Who was the Sphinx? and other interesting questions

The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker

If you ever sat down to eat your lunch and “just” took a peek at your friend’s new photos on Facebook, then looked up and saw it was dinner time, you understand the genius of Facebook.

Before Facebook and Wikipedia, there was a genius named Barbara G Walker.  When I open her book The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, I find the hours have disappeared as I jump around exploring such things as Montanism, to Cybele, to Antaea. Then I discover when witches were carried to prison their feet were not allowed to touch the ground.  Why Not?

Answer: So they could not get power from the earth ie, Mother Earth.

In the 1960s journalist Barbara G. Walker began investigating the disappearance of a Goddess.  No one seemed to why the Goddess no longer starred in ceremonies or why no one wrote rave reviews about her anymore.  Occasionally close observers noticed her small cameo appearance in books and films.  For twenty-five years, Barbara Walker sifted through the clues to see if she could write a story about her.  Walker discovered the Goddess existed only censured by centuries of patriarchy.

In 1983 The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets was completed. Walker wrote about all the clues she found: 1,350 entries on magic, witchcraft, fairies, elves, giants, goddesses, gods, and psychological anomalies such as demonic possession; the mystical meanings of sun, moon, earth, sea, time, and space; ideas of the soul, reincarnation, creation and doomsday; ancient and modern attitudes toward sex, prostitution, romance, rape, warfare, death and sin, and more.   Then she linked and cross referenced ideas, religious traditions and people across centuries.

By opening The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets your mind will be introduced to perspectives and ideas never discussed in a classroom or in Bible study.  And you will know why some libraries have banned the book.  If this encyclopedia wets your appetite, you can read one of her eleven other books about myths, symbols, crystals, tarot, spirituality and rituals.

Or if you knit, you can join her fan club at the Walker Treasury Project.  A woman of multiple talents, she wrote 13 books on knitting including the renowned “Treasury of Knitting Patterns”.

I have never met Barbara G. Walker but I would love to.  Born in Philadelphia in 1930, Walker read the King James Bible as a teenager.  “She decided the Bible “sounded cruel. A God who would not forgive the world until his son had been tortured to death–that did not strike me as the kind of father I would want to relate to.”

Walker obviously thinks for herself and has enough confidence to say this idea does not resonate with my soul so I better look at it more closely.  She displays all of her human complexity and allows herself to be passionate about many things: writing, researching, atheism, knitting, humanism, social criticism, social work and dance.  Just like the Goddess she searched for, today, Walker the person is a bit elusive.  She lets her work be her legacy.

Facebook is criticized for revealing too much minutia about people’s personal lives and Wikipedia carries warnings about its lack of authoritative sources yet people “go to” both of them if they want to find out something.  Opponents criticize Barbara Walker for the quality of the information and her feminist bias.   But her bibliography is 15 pages and her cross-referencing is fantastic.

Just like I use Wikipedia for a quick answer to a question or Facebook to find someone, Walker’s encyclopedia is a go-to source if you want to begin to explore anything about women’s spiritual or mythic history.  And 30 years after its first printing, HarperCollins reissued the book with an updated cover proving the Goddess is still in demand.

Whether banned, criticized or lauded, I love it and always find something that makes me say “Now that’s interesting.”

Hvov, “The Earth” an Iranian form of Eve.  Zoroaster’s followers called her Mother of All Living.  Known in India as Jiva or Ieva.

Hmmmm that’s interesting.

Oh yes, the Sphinx.  Look up the Great Goddess Hathor and compare to Oedipus and the Sphinx.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deborah Hope
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 10:45:46

    Hi Eva,
    I just want you to know that I read all your postings and think you write them remarkably well. They are effective and read as heartfelt no matter what your subject. When I see your blog’s listing come up in my email inbox, I wonder what Eva is thinking about today. So while I don’t often post a comment, you can be sure I read and think about what you write each day. I can hear your voice in them too, which is a good feeling. Deborah x


  2. Sarah F.
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 19:09:23

    Barbara Walker wrote knitting books? How interesting! 🙂 I checked them out on Amazon –I’ve got to get my hands on these books!


  3. Eva the Dragon
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 21:06:13

    It’s the truth. I think it is great to have such diverse interests and then to really delve deeply into them. I am certain you can find them. She seems to be very popular.


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