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Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity

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ISBN-13: 978-0230618862
ISBN-10: 0230618863
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Editorial Reviews


"Rigoglioso explores the power of virgin birth, or parthenogenesis, as the primal creative process. The clarity of her analysis reveals how pervasive and influential this motif and its rites were in the ancient world. Most interesting is her remarkable explication of the Eleusinian Mysteries, where – by her application of the ‘missing piece’ of virgin birth – she makes sense of much that has been passed over or ignored in the ancient texts. This is an original piece of scholarship that dares to imagine traditions at the foundation of Western culture in an entirely new light. As with any paradigm-shifting theory, some may challenge Rigoglioso’s interpretations, but all readers will recognize that parthenogenesis, as a symbol of profound spiritual perception, could not have received a more articulate spokesperson. One feels in reading her work that she is writing from inside a tradition that we didn’t even know existed, and the authenticity of her writing makes it all the more accessible and inviting."--Gregory Shaw, Professor of Religious Studies, Stonehill College and author of Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus

“With this study, Rigoglioso has substantively corrected the common perception that ‘a few’ of the Greek goddesses have an inconsequential association with parthenogenesis. Her insightful explication of the parthenogenetic motif in the attributes of all the pre-Greek goddesses, as well as in the Thesmophoria and the Eleusinian Mysteries, establishes the generative powers of the Virgin Mother goddesses as a central dynamic in the pre-Greek substratum of Western religion.”--Charlene Spretnak, author of Lost Goddesses of Early Greece

About the Author

Marguerite Rigoglioso is an adjunct instructor at the Dominican University of California and the author of The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece (Palgrave).


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (September 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230618863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230618862
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,404,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marguerite Rigoglioso, Ph.D., is the founding director of Seven Sisters Mystery School and a scholar/practitioner of the ancient Mediterranean mystery traditions. She is the author of The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece and Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity, pioneering volumes emerging from her doctoral dissertation at the California Institute of Integral Studies that explore women's shamanic abilities in a (r)evolutionary new light.

She teaches unique and leading-edge courses on the sacred feminine and women's spiritual leadership at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Sofia University (formerly Institute of Transpersonal Psychology), and Dominican University of California.

Her research on female deities and women's religious leadership in the ancient Mediterranean world and beyond has appeared in anthologies and journals, including Feminist Theology, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Societies of Peace, She Is Everywhere, Trivia, and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, where her paper on the cult of Demeter and Persephone in Sicily received an honorable mention for the New Scholar Award. She is also the editor of Where to Publish Articles on Women's Studies, Feminist Religious Studies, and Feminist/Womanist Topics 2008.

A speaker at conferences and numerous public venues around the world, in 2009 she delivered a James C. Loeb Classical lecture at Harvard University on her research. She is also a featured interviewee in the films The Vanishing of the Bees and The Search for Local Honey.

Marguerite combines lifelong study of the religious history of the ancient Mediterranean world and beyond with her own spiritual growth work and intuitional skills, which have been cultivated through years of ceremonial practice as well as intensive study at the Foundation for Spiritual Development in San Rafael, CA. She has been a professional freelance writer for the past 25 years, as well, working for clients such as Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Boston University, and numerous nonprofits, businesses, and authors.

Visit Marguerite at: to receive her free audio lectures and learn more about her courses, programs, and CDs, both live and online, at Seven Sisters Mystery School.

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Acharya S aka D.M. Murdock on January 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Whatever one takes away from "Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity" by Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso, the book certainly is a tour de force. Phrases like "parthenogenetic creator deity" and "virgin creatrix" readily convey the concept of a virgin mother from remotest times, like a splash of cold water waking up our long dormant female spiritual traditions. There can be no doubt that the virgin-mother concept did not originate with Christianity and that the idea of the Virgin Mary as a historical personage appears unsupportable from this and much more evidence.

Suddenly, it all makes sense: Of course, the Great Creator of the Universe has been viewed as a female--a goddess--during a significant period of human culture. Evidence in many places points to this idea of a self-generative--essentially virginal--female creator preceding the development of a male counterpart. For, if God the Father or Yahweh is the creator, yet he has no consort, according to Christian tradition, and is basically asexual, then he too is virginal. Like Isis and so many others, God the Father is the Great Virgin. Nevertheless, like them he too begets. He is the Virgin Father--a concept applied to the Greek god Zeus as well, despite how many times he is said to procreate, since he is called in antiquity "parthenos" or virgin. As mythologist Robert Graves says, "Thus the Orphic hymn celebrates Zeus as both Father and Eternal Virgin." Rigoglioso also discusses Zeus as virgin creator, as in Orphic fragment 167:

"Zeus's parthenogenetic capacity is expressed here in the idea that all existence was 'created anew' in the moment of his ingesting of the older god [Phanes].
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By Elaine White on April 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an interesting read for me because I am interested in the topic. The text tends to read like a dissertation, but the information is well-documented and met my need.
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