The Sacred Feminine or Goddess Feminism? by Carol P. Christ

In recent yCarol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2ears “the Sacred Feminine” has become interchangeable with (for some) and preferable to (for others) “Goddess” and “Goddess feminism.” The terms Goddess and feminism, it is sometimes argued, raise hackles: Is Goddess to replace God? And if so why? Does feminism imply an aggressive stance? And if so, against whom or what?

In contrast, the term “sacred feminine” (with or without caps) feels warm and fuzzy, implying love, care, and concern without invoking the G word or even the M(other) word–about which some people have mixed feelings. Advocates of the sacred feminine stand against no one, for men have their “sacred feminine” sides, while women have their “sacred masculine” sides as well.

Nothing lost, and much to be gained. Right? Wrong.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine?
Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine?

When Goddess feminism emerged onto the scene early in the feminist movement, it had a political edge. It was about women affirming, as Meg Christian crooned in “Ode to a Gym Teacher,” that “being female means you still can be strong.” Goddess feminism arose in clear opposition to patriarchy and patriarchal religions. It was born of an explicit critique of societies organized around male domination, violence, and war; and of the male God or Gods of patriarchal religions as justifying domination, violence, and war. In this context, “the sacred masculine” was not understood to be a neutral or positive concept. To the contrary, the male Gods of patriarchy were understood to be at the center of symbol systems that justify domination.

The terms “the masculine” and “the feminine” were floating around and sometimes evoked in early feminist discussions, but when examined more closely, they were rejected by most feminists as mired in sex role stereotypes. The psychologist Carl Jung, for example, associated the masculine with the ego and rationality and the feminine with the unconscious. True, he argued that modern western society had developed too far in the direction of the masculine and needed a fresh infusion of the feminine in order to achieve “wholeness.” This sounded good, but when feminists looked further, they discovered that Jung and his followers harbored a fear of the uncontrolled feminine.

Jungians consider the unconscious to be the repository of undisciplined desires, fears, and aggressive feelings that require the rational control of the ego. Though strong and intelligent women were among Jung’s most important followers, Jung and his male companions retained a fear of independent women, speaking of women who developed their rational sides fully enough to argue with men and male authorities as “animus-ridden,” a term not meant as a compliment.

Hades Abducting Persephone: Marriage of Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine?
Hades Abducting Persephone: Marriage of Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine?

Jungians, following Erich Neumann, understand the progress of history through an evolutionary model in which humanity began in a matriarchal stage in which the unconscious reigned. This period of culture, which spawned the image of the Great and Terrible Mother, was primitive and irrational. Matriarchy was naturally superseded by patriarchy, in which the individual, the ego, and rationality emerged. In the patriarchal stage of culture, male Gods and heroes were the primary symbols, and rationality reigned supreme.

The patriarchal stage of culture had its limitations, which were revealed in the two World Wars of the twentieth century and the nuclear and environmental crises that followed. Rational man, Jungians argued, had come to the point where he needed to reconnect with his feminine side. The unconscious feminine was now understood to be a nurturing matrix that included the body, nature, and feeling, from which rational man should and could never fully separate himself.

The great archaeologist Marija Gimbutas also spoke of two cultures within Europe, an earlier matrifocal one she called Old Europe and a later patriarchal one. The Jungian Joseph Campbell endorsed Gimbutas’ work, leading some to assume that Gimbutas and Jungians hold similar theories of human history. In fact they do not: Gimbutas did not subscribe to an evolutionary theory of culture. She would never have said that the earlier matrifocal culture “had to be superseded” by the later patriarchal culture “in order for civilization to advance.” The clear conclusion to be drawn from Gimbutas’ work is that the patriarchal culture was in almost every way inferior to the one it replaced.

For Gimbutas, the agricultural societies of Neolithic Old Europe were peaceful, egalitarian, sedentary, highly artistic, matrifocal and probably matrilineal, worshiping the Goddess as the powers of birth, death, and regeneration. These societies did not evolve into a higher stage of culture, but were violently overthrown by Indo-European invaders. The culture the Indo-Europeans introduced into Europe was nomadic, patriarchal, patrilineal, warlike, horse-riding, not artistic, worshiping the shining Gods of the sun as reflected in their bronze weapons. Gimbutas did not look forward to a new “marriage” of matrifocal and patriarchal cultures. Rather she hoped for the re-emergence of the values of the earlier culture. Her theories had a critical edge: she did not approve of cultures organized around domination, violence, and war.

This critical edge is exactly what is lost when we begin to substitute the terms “sacred feminine” for “the Goddess” or “Goddess feminism” and “sacred masculine” for “patriarchy” and “patriarchal Gods.” When we allege that we all have our “masculine and feminine sides,” and that it is important “to reunite the masculine and the feminine,” it is easy to forget that in our history, the so-called sacred masculine has been associated with domination, violence, and war.

If we hope to create societies without domination, violence, and war, then we must transform the distorted images of masculinity and femininity that have been developed in patriarchy. We must insist that domination, violence, and war are no more part of masculinity or male nature than passivity and lack of consciousness are part of femininity or female nature. It may feel good to speak of reuniting the masculine and the feminine, but feeling good will not help us to transform cultures built on domination, violence, and war.

Carol P. Christ is author or editor of eight books in Women and Religion and is one of the Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement. She leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete in Spring and Fall: Early Bird Special until February 15. Follow Carol on Twitter @CarolP.Christ, Facebook Goddess Pilgrimage, and Facebook Carol P. Christ.  Photo of Carol by Andrea Sarris.

A Serpentine Path Cover with snakeskin backgroundA Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess will be published by Far Press in the spring of 2016. A journey from despair to the joy of life.

Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology with Judith Plaskow will be published by Fortress Press in June 2016. Exploring the connections of theology and autobiography and alternatives to the transcendent, omnipotent male God.

Author: Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ is a leading feminist historian of religion and theologian who leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, a life transforming tour for women.

49 thoughts on “The Sacred Feminine or Goddess Feminism? by Carol P. Christ”

  1. Thanks Carol. What I love about Nature as deity (as in the ancient religions) is that in reality it doesn’t have a solitary personhood, that is, it unites everything, because every aspect of nature is an expression of Nature. My understanding of the healing that we need is to return to the worship, or appreciation of Nature as the heart of our theology. There is no political edge to it either. And there is no place for judgment as regards the way of Nature. Nature doesn’t make judgements — it simply moves things along.


  2. Once again, a brilliant analysis. Thank you! The need to be “nice”, unoffensive, inclusive, and polite, in other words, submissive to a paradigm of deeply embedded domination……….creeps in once more. If two world wars, the atomic bomb, and destruction of our environment is “the progress of civilization” then it should be obvious that patriarchal “civilization” is not sustainable.


  3. As usual, brava! According the 18th-century Great Chain of Being, there’s this mountain. God sits on his throne above it, the angels hover around him, man stands on the summit of the mountain, and “royal” beasts like lions and eagles (only the males) lurk just below man. Women and vegetation are down in the mud at the foot of the mountain. So is the Goddess.

    So, yes, indeed, let us somehow transform the “sacred” anything that really means the “dominant” anything. Let’s work toward equality, neither patriarchy nor matriarchy because that “-archy” symbol means “rule.” We have to somehow remove the distortions in the Jungian and pseudo-Jungian cliches about what “masculine” and “feminine” mean.

    I wish I knew how to do that. Like, we cannot force the Goddess on anyone. That would be like the Inquisition’s “preaching” or the sociopaths of al-Qaeda and Daesh blowing up mountain-size Buddhas, ancient cities, and ancient churches. (And enslaving women and children.) Does anyone have any useful, practical suggestions?


    1. Changing how we think, speak and act about gender is a good start. Jungian ideas of what it is to be masculine or feminine need to be dismissed. Letting go of gender identified sexuality and allowing that people can be who they want, love who they wish and perform any job they can because they are trained to do so changes the dynamic of what it means to be human. Perhaps recognizing that gender is not interchangeable with biology, that there are biological differences in the sexes that shape our experiences during our lives and choosing to honor these experiences as women we can be reconnected to the Goddess. As women change, seeing themselves as powerful players in their own lives we change the world.


      1. Brava Genevieve! I have long been a gender critical feminist myself and agree with all you’ve said here. Elimination of gender would go miles towards dismantling patriarchy and therefore oppression of women.


      1. What a good idea! Painting, sculptures, drawings of equal people. Plays and novels about equal people. Yippee! Let’s all get started!


  4. Carol, I appreciate what you’ve said here (as well as the news from my friend Susan Foster of her recent travels with you through Crete).

    What leaves me perplexed is that the word “Goddess” seems to be the diminuitive form (as cultural conventions have it) of the word “God.” I have the same trouble with “priestess.” To my ear and eye, these words seem relative, rather than in-and-of-themselves.

    I wonder: What are your thoughts on that pesky -ess ending?

    I have a hankering to call the All-That-Is by name — Kali, or Danu, or Demeter. By a word and with a name that stands in its own power of being.


    1. According to my online dictionary -ess is not diminuitive, it is feminine. In any case it does not “feel” diminuitive to me. To me it feels like: “i found god in myself and i loved her fiercely.”


      1. Yes, “-ess” is not diminutive. It’s “‘-ette” that diminishes. But we’re not talking about Goddette. ;-0


  5. In my shamanic classes I have encouraged men and women to journey to their female divine presence, name her, invoke her presence, journey to her and call on her for help. For me, she is Great Mother. She who sits on her chair with the lions on either side of her. Who knows how she was a presence for those early people in Catal Huyuk, but a statue of her was found in a grain bin. I have journeyed to the spirit of the one who created her and I journey to her spirit regularly, finding comfort, guidance and direction. For me, the practice and discipline of the shamanic path makes these concepts (Goddess, divine feminine, sacred female) real…it’s talking about them in simple terms with others who are unfamiliar with the path that sometimes becomes difficult.


    1. Thanks for these reflections on the importance of experience, and also for reflections about “Goddess” as a word above. My prayer, for myself and for anyone else resonating with it, is: May we know ourselves as sacred beings.


    1. I agree Barbara. Someone in ancient times said something to the effect that if dogs had a religion the supreme deity would be a canine. If we could just transcend our projection of a human figure on the ultimate mystery, I think we could wake up to some sort of exceedingly fabulous enlightenment.


    2. I think there are two issues with “it,” One is that we still have not affirmed the female body and whatever else femaleness is. The other is whether we imagine/experience divinity as personal. I do, but others don’t. For me Goddess is not just breath or energy but also a personal presence who cares about the world. But spirit may work best for others.


      1. Hi Carol, in Zen Buddhism, what you refer to as “Goddess” or “spirit” is called “original nature,” and it permeates all existence. And by all existence is meant both sentient and non-sentient being, that is, everything, people, animals, plants, rocks, the garden fence, everything. Our awareness can open to to all of that in what is called enlightenment or the realization of the essential nature of your own existence and in union with all existence.


      2. For me, our “original wound” (as opposed to original sin) is when we awaken to the fact that we don’t look like or share characteristics with God…that the “supreme deity” looks like our brothers, fathers, uncles. In my experience of working for over 30 years with women recovering from trauma and addiction – women of all possibilities of intersectionality – it can be hugely important to learn that there are images of and thealogies devoted to The Divine Female Spirit/Diety/Goddess. In my healing work with recovering women, participating in simple educational groups regarding just the mere existence of a Divine Female and Her stories and imagery is often empowering and the information can be life-changing. In my view, religion and/or spirituality ARE political. Patriarchal religions have always been drivers of war and the oppression of women and non-Western “others.” For me, we need Goddess, Mother Earth, Great Mother because in her reflection we see ourselves as whole – embodied, spirited, capable, tender, strong, compassionate, and powerful. She validates who we are and engenders hope for who we are becoming. In my view, conceiving of The Divine as “It” must presume an equivalency of the sexes and genders where none exists. Religion is political and gender is political so for the foreseeable future Goddess or Divine Female is needed.


    3. My personal opinion is that in our alienation in this day and age, we don’t see ourselves in cosmic process. Thus we are isolated. The Sun, for example, has both feminine and masculine powers. In His shining upon the Earth, He sparks seeds (eggs) into unfolding as flowers. In the Sun’s femininity, She sails across the milky way with 9 + children (planets, asteroids, etc) in tow, like imprinted ducks. I also believe we need to research the ancients, who often were more verb oriented than noun. Masculine and Feminine are powers inherent through the cosmos. I do believe the term “woman” meaning “from man” needs to be changed. Regarding Eve, (1) Genesis 1:27 states God created humanity in His image, “Male and Female created (S)He them; (2) Eve was taken from Adam’s rib but the actual term according to some was “Ti,” meaning Life. Thus Gnostics often stated that without Eve, Adam is a corpse.

      I also believe we need to question how we see opposites. Opposites are mirror images. Look into a mirror and left becomes right, for example. Thus, the feminine genitals are upwards (vulva, vagina, ovaries, uterus) while the male is down and out (penis, testicles). In essence, being opposite, the two are mirrors of one another. Women are upwards and inwards whereas Men are down and out.


  6. Greetings to Carol Christ and all these creative, thoughtful women. I’m reading your words, feeling a sort rebirth of desire to be there again…in Crete, delving into the magic, exploring a new vista of being, joining the very old with the very new. Bravo, Carol for holding the energy, carrying the flame…and a huge thank you.
    I so loved being with you on your first adventure, the first group to take part in your vision. Around 20 years ago! Much has happened: I’m a grandmother, still a painter showing regularly, a student of Buddhism, Jung, and a lover of trees.
    In Nov. at a Jungian meeting/lunch in Washington, D.C. your name came up in conversation with a new friend…she said she was going in Oct. on your trip…Wow. I did that…I said. Come with me in Oct., she said.
    So I just had a partial knee replacement, recovering now…letting you know…life is good, we just got two feet of snow…I send you love and xoxo cheers, pat silbert


    1. Pat how lovely it is to hear from you after all these years. Yes it was a magic time we had together, esp the dance at Kato Zakros. A turning point in my life for sure. Would be great if you came again! xxx


  7. I’m unclear what you mean when you write: “When we allege that we all have our “masculine and feminine sides,” and that it is important “to reunite the masculine and the feminine,” it is easy to forget that in our history, the so-called sacred masculine has been associated with domination, violence, and war.” I think the Jungian concepts of animus and anima are essential to a path to wholeness. I don’t think the sacred masculine has been associated with the domination, violence and war. Actually, that is the wounded masculine or perhaps the patriarchical conceptualization of masculine. The sacred masculine (for me) is associated with loving protection and providing for the feminine in a co-partnership model (as opposed to dominator). Many men want to be part of this healing and I feel that our language can be inclusive and supportive of these efforts. It feels oppressive and sexist to denigrate the sacred masculine who is working in service of supporting the feminine. I’m new to your work and was considering the trip to Crete but not if your philosophy eschews men. When you write,”feeling good will not help us to transform cultures built on domination, violence, and war,” what do you propose as a solution/approach to tending this?


    1. Tarra, I appreciate how you define the sacred masculine. I do not eschew men. I believe that our ideal for boys and men should be that they become as generous and loving as the mothers who raised them. Mr. Nikos, a Cretan man who took us into the Skoteino Cave was the kindest most gentle man I ever met. I don’t think there is a great difference between men and women if we would all be raised to be kind and gentle, boys were allowed to cry and express soft emotions, etc.

      What i was referring to was the way Jung defined the masculine and the feminine, which is not very healing for women if women represent the unconscious ground in which the hero develops, but never get to develop themselves. This is how Joseph Campbell understood the feminine too. This is why there are no heroines in his book.

      I was also thinking of Neo-pagans, including women, who revere warrior deities such as Zeus or Odin. For me these deities do not represent eternal or archetypal truths but rather are developments in patriarchy.

      So how do we transform cultures that are based on domination, violence, and war? I would say we must transform our symbols so that all elements of dominance and submission are eschewed. I would say that we can only do this if we clearly name (and then reject) the images of the sacred as violent and dominant and warlike that we have been taught represent “the highest values of human culture.”

      For example, the images I chose to illustrate the piece are considered “great works of art” and would be viewed as archetypal by Jung, while I would say that they are not eternal archetypes. Sadly, the museums of Europe are filled with such images, and most people don’t even notice or ignore the violence in them.

      I hope you will come to Crete which was an egalitarian society of peace that revered the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life. The art work there is so different from that of the patriarchal Indo-European Greeks and the cultures that followed after them.


      1. I believe that our ideal for boys and men should be that they become as generous and loving as the mothers who raised them.

        Why not as generous and loving the fathers who raised them….

        And we all know how a female, who in her role as mother, is treated if she does not meet
        biopsychosocial expectations of “generous” and “loving”.

        Carol, the sacred masculine is anatomically correct. He will never be a lapdog
        sitting quietly on granny’s lap as she nibbles at her gingerbread.


      2. Maggie, I am in favor of boys and men, girls and women, being as loving and generous as they can be. In matriarchal societies, boys are taught to be as loving and generous as the mothers who raised them; it is hard to get every nuance into a response, but I have discussed this in other blogs. In matriarchal societies children are raised in extended families, so if one mother is troubled in any way, there are other mothers to take over. From what I have read of matriarchal societies there is a lot of sex going on between men and women all the time, probably more and more freely chosen than in patriarchy, so there is no question of males being emasculated.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. PS I long for a day when it makes sense to speak widely to boys of becoming as kind and generous as their own fathers, but in our time, many of us know fathers who are withdrawn, unable to express emotions, and who are judgmental and punishing; some of us know fathers who are also abusive. Let us ;hope that “the times they are a changin.” Will this happen without a critique of the ways our cultures have shaped what we call “the masucline”?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “…but in our time, many of us know fathers who are withdrawn, unable to express emotions, and who are judgmental and punishing; some of us know fathers who are also abusive.”

        A friend of mine invokes deep soul-coalescing healing for both women and men. She’s seen how men’s abusiveness often traces back to their experience as soldiers at war.


      5. In matriarchal societies children are raised in extended families, so if one mother is troubled in any way, there are other mothers to take over […] but in our time, many of us know fathers who are withdrawn, unable to express emotions, and who are judgmental and punishing; some of us know fathers who are also abusive.

        Many of us knew – and know – mothers who are withdrawn, unable to express emotions, and who are
        judgmental, punishing and some of us know mothers who are also abusive. In the public eye, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne Sexton come to mind.

        I am sorry, Carol, I notice how you use one word “troubled” in reference to the female gender while using so many more words to flesh out the trouble with males. I understand that you are a veteran in this arena, have published many works over the decades and that your usage of “troubled” may be a shorthand, a polite and discreet word that masks a pantheon of pernicious problems.

        I wonder, has anybody really questioned the concept of animus and anima? Quite a recent model, when you consider the whole of human history and, I sense, perhaps a conceit that is long past its use-by date.


        1. Thanks Maggie. Yes I know there are mothers who are as you describe. At the same time, I think that in general in our culture due to sex and gender stereotyping, males are expected to repress emotions and are often the ones to be the final arbiters of judgments and punishments as in “wait till your father gets home.” Also, though there are female sexual abusers, there are far more fathers and father figures who abuse girls and boys. In any case, I look forward to the day when women are not forced into roles that constrict their souls and to the day when all men and boys feel whole and healthy expressing their emotions and demonstrating gentle kindness. To be honest, in my experience my mother and grandmothers were very loving to me, while my father was stereotypically distant and judgmental.


      6. “Wait until your father comes home!?”

        There are a very many females who are single mothers, whether by choice, desertion, divorce or death, who don’t have that option.

        In your experience, your mother and grandmothers were stereotypically very loving to you and your father was….what? The other side of a cliche of what we now call patriarchy.


  8. I use divine feminine or sacred feminine when I am wanting to be tactful (aka wishy-washy) But I agree feminine and masculine both carry a lot of problematic cultural baggage, as does (for me) the word divine or sacred (what is the opposite of divine, human? or the opposite of sacred, profane?) Food for thought here. I went back to see which term I had used in my last post and discovered accidentally–being a technoclutz–how to edit. Seemed like the goddess was weighing in. So, inspired by this post, I changed divine feminine to goddess.


  9. Thank-you Carol for your interesting post on the common usage of the “sacred feminine.” Your post neatly dovetails my December 2014 writing on the same topic: “9 Reasons Why I Can’t Get on Board with the Sacred or Divine Feminine.” I invite you to read it:

    As a feminist comparative mythologist, I find the use of “sacred feminine” highly problematic when referencing any of the world-wide goddess representations of the Divine Female or the Sacred Female. It certainly helps to have much more discussion on this topic. Thanks again for helping to promote these vital conversations!

    Also, just a caution: Joseph Campbell cannot be so firmly labeled a Jungian. He was definitely influenced by Jung’s writings, but he was also influenced by the writings and findings of Marija Gimbutas (as you noted), Jane Ellen Harrison, Mircea Eliade, Georges Dumèzeil, James Mellart, and Karl Kerenyi among others.


    1. I don’t think Joseph Campbell’s work was much influenced by Gimbutas. He said something like his work would have been different if he had read her earlier. By the time he did, his major books had been written and his theories set. Campbell has been criticized for viewing the feminine as the ground for the hero’s journey. This is a very Jungian conception.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Carol for clarifying your thoughts regarding Campbell. I look forward to your response on my post about the “sacred feminine” and again appreciate our mutual interest in deleting that term from feminist scholarship and general usage.


    2. Margaret totally agree with your 9 reasons why you can’t get on board with the sacred or divine feminine. “All of this iconic artwork is not depicting a feminine form, but a female form in all its glory and variation. ” I esp like this one. Goddesses are not limited to any sort of stereotypical qualities. To this I would add if we are going back to Jung, that Goddesses display the intelligence that is found throughout life, and in the Neolitic surely reflect the female intelligence that gave birth to agriculture, pottery, and weaving. This intelligence is not “unconscious.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really appreciate you reading my writing on this important topic. Equally, I appreciate the lively discussion that your post has generated! It’s a sticky wicket to extricate ourselves from patriarchy, and patriarchal psychologies, ideologies, and definitions. I agree completely that “Goddesses display the intelligence that is found throughout life” because (generally) speaking goddesses represent Life and, as scientists in many natural sciences are belatedly learning, Life is not “unconscious” at all! I, too, have many issues with Jungian theory and psychology, but again, it is a patriarchal construct which in turn, has done much to harm mythology in general.


  10. I understand “anima” as that which _society_ deems feminine and is considered inappropriate for a man to manifest, and the “animus” as that which _society_ deems masculine and is considered inappropriate for a woman to manifest. Neither represents traits exclusive to either gender. In this sense, we must work to integrate our animus or anima.


    1. The problem for me is that I have never considered my intelligence to be masculine. It has however been considered inappropriate for a woman to be too intelligent. Nor I would say should a man consider nurturing to be feminine. Both intelligence and the ability to care are human qualities.


  11. Thanks for this! Personally, I only use “sacred feminine” in my own Red Tent work because it is indeed “safer” and appeals to a broader group of women, which is who I’m trying to reach in that work.

    I prefer Goddess, Goddess feminism, and Goddess spirituality in my academic, written, political, and personal work.


  12. A brilliant dissection of these words and how their meanings affect us. I never knew that about Jung but guess I’m not surprised. I prefer Goddess and Goddess spirituality myself but am keenly aware that using those terms can cause others to view me and my work less seriously. Like Molly I use “Sacred Feminine” or “Divine Feminine” when trying to have a broader reach.


  13. As a polytheist and devotee of Apollon and Artemis I have had a long history of problems with the position largely because it approaches the gods in absolutes in one way or another, usually based off myth which from its huge difference from actual cult practice, is more allegorical than anything else. As a polytheist I also do not ascribe to the notion of the deities as archetypes to be discarded at will if they do not fits one social-political platform and views. A view that is willing to characterize male gods based off some mythic elements but ignores the greatly benevolent cult elements, likewise the fact that many goddesses such as Aphrodite and Athena have noted warlike characteristics. As a long time worshiper I do not feel it is quite so cut and dry, especially regarding much of the early myths of Zeus who honored his mother Rhea as he was born in Krete and reared in Arkadia. Zeus like may other Hellenic gods had strong agrarian associations, which often in ancient cultures also made them kingly and protective deities. I have seen people condemn Apollon meanwhile which has often been condemned based off a handful of myths (one of which is an interpretation of the myth of the dragon Delphyne for whose death Apollon exiled himself and the gave funerary offerings to in myth all of which is reflected in Delphic ritual and evidence in vase paintings afters indicates that Delphyne continued as a protective spirit at Delphi) in which people have gone as far as to label him as a woman hater which I never understood, with little regard to his cult role as a god of the destroying force of nature (hence his name) by which he is not only the god of such natural occurrences such as famine, and the preservation against it by which he is the destroyer of mice and averter of locusts,,, not even mentioning his love for his mother and sister when we start talking about inter-divine relationships. I personally know of no deity that is without their aggressive nature and their benevolent nature among either god or goddess, and these things are both necessary to recognize even as it is necessary to recognize them in men and women alike. To say that what is feminine is not and cannot be as equally warlike and aggressive as the male is just as bad to say that the male cannot be sensitive and compassionate because polarizes people and the deities into vague inappropriate categories which falls far short of how the various deities were recognized and how people are. Nor do I find it appropriate if anyone would suggest that being warlike and aggressive is more appropriate to a goddess, and undesired in a god that it goes the opposite direction in teaching that male should be submissive to the might of the female. I find nothing to recommend of this than I would the ideology that females ought to be submissive to the power of men. In a nut shell a lot of this is largely why I don’t care for Jung or the concept of archetypes because it attempts to narrow down and define a deity to fit human experience (usually as defined by the current social political atmosphere) which ignores large parts of the cult of the deity. I choose to honor the vast nature of all of my gods and goddesses from Mother Rhea, and honorable Hestia, to all the deities that descended from her. Regardless of the history social-political atmosphere of any given time frame, I find this be a much more positive manner in which to give worship in my own household.


  14. For me the ancient Greek culture and its myths are a product of patriarchy. I do not think being warlike and aggressive is appropriate to any deity, male or female, or to any person, male or female.

    That death is part of life is another story and does not have to do with dominating others or organized warfare.

    I remember my first introduction to Greek (or rather Latin) myth in my Latin textbook. It was a story of Daphne fleeing Apollo and it ended with her turning into a tree in order to escape him. I had no background to interpret this story, but I must have sensed there was something wrong there, because I remembered the story and the painting of a terrified Daphne that illustrated the text.

    To make a long story short, I am not drawn to the Greek Gods and Goddesses, but I am drawn to the land from which they emerged and to the pre-patriarchal Goddesses of the land.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you Carol and everyone else for this deep and enlightening discussion. I am printing it and keeping it in my binder for reference.


  16. Carol, good night. My name is Ana, Im from Brazil and love your work(sorry the english mistakes.)THANKS FOR THIS WONDERFUL ARTICLE, IM PRINTING IT
    Id like to say something:
    Let me share with you one Briton Riviére framework, which is called “Una” (
    For me, the ying (black) and the yang (white) ARNT the woman and the man, as they say out there, but the DOMINATED and the DOMINATOR. (The lamb and the lion …..)
    We can observe that Psyche will repeat it when white Europeans dominate the black Africans.
    I mean they are not talking about OUR TRULY SEXUAL IDENTITY, but about a identity formed when a sex dominated the other . Not necessarily the woman needs to be mastered, the Ying. The woman could be the Yang also. (but it seems to me something that never happened – I think that societies of the Goddess was not a reversal of the patriarchy today. )


Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: