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University of Creation Spirituality
Doctor of Ministry Degree/Certificate Program

October, 2003 Intensive
Week 1: Oct. 27-31

Seminar: Myths and Symbols of Goddess Traditions - #60063

Instructor: Hea-Kyoung Koh, Ph.D.

Faculty Bio: Hea-Kyoung is originally from Taegu, Korea.  She received a MS in Paleontology at Kyoungpook National University in Korea, an MA in Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names College in Oakland, CA and an MA and a Ph.D in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.  She has served as the Amnesty International press coordinator in the Korean section, and was an educational program developer and lecturer at the Environmental Group, Pulenpyonghwa, Korea.  Currently she is teaching Korean Mythology and Korean Shamanism at Intercultural Institute of California in San Francisco, CA.

Course Description: An exploration of selected aspects of Goddess traditions. The class will begin with the findings and interpretations of Marija Gimbutas, the most significant contemporary reconstructionist of prehistoric Goddess tradition(s), and then examine the nature and functions of three goddesses—Durga in India, Pre-Olympian Hera in ancient Greece, and Solmundae in Cheju Island, Korea.  Specific attention will be given to myths and symbols in various goddess traditions, and abiding questions in the study of Goddess traditions will be discussed and analyzed in a seminar format. 

Learning Objectives:

Mon.: Marija Gimbutas’ findings and theories as well as critics on her works “if you do not have vision, if you are not a poet or an artist, you cannot see much.”

Tues.:  Hindu Goddess Durga, the goddess who has the name(s), whose worship has been continued in the context of the Hindu culture:

  • both transcendent and immanent

  • her functions range from generalized ones such as the creation, and destruction to specific ones such as curing diseases of people in need

  • embodiment of shakti,

  • the dynamic power of the universe

Wed.: Prehistoric Greek Goddess Hera
           The change of Hera images from pre-literate Greece to literate Greece:     

  •  the name originally means “the goddess of the returning seasons”; feared chthonic power”; “mistress of life and death.”
  •  Hera as charioteer, mother of all things, mistress of boats, geese and fire.
  •  androgynous Hera bore her son Hephaestus without Zeus 
  •  turning into a jealous wife 

Thur.: The Cosmogonic Goddess of Cheju Island, Korea, Solmundae Halmang
           Cheju Island is an egalitarian culture where women centered religion exists    
           and goddesses are dominant in their polytheistic pantheons:

  •    She created the land and at the same time is the land.           
  •   Deus fable: she is a giver of culture.
  •   Emergence of a god from her
  •   Solmundae, God/dess(es)         

Fri.: On the basis of the context of the above three goddesses the abiding questions involved in the study of goddess traditions will be examined.  Specific  discussions will be: god/goddess and androgyne; transcendent and immanent; gentle/fierce; creative/destructive; one/many; matriarchy/patriarchy; ancient/modern; plurality/monotheistic; harmony/control; matrifocal/matristic/gynocentric.  Also the questions addressed on the pre-class assignment will be discussed.

Required Reading:

Eliade, MirceaPatterns in Comparative Religion.  New York: Meridian, 1974. pp154-330.
Gimbutas, Marija.  The Language of Goddess.  San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991. <
Kerenyi, Karl.  The Gods of the Greeks.  Thames and Hudson,1988. pp 91-116.
Swahananda.  Mother Worship: A collection of Essays on Mother Worship in India.  Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 2001.

* Materials on the Korean goddess and the pre-Olympian Hera will be available on the campus and/or distributed before the first class.

Recommended Reading

Downing, Christine.  “To Start Us Imagining the Goddess.”   The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine.  New York: Crossroad, 1984. pp 9-29.
Kinsley, David.  Hindu Goddesses.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, pp 95-115.
Neumann, Erich.  The Great Mother.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Pre-Class Assignment:                       

Choose one of the following questions and write a 3-5 page (1000-1500 words) reflective essay.

1. Why men need the goddess; why women need the goddess?  Are they the same or different?

2. Merlin Stone’s famous phrase: “In the beginning God was a woman.  Do you remember?”  Is it true both psychologically and historically?

3. In retrospect, is the transition from goddess tradition(s) to god tradition(s) inevitable for the development of human consciousness or purely a loss of ideal history?          

4. Does the contemporary myth of matrifocal, peaceful, and goddess-centered world help or hinder us?

5. What do the myths about pre-historical goddesses tell us about ourselves?      

Post-Class Assignment:  A well-written 10-15 page, double-spaced, research paper focusing on a particular goddess or a topic related to the course or a topic of your design discussed with the instructor on campus.  

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