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Restoring the Goddess: Equal Rites for Modern Women Hardcover – March 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573927864
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573927864
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Walker's assessment of patriarchy's suppression of both knowledge and celebration of the Goddess compels her, as it has many before her, to begin restoring the lore of the Great Goddess. But Walker, a feminist author who has explored the dimensions of female myth and symbol in her previous fiction and nonfiction, does an odd thing here. Rather than offer yet another mythographer's source book, she wisely transforms her text away from the usual dialogue with the reader into an effervescent polylogue with other women about what such a restoration could mean and how it should be undertaken. As a result, Walker's enormously challenging and revealing book presents a community of voices. This is a volume of women talking: about the Goddess and patriarchy, about physicality, reproduction and the image of the Goddess, about rituals and purposes, about the New Age and about women's problems and fears as the Goddess re-emerges into secular culture. This format encourages continuing discussion in women's groups across the country about what Walker and other feminists term "thealogy," which she distinguishes from patriarchal theology. Thealogy returns worship tradition to the rediscovery of the sacred in the ordinary and transforms the undervalued lives of women into spiritual adventure. This book offers visible evidence of the advantages of redefining modern religion through women's participatory engagement. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Despite its subtitle, this book addresses few specific rites or practices. Instead, readers are taken on a rambling tour of the horrors of patriarchy and Christianity (which Walker sees as inextricably intertwined) and offered criticisms of Islam and New Age fads. Blending mythology, revisionist history, and biblical criticism, Walker (Feminist Fairy Tales) calls for a new metaphor as a guide to human relationships rather than a new religion. Walker's Goddess is not a specific being but instead the communal spirit of women, particularly the nurturing mother. Readers interested in tracing the historical claims will be frustrated by footnotes that generally lead back to Walker's Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets or Charles Bufe's The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations rather than to original sources. Alternating chapters based on interviews of women involved in Goddess religions offer some insight, but simply stringing together quotes is confusing, and the quality of the quotes varies greatly. Not recommended.
-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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I knew some of it, but my eyes were really opened.
Amazon Customer
Her book is extremely thoroughly researched, and I found I was reading it for a couple of hours each evening before going to bed.
Ronald L. Russell
Excellent book, written in true Barbara Walker fashion!
A. Moon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Sandra B. on September 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ignore the Culver review. Walker does not destroy Christianity; she questions it from a woman's viewpoint. But if that's how he sees it, so what? Women are treated as property in the Bible. Christians believe original sin was caused by a woman. Without original sin, there's no need for a male messiah. Read the horrible things church "fathers" have said about women - they even debated whether women had souls. My statements are only a glimpse at Christianity's anti-woman stance. This book is emotionally satisfying. I would give it 5 stars, but it does not cite to primary or scholarly material and uses the questionable 9 million number for the witch hunts. The testimonials offer women's viewpoints. If some of them are less than kind to men, just read the Bible, read about violence against women - both in the Bible and in our current world and you'll understand why some women express anger toward men, Christianity, and patriarchy. I highly recommend this book as well as Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Walker's book is a valid push for the notions that woman are people too and that the divine exists in feminine form. If the divine has been viewed as male, what's wrong with women viewing the divine as female? I don't need any man's stamp of historical approval to believe in the Goddess.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ronald L. Russell on September 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am a male, and I found this book extremely interesting, from a historical and cultural perspective. The author believes that in ancient times, human culture was more respectful toward women, and this may be true, at least in some lands. Certainly, in intervening centuries, women have been treated as having far less worth than many animals, especially in lands ruled by patriarchal governments.
I didn't interpret her book as a recommendation for atheism. Instead, Ms Walker offers a view of what the world would be like if, instead of an angry, vengeful Father God, our culture had instead a gentle, nurturing, Mother Goddess as its highest moral example. She does make a point that, statistically, atheists tend to be somewhat more law-abiding than the general population in the U.S., but she doesn't encourage everyone to become atheists. Rather she offers an alternative image of deity, in hopes that a kinder deity will serve to inspire kinder followers. She suggests, not a simple inversion of the patriarchal system, but rather a system in which the qualities of the Goddess are defined by what anyone can observe in the workings of the natural world, rather than simply made up by some self-proclaimed prophet (who may or may not agree with the writings of earlier prophets). In her system, society is not heirarchal, with power concentrated at the top, but cooperative, with power and responsibility shared.
I thought that her view sounded like a better world in which to live than the one in which we find ourselves at present. It seems reasonable that, if people grew up in a culture where crime and violence were not viewed as entertainment, members would be far less likely to perpetrate such acts.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Ward on December 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think that some Wiccans who bought this seemed disappointed that it wasn't a more practical work. I love this book specifically because it is a total exercise in thought. It examines where we may have been, where we know we've been, where we are and where we *could* go in human society.
The book for the most part serves as an indictment of patriarchal society, and like any good manifesto, it tells why the proposed system is better. Unlike a manifesto, however, it doesn't get bogged down in the minutia and instead retains its philosophical focus. Yes, there are practical suggestions, but they are a side benefit to the overall thinking process going on.
The group therapy part is the comments from "modern women" at the end of each chapter. They are all different shades of thought on the same subject, and no they don't all agree with each other.
The other concept indicted is Christianity, and to some extent the other two religions that stem from the same root, Judaism and Islam. It is a very good, very thorough indictment of the many fallacies and inconsistencies in Christian thought, action and doctrine.
Unlike Ronald L. Russell, who did not believe that the author was advocating atheism in any way, I believe that in a way Ms. Walker was in fact advocating a thealogy that is so radically different in its application and in how its followers view it that in a way it is atheism as we define it today. Rather than encouraging people to believe in a literal Goddess, she encourages people to view Her as a metaphor or a work of art that we use to recreate our society ourselves. She also emphatically encourages scientific discovery and thought, and criticizes irrationalism, epecially as it pertains to religion, many times.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
....Part of what Ms. Walker advocates is a balanced society that values women as highly as men, and she very effectively demonstrates how patriachical religion has not and will not do this without complete reversal of its myths. Ms. Walker also never advocates one and only true and good religion, which is a premise solely of patriarchical religion where you must believe my one and only way or you must be destroyed because only if you believe my way can I control you and have power over you.
While I will agree her tone was at times angry, she never made baseless claims and has supported her arguments with substantial historical information provided by patriarchical religion. EVERY woman should read this book and give it serious consideration. It has the power to change the fabric of our lives and allow us to create a new reality: one in which women are valued and treated as equals without the need to become "the same" as men, one in which women are no longer brutalized by husbands, fathers, brothers, and strange men, one where women aren't hit or beat or raped, one in which motherhood is celebrated for the true miracle that it is. Please read with an open mind to possibility.
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More About the Author

Barbara G. Walker, author of The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, and many other books, is a member of the Morris Museum Mineralogical Society and the Trailside Mineral Club of the New Jersey Earth Science Association.

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