Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty
Jean Shinoda Bolen. HarperCollins, $25 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019152-8
Recycling a format she successfully employed in Goddesses in Everywoman (1984), Bolen, the author of seven works of Jungian psychology, addresses an older audience, urging women over 50 to search out positive archetypes or patterns of behavior that lie dormant in their inner selves that will help them realize their full potential. A Jungian analyst and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, Bolen relies heavily on her earlier work, in which Greek goddesses personified aspects of the feminine psyche. For ""crones"" (women in the postmenopausal stage of their lives), Bolen posits four principal goddesses--Metis, Sophia, Hecate and Hestia--each of whom embodies practical intellectual, mystical, spiritual, intuitive or meditative aspects of wisdom. She recounts the goddesses' mythic origins and shows how their attributes can help women forge a more meaningful life. Bolen also highlights the empowering attributes of outrage, mirth and kindness incarnated in certain Asian myths. In the second part of this work, Bolen revisits seven goddesses described in her original work, this time relating them to older women. Finally, Bolen urges older women to congregate in groups patterned on the consciousness-raising circles of the 1960s, to become a force for change spiritually and politically. Readers skeptical of Jungian philosophy may find the concepts here too abstract and convoluted to serve as a practical guide to aging. But for those who celebrate their maturity, Bolen's thoughtful mytho-psychology will be an inspiration. (Mar.) Forecast: Though this invitation to embrace their inner ""crone"" probably won't appeal to the wide female readership that made Goddesses in Everywoman a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and backlist staple, Bolen is closely connected to her core readers. With 32 workshops, bookstore appearances and lectures planned in 25 cities, she can look forward to solid sales.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2001