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Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine Paperback – May 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0826409171 ISBN-10: 0826409172

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Paperback, May 1, 1996
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826409172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826409171
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,327,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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 Psychology

About the Author

Christine Downing is Professor Religious Studies Emerita at San Diego State University and a former core faculty member of the California School of Professional Psychology.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tracy M VINE VOICE on October 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read most of the books available which blend psychology and mythology -- and have written in the field of myself -- and after 15 years still believe Goddess by Downing belongs in the TOP FIVE of all time - perhaps it deserves #1. This is the most outstanding in-depth portrayal of the goddesses and their psychological meanings that I have encountered; in comparison, Bolen's work and other contemporary interpretations of the goddeses appear superficial. Over and over again, I return to GODDESS and find new meanings continually unfolding for me within it. Although the scholarship in the book is outstanding, its strength is how it relates the myths to the deeply personal. DON'T MISS THIS BOOK! Get it while it's still in print.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By a person who reads on June 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
The book covers 7 Greek Goddesses: Persephone, Ariadne, Hera, Athene, Gaia, Artemis and Aphrodite. The writing is beautiful but I am not sure I can relate to the author. It is like her voice is from a different age--being 28 years old, her view of "the Feminine" is foreign to me.The book assumes the reader is familiar with Greek mythology--I would say that I have a moderate amount of exposure to the Greek myths, and to Homer and not much knowledge at all of the tragedies and I understood the book pretty well. But if you know nothing of Greek myth--you might be a little lost.There were two things about this book that disturbed me. The first was that in the chapter on Persephone, the author states that the rape needed to happen. This may be true on a psychological/mythological level--but the author did nothing to say that actual physical rape is a horribly scaring violation. Perhaps she imagined her readers to be her peers and does not think a young rape victem would have exposure to this book--but I find it hurtful to not take into account the feelings of real women.The other thing that disturbed me was the autobiographical portions of the book. To read about the author's affair while married, and it's devasting effect on her lover's wife--clouded the whole book for me. She speaks of affairs as if they are something natural. I found myself not liking the author and doubting everything she wrote and questioning whether it had any meaning for me. Because the author's morals are so different from my own, her credibility as a guide to the Greek Goddesses was lost to me.I do think this is a very good book--but my feelings are mixed. Read it and decide for yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David S. Cohen on September 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
THE GODDESS was originally titled THE GODDESS PAPERS because it grew out of a series of explorations into the nature of the Greek Goddesses that author Christine Downing did over a series of months during a crucial transition point in her life. Part of the reason for these explorations was a need to explore the shadow aspects both of her own psyche and of the larger mythological figures with whom she was dealing in scholarly and imaginal ways. Perhaps this is the reason that this book, far from being a dry exercise in strictly academic concerns, still has the power to shock--as is evidenced by the review from the 28-year old woman, above, who was so upset by the personal revelations that she had a hard time even completing the reading of the book!

To my mind, the book does us a great service by these confessions and by the larger theme they serve: to make it clear how powerfully the images of myth speak to the wholeness of our humanity, and how much they continue to illuminate those aspects of ourselves with which we are always struggling to come to terms. In doing so, she makes us understand aspects of Artemis or of Aphrodite or of Hera or even of Athena which it is very easy to overlook when dealing with these divine figures through the rose-colored lenses of most treatments of them for the general public, which often bear a kind of Disneyfied glow entirely untrue to the reality of their natures, or to the rituals and stories through which they were born.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on November 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who is employed in the psychological field and interested in depth psychology, I found this book to be a unique contribution. As other reviewers mention, it blends mythology and psychology combining feminist, Jungian and personal perspectives. It is also a very deep exploration of each of the goddesses mentioned in other reviews including both dark and light aspects. In all cases, the author explores the each goddess as she is commonly understood and then dives deeper for earlier understandings. Each of the goddesses is also contextualized in relation to the great mother archetype and the evolution of consciousness over time.

A plus or a minus of the book depending upon how you look at it is an almost spiritual autobiography of the author's own relation to each of these goddesses from an interior subjective perspective. For me, I think there was a bit too much of this, but it does add depth and show how the archetypes can be used to create personal meaning.

There is some repetition in the book and a fair amount of meandering. However, it is overall a very creative work dense with meaning. For the average person, it may be more than they wanted to know. However, for folks with an interest in mythology, Jungian psychology or an archetypal understanding of feminism, it is just right. It is fairly heavy, but very accessible to most people with a minimum understanding of psychology, archetypes and how they are expressed personally and culturally.

My rating of a 4 might indicate a personal bias toward more organization, less personal content and avoidance of repetion.
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