Author: Patricia Monaghan
Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publication date: May 1999
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If you are looking for a book that would be suitable for a religious discussion group, you might want to consider The Goddess Path by Patricia Monaghan.
The book begins with a short (30 page) introduction to the concept of goddess spirituality and imagery. It briefly mentions some of the most common types of goddess worship including Wiccan viewpoints (all goddesses as faces of a single Goddess) as well as hard polytheism. It also discusses some common portrayals of goddess imagery, including the ubiquitous maiden, mother, and crone framework. This section also includes a calendar that gives dates of holidays appropriate to honor the goddesses discussed in the book.
The primary sections of the book provide discussion and activities for twenty different goddesses. Each section adheres to the same format and includes about 8-10 pages of hymns, invocations, stories, symbols, feast days, and suggestions for rituals dedicated to the goddess being discussed. At the end of each section, a list of discussion questions and activities is provided. The book concludes with a bibliography and a suggested reading list.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal. The mythology presented is brief, and not written in an academic style, but accurate. I found the activity and ritual suggestions to be creative, and appreciated that the author found concrete ways to link goddess worship with modern day life.
While I found this book to be entertaining and useful, it should be noted that the book does appeal to a somewhat specialized audience. One should take note of the following features before purchasing the book.
First, the book focuses very heavily on European deities, especially Greek deities. (Nine of the twenty goddesses discussed are Greek.) If you are looking for a book that includes extensive information about non-European deities, this book is probably not for you.
Second, the book is quite group-focused. Although the author encourages solitaries to use the book, many of the rituals and activities presented are not easily adapted to solitary practice. In addition, the large sections of discussion questions are obviously more appropriate to group interaction. As an individual practitioner, I still enjoyed the book but I recognize it would be most useful in a group setting.
Finally, the book is very woman-focused. It is not male bashing, but it does focus heavily on "female" issues, such as female body image and sexual assault. In addition, some of the activities and discussion questions are obviously written specifically for women. Because of this, some rituals might need to be adapted or activities altered to allow male group members to fully participate.
In conclusion, I think this book would best find a home in a women's spirituality group. It is obviously a book that is meant to be used and shared, not just read. I think the themes of the book are especially relevant to women and provide concrete ways to bring spirituality and goddess worship into everyday life.
Reviewed by Sperran
Additional Books by Patricia Monaghan