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Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Livesby Jean Shinoda Bolen
Synopses & Reviews
A Conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen
Why have a 20th Anniversary Edition of "Goddesses in Everywoman?
It provides an opportunity for another generation of women to see themselves in the light of goddess-archetypes which are powerful personality shapers. These goddesses determine what deeply motivates and fulfills us — and they differ in different women.
What goddesses do you write about?
Most of their names will be familiar: Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, Demeter, Persephone, Hestia, and Hera — the goddesses of classical Greek mythology, which are archetypal patterns in us. When a woman makes an intuitive connection between the characteristics, symbols and myths of a particular goddess and herself, the Aha! that results is empowering and revealing of her own strengths and susceptibilities.
Were you surprised that your book became a best seller?
I'm a psychiatrist and a Jungian analyst, my definition of myself hadn't included "best selling author." When it came out and immediately appeared on the San Francisco Best-Seller list and stayed there for many weeks, I was surprised and of course, very pleased. Then when it came out in paperback and sold over a half-a-million copies, and I kept hearing from women all over the United States that it changed their lives for the better, I realized that writing was a means to bring what I know from doing depth psychology work to readers. It keeps being discovered and translated by foreign publishers. This year it will be published in China. So far, it's been translated into fifteen languages.
In your new Introduction, you write about being surprised that it had a spiritual impact.
The original subtitle was "A New Psychologyof Women" which it was. I did not anticipate that it would become a major influence in women's spirituality or a goddess spirituality movement. It wasn't my intention.
Why do you suppose that your book about women's psychology would have a spiritual impact?
What is personally deeply meaningful feels sacred. An Artemis woman (shorhand for this being her predominate archetype) feels spiritually close to nature, her cathedral may be a forest. A woman with a strong maternal instinct is like Demeter the mother of Persephone whose meaning is found in motherhood. She feels fulfilled in pregnancy or with her infant at her breast. When this archetype is central to a woman who can't become pregnant or loses her child, the grief is tremendous. Another woman, with a different active archetype may know she doesn't want children and have difficulty feeling she is a normal or psychologically healthy woman, when in fact she is. There is diversity among women, knowing so is very reassuring.
What is sacred for one woman is not for another?
Definitely so. We can go through the motions or enact a role very well, and yet if the outer role does not have a deep connection with a corresponding inner archetype, it doesn't feel meaninful or sacred. A traditional marriage is a sacred commitment for a woman whose archetype is a Hera. If her husband is faithful to her, she feels complete. In contrast, a traditional marriage can feel oppressive and constricting to a "don't fence me in" Artemis, and like a resented abduction to an immature Persphone who was carried into it by the desires of a stronger personality.
How are you defining "archetype" and why is this important?
The archetypal level ofthe psyche is what human beings share. C.G. Jung described it as the collective unconscious which I think of as like an acquifer, an underground river that is tapped into when we are deeply moved by emotion, when we dream, and through rituals that feel subjectively holy, sacred, and grace-filled. It's the reason that ancient myths fascinate us, and where symbols and archtypal patterns originate.
What about the Greek gods as archetypes?
While the goddess-archetypes are usually the most influential in women, most women will find at least one of the god-archetypes is a strong part of herself. Mine for example, is Hermes the Messenger God — the archetype of the communicator who could go from lofty Mt. Olympus to the Underworld, and accompanied travelers. I have often commented that I should have written a fat book called Gods and Goddesses in Everyone. Instead, I wrote "Goddesses in Everywoman and only after that thought to write "Gods in Everyman which was published five years later. Knowledge of male archetypes is very helpful to women, especially those who are repeatedly drawn to in a series of men whose similarity is a particular archetype. Knowing the male archetypes helps women to understand their sons, husbands, fathers, lovers, friends. Just as men would learn alot about the women in their lives through understanding the goddesses.
Do you now describe yourself primarily as an author or writer?
Actually I don't, even though many people do and even though I think of myself now as someone who writes books — they all emerge out of my work as a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst and from being a woman influenced by the women's movement who sees how culture affects everyone. Ithink that this has given me psychological binocular vision, through which I see how we need to become conscious of the expectations, limitations, and projections placed upon us from outside and about the powerful archetypes within us.
What other books have you written?
This is a big anniversary year for me as an author. Besides a 20th Anniversary Edition of "Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women, I have two other anniversary editions. 2004 is the 25th Anniversary Edition of "The Tao of Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self and the 10th Anniversary Edition of "Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine. If an astrological reading turns out to be true, this will be a very big year for me to be an influence — which is most imaginable through my writing. We shall see!
A classic work of female psychology that uses seven archetypcal goddesses as a way of describing behavior patterns and personality traits is being introduced to the next generation of readers with a new introduction by the author.
Psychoanalyst Jean Bolen's career soared in the early 1980s when Goddesses in Everywomanwas published. Thousands of women readers became fascinated with identifying their own inner goddesses and using these archetypes to guide themselves to greater self–esteem, creativity, and happiness.
Bolen's radical idea was that just as women used to be unconscious of the powerful effects that cultural stereotypes had on them, they were also unconscious of powerful archetypal forces within them that influence what they do and how they feel, and which account for major differences among them. Bolen believes that an understanding of these inner patterns and their interrelationships offers reassuring, true–to–life alternatives that take women far beyond such restrictive dichotomies as masculine/feminine, mother/lover, careerist/housewife. And she demonstrates in this book how understanding them can provide the key to self–knowledge and wholeness.
Dr. Bolen introduced these patterns in the guise of seven archetypal goddesses, or personality types, with whom all women could identify, from the autonomous Artemis and the cool Athena to the nurturing Demeter and the creative Aphrodite, and explains how to decide which to cultivate and which to overcome, and how to tap the power of these enduring archetypes to become a better "heroine" in one's own life story.
Discover the Goddess Within You Myths are fascinating stories that become even more intriguing when we realize that they can reveal intimate truths about ourselves and others. Esteemed Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen brings the Greek pantheon to life as our inner archetypes and applies the power of myth to our personal lives. Once we understand the natural progression from myth to archetype to personal psychology, and realize that positive gifts and negative tendencies are qualities associated with a particular goddess within, we gain powerful insights. Depending on which goddess is more active within, one woman might be more committed to achieving professional success, while another more fulfilled as a wife and mother. Twenty years after its first publication, "Goddesses in Everywoman" continues to be deeply relevant, and with this twentieth-anniversary edition, this classic volume will continue to be celebrated.
About the Author
Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., is an internationally known Jungian analyst, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, and a former member of the board of the Ms. Foundation for Women. She lives in Mill Valley, Califor
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