What Happened to Our Goddesses


Male priests wrested power from the tribal mothers and priestesses by organizing men into marauding armies, blessing their violence, and rewriting myths to exclude the Goddess or declare Her an abomination.  The jealous gods became even more jealous, and fought among themselves, and each pronounced himself the One God.  Their warfare was unremitting, until one devoured nearly all the others, diabolized his few remaining rivals, and proclaimed himself superior even to the Goddess who had produced him and taught him all his ideas.

And so the world was set upon a trail of tears, oppression, and intellectual error that prevails even to this day.

Religion creates misogyny.  Religion was and is the primary medium of women's  spiritual, political, and social enslavement.

Our culture has been deeply penetrated by the notion that "man"-not woman-
is created in the image of God.  This notion persists, despite the likelihood that the creation goes in the other direction:that God is a human projection
of the image of man.  No known religion, past or present, ever succeeded in
establishing a completely sexless deity.

Modern Christians take it for granted that they revere the figures of a Father and a Son, never perceiving divinity in corresponding Mother and Daughter figures, as the ancients did.  Though Catholics still worship the Goddess under some of her old pagan titles, such as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Blessed Virgin and so on, their theologians refuse to admit that she is the
old Goddess in a new disguise, and paradoxically insist on her non-divinity.

The older concept of the female Holy Trinity ruling all cycles of creation, birth, and death in her Virgin Mother, and Crone forms, was destroyed by
Christians' attack on her temples, scriptures, rituals, and followers.  The church declared from the first that the Great Goddess "whom Asia and all the world worshippeth" must be despised, "and her magnificence destroyed"
(Acts 19:27).  This is virtually the only Gospel tenet that churches followed through all their centuries with no deviation or contradiction.  It seemed necessary to hide the fact that Christianity itself was an offshoot of
Middle-Eastern Goddess worship, skewed by the asceticism of Persia
and India.

As a salvation cult, early Christianity based its scheme of redemption on the premise of female wickedness.  Salvation was needed because there had been a
Fall, brought about by archetypal Woman.  Without the myth of Eve's
defiance, there would have been no sin, hence no need for salvation or savior.
Fathers of the church declared that the original sin was perpetuated through
all generations by every woman, through sexual conception and birth-giving.
Woman's mysterious, devilish sexual magnetism seduced men into the
"concupiscence" that, even within lawful marriage, transmitted the taint of sin
to every man.  So said St. Augustine, and the church never altered his opinion.

Throughout history we find clergymen advocating abuse of women, to express their horror of female sexuality and their conviction that all
women deserve punishment for the primordial crime that brought death and
damnation to man.  Adam, representing all men, was less guilty than Eve,
representing all women.  St. Paul even regarded Eve as the only guilty one (1 Timothy 2:14).  The tradition persisted up to the present century, when the clergy, if not advocating active abuse of women, at least refrained from too much interference with it.  Some clergymen have been found to be wife-beaters.  Many still counsel women to be subservient to me, in accordance with  "God's will".

Man's and God's attack on women was not usually justifiable as revenge for real injuries.  Therefore the mythical injury of the Fall was essential to the early theological scheme.  The practical goal was not to prevent women from
hurting men, but to prevent women from acting independently of men: from owning property, earning their own money, making their own sexual choices, or raising their  own children without interference.

Patriarchal religion declared war on pagan societies where motherhood was
once considered the only important parental relationship; where women owned the land and governed its cultivation; and sexual attachments were made and unmade at women's discretion.  From a biological viewpoint,
patriarchal religion denied women the natural rights of every other mammalian
female: the right to choose her stud, to control the circumstances of her mating, to occupy and govern her won nest, or to refuse all males when
preoccupied with the important business of raising her young.

Such basic biological rights of female were set aside by patriarchal human societies- although, at the dawn of history, the social role of male begetters was very differently conceived, in a way alien to modern patriarchal thought.
Today's scholars habitually call all female and male deities of that ancient
world "gods", as they also call humanity "man".  Yet the supreme deity of that
world was usually a Goddess, the creatress or Mother of the  gods;
and the very word "man" used to mean "woman," an incarnation of the
same lunar Mother, in its original language.

Early Christian thinkers rightly perceived that destruction of the women's
Goddess would mean a crushing blow to women's pride and confidence, since
men's price depended greatly on their vision of a God like themselves, only better.  Women were not called daughters of this God, who gave men their souls.  In the sixth century, churchman even denied that women had any souls.

Forbidden by Christian conquerors to express their own faith, the women
of Europe eventually adopted the men's faith perforce.  Sometimes they
were lured by specious concessions, which were afterward rescinded.  Sometimes they were coerced by Christianized husbands or overlords.  The myths and secrets of women's spiritual past were buried, just as men buried the sheila-na-gig figures of semi-pagan Irish churches, hoping they would never be found.

However, what Christian histories rarely admit is that, after more than a thousand years of alternate violence and guile, the western world still was not
truly Christianized.  The ancient faith persisted, because every man was still born of woman and nurtured by woman, despite the theologians' insistence that a father was the only significant parent.  This was mere verbal learning, as contrasted wit the direct experience of infantile dependence on the mother.
when it appeared at all, father-love seems to have been a somewhat less
satisfactory artificial imitation of mother-love.  In relations between fathers and children the more dominant emotion was fear.  Men were enjoined from the pulpit to instill "the fear of God" into their children through harsh punishments.

Harshest of all were the Heavenly Father's punishments:a terrible vision of eternal torture developed out of men's fears.  The Christian hell was the most sadistic fantasy ever to masquerade as fact.  Churchmen used it, not only to terrify  naive congregations into compliance, but also to excuse the torture
 and burning of witches.  Inquisitors said the eternal punishment of such heretics should begin in  this life, continuing up to the victim's death.

The religion of the Goddess and her sons and lovers, the old gods, came to be called devil worship because these deities were redefined as devils
(when they were not adopted into the Christian canon as pseudo-saints).
The link between "woman" and "devil" in the patriarchal mind was as
old as the Garden of Eden story.  It persisted even after the dawn of more enlightened age brought the decline of organized persecution.  However,
the rack and stake were replaced in the 18th and 19th centuries by more subtle
abuses, aimed at suppressing women legally, politically, economically, and psychologically.  Clergymen helped by opposing women's education and supporting all physical or legal measures for keeping women "in their place."
As Sir Hermann Bondi accurately observed, men made god their primary source for "the common and undisguised contempt for women enshrined in the three great Western religions, the basis for the cruel, inhuman and wasteful sexism still so rampant."  Women's feelings of unworthiness and insecurity,
even aberrations like masochism and depression, often may be traced to training in a male-oriented religion, at variance with their own nature.

Recently, some women have begun to seek better understanding of that
feminine nature, buried as it was under western society's proliferation of masculine images and values.  One interesting idea to emerge from this new
research is, if women's religion had continued, today's world might be less
troubled by violence and alienation.  Gods, including Yahweh, tended to order their followers to make war; whereas the great mother Goddesses advocated peaceful evolution of civilized skills.  Cooperation rather than exploitation was the matriarchal rule.

Goddess worship, usually entailed frank acceptance of the natural cycles
of sexuality, birth, and death; and maternal concern for the welfare of coming generations.  Love was not the abstract principle that "love of God" was
to become.  In the very process of worship it could be directly, immediately,
and physically experienced.  Certainly there was still a strong element of
this Oriental-femininst concept in the medieval "heresies" that aroused
the ire of the church.

Perhaps the most important part of any religion is the direction it gives to
interpersonal behavior patterns.  The patterns evolved by women in honor of their ancient Goddess surely deserve close study today.  As one of the Goddess's scriptures pointedly said, "What use are grand phrases about the soul on the lips of those who hate and injure on another?...Religion is kindness."

Traces of the "kind Goddess" are still to be found in a thousand hidden pockets of history and custom: myths, superstitions, fairy tales, folk songs and dances, nursery rhymes, traditional games and holidays, magic symbols, sagas, and scriptures both original and revised, apocryphal and otherwise-in addition to the valuable material recovered by archeologists, orientalists,
and other scholars.  Patterns emerge from comparative studies, which can be fitted together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

These Myths and Secrets are drawn from more than paganism.  Biblical
myths are especially significant, not only because they shaped the attitudes of western culture, but also because they were written and rewritten during centuries of transition from matriarchal to patriarchal systems.  The later development of Christian myths contributed  much to sexist thinking.  In Europe, sexism was a primary product of the Christian church.  Patriarchal religions like Judaism and Christianity established and upheld the "man's world" largely by an elaborate structure of falsehood.

Some of the facts concealed by that Christian history have come to light in recent decades.  Others are being kept secret even now, by religious organizations still dedicated to preserving a patriarchal society.  Laymen and
especially women are theoretically forbidden to investigate them.
Nevertheless, they can be found out.

Naturally, the secret most deeply concealed by Christianized history
was the many-named Goddess, the original Holy Trinity who created and governed the world, gave birth to its Saviors, sent her tablets of divine
law to the prophets, and watched over every life from womb to tomb, according to pre-Christian belief.  Today she is viewed as "mythical," having
been replaced by a God (equally mythical, but more acceptable to a male-dominated culture), who took over most of her attributes.  It is not
usually understood that the spiritual life of western man, and especially of western woman, was greatly impoverished by her violent suppression.

The unremitting warfare of the church against followers of the Goddess is a large part of what feminists now call our hidden history.  Even though
Christianity itself grew out of the once-universal religion of the Goddess, it was a matriarchal son whose bigotry tinged every thought and feeling with woman-hatred.  In the end it produced a society in which members of one sex invariably oppressed members of the other, and both came to regard this inequity as a natural state of affairs, ordained by a male "Creator."  Matters were otherwise in the pre-Christian world where the "Creator" was more often a "Creatress."  through making God in his own image, man has almost forgotten that woman once made the Goddess in hers.

The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
written by Barbara G. Walker
 

 Home // Message From Livia...Last of Artemis' Sacred Priestess' // AncientAmazons // AncientAmazonsII //