Reviewed by Ambrea
In Pagan Meditations: The Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia, author Ginette Paris takes a look at feminism and the psychology of feminism in both the ancient and modern worlds. Paris, furthermore, examines underlying tones of feminism in Greek mythology, focusing on the stories and legends surrounding the goddesses of love (Aphrodite), wilderness (Artemis), and hearth (Hestia).
During her investigation, Paris provides intriguing depictions of the gods and goddesses of Greek myths, examining them as they were embraced by ancient society and looking at them through the lens of the modern world. It’s interesting to see the links the author makes in studying the psychology of the ancients who worshipped these goddesses and the modern individuals who embrace similar patterns of feminism.
While I enjoyed the thoughtful psychological studies and intriguing parallels Paris drew, I most enjoyed the historical elements of Pagan Meditations. Paris delves deep into ancient Greek traditions, showing practices of worship, investigating spirituality and individual versus community beliefs, as well as unearthing important ladies in Greek society and religion.
Despite her background as a psychologist, Paris does an excellent job of bringing history to the forefront of her work. I loved the inclusion of little historical morsels, such as her study into the high priestesses of Aphrodite, or the courtesans who became mistresses to great generals and Greek thinkers and became powerful patrons of culture in their own right, or her examination of the ladies who inspired the Amazons.
Paris manages to incorporate real life examples in her research, making her writing a little clearer and, more importantly, accessible; however, I will note that I sometimes had trouble slogging through Pagan Meditations. The author is obviously brilliant, having devoted copious amounts of time and attention to the details of her work, but she is an academic and, occasionally, her work borders on dry, cerebral.
Although periodically dry, Pagan Meditations is both insightful and informative and intriguing for its exploration of early feminism, female social and political power.