Echoes of the Goddess: A Quest for the Sacred Feminine in the British Landscape Hardcover – 28 Jan 2010
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What I found most interesting is the way churches have been built on what were formerly pagan sites. The churches themselves frequently incorporate pagan imagery as well - as though they were trying to persuade people to become Christians by using familiar symbolism and geographical locations. The book explores standing stones and their significance in Goddess worship as well as labyrinths and mazes. It touches upon the persecution of witches and shows how early Christianity was far more tolerant of other spiritual worlds. It was only with the adoption of modern Christianity after the Synod of Whitby in the 7th century that Goddesses were officially removed from worship in the British Isles. The Celtic version of Christianity treated women as equals in the church and in society and it was common to hear female preachers.
The book provides a gazetteer of interesting places to visit to see evidence of Goddess worship still in existence. It also looks briefly at customs still being enacted which are relevant to pagan Goddess worship - including such things as maypole dancing and the Furry dance in Cornwall. I found this book very interesting as it shows another side to religion and beliefs in the British Isles and it demonstrates how the pagan Goddesses are still visible if you know where to look. It contains an index, a list of places mentioned in the text chapter by chapter with their locations and OS map references, and a bibliography. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the early history of Britain, landscapes and buildings, or in the history of religion and ideas. A beautiful book and well worth reading.
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Unfortunately its authors failed dismally. While the photographs of ancient British sites are wonderful, the text is truly awful! The book is presented as "non-fiction" yet there are no footnotes or end notes. So the reader is left with sweeping assumptions and gross generalizations presented as definitive "fact" with little or no documentation. For example, the caption on page 13 states, "The Maltese goddess figures often have removable heads; the reason is thought to be to allow each family to own their own personal goddess head, which would then be temporarily attached to the main figure for rituals." Interesting statement. Where did they get this information??? What's the source??? Frequently their statements don't reflect established anthropological/archaeological findings. For example, when discussing red ochre being applied to figurines (page 21), they state: "peroxide of iron or red ochre were deliberately mined for this sole purpose." That's a gross, inaccurate overstatement. Red ochre was used in the burial of human bodies going as far back as the Neanderthals. It wasn't "mined" for the SOLE purpose of coloring figurines. And again, on page 28 the author states, "The deforestation that occurred during the Neolithic period would have been a magical event." Really???!!! Having taught Anthropology and Archaeology for over 20 years, it took only a few pages before I was pulling my hair out over the sweeping misinformation being presented. Perhaps the authors, one a graphic designer and the other a psychiatric nurse, should have focused on the graphics and employed an anthropologist to write their text. My copy is going in the garbage.
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