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The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects Paperback – November 2, 1988


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Product Details

  • Series: More Crystals and New Age
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; First Edition edition (November 2, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062509233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062509239
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you look up the word lion in the dictionary on your desk, odds are you'll learn it's a large, carnivorous mammal. The entry may note that it's the emblem of Great Britain, too, and mention courage and literary acumen, but you won't find out that two lions pulled the chariot of the goddess Cybele when she took it out for a spin. To learn that, you'd need to flip through The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. At the top of each page are drawings of the symbols discussed on that page. This well-organized tome is fascinating reading with a female-centric spin. Thus, poppet is not just a doll, but one used by witches as a proxy for the person they wanted to harm. Vase symbolizes the Earth Mother's womb, and, according to author Barbara G. Walker, the Greek word for vase, pithos, was mistakenly translated as pyxis, box, in that tale about Pandora.

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 don't think this adds substantially to her work.
Timothy Boucher
This book is good for the novice or more advanced people interested in Feminie/spiritual studies.
Ann Covalt
I can get lost in this book as one thing leads to another.
wren

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ann Covalt on December 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Barbare G. Walker has done a great job with wonderful attention to detail. This book is good for the novice or more advanced people interested in Feminie/spiritual studies. Granted the information contained is contrary to what I had been brought up with my whole life, I find the information revealing and mentally inspiring. I am no historian, nor bible thumper.. I have read some of the other reviews her book has generated. That is what prompted me to write this review. I had to speak out on the books behalf. The material in her book is going to be controversial. History has long been censored and rewritten by the winners. You know, the people who only want you to know 'so much'. Show me an author who does not write with a point of view and I'll show you a phone book. So in order to wake from ignorance one must educate themselves. This book can have a nice part in that.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer S. Murphy on April 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Barbara Walker has superbly researched this book and its sister publication, Myths and Secrets. For those involved in meditation or spiritual development work, this book is a must and will assist in understanding that which comes to us in dreams and reflection.
As someone who teaches interpretation of symbology in spiritual work, Barbara Walker's book has been invaluable and is a major recommendation to all course participants.
I have yet to find a better book on symbology
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Boucher on January 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I LOVED her other book, Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, and so I snapped this one up, but was hugely disappointed by it. The content and the research in it are just not as good. And the artwork that accompanies stuff is not very good, nor is there very much of it.

Frankly, I think this book was churned out in order to cash in on the success of the Myths and Secrets book. A lot of the material in it is a re-hashing of that book, which I personally can't recommend enough. It really realigned my whole perception of all different kinds of religious and cultural stuff, and I sincerely recommend that if you're wondering whether or not to buy this book or that one, go get the Myths and Secrets one instead. I don't think this adds substantially to her work.
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54 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Renee L. Rosen-wakeford on January 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Someone should start the "Buy Barbara Walker an Etymological Dictionary" Fund, except that I'm sure she must be able to afford one by now from the royalties on her books. Seriously, although this book can be a fun read if you don't take it too seriously, it's filled with fallacies and fantasies, and the "research" in it is suspect to say the least.
When I first read this book about 10 years ago, I found it fascinating and quite inspiring, though I was somewhat doubtful of the "facts" contained within it. When I showed it to someone who'd studied Sanskrit, and he saw that she'd translated "swastika" as "so mote it be," he pointed out that she'd obviously made that up, as "swastika" really means "small lucky thing." Many of her other etymologies are just as made-up as the one for "swastika," such as her etymology of "Jehovah" as "I, Woman."
It's hard to believe that there are some who take this work seriously, beyond as an inspiration for non-critically thinking Goddess-worshippers. You don't have to be a "patriarchal monotheist" to realize that Walker is no scholar and that her writings do much more to discredit Paganism (Neo- or otherwise) than any fundamentalist Christian's rantings and ravings against the subject.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By shkdive@mcn.net on January 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Ever wanted to know the original meanings of everyday-take-for-granted items? This is the book for you. Learn the origins of secular-sacred objects such as "broomstick", "comb", "cradle", "Egg and Dart Frieze", "Flail and Crook". Discover the true and original uses and meanings of DEITIES' SIGNS such as "Alpha-and-Omega Cross", "Shekina", "Sin", "Sophia". Read how the Christians have copied and stolen symbols from the earlier sacred earth-based religions and concepts. You will never look at things the same way again or literally believe anything in the Bible again!!! Get this book ASAP and you will be fascinated and educated all at once!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RayBlahBlah on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barbara Walker's research so resonates with me that as soon as I saw that this book was published I jumped to buy it. I have shared information from this and her other books broadly. In fact, I bought copies of her first dictionary for my daughter and daughter-in-law to offer them more fuel for empowerment. I hope she keeps doing more and more research and writing more and more and I have an opportunity to buy her works.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. on May 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first purchased this book as a Teen Wiccan and was certainly inspired by the relentlessly pro-woman slant of the writing. And now, as an adult feminist hellraiser, I find this book is handy to have around but difficult to read.

The scholarship ranges from "excellent", to "shaky", to nonexistent, with some historical claims very solidly flanked in citations, but many others left in the wind. For example, it's well know that many ancient cults practiced cross-dressing in ritual contexts, and it is a fascinating claim that the priests of Hercules did the same in Greece, but is there a citation for it? Nope. This is common throughout the book, with casual claims of dubious historical accuracy unsupported by research.

The pro-woman, anti-man bias is a nice change from regular old cryptopatriarchal reporting but isn't honest or consistent. For example, every single circular or vaguely round motif in the book is assertively and exclusively claimed to be vaginal, yonic, etc, but in the introduction to the "Long Motifs" chapter, which deals largely with phallic objects and symbolism, Walker denigrates Freud's phallocentric symbolism (which, let's be honest, he [and it] richly deserves) and impresses strongly that magic wands, athames, swords, et al, are "not a phallus but a pointer, a director of magical energy." (exact quote)

The thing is, ancient religions, universal human symbolism, and the rest of that good stuff is certainly sexual, genital, and explicit. And this explicitness is regularly hushed up, not only by prudish scholars, but by organized cultural biases starting with conversational taboos and ending with complete genocide (see: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture by Arthur Evans). But they were not, and are not, exclusively or even primarily, vaginal.
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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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