Terms

Eternal Feminine

In the Da Vinci Code, the protagonist is a Harvard Professor, who is credited with a book on The Eternal Feminine as if this were something original. He is hardly alone. Goethe broached the theme of the the eternal feminine in the closing lines of Faust (1832). Cezanne made it the topic of a painting (1877). It was a subtext of Rider Haggard?s She (1887); the title of a book by Liza Lehmann (1902), the title of an essay by the Catholic priest, Teilhard de Chardin (1918); a topic of study of Carl Gustav Jung (1920 etc.); the title of a film (1931) and the title of a book by Gareth Knight (1975). In practice the eternal feminine went in two directions. On the one hand there was an attempt to encompass all feminine qualities in a single figure. Here Durga with her 108 or 1008 names was an archetypal example, linked with Divine Nutritive Force (Mama) and as a fertility goddess, subsets of whom appeared as Great Mother, Earth Mother, Cybele and Demeter. On the other hand there was a trend towards specialization whereby specific characteristics were personified as individual goddesses. Hence the Fertility Goddess became Goddess of Love, e.g. Aphrodite who later divided into Aphrodite Pudica (modest) and Aphrodite Defiant (immodest). The goddess of Wealth/Abundance linked with the Cornucopia and the goddess of wisdom became separate goddesses and then classed tograther as the 3 goddesses corresponding to three ages of a woman. Older names for the eternal feminine are the female principle, the Supreme Mother, Supreme Female Deity.
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