Anne Baring - The Myth of the Goddess. PDF

PDF An interesting and thought-provoking examination of the evolution of Western goddess religion, beginning in the Paleoolithic era through Mesopotamia and ancient Greece and on through modern conceptions of the Virgin Mary and the rise of Neo-Paganism. I ranked it a four mostly because I found it an interesting read that piqued my curiousity in the history of ancient religion — and specifically the presence of goddesses (long since booted off stage by the Big Three of monotheism).

Read the book with one foot in the skeptic plane, though — it's heavily influenced by the research of Marija Gimbutas, who theorized that (in southeastern Europe, at any rate) the shift from Neolithic to Bronze Age culture was due in part to the followers of sky gods, swooping in and turning conquered territories from peaceful, established matriarchal societies into violent, warrior-glorifying patriarchies. It's certainly unclear from this book alone whether there's any evidence-backed merit to that theory, or if Gimbutas, Cashford and and Baring base their interpretations on wishful thinking. (Then again, it's also hard to tell how many of Gimbutas's critics are simply crochety old misogynists...)

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