Pub Date2018
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Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and other Airborne Females

Serinity Young
Oxford University Press

The desire to transcend the mundane and the terrestrial, and to reach new heights of spiritual experience, has been expressed through myths, folk tales, and the arts throughout the world and across centuries. Flight from both the captivity of earth’s gravity and the mental constraints of time-bound desire are the backbone of myth-making. Women and goddesses have figured prominently in such myths, both as independent actors and as guides for men. Women Who Fly is a history of religious and social ideas about such aerial females as expressed in legends, myths, rituals, sacred narratives, and artistic productions. It is also about the varied symbolic uses of women in mythology, religion, and society that have shaped, and continue to shape, our social and psychological reality. The motif of the flying female is an intriguing and unstudied area of the history of both religion and iconography. It is a broad topic. Rather than place restrictions on this theme (or its imagery), or force it into the confines of any one discipline or cultural perspective, the goal here instead is to celebrate its thematic and cultural diversity, while highlighting commonalities and delineating the religious and social contexts in which it developed. Aerial women are surprisingly central to any full and accurate understanding of the similarities between various religious imaginations, through which these flying females have carved trajectories over time.