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The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets Paperback


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The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets + The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects + The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1136 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (November 30, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006250925X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062509253
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This fascinating, scholarly hodgepodge spotlights the feminist underpinnings of myth, religion, and culture. Before being lionized as zaftig Norse angels who guided strong warriors to Valhalla, Valkyries may have offered rebirth through cannibalization. "Little Red Riding Hood" was based on Diana, goddess of the hunt. Marriage was once considered a sin, not a sacred union: St. Bernard once proclaimed "it was easier for a man to bring the dead back to life than to live with a woman without endangering his soul." A few of the other topics expounded upon are the Milky Way, Cinderella, the moon, and males giving birth. While some of the references put a cranky feminist spin on words that might in context have different meaning--St. Paul's oft-quoted "better to marry than to burn," for example--much in this vast tome will dazzle dabblers and intellectuals alike.

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.


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.

Customer Reviews

I find myself picking up this book and just opening it to any page and reading!
mm
I would recommend this to anyone whether researching the subject or just interested in some answers.
Jan Stewart
Walker does distort some fact and sometimes she doesn't write with complete accuracy.
Alicja Z.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

226 of 246 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
When Barbara Walker�s �The Woman�s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets� was published, The Los Angeles Times called it �a feminist-scholar�s gold mine and a browser�s delight.� The San Francisco Chronicle called the book �a mountain of scholarship, a vast mass of supremely documented material.� The praise seems to be well-deserved. After all, Barbara Walker spent over twenty years researching the topic, distilling valuable information and deriving insights from hundreds of books and documents. I am therefore surprised at the very scathing criticisms of the book presented at the Readers� Reviews section of Amazon.com. To understand this, there are at least two possibilities. The first possibility is that the scholarship of the book is genuinely poor(and the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle reviewers did not do a professional job). Another possibility is that such negativity is a reflection of the unspeakable anger one feels when one�s long-held beliefs and values are shaken.
Certainly, the encyclopedia does not offer any �orthodox� or �politically correct� views. Barbara Walker is not a crowd-pleaser. She does not have too many complimentary things to say about patriarchy, Christianity or the Church. I see the primary value of this book as a bold and unabridged documentation of the historical struggle between the sexes and between the religion of Goddess and the patriarchal religions. Walker does not shy away from controversial or uncomfortable topics. She does not self-censor. She is not afraid to talk about the darker side of Christian history�its intolerance of other religions, its appropriation of pagan myths into Christian theology, its conversion of pagan festivals into Christian ones and its demonization of Goddess and sex.
I have had the book for a few years now.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful By R. Guiliani on January 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
this is the book that I first read about 7 years ago when I was hopelessly entrenched in a Christian Fundamentalist Cult and did not have a clue. I don't care if her footnotes and bibliography are accurate- it started me thinking. It was my first forbidden taste of feminism and paganism. It freed me from three generations of bondage and 34 years of personal slavery. Since reading her book I have found happiness, wisdom and liberty. Even if she happens to be biased or non-scholarly as some critics claim- it does not matter! Her information was fresh and life-affirming and it started the ball rolling for me! I have never again just taken someone's word for anything--I check everything now and I KNOW what I believe now with the ammunition of knowledge to defend it if I must. I could not do that before. I did not even want to! Her book changed my life, really it SAVED my life. If you read it only to prove her incorrect, read it! You will never think about things in the same way again...but beware! you will never think about things in the same way again.(or in other words--do you want to swallow the red pill or the blue pill?)
Ravyn
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185 of 234 people found the following review helpful By D. Norder on October 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of people who want to believe this book is an accurate source of information about mythology and history. Wishing does not make it so. Some of the reviewers claim that the only reason people say bad things about it is that they are trying to defend Christianity and are closed-minded because of their faith. I am an atheist and mythology scholar who has no faith to defend, and I still think this book is pure nonsense. It appears to me that Walker's supporters are the ones doing it out of faith and dogma and refusing to face facts.

As others have pointed out, all you need to do is follow her footnotes. It may look impressive when she makes three statements in a paragraph and cites three references to back her up, but it's a lot less impressive when you actually have those books and they don't say at all what she claims they do. I've done it (I have a large library of mythology books), but so can you. Go to a library and pick a few to look up. You'll probably be shocked at the differences in what she claims those sources say and what they really do. The only ones that I have found so far that seem to be at all similar are a handful of others also in the neo-pagan movement (Graves, Stone and Gimbutas being the main three).

Here is just the highlights of a few of many errors in just one entry:
"Mara
Exceedingly ancient name of the Goddess-as-Crone"

The first sentence isn't even done yet and already it's got the crone theory that she tries to push on everything (none of the figures of Mara have anything to do with crones) and capitalizes the term for religious purposes. And, to top it off, all but the relatively recent (last 500 years or so) references to characters named Mara say that Mara is a male figure, not female.
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44 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book in 1987, and was quite excited at first. My own research, however, quickly proved "The Encyclopedia" to be highly unreliable as a jumping-off point of feminist/pagan scholarship. A small amount of digging into B. Walker's sources will immediately prove how little research actually went into this work. The actual sources cited in Walker's footnotes frequently don't support her suppositions, and her etymology is just plain fanciful. She seems to feel that, if one word sounds like another word, they must necessarily be related. Ouch!
Check this out for yourself. Pick a few entries, then look up all of the footnotes in your local university library. How many of Walker's sources have ANYTHING to do with the subject in question, let alone support her theories? It's a disappointing, but necessary, exercise for anyone determined to see "The Encyclopedia" honestly.
Enjoy this book for its empowering (and fun) ideas, but don't place any weight on its "scholarship". It's a house of cards.
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