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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  33 reviews
For thousands of years before the classical myths were recorded by Hesiod and Homer, the Goddess was the focus of religion and culture. In Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, Charlene Spretnak recreates, the original, goddess-centered myths and illuminates the contemporary emergence of a spirituality based on our embeddedness in nature.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 3rd 1992 by Beacon Press (first published 1978)
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Suzanne Thackston Looks to me as if she's taken a lot of the Graves/Gimbutas/Murray stuff and repackaged it as Truth. Then she writes her own fictional versions of what…moreLooks to me as if she's taken a lot of the Graves/Gimbutas/Murray stuff and repackaged it as Truth. Then she writes her own fictional versions of what she thinks the pre-Hellenic myths looked like. (less)

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I wouldn't normally pick this up but Jennifer Reif used it as a source for Mysteries of Demeter which I am reading.
Call # BL782.S66 1992

In this book, Spretnak claims that before northern "barbarians" invaded Greece, idyllic matriarchal civilizations worshipped Greek goddesses. Then the awful warlike men demoted the peaceful mother goddesses and distorted the original mythology.

She includes myths about Gaia, Pandora, Themis, Hera, Artemis, Selene, Hecate, Athena, Demeter and Persephone. She says
Bart Everson
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This collection attempts to reconstruct the mythology of really ancient Greece — the stuff that came before the myths with which we are generally familiar today. Charlene Spretnak makes a convincing case that the versions we know were filtered and transformed by conquering patriarchal cultures. This book invites us to imagine what those myths might have looked like in the preceding oral tradition. It's an ecofeminist project with spiritual ramifications.

Strangely enough, I liked the introductor
Najah Lightfoot
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My only regret is I didn't come upon this book sooner. I believe it should be in every young woman's library and it should live aside all books of faith and religion. I will return to its pages time and time again, when the seasons change, when the Moon is new and when the Moon is full.
Years ago, I signed up for an elective on folklore, and promptly panicked when I recieved the book list. There was no real textbook for the class, but there was a list of about 25 books on the syllabus. I found out later that, due to some formatting issues, the required reading and suggested reading lists had been put together, but by that I had already purchased the lot and started reading them. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece is one of the books that I probably never would have stumbled across ...more
Vito Clarizio
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Introduced me to a topic I knew little about, but seems thin on footnoted research, just seems too fleshed out by the author. Interesting and raises questions about accepted views of early Greece, however.
Kay Baird
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Includes a non-rape version of the Persephone story.
Suzanne Thackston
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book much. I can't really say it advertises itself falsely, but when I hear 'a collection of pre-Hellenic myths' I expect some actual sources, not just recycled stuff from Marija Gimbutas and Joseph Campbell, both of whom I like as poetic inspiration but not historicity. We all loved the Robert Graves-ancient matriarchy-overwhelmed-by the-asshole-patriarchy theories, but very little of them can be ascertained beyond wild speculation. There's nothing new in the info section at ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has finally given me an answer to the origins of patriarchy and a clearer picture about not only pre-Hellenic Greece, but the entirety of Prehistory. It also shines some light onto a few original Goddesses' myths. It has inspired me greatly, as an artist and most obviously as a woman and a feminist. HIGHLY recommended to everyone as this subject needs to be talked about more! It's a fast read anyways.
Megan Bystricky
Nov 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Good enough if you're looking for stories, I suppose, but if you're trying to do any research on the characters you're SOL. Despite saying that she wouldn't fictionalize and embroider the stories, Spretnak does exactly that- understandable enough, as they are stories and she's trying to re-tell them as best she can; completely worthless for academics.
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I never realized how patriarchal the Greek gods were until I read this book. It offers a new take on the feminine side of the ancient goddesses. Refreshing, new, and powerful. It's nice to read something that empowers the female energy.
Dec 29, 2008 marked it as to-read
I have had a fascination with the earliest religions since I knew of their existance...
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very good. Loved this book.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
like that scene in 00 coming of age films when the girl goes underwater in her underwear
The Overflowing Inkwell
I wish this were longer. Not necessarily the myths themselves, but the introduction and the notes preceding each myth, because Spretnak really only scratched the surface. I especially appreciated Spretnak's retelling of the Demeter & Persephone myth as her version goes rather nicely with the reconstructed Minoan version of the tale!

Having recently read When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth, I did cringe a little bit at the idea that the only deity was a perfectly lovin
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion-myth
I liked this little known book of Spretnaks. She does simple renditions of Greek Goddess tales and leaves each page after each tale blank. It is very meditative.
Sep 10, 2013 added it
Wonderful introduction covering the re-writing of the earliest Greek myths by the conquering, patriarchal societies that overtook Greece.
Beverly J.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just an absolutely outstanding book. This was a re-read from many, many moons ago. My memory did not fail me. This is a treasure, the illustrations exquisite. Adored every word.
Lexi Nylander
"Long before she was regarded as mother of the powerful deities, she herself was the powerful deity."

I deeply enjoyed this. Even though it was published in the 80s, Spretnak's style of writing and clear and concise way of portraying information is still very accessible. I'm very into the mythology we all know and love, but these myths that focus more on matriarchy and the goddesses having power that doesn't stem from the gods that they're connected to in Olympian myth really does it for me.

Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting and clearly a passion project. However, it did not quite go into the depth I expected from it - focusing more on rejecting the patriarchal Olympian myths from the earlier ones, firmly dividing the two eras of myth. I got to wondering, though... If the original matriarchal religion and society was invaded and conquered by invading barbarians but all cultures were matriarchal, how were those invaders into patriarchal myth structures? Where did they pull those out of? Hmm.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I believe it is important for us all to know the original stories of the Goddesses before the myths were corrupted by the patriarchal religions. Charlene Spretnak does a good job of giving us back our stories.
Really great collection of myths about goddesses before the patriarchal myths replaced them. Loved the honor and respect it placed on women and their unique gifts they have in respect to bringing forth life, and also having compassion, empathy, and love. Hera was my definitely my favorite!
Angela Natividad
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume was an education and initiation on its own! It should be required reading alongside the learning of the ancient myths, because the picture is utterly incomplete, politically suspect and terrible for women without it. In one fell swoop, this offers a bracing correction.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology, own-it
Not as academic as I had hoped, but it is backed by some research, and the myths are interesting.
Read Harder 2019: A book of mythology or folklore
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
tremendous book about pre-Hellenic (myths?) These stories are some of the earliest of a time when Goddess was both Mother and warrior and more. I highly recommend.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because so many ancient myths were lost to less-ancient myths, she provides some detail (researched and invented) about the female deities that pre-date patriarchal Greece.
Tiffany DuBeau
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable & educational. I loved learning the origins & how the goddesses have been adapted throughout the ages. Wish there were more! ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2019
A great introduction to pagan womanist theology! I'd definitely reccommend to anyone even vaguely interested, as it's a short read. The first half is a bit more academic, spent discussing the origins/purpose of Spretnak's investigations, but it's just as easy to follow as the descriptions of the goddesses.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Two stars.
On the whole, her research lacks many times solidity: I miss foot-notes and accreditation of the sources consulted: because to me, there is no assurance that what she writes, -especially in the account of myths-, is based on a specific source or is her own reconstruction of some consulted sources.
Becky Carbaugh
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all women
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Charlene Spretnak has been intrigued throughout her life as a writer, speaker, and activist with dynamic interrelatedness. She has written nine books on various subjects in which interrelatedness plays a central role, including its expression in the arts. She is particularly interested in 21st-century discoveries indicating that the physical world, including the human bodymind, is far more dynamic ...more

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“He also noted, in explaining his methodology for the workshop, that when he had reflected and meditated on the pre-Hellenic myths until he 'became filled with a myth', the ways in which he thought about natural phenomena and even the entire universe were qualitatively different from the perceptions that woud have arisen if he had been immersed in, say, the patriarchal, industrialized, competitive, Victorian world that was Darwin's frame of reference. Swimme concluded that the myth's have a very deep biological basis and that by allowing ourselves to be filled with a myth, the universe itself is altered because our relationship to the universe is altered in a very real sense.” 1 likes
“Mother, sometimes in my wanderings I have met spirits of the dead hovering around their earthly homes and sometimes the mortals, too, can see them in the dark of the moon by the light of their fires and torches.
There are those spirits who drift about restlessly but they mean no harm.
I spoke to them, Mother. They seem confused and many do not even understand their own state. Is there no one in the netherworld who receives the newly dead?”
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