Sylvia Brinton Perera, M.A., is a Jungian analyst who lives, practices, teaches, and writes in New York and Vermont and lectures worldwide. Originally trained as an art historian, she earned her M.A. in psychology and graduated from the Jung Institute of New York. Her publications include Descent to the Goddess; The Scapegoat Complex; Dreams, A Portal to the Source (with E. Christopher Whitmont); Celtic Queen Maeve and Addiction and The Irish Bull God: Image of the Multiform and Integral Masculine.
This is one of the most important books written about the meaning of the Feminine and the importance of making the inner journey of descent in order to mature in individuate as a human being. Perera utilizes the myth of Innana/Ishtar's descent to visit her dark sister, Ereshkigal, to situate her discussion of the need for women (and I would hold, men) to be initiated into the Mystery of the Feminine, which in Jungian terms is the unconscious. There are many other such discussions, such as in the works of Marie-Louise von Franz, Marion Woodman, June Singer, Esther Harding and Helen M. Luke and others, this volume is brief and very much to the point. Perera writes with a compact clarity of style and holds the reader fascinated in her discussion of one of the most necessary steps in one's Individuation process. It is in the deepest, darkest depths of our unconscious where we find the purest gold, the hidden treasure of the essence of whom we are meant to be. I recommend this book very highly, especially for those who are involved in women's studies, the study of the Feminine, or are in therapy themselves. It is not for self-help counseling, it is for serious students/explorers of the Soul.
Extremely thick text. No unnecessary word used; and those chosen to be written - every one of them carries the weight and falls in place. I would say this book is not for a random lay person to read. One has to have some experience or previous exposure to the Jungian analysis of the fairy tales or myths. Otherwise, most likely the reading will end up in disappointment as a result of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge to follow the concept.
This book was my introduction to "The Descent of Inanna" -- and while I now would have a somewhat different perspective than Perera takes, it's still an excellent tool for opening up an ancient text for modern relevance.
This was an interesting exploration of the Inanna-Ereshkigal myth, and had a lot of psychological insight up unto a point. The problem with examinations of the feminine is that they are exploratory. For so many years the feminine has been hidden by projections of the male anima and of the mother, and we are only beginning to delineate the actual thing. So this is a great exploration that provides answers only up unto a point, and then the explanations become hazy.
All those enchanted by "Women who run with the wolves" will fall in love with this book, smaller in scope and length but as fascinating and trailblazing. Focused on one specific myth revolving around Sumerian goddess Inanna and her descent to the underworld and its queen Ereshkigal, as described in the poem "Descent of Inanna" and in Sumerian (later Akkadian) mythology at large, the book analyses each step of the myth from a Jungian perspective. Adding elements from her own experience with patients, Perera weaves a tale meant to empower women and help them face both their fears and powers, hopefully attaining a better understanding of life and balance in the relationship with themselves and others. The style sometimes may be confusing, and the combination of myth analysis and psychoanalysis perhaps excessive or not as seamless as in Pinkola Estés' book (which, coming decades later, owes much of its structure to Perera's work), but overall Descent to the Goddess is an illuminating read.
One of the classic Jungian texts, using the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld to the dark goddess, Ereshkigal to talk about a woman’s rejection of patriarchy and initiation into the feminine. Complex and rich.
What I like about the books in the series 'Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts' is also what I find makes them not an easy read. They are filled to the brim with the symbolic, with imagery, one has to read each word with care and then all over again to grasp the meaning. Being interested in Jungian Psychology also helps as it has a language of it's own. Descent to the Goddess is no exception to this rule. With the myth of the descent of the goddess Inanna to the underworld as vehicle Sylvia Brinton Perera analyses woman's need for an inner female authority in a masculine oriented society. Having finished reading it doesn't mean I've finished with it I expect. There's more to come.
Interesting interpretation and deep analysis of Inanna's myth by a Jungian Analyst. I can't say I was particularly captivated by the author's interpretation of the Goddess descent in general, but she does raise some fascinating points in regards to a woman's journey into the underworld (unconscious) when she has lived under patriarchal values all her life, its relation to depression and anxiety, and how it can transform us from a psychological point of view. I also found the author's analogy between certain aspects of the myth and the role of the psychotherapist extremely valuable for me as a therapist.
This book is an interesting artifact of the 1980's feminist period. I lived through that time as an activist, so I had a nostalgic response. The author leads women in repressed relationships with men to their own agency using the myth of Innana/Ishtar in a Jungian framework of analysis. It still works as a metaphor, but the psychological framework seems dated in light of the strides made in brain science and the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy. This book is not for the casual reader.
I got some new material out of it, but I felt like the writer was really hammering her points home in the final few chapters. The same myth is covered in the Heroine's Journey (In fact, I still want to go check to see if this was a resource for Murdock's chapter about descent). It felt very much like it was written for a Jungian psychotherapist by a Jungian psychotherapist, and not for a layperson.
This was horrible. It is indeed a Jungian book, not only by Jungian Analysts, but I suspect mostly FOR Jungian analysts. It is in no way useful for a layman with even an enthusiastic interest in archetypes. And I cannot for the life of me find the way of initiation in there. At least not on any practical, concrete level. No steps to take etc. It's "just" an indepth analysis of a myth.
If you want a Jungian psychotherapist's take on ancient Sumerian mythology, you definitely want to read this book.
Personally I am not much interested in Jung or archetypes so much of the book was not pitched at me. Nevertheless I found the discussion of the myth and its relevance for modern women thought provoking and so I do feel glad to have read this.