Las diosas de cada mujer: Una nueva psicología femenina

By Jean Shinoda Bolen, Gloria Steinem

4,771 ratings - 4.15* vote

A classic work of female psychology that uses seven archetypcal goddesses as a way of describing behavior patterns and personality traits is being introduced to the next generation of readers with a new introduction by the author. Psychoanalyst Jean Bolen's career soared in the early 1980s when Goddesses in Everywoman was published. Thousands of women readers became fascin A classic work of female psychology that uses seven archetypcal goddesses as a way of describing behavior patterns

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Book details

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
June 1st 2005 by Editorial Kairos

(first published January 1984)

Original Title
Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives
0060572841 (ISBN13: 9780060572846)
Edition Language

Community Reviews


The moment this book finally jumped the shark for me: "[ESP] can be developed by [Persephone women] when they...learn to be receptive to images that arise spontaneously in their minds."

As a feminist and a mythology nerd, this book is right up my alley. I was hoping it would be an interesting look into the female experience using the well-known stories of Greek goddesses as a framing device. What I got instead was a bunch of new age drivel based on an out-dated and discredited psychological theory. The chapters read like horoscopes: worded in such a way that everyone can find a way to make their life experience fit any of the descriptions.

I kept reminding myself that the author was speaking metaphorically--I get metaphor. I've studied poetry and have a degree in anthropology--which helped, but here's the problem. The author didn't have a metaphorical attitude. She poke in definitive terms and made sweeping, declarative statements without any substantiation. She cited virtually no scientific studies to support her theories. Sorry, but in order to be taken seriously and respected as a legitimate therapy technique, you need actual empirical, verifiable data that can be duplicated and stand up to peer review. At the very least, some compelling statistics. Otherwise, you're just making shit up.

And that's what I thought this book was. Shit.

But then again, maybe my Athena is just too dominant and I can't appreciate spiritual nuance. Yeah, that's definitely the problem.


I read this book at a point where I was clueless about my life, and Dr. Bolen helped me get back on track. This book may be one of the first of its kind ever written- blending Greek mythology with modern psychoanalysis.

According to Bolen, the stories behind these goddesses(which she recaps in the book) have seeped into the collective unconscious and mold women's personalities from birth. She's separated them into three groups- 'virgin goddesses' (representing the independent, self-sufficient quality in women), vulnerable goddesses (representing relationship-oriented women), and Alchemical, or transformative. Interestingly, only Aphrodite's in the last category, and she also seems to be Bolen's favorite. That's cool with me- we all need Love.

The primary goddesses that Bolen use are as follows, and I've added my very brief and somewhat crude take in parentheses on the kind of modern women these goddesses represent :

1) Artemis- goddess of the hunt and protector of women(workaholic and/or the President of NOW)

2) Athena- goddess of wisdom and craft, more comfortable around 'male' spheres (science nerd/law firm partner)

3) Hestia- goddess of the hearth and of solitude (a nun)

4) Hera- goddess of marriage (girls who went to college for their "Mrs." degree)

5) Demeter- goddess of grain and the maternal archetype (lady who's pregnant all the time)

6) Persephone- maiden and queen of death (Goth girls)

7) Aphrodite- Need I say anything about her? The Goddess of Love (The girl who has three dates on Saturday night)

My own intepretations are partly in jest, of course. One important thing to realize is that most women are a blend of the goddesses, or 'adopt' different goddesses at different stages of their lives. At the time I read this, I was a blend of Persephone, Artemis, and Aphrodite. I guess this means I'm totally wacked...

Bolen describes what typical childhood, adolescence, and adult years are like for each goddess, and lists the strengths and weakness for each archetype, so one can become more self-aware and take steps to remedy what's not working and strengthen what is.

There's also a great quiz somewhere floating around on the Internet called "Which Goddess are you?" based on this book, that I recommend taking as an intro.

My one problem with this book was the focus on Western archetypes. So would this still apply to people in India and China who've had different myths seeping into their unconscious? Or has Western Imperialism ensured that everyone in the world will relate to these Greco-Roman myths? Being a Hindu, I tried drawing parallels to our own gods and goddesses and found similarities...but I'm still not sure.

Either way, this book was very helpful, so I don't really care.


My students may not be surprised but educators probably would be to see this book on my education shelf. I've used this book when guiding women (younger and older) as they've struggled with their personal, social, and cultural identities. Archetypes of the goddess are helpful as guides to defining ourselves, our paths, and our place within our communities.


Every woman on planet Earth needs to drop what they are doing right now and go get this book and then read it. I seriously wish this sort of stuff was required reading before graduating high school. Archetypes exist in all forms for us as people: from comic books, movies, astrology profiles, numerology profiles, religious texts, tarot, oral traditions, ect. These stories shape us as people from when we are children into our adult lives. They give us a blueprint to aspire towards and they help us to understand our current journey and life conditions. This is the sort of thing that Goddesses In Everywoman teaches.

Jean Bolen is a student of Jung whom (as she points out in the book) is a much more women-friendly psychologist than Freud ever thought about being. What this means is that in this book she references the goddesses she teaches about and then also ties the mythological teaches into Jung's school of thought (though not always exclusively).

The way this book becomes useful is that in understanding these goddesses women of modern times can relate to different aspects of themselves both in their current life and in their younger life. For example a woman focused on career and moving up the corporate ladder is said to be in her "Athena" state whereas a woman deeply in love and desiring marriage would be channeling her inner "Hera" and "Aphrodite". Though on the surface these may seem like simple analogies the book is far from a simple summary (not like what you would take in a personality quiz or read in a trashy Cosmo-type magazine) and instead jumps into complex breakdowns of the different types of goddess/women and shows both the positive sides and the shadow sides.

One of the ways I felt like this was useful for me was that beyond my own identities for certain life choices I have made (which this book made me feel more liberating and less judgmental towards myself on) I also had greater understanding and compassion towards those goddesses that I don't relate to as much as before I felt like (especially coming from a feminist background) that there is sort of 'my way or the highway' attitude but with these archetypes I see that other less powerful, more vulnerable and simple (example: Hestia, home and hearth goddess) female spirits are also at play for some and that is just fine too. Rigid expectations that women place on ourselves and each other can be lessened after reading and learning about these various goddess archetypes. This book helps women understand how to stay true to herself. From this platform excellent things are allowed to unfold and these archetypes are fuel for that fire.

In summary a couple of quotes I loved by Bolen near the end of the book: "The heroine's trip is a journey of discovery and development, of intriguing aspects of herself into a whole, yet complex personality" and "When the heroine-choicemaker finds herself in an unclear situation, where every route or choice seems particularly disastrous, or at best a dead end, the first trial she faces is to stay herself. In every crisis a woman is tempted to become the victim instead of staying the heroine...whether in myth or real life, when a heroine is in a dilemma, all she can do is be herself, true to herself and her loyalties, until something unexpectedly comes to her aid. To stay with the situation, with the expectation that an answer will come, sets an inner stage for what Jung called 'the transcendent function'. "


This book, as much as I read, read like a combination of a Cosmo quiz and a self-help book for women 30 years ago. Admittedly, I have not kept up with theories on Carl Jung's archetypes, and this book made me glad about that. As I began the preface, my mind continued to leap forward thing.. am I artsy Athena, homemaker Hestia, or, like most of my results for those awful quizzes, the dreadful middle of the road?? Essentially, Bolen's aim is meant to be supportive, I think. Unfortunately her theories came off as unsubstantiated and subjective, which was my problem with Jung's theories to begin with. I will not be finishing this book, I became uninterested in the history surrounding Goddess lore and less intrigued about which was most dominant. While reading, I found myself distracted, thinking of what event is next on the work calendar, the next time I'll see my friends & family, or what better book I could possibly be reading. I suppose, based on what I learned, that places somewhere along the lines of Artemis... Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, Competitor, Sister.

V Mignon

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be my dad's daughter. He worked long hours and when he came home, he usually shut down. I wanted him to be my daddy so bad, but whenever I clung onto him, he would look at me like I was some strange creature who had wandered into his house. My mother told me once that I asked her if I even had a dad, he was gone so much. But one day, my sister got an erector kit for Christmas and she didn't want it.

My poor dad, trying to keep us girls interested in engineering so that maybe one of us would fulfill his dream of becoming an architect, painstakingly tried to intrigue my sister with the kit. She couldn't have cared less. I, however, was fully attentive, watching my dad build, intent on proving to him that I was interested. Slowly, he picked up on a pair of small gray eyes watching his hands, itching to build along with him. The last time my dad and I had connected was when he had to watch me for the night and he started to read me The Hobbit, instead of my mom's child-friendly books. I was probably five. At nine, we connected over a stupid erector set.

I tried to impress my dad anytime he was home. I listened to his music and tried to strike up a conversation with him about David Bowie. I read Dune and tried to prove to him that I understood it. I watched crappy horror films with him and learned to make snide comments at the TV. But then, I ruined it. There was a science/math program for girls when I was in junior high, trying to get girls interested in things other than, oh, I don't know, language and arts? It makes no sense to me now, probably because I ended up studying English literature. My mom signed me up for all these practical lectures. My dad saw the one class related to architecture and signed me up. And do you know what I did in that lecture? Do you know how I broke my dad's heart? I snoozed in it. Never again would my dad bring up architecture or engineering around me.

I was a little Athena girl in the making.

Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen fills in where others have failed. I am, of course, talking about my favorites, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Because as much as I love Freud and Jung, no matter how brilliant I think they were, they were definitely men of their time. Freud said that women were only castrated men and that they could never be psychologically complete because they'd never be a full man. Doesn't take away from Freud's brilliance for me, but I don't really agree with that theory. Jung said that the unconscious part of a female is expressed through an inner masculine personality, her animus. This is supposedly similarly true for men. However, by divvying up traits into "masculine" (dominance) and "feminine" (sensitivity), it gets kind of vague. I mean, what are masculine and feminine traits? And many Jungian analysts have developed this theory further. Jean Shinoda Bolen herself is a Jungian analyst.

Before I read this book, I had never really read anything that focused on female psychology. I took Freud's theories to apply to both men and women, while ignoring his stuff on women. I also had never read a book where someone analyzed Greek mythology in a way that made so much sense. Having a fascination with dream women, the idea of the great goddess and Bolen's explanation of it was a bit of a revelation. The only way you can take power away from an idea is by splitting it up. The only way that a patriarchal society could take away power from the great goddess was by splitting her up into different ideals. Some goddesses were revered for their feminine attributes (Demeter, Persephone), while others were looked down upon (Aphrodite, that sly vixen).

There's no such thing as a woman who is entirely Athena or Aphrodite. And at different times in a woman's life, a different goddess may be in her. Not that I am saying "goddess" as in, the goddess is speaking through her. More, she's showing aspects of that archetype. Bolen breaks up the goddesses into three areas: Virgin, Vulnerable, and Alchemical. Virgin goddesses are women who can live without men in their lives. These include Artemis, Athena, and Hestia. Men didn't have much of a part in their mythology. The only exceptions were not romantic in any way. Artemis thinks of men as brothers, Athena is only looking for heroes, and Hestia's in her own little world. The vulnerable goddesses cannot live without men in their lives. They've also had men screw them up in some way. Hera was cheated on, Demeter was raped by Poseidon, and Persephone was kidnapped. And Aphrodite applies to both vulnerable and virgin.

I found Goddesses in Every Woman to be an absolutely fascinating book. If you're like me and you have an interest in psychology, or if you have an interest in analyzing literature, I'd say read it. Because all of the Greek archetypes are still in literature and popular culture.

I think, as a human being, I have to read Gods in Every Man as well. It's not just, "If you're a woman, you should read the one on goddesses and if you're a man you should read the one on gods." I think reading both will only help in understanding people more, regardless of gender.


I read this book as a senior in college, and more than twenty years later I still come back to its wisdom and insights.

Bolen, a Jungian psychologist, uses seven Greek goddesses as archetypal templates to help women -- and men -- understand some of the powerful psychological patterns that operate in women's lives. She divides them into three categories: the vulnerable (Hera, Demeter, Persephone) who are defined by their relationships; the virgin (Hestia, Athena, Artemis) who are not defined by their relationships; and Aphrodite, whom she calls "The Alchemical Goddess" who has relationships but is not hurt by them in the way the vulnerable goddesses are. Each archetype has its strengths and riches, and each has its shadows and challenges.

While no one goddess sums up any one women, Bolen's illumination of how the ancient stories convey forces that remain part of our psyches today is extremely valuable. I highly recommend it.

Pamela Wells

Archetypes are a powerful tool for self-knowledge because they tap into the universal collective language we all share. Learning to become more aware of your own archetypes can help you see yourself, the bigger picture and is a good place to start creating solutions for yourself and others. Finding out which Goddess sits at the head of your table is also a very good way to balance your own personality so you are able to find a voice for lesser known parts (Goddesses) of your inner self. I high recommend this book in every woman's collection for insight into strengths and weaknesses and personal empowerment.


Epiphanic !!! ...One word to sum up this book .. recommended to be read by any woman irrespective of her age and role...Powerful n subtle shifts in perspectives to be expected ! Sudden solution appears to perplexing life situations...and greater awareness of one's self...and ones own and others' motivations.... awesomely empowering and liberating !!! The Best Book I ever read.... Life Defining... I cant thank the author enough in ways that she helped me in understanding myself ....

Olivia Church

Last night I finished reading Jean Shinoda Bolen’s, ‘Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women’ and I wanted to share that it has had a deep effect on me. A lot of changes have occurred in my life over the last 6 months, prompting me to call into question my motives, desires and patterns. Since picking up this book in January I have had numerous ‘aha’ moments, nodding along to the words written, and enthusiastically sharing new insights with my friend who has also read this work. I (obviously) highly recommend it!

This book goes through seven different archetypal Goddesses from the ancient Greek pantheon, and explores how these archetypes continue to manifest for contemporary women. As with anything involving a limited number of archetypes, or written in a particular social context (this being published in 1984) there are limitations and not all women will resonate or identify with this text; however, for myself it did resonate on many levels, and at the very least has prompted me to question my behaviours.