Which Goddess: Archetypes in our Daily Lives

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. ”

Winged Goddess of Victory

Samothrace Victory, musée du Louvre, Paris: The Winged Goddess of Victory

Continued next week.

Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground / French Country Cottage

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14 Responses to Which Goddess: Archetypes in our Daily Lives

  1. Susan says:

    What an interesting post, Deb. Can’t wait to read the next part.

  2. Kim says:

    I loved this! It makes sense that there was only one goodness to begin with…I mean women are multifaceted. It’s interesting that they broke them up, isolating traits.

  3. Susan says:

    Definitely an interesting read. Thanks for sharing your book and the artwork.

  4. Nita says:

    Very interesting. But what captured my attention is the fact that I am exactly the same shape as that stone goddess figurine. What happened to society? (Retorical question)

  5. I too am a Goddess dearest Debra and Nita, so what if we’re only talking in shape!!!! Thanks for the boost in my day lol!
    Wren x

  6. rue says:

    Absolutely fascinating! I can’t wait for the next installment.

    Happy Birthday to your grandson :)


  7. Joyce says:

    How history repeats itself. Warlike barbarians “indifferent to art” (ISIS) are now invading and destroying priceless middle east art treasures, thousands of years old. I wish women ruled the world!

  8. Judy says:

    I resemble these Goddesses too–the ones with the missing heads! There are days when my brain has left the building!

  9. Marie says:

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing this book. I will be looking for in at the library this week. We should be teaching our girls how important and beautiful they are and that history can and should in this case, be repeated. We do all have goddess traits. Lets celebrate them! Marie

  10. Grandma Kc says:

    You do mind the most interesting topics! I’d like to think that if women ruled the world now it would be a better place.

  11. Dewena says:

    Can’t wait to read which archetype I am!

  12. Dyson says:

    We all share the journey of self-exploration, even though different aspects of it appear to each of us. Certain of the gods and goddesses may play a major or dominant role in our lives and those of our loved ones, but our imagination or psyche contains them all. The more of these basic patterns of life we have access to, the greater our experience of this mythic dimension of life which makes our conscious day-to-day lives even more meaningful.

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