While Campbell’s work reached wide and deep as he covered the world’s great mythological traditions, he never wrote a book on goddesses in world mythology. He did, however, have much to say on the subject. Between 1972 and 1986 he gave over twenty lectures and workshops on goddesses, exploring the figures, functions, symbols, and themes of the feminine divine, following them through their transformations across cultures and epochs.
In this provocative volume, editor Safron Rossi—a goddess studies scholar, professor of mythology, and curator of collections at Opus Archives, which holds the Joseph Campbell archival manuscript collection and personal library—collects these lectures for the first time. Excerpts from Joseph Campbell Foundation
Excerpt from the book Goddesses: Mysteries of feminine divine
Many of the difficulties that women face today follow from the fact that they are moving into a field of action in the world that was formerly reserved for the male and for which there are no female mythological models. The woman finds herself, consequently, in a competitive relationship with the male, and in this may lose the sense of her own nature. She is something in her own right, and traditionally (for some four million years) the relationship of that something to the male has been experienced and represented, not as directly competitive, but as cooperative in the shared ordeal of continuing and supporting life. Her biologically assigned role was to give birth to and to rear children. The male role was to support and protect. Both roles are biologically and psychologically archetypical. But what has happened now—as a result of the masculine invention of the vacuum cleaner—is that women have been relieved, in some measure, of their traditional bondage to the household. They are moving into the field and jungle of individual quest, achievement, and self-realization, for which there are no female models. Moreover, in pursuing their distinct careers they are emerging progressively as differentiated personalities, leaving behind the old archetypal accent on the biological role—to which, however, their psyches are still constitutionally bound. The grim prayer of Lady Macbeth before her deed, “unsex me here!” must be the unspoken, deeply felt cry of many a new contender in this masculine jungle.
Books by Joseph Campbell@ library