In the ‘beginning’(and for about 2 billion years) there was the womb-like environment of the Earth’s oceans. Eventually the ocean was replaced by the female body – another protective/nourishing environment filled with amniotic fluids and also affected by the lunar-tidal rhythms. Life as we knew it (more appropriately, long before we ‘knew’ it), transitioned from ether, to air, to water, to fire and eventually to earthly matter in a purposeful way. It’s important to note that the word ‘matter’ derives from the Latin word ‘mater’ = mother)…and so matter/mother really does ‘matter’. The ‘penis’ entered into the evolutionary cycle about 200 million years ago to initiate ‘land’ reproduction. And so, we learn that the creation of life initiates as a female process in which the male (created by the female) performs specific tasks related to species production and evolution…very necessary steps in the development of all species, not just the human race.
In 1951, medical scientists discovered that all mammalian embryo’s are originally anatomically female during the early stages invitro. However, this fact was buried in medical literature until it was re-discovered in 1961 by Mary Jane Sherfey. Of even greater importance was the discovery that the clitoris and the penis are essentially the same organ as they are formed from the same tissue. All fetal development initiates as ‘female’, is inherent in all mammals and is the primary pattern without any hormonal influence. In other words, maleness amongst mammals is not a primary state…but rather is a ‘derivation from the primary female pattern’. I don’t know about you but I don’t remember being taught this in school. Sure, we learned about X and Y chromosomes but the fact that everyone starts off as female, until hormonal deviation takes place, was not clarified. Not surprising, considering most of us were told that ‘Man’ was made in the image of God…and then Eve came along and screwed everything up by disobeying her ‘Lord’ and eating that damn apple (or fig, really).
Over thousands of years, the repression, denigration and abuse of the female have underscored the following assumptions:
- The world was created by a male God
- Existing world cultures were made by and for men, with God’s approval
- Females have one function - to propagate the species
- Female sexuality poses a threat to world orders – it must be controlled and repressed
Images during the Paleolithic period depict the cave as a female womb, the mother as a pregnant earth, the fertile female as mother of all living things. (Even now, in Christianity, the birth of Jesus is depicted in a cavern-like shelter, born of the Virgin Mary, Christianity’s negligible nod to Goddess spirituality.)The first female Goddess images discovered through archeological digs are referred to as the ‘Venuses’, dating back as far as 35,000 BC, or the Upper Paleolithic era. Approximately 30,000 sculptures of clay, marble, bone, copper or gold have been excavated from over 3000 archeological sites across more than 1000 miles throughout Western France to central Siberia, representing a wide-spread worship of the Goddess. Early male archeologists interpreted these figures to be sexual objects made by men for men; however, wider study has revised that interpretation and describes them as the ‘Mother Guardians of daily life, death and rebirth’. One of the most famous figurines is called the Venus of Willendorf (circa 25,000 BC), carved out of limestone and unearthed in Austria. In the Neolithic period, between approximately 8000 – 4500 BC, our ancestors started to settle down in agricultural villages, creating more permanent homes. Goddess figurines from this time have been found in Eastern Europe, Southern Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley of India. Evaluations of archeological digs strongly suggest that these cultures were peaceful and egalitarian in nature…no weapons have been discovered from this era, nor were villages fortified with defensive walls.
Pre-historic, or Herstoric cultures saw the Earth as the source of all nourishment, protection, power and the source of the mystery of the cycles of life. Human females were seen as performing the same functions. As such, paintings of mothers giving birth are found in countless Cro-Magnon caves, attesting to the fact that they saw this as a powerful and spiritual event. The fertility of the Earth and women was seen as magical and celebrated every year to ensure continuation of abundance of game and fruit, or food. In Herstoric societies, the structure was matrifocal or matrilinear where there was a cultural distinction between the biological father and the social father, who was often a male relative, like the mother’s brother…there was never any question who the mother was and so identity and inheritance was passed along through the female bloodlines. The role of the father was deemed a social role and he had to ‘earn’ the children’s respect and affection…it was not his ‘right’. His role was to protect and cherish the children and not to see them as ‘property’. It’s important to note here that a matrifocal/matrilinear society is not the same as a ‘matriarchal’ society. Matriarchal means that there is a hierarchy at the top of which women rule over all others (as we see in patriarchal societies around the world today). In matrifocal/matrilinear societies, there was very little socio-economic distinction amongst the members of the community – all lived equally well and had equal access to food, water, living quarters, etc. In Herstoric cultures, female wisdom and authority were valued, the community was responsible for the mentoring and development of the children, the focus of the matrilinear society was on maintenance and sustenance, rather than exploitation and consumption.
As source energy, the Goddess lives in all of us, female and male alike. The manifestation of her is symbolized by the numerous deities in countless cultures around the planet. And so, the Goddess is known by many names, such as (and this is by no means an exhaustive list):
- In Egypt: Hathor, Isis, Sekhmet
- In Sumerian, Syro-Palestinian and Cypriot cultures: Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Astoreth, Anat, Aphrodite
- In Anatolia, Asia Minor, Crete, Greece and Rome: Cybele, Rhea, Demeter, Artemis, Ariadne, Persephone.