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Goddesses in World Mythology [Paperback]

Martha Ann , Dorothy Myers Imel


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Book Description

July 1 1995
In the beginning people did not work, because the sky was so close to the Earth, they could just reach up and cut off a piece of it to eat. One day, Greedy Woman cut of an enormous chunk of the sky and, even with the help of the whole village, there was no way to finish it so she had to throw the remainder away. The sky was angry about this and rose high above the Earth so the people could no longer take pieces for food. Now people must work for their food. Greedy Woman, the Nigerian goddess responsible for humans having to work for their living is just one of the many thousands of women who populate world mythology. In every culture throughout the ages, women have played an intricate part in the mythical traditions that make up the voices of generations past. Yet, despite the rich diversity of these figures, researchers, archaeologists, and linguists have tended to give them short shrift. Covering 30,000 years of goddess worship, this fascinating book is the first andmost comprehensive biographical dictionary devoted exclusively to mythological women. Offering unprecedented access to information on over 11,000 goddesses, nymphs, demons, and deified women, this around the world journey explores hundreds of cultures that have worshiped female divinities. There are both the famous and the obscure--from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and the Indian goddess Nari, creator of life, to Nermain, one of the five Irish war goddesses who provoke warriors to madness in battle, and Sodza, African goddess of thunder whose loud noise drives away evil spirits. Arranged alphabetically within fifteen geographical regions, including Egypt, the Far East, Oceania, North America, and the Himalayan region, each entry identifies the goddess by her most common anthropological, mythological, or religious name. It then identifies the culture recognizing that goddess, summarizies her powers or attributes, and often, provides a brief story characterizing her personality, motivations, powers, and attributes. Here are goddesses responsible for every aspect of daily life: we read of the agricultural attributes of the goddess Siduri, a Near Eastern goddess of wine and wisdom who encourages her followers to eat, drink, and be merry; we meet Lea, the Polynesian goddess of canoe makers, responsible for commerce and travel; and we are introduced to the Sjofn, the Scandinavian goddess of sexuality responsible for stirring human hearts to love. Included also are over 2,000 cross-references that guide the reader to other entries, showing the suprisingly intricate relationship of certain goddesses across cultures, regions, and time, as well as two indexes that divide the goddesses by name and attribute. A unique and easy-to-use guide to female deities, Goddesses in World Mythology shows that goddessess were not just wives, sisters, mothers, or fertility deities, but supreme deities themselves. Ranging from Lennaxidaq, the Native American goddess of luck and wealth to gSum-brag-ma, Tibet's malevolent goddess of dysentery, this exhaustive work returns feminine sacredness to an honored place in the archives of humanity.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (July 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019509199X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195091991
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 19 x 5.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,856,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Library Journal

This excellent dictionary compiles information on 9500 female deities, deified women, female spirits, nymphs, and fairies. The entries are alphabetically listed under geographic locations: Africa, Central and Mesoamerican, Eastern Europe, Egypt, the Far East, the Greek and Roman empires, the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent, the Near East, North America, Northern Europe, Oceana, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe. Each entry lists the name, country of origin, major attribute and characterization of the goddess in question, and entries marked with an icon relate succinctly a portion of her legend. A name index and an index by attribute are included, and an extensive bibliography provides an excellent resource for further scholarship. Highly recommended for any reference collection.
Gail Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology Lib., Alfred
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The authors aim "to compile as much accurate information as possible about goddesses," thus "adding to the pool of potential female role models, both fierce and gentle." The scope includes monsters, evil spirits, and witches. Ann has a graduate degree in religious studies; Imel is a professional writer. Twelve consultants are listed, most from the University of Colorado.

Entries are listed geographically, within 12 regions (Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Western Europe, etc.). They vary in scope; they may note region, people, attributes, description, translation of name, synonyms, cross-references, variant forms, and citations to the bibliography. For example, Esesar, a goddess of the Gbanya people of Ghana, has the attributes of earth and nature. She is described as an "earth goddess whose husband is the sky god, Ebore," and a reference is given to a source in the bibliography. Typically terse, few entries include detail. Occasionally, longer entries relate stories about the goddess and are highlighted with an icon that is specific to that chapter. Goddesses are indexed by name and by attribute (e.g., agriculture, household affairs), subdivided by region. The bibliography, to which entries are keyed, is lengthy.

No new ground is broken here; however, the more than 8,000 entries make this larger than any other collection of women deities. Whether this is a way to identify role models is debatable. Leach's more general Guide to the Gods [RBB Mr 15 92] is cited often here and is preferred for most libraries. Specialized collections (e.g., women's studies, anthropology, religion) will want to consider Goddesses in World Mythology. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great definitive work! April 25 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is extremely well researched. It is the most definitive collection of world goddesses available. The book is broken up into pantheons and attributes with an alphabetical index at the back. Though the descriptions aren't as in-depth as they could be the authors have done a great job of timelining the development and adaption that has taken place with each goddess over the centuries. I am astounded at their success in conquering such a magnitude of information. I reference this work constantly and am so glad to own it. A must for any goddess worshipper or academic scholar of mythology and religions!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Typically terse, few entries include detail." Jan. 3 2012
By C. W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Potential buyers should carefully read the Booklist review above. This book does contain a comprehensive listing of goddesses from around the world. However, the vast majority of entries simply list the goddess name, region and sphere of influence. If you want nothing more than a alphabetical listing by goddess name within geographical region this book is fine. If you want even a modest amount of history and/or background you will be sadly disappointed. A good dictionary should provide the etiology and meanings (ancient and modern) of a word. One would expect that a volume such as this one claims to be would provide at least a brief description of the history of each entry.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book March 30 2013
By Mrs.Wade - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book does not contain detailed information as one reviewer had pointed out, but it does have an extensive list of goddesses, where they originate from and a brief description. It will also point you to alternate spellings, etc. It is exactly what it says it is, "A Biographical Dictionary." It is meant for brief reference and is perfect for that.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete! March 20 2007
By Solsticemom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The mother of all Goddess books! This book is absolutely amazing. It includes Goddesses from all over the world. Fabulous book for learning about the many aspects and elements of Goddesses in all her glorious forms.

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