According to Robert Graves, the earliest societies and religions were matriarchal, kings were sacrificed, and the moon was thought to control the sun.
A few thousand years ago many goddess oriented civilizations were destroyed by aggressive Indo-European tribes who worshipped aggressive sky gods, and thus females lost their sacredness. These newer world religions were monotheist, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, with one god who was male, and took shape in the Iron Age when men dominated societies in Europe and the Middle East. Some fathers of the early Christian church even argued that women had no souls. Goddess cultures tended to be egalitarian, earth-centred and non-violent.
SHAKTI (Sanskrit - power) in Hinduism is the power of the goddess, the female attribute PURUSHA (cosmic self). The supreme goddess herself and deity of Tantric Hinduism - every god and human has shakti, but women have more than men. The sun's shaktis are heat and light. Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism emphasizes the division of the universe into male and female forces that maintain its unity by their interaction. Shakti is also a woman's sexual energy and the TANTRAS (Sanskrit - web/warp) describe magical and sexual yoga practices imitating gods (Parvati/Sakti, female half of the divine Androgyne/Hermaphrodite (Hermes/Aphrodite), and her husband Shiva/Siva, Lord of the Dance). A YOGINI (female teacher) is depicted in 18th c. Tantric Buddhist carvings with serpentine energy (KUNDALINI - Sanskrit snake) emanating from her YONI (Sanskrit - Sacred Space. The cowrie shell is a yonic symbol. Star Fire/Vehicle of Light/Gold of the Gods is the menstruum, the potency of which gave rise to vampire myths. Jade Fluid is the woman's saliva, nourishing to the man. The masculine equivalent, lingam, means wand of light). Greeks and Egyptians depicted the serpent swallowing its tail as a symbol of eternity and rebirth - Ouroboros, symbol later used by hermetics and alchemists.
Ancient AUSTRALIAN Aboriginal rock paintings similarly show the powerful sexuality of women in explicit detail. Their creative spirit of the DREAMTIME was the RAINBOW SERPENT, Ngaljod, of fertility, water, rain and thunder. They believe that songs created all living things and they still sing to encourage plant and animal life. Naga is a serpent god/devata in India. Many religions feature the snake representing knowledge/wisdom/healing, or double snake (ida/igala) in HIEROS GAMOS sacred marriage/cosmic union (qv CADUCEUS), as their supreme goddess, often androgynous, capable of creation without a male partner. Shiva and Shakti, Gaia and Uranus were in Hieros Gamos. In New Zealand the Maori earth goddess Papa/Papa-tua-kuku and sky god Rangi were locked in eternal embrace before separated by a jealous god.
For the GREEKS man represented order NOMOS, while women and animals were PHYSIS, wild, threatening and lawless like Bacchae, inversely the CELTS and others believed women were especially close to the sacred landscape, and in many religions the goddesses were zoomorphic. The MORRIGAN to the Celts were triple goddesses but sometimes one goddess; sometimes three of different ages, also appearing in many different cultures as Fates/Moriae/Parcae, TrΦs Matres, Three Marys of the Sea, etc., The idea of a Holy Trinity did not form part of Israelite theology and only became a Christian concept as the gospel spread into the pagan world, where a holy triad or family was a well established device. The Holy Spirit was female in Hebrew texts. Celtic goddesses were always depicted as the same size as their male partner.
In early religions it was understood that life must emanate from both male and female sources - the primary male god was associated with the sun or the sky and the primary goddess had her roots in the earth, the sea and fertility. Some Old Testaments name god's co-creator as HOKHMA (Wisdom).
In TAOISM, the I CHING describes that the universe is kept in balance by opposing forces of YIN and YANG (YAB/YUM father/mother) - YIN is female and watery, the force in the moon and rain which reaches its peak in winter; YANG is masculine and solid, the force in the sun and earth which reaches its peak in summer.
Countless nude, fecund statuettes of the MOTHER GODDESS have been discovered at pre-historic sites all over the world e.g. the voluptuous, nude CYCLADIC fertility goddesses found at Neolithic Greek burial sites. Some figures show a long phallic head and neck symbolizing that the Great Goddess is both male and female with the power to create all - the cosmic Androgyne found in many religions - Nommo (a fish) in Mali and Sudan, Africa and Gaia (Earth) in Greece who gave birth alone to Chronos (Time) and Uranus (Space). (Gaia, Tartarus (Abyss) and Eros (Love) followed Chaos (Gap)- Erebus (Underworld) and Nyx (Night) were born of Chaos.) In Egypt the creator god Atum was both male and female, with different manifestations.
In ancient SUMER, the cradle of civilisation, there were 4 leading gods representing heaven, air, water and earth - Ki/Ninti was the goddess of the earth (double serpent - also known as Ninhursag), the other three were male, An god of heaven, Enlil god of air and Enki god of water. Next were the 3 sky deities for the moon (Nanna the father), the sun (Utu the son) and the daughter, Inanna in the EPIC OF GILGAMESH, (Ishtar in Mesopotamia/Akkad, Isis in Egypt) Queen of Heaven and goddess of love, rain an thunderstorms, procreation and war. Temple rites were conducted by sacred prostitutes, eunuchs, priestesses, priests, singers and musicians. Ninti means Lady of the Rib or Lady who Makes Live (ti meaning rib or to make life) - she is associated with EVE (Hawwah), Mother of All Creation and Pandora.
Lilith a descendant of Dragon Queen of Creation Tiamat, (Sumerian/Hebrew - wind/night), Adam's first wife, was debased (like the fabled wicked step-mother, as a warning) in Jewish legend as a succubus; a wind demon; and in BABYLON (Sumer) as a child slaying demon, Lamashtu; although represented by the continuous-life Matrioshka doll-nests in Russia. It is said that God created her out of the earth like Adam, but she refused to submit to him and fled. Some stories say she became friends with Eve secretly. Her daughters were the wives of Cain and Abel.
Early writers say Cain and Abel had twin sisters, Luluwa and Aklemia, and that Seth had a sister Noraia. Lilith is said to be the mother of the GREEN MAN, the god of vegetation in Britain and elsewhere. She is associated with EVE, Tiamat, Echidna and Lamia. A symbol of the modern Jewish women's movement, Lilith was handmaiden to the MATRONIT, Jehovah's consort.
Jehovah/Yahweh is a form of YHWH which originally represented the Heavenly Family - Y/El, father; H/Asherah, mother; W/He, son and H/Anath, daughter. Anath (Anahita in Persia) was Queen of the Heavens and her brother He, was King of the Heavens. He and his father El, merged to become Jehovah. Asherah/Ashtoreth (double serpents - wisdom) and Anath were then joined to become Jehovah's consort, the SHEKINAH/MATRONIT. Sarah (Princess), wife/sister of Abraham, revered as a goddess of health and fertility, is said to be embodied in Shekinah (Indwelling). Celts worshipped Shekinah at dolmens/cromlechs.
The Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple represented the womb of ASHTORETH/ASHERAH, who was also the Phoenician goddess of love and fruitfulness, Astarte in Greece and Rome, Atar Gatis (a mermaid) in Syria. Ashtoreth was identified with Greek goddesses Hecate (witchcraft) and Selene (moon = Roman Luna) - often associated with each other; Artemis (wild nature, harvest, hunting as Agrotora, wild animals especially bears as Kalliste, fishermen as Britomartis (Sweet Maiden, moon goddess, snake-mermaid)/Diktynna, (who may be one person or lovers) childbirth, chastity, youth and young women = Roman Diana, and Aphrodite (love/beauty = Roman Venus). Selene (who loved Endymion) had a sister Eos (Roman Aurora) goddess of dawn - both were daughters of Theia. The Phoenician goddess of the moon was Tanit. Creator goddesses have always been associated with the moon, for obvious reasons even to its control of tides and water - and horses too especially to the Celts, because of their moon shaped hoof prints.
Ashtoreth was counterpart to Ishtar, (Isis in Egypt, Ashtart in Israel; Athtar in Arabia and Astar in Abyssinia - change to male!) Great Mother, goddess of fertility and Queen of Heaven who was chief goddess of the Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians (Mesopotamia/Iraq). Mara was goddess of the sea. To the Assyrians Ishtar represented the goddess of hunting and war. To the Babylonians she was represented by the evening or morning star Venus, Mother Goddess, naked with prominent breasts and often suckling a child. Also known as Queen Semiramis, whose mother was Derceto, a mermaid.
TIAMAT/THALASSA, the Dragon Queen, was the salt water dragon/goddess of chaos in Babylon/Mesopotamia whose death gave rise to the creation of the world. Serpents, dragons and the holy crocodile Draco evolved into the PENDRAGON Celtic kings giving rise to the Red Dragon of Wales emblem. To the Greeks Thalassa was the daughter of Aetha (upper sky) and HEMERA (day). Nyx/Nox (night) was mother of Hemera and Aether and daughter of Chaos. She was one of the seven elements (fire, water, earth, sky, sun, moon and night), and goddess of illness, suffering, dreams, quarrels, murder, sleep, death, misfortune... Her daughter was Fate/Ananke/Necissitas (Roman Fatum).
To the Scythians Artimpassa was goddess of love and the moon, while the Semitic goddess of war was Agasaya.
Greek ARTEMIS, (= Roman DIANA, goddess of the moon, easy childbirth, chasity, the hunt, wild animals, guardian of springs an streams, Apollo's twin, sister of Venus and Minerva, daughter of Jupiter) was also known as Orthia/Orthosia, Limnaia (goddess of marshes), Potamia (river goddess), Munychia (moon goddess), Brauronia, Amarynthia and Leukophyrne. Her double edged axe, representing 2 moons, LABRYS, (from the same word as Labyrinth, is a lesbian symbol - Britomaris and Arethusa are among her lovers. Artemis was worshipped by the AMAZONS (meaning moon-maidens), including Melousa, Velasca and their Queen Hippolyta, daughter of Ares. California was named after the Amazon Queen Califa. CALLISTO (Beautiful One) beloved of Artemis, promised to remain a virgin but Zeus impregnated her in the form of Artemis. Furious Artemis demanded to know who made her pregnant and Callisto replied that Artemis herself had. The wronged Callisto and her son Arcas became the Great and Little Bear constellations revolving around the Pole Star, separated by a star called Draco, the Holy Crocodile. (Ursa Major is also known as the Plough or Big Dipper).
Some congenial modern witchcraft/neo-pagan WICCA female only groups call themselves DIANIC and worship the goddess DIANA exclusively. Wiccan followers comprise ecologists and feminists, emphasising the sacredness of nature and the coexistence of the sexes, appreciating the symbolism and psychological realities behind the goddesses and gods of antiquity, eschewing Satanism. Other neo-pagan groups have arisen out of early Egyptian, Greek, Nordic and Celtic beliefs.
APHRODITE, sister of Athena, daughter of Dione and Zeus, (some say Gaia and Uranus and that she was sister of the Meliae and the Furies), was worshipped as Aphrodite Urania, Queen of the Heavens and transcendental love, Aphrodite Pandemos/Porne, Queen of the whole people/common lust. Her surname was Callipygos (Beautiful Buttocks) and her totem animal was the swan. The poetry of SAPPHO of LESBOS was dedicated to her. She had children by Ares, god of war. Aphrodite's daughter was Peitho/Suada/Suadela goddess of persuasion and other children include Harmonia (harmony/healing), son/lover Eros/Cupid god of love (the zodiacal sign Pisces represents Aphrdite and Eros hiding as fishes from Typhon), Hymen god of marriage, Hermaphroditus (son of Aphrodite and Hermes - who became man and woman when a Nymph he rejected prayed to be united with him) and Priapos, god of fertility and gardens.
VENUS was originally goddess of gardens and fields, later identified with Aphrodite, love and beauty. Worshipped as Venus Genetrix, mother of founder of Rome; Venus Felix, bringer of good fortune; Venus Victix, bringer of victory, Venus Verticordia, protector of feminine chastity, and Barbarta of bearded cross dressers who wished to repel their husbands.
Daughter of Jupiter, sister of Minerva, Diana, Mercury, Apollo and Bacchus/Dionysus (god of fertility and wine - the Bacchanalia/Orgia/Dionysiac Mysteries, like many MYSTERIES, were originally celebrated by women, here known as Bacchae/ Bacchantes/Maenads), and mother of Cupid/Eros/Amor who loved Psyche (mother of Volputa goddess of pleasure) whose name meant soul, later butterfly. The planet Venus is the morning star, also called Lucifer, the fallen angel. In astrology Venus is the whore, the rose and the temptress, and is associated with blood (venous), venom, vengeance, vendettas, venal and veneration.
Cotys was another fertility goddess with rites celebrated by the Baptai.
Gaea/Ge/Gaia (Roman Terra/Tellus) in Greek mythology was the personification of Mother Earth, followed from Chaos, and was wife/mother of Father Heaven, Uranus. Followed by TARTARUS (underworld) and EROS god of love. Gaea and Uranus were parents of the 12 Titans (including Phoebe and Coeus parents of Leta/Leto, and Rhea mother of the Olympian gods including Hestia, Demeter, Hera and Zeus), the Cyclopes and the Giants. Associated with Pandora, the other daughters with Uranus, were Tethys, Themis and her daughter Astraea, Theia and Mnesmosyne(sometimes Titans), but she had other offspring alone without sex, such as Charybdis and Echidna. She also had children with her son Pontus, and Typhon from her brother Tartarus. Another daughter is Dione, mother of Aphrodite.
From the blood of Uranus Gaea brought forth the goddesses, the Erinyes/Furies (daughters of the night/earth) - Tisiphone (avenger of murder), Megaera (jealous one) and Alecto (increasing in anger) who also represented fertility and later became the Eumenides, kindly ones, protectors of the suppliant. (Some say Aphrodite also - the nymph Daphne is said to be mother of Tisiphone). Her daughter Electra, an Oceanid nymph, bore IRIS, goddess of the rainbow, and the 3 HARPIES (goddesses of the storm and punishment).
IRIS was the female counterpart to Hermes/Mercury, the winged messenger who carried the CADUCEUS, the winged, double serpent staff of healing/knowledge (Swan). She brought the healing power of the Mother Goddess to earth via a rainbow carrying the caduceus, symbolising wholeness. Hermes took the staff and taught healing to Asklepios, son of Apollo, who taught his daughter Hygiea (Roman Salus) goddess of preserving good health - her sisters were Jaso (Roman Meditrina) associated with restoring good health, and Panacea. Their mother was Epione. The Pythia, the priestess oracle at Delphi named after the female serpent Python, was first dedicated to Gaia, then Themis, Phoebe, then Apollo.
Fauna/Fatua was a Roman goddess identified with Gaea; Hecate/Trivia/Triformis (goddess of witchcraft, mother of Scylla); Cybele/Ops; Maia (hence May) mother of Hermes, wife of Zeus; Semele, mother of Dionysus, wife of Zeus; Bona Dea (healing serpent); Magna Mater; Mater Matuta; Pales (cattle rearing, sometimes male!) and others. Known as the kind goddess from earliest times because of her benevolence over all of creation, Fauna's festivities on the first of May were celebrated with wine, music and mysterious ceremonies by women and girls. Her offspring were the Fatui, deities of the fields, sometimes good, sometimes evil, later known as Fays, with the power of witchcraft and prophecy. Morgan le Fay (fata morgana) is associated with ancient legend. Flora was a Roman goddess also associated with spring, flowers, youth and May Day.
Rhea, (Greek milk) daughter of Gaea, a Titan in Greek mythology is Mother of the Olympian Gods including DEMETER/Chloe (Blooming) (Roman CERES, whence cereal, her festival in April was Cerealia), Alma Mater, goddess of the earth/grain, married to her brother Cronos - Demeter was worshipped by women only in the THESMORPHORIA orgies. Like Fauna, Rhea/Rea is identified in Roman mythology with Kybele/Cybele (Roman Ops) Great Mother of the Gods, goddess of nature and fertility, presiding over mountains and fortresses and known as Mater Turrita, her avatar is the lion. Corybantes - eunuch priests, led orgiastic rites in Cybele's honour. Rhea, wife of Saturn/Kronos, was also known as Dindumene and Berekuntia.
Rhea's daughter HERA (Roman Juno), goddess of marriage, was married to her brother Zeus; their son was Ares and daughters were Hebe/Ganymeda/Dia (Roman Juventus) goddess of youth, and Eileithyia/Ilithyia/Eleutho goddess of childbirth (sometimes associated with Artemis/Diana). Worshipped predominantly by women, Hera the female equivalent of Hero, was also known as Eileithyia, Partheia and Gamelia/Zygia/Teleia. Her companions at Argos were Iris, the Graces and the Seasons.
The Roman equivalent of HERA was JUNO was worshipped as Juno Pronuba, presiding over marriage; Juno Lucina, aiding women in childbirth; Juno Regina, counsellor and protector of Rome; and Mater Matuta. Daughter of Rea/Rhea, Juno was sister to Vesta/HESTIA (Roman goddess of the hearth) of the Vestal Virgins, Ceres, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. Her festival in June was called the Matronalia. With Minerva and Jupiter she was one of the Capitoline triad in Rome, which replaced the old triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus.
Virgins were often priestesses in many relgions as their undissipated sexual power was thought to make them more potent. CARDEA was the goddess of the threshold.
Persephone/Kora (maiden = Roman Proserpine/Libera) goddess of the underworld, was Demeter's daughter by Zeus, and together they were worshipped in the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries, originally by women. Persephone was associated with Hermoine/Cordelia. The SIRENS were nymphs, daughters of the Muse Calliope, (with the bodies of birds, later fish - mermaids) and playmates of Persephone punished by Demeter for not protecting Persephone. Roman goddess of the shades was Libitina/Lubentina.
Hera and Demeter's goddess/co-wives with Zeus their brother, were Dione (mother of Aphrodite), Themis a Titan goddess of divine justice (mother of SEASONS/Horae/Hours - Dike, justice; Irene/Pax, peace; Eunomia, good order; and FATES/Moirae/Parcae - Clotho virgin, Lachesis mother, Atropos crone, Tres Matres, also said to be the daughters of Night, whence faeries/fairies), Mnemosyne, a Titan goddess of memory (mother of MUSES/Pierides, goddesses of arts and sciences - Clio, history; Calliope, epic poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; Melpomene, tragedy; Terpsichore, choral songs and dance; Erato, love poetry; Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; Urania, astronomy and Thalia, comedy), Maia (mother of Hermes), Leta/Leto/Latona (darkness - daughter of Titans Phoebe and husband/brother Coeus, and mother of twins Artemis and Apollo), Eurynome (mother of THREE GRACES/CHARITIES, goddesses of joy, charm and beauty - Aglaia, splendour/brilliance; Euphrosyne, mirth/joy and Thalia, good cheer/flowering) and Metis (mother of ATHENA = Roman MINERVA).
XENA:Warrior Princess is loosely based on ATHENA/XENIA, sister of Aphrodite, who sprang full grown from the head of Zeus and was known as Pallas Athena and Parthenos - the maiden/virgin. In Rome Minerva was one of the Capitoline triad with Juno and Jupiter); and primary goddess of Greek cities (as Polias: her effigy, Palladium, protected Athens), industry (as Ergane), wisdom, war (with her shield Aegis) and arts, especially agricultural and crafts of women, particularly spinning and weaving. Often associated with birds, especially the owl, she invented the plough, the flute, taming animals, building ships and making shoes, also known as Tritogeneia/Tritonia; Soteira, saviour; Glaukopis, blue-eyed goddess; Hippia, tamer of horses; and Mechanitis, ingenious. She is sometimes depicted as the male god Mentor.
The Greeks believed she was one of the Aeons, Sophia (Wisdom) . Associated with Athena is Nike (Roman Victoria) goddess of victory, daughter of Oceanid nymph, Styx.
In Rome MINERVA (goddess of intelligence, handicrafts, arts and trades: sister of Diana and Venus, daughter of Jupiter) was one of the Capitoline triad with Juno and Jupiter.
Zeus' human wives were Alcmene, Antiope, Callisto, Aegina, Europa, Io, Laodamia, Niobe, Pluto, Taygete, Danae, Leda (mother of Helen and Clytemnestra), Electra (mother of Harmonia also said to be daughter of Aphrodite) and Semele, mother of Dionysus. Zeus often took animal form - with Leda a swan, with Europa a bull.
Minor Greek goddesses were Eris (Roman Discordia) goddess of strife, wife of Zeus and mother of Ate goddess of infatuation, mischief or guilt; Litae goddess who recompensed subjects of Ate; Leukothea goddess of sailors; Tyche/Virilis (Roman Fortuna) goddess of luck, worshipped by brides, sister of the Fates, another sister was ASTRAEA, goddess of justice associated with Themis; Nemesis/Adrasreia/Rhamnusia goddess of punishment and hubris; Daphne, the laurel; Enyo (Roman Bello/Bellona) goddess of war; Fama/Pheme goddess of fame or report; Lympha of the healing power of water; Lina the goddess of flax weaving; Klothes goddess of spinning (virgin Fate); Horta of gardens; Penia of poverty; Scabies of skin disorders; Opthalmitis of eyesight; Hesperides goddess of the region of the West, and her daughters the Hesperides/Atlantides/Pleiades, who ruled over the bountiful Gardens of the Hesperides. The nymph Pharmaceia of the poison spring gave birth to the Pharmacides goddesses of witches and drugs.
Fraud was the Roman goddess of betrayal, with the body of a serpent and tail of a scorpion; Strenua the Roman goddess of vigour; Veritas the Roman goddess of truth; Pecunia the Roman goddess of money.
Lesser divinities in Greece and Rome were the Nymphs - Oceanids of the ocean, daughters (including Kalypso, Electra and Styx) of the Titans, Thethys and Oceanus son of Gaea; Nereids/Dorids of the Mediterranean (50 daughters of Doris, wife of the Old Man of the Sea son of Gaea - most famous were Galatea; Thetis, mother of Achilles; Amphitrite goddess of the sea, wife of Poseidon (once chief Greek god, brother of Zeus) - their son was Triton, she was known to the Romans as Salacia/Neverita/Venilia); Potameides of the rivers; Naiads of springs and freshwater streams; Oreads of mountains and grottoes (most famous - Echo, mother with Pan the Faun, of Iambe, who pined for Narcissus); Dryads/Hamadryads of the forests and trees (one was Pomona, goddess of garden fruits, another Byblis of water/love); Leimoniads of meadows and flowers; Napaeae/Auloniads of mountain vales; Limnads of lakes, marshes and swamps; Atlantids belonging to Pleiads; Pleiads daughters of Pleione, sisters/daughters of Hyas; and Hyads/Dodonids, daughters of Aethra. The Nymphs' brothers were the goat legged Satyrs. Nymphae is another name for the LABIA MINORI (hence nymphomania). Deianeira was a Nereid. Daughters of Keto or Echidna mother of Hydra, two of the GORGONS were immortal but Medusa was mortal, and Pegasus, winged horse son of Poseidon, sprang from her head when Perseus, son of Danae and Zeus, cut it off. The names of the 3 Graeae, sisters and guardians of the Gorgons meant alarm, dread and horror.
The Minoan Civilisation of Crete primarily worshipped goddesses - one was Rhea, another was a snake representing fertility, who gave birth to the Minoan bull representing power. The Minotaur (a man with the head of a bull) of the Labyrinth was the son of a bull and Pasiphae, daughter of Perseis and Helios the sun god (brother to Selene (moon) and Eos (dawn)). Pasiphae's daughters were Ariadne and Phaedra. Europa was the Minoan moon goddess.
Egyptians were SYNCRETISTS being both polytheist and monotheist. Atum the creator was both male and female, and manifested in lesser gods, and goddesses including Isis and Hathor. In Egyptian mythology goddesses and gods were theriomorphic, depicted as part animal, and Isis was the goddess of love, fertility and motherhood (and the BLACK VIRGIN), daughter of goddess Nut (sky/heavens) and husband/brother Geb (earth), she resembled Athor/Hathor/Athyr (with the head of a cow), goddess of motherhood, love, gaiety, sky, fertility, women, marriage, Queen of Heaven portrayed with horns and the sun's disc. As Maut/Maat, Mother Nature, truth and justice with the head of a vulture, Isis was identified with Hera and Demeter (earth, agriculture, fertility) in Greece, also Aphrodite and the Madonna; and was also worshipped in Rome with Mysteries. Her sister was Nephthys (death), her son/lover Horus and her daughter was Bubastis/Bast/Bastet/Pahst, the cat/lion goddess of the moon and childbirth, associated with Greek Artemis. Hekat with a frog's head was a goddess of childbirth, as was Nefertum. Isis and husband/brother Osiris ruled after Ra. Nut (sky/death) mother of Isis, was daughter of Ra (sun) and sister of Tefnut (atmosphere/dew), lionheaded. Sati was Queen of the upper heaven (ether) = Greek Hera, and Neith (with the head of a cobra) was Queen of lower heaven (air/death) = Greek Athena. Wadjet cobraheaded - the Eye of Horus is also know as the Wadjet eye; Meretseger - cobra of the peak; Revenutet - snake protector of king and harvest; Sekhmet (Powerful) was goddess of the sun, heat and fire, with the head of a lioness; Mut lionheaded warrior goddess; Selket - head of scorpion, Tauret/Taweret (childbirth) - head of hippo; Nekhbet, vulture headed.
The SPHINX personified the fruit bearing earth, a deity of wisdom and knowledge, her bare breasted, lion bodied figure was placed before every temple, sometimes with the face of the monarch: (unlike the malign Greek one, representing death). Her mother was the CHIMERA (she-goat) head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a serpent.
In the ZOROASTRIAN dualism religion (prophet Zoroastra/Zarathustra) of Persia (now Parsees/Parsis in India) the wives of Lord Wisdom, the Ahuranis were rain clouds and water, like Varma's Varmanis of the Hindu RIG-VEDA book of knowledge. Anahita (Anath/Aphrodite/Artemis/Magna Mater) was the goddess of the moon, fertility and rain.
The PERI in Persian myth were beautiful, harmless creatures between angels and devils - similar to JINNIYAH, female jinni/genie.
Hindu goddesses representing SHAKTI, the merciful, loving partner of each male god, are Parvati (mountains/peace - also worshipped by SHAKTAS as Durga/Kali (death) whose followers were the Thugs - as Sara-Kali she was worshipped by gypsies in France as the Black Virgin or Virgin Mary), Lakshmi (fertility/light/wealth celebrated at Diwali), Sita (furrow - abundance) and Radha (Beloved One - sexuality and Tantric love) her priestess are still naked and the rituals secret. Durga is one of the names of Mahadevi, Great Goddess, and her temples are pyramids. Followers of Tantrism worship Parvati/Sakti and her husband Shiva/Siva, chanting Mantras like "Om". Mara represents death, and Maya is goddess of the cosmos. Yakshi is fertility, earth, love and beauty; Usas - dawn, cows; Sitala - smallpox; Sushumma - unbalanced mind; Sarasvati - Flowering One, rivers, fertility, shamanic healing, art, music and learning. In Hinduism the female partner is addressed first - Radha-Krishna, Sita-Ram, Uma-Mahesh, Lakshmi-Narayan. The creator goddess Ganga, has no form being half light in the Milky Way and half water in the Ganges. The Roman goddess MENS (Bright Moment/Mind) is associated with Shakti and menstruation.
THEOSOPHY is a religion or philosophy, evolving out of gnosticism and Catharism, based on intuitive insight into the nature of the divine - based on Hindu views of KARMA (Sanskrit - fate), reincarnation and the aim is NIRVANA (Sanskrit - extinguishing). Both the I CHING (Book of Changes) and the TAO-TE CHING (The Way and its Power) leading books of Taoism from China, contain elements of theosophy.
In India Annapurna is the goddess of harvest. In Nepal Sagarmatha, Goddess of the Universe, is the name for Everest (chomolunga in the Tibetan name), Taleju is the patron goddess.
In China Ch'ang O is the moon goddess and Nu-Wa (double serpent, rainbow dragon, woman) is loving, giving, creating, destroying. Hs Wang Mu is the peach tree spirit. The Buddhist goddess Tara in TIBET (Star - White Tara, compassion, peaceful; Green Tara, wrathful; also red, yellow and blue) or Guanyin/Kuan-yin (compassion/mercy, originally Taoist became ZEN in JAPAN, childbirth, wisdom) in China. Cosmic union, Sacred Marriage, is represented by the square in circle MANDALA, shown in YAB-YUM statues of continuous sexual union - the sexual position of sitting upright with the women's legs around the man. Yum is yin/in and yoni.
CHERUBIM were winged goddesses in the Near East sometimes in cosmic union.
The Bardo goddesses in Tibet guide you to immortality.
In China the sacred vessel TS'UNG is square outside (material activated by penetration of eternal into present) and circular inside (male active infinite), as are many Asian temples. Buddhist Tantra represents the third stage of Buddhism.
The Japanese Buddhist goddess of mercy is Kannon/Kwannon (constant love, radiance), which is a male god in India. In the Shinto religion of Japan, the supreme gods Kami are both males and females. Izanami is the primary goddess, her daughters are Amaterasu/Omikami (rising sun) and Tzukiyomi (moon). Aze is the pine tree. In Korea Shamanesses, Mudang, are common today. Their ancestor was Pali Kongju. Sinjang Halmoni is their goddess of war.
In Indonesia Sago Woman created sago from her vagina.
In New Guinea goddess of harvest is Hainuwele and in Polynesia she is Taranga.
The Polynesian goddess of the moon is Hina.
Uarahiulu is the creator goddess of the Paressi in Brazil; Quilla is the moon goddess of the Incas of Peru and Pacha-Mama the Mother Goddess; to the Aztecs of Mexico she is Coyolxauhqui or Coatlicue (Serpent Skirt - earth/fire goddess with necklace of skulls) double serpent symbolising the duality of creation/destruction, her temple is a pyramid. Her child Feathered Serpent, represents rebirth. Other goddesses are Lazolteotl, Tlazolteotl of pleasure and guilty love, Xochiquetzal of flowers/marigolds, Chalchiuhtlicue of running water, newborns, marriage and innocent love (sister/wife of the oldest god, the rain god), and Chicomecoatl (Serpent)/Tonantzin (Revered Mother) of the harvest.
Spider Woman is the goddess of creation to Native Americans and the Cherokee worship the Corn Mother, Selu, and the Corn Sisters, squash and beans. Many tribes all over the world had Corn Mothers. Toothed Vagina was another goddess! SHAMANESSES (healers) were common. Sistutl is the Canadian double headed serpent of the sea totem.
In West Africa Sande and Yassi societies of Shamanesses are the only ones with tribal masks and take turns with the men in tribal affairs. In Nigeria Oya is the Mother Goddess, Ala, the corn goddess and Oshun, the healing river.The Ashanti believe that divinities reside in objects like stones and images called fetishes. Many religions have names for the gods residing in specific trees and plants.
In Norse/Scandinavian mythology the Norn were the three goddesses of fate - Urd, past; Verdandi, present and Skuld, future. Hela/Hel was death and Freya/Vanadis/Frigga/Freija/Var and her daughter Hnossa, represented married love and the hearth, nature and the passage of the dead. Volva were serpent sibyls or oracles, and the Valkyries, including Svava, led by Brunhild, conducted warriors to Valhalla.
Hariela was German goddess of war and Hulda German goddess of marriage,and Sroya was Slavic goddess of war.
Celtic goddesses were BRIGIT/BRIGANTIA/BRIDE/ST BRIDGET (Bright One) of craft, poetry, fertility, healing, divination (Vesta), sometimes a triple goddess (poetry/healing/smithcraft); EPONA of horses and stables, associated with the white horses carved in chalk hills, and with Welsh moon goddess RHIANNON/REGINA/RIGANTONA, wife of the King of Dyfed who rode a white horse, and later became the Arthurian Nimue/Vivian, Lady of the Lake; ROSEMERTA of fertility, with a caduceus.
MORRIGAN/ANDRASTE of war/death. Associated with Morgan le Fay the Morrigan were one or three goddesses, virgin/mother/crone, Tres Matres, Fates, 3 seasons, new/full/waning moon, creator/protector/destroyer, earth/sky/underworld.
CAILLEACH was goddess of the earth and nature but so was DRUANTIA symbolised by the fir tree,and KERIDWEN was goddess of wisdom.
Welsh BRANWEN (White Breasted One - her totem animal the white crow) was goddess of love, OLWEN was goddess of the sun and day, and the goddess of war was AERON.
Anglo-Saxon EOSTRE was goddess of spring, hence Easter eggs.
SUL was British goddess of wisdom. (BOADICEA/BOUDICA was Queen of the Iceni, leading tough, blue eyed women into battle, who terrified Roman soldiers. Women in Ancient Britain often fought beside the men.)
In Ireland MEDHBA (Maeve/Mab), the Intoxicator was a goddess and Queen of Connaught. BADB was goddess of war and BUAN of the hazel.
THE NAG HAMMADI CODICES found near Qumran (like the Dead Sea scrolls), ancient centre of the Essenes, thought to have been written by Valentinus from Christian and Coptic texts, were a reflection of Platonism and Eastern dualism religion, Zoroastrianism. They have brought additional Gospels to the fore including that of Mary Magdalen - her true importance is said to have been excluded from the Bible by Peter (and the Roman Catholic Church) who denied Christ and detested women, especially educated ones, seeing them as the gateway to the Devil, even denying they had souls.
According to Gnostic tradition Mary Magdalen was associated with wisdom (Sophia) represented by the sun, moon and halo of stars, becoming Athena to the Greeks. The female gnosis of Sophia (mother of Zoe (Life, thought to be EVE and Pandora), one of the AEONS, gnostic creators of all things, daughters of Barbello) was deemed to be the Holy Spirit, represented on Earth by Mary Magdalen.
GNOSTICISM (knowledge opposite of agnostic) was the esoteric cult of divine knowledge, a synthesis of Christianity, Greek philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism and Mystery cults of the Mediterranean - elements found in philosophies from early asceticism to modern existentialism. The essence was that the inner spirit of humanity must be liberated from a world that is basically deceptive, oppressive and evil.
The red cloaked priestesses such as Mary Magdalen, of early Judaeo-Christianity, the HIERODULAI, became defamed as harlots, whores or scarlet women, by end of the 6th century. She is often portrayed in a red cloak over a green dress of fertility. Jesus called her Apostle of the Apostles. As a head sister Mary was entitled to wear black, like the priests of Isis, and there are many statues of BLACK MADONNAS with black hands and faces in France, in churches on pagan sites dedicated to Isis and Athena, and some cults are also associated with LILITH. Wisdom (Sophia) is black having existed in the darkness of Chaos before creation. The BLACK VIRGIN or Earth Goddess, Erzulie (her avatar a water snake) is worshipped in Voodoo, a mixture of Roman Catholicism and West African tribal religions (their priestesses are called Mambo/Manbo. Ogu, a warrior, is St James the Great.) Black Virgins are found on every continent including the Indian AMARI DE and SARA-KALI, the Indian goddess worshipped by gypsies in France as the Black Virgin Mary. Mary the mother of Jesus, the token woman in the Roman and Orthodox church, was therefore only permitted to be portrayed wearing blue (heaven) and white (purity)! Earlier she wore a red dress - her mother st anne wore a red dress (love) and greeen cloak (rebirth).Protestant religions ignored her completely.
Many of the learned women who led the groups that were formally described as heretical, promoted teaching based on the instruction from the ancient Judaeo-Christian Therapeutate (hence THERAPY) at Qumran, to which Jesus belonged. The Therapeutate formed the early basis for the Knights Templar, Hospitalers, St John, Rosicrutians, Red Cross... and were persecuted (with wise women, Jews, Cabalists (and Sufis), dualist Cathars persecuted in the Albigensian Crusades, hermetics (from Hermes Trismegistus), Masons who originally included women, Rosicrutions and alchemists who practiced sacred sex similar to Tantrism) as witches by the Catholic Inquisition and Puritan WITCHFINDERS, oddly united. Women known to take part in a religious service were denounced as whores and sorceresses by both extremes.
The Marys (with her brother and sister Lazarus and Martha), fled into exile in France, after they had supported Jesus during the crucifixion and resurrection (the men were not present), arriving at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, (Three Marys of the sea, Tres Matres) Mary Magdalen bearing the child of Jesus, his daughter Tamar. Said to have been the Gnostic wife of Jesus she later bore him a son, Jesus. To early Jews celibacy was an anathema and Magdalen is the only woman not descibed as 'mother of', or 'wife of', indicating a woman of substance, and entitled to annoint with precious oils.
They were accompanied by their servant Sarah the Egyptian, the black goddess of gypsies.
An association between Mary and the sea grew up, as well as with the HOLY GRAIL which they brought with them - the chalice (and horseshoes) also represented to the cultists the uterus, the wine the menstrual Star Fire/Gold of the Gods/Vehicle of Light of alchemy and Kundalini (hence vampirism), and MATRILINEAL inheritance. Both the Jews and the Catholics considered women a threat to patrilineal inheritance, however, many churches dedicated to 'Notre Dame' were built in France in the Middle Ages (often on sites dedicated to pagan goddesses like Isis, Diana and Athena like St Sulpice in Paris). The Gothic arches with rose window at the apex depicted the much feared female sexuality. Matriarchs have always been influential in Jewish and Catholic families. (Matrilineal societies have existed in Assam, parts of Africa (a continent where female circumcision is practiced), North America, the South Pacific and Australia.)
Some of the most distinguished Christian Mystics have been women, such as St Hildegard, St Catherine of Siena (patron saint of young girls) and St Theresa of Avila.
In addition to the connection to the sea there was a connection to water - la Dompna del Aquae, Mistress of the Waters. To the Gnostics and Celts, venerated females were associated with lakes, wells, fountains and springs. Mary Magdalen was buried at Aix (Acqs - water) en Provence, and royal descendants in Grail lore became known as Fisher Kings, the Merovingians. In Arthurian legend the Lady of the Lake is translated into Britain and the gallant knights of the Age of Chivalry idealised women with courtly love and troubadors. (The Lady of the Lake, Vivian/Nimue was originally the Welsh goddess Rhiannon/Rigantona.) The masculine symbol of a unicorn submitting to a maiden featured in paintings, and more recently similar themes of romantic legend have been sensually painted by the PRE-RAPHAELITES.
Tarot cards also held significant emblems.(*Pope Joan featured on Tarot cards, was an Englishwoman who ruled as Pope John VIII in the 6th c, and was unmasked when she gave birth.)
Joseph of Arimathea, the founder of Christianity in Britain at Glastonbury, was said to be St James the Just, brother of Jesus, and in Arthurian legend brought the Holy Grail to Britain.
The term Merrie England is presumed to come from 'Mary' (as with the Merry Men of Robin Hood, who like Robin Goodfellow, John Barleycorn, Johnny Appleseed, Sir Gawain's Green Knight are manifestations of the Green Man) and Maid Marion herself is said to be a representation, as is the mermaid (she's sometimes shown with a fish tail as Marina - see Siren), plus the word marry! Maudlin from Magdalene, has become a term for miserable from her tears beneath the cross. Along with the cult of the Magdalen (Hebrew Magdala/migdal - tower) is the cult of Mary the Gypsy, sacred harlot and love cultess, identified with Aphrodite, born from the foam, her emblem the aphrodisiac scallop shell as depicted in Botticelli's Birth of Venus. She was portrayed by Anglo-Saxons as the May Queen (with the Maypole fertility symbol) and her dancers as Morris Men (Moorish Men often with blackened faces) and the Hobby Horse, celebrations having pagan associations (Maia), as Christmas with the winter solstice # (e.g. Druids, from the Greek for oak, held mistletoe and oak sacred; Yule logs and decorating trees with offerings). The patron saint of hairdressers, perfumers, gardeners and prostitutes, Mary is often shown with a jar of ointment (spikenard was usually used for anointing), long, loose hair, a crown of thorns and a mirror.
"The mermaid...is thus, an emblem of sexual ambiguity. Traditionally, women were regarded as lesser versions of men, with abbreviated sex organs, but the mermaid preceded even that image, being a female whose development was arrested at an early stage of evolution. She is erotic but passionless, a culturally charged gender model whose seductive capacity is valued over her reproductive capacity. In her double-tailed version she may call to mind the old Celtic sheila-na-gig, or the Indian Kali, aggressively squatting and displaying her yoni. In her far more familiar single-tailed version, though, she is closer to an Eve figure overlaid with the cult of the Virgin, a sealed vessel enclosing either sexual temptation or sexual virtue, or some paradoxical and potent mixture of the two." CAROL SHIELDS (The Republic of Love).
In recent years considerable attention has been paid to earlier forms of goddess worship. Some scholars claim that prior to the rise of the main faiths, all worship was of the goddess; others say that both the male and female were venerated equally. These scholars argue that the rise of patriarchy in religion has made the worship of the goddess either frightening to the men in control or has led to a debased form of goddess worship, as in the Cult of the Virgin Mary. 'Virgin' is translated from the Semitic word 'almah' = YOUNG WOMAN (without sexual connotation).
*Joan was one of a parade of women - saints, abbesses, cross-dressers, intellectuals - Abbess Tetta of Wimborne, Saint Cuthberga, her sister Cwenburga, Saint Uncumber (the bearded patron saint in England of women who want to get rid of their husbands - unencumber). Hatshepsut ruled as a female Pharoah. The cross-dressers include 17th c women going off to war adorned with silver dildos and the Portuguese Saint Wilgefortis who sprouted a moustache in order not to sleep with her husband. The later rules and regulations of the Roman Catholic Church produced its near-Islamic attitude to women, whilst it tolerated with ease the 10th c House of Theophylact, whose papal impregnations, murders, fornications and general skulduggery reduced the Papacy to a cross between a brothel and a charnel house.
Polly Toynbee: Saturnalia in Rome was celebrated from December 17-24, covering the solstice. December 25 was Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birth of the Unconquered Sun. Since no one knew anything about Christ's birth, it wasn't celebrated in the early church. Superimposing Christmas on existing festivals on December 25 only became official in the fourth century.
But it was not just the date they stole, it was the whole Christmas story which had been around for centuries in earlier religions. Mithras, the Persian sun god worshipped in the late empire, came from heaven and was born as a man to redeem humanity from its sins. He was also born of a virgin on December 25 and it was shepherds who first learnt of his birth. (He too had a last supper with his disciples and ascended into heaven.) The Egyptian god Horus, whose worshippers filled Rome at the same time, was another saviour of mankind, born to a virgin. Temples were filled with cribs with the infant Horus watched over by his virgin mother Isis; 1,700 years before Christ, Isis had an annunciation when a spirit descended and she conceived when an "ankh" - symbol of life - was put to her lips. Isis was worshipped with familiar names: Queen of Heaven, Star of the Sea, Our Lady and Immaculate Virgin. What's more Isis and Horus had a flight into lower Egypt from a persecutor called Herrut soon after birth, also protected by a kindly stepfather. Virgin mothers of gods are found in China and Mexico, among Etruscans and Scandinavians. In Greece, January 6 (later taken as Epiphany by the Christians) was the date the virgin goddess Kore gave birth to Dionysus, whose name was sometimes Ies and sometimes Jesus. Krishna was born of a virgin.
Even the birth of Caesar Augustus was described by sycophants of his day (writing at the time of Christ's birth) in words almost identical to that used in the bible: "saviour of the whole human race", destined to bring "peace on earth", his arrival bringing "glad tidings to the world".
As for the star, the birth of Buddha was heralded by one, and wise men were told of his coming. The massacre of innocents, trying to find the newborn child dangerous to a leader, crops up in many religions. Thus endeth the lesson of the secularists.
The universality of the myth makes sense. Rebirth in the dead of winter is a universal (northern hemisphere) cause to celebrate. Whatever stories and romances are woven around mythical infants, the wonder of human birth remains a humanist sentiment. If, in the great religious melting pot of Rome, the Christian story eventually won out over the rest, it was St Paul's marketing skill in adding sophisticated populist elements: the child is poor, rich and poor alike bow down to it, worldly wealth not his domain, unlike the royal virgin births of earlier religions. Christianity was nothing if not opportunist.Copyright © Lucath 1998
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