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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Goddess

Myths of the Great Mother

For as long as we have sought god, we have found the goddess. Ruling over the imaginations of humankind’s earliest agricultural civilizations, she played a critical spiritual role as a keeper of nature’s fertile powers and an assurance of the next sustaining harvest. In The Goddess, David Leeming and Christopher Fee take us all the way back into prehistory, tracing the goddess across vast spans of time to tell the epic story of the transformation of belief and what it says about who we are.
Leeming and Fee use the goddess to gaze into the lives and souls of the people who worshipped her. They chart the development of traditional Western gender roles through an understanding of the transformation of concepts of the Goddess from her earliest roots in India and Iran to her more familiar faces in Ireland and Iceland. They examine the subordination of the goddess to the god as human civilizations became mobile and began to look upon masculine deities for assurances of survival in movement and battle. And they show how, despite this history, the goddess has remained alive in our spiritual imaginations, in figures such as the Christian Virgin Mother and, in contemporary times, the new-age resurrection of figures such as Gaia. 
The Goddess explores this central aspect of ancient spiritual thought as a window into human history and the deepest roots of our beliefs. 

224 pages | 27 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Religion: Religion and Literature

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“This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of the woman as deity. The Goddess tells us the intriguing story of the feminine principle as worshipped in dozens of cultures and across thousands of years. Just about every goddess from India’s Kali to Ireland's Morrigan puts in an appearance in this amazing and sprawling saga. . . . Begin reading and prepare to be seduced by tales as old as Eve herself. You will not be disappointed.”

Jeffrey P. Cain, Sacred Heart University

“Spanning the cultures of ancient India, Iran, the Near East, classical antiquity, and Celtic and Germanic Europe, and ranging from the Paleolithic to the ascendancy of monotheism, the authors unveil the many faces of the goddess: embodiment of wisdom; the incarnation of sexual desire; living nurturer of field, forest, and sea; life-giving mother; and sacred personification of death. The Goddess will stimulate readers eager for an introduction to the cultural and religious identities of these ancient cultures.”

Stephen Lahey, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Many Guises of the Goddess
1. The Dawn of the Indian Goddess
2. The Religious Conversion of the Near Eastern Goddess
3. The Scourge of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Goddess
4. The Battle Lust of the Northern Goddess
5. The Seductive Destruction of the Goddess of the Western Isles
Conclusion: The Identity of the Goddess
Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements

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