University of Creation Spirituality
Doctor of Ministry Degree/Certificate Program
October, 2003 Intensive
Week 1: Oct. 26-31
Seminar: The Myth of the Goddess: The Sacred Feminine, Alive Today #60068
Instructor: Maureen Murdock, M.A., MFT
Faculty Bio: Maureen Murdock is a psychotherapist, depth psychology professor and past Chair of the MA Counseling Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Heroine's Journey: Woman's Quest for Wholeness; as well as the recently published Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory; Fathers' Daughters; Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children and The Heroine's Journey Workbook. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she is the editor of Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Life. In the last five years, Maureen has made pilgrimage to Black Madonna sites in Switzerland, France, and Spain.
Course Description: Since the first sculpted figures of the Palaeolithic era in 20,000 B.C. to the current images of the Black Madonna throughout Europe and central and South America, the sacred feminine manifested in mythological history as "the goddess" has survived as an expression of the sanctity and unity of life. Although she has gone "underground" at various points in human history, she has remained active in our deep unconscious, awakening us to her image in our dreams and creative yearnings.
In this course we will examine the cultural and archetypal aspects of the sacred feminine represented by Inanna, the Sumerian Goddess of the Great Above and the Great Below; Demeter, the Great Mother of life and death; Sophia-Shekhinah, the Holy Spirit of Wisdom; and the Black Madonna who calls us to restore the balance so badly needed in our western understanding of God today.
" To use mythological thinking, cultural images, and themes to explore key psychological issues about the goddess for both the individual and culture at large.
" Discussion of the images of the Great Mother from Paleolithic and Neolithic times
" Discussion of the emergence of the Goddess in our dreams. Please keep a dream journal for this class.
" Discussion of the light and dark aspects of the goddess in the Sumerian myth of Inanna and Ereshkigal
" Inanna's sacrifice of herself for the earth's need for life and renewal serves as a model for our own psycho-spiritual journeys
" Homeric poem to Demeter
" Explore the triple aspect of the goddess embodied by Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate culturally and archetypally
" The gnostic understanding of the sacred feminine: Sophia-Shekhinah as the source or foundation of the created world, embodied in the image of Light.
" The Black Madonna; a model of the sacred feminine alive today
" Presentation of Art Projects to understand the transformative power of the goddess.
Baring, A. and J. Cashford (1993). The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image. New York: Arkana, Penguin Books. (particularly chapters 1, 2, 4, 9, 14, 15, 16)
Gustafson, F. (1990). The Black Madonna. Boston: Sigo Press.
If unavailable substitute the following: Galland, C.
Galland, C. (1990) Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna. New York: Arkana/Penguin.Chapters 8-16
Perera, S. B. (1981). Descent to the Goddess. Toronto: Inner City Books.
Birnbaum, L. C. (2001). Dark Mother: African Origins and Godmothers. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press.
Bond, D. S. (1993). Living Myth: Personal Meaning as a Way of Life. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Downing, C., ed. (1994). The Long Journey Home: Re-visioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time. Boston: Shambhala.
Foley, H. P. (1994). The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gadon, E. W. (1989). The Once and Future Goddess. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Gimbutas, M. (1989). The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Gimbutas, M. (1982). The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Murdock, M. (l990). The Heroine's Journey: Woman's Quest for Wholeness. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Paris, G. (1990). Pagan Grace: Dionysos, Hermes, and Goddess Memory in Daily Life. Woodstock, CT: Spring Publications, Inc.
Starbird, M. (1993). The Woman with the Alabaster Jar. Rochester, VT.: Bear and Co.
Pre-Class and Post-Class Writing Assignment: Choose one option for each paper.
Pre-paper 5-8 pages, post-class 5-15 pages. Please cite bibliographical references. Option for post-class assignment is an Art Project and Reflection Paper detailed below.
1. Describe how the image of the goddess has evolved culturally from paleolithic times to the present.
2. Choose a symbol of the goddess from the Paleolithic or Neolithic period (moon, birds, snakes, animals, labyrinths, spirals, et al.) and discuss its meaning. How is this symbol carried forth into later cultural representations of the Goddess?
3. Discuss how the sacrifice, descent and dismemberment of Inanna prefigures Christ's passion, crucifixion, and death and how it differs from it.
4. Discuss the necessity of active destruction and transformation embodied by such goddesses as Ereshkigal, Demeter, and Kali. What do we learn from the destructive aspect of the goddess?
5. Discuss how the descent of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna unites the Great Above and the Great Below in a new cosmic energy pattern. What new mythology do you think would evolve if the sacred feminine was restored to a complementary relationship with the sacred masculine?
6. Discuss the three aspects of the goddess symbolized by Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate.
7. How did the Sophia-Shekhinah of the Middle Ages restore the feminine archetype to the position it held during the Bronze Age? What does Sophia and Skekhinah teach us about wisdom?
8. What caused the goddess to go "underground" and how do you see her re-emerging in culture today. How have you experienced her re-emergence in your dreams?
9. Identify a particular goddess that illuminates your understanding of the sacred feminine and discuss how she is transforming an aspect of life, both personally and collectively.
10. Discuss the importance of the re-emergence of the Goddess today and how the Black Madonna is re-kindling an understanding of the sacred feminine.
You have the option of either writing a 5-15 page paper on one of the questions above or addressing one of the questions above in the form of an Art Project and Reflection Paper:
An art project which will amplify the theme of the goddess active in your life today. This can take the form of a series of poems, a series of photographs or drawings, a painting, dance, ritual, or a piece of music illuminating some aspect of your journey. Your choice. The intention here is to make a short (8 minutes) presentation to the class on the last session that illustrates something of your understanding of a particular goddess, perhaps an aspect that you did not understand or is just becoming conscious.
Prepare a 5-7 page reflection paper that articulates how your art project came to be, what the process was that enabled you to see the relationship between the cultural goddess and your particular life story. Your paper must evidence reference to the readings for the class and/or class discussion. A general journey paper without specific reflection of the readings or class discussion will not be accepted.