The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint

Pamela C. Berger, Author Beacon Press (MA) $19.95 (173p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6722-2
As pagan peoples turned to Christianity, many of them reformulated their belief in an ancient earth-mother goddess into a more acceptable, Christianized form. The Virgin Mary was transformed into a protectress of crops; the popular Grain Miracle legend asserted that she caused incredible plant fertility while carrying the infant Jesus during the Flight into Egypt. Her fecund powers were celebrated in Welsh legends, Irish poems, plays and carols, folktales and mimes, murals and illuminated manuscripts. Behind the image of the earth goddess was the Great Mother worshipped by ancient peoples from Greece and the Near East to the Germanic North. Berger, an art history professor at Boston College, shows how powers associated with the fertility deity were projected onto the Virgin, female saints and such folk figures as Bessey of Plow Monday, demons and ""crazy mothers.'' Richly illustrated, her brilliant and absorbing study illuminates the ways deep-rooted beliefs and practices can persist into modern times. (February 28)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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