Articles
4. God as Woman
Contribution to the awareness of the Great Goddess
.
A new Path for Spiritual Development.

Statue of Goddess Artemis as Mother of All Life
in Selçuk near Ephesus
.
(Photograph: 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.
The 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 matriarchic society.
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).
Other historical artifacts are kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, and further in Crete, Cambridge, Ankara, Boston, and other museums.

The influence of the Great Goddess was extensive.

During 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 emperor.
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 instance 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 favors.
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 the Goddess.
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).

Honoring 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 the World"(5).)
In Arabia during the pre-Islamic era, the Goddess AL-LAT for instance was predominant. 
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 Allah: God.
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.

Aspects of God as Woman:

We 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.
In 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.
In 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.
Through 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.
If 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.
An outstanding example of this principle can be found in Hinduism in the Great Goddess KALI-DURGA(9), an example that is both historic and contemporary.

Identification of the Goddess in ourselves.

It 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.
This 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 “Know Thyself”).
Women 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.
To 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) museums.
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”).
(Images 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.
Ultimately all spiritual paths lead to unification with the One in ourselves, to unification with the Source of all existence, the Source of limitless possibilities.
Goddess, Goddesses and male Gods or God are All manifestations or expression of the One.
Goddess and the World are perfectly One, so as too any male God and the World perfectly are One. 



Athena of Crete

 

VENUS

I saw Your face with
a glance of gold in the morning and
I saw Your face with
a glance of silver in the evening
For You are the morning and evening star
called VENUS
 
rising of the inner waters
You are born in Your own Shell 
with a glance of gold in Your right eye 
and a glance of silver in Your left 
For You are the morning and evening star

called VENUS
 

heaven and earth

are Your kingdom
You conquered all,
Peace stays and everything is
For You are the morning and evening star

called VENUS


ATHENA

Pallas
Pallas Athena
Great Goddess of
Wisdom, Science,
Reflection and Art
leads every soul
grants each Her favors

Oh, She knows about pain, 
about ignorance and
all which makes hearts ache
about humankind’s endless wait

Yes, She knows people
this Goddess,
with the wisdom of an owl and
the eyes of a snake
She easily sees through any illusion
disarms any conflict

She, Mistress of the eternal fields
where universal laws rule,
teaches humankind
in Divine knowledge,
for love-filled Self-Knowledge

(From: Paradijsbewustzijn (Paradise Consciousness),
June 1993)
Marianne Raemaekers
April 2005

Literature:
1. Merlin Stone – When God was a Woman. The landmark exploration of the ancient worship of the Great Goddess and the eventual suppression of women’s rites. Harvest Books; Harvest Edition, 1978.
2. Jessica Amanda Salmonson -- The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era. Paragon House, New York, 1991.
3. Caitlin Matthews -- De mysterieuze wereld der Kelten (The Mysterious World of the Celts), Atrium, 1984, Holland.
4. Caitlin Mattews – Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, The Divine Feminine. From Black Goddess to World-Soul. The Aquarian Press, An imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
5. Barbara G. Walker -- The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco,1983.
6. Barbara G. Walker -- The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco,1983.

7. Charles Ponce – Kabbalah, Ankh-Hermes, 1979. Deventer, Holland.

8. Ramakrishna, Conversations Notated by M. Mirananda, 1987. Holland.
9. Alain Danielou -- The Gods of India. Hindu Polytheism. Inner Traditions International LTD., 1985.

Additionally:
Jane Hirshfield -- Women in Praise of the Sacred. 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1994.
Simon Cox -- Cracking Da Vinci’s Code: You’ve Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts, Cook Communications, 2004.

 

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