Academic journal article Mythlore

Goddess and Grail: The Battle for Arthur's Promised Land

Academic journal article Mythlore

Goddess and Grail: The Battle for Arthur's Promised Land

Article excerpt

GODDESS AND GRAIL: THE BATTLE FOR ARTHUR'S PROMISED LAND.

Jeffrey John Dixon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017. viii + 261 p. ISBN

9781476668666. paperback. $35.00.

Dixon traces the history of the Matter of Britain from pagan mythology through the medieval Arthurian cycles to modern romantic treatments by William Blake and J.R.R. Tolkien. Part 1, "Mythological Roots," focuses on supernatural women in Arthurian literature (e.g. the Lady of the Lake, Ninienne, Morgan, and Guenevere) and their relationships to pre-Christian goddesses, all of whom, in Dixon's view, reflect the moon goddess, Diana. Part 2 focuses upon "Realms of Symbolism," largely, the Grail. The book's structure, then, presupposes an ancient philosophical "battle" between female and male, moon and sun, goddess and Grail, pagan and Christian. Dixon's approach is based on such sources as Robert Graves' The White Goddess (Faber & Faber, 1948), and Anne Baring and Jules Cashford's The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (Penguin, 1991). Like those works, Dixon's comparativist methods will be most attractive to readers interested in neo-pagan Goddess studies. However, Dixon's work lies open to the same criticisms as his theoretical predecessors. Graves, for example, has been accused of employing "poor philology, inadequate texts and out-of-date archeology" (Wood 12). Baring and Cashford have been noted for "uncritically appropriating Jungian archetypal analysis" (Taylor). Dixon's own arguments are aimed squarely at the popular and speculative, rather than the scientific and scholarly. …

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