Beowulf, the Goddess and a can of wyrms

By Geraldine Charles

“Just don’t take any course where they make you read Beowulf”

 Woody Allen in Annie Hall, 1977

Beowulf and the dragon – J. R. Skelton

Maybe Woody was right.  This can be a pretty dreary read for a woman who flicks over the battle pages in novels and is bored to tears by chest-beating.  If you must be a hero, guys, please be the strong, silent kind that I can ignore. However, I’ve had a strange fascination with Beowulf since I was a teenager, an odd, melancholy thing that I’d almost forgotten about until the recent movie2.  That got me started thinking about Grendel’s Mother and the possible presence of a forgotten goddess in the poem, although it is pretty unpromising at first sight.  But no piece of literature survives for so long if it doesn’t speak to us on many levels, including the subconscious, which is perhaps where much of our longing for the divine feminine now resides.

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