The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West

The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West

The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West

The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West

Synopsis

In this book, you can see how the divine has been perceived in feminine form. Here are ten of the best known goddesses from a variety of cultures -- East and West, past and present. A wide range is presented, from the fierce Durga, to the gentle, but firm, Sita; from the erotic goddeses Inanna and Aphrodite, to the chaste figures of Mary and Athena; from goddesses closely associated with material wealth such as Laksmi, to ethereal goddesses such as Kuan-yin.

Each goddess is treated separately in considerable detail to provide a distinct and clear portrait of her special "personality" and meaning within her own cultural context. At the same time, each chapter has a similar structure and style to enhance comparisons among the goddesses. An attempt is made in each case to draw upon both elite and popular sources of information. The Introduction and Conclusion consider important central questions closely connected with goddess scholarship, for example, the possibility of a prepatriarchal culture in which goddess worship was central, the difficulty of recovering female religious experience in goddess traditions that exist in male-dominated cultures, and the extent to which an overarching goddess theology can be implied in the goddess traditions that remain known to us.

Excerpt

I chose the title "The Goddesses' Mirror" (suggested by my wife) because it conveys my attempt to reflect accurately a variety of female images of the divine. Then, too, the word mirror is derived from the Latin mirari, meaning "to wonder at." I hope that readers of this book will feel some of the wonder that I have felt in seeking to understand and appreciate these ten visions of the divine feminine.

The chapters on Durgā, Lakṣmī, and Sītā are slightly revised versions of material that appeared in my book Hindu Goddesses © 1985 The Regents of the University of California.

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