to the awareness of the Great Goddess.
new Path for Spiritual Development.
of Goddess Artemis as Mother of All Life
in Selçuk near Ephesus.
Annemarie Bokslag, March 2005)
Prehistoric times and early history of human development knew
various religions in different parts of the world in which the Highest
Divinity was a Woman. This article contains a brief,
incomplete (historical) overview.
Great Goddess was extensively worshipped before Neolithic times
until closure of her last temples around 500 AD. Some researchers
actually place worshipping of the Great Goddess back even further,
i.e. during the last stages of the Paleolithic period around
25,000 years BC(1). Even this is probably not back far
enough and we should really be considering the dawn of mankind.
Worship of the Great Goddess in those ancient times was completely
wrapped up in a religious life that we now label as “magical
unaware”. In these very early times we cannot really speak of
the so-called I-consciousness in people as we see nowadays. Women,
men and children lived in a magical unity with the Goddess in a
Much later, from appr. 2500 BC until 500 AD, history saw religions
with a female Creator and religions with a Male Creator,
separately side by side. Subsequent years saw the disappearance of
the Great Goddess in official religion.
Numerous archeological objects have been found indicating that the
Goddess Religions (in the West, and other regions) did not
disappear through normal societal changes. Their disappearance was
the result of age-long struggles in which Goddess Religions were
purposely assimilated, overpowered or destroyed, ultimately to be
replaced by patriarchic religions.
Examples of these archeological objects are kept for instance in
the British Museum in London (i.e. a relief depicting a ferocious
battle between the Amazons and the Greeks. The Amazons(2) who
worshipped the Goddess as Warrior did not only fight in
Greece but also in Libya, Bulgaria, Armenia, Russia, and other
parts of Asia and Europe. Recently, in 2004/2005, an American and
a Russian archeologist have found skeletal remains of Amazons in
Russia. Additionally, DNA research has discovered a young
descendant, a 9-year old girl in Mongolia).
artifacts are kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens,
and further in Crete, Cambridge, Ankara, Boston, and other
influence of the Great Goddess was extensive.
Paleolithic and Neolithic times in the West for instance, there
was a system of religious ideas based on Goddess worship. As one
example, what is now Austria comes to mind: the excavated statue
of VENUS of Willendorf from the early Paleolithic period between
24000 and 22000 BC, on display in the Vienna Museum of Natural
History. Much later, for instance, in early-Celtic Ireland(3) (around
3000 BC) we see the emergence of the Trinity, e.g. the Goddess BRIGIT. Some historians believe Celtic culture originated in
Central-Europe from where it spread Eastward and Westward. It was
during the Classical periods of Greece and Rome that Celtic
culture was predominant North of the Alps, from present-day
Hungaria to Scotland and Ireland.
Around the same time period (appr. 2700 BC), MOTHER EARTH was
honored and worshipped on Crete (high-Minoic culture) and later in
Greece. Greek mythology (from appr. 800 BC) includes important
Goddesses, for instance ATHENA.
Roman culture too shows influence of for instance ARTIMIS-CYBELE (appr.
600-500 BC). The 5th century AD in Rome saw the closing
of the final ISIS and ARTIMIS-CYBELE temple, by the Christian
The final (major) influences of remaining Goddess religions (including,
in my view, SOPHIA beliefs(4) in Gnosticism) come to an end
around 500 AD. (For instance, Bishop and Church Father Irenaes,
130-202 AD, fights against Gnosticism. However,
gnosticism continued an underground existence and is gaining
influence in modern times. Gnosis means knowledge of the Divine
Self in man and woman.)
Christianity does not recognize worship of the Goddess. The Virgin
MARY is the mother of Christ. In the Roman Catholic church for
the Virgin MARY is an Intermediary, to reach Jesus by means of
prayer. Many believers however see her as a significant Mother in her own right and pray especially to her for answers and
A particularly fascinating position is developing outside
traditional circles for MARY MAGDALENA (Apostle of apostles). In
these circles, she is (sometimes) viewed as the personification of
St. Paul for instance condemned the worship of the Great Goddess ARTEMIS in
Ephesus (on the West coast of modern Turkey). A statue of ARTEMIS
as Mother of All, can be found in the middle of the Islamic town of
Selçuk near Ephesus (see photo).
and worshipping of the Goddess in modern times can also be found in
certain women’s circles and societies.
Influence of the Great Goddess was also extensive in the Near East
where, in the earliest times, the Goddess Religion was manifest
under different names. There, her name was ASTARTE from Canaan
during pre-Old Testament times (appr. 1800 BC and earlier). The
name ASTARTE contains the word “star”. Further, the Roman
Catholic church sometimes calls the Virgin MARY by the name of
Stella Maris: Star of the Sea.
Additionally, she was known by the name ASHERAH (Universal Law)
and later BAALAT (Goddess), Lady of Byblos, Canaan.
In the Middle-East, other names for the Goddess were in use, i.e.
INNIN, NANA and INNANA from Sumeria (4000-3500 BC).
UA ZIT (a name of the Cobra Goddess), HATHOR, NUT and Queen ISIS
from Upper-Egypt (one of her titles was “Giver of Life”, far
before 3000 BC, before the Pharaoic dynasties).
One further name in use was for instance ISHTAR (Star) from
Babylonia. (In Babylonian scriptures she is called the “Light of
In Arabia during the pre-Islamic era, the Goddess AL-LAT for
The pre- and early-historic line of Goddess religion
in the Near and Middle-East has disappeared.
Jewish mysticism however shows special attention for the Female
Principle: the Chechinah(6 and 7).
AL-LAT (the Moon Goddess) from the pre-Islamic era, (worshipped for
instance by the Kaaba in Mecca), has been forced back in
the collective unconscious of Islamic culture. In its place,
Islam developed (appr. 620-625 AD) centering its worship around
In the Far East, for instance in India, in the pre-Vedic Age (appr.
3000-4000 BC and earlier) we find extensive worship of the UNIVERSAL
MOTHER of Life Energy, the All-Creating and
All-Encompassing Life Force.
In this early era, she was worshipped by the high culture of the
Dravidians, a peaceful people living in the Indus Valley, before
the violent invasions by the Aryans. Remarkable about this Goddess
religion is that it survives to this day. It is a unique
early-historic example of an independent Goddess religion that
predates the patriarchic Aryan religion with its Vedas (Indian
sacred scrolls written down around 1200 BC), and that developed and
spread over thousands of years, mainly in South-India, and still
exists in modern times.
Furthermore for instance, the Vedanta by Ramakrishna (1836-1886
AD)(8) shows his intense worship of KALI, the Great Mother. This
represents especially the worshipping of the maternal aspect of
God, otherwise seen as GOD THE MOTHER.
Additionally, in Buddhism we see for instance KWAN-YIN, the Great
Mother of China (KUAN-YIN).
This has been a general, pre-historic and early-historic overview
of the Goddess in the Far East through to modern times.
have seen that, worldwide, Goddess religions worshipped different,
impressive aspects of female Divinity. The Motherly Aspect was
labeled as such because it was seen in many cultures and religions
as The Independent Principle. People worshipped the Great
Mother Goddess, or UR-MOTHER: the Creator of the Total Universe.
This creating aspect signifies She gave new life to a creature or
creation; it signifies the creation principle in the Goddess in
all her forms.
addition to the Motherly Aspect we see the Quality of Great
Wisdom: the Goddess as Divine Sage pointing the way to mankind so
it can reach its destiny.
various archeological discoveries She is further displayed as the
Great Healer, as Inventor, as Warrior, Hunter, or Responsible for
agriculture and harvest, and as the Goddess of Intelligence and
Knowledge. The Egyptian Goddess ISIS for instance is shown as the
Goddess of Legislation, Politics and Judiciary. The Egyptian
Goddess MAAT represented order, rhythm and the natural laws of
the universe. In Mesopotamia, ISHTAR is indicated as the Guide of
Peoples and as Lady of Great Vision. (Roman Catholics sometimes
refer to the Virgin MARY as the “Lady of All Nations”.)
Many powers, Tasks and Omnipotence are assigned to the Goddess.
They apply to all aspects of life and all laws of the universe.
the ages, different aspects of the Goddess were predominant,
depending on the cultural context, the era and the spirit of the
times, corresponding to the inner desires of people of that time.
Any aspect had the ability to grow into an independent magnitude,
for instance the Goddess as Warrior among the Amazons, or the
Goddess as Sage and Warrior in ancient Greece: ATHENA (MINERVA in
ancient Rome). This development would sometimes come at the
expense of all other aspects which became invisible and
disappeared in the collective unconscious of mankind. (At this
level of inner being, those aspects of the Goddess are stored like
a secret, until remembered through an awareness process.) In this
way (and later by suppression by patriarchic religions), different
cultures adopted a one-sided and incomplete image of the Goddess
and of the Female Principle in general.
we reduce all aspects and powers of the Goddess to three forms, we see that She
as the One is the expression of the Creative,
the Caring and the Destructive Principle of the universe (the so-called Holy
Trinity of Female Divinity: Creation-Birth-Death), to be
followed by a new beginning for the next cycle.
example of this principle can be found in Hinduism in the Great
Goddess KALI-DURGA(9), an example that is both historic and
of the Goddess in ourselves.
is important to recreate new Goddess images for modern times in
addition to the archetype of the “Great Mother” – images
that reflect Her Independence, Completeness, Total
Self-consciousness, Wisdom, Omnipotence, Dominance over Life and
Death, Limitlessness and Divine Love.
is important for women and men who want to identify with Her and
who, through a relatively new spiritual development path in the
West, want to reach deeper inner consciousness so that, through a
process of inner transformation, they become carrier of Goddess
consciousness and Unity consciousness in themselves (see “The Path to Peace” and
and men can utilize new images for instance originating in dreams,
visions, literature, the arts, in which the Female Principle is
described and portrayed with respect and profundity (see painting).
This way people can get in touch with her Forceful, Powerful,
Love-filled and Compassionate aspects to let them be born in their own modern consciousness.
further facilitate identification with the Goddess, it is possible
to also utilize pre-historic and early-historic images as
summarized in this article and which can be researched in
pertinent literature and viewed in various (archeological)
To the modern woman and man who is aware, She emphasizes
that life is a unification of opposite forces; a unification of
the inward and outward, of heaven and earth, and to use this as
conscious connection to Peace, Happiness, Inspiration, and Health, to enable one
to experience life in the fulness of total existence (see
“The Path to Peace” and “Know Thyself”).
of) the Goddess and (images of) God are in essence One. The path
of the Goddess is however a different path to spiritual
identification, of which women and men can become aware in times
of spiritual paucity -- as a new path, as a possibility to
experience who we really are.
all spiritual paths lead to unification with the One in ourselves,
to unification with the Source of all existence, the Source of
Goddesses and male Gods or God are All manifestations or
expression of the One.
and the World are perfectly One, so as too any male God and the
World perfectly are One.
Athena of Crete