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Mother goddess

Mother goddess

A Cucuteni culture statuette, a 4th millennium BC Late Neolithic artifact A mother goddess is a term used to refer to any goddess associated with motherhood, fertility, creation or the bountiful embodiment of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. There have been many different mother goddesses throughout history and in the present day, including such deities as the Hindu Kali Ma, ancient Greek Gaia and ancient Irish Anu. In some forms of Neopaganism, and in the Hindu idea of Shakti, all the many mother goddesses are viewed as being the embodiment of one singular deity.

Upper Paleolithic, Venus von Willendorf, estimated to have been carved 24,000–22,000 BCE as Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas) advanced the theory that all worship in Europe and the Aegean that involved any kind of mother goddess had originated in Pre-IndoEuropean neolithic matriarchies, and that their diverse goddesses were equivalent or derived from that concept. Although the type has been well accepted as a useful category for mythography, the idea that all such goddesses were believed in ancient times to be interchangeable has been

Contention
Clearly, deities fitting the modern conception of the "Mother Goddesses" as a type have been revered in many societies through to modern times. James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) and those he influenced (such

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countered in 1968 by archaeologist Peter Ucko, who proposes instead that the many images found in graves and archaeological sites of these ancient cultures were toys.[1]

Mother goddess

Paleolithic figures
Several small, corpulent figures have been found during archaeological excavations of the Upper Paleolithic, the Venus of Willendorf, perhaps, being the most famous.[2] It is estimated to have been carved 24,000–22,000 BCE. Some archaeologists believe they were intended to represent goddesses, while others believe that they could have served some other purpose. These figurines predate the available records of the goddesses listed below as examples by many thousands of years, so although they seem to conform to the same generic type, it is not clear whether they, indeed, were representations of a goddess or that, if they are, there was any continuity of religion that connects them with Middle Eastern and Classical deities. The Paleolithic period extends from 2.5 million years ago to the introduction of agriculture around 10,000 BCE. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans migrated to the Western Hemisphere before the end of the Paleolithic. It is the prehistoric era distinguished by the development of stone tools, and covers the greatest portion of humanity’s time on Earth.

Neolithic figures
Diverse images of Mother Goddesses also have been discovered that date from the Neolithic period, the New Stone Age, which ranges from approximately 10,000 BCE when the use of wild cereals led to the beginning of farming, and eventually, to agriculture. The end of this Neolithic period is characterized by the introduction of metal tools as the skill appeared to spread from one culture to another, or arise independently as a new phase in an existing tool culture, and eventually became widespread among humans. Regional differences in the development of this stage of tool development are quite varied. In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own regionally-and distinctive Neolithic cultures arose independently in Europe and Southwest Asia. During

Madre Mediterranea (Sardinia, 3,500 BCE) this time, native cultures appear in the Western Hemisphere, arising out of older traditions that were carried during migration. Regular seasonal occupation or permanent

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Mother goddess

This statue menhir, la Dame de Saint-Sernin, now in musée Fenaille de Rodez was discovered in southern France settlements begin to be seen in excavations. Herding and keeping of cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs is evidenced along with the presence of dogs. Almost without exception, images of what are interpreted as Mother Goddesses have been discovered in all of these cultures.

Large Sculpted statues Of the Mother Goddess and its Baby in Qala on the island of Gozo. the Mother Goddess; 50 meters to the northeast, there is a phallus. All of them form a triangle. The area is dotted with huge perfect triangular boulders. In the broken-down temple of the Mother Goddess, Gozitans placed small statues of the Christian Mother Goddess and frequently visit this holy place. For non-locals, it is advised to hire a guide due to the rough terrain.

Gozo Mother Goddess
The oldest standing temple in Gozo is called Ggantija, which in Maltese is referred to as the Giant Lady. Such attributes are linked to males, not females. There was probably a huge sculpture of the Mother Goddess statue at this temple in Xaghra, which was destroyed by the Knights of St John to build walls in the surrounding area. Luckily, a large 4 metre high statue of the Mother Goddess (Ggantija) with a lion-shaped head still survives today in Qala in Gozo. Under this statue is a square hole which is around 1 metre high, 0.5 metres wide, 3 metres deep, and tapered. During the summer solstice, this hole lights up with the rising sun. About 50 meters to the east, there is a sculpted statue of sleeping baby face up, pointing to

Examples of the mother goddess type of deity
There is no dispute that many ancient cultures worshipped female deities who match the modern conception of a "mother goddess" as part of their pantheons. The following are examples. One of the Homeric Hymns (7-6 century BC) is dedicated to Gaia "Hymn to Gaia, Mother of All". The Sumerians wrote many erotic poems about their mother goddess Ninhursag.[3]

Egyptian

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Mother goddess

Dendera Temple, showing Hathor on the capitals of a column Mother goddesses are present in the earliest images discovered among the archaeological finds in Ancient Egypt. One figure of a deity, depicted standing between two lionesses, exists among those on one of the earliest paintings found among the Naqada Culture. An association with animals seen as good mothers—the lioness, cow, hippopotamus, white vulture, cobra, scorpion, and cat—as well as the life-giving primordial waters, the sun, and the night sky and the earth herself—is drawn to the early goddesses of Egypt. Even through the transition to a paired pantheon of male deities matched or "married" to each goddess, reached a later male deity dominated pantheon that arose much later, the mother goddesses persisted into historical times (such as Hathor and Isis). Advice from the oracles associated with these goddesses guided the rulers of Egypt and the tradition spread to other ancient cultures. The image of Isis nursing her son was worshipped into the sixth century A.D. and has been resurrected by contemporary "cults" of an Earth Mother. Some suggest that the reverence for the mother of Jesus took the place of the worship of Isis that could not be suppressed, including incorporating the imagery associated with Hathor-Isis from three thousand years before Christianity. Statuette of Mut, mother, often interpreted as representing one of the earliest mother goddesses of Egypt

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Mother goddess
Mellaart suggests might have been a means of ensuring the harvest or protecting the food supply.[5] The image to the right was found in excavations there and depicts a Mother Goddess seated on a throne that is flanked by two lionesses. It is dated as c. 6000-5500 BC and resides in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Greek

A figure often interpreted as a depiction of a mother goddess from Samarra, ca 6000 BCE (Louvre Museum

Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Greek
Tiamat in Sumerian mythology, Ishtar (Inanna), and Ninsun in Mesopotamia, Asherah in Canaan, `Ashtart in Syria, and Aphrodite in Greece, for example. Cybele In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, a mother goddess was worshipped in the forms of Cybele (revered in Rome as Magna Mater, the ’Great Mother’), of Gaia, and of Rhea. The Olympian goddesses of classical Greece had many characters with mother goddess attributes, including Hera and Demeter.[6] The Minoan goddess represented in seals and other remains, whom Greeks called Potnia theron, "Mistress of the Animals", many of whose attributes were later also absorbed by Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some representations she suckles the animals that she holds. The archaic local goddess worshiped at Ephesus, whose cult statue was adorned with necklaces and stomachers hung with rounded

Anatolia
In Anatolia, the Neolithic settlement from 7500 BC, Çatalhöyük, has yielded many examples of worship of a mother goddess. Examples found show that images of the goddess greatly exceeded the small number of a male deity found in early associations and that the male images eventually ceased to appear at all after a certain time, as evidenced in the temporal stratification of the excavations of the site. [4] To date eighteen levels have been identified. These careful figurines were found primarily in areas Mellaart believed to be shrines. One, however – a stately goddess seated on a throne flanked by two lionesses – was found in a grain bin, which

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Mother goddess

Rhea protuberances[7] who was later also identified by Hellenes with Artemis, was probably also a mother goddess. The Anna Perenna Festival of the Greeks and Romans for the New Year, around March 15, near the Vernal Equinox, may have been a mother goddess festival. Since the Sun is considered the source of life and food, this festival was also equated with the Mother Goddess. Juno monotheistically. Juno may have origins in the Etruscan mother goddess deity as well, whose identity merged with the Roman goddess later.

Celtic
The Irish goddess Anu, sometimes known as Danu, has an impact as a mother goddess, judging from the Dá Chích Anann near Killarney, County Kerry. Irish literature names the last and most favored generation of deities as "the people of Danu" (Tuatha de Danann).

Roman
Aphrodite’s counterpart in Roman mythology, Venus, eventually was adopted as a Mother Goddess figure. She was seen as the mother of the Roman people, being the mother of Rome’s ancestor, Aeneas, and the ancestor of all subsequent Roman rulers, and by the time of Julius Caesar’s era, she was dubbed "Venus Genetrix" (Mother Venus). Magna Dea is Latin for "Great Goddess" and may refer to any major goddess worshipped during the Roman Republic or Roman Empire. Magna Dea could be applied to a goddess at the head of a pantheon, such as Juno or Minerva, or a goddess worshipped

Germanic
In the 1st century BC, Tacitus recorded rites amongst the Germanic tribes focused on the female goddess Nerthus, whom he calls Terra Mater, ’Mother Earth’. Prominent in these rites was the procession of the goddess in a wheeled vehicle through the countryside. Among the seven or eight tribes said to worship her, Tacitus lists the Anglii and the Longobardi.[8]

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Mother goddess

Prehistoric image from St Martin’s, Guernsey, La Gran’mère du Chimquière, a statue menhir thought to be a Neolithic mother goddess Among the later Anglo-Saxons, a Christianized charm known as Æcerbot survives from records from the 10th century. The charm involves a procession through the fields while calling upon the Christian God for a good harvest, invokes ’eorþan modor’ (Earth Mother) and ’folde, fira modor,’ (Earth, mother of men). In Central Germany, legends regarding Frau Holle are recorded throughout the Middle Ages. She appears as a helpful goddess, in charge of spinning and household affairs.[9] She rides through the countryside during the Twelve-nights, sometimes asking local peasants for assistance repairing her wagon. Those who help are rewarded with woodchips or dung, which they soon discover turns to gold. Among her many names are Holda, Berchta, Perht, and Frekka, the last of which directly connects her to Odin’s wife Frigg. Many German harvest customs surround both Odin (Wotan, Godan, Wold) and Frau Holle.[10] In several German legends, she is known as Frau Goden, and connected to the Wild Hunt. Goden is simply another name for Odin, again indicating that Frau

A figure often interpreted as a Mother Goddess flanked by two lionesses - 6000-5500 BC Çatalhöyük, Turkey Holle is most likely a remembrance of Odin’s wife, Frigg. In Snorri Sturlusson’s Prose Edda, a handbook on poetry written more than two centuries after the Christian conversion of Iceland, Earth and Frigg, however, are presented as independent entities. In skaldic poetry, the kenning "Odin’s wife" is a common designation for the Earth. Bynames of the Earth in Icelandic poetry include Jörð, Fjörgyn, Hlóðyn and Hlín. Hlín is used as a byname of both Jörð and Frigg. Fjörgynn (a masculine form of Fjörgyn) is said to be Frigg’s father, while the name Hlóðyn is most commonly linked to Frau Holle, as well as to a goddess, Hludana, whose name is found eteched in several votive inscriptions from the Roman era.[11] Connections have been proposed between the figure of Nerthus and various figures (particularly figures counted amongst the Vanir) recorded in 13th century Icelandic records of Norse mythology, including Frigg. Due to potential etymological connections, the Norse god Njörðr has been proposed as the consort of Nerthus.[12] In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, Njörðr is said to have

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fathered his famous children by his own sister. This sister remains unnamed. Due to specific terms used to describe the figure of Grendel’s mother from the poem Beowulf, some scholars have proposed that the figure of Grendel’s mother, like the poem itself, may have derived from earlier traditions originating from Germanic paganism.

Mother goddess

Turkic Siberians
Umai, also known as Ymai or Mai, is the mother goddess of the Turkic Siberians. She is depicted as having sixty golden tresses, that resemble the rays of the sun. She is thought to have once been identical with Ot of the Mongols. It is interesting to note that Shiva’s consort is called Parvati and also Uma. And in India the mother worship also is called Devi Maa or Maya. Both imply linguistic links.

Hinduism
In the Hindu context, the worship of the Mother entity can be traced back to early Vedic culture, and perhaps, even before that time. The Rigveda calls the divine female power, Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth. At places, the Vedic literature alludes to her as Viraj, the universal mother, as Aditi, the mother of gods, and as Ambhrini, the one born of the Primeval Ocean. Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. An incarnation of Durga is Kali, who came from her forehead during war (as a means of defeating Durga’s enemy, Mahishasura). Durga and her incarnations are particularly worshipped in Bengal. Today, Devi is seen in manifold forms, all representing the creative force in the world, as Maya and prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into selfprojection as the cosmos. She is not merely the Earth, although even this perspective is covered by Parvati (Durga’s previous incarnation). All of the various Hindu female entities are seen as forming many faces of the same female Divinity. However mother and nursing child imagery has been found in Hindu art, namely the depiction of Yashoda and Krishna.[13] In Sanskrit there is the term Yaganmatri for Mother of the Universe. Goddess Durga is seen as the supreme mother goddess by some Hindus

Shaktism
This form of Hinduism, known as Shaktism, is strongly associated with Vedanta, Samkhya, and Tantra Hindu philosophies and is ultimately monist, although there is a rich tradition of Bhakti yoga associated with it. The feminine energy, Shakti, is considered to be the motive force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos in Hinduism. The cosmos itself is Brahman, the concept of the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being, the "world soul". Masculine potentiality is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately reconciled in one. The keystone text is the Devi Mahatmya which combines earlier Vedic theologies, emergent Upanishadic philosophies and developing tantric cultures in a laudatory exegesis of Shakti religion. Demons of ego, ignorance, and desire bind the soul in maya (illusion) (also alternately ethereal or embodied) and it is Mother Maya, Shakti, herself, who can free the bonded individual. The immanent Mother, Devi, is for this reason

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Mother goddess
be the other "offspring" because they try to "keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus," and thus they embrace Mary as their "mother". They also cite John 19:26-27 where Jesus entrusts his mother to the Apostle John as evidence that Mary is the mother of all Christians, taking the command "behold your mother" to apply generally. The Virgin Mary receives many titles in Catholicism, such as Queen of Heaven and Star of the Sea, that are familiar from earlier Near Eastern traditions. Due to this correlation, Protestants often accuse Catholics of viewing Mary as a goddess, but the Catholic Church always has condemned "worship" of the Virgin Mary. Part of this accusation is due to the Catholic practice of prayer as a means of communication rather than as a means of worship. Catholics believe that the dead who followed their God, have eternal life and can hear prayers in heaven from people here on earth. The Bible refers to the personified Heavenly Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in feminine terms. Most Christians who are Catholics believe that "God the Father" is masculine and that Jesus was a man; and further, that "the Church" is the female counterpart of God and is the Bride of Jesus. Some Christians do not agree on this teaching and assert that God subsumes and transcends both masculinity and femininity. From their point of view the grammatical gender used to address the deity is a mere convention, and the masculine designations for the persons of the Trinity characterize a relationship and not gender, per se. However, this is a relatively recent phenomenon, and as such, might have constituted heresy for most of the early history of Christianity. Some of the Black Madonna icons are believed by some to derive from depictions of ancient goddesses, in particular the Egyptian Goddess Isis with her child Horus sitting on her lap. Medieval images of Mary and Jesus share this similarity, as well. In many languages, such as Syriac, the word translated "spirit" takes the feminine gender. In early Christian literature in these languages, the Holy Spirit is therefore discussed in feminine terms, especially before c. A.D. 400.[14] Some scholars argue that it was based upon an original goddess figure who was minimized in later traditions.

The Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati - considered Shaktis of the Trimurti- Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma respectively focused on with intensity, love, and self-dissolving concentration in an effort to focus the shakta (as a Shakti worshipper is sometimes known) on the true reality underlying time, space, and causation, thus freeing one from karmic cyclism.

Christianity
Some Christians regard Mary, the Theotokos (or mother of God) for many believers, as a "spiritual mother," since she not only fulfills a maternal role, but is often viewed as a protective and intercessory force, a divinely established mediator for humanity, but she is not worshiped as a divine "mother goddess" officially. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches identify "the woman" described in Revelation 12 as the Virgin Mary because in verse 5 this woman is said to have given "birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod" whom they identify as Jesus Christ. Then, in verse 17 of Revelation 12, the Bible describes "the rest of her offspring" as "those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus." These Christians believe themselves to

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Mother goddess
fertile goddess embodying the fertile earth and typically the mother of other deities, and so, also are seen as patronesses of motherhood. This is generally thought of as being because the earth was seen as being the mother from whom all life sprang. The Rigveda calls the Female power, Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth.

In Fiction
(left) A bronze statue of Isis nursing Horus from Ptolemaic Egypt; (right) A famous mediaeval icon of Mary and Jesus Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) believe in, but do not worship, a Heavenly Mother, the wife and female counterpart—and equal of the Heavenly Father[15]. This belief is not emphasized, however, and adherents pray to the "Father in Heaven." In Gore Vidal’s ironic dystopia "Messiah", a new death-worshipping religion sweeps the world and wipes out Christianity. Yet at the conclusion of the book, a woman named Iris, who was among the new religion’s founders, starts to be worshipped as a new manifestation of the Mother Goddess, though there was no such concept when the religion was founded. Vidal’s point was clearly to show that worship of the Mother Goddess is an immemorial institute and would find a manifestation within whatever religion emerges. In Robert Graves’ 1949 novel Seven Days in New Crete, a mother goddess is central to the religion of a quasi-matriarchal future society.

Neopaganism
Further information: Goddess (Wicca) The Mother Goddess, amalgamated and combined with various feminine figures from world cultures of both the past and present, is worshipped by modern Wiccans and others (see Triple Goddess). The mother goddess is usually viewed as Mother Earth by these groups. Wiccans and some other types Neo-Pagans worship the Mother Goddess. Most commonly she is worshiped as a Triple Goddess; usually envisioned as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone archetypes. She is associated with the full moon and with Earth. Many ancient Pagan religions had mother goddesses; it has been argued that the figure of Mary the mother of Jesus is patterned on these. The term "Great Goddess" itself can refer to a mother goddess in some contemporary Neopagan and Wiccan religions Even among those who are not Pagan, expressions such as Mother Earth and Mother Nature are in common usage, personifying the Earth’s ecology as a fertile and sustaining mother.

See also
Figures
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Aphrodite Blessed Virgin Mary Brigid Cybele Demeter Devi Durga Freyja Frigg Gaia Hathor Hecate Ishtar Isis Jord Kamakhya Kali Laxmi Mut Nerthus Ops Pachamama Tawaret

Earth Mother
The Earth Mother is a motif that appears in many mythologies. The Earth Mother is a

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• • • • •

Mother goddess
Great Mother, a disambiguation page Mother Sacred feminine Sky father Petrosomatoglyph

Notes
[1] Peter Ucko (1968) Anthropomorphic Figurines of Predynastic Egypt and Neolithic Crete [1] [2] Venus of Willendorf Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, 2003 [3] Sex, Love & Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature, G, Leick, Routledge, 2003 [4] Mellaart, James (1967). Catal Huyuk: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia. McGraw-Hill. pp. 181. [5] Mellaart (1967), 180. [6] "The goddesses of Greek polytheism, so different and complementary," Walter Burkert has observed, in Homo Necans (1972) 1983:79f, "are nonetheless, consistently similar at an earlier stage, with one or the other simply becoming dominant in a sanctuary or city. Each is the Great Goddess presiding over a male society; each is depicted in her attire as Mistress of the Beasts, and Mistress of the Sacrifice, even Hera and Demeter." [7] The description of them as multiple breasts or bull testicles seem mistaken: see Temple of Artemis. [8] Germania, ch. 40. [9] Viktor Waschnitius, Perht, Holda, und vervandte Gestalten in Akademie der Wissenschaften. (1913-14); Lotte Motz, The Beauty and the Hag (1993) [10] Jakob Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (1835), J. Stalleybrass tr. [11] Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology (1984). [12] Davidson, Hilda R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (1964) ISBN 0140136274 [13] Yashoda and Krishna [14] Harvey, Susan Ashbrook (August , 2006). "Women in the Syrian Tradition: Part 2 Holy Images". The Syriac Orthodox Christian Digest Volume 2, Issue 9. http://www.socdigest.org/articles/ 08aug06.html. Retrieved on 2007-03-15. [15] Smith, Joseph F. (1909). Man: Origin and Destiny. pp. 348–355.

A statue of Isis nursing Horus, housed in the Louvre • Triple Goddess • Yashoda

Other
• • • • • • Father god God (male deity) God and gender Goddess movement Goddess Great Goddess, a disambiguation page

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Mother goddess
• Prof. P.C. Jain: Conception and Evolution of The Mother Goddess in India 2004 • Knauer, Elfried R.(2006)"The Queen Mother of the West: A Study of the Influence of Western Prototypes on the Iconography of the Taoist Deity." In: Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World. Ed. Victor H. Mair. University of Hawai’i Press. Pp. 62–115. ISBN ISBN 978-0-8248-2884-4; ISBN ISBN 0-8248-2884-4

Further reading
• Marija Gimbutas. The language of the Goddess. Harpercollins (1989). ISBN 0062503561 • Neumann, Erich. (1991). The Great Mother. Bollingen; Repr/7th edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-01780-8. • J.F. del Giorgio. The Oldest Europeans. A.J. Place (2006). ISBN 980-6898-00-1 • Goldin, Paul R. (2002) "On the Meaning of the Name Xi wangmu, Spirit-Mother of the West." Paul R. Goldin. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, No. 1/January-March 2002, pp. 83–85.

External links
• Reflections on Erta as named on the Franks Casket by Alfred Becker (PhD) • A Chapel of Our Mother God

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_goddess" Categories: Earth goddesses, Goddesses, Comparative mythology, Mythological archetypes, Paganism, Feminist theology, Feminist spirituality, Motherhood This page was last modified on 22 April 2009, at 01:35 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers

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