The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe

Goddesses, Sacred Women and the Origins of Western Culture

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About the Book

This book is an exploration of the spiritual traditions of ancient Europe, focusing on the numinous presence of the divine feminine in Russia, Central Europe, France, Britain, Ireland and the northern regions. Drawing upon research in archaeology, history, sociology, anthropology and the study of religions to connect the reader with the myths and symbols of the European traditions, the book shows how the power of European goddesses and holy women evolved through the ages, adapting to climate change and social upheaval, but continually reflecting the importance of living in an harmonious relationship with the environment and the spirit world. From the cave painting of southern France to ancient Irish tombs, from shamanic rituals to Arthurian legends, the divine feminine plays an essential role in understanding where we have come from and where we are going. Comparative examples from other native cultures, and quotes from spiritual leaders around the world, set European religions in context with other indigenous cultures.

About the Author(s)

Sharon Paice MacLeod is a Harvard-trained Celticist, grant-funded researcher, historical consultant and professional musician. She has taught Celtic literature, mythology and folklore at the university level, and her areas of expertise include Celtic religion and belief, early Irish and Welsh poetry and wisdom texts, cosmology, and visionary traditions.

Bibliographic Details

Sharon Paice MacLeod
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 17 illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7138-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1392-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: To Remember Is to Know  1

Part I: Archaeology—Sacred Stories from the Earth
1. Through the Past Darkly  9
2. Sanctuaries of Consciousness  18
3. Voices from the Forest  30
4. The Ancient Mothers of Europe  42
5. The Sickle and the Hearth  56

Part II: Anthropology—Transforming Divine Wisdom
6. The Power of the Inner World  75
7. The Vessel and the Sword  94
8. Priestess, Goddess and Warrior Woman  117

Part III: Mythology—The Spiritual Origins of Europe
9. The Cauldron of Immortality  135
10. The Tribes of the Goddess  161
11. The Once and Future Goddess  182
12. She Who Dwells Within Us  204

Chapter Notes  217
Bibliography  233
Index  241

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Intelligent…highly recommended”—Henge Happenings
  • “Recommended”—The Temenos Academy Review
  • “If future generations are to survive on a recognizable planet, we must learn, or re-learn, to honor the Divine Feminine. Sharon Paice MacLeod leads us through the myths and rituals that can shapeshift this dream into reality.”—John Perkins, New York Times best selling author
  • “This extraordinary book explores the Divine Feminine in Europe in a nuanced, careful, yet deeply poetic way. From the Bronze Age to the Grail legends of the Middle Ages, this beautifully written work allows one to ponder the relationship of women to the spiritual reality of European life, past and present. A basic theme of the book is that we must not only look to Greece and Rome, to Christianity and Judaism for the roots of modern culture, we must also look to the indigenous people of Europe.”—Margot Adler, author, Drawing Down the Moon
  • “A fascinating examination of the history of the divine feminine in western civilization…scholarly in scope and detail, yet highly readable. For anyone with an interest in the many representations and manifestations of the sacred feminine in Europe, this book is an essential read.”—Charlene Eska, Virginia Tech
  • “A gorgeous contribution to the literature unearthing and decoding the history of the cultures of the divine feminine in Europe. In this evocative and engaging book, the author takes us from the Paleolithic to the contemporary times showing the blending of religious traditions across the region. A major contribution to the fields of Goddess studies, history, and western European cultures.”—Julia Jean, Ph.D. in Anthropology, Fulbright Scholar