The best books on goddess spirituality

Charlene Spretnak Author Of Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths
By Charlene Spretnak

Who am I?

I have always been interested in cultural history. In my early 30s, I realized that Greek mythology was a late, patriarchal revision of the earlier Goddess-centric myths. After much research, I reconstructed several pre-Olympian myths in my book Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. This was one of the first books of the Women’s Spirituality movement, which began in the 1970s and is still going strong. A few years later, I edited an anthology of 50 voices, The Politics of Women’s Spirituality. Thus I am a foremother of that movement, which is a bountiful exploration of authentic spiritual experience in women’s lives.


I wrote...

Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths

By Charlene Spretnak,

Book cover of Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths

What is my book about?

For thousands of years before the Olympian myths of Greece were created, the spiritual presence of the Goddess in her myriad forms was the focus of religion and culture. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece pieces together what is known of the original, Goddess-centered myths, which are relevant to the contemporary emergence of a spirituality based on our embeddedness in nature. Drawing from evidence in archaeology, classics, and early Mediterranean histories, I present a recreation of the pre-Olympian myths of Gaia, Pandora, Themis, Aphrodite, the Triad of Artemis/Selene/Hecate, Hera, Athena, and Demeter and Persephone. Critics called this book “a well-documented text that reads like poetry" (San Francisco Chronicle) and “a basic text of the goddess movement that has spread through feminist and ecological circles" (Boston Globe).

The books I picked & why

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Goddesses in World Mythology

By Martha Ann, Dorothy Myers Imel,

Book cover of Goddesses in World Mythology

Why this book?

If you try to learn about the cultural history of the sacred female cross-culturally, you are likely to encounter the attitude in our patriarchal society that Goddesses couldn’t really have been widespread or ever been very important. A handy refutation can be found in this book, which contains information on over 11,000 Goddesses, nymphs, spirits, and deified women around the world. Grouped according to geographic regions, each entry gives you not only the translation of the Goddess’s name but also her story. That is, it’s a biographical dictionary because it gives the characteristics and the mythology associated with each Goddess. If you read through the entries for any one region, you will become immersed in a deeply poetic sense of the resonant cultural history underlying later developments.


The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World's Sacred Feminine

By Hallie Iglehart Austen,

Book cover of The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World's Sacred Feminine

Why this book?

There are hundreds of good books on Goddess spirituality. This one presents a heart-centered approach that blends beautiful color plates of historical Goddess art and artifacts from around the world with an accessible explication of each Goddess’s mythology and cultural significance—as well as Hallie Iglehart Austen’s invitation to join her in a brief guided mediation for each Goddess. Her stated goal is that readers might “come into balance, reclaiming the lost feminine deep within ourselves and sharing that wisdom and power with the world.” Here’s the opening to a preface entitled “A Millennial’s Initiation”: “Every book is a teacher, yet some books reveal truths that flow into your deepest roots and stay with you forever. Reading The Heart of the Goddess was, truly, a rite of passage for me.” 


The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations, and Rituals

By Patricia Monaghan,

Book cover of The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations, and Rituals

Why this book?

With The Goddess Path the late Patricia Monaghan, author of The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, bequeathed a well-designed and deeply wise pathway into spiritual engagement. She begins in “Basics of Goddess Spirituality” by answering commonly heard questions, then presents “Frameworks for Goddess Imagery” and “The Goddess Year” of rituals. The rest of the book is “The Goddess Revealed”: a chapter on each of twenty Goddesses, presenting her historical or traditional invocation, her myth and meaning, her symbols, and her feasts. At that point, Patricia Monaghan presents suggestions for invoking each Goddess through the reader’s personal ritual. Here she wisely speaks of the dynamics of women’s lives in modern culture and the power of this spiritual practice, flowing from extremely ancient roots into the presence of 21st-century women.


Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars

By Kay Turner,

Book cover of Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars

Why this book?

This is a beautiful book about women’s home altars, from the traditional to the “wildly revisionist.” Kay Turner was the editor of the most exquisite journal of the Women’s Spirituality movement in the 1970s, Lady-Unique-Inclination-of-the-Night. Here she presents an aesthetic, historical, and perceptive exploration of women’s home altars as a place apart, an expression of intimate connection with the divine, human, and natural realms. Kay Turner sees women’s altars as a continuation of the practice in matrifocal, prepatriarchal cultures, such as the altars of Çatal Hüyük (5th millennium BCE) and those depicted on Minoan seal rings centuries later. A woman’s personal altar today might be so small as to fit on a bookshelf, but it is a nexus of interrelatedness, a personal honoring of that which is integrative and vital.


Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the Virgin of Guadalupe

By Ana Castillo (editor),

Book cover of Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the Virgin of Guadalupe

Why this book?

Christianity is a syncretic religion, incorporating elements from earlier religious traditions, not only in the eastern Mediterranean basin but also in the lands where it spread. In each of the national shrines to the Virgin Mary in Europe, for instance, she is depicted with indigenous symbols or elements. Nowhere is the presence of the preChristian, indigenous sacred female stronger in such syncretic blendings than in Mexico with the Virgin of Guadalupe. The editor of this anthology refers to her as Guadalupe-Tonantzin, one of the variations of her name in the indigenous Nahautl language. These essays are scholarly, cultural, and engagingly personal. Don’t miss the brilliant essay by the late Gloria Anzaldua, as well as other memorable pieces by several well-known Mexican-American authors. This is lived religion.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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