Sacred Feminine &
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The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets
By MonSnoLeeDra

Since this book has come up in a number of threads I thought I'd start a thread on it. I placed it here because the author (Barbara G. Walker) is very feminist and not recognized by scholarly sources as a legitimate source or researcher. Yet her slant upon things is always from that of a once great mother religion that existed.

I admit it was the recent references to this book that had me go and look into both the book itself and the credentials of the author. Yet what I find is another author who has a number of works on religious concepts and tries to state where scholars have mis-translated things or mis-identifed them yet has no scholarly background in the subject material. Her conclusions are supported and praised by those who equally have no background in said material and often seem to fall into the "New Age" category in praising her works. However, her works are torn apart and praised in the highest negative light of the pseudo histories that were spun by feminist and new age writers of the past 20 or 30 years.

Now I don't stress that a person have the applicable degree's and concentrations and fields of study to make them an authority in a given area. Yet I must admit I am highly suspect when a person presents something as fact and holds no sort of education or degree in the field they are claiming to represent. Yet for Barbara G. Walker that is the result of what I can find on her.

Academic arguments presented from assumption with no verifiable facts or artifacts to support it. Conclusions based upon wishful desire and agenda vice anything that seems supportable in a scholarly argument. No recognition or peer review of any of her supposed historical type writings, I can't speak to the knitting books she wrote prior to becoming a feminist / new age writer. In some ways she is seen as being equatable to Silver Ravenwolf or D. J. Conway in her loose assumptions and conclusions of things, poor scholarly research and heavy hand in pseudo histories.

I tried to find any academic endorsements or reviews of her material and all I can find are reviews and praise from none scholarly sources. In trying to find any sort of credentials to back up her claims I again came up empty. Not a single peer review of her works was to be found nor even referenced.

At this point in time I must admit I am highly suspect of her arguments, conclusions and presentation of supporting material and its authenticity which gives me considerable pause as to the usefulness of her writings. From a biographical sense she simply seems to be another author who made claims and created a fantasy landscape of pseudo history and conclusions and choose only those items that seemed to support her positions of some ancient goddess universal mother cult.

Now I admit I am more inclined to go and accept scholarly works than channeled or non-scholarly works.

But I also wish to be fair so would like to hear others opinions and why for this book and author.


I premise this post by stating I do not know the author or the book so cannot comment, except with respect to some stuff Cinn has put up here in the various threads...

With a very strong interest in history I have found that "establishment" figures on the subject, particularly with respect to "allied" fields such as art, belief etc., tend to follow one another on an overall basis: there may be controversial voices within the "establishment", but if that establishment is challenged from outside they will close ranks and demonize anyone outside their clique who share a view they do not share. The most obvious example being when the Da Vinci code came out: I saw one very eminent British historian totally deny notions of the entrance of Gothic Cathedrals of North-West Europe being related to the feminine, when the whole concept of the buildings was to be reborn: one entered the building, received the Light and were reborn on leaving. I'll leave it to your imagination if you haven't read the Da Vinci code as to what that controversy was about: though Dan Brown did himself no favors by poor research meaning he didn’t really explaining what the significance was.

My guess is that the Encyclopedia is simply a compilation and meant to be a quick reference work that brings together a great deal of information: and that if one wished to look deeper into the subject matter, one could do so: in that respect the compilation would be a starting point and quick reference guide that could inspire deeper investigation.

One thing I would question from what I have seen of the book is the lack of appreciation of Greek history when discussing the "Greek" gods. Whilst references to more distant lands is made in some of the pantheon, like many other reference material on the subject, they speak as if Greece had an ancient history when twice in "Greek" history southern Greece particularly was laid to waste: once by the Indo-European Hittites coming into Anatolia and annexing Greece around 2000bc and then again in what the Establishment call the Dorien Invasion around 1200bc: a period when the Bronze Age culture collapsed in the Eastern Mediterranean as a result of the wasting of the region, a wasting that even mighty Egypt barely survived, by the Sea Peoples: it wasn’t until Rameses III repelled them that the threat to Egypt at that time subsided. The Establishment are still hunting around trying to consider who thh Sea Peoples were despite the obvious similarities between the wasting of the Hittites lands and the Levant and the wasting of Greece at that time and despite the fact that a pretty big clue was left by Rameses at his funery temple at Medinet Habu in Thebes which gives a pictorial depiction of the strange boats the Sea Peoples used: a depiction that matches pretty much exactly the peoples of central Europe who were known to use the Danube as a means of transport and the Danube has it's delta on the western Black Sea Coast: to the south of which is Anatolia. So the Sea Peoples are either seen as Anatolian or Dorian (the latter being from the area we know as Albania and the former Czechoslovakia i.e. the Balkans). But to speak of the Anatolians is in error also as Anatolia at the time of the Hittite settlement in the north was, like many other areas of Europe prior to the settlement of the Indo-Europeans, an area of abundant, often warring, different non Indo-European tribes who, after the diaspora created by the Hittite settlement, were flung far and wide. Similarly with Greece in this period. The Sea Peoples do not appear to have been interested in settlement, at least not until they reached the Fertile Crescent areas of the Levant: most notably Canaan and their unsuccessful attempts to invade Egypt. By the time the Sea Peoples came along 800 years after the Hittites entered Anatolia (via current day Bulgaria) the Hittites were reduced to being a small state in only the east of Anatolia with a slim slither of a land to the west giving them a route to the Aegean. They were being pummeled in the east by the Assyrians, who were themselves in constant battle with their eastern neighbors: the might of Babylon (whom they overcame) and to the west by the various tribes of western Anatolia who, my guess would be at that time, were a mixture of non-Indo-European and Indo European tribes but with the former being the majority.

The smash, grab and burn tactics of the Sea Peoples only stopped when they had overcome the majority of the eastern Mediterranean states and secured a safe land-passage route for their people through the former Hittite lands past Pheonicia (now Lebannon: which remarkably they left alone) and into Canaan.

The Hittites disappeared from history in the 200 years after the Sea Peoples, their lands being pretty much taken over by the Mitanni and the Assyrians. The "Greeks" fared little better and it wasn’t until the period scholars call the Archaic (from about 800 BC) that Athens began to show up in the records again and it wasn’t until the reforms of Solon in the early 6th Century BC that Athens began to flourish as a city-State in its own right: having, before either the Dorians or more likely the Sea Peoples wiped out the Myceneans, been a vassal of Mycenae. Much of what we think we know about Athens comes from the Greek Classical period (from about the early 5th Century) period and insistence by the Greeks of that period that they had constantly resided there: when history tells us, particularly after the wasting by the Sea Peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, that is highly unlikely.

Why do the Establishment historians not see the obvious? My guess is inward looking specialization: too narrow a viewpoint not allowing anything outside the sphere they have studied in-depth: each collectively clinging to their specialist area of study and so as a whole maintaining the status quo: it is only when undeniable archeological evidence comes forward that they are prepared to look at their work. We may think we know a great deal about Anatolia or Greece, but in actual fact there has been very little archeological study in either area and so much of what we do know we glean from writers like Plato: or from historians writing in Plato’s time or well into the AD era. Despite the fact the Hittites had written language, borrowed from the Assyrians and Phoenicians, we still date much of the archeology of Anatolia or Greece prior to the Classical Greek period comparatively with reference to Egyptian pharaohs: and it’s no secret that there is debate as the accuracy of the Egyptian Kings lists.

One thing I have noticed in the threads about the Greek goddesses: Athena is discussed as being of Libyan descent: and the only peoples of the Eastern Med the Sea Peoples were known to be in confederacy within the time of the sackings was the Libyans: this is mentioned in relation to some of the battles with Egypt and its vassal city-state Ugarit (just to the south of the reduced Hittite empire on the Levant coast of modern Turkey). though there were appear to be associations some of the tributes of north-western Anatolia i.e. the Lukka who are called the Land Sea Peoples as they did settle.

And the Central European peoples using the Danube as a means of transport at the time of the Sea People's wars with Rameses III where the Celts. I have seen websites supposedly purporting strong linguistic associations between the Philistines and the Celts: but linguistics is one subject I would leave to experts and not one I would trust to a website and that link isn’t one I have followed.

Despite criticisms of writers like the author of the compilation being discussed here, those writers largely follow the Establishment histories: so any errors they make are from those Establishment histories. I can’t help feel that if you wish to search for the origins of the Greek pantheon, you'd could do worse than look north into the area the Hittites are thought to have come from i.e. modern day Ukraine or south into Assyria/Babylon. I can’t remember now if it was the first (mythical) king of the Athenians or the Mycenae who had the head and top half of his torso of a man but the bottom half of his torso downwards as a fish: but that to me is speaking of the first Fisher Kings of Assyria/Mesopotamia/Babylonia which culture the Royal Scyths of modern Ukraine (later?) adopted. In one text on the Book of Jubilees (attributed to Enoch) I read recently the sons of Noah shared land along the banks of the River Don, which is in Modern Day Ukraine: but again I haven't had chance to check that text yet.

Accepted History is accepted history until it is challenged. The internet age is challenging the Establishment assumptions and showing that, at the very least, there are flaws in the Establishment assumptions. Another problem is that people are often totally unaware of either the Accepted history, the geography of the areas being discussed and their place in that Accepted History, let alone its potential flaws, and so, as happens in Chinese Whispers, the errors are multiplied.

Is that the fault of the authors of such compilations? I would say not: they are simply trying to bring together a compilation of many varying things according to Accepted Histories. If one was asserting a truth about a particular subject within those compilations without looking deeper than the Accepted Histories, or writing a text on that particular area, then yes, I would agree, the author was at fault: but I don’t think that is the purpose of the text you’re are discussing.

I do however think that our perception of Truth in history will change in the coming years and that we will make strides in correcting the Accepted Histories.

Thank you both. Heading into the city so will need to return to this thread when I return later today.

Back… MSLD, like DH, I don't know Barbara G. Walker personally, but I am going to try to speak to her credit and I hope you take that as a neutral stance on my part. I'm certainly not a scholar with full historical knowledge about everything she's presenting. However, with the extent of research this body of work called for the woman had clearly done her homework. She has all the quotes and footnotes to indicate that and points the reader to sources of more detailed information continuously.

Speaking from the basis of my own experience as an author I know how thorough the publishers were back when this work was compiled. This encyclopedia came out in 1983 by Harper and Rowe, I would venture being the major publishing house they were, that they were scrutinizing this with their editors. It's an encyclopedia of over 1100 pages, that's extensive and if she wasn't scholarly about these things when she started my guess would be that she had become so by the time she finished.

Whether everything she's written is 100% historically accurate or not, it serves as a great resource guide with directives on where to continue one's own research. Her entries are by no means the history of a given goddess/god/topical subject, but they are a presentation of the overall belief structure. At that point the reader can find more information following her footnotes and the 13 page bibliography she included....Thirteen pages of authors that are considered authorities, historians, or scholars of some sort: Agrippa, Bacon, Campbell, Eliade, Frazer, Graves, Hughes, Huxley, Jung, Mead, and there are pages of others the reader can turn to expanding their own research.

I guess it depends on who's opinion we're basing our view of the author on. In my eyes any book written is but a door to more research and further insights if it speaks to us. Books open doors and the author's bias (if there is one) will show. Yes, clearly she favors the pagan perspectives on things but I find nothing wrong with that. There's a wealth of insight from various other traditions too, and it is feminine in nature. I don't recommend it be used as a bible but as a synopsis of the various lore she eludes to in her definitions while bringing in different cultural views. I think she was trying to be fair with the inclusions she's made.

Not everything written has to be a scholarly work, but even if it is, rarely is that going to be 100% accurate. It's fairly well known that the histories of various cultures were colored by those telling of them....political, religious and personal bias did the painting. Our own history books we grew up with in school are now being laid open and corrected with the misinformation and omissions they taught us as fact...histories that no longer hold true. So I guess for me it is what it is. I have to trust what feels right and explore what piques my interest further. An encyclopedia can only offer a scant overview of things and I don't recall her professing herself to be more than the one who did the compilations. I feel it only fair to give her work credit. She has put basic information together that I've not been able to find all in one place anywhere. It's an encyclopedia, an overview of beliefs and myths from a woman's perspective for women. At least that's how I've always seen it.

I can't defend her position or speak for her beyond that, nor do I refute your perspectives, my friend. In fact I appreciate you sharing them and presenting another side, so please know I mean no insult to your views. But I have personally found the book to be valuable and so I will continue to share from it from time to time. I don't see where this book/author are to be so lightly dismissed. She's brought together information that I've seen in countless other places too. Her feminist ways are her own, but that moved her to write for women and therefore she does favor the Great Mother. It is a book on Women's' myths and secrets to begin with. That was her intent, to bring the Great Mother forward in all her guises.

CinnamonMoon wrote: “Like DH, I don't know Barbara G. Walker personally, but I am going to try to speak to her credit and I hope you take that as a neutral stance on my part. I'm certainly not a scholar with full historical knowledge about everything she's presenting. However, with the extent of research this body of work called for the woman had clearly done her homework. She has all the quotes and footnotes to indicate that and points the reader to sources of more detailed information.”… “I can't defend her position or speak for her beyond that, nor do I refute your perspectives, my friend. In fact I appreciate you sharing them and presenting another side, so please know I mean no insult to your views.”

Cinn, To be truthful I would expect nothing less from you and would never malign you or your character in even considering it as an insult. Between yourself and DragonHawk I have two opinions from people I trust and know will speak truthfully from their perspective and I value their judgement. Knowing my own mind and narrow scope of margin was why I asked for others opinions and their whys to give me alternative points to consider. I figure when one looks into a mirror all they will ever see is their own perspective and opinions, yet if they can have someone else look into it with them and comment then you become like Alice through the looking glass and the possibilities become endless in the perspectives that can be shared and explored from the same observation.

Very good points MSLD, thank you again.

Libraries are on this row
INDEX Page 1
(Divination & Dreams, Guides & Spirit Helpers)
INDEX Page 2
INDEX Page 3
(Main Section, Medicine Wheel, Native Languages & Nations, Symbology)
INDEX Page 4
(Myth & Lore)
INDEX Page 5
(Sacred Feminine & Masculine, Stones & Minerals)
INDEX Page 6
(Spiritual Development)
INDEX Page 7
(Totem Animals)
INDEX Page 8
(Tools & Crafts. Copyrights)

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