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books about 'The Triple Goddess', 'The Earth Mother'
and the many 'ancient matriarchal societies' in the archaic world

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Below are a small selection of books that will give you a background in understanding the fact that, before the great patriarchal societies that have ruled over large sections of the world for the last few thousand years, there existed a civilisation where the deity was female, and matriarchal societies led their diverse peoples in living closely in harmony with nature.

The Goddess was revered in many forms, and with many names that were often seasonally-descriptive aspects of what became known as 'The Triple Goddess' - virgin, mother and crone - which were all personified seasonal periods within the natural year between successive Winter Solstices. In total, these three aspects made up the Great Earth Mother - the female deity of antiquity, who represented the body and spirit of the Earth.

Many of the Goddess traditions were deliberately and systematically wiped out by the invading patriarchal warriors who were accompanied by scribes who wrote the Goddess cultures out of history and tradition. In ancient Welsh tradition the Holy Grail, or San Graal, was simply the christianised version of the ancient and mysterious 'Cauldron of Ceridwen'. Ceridwen is just one of the names of the Goddess which still exists today in Wales. While she represented the Earth Mother, in a macrocosmic form she also represented the Great Cosmic Mother, the female aspect of the universe.


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"The White Goddess" by Robert Graves

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"Robert Graves, the late British poet and novelist, was also known for his studies of the mythological and psychological sources of poetry. With The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, Graves was able to combine many of his passions into one work. While the book is so poetically written that many of the passages amount to prose poems, it is also frequently plot driven enough to feel like a novel, and it is rich with scholarly insight into the deep wells of poetry.

Especially fascinating is the chapter in which Graves explores the ancient and ongoing practice of poets' invoking the muse. Graves details the practice in both the Eastern and Western literary traditions, and shows specific similarities and differences among Greek, British, and Irish tales and myths about the muse. Graves has much to offer students of history and myth, but poetry lovers will also be fascinated with The White Goddess."


"The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth"
by Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor

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"This long-awaited reference book is an important addition for students studying women's ancient history and the roots of religion. Sjoo and Mor describe the great spiral of cultural movement that began ``in the beginning . . .with a very female sea,'' and continued into Neolithic times. They show how our brains have been emptied of women's cultural history, and then they begin to piece together, detail by detail, that history. This does not lend itself to cover-to-cover reading, but it is a worthy book to discover while researching the roots of religion and/or the history of women as creators of culture. Readers will get a varied taste of world symbols, obscure myths, dazzling images, and formidable goddesses which will allow them to see connections that they might otherwise miss in current culture. The black-and-white illustrations include sketches, photographs, and reproductions of Goddess sites worldwide and ancient artifacts and culture. While libraries with women's studies' collections and schools in which students study cultural history will need this book, it is also an engaging book to browse through, and belongs on the shelves of any library."


"When God Was a Woman" by Merlin Stone

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"Here, archaeologically documented is the story of the religion of the Goddess. Known by many names, she reigned supreme in the Near and Middle East. How did the change in women's roles come about? By documenting the wholesale rewriting of myth and religious dogmans, Stone details an ancient conspiracy that laid the foundation for one of culture's greatest shams--the legend of Adam and fallen Eve.

Documents the ancient worship of the great creator Mother Goddess under a diversity of names and details the rewriting of myths, the recasting of rituals and religious doctrines, and the transformation of the Goddess into a wanton, depraved figure by invading patriarchal tribes.

Stone's book "When God Was a Woman" had a profound effect on the emerging Goddess Culture of the 1970s and 80s in the US. It spoke clearly and simply to women raised in traditional Judeo-Christian traditions, and made the concept of a female deity accessible."


"The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500-3500 BC"
by Marija Alseikaite Gimbutas

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"Gimbutas was a pioneer in her field, and challenged the traditional concepts we have of the origins of Western civilization. While her assertions may seem fantastical and absurd to some, they are worth exploring. Scholars in the field of anthropology have already begun to realize that women played a far larger role as hunters in early societies, and Gimbutas's work paved the way for scholars to allow the thought of an expanded role from what we perceive as traditional female gender roles.

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Curator of Old World Archaeology at what is now the Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Her book The Living Goddesses (California, 1999) was published in April 1999."


"The Hebrew Goddess" by Raphael Patai

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""The Hebrew Goddess" demonstrates that the Jewish religion, far from being pure monotheism, contained from earliest times strong polytheistic elements, chief of which was the cult of the mother goddess. Lucidly written and richly illustrated, this third edition contains new chapters of the Shekhina. The Bible gives the impression that all ancient Jews shared a common belief system ... with only an occasional group straying from the fold. But the evidence paints a different picture. As Dr. Patai states, "... it would be strange if the Hebrew-Jewish religion, which flourished for centuries in a region of intensive goddess cults, had remained immune to them." Archaeologists have uncovered Hebrew settlements where the goddesses Asherah and Astarte-Anath were routinely worshipped. And in fact, we find that for about 3,000 years, the Hebrews worshipped female deities which were later eradicated only by extreme pressure of the male-dominated priesthood."


"The Great Goddess: Reverence of the Divine Feminine from the Paleolithic to the Present" by Jean Markale

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"Markale provides a breathtakingly sweeping overview of the divine feminine. Written with fervor and panache, Markale's very readable book is an extraordinary and challenging treatment of the subject."

"He repeatedly compares the imagery of the Virgin Mary to the imagery of goddess worship as far back as we can trace Her. All in all, this is a good book. It has a great deal of interesting information about the history of Goddess imagery."

"In this comprehensive work, Markale traces beliefs and practices from ancient times to the present. For those who wish to learn more of the Great Goddess, reviled yet embraced by religions of the world, this book is a general overview offering excellent, readable information."


"Virgin Mother Crone: Myths and Mysteries of the Triple Goddess"
by Donna Wilshire, Jim Howard, June Withington

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"Enough literature on goddesses is now available that specialized popular works like this can find a niche. Wilshire excavates and explores the myths of the Greek Hera as well as their contemporary meanings.

You may remember Hera as the shrewish wife of Zeus, always whining about his dalliances with nymphs. But before her "marriage" to the Hellenic interloper, Hera was an indigenous Great Goddess, honored as an exemplar of women's lives from girlhood through croneship.

Wilshire examines Hera's manifestations as the virginal Hebe, the full-bodied Teleia, and the transformative Hecate. Long chants to each form of Hera are the centerpieces of the chapters on these figures. An intriguing, well-researched, passionately wrought study."


"The Storyteller's Goddess: Tales of the Goddess and Her Wisdom from Around the World" by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

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"The Storyteller's Goddess is a collection of more than 30 stories from 20 cultures that celebrate the goddess. They are organized around seven healing goddess principles and are inspired by traditional goddess lore and ancient artifacts.

Each one is introduced by placing it in its cultural and historical context, telling the story's origins, and describing props that can be used to invoke that story's goddess--from Kali and Hecate to Shekina, Kuan Yin, Athena, Mary, and Lilith."

"She arranges these stories into seven categories, such as, All in All: Healing the split (the Goddess as both light and dark -- which includes Goddesses such as, Pele, Ereshkigal, and Hecate), or, Spirit Incarnate: Goddess as Earth and Body (including Goddesses such as, Freya, Kuan Yin, and Sedna). The author has added six new stories in this second edition as well as reworked many of her original ones."


"Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood: A Treasury of Goddess and Heroine Lore from Around the World" by Merlin Stone

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"I checked this book out from the library twice. When I couldn't check it out the third time, I bought it! I have used it as a source of inspiration, by just opening it up at any point and reading. Becoming dear friends with the goddesses in this book, if I had to choose three favorite books, this would be one!

I have learned about those goddesses who aren't very popular, like the "Spider Woman" who weaves a web of destiny or Goddess Ma'at "The Eye of Heaven". The section on Ma'at is particularly beautiful and inspiring. There is an understanding of justice, not our twisted backward laws, but true justice in this passage that is not limited by time. In that passage I also came to understand what is meant by "a light heart." One of my favorite sections is about the Australian Lia, woman of the Goanna Tribe. She led the women out of their dull and unforgiving existence to a place of hope. I highly recommend it! Rich with tales, history and culture that should be passed on from Mother to Daughter."


"The Living Goddesses" by Marija Alseikaite Gimbutas & Miriam R. Dexter (Editor)

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"This text crowns a lifetime of influential work by one of the 20th-century's most remarkable scholars. Marija Gimbutas wrote and taught with rare clarity in her original - and originally shocking - interpretation of prehistoric European civilization. Gimbutas flew in the face of contemporary archaeology when she reconstructed goddess-centered cultures that predated historic patriarchal cultures by many thousands of years. This volume, which was close to completion at the time of her death, contains the distillation of her studies, combined with new discoveries, insights, and analysis. Editor Miriam Robbins Dexter has added introductory and concluding remarks, summaries, and annotations. The first part of the book is an accessible, illustrated summation of all Gimbutas's earlier work on "Old European" religion, together with her ideas on the roles of males and females in ancient matrilineal cultures. The second part of the book brings her knowledge to bear on what we know of the goddesses today - those who, in many places and in many forms, live on."


"Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine" by David Leeming & Jake Page

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"An old woman lives still among the broken slopes of the mountains in the land of the Tarahumara Indians. No one knows exactly where. She is sometimes seen standing along the highway near El Paso, hauling wood near Oaxaca, or even hitching a ride on a semi rig.

She is the bone woman, the gatherer, La Loba. She collects bones, especially those of wolves. When she has collected enough bones to make a whole wolf, she sings over the skeleton, and it begins to grow flesh and fur. She sings some more and the wolf becomes strong; then it breathes.

La Loba keeps singing and soon the wolf leaps up and runs off while the desert world trembles. And when a ray of the sun, or the moon, strikes it at just the right time and place, it turns into a woman, a laughing woman, who you may see running toward the horizon. In La Loba's cycle of death and rebirth and her metamorphosis from crone to life-giving mother to laughing maiden, we catch just one glimpse of the timeless allure and mystery of the Goddess... "


"Cult of the Black Virgin" by Ean Begg

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"There are many icons of Mary that show black faces and hands. In France, these are called Vierge Noires—Black Virgins. Elsewhere, may be called Black Madonnas or the "other Mary." Jung called her Isis, while others claim she is the symbolic remains of a prehistoric worship of the Earth Mother. She is generally connected with Cybele, Diana, Isis, and Venus, as well as with Kali, Inanna, and Lilith. Historically she is connected with the Crusades, the Islamic occupation of Spain, the Conquistadors, as well as the Merovingians and Knights Templars, who viewed her as Mary Magdalene.

Why are more than five hundred of the world’s Madonna images black or dark? Why is so little known about them? Black Virgins—a resurfacing of the powerful pagan goddesses of sexuality, the underworld, and earth wisdom—they are symbols of power and majesty, the other side of the traditional Madonna’s virginity or tender maternity. They personify the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant in a quest for lost feminine wisdom and the search for soul."


"The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens" by Eva C. Keuls

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"The phallus was pictured everywhere in ancient Athens: painted on vases, sculpted in marble, held aloft in gigantic form in public processions, and shown in stage comedies. This obsession with the phallus dominated almost every aspect of public life, influencing law, myth, and customs, affecting family life, the status of women, even foreign policy.

This is the first book to draw together all the elements that made up the 'reign of the phallus' - men's blatant claim to general dominance, the myths of rape and conquest of women, and the reduction of sex to a game of dominance and submission, both of women by men and of men by men.

In her elegant and lucid text Eva Keuls not only examines the ideology and practices that underlay the reign of the phallus, but also uncovers an intense counter-movement - the earliest expressions of feminism and antimilitarism. The revealing illustrations are a vivid demonstration that classical Athens was more sexually polarized and repressive of women than any other culture in Western history.


"Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition" by David R. Kinsley

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"Goddess worship has long been a significant aspect of Hinduism. In this book, the author sorts out the rich yet often chaotic history of Hindu goddess worship.

David Kinsley's work is always thorough - this book is no exception. Each chapter details one Hindu Goddess, including rituals, poems, texts, and background. It is an interesting read and a great place to start researching a particular Goddess.

A compendious survey of major Hindu goddesses . . . The kind of book that one can readily recommend to students for clear, reliable information and reasonable commentary on the goddesses it examines."


"Devi: Goddesses of India" by John Stratton Hawley & Donna Marie Wulff

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"The monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have severely limited the portrayal of the divine as feminine. But in Hinduism "God" very often means "Goddess."

This extraordinary collection explores twelve different Hindu goddesses, all of whom are in some way related to Devi, the Great Goddess. They range from the liquid goddess-energy of the River Ganges to the possessing, entrancing heat of Bhagavati and Seranvali.

They are local, like Vindhyavasini, and global, like Kali; ancient, like Saranyu, and modern, like "Mother India." The collection combines analysis of texts with intensive fieldwork, allowing the reader to see how goddesses are worshiped in everyday life.

In these compelling essays, the divine feminine in Hinduism is revealed as never before--fascinating, contradictory, powerful."

"When the Goddess Ruled
the Earth"

John W. McCluskey

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"This beautifully filmed production focuses on the mysterious ancient people of 5,000 years ago who worshipped the Earth Mother Goddess as their primary deity on earth.

The film presents new evidence of the supremity of the Goddess in this culture and takes an historical look at the Neolithic and Megalithic stone monuments that were built to honor her.

These great structures, located on the coastlines of Europe and Japan, symbolize the spiritual concepts of that time and define the beginnings of European civilization.

Long thought of as tombs, these monuments are actually temples to the Goddess who was responsible for the fertililty of the people, the fields and all living things on earth.

Her importance during this period cannot be overstated. Filmed entirely on location in Ireland, Scotland and France over a seven-year period, this stunning production explores the daily lives and spiritual practices of these people who lived circa 3500BC.

Many of these beliefs have filtered down through the millenia and traces can be found in social, agricultural and spiritual practices of today."

"Magdalene Unveiled: The Ancient and Modern Sacred Prostitute"
Secret Garden Publishing

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"Who was Mary Magdalene? Was she a redeemed prostitute? Was she a high priestess from a different religious tradition embracing fertility rituals?

MAGDALENE UNVEILED takes us into the world of the ancient and modern sacred prostitute.

This 2-DVD set explores the mystique of Mary Magdalene and other archetypal symbols of a primordial sacred-sexual role. Contemporary women and men known as sacred intimates, tantrikas, sexual healers, dakas/dakinis, and sexual shamans share their lives and their visions.

"Signs Out of Time"
Olympia Dukakis
Marija Gimbutas
Directed by
Donna Read

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"This documentary examines the life and work of world-renowned archaeologist Dr. Marija Gimbutas.

Drawing from her extensive knowledge of mythology and linguistics, Lithuanian-born Gimbutas uncovered the life-affirming and goddess-worshipping civilizations of pre-historic "Old Europe."

Weaving together footage of Gimbutas herself, as well as interviews with her supporters and critics, SIGNS OUT OF TIME reveals a visionary scholar whose theories challenged the "establishment" of her time and influenced a generation of scholars, feminists, and social thinkers.

"Goddess Archeology Lecture by Marija Gimbutas"
Marija Gimbutas

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"The Friday night lecture at CIIS that introduced Marija Gimbutas' life work, showing archeological findings that substantiate the Goddess Theories about Europe between 6500 B.C. and 2500 B.C.

Introduction by Ralph Metzner. This lecture was dedicated by Marija Gimbutas to her friend, Joseph Campbell."

"World of the Goddess"
Marija Gimbutas

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"Here is Dr. Gimbutas talking to a small group of students and the professor in an informal, intimate setting.

The format is standard: first an exposition of the topic of the Old World goddess cultures, and second a question and answer period, not overtaxing as only several pertinent questions are asked, and the answers are just as pertinent and interesting.

Dr. Gimbutas has a passion for her life's work which is communicated to the viewer of this video; many of the figurines which she displays were excavated by herself in Macedonia, Crete, etc.

She begins with the water bird goddess, prevelant for several millennia throughout Europe. The snake goddess, and even the head and horns of a bull, are further feminine examples. Universally, before invaders destroyed this sweet civilization in three separate phases, the earth was peaceful."


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The Ancient Triple Goddess


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