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The Goddess Trilogy (Goddess Remembered; Burning Times; Full Circle) 1989-1992

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Lorber Digital, 56 W. 46th St., Suite 805, New York, NY 10036; 212-398-3112
Produced by Mary Armstrong
Directed by Donna Read
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - Adult
Women's Studies, Religious Studies

Date Entered: 08/14/2008

Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

Beautiful filming, seamless editing, and excellent pacing are qualities viewers will appreciate throughout the three programs comprising The Goddess Trilogy. The National Film Board of Canada, which did the production (joined by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Film Company in the making of Burning Times), is responsible for this outstanding set, which, in addition to winning one award, earned an honorable mention and nine more official selections in film competitions between 1989 and 1994. This reviewer wondered why took 16 years for it to reach the academic library market, but perhaps it is merely that it was recently issued on DVD.

Goddess Remembered concentrates on ancient history, describing goddess-oriented religions and their beliefs and practices. Viewers are treated to numerous images of archeological artifacts depicting and venerating goddesses. These artifacts idealize female sexuality and link its traits to the development and growth of prehistoric civilizations. In brief interview segments, modern adherents of a goddess-oriented spirituality movement speculate that the demise of these ancient beliefs and the rise of competitive, confrontational male-oriented societies have brought us close to destroying our planet.

Burning Times covers the history of witch hunts and the subsequent trials and punishments meted out to women accused of witchcraft. Primary among institutions that engendered violence against women were the churches and the Inquisition, which later raised to sainthood some of the very women they tortured and burned. The patriarchal religions promoted the notion that old women should be feared as witches, not respected for their wisdom and healing powers. Yet, in spite of the stranglehold these attitudes had on civilized society, pockets of belief in goddesses did not die away. They persisted among indigenous peoples around the globe. Some are being reborn among small circles in North America and elsewhere.

Full Circle explores the relationships between female spirituality and the well-being of the earth, stressing in persuasive fashion that reverence for the earth is a fundamental tenet of goddess-oriented religions. Adherents to various women’s spiritual movements are concerned environmentalists. They believe that feminine divinity is indivisible from political activism aimed at protecting, conserving, and rejuvenating our planet. Goddess-related rituals and their meanings are explored, including spiral dances, celebrations of the solstices, and symbolic practices honoring ancestors. In this final program, elements from the three programs are skillfully woven into a powerful educational experience.

The Goddess Trilogy is a useful enrichment for college-level students in courses covering women’s studies and religious studies as well as for all other adults interested in these subjects. The raw sexuality of some of the images might be a problem for younger viewers, but the overall content is appropriate for senior high schools. Highly recommended.