Pseudoarchaeology Research Archive (PARA)
Cite as: Olchowski, Sara. 2007. The Goddess Lives! Communing with the Mother Goddess on the Internet. PARA Web Bibliography B-04. http://pseudoarchaeology.org/b04-olchowski.html
The Goddess Lives!
Communing With The Mother Goddess on the Internet
May 21, 2007
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What follows is a list of proponent sites of Goddess Worship, Feminist Spirituality, and the various manifestations it takes on. The sites are not all necessarily overtly concerned with archaeological links and proofs. The diffusionist, universalist, and “intuitive-based” methodologies employed by spiritual feminist “scholars” are revealed in almost all of the sites through the language and images used, the juxtaposition of unrelated images of artifacts, and the overwhelming tendency towards cross-cultural generalizations and conflations. This web research has altered my own personal point of view of the goddess movement, as those more balanced and intelligent proponents of Spiritual Feminists whom I came across (and admittedly, searched out and perhaps employed more representatively than I should have) have a significantly quieter voice on the web than those who are ready and willing to make uncritical assumptions and to consume, internalize, and synthesize only supporting information. This list is a distillation of what I find to be the most interesting, far-reaching, and ultimately community-forming websites out there about “The Goddess” in her many forms.
The following annotated bibliography is broken up into four sections. I have included four sections, one dealing with “The Goddess” as she can be approached through larger feminist, spiritual, and pagan websites with varying degrees of dependence of pseudoarchaeological claims. These sites are listed alphabetically, not necessarily correlating with relevance. A section regarding specific Goddess Authors with their own publications and websites follows, in which I have included a short list of sites specific to Marija Gimbutas. The next section lists a few sites that more directly require “archaeology” as a search term or an interest, and the final section includes a sample of “Goddess Travel” sites. “The Goddess” Section is significantly longer than those that follow it, as most of the sites linking to specific articles or people were ultimately obtained from the website search engines from “The Goddess” section. I found many of these websites to be interlinked, demonstrating the community-based nature of Goddess enthusiasm.
Sites accessed on: March 13, 2007
Awakened Woman: The Journal of Women’s Spirituality:
This site covers a range of “women’s issues,” but its main page has a specific sub-heading for Goddess, which is updated as new issues are published. The current list cites a number of articles, one of which is authored by Christina Biaggi, whose site, The Goddess Mound Experience is included below in this section. The links page has a sub-heading specifically aimed to goddess spirituality. A Google search of the site with the keyword “Goddess” turns up 335 articles, the number drops significantly to a mere nine when the term “archaeology” is added. This site is not overwhelmingly pseudoarchaeological in nature, and appeals to those interested in the Goddess from the perspective of feminism and women’s issues. The most interesting of the “archaeology” articles is briefly reviewed below.
This article draws heavily on the personal experience of the artifacts in Turkey, specifically Catal Huyuk, the mere sight of which apparently clears the mother goddess from any doubt of her authenticity. This “intuitive” approach to the archaeology related to the alleged cult of the Mother Goddess is a repeated theme that has appeared frequently throughout my web research. The weight placed on personal experiences is given credence through this tactic, which allows goddess worshippers or believers to counteract legitimate archaeological concerns and rebuttals on a false common ground. Ms. Louise also implies that local peoples living around these sites feel a powerful connection to the sites as well, which is in direct conflict with some of my own research pertaining to goddess worship. It also reveals a naïve unwillingness to confront the fact that locals who recognize the economic, tourist-based benefits of humoring the goddess worshippers may employ a certain degree of consciously inaccurate or fabricated self-identification.
Covenant of the Divine Mother:
This site has very little relevance to pseudoarchaeology in terms of explicit content; it is a women’s health site that provides links to various health resources, anti-violence against women, and a variety of spiritual resources. I included it for two reasons; firstly, it is a site likely to come up in a search for Goddess worship, and secondly, that it specifically refers to a “Universal divine mother,” which unmistakably echoes the pseudoarchaeological claims made by most Mother Goddess Worshippers. It is also troubling that this allegedly universal divine mother figure is representative of “the feminine force of unconditional love, compassion, and beauty that nurtures all creation.” This characterization of the “Divine mother” is clearly entrenched in stereotypes and sexist assumptions about what it means to be feminine or female.
This website provides issues and archives of Goddess Alive!: Goddess Celebration and Research, an online magazine of goddess related studies from a range of geographical perspectives. Its search engine turns up very little when the terms “archaeology” and even, “mother goddess” are entered, but there are nonetheless pseudoarchaeological articles, represented as follows.
This page is from Issue 4 of Goddess Alive! and its author is represented elsewhere in this web research. The article sites sketches by James Mellaart from Catal Huyuk. This article focuses on “The Double Goddess” specifically, and uses archaeological evidence uncritically. For example, she feels that data taken from one acre by James Mellaart at Catal Huyuk is grounds to dub the double goddess “a universal template.” The second section of the article purports that the Double Goddess frequently flanks the Mother Goddess in Neolithic art from the region. Terms such as “I prefer to think of her” reveal the prevalent “intuitive” methods employed by Goddess spiritualists with regards to interpreting prehistoric artwork. The Double Goddess is apparently linked to the double axe, which is a symbol I encountered frequently when sifting through radical feminist websites, and it appears its use is linked to the uncritical and biased interpretations of Neolithic artwork.
This site is a pagan blog oriented specifically to those interested in Goddess Worship. It also provides an online course that apparently certifies those so inclined as goddess specialists. The site map includes lists of goddesses from a variety of cultures, provides a search engine, and links to other pagan blogs. I found a blog on the main page interesting (requires you to scroll down for a while, past a crossword puzzle called ‘Aphrodite’), as it deals with everyone’s favorite chimp, the Bonobo. The blogger apparently (and somewhat appropriately) seems to be almost orgasmic at the use of the term “matriarchal” with respect to Bonobos on a television special. This post illustrates the application of primatology in a pseudo-scientific way in order to assert the natural roots of the idea that matriarchies are the obvious choice for groups living closer to nature and perhaps in human prehistory. The blog concludes that the Bonobo is the “make love not war” ape, as opposed to other, more “bellicose” chimpanzees, and feels that it is the DNA that makes them slightly closer to humans that results in this difference. Needless to say, this application of pseudo-primatology has some troubling implications and a semi-evolutionary resonance.
This site is “an online journal of Goddess Spirituality in the 21st Century.” Its search engine pulls up a number of articles related to the idea of a “great goddess” worship in the past, pulling up an article by Cristina Biaggi who is cited elsewhere in this document. There is a login for those enrolled in various courses about Goddess worship, an art gallery, and a section for reviews of the articles published. Max Dushu, another name that has come up repeatedly in Goddess articles (one of which criticizes Cynthia Eller), is featured currently on the main page, though his article is obtained from The Suppressed Histories Archive, which appears later on this list.
MatriFocus: Cross-Quarterly for the Goddess Woman:
This site provides a forum for Goddess “Scholars” and enthusiasts to submit articles. Submission is free, and the subject headings are: Goddess/Woman, Earth/Life, Photo Essay, and Book Reviews. This publication illustrates the close connection between Goddess Worshippers and a degree of environmental activism and concern. The search engine turns up a number of articles related to archaeology in some degree, though all of them presuppose the legitimacy of the concept of a cult of goddess worship in the prehistoric world.
Radical Goddess Theology:
This website is run by a woman named Jeri Studebaker, who provides links to other Blogs dealing with goddess spirituality, book reviews, links to other goddess enthusiasts websites, and a long list of websites which includes several links to archaeological sites that upon cursory engagement do not appear overtly biased towards or against Goddess Spirituality. There are links to several specific goddesses as well as certain sites, such as Catal Huyuk. This website is a good resource for a more intensive study of popular Goddess Spirituality, as she lists a great deal of the websites I was able to compile independently from Google, Wikipedia, etc. The various interests and potential avenues of Goddess study are well represented and appear extremely diverse. However, the mission statement of the site is that the goal of Goddess Spirituality is to replace “god the father” with “god the mother” by the year 2025, which seems to me to be an inversion of patriarchy, the same potential outcome that has garnered such criticism for Spiritual Feminism in the first place.
Resurrect Goddess Isis:
This website considers the call to “resurrect Isis” to be a call for a universal world culture in which “all cultures live side by side in relative peace and harmony,” a both vague and staggering goal. While admitting that she was initially a real person, this site posits that Isis is the original Mother Goddess, whose “pedigreed” daughters were sent all over the globe as “gift wives” (doubtless a very empowering experience) and who became the various objects of pagan mother goddess worship. This site promotes the idea that paganism is “the closest the world has come to a universal religion.” To this end, the site provides links to information about Isis in; North America, Central America, Ireland, and England, potentially aligning it somewhat with a Barry Fell-esque view of prehistoric or early visitation between the old and new worlds. Fun exercises about why “Missouri” means “mother-Isis-area” abound. No counterpoints are provided on the site, nor are any legitimate sources listed from Egyptologists.
Serpentina: Women Centered Research for Everyone
The Serpentina site overall offers a variety of links for spiritual feminists, activists, sex and body information, and a series of lectures entitled, “The Goddess is Alive!” The article by Vicki Noble is the most (pseudo)archaeologically focused part of the site. Noble opens her article by explaining that her research was supported by her “own shamanistic awakening,” positioning her as a goddess worshipper, whose point of view regarding archaeological evidence is thus immediately suspect. Unsurprisingly, she cites Marija Gimbutas half way through her introductory paragraph, including her “Old Europe” in a list of sites that interest her (which includes Malta and Turkey, classic archaeological sources for Goddess worship). Her interest in migration (leading to the alleged universality of goddess worship) places her in line with a diffusionist, potentially hyper-diffusionist standpoint.
Most markedly pseudo-scientific about her approach is her focus on “intuitive” history. Her current search focuses on Amazons, which she laments “Even Marija Gimbutas didn’t believe in them!” which is a very ironic line, perhaps more useful to a skeptical archaeologist than to Noble. I will refrain from going into detail about her study of Amazons, as it digresses from the Mother Goddess topic. Immediately after she introduces her focus on Amazons, however, Noble feels compelled to discuss her attachment to Catal Huyuk, specifically the work of James Mellaart, and to present its history and artifacts as proof of mother goddess worship. She then cites Robert Graves’ book, The White Goddess, alongside more Neolithic figurines. This site provides clear evidence of employing pseudoarchaeology and pseudoscientific methodology in order to assert the veracity and universality of mother goddess worship in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
The Goddess Mound Experience
This site provides many links to archaeological resources as well as spiritual feminist resources, and is run by Cristina Briagg, who apparently has a Ph D. and has studied at Vassar, Harvard, and NYU. Her list of specializations includes archaeology, literature, and languages. This Artist/Goddess enthusiast provides a self-authored article about “the Goddess” in today’s society. This article begins, not promisingly, with the assertion that “the mother” is the universal “role model.” She then contradicts her essentializing introduction by claiming that the goddesses of old were “Warrior Goddesses” whose mantra was “I can do anything.” She feels that worshipping the “original” female deity will support women in the current “competitive” world, subtly implying that women are by nature not competitive and therefore at a disadvantage. An interesting side note is that her featured art appears to be large paintings of tidal waves comprised of tampons and blood, which seems to me to juxtapose a rather destructive and gruesome element to the goddess. Her site offers links to other goddess-friendly sites, archaeological sites (specifically Catal Huyuk and Malta), and she is currently featuring her self-edited book called The Rule of Mars: Readings on the Origins, History, and Impact of Patriarchy.
The Suppressed Histories Archive: Women in Global Perspective:
This site is run by Max Dashu, whose work has been represented throughout many of the search engines on many of these sites. The premise of the site is that women’s histories have not only been ignored in a “patriarchal” world, but also forcibly suppressed. Particularly relevant is the article, Icons of the Matrix, which posits that the striking repetition of various symbols and motifs throughout a range of time periods and cultures provides evidence for the idea that the “Goddess” is indeed a universal entity and concept. Her use of the term matrix refers to the fact that icons and symbols occur in time and space, and also refers to the Latin root of the word referring to the womb and the mother. Her thesis is that cross-cultural catalogues of symbols referring to motherhood and women provides legitimate evidence of a universal idea of the Goddess.
Specific Goddess Authors and or Specialists:
*Many of these articles were obtained from the previously listed sites
· The Furor over Gimbutas. From: http://www.suppressedhistories.net/index.html
o (No author specified)
· Work-Makinne, Dawn. Finding Women and the Sacred in European Prehistory. From: http://www.matrifocus.com/LAM04/scholar.htm (Matrifocus.com)
o This article attempts to minimize Gimbutas’ now somewhat questionable status and role regarding Goddess Worship in Prehistory and attempts to outline other people who shared her concerns. The article also warns against a prevailing androcentric bias amongst mainstream archaeologists, which is a claim many archaeologists would say at this point has been largely corrected and is patently misleading and is ultimately motivated to discredit competent scholars who provide evidence against Goddess worship.
· “Marija Gimbutas and the Orthodox Archaeologists”
o This site is part of a larger travel site, and focuses a lot of attention on selling Marija Gimbutas’ work as well as trips to Malta.
· Belili Productions: http://www.belili.org/marija/aboutmarija.html
o An activist known as “Starhawk” and filmmaker Donna Read who are very interested in the life and works of Marija Gimbutas promote their documentary, “Signs out of time” on this site. The site is a celebratory one and does not seem to contain much criticism on the part of the authors, but the site does offer a section titled: “What is the debate?” The site sells films, provides a bio, and “Marija Resources.”
o See also www.starhawk.org, and www.belili.org
· Baring, Anne and Jules Cashford. 1991. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image. Viking Press, 1991. View on: http://www.annebaring.com/index.htm
This site held particular interest for me because my parents purchased this woman’s book at the suggestion of a friend, and both seemed to enjoy it immensely. Both of my parents are college-educated, and my father is a Doctor. This drives home to me the fact that pseudoarchaeology can sometimes be very difficult to discern from truth, and that critical thinking intelligent adults can nonetheless wind up supporting pseudoarchaeologists by purchasing their work and disseminating it. The book is a chronicle of the various historical images of goddesses. I have not read the book, by my father explained it to me in terms that indicated that he felt the author “made sense” and wove together all of the various goddess mythology in a unified study. This concerns me, as it is not generally easy to spoon feed bull to my father, and while I cannot read the book in time to include whether or not I feel it constitutes “bull,” I have a feeling that I would feel it does. The juxtaposition of images on the cover is some indication of the willingness of the author to juxtapose unrelated elements through time and history based on their similarity of subject alone, reminiscent of Gimbutas’ unproblematic willingness to assert continuity between Neolithic and Bronze age “Goddess worshipers.”
Asphodel P. Long:
· Long, Asphodel P. 1996. The One or the Many – The Goddess Revisited. Britain and Ireland School of Feminist Theology Annual Conference. Dublin, July 1996. From:
· Content Analysis:
In this talk Ms. Long focuses on the controversial nature of the claim of one, universal Goddess cult put forward by some Goddess activists. She presents the viewpoint that the mother goddess may potentially replace the “western” male god, and reinstate the religion that spanned from the Paleolithic until 1500 years ago. Accurately explains why this viewpoint, one that ultimately replaces the male god with its female equivalent, is problematic, and enters into a discussion of the controversy surrounding Marija Gimbutas. She points out that archaeologists do not attack Gimbutas personally, but attack her faulty methodology and in fact admit to her various legitimate career achievements, and cites excellent critical articles by Tringham and Conkey and Meskell. Ultimately, Long suggests that “the Goddess” be conceptualized in terms of its present resonance among feminists, and become a term referring to contemporary women’s self-discovery of the divine. Her attempt to move the debate away from prehistory seems like a move in the right direction to me, because any intelligent Goddess Enthusiast must eventually reconcile her interests with the realities of the shortcomings of the universalist perspective. This talk did not read nearly as biased as many others, and displayed a degree of self-reflexivity.
· This site features Kathy Jones’ book, The Goddess in Glastonbury, which is now (oh so sadly) out of print. Ms. Jones feels archaeological sites throughout the U.K. (Stonehenge, etc.) are evidence of a sacred landscape of Druidic Goddess worshippers.
· Home page: http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/index.htm
· This site’s banner reads: “Exploring new interpretations of past and place in archaeology, folklore, and mythology”
· Trubshaw, Bob. 1997. “Beyond Indiana Jones and the Mother Goddess.” At the Edge No. 6. From: http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/beyondig.htm
· Content Analysis:
This valuable and balanced article considers some of the concerns that a feminist approach brings to the study of archaeology. Trubshaw provides an overview of what it means to be “engendering archaeology” and sets up feminist archaeology against the androcentric backdrop of “the boys club.” The article mentions explicitly that “engendering archaeology” does not entail replacing an androcentric bias with a gynocentric one, and instead that the potentiality for a variety of genders to exist and to have existed is the fruitful framework through which to enact this process. While he does not dwell on Gimbutas for very long, he does clearly state that her work is not given credence by academia, and he sites several archaeological articles for those who are interested in reading more about why this is, specifically Conkey and Tringham and Lynn Meskell, both of which are academically rigorous articles. This site is definitely aimed at those whose interest in searching out the Goddess is tied with an interest in archaeology, and may not be one that less discerning “Goddess worshippers” seek out first. However, its title allows it to pop up with most searches including the keyword “Goddess.”
· Discussions with the Goddess community:
I will not go into depth about this site, as most Archaeologists are aware of Ian Hodder’s reflexive archaeology attempts at the site of Catal Huyuk. This site provides information about the dig as a whole, and the link to discussions with the goddess community is below. It is worth noting that Hodder promotes the inclusion of personal, non-professional, subjective interpretations about the site, and feels that the inferences of all individuals are worthwhile to the overall interpretation of Catal Huyuk. This approach does not effectively draw the line between worthwhile and worthless contributions to interpretation.
· Content Analysis:
The most disconcerting element of this article is the criticism Marler launches against Eller for changing her perspective. The fact that Eller’s book illustrates her departure from her past as an avid spiritual feminist infuriates Marler, which reveals the personal and dubious nature of this “debate.” A debate in which intelligent people cannot change their minds in light of new or compelling evidence is fundamentally flawed. Eller’s book apparently includes her evolution from embracing “female-centeredness” through to realizing that the myth of universal matriarchy largely serves to keep women bound in their place as mothers, nurturers, etc. Marler defensively explains that Eller’s main goal is to use the term “myth” to cast doubt on everything “feminist matriarchalists say.” Marler’s criticism focuses on the fact that Eller’s standpoint might diminish the momentum and “self-awakening” gained by many women who found spiritual sustenance in the Goddess movement. Marler reveals a problem I noticed when researching my essay about Feminist Spirituality; namely, the two debates do not have the same subject. Marler is concerned about contemporary feminist aims (despite overtly criticizing Eller’s position as being ‘political’) while Eller seems to be focusing on the evidence (or lack thereof) from the past and the potentially anti-feminist outcomes the active mis-representation of those facts may lead to. A movement that will not dialogue with its critics or incorporate and address their contributions, (as we have seen so frequently in this course), is not one which can claim rigor or authenticity.
· Dashu, Max. 2000. Max Dushu Debunks Eller’s ‘Myths of Matriarchal Prehistory.’ From: http://www.awakenedwoman.com/eller_review.htm
· This is another article concerned with the same topic, likewise obtained from Awakened Woman. I will refrain from analysis as it is achieves a similar effect as the above article.
Goddess Travel and Tours
Encounter with the Goddess, by Tim Ward
Sacred Journeys For Women:
Edge of Wonder: