Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Search of the Lost Goddess

Some time in the previous months, I got the rare treat of finding my lost goddess in Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent." The whole novel exceeded my wildest expectation, a rewriting of the familiar account of the Bible in the point of view of a woman named Dinah, who--if you get down to it--was a mere footnote on the pages of Genesis. Diamant's book deserved to be talked about, if only because the God of Jakob, Isaac and Abraham, the only God I was borne to believe in and the only God I was made to believe existed, appeared strange and unfamiliar all throughout the book, while the household gods of Rachel, the rituals of the moon goddess and her daughter, the great mother Inanna, became increasingly familiar as I found myself getting drawn towards the lives of Jacob's daughter Dinah and her four mothers Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah.
I would read the book again, if only to know the goddesses better; or get intrigued by the goddess ritual of Opening of the womb, as opposed to the display of virgin blood by the groom during the night of the wedding. Or, to rage against the clan of Jacob, against the brothers of Dinah, against patriarchy who regarded (and continue to regard) women as piece of properties to be exchanged or sold in marriage! The book is the Jewish equivalent of Maxine Hong Kingston's "No Name Woman," a story of how a woman's name was erased, the woman forced to live as an outcast, for crossing over to the borders of taboo. I first heard about the book on the Ms magazine's bookshelf, when the book hit the bestsellers' list in 2001 four years after it was published in 1997. The writer Patricia Holt recounted how the book was not really on a big sellers' list in big chain bookstores when it first appeared. It only started to hit the chart when independent booksellers started recommending it to customers. In Davao, you could hardly find a copy of it at the National Bookstore. I found mine somewhere else. Such a pity I only read it now.

1 comment:

yogafilipina said...

i still have a copy of no name woman germs. as in!!!