marija Gimbutas, a professor of European archeology at the University of California at Los Angelos describes ” Old Europe”, Europe’s first civilization. Dating back at least 5000 years ( perhaps even 25000 years ) before the rise of male religions, Old Europe was a matrifocal, sedentary, peaceful, art-loving, earth-and-sea-bound culture that worshipped the Great Goddess. Evidence from burial sites show that Old Europe was an unstratified, egalitarian society that was destroyed by an infiltration of seminomadic, horse-riding, Indo-European peoples from the distant north and east. These invaders were patrifocal, mobile, warlike, ideologically sky-oriented and indifferent to art.”
The invaders had the ability to conquer the earlier people who worshipped the Great Goddess. She was known by many names such as Astarte, Ishtar, Isis, etc…” a feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible for creating life and destroying life. The snake, the dove, the tree, and the moon were her sacred symbols.”
Source : British Museum / Limestone statue of a woman
Middle Assyrian, about 1070-1056 BC
From Nineveh, northern Iraq ; Found in the remains of the Temple of Ishtar
“There were successive waves of invaders that began the gradual dethronement of the Great Goddess. “The goddesses were not completely suppressed but were incorporated into the religion of the invaders.”
‘Mythologist Jane Harrison notes that the Great Mother goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses, each receiving attributes that once belonged to her: Hera got the ritual of the sacred marriage, Demeter her mysteries, Aphrodite her doves, Athena her snakes, and Artemis her function as “Lady of the Wild Things” ( wildlife ) .
“According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, the disenthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo-European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later. The female goddesses faded into the background…”
The book’s premise is that “the goddess still exists as archetypes in the collective unconscious. The Greek goddesses are images of women that have lived in the human imagination for over three thousand years. The goddesses are patterns or representations of what women are like…”
“Each one has both positive and potentially negative traits. Their myths show what is important to them and express in metaphor what a woman who resembles them might do. ”
Samothrace Victory, musée du Louvre, Paris: The Winged Goddess of Victory
Continued next week.