Upstate Goddesses

Goddesses give you connections. Here in Ithaca, all kinds of specialty shops abound. University towns are like that. This one had lots of goddesses. Ever since writing my dissertation on Asherah I’ve been interested in female divinities. Part of the reason for this is that I fail to understand how many men don’t see the power of women in their lives and insist that men should rule. Goddesses remind us that women have as much to contribute as do men, and they should be honored and respected just the same. Deities, after all, are projections of humanity. In any case, I found myself in a shop with many goddesses. The proprietor noticed my interest and struck up a conversation. This was ironic because where I live no one asks about my academic background; I have to travel to find interested takers, I guess.

She told me of an upcoming conference that would like to hear my thoughts on the topic of Asherah. Since my book on the goddess has been plagued with high prices, it remains hidden down three or four pages on Amazon, while lower priced dissertations easily float above it. My conversation with this stranger brought out that I had planned to write on other goddesses. A friend had done his dissertation on Anat, so I began working on book on Shapshu, the Ugaritic goddess associated with the sun. Some cultures made the sun male, the people of Ugarit, however, knew the true nature of brightness. I was going to make an academic career of goddesses.

Every great once in a while an academic will ask me about Asherah. Chances are their book or article will fail to cite my work, but they do seem to know to make queries. In my hopes to get a job beyond Nashotah House I followed the advice of colleagues to write a biblical book before finishing another book on “pagan” deities. In the career vicissitudes that followed, goddesses had to fall by the wayside. Although there can be money in deities, as this shop in which I stood proved, they aren’t really a marketable commodity in the realm of making an academic living. Now that I’ve found my way back to writing books again, perhaps I’ll return to my goddesses. That brief encounter in an Ithaca store resurrected some of the fascination of learning about the inner lives of divine women. The need to remind the world, it appears, has only become greater since I first wrote about Asherah decades ago.

4 responses to “Upstate Goddesses

  1. I love finding out about goddesses; I’ve barely scratched the surface.
    (Thanks for all the likes today, btw.)

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  2. Great to meet you Steve. This is why I have goddesses in the store. They spark conversations and as you wrote, “resurrected some of the fascination of learning about the inner lives of divine women”. Regarding money in goddesses, well as a shopkeeper i have learned there is barely any money in retail. That is why I say ‘The currency is connection’ in my shop. Trying to pay the rent/business loans is an ongoing challenge, but the people and conversations that happen in that shop are what actually keeps it alive.
    I understand your challenge of being at a distance from the academics while having valuable knowing and perspective on subjects that are not easily/readily accepted by higher education. Let us stay in touch with this and I will share with you some of my published writings on economics and the divine feminine…which includes a (very brief) few paragraphs on Asherah.

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    • Thanks, Polly. That sounds great! Yes, I can imagine the economic “upside” (as they say) isn’t great, but I very much value the human connection as well. I’ll look forward to stopping in next time we’re in Ithaca, and please feel free to stay in touch in the meantime.

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