Reviewed by Tiziana Stupia
When I first came across Tim Ward at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference 2006, I was very intrigued. I was at the Conference for a mere twenty-four hours, and Tim, whom I had never heard of before, was giving a presentation called A Man's Search for the Goddessin the morning. As he delivered a very interesting talk, accompanied by slides of powerful Goddess images he had accumulated during his travels, I grew very excited. Finally a man had written a book to investigate men’s fear of women and the Goddess, and it looked as though he had journeyed intensely, both physically and metaphorically, to find some answers. As a woman working in a sex offender’s prison, these were questions I had been wrestling with for a long time. Where was all of the anger and violence against women coming from, and, as Tim asks, what are men really afraid of? Why is it that men are often attracted to strong women, and then end up resenting that very strength? I was delighted to see that a man had gone to the trouble of investigating these questions, especially because he recognised these emotions in himself and felt, maybe subconsciously, that they were limiting him.
Fascinated by Tim’s talk, I bought his book, which is a remarkable and sometimes disturbing account of one man’s journey to find the Goddess, and ultimately, himself. On one level, ‘Savage Breast’ is a well-researched and beautifully written travelogue, illustrated with striking black & white photographs, classical quotes and snippets of poetry. Tim takes us on a voyage through Europe and the Near East, visiting ancient power places such as Delphi, Eleusis and Ephesus. At each of these locations, he explores ancient Goddess sites, converses with archaeologists and connects with Goddess, albeit initially at a primarily intellectual level. Through the thirteen chapters of the book, Tim also weaves his personal story together with tales of Greek Goddesses and the synchronicities that ensued: there’s Ariadne in Crete, Hekate in Anatolia, and Aphrodite in Cyprus.
However, what I was ultimately most captivated by were Tim’s accounts of his evolving relationship with his partner Teresa. At times, I found them almost too personal and moving in their often brutal honesty. Without trying to paint a heroic picture of himself, he courageously describes his struggles to accept Teresa’s love, his fear, his resistance, his repulsion, his latent anger towards women – yet all the while he is also seeking, probing, and remaining open to her even when the going gets tough and the relationship nearly comes to an end, ironically on Aphrodite’s island, Cyprus.
In my view, ‘Savage Breast’ is special because it is powerful and rare to witness a man really connect deeply with Goddess and plunge himself into the depths of her cauldron fearlessly, or rather, despite the fear that so many men (and women) seem to share. That fear, a basic terror of connection and letting go, debilitates many of us, and it is inspirational to see that it can be overcome. Through his journey with the Goddess and his love for Teresa, Tim seems to have shifted the majority of his issues and changed considerably in the process.
To my surprise, a lot of Tim’s observations resonated with me. I could really relate to his resistances, the fascination with darkness, the projections. And ultimately, this recognition confirmed to me just how much patriarchy and the loss of the Divine Feminine has affected us all, men and women alike. In the book’s epilogue, he hopes that the book will ‘provide an opportunity for men and women to speak more honestly and openly about what divides us, and what might be done to bring us closer together.’ I feel that this statement encapsulates the essence of ‘Savage Breast’ – it is a quest to re-dress the balance between men and women on a personal as well as universal level. This is a rich and absorbing book, and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the often troubled relationship between men and women.
"Savage Breast: A Man's Search for the Goddess", by Tim Ward, is published by O Books