(Book Review) Myths Shattered and Restored, editors Marion Dumont & Gayatri Devi

aswm_cover_lrWhat a pleasure to read this collection of diverse scholarly voices who speak of global mythological/spiritual traditions from within a Goddess frame: that is, from within a frame where She is understood as primal in an organic way, and without any apology. This is Volume 1 of proceedings from an annual conference of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. It is a documentation of the papers from the 2014 gathering that many (who read this blog) would love to have been able to be present to: this book makes all this research and thoughtful presentation accessible, and expands the conversation that so many of us thirst for.

On page 1 the editors describe:

Mythology is the branch of knowledge or field of study of the important stories we tell ourselves that enable us to gather meaning in our daily lives … myths are cultural and spiritual stories that arise out of humanity’s experience of life on earth. Myths speak to a deep and real desire in us to understand our context here on earth while yearning to comprehend our connection to our ancestors and our roots, to share experiences that transcend binaries and boundaries, and to envision the future from a liminal present. Myths allow us to see ourselves as both timeless and historical beings. Through awakening belief, mythic stories afford us an opportunity to participate in a non-material realm, a realm of sacred, creative power, whose intimations we experience in our encounters with ourselves and with the world around us through a multitude of modalities, such as ritual, art, storytelling and dance. They are the threads that link our present with our past and serve to shape our future.

As I began reading, I kept thinking of women who would like to read the specific essays, and of my own hunger for the integrity and wholeness of the female (my self and my kind) that set me on the Goddess path almost four decades ago, of my passion to know Her and express Her – in a world/context where She was silenced, always seen as a problem. Though I have done much research and practice in these past decades, I found that this volume fed and fired my ongoing hunger to know more of Her.

In the first essay by Mara Lynn Keller, there is a very useful and succinct analysis of the unique contribution and significance of the work of Marija Gimbutas, to the fields of knowledge. A little further along Mara offers a wonderful explanation of the use of the term “Goddess”, quoting Charlene Spretnak; an explanation that is so much richer and Earth-based than much of current superficial use of the term. This essay offers a quote from Marija Gimbutas of the true nature of “civilization”, what it is not, and what it is; and discusses some of the resistance to the metanarrative of “a goddess-revering civilization at the root of European culture”[1].

The next essay by Joan M. Cichon[2]begins with a succinct appraisal of archaeomythology, which is Marija Gimbutas’s method, and the precise nature of the worldview developed by this methodology.

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