Let me start by saying that there are a number of people who hate this book.
Let me finish by saying that I am not one of them!
Carl Jung said that one should learn all one can about mythology and then forget it. What he meant was that while dreams do have an origin in the collective unconscious, that meaning never trumps one's own personal mythology. The mythology is a starting point, a jumping-off point from where one can dive into one's own ideas and meaning. For me, Barbara Walker's "Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" is a great jumping-off point.
The book is filled with myths from various cultures, stories that work as effective guides for working with symbols that appear in dreams. Even if one is not working with dreams, it is a fascinated book to use to familiarize oneself with some basic mythology.
There are those who take issue with Walker's research as well as what they consider an anti-Christian, anti-male bias. I cannot speak to her research because I have not tracked down the numerous sources cited in the copious footnotes listed at the end of each of the book's entries. However, I can comment on the charges of anti-Christianity and anti-male bias.
This book, like Walker's "Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects", is written from a feminist perspective with the goal of revealing and restoring the Divine Feminine to western society. It is not written with the goal of proving the status-quo is correct. There are those who argue that in so doing, Walker has distorted facts and or slanted her research. On this count though, I would argue that a great deal of our currently accepted theories and/or facts are already based on a bias.
For example, how many people are aware of a man named York who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition? Or how many people have ever heard of Matthew Henson who actually arrived at the North Pole before Peary? These are examples of men who have been edited out of the current canon of American history not because of their sex, but because of the color of their skin.
In the end I consider Walker's books to be excellent resource books. I read them as I do most mythology--not as some ultimate truth but as a guide into the mystical.
As always, sleep well and dream out loud!
*~Aisling Ireland~* is an ordained Spiritual Counselor providing dream interpretation and Tarot readings. To make an appointment check out her website at: web.mac.com/aisling.ireland
Below are links to two of Barbara Walker's books. Both have interesting information about god/desses, mythology, and symbols. I use both frequently to help interpret symbols in my own dreams!