The Goddesses' Mirror

Visions of the Divine from East and West

By David Kinsley

Subjects: Religion
Paperback : 9780887068362, 320 pages, November 1988
Hardcover : 9780887068355, 320 pages, December 1988

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Table of contents

Part I. Goddesses of the East
Chapter 1. Durga , Warrior Goddess and Cosmic Queen
Chapter 2. Kuan yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy
Chapter 3. Laksmi, Goddess of Abundance and Luck
Chapter 4. Amaterasu, the Japanese Ancestral Goddess
Chapter 5. Sita, the Ideal Wife

Part II. Goddesses of the West
Chapter 6. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth
Chapter 7. Athena, Goddess of Culture and Civilization
Chapter 8. Isis, Heavenly Queen
Chapter 9. Golden Aphrodite
Chapter 10. Mary: Virgin, Mother, and Queen

Works Cited


In this book, you can see how the divine has been perceived in feminine form. Here are ten of the best known goddesses from a variety of cultures -- East and West, past and present. A wide range is presented, from the fierce Durga, to the gentle, but firm, Sita; from the erotic goddeses Inanna and Aphrodite, to the chaste figures of Mary and Athena; from goddesses closely associated with material wealth such as Laksmi, to ethereal goddesses such as Kuan-yin.

Each goddess is treated separately in considerable detail to provide a distinct and clear portrait of her special "personality" and meaning within her own cultural context. At the same time, each chapter has a similar structure and style to enhance comparisons among the goddesses. An attempt is made in each case to draw upon both elite and popular sources of information. The Introduction and Conclusion consider important central questions closely connected with goddess scholarship, for example, the possibility of a prepatriarchal culture in which goddess worship was central, the difficulty of recovering female religious experience in goddess traditions that exist in male-dominated cultures, and the extent to which an overarching goddess theology can be implied in the goddess traditions that remain known to us.

David Kinsley is Professor of Religious Studies at McMaster University.


"I like the tone -- sensible, competent, not preachy, not condescending, not over-simplifying, not mystifying -- and the scholarly but readable style. It provides casual readers with something serious but readable on a subject about which all too much frivolous nonsense has been written. " -- Anne Feldhaus

"Kinsley has written an excellent survey that allows the reader to grasp the importance of goddess tradition within the particular culture. Perhaps the best expression of this contextualization is found in his discussion of the cult and/or worship dimensions of the goddess. I am impressed with the selection of goddesses; Kinsley has chosen well, given the abundance of material available. The work offers a large sweep without sacrificing information and scholarly support. Kinsley's book represents an exciting new contribution to an emerging area of study within comparative religion. I do not know of a comparable text. " -- Clare B. Fischer