What are the ancient roots of Goddess culture in which our modern Goddess spirituality is based?
by Amanda Baker
Present day and the Divine Feminine is birthing once more upon our world and within me.
Her consciousness emerges from women and men waking up to Her presence within their hearts and souls. Her children awaken once more rebirthing the Mother bringing Her forth to be seen and experienced.
I am a daughter of the Goddess and it has been a journey of self discovery and healing.
A collective woundedness rests inside my being and it weeps and bleeds a deep pain. I know this wound from my childhood it is my earliest realised feeling and on reflecting I recognise it as shame, guilt and grief.
Ashamed of my femaleness, my femininity and guilt being born a girl, grief for something I did not know yet yearned for and a longing that reached out beyond the physical world.
A growing respect and regard for the feminine is developing as the tide of popular belief and conditioning unravels, transforms, changes, and gathers momentum as She stirs us into aliveness.
A few brave voices speak out an old truth and She begins to birth. Ripples are felt in the existing Patriarchal bastions of the imposed Judeo-Christian religions. They are questioned by many women failing to be fulfilled by a God created in the image of man who stands alone without reference to an equal Divinity, the Feminine aspect of God.
The female image is neglected. Therefore not only is a women prevented from becoming clergy, neither does she have a reflecting image of her own Divine self.
I give thanks to the following women, and make reference to them and their work, Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone, Starhawk, Barbara Walker and Donna Read.
I have struggled for my voice to be heard. I have worked to reclaim my power and my connection to my Divine Femininity and I express a deep appreciation for the women who were prepared to speak and be heard and have been criticised and judged, whilst I maintained a silence.
Breaking the silence is an integral part of the wounding and healing that women and men share together and it is happening now all over the world and here in Glastonbury, England at the Goddess conference, an arena, a forum for women’s and men’s voices joined in celebration and healing of the ancient wounding in expression of Love for the Divine Feminine.
After 15 years of spiritual growth work and healing, I am emerging and share in relation to the rebirth of the Mother, my rebirth and self discovery.
Goddess is balance and much time has past in linear terms from once when all could see Her clearly and be free to worship, sing Her praises and delight in Her presence amongst them, when communities were peaceful and harmonious, Her sexuality sacred …
30,000 years ago there existed across our earth a Goddess loving people common in their spirituality, their religion relating to the earth as Her body. They related to Her nature in relationship with the cycles of their natural world. Living peacefully and raising children together in community.
The Mother births and is unearthed, arisen from the ground, the earth of Her body. She has been re-discovered in most countries and is showing us the way of Her beauty once more.
Figurines found displaying Her huge pregnant belly, Her fertile hips and milk laden breasts are seen again, as the nurturing, feeding, nourishing Goddess.
She is seen in Kali’s dance of destruction and She is seen in Her regeneration as the Great Mother, She is seen in many forms and has many faces.
In the discovery of Goddess loving societies women were seen as the giver of life, the Creatress. They held positions of high power, and they made decisions for their communities.
Temples of the Goddess were filled with Priestesses who served Her.
It was from the womb of the mother we were born and to Her we returned.
Something happened, over the course of 3,500 years into recent times the Goddess experienced Her death. Only now are we experiencing Her rebirth, just as each blade of grass is taken up and eventually laid down.
So come with me and imagine a time an age when the Goddess was omnipotent and women acted as her clergy controlling the form and rites of religion.
The earth was Mother Earth, the moon female and female deities were seen in the near and middle east and in Egypt, Goddess Nut was known as the heavens.
Female creators of all existence bringing forth people to the entire earth, there are records of such Goddesses in Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Africa Australia and China, in India the Goddess Saraswati, Celtic Ireland, Goddess Bridget, both honoured as the originator or the inventor of the alphabet of word and language.
Women were responsible for the development of agriculture, female deities were cited in Mesopotamia where evidence shows the Goddess responsible for the development of planting and harvesting and in all areas of the world female deities shown to be healers, herbalists and the Priestesses in the role of physicians for those that worshipped at Her Temples.
They were seen as leaders.
In classical Greek we read about the Amazons, women who worshipped a warrior Goddess, they hunted and fought in the lands of Libya, Anatolia/Turkey, Bulgaria, Armenia, Greece and Russia.
A Goddess was revered as a wise prophetess and counsellor.
The Celtic Keridwen was the Goddess of knowledge and intelligence in pre Christian legends of Ireland.
The Priestesses of Gaia invoked Divine wisdom, Ishtar was the Lady of vision, while the Greek Demeter and Egyptian Isis were known as law givers, and Maat, Justice and balance.
Women served as judges and magistrates in courts of law, images of women that in this life time we have moved stone and institution, fought in emancipation, force fed and humiliated to restore from a place of woundedness, a broken legacy, a painful history.
It was quite apparent a religion in which the deity was female and revered as wise, just, valiant and powerful existed over 30,000 years this image conjures a very different reality than that we see today.
I look back on my own healing journey, born into a family that was atheist, children who were brought up by Victorians, women coming though generational slavery.
Yet my mother was all loving, all nurturing and all encompassing.
I look back and see in her the Divine Feminine, although she had no opportunity to see or find the Goddess within her, somewhere in her psyche and intuition she had a knowing that was never discussed and it was here I was born.
I remember feeling weak to be a woman, where inequality, inequity and imbalance existed. I was born with these feelings as if coded into my femaleness, they do not belong to me nor are they mine, they were given to me and my gender.
It is 15 years since my healing journey began in earnest and in conscious thought and direction.
The peeling back of layers and the healing of the feminine wound will be a life long journey and process. I do this for myself and the collective healing of us all.
At an early age I disassociated from my femininity, ashamed to be feminine. My femininity an expression of weakness, I became more masculine and patriarchal in personality and separate from my heart.
A part of me, an aspect, my saving grace, needed to seek something and I reached out to all that was available, to all that could be seen.
Jesus and a sky God far away in the heavens, a Heavenly Father, that by His very title suggested His distance, He was unreachable, so it was Jesus who led me to Goddess.
Where was She that I was seeking and searching for and didn’t know it.
I called out longing and yearning, looking back on this seeking it was a returning that my heart and soul would know beyond anything else, the truth of my existence, origin and birth.
A history of imbalance has existed for 3.500 thousand years, so where and what began to change.
Women today are disempowered and deeply impacted by a bloody legacy.
Gender specific words of hatred, cunt, hag, whore and bitch branded about and accepted as part of the language credited to the Goddess in its development and eventually used as a weapon against Her standing in our culture specifically used to injure women. Where does that come from?
My journey and my Priestess path is my healing it is the restoring of my divinity and connection to the Divine Feminine, it is linked to the past and a culture rooted in an ancient time that says my heart is feminine and I am sacred, my sacredness as a woman empowers me.
It enables me to stand in my light and be strong. In that place I bare witness to many other women reclaiming their power, and in oneness we are healing the collective feminine woundedness.
Women were held in divinity, sacredness and power and we have come through times where the early church fathers deemed that women didn’t have souls only men had a soul.
What do the images, actions and events of the everyday world mean to the observer?
What we believe determines how we live as a culture, we grow from a group belief, a common core knowing and an understanding develops, a general perception of the world evolves.
What has been clearly shown is the Neolithic and the Paleolithic peoples believed that the primordial deity, the religious nature of society was feminine they believed in the Divine Feminine, in the Great Goddess, this was the group knowing and understanding, it was the common core belief, the culture.
This origin story became changed and lost for thousands of years as a new origin story was created, one of a sky God, a heavenly Father and a patriarchal religion imposed.
The long lasting and peaceful farming communities and societies that lived a high level of culture and art 8,000 years ago known as the new stone age of Neolithic peoples has no evidence of organised warfare they left behind a detailed legacy of paintings, pottery, sculptures and figurines all centered around Goddess, the primary deity, these images showed a self generating giver of life, wielder of death, a regenerative creatress.
Her power was in water and stone, tomb and cave, in animals and birds snakes and fish, hills, trees and flowers, she is there for millennia and always sacred, living earth, Mother Earth, She is the Old Stone Age the Paleolithic time.
Huge Breasts, pregnant belly, fertile hips, showing the procreator the creatress, thousands of figurines speak in detail about the functions of the Goddess and there are many types of Goddess showing the attributes and qualities of the feminine that opens up a new world to us from an ancient place.
This is a language about how life was seen and the vibrant images of female, this is as old as human evolution, these were not portraits or pictures, they were beliefs.
These were not small villages but sometimes 15.000 people living in societies. The history books never talked about this, perhaps without kings and warfare and conquest they don’t fit in to the group culture …
This beautiful community without weapons was identified and unearthed by Marija Gimbutas she showed us a civilisation that lived peacefully without a standing army, this is very threatening to male power and dominance.
Marija has shown us how we live our lives today compared to a world that was revealed as far deeper and more meaningful, a way of living together harmoniously celebrating the feminine, the creatrix, a whole new view that was never revealed, taught or shown.
This understanding that the sacred is in the earth, the cycles and the seasons are represented in the religious objects and rituals, they were about the power of nature and this showed that nature and culture are not separate. This is an important influence on how group culture develops depending on the emphasis of the group, the intuitive, feeling nature of the feminine, or the more logical analytical masculine and how the weight of balance on these differences is expressed results in the core group behaviour , belief, attitude and action which reflects the attribute neglected or not considered important.
It is the relationship with the seed, how it was planted, how it grew, how it was harvested, the agriculture that grew up around the seasons, when to harvest and how to make the bread, these are the mysteries of the Goddess and Her transformation.
It was women who invented agriculture, pottery and weaving these were the connections to the Goddess. This showed women had power and high standing in their communities, the intricate detailed art showed the deep religious nature of the people.
This view of life and the world is our connection to Goddess now and in the past, this opens us to Her mysteries of alchemy and transformation and it is a symbolic representation of our present day journey into knowing Her more.
This view of a society is threatening to men it is matrilineal and matriarchal and in some ways in the Paleolithic age there appears no reference to Gods, as in the Neolithic period, there lies an imbalance. The marrying of feminine and masculine within and without, brings us into balance, by expressing the qualities and attributes of both aspects, we learn to live and grow in a connected and balanced way.
Marija was criticised for the view that every female figurine found was identified as a Goddess, suggesting every woman is a Goddess, this truthful acknowledgment a contribution to history.
By honouring the Divine Feminine, Her attributes and qualities we are all blessed by Her nature and made whole.
Birth, growth, death, is about regeneration, after an ending a new beginning, out of every death a rebirth.
Academics will talk of conjecture as nobody really knows, therefore it is about what you feel in your heart and know in your soul, it is the common peoples view, it’s your view, my view that matters, just as Marija was clearly deeply connected with the Divine Feminine in her heart and soul, this is what is important.
Because someone says something doesn’t make it true, but somewhere along the line we could look at figurines with big bellies, hips and breasts and say Goddess and that is because of one woman an independent thinker with links into our hearts and souls who intuitively knew.
Marija would look at the symbolism of old Europe and know this was the language and alphabet of the Goddess.
An independent path is not an easy path, this is the way of the modern day Priestess on the edge of a re-emerging religion and movement. It is time to be seen, heard and witnessed.
Our ancestral matrilineal knowledge and wisdom goes back 40,000 years, to a place where Hunters and gatherers were living in caves, small communities centred around the mother, peacefully co-existing.
There existed Minoan women in Crete and Malta where there were feats of engineering, written records and they charted the stars, they lived in peace and harmony, a wealth of culture, placing a high value on art and creativity, no mark was ever put on a work of art, they lived in harmony and community, there is no evidence of male or female dominance, women and men were equal, women played a part in every aspect of society, they were merchants, sea captains and vaulted bulls with the men and enjoyed equity and equality, this supported all their lives.
It took 25,000 years before the great age of Greece is seen and felt. It is here when the perversion of history began and Goddesses are redefined. Athena, Goddess of Love and wisdom, became Goddess of War, violent and erotic linked. Man said they were the masters of the earth, he was now also the procreator and Eve was born of Adam’s rib, male supremacy was proclaimed a corruption that was the beginning of change for women that was to last 3.500 years, and is the root of the subjugation of women and the stripping of their worth.
Male dominance has existed for 3.500 years, there were pockets of resistance namely the Amazons, Amazonian women fighting to keep a place in the world, refusing to give over to the new order. All this didn’t happen over night it was a gradual movement, erosion of all that was and a perversion over time and place.
This legacy directly relates to the later struggles women would have in reclaiming their power and equal standing in society. For men a time when they lost an aspect of their wholeness?
Could it be in striving for dominance, supreme power and control men lost the very thing that would bring them sovereignty?
As a result this is a time when man’s internal power was diminished and the beginning of abusive power leading to rape and acts of brutality against women and men alike became prolific. A violent projection of the loss of Goddess as man became more and more disassociated from the feminine and the feminine qualities.
Consequently a natural descent prevailed, people and the culture became more and more lost in an inequality and imbalance, deprived of the Divine Feminine and the sacred connection to Her nature, life becoming less and less rooted in the seasons and cycles of the earth, leading to the distorted and corrupt beliefs of a culture that was later to bring about a holocaust of staggering proportions.
From this turn in events and view of the world, I feel a collective grief, an ancestral sadness exists that compounds my own personal loss and disappointment in my life and is reflected in my own healing journey as I unearth my femininity, it is my pain, my limiting behaviour and my fear.
It is possibly the point in history when the internal coding within is over-written reflecting the re-writing of the stories, myths and legends, the change of names, the change of Goddess to consort, Goddess to mistress and whore. When sculptures, paintings and names are erased, changed, altered and the Goddess is lost within and without.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run With The Wolves beautifully illustrates the wild nature of women and the feminine, and how it has been repressed for centuries and how emotional truth, intuitiveness and instinct, confidence, wild passion and creativity has been devalued by a culture that places high esteem on masculinity as exclusive. In her writing she restores the way of the feminine and how we can reclaim and rejoice in our true feminine power.
Wise women, herbalists, midwifes, were the embodiment of femaleness and were branded by the Christian church as witches, worshipers of the devil, women’s history once lost is now being reclaimed by a new generation of women, the meaning of witch is seen as satanist and evil and yet the term witch is one with nature, the healer, the strong woman, the woman at the edge of social change. Women’s power has been associated with darkness and death, on Halloween the witch is the queen of the night.
I say bring me my Queen. I no longer repress or suppress my inner witch she is free once more to be visible without fear of death or reprisal.
I have reclaimed my power to be who I am and express my truth and in acknowledgement I praise the work of teachers such as Kathy Jones, Starhawk, Tom Rigler and many others who have greatly inspired me and opened me to deeper levels of Divinity that has unearthed Goddess within me who swept away the sands of time to reveal my true essence.
A deep source of women’s woundedness today and standing in our society is influenced by the deeds of the renaissance period, over three hundred years women became identified with images of death and somewhere in our psyche, in our minds, in our bodies, in our souls and in our hearts, this secret still exists and influences us today as women, our place in society and impacts our path so far.
We know of the Vagina Dendata the toothy female genital mouth said to swallow a man, reduce him to nothing and that can take away the power of his erection. Chinese sages insisted that women’s genitals are both gateways to immortality and executioners of men, natives of New Guinea called female genitals as dangerous as an open grave, the Maori belief in a literal reincarnation, led to a description of a vagina as the house of the dead that is a place of ghosts seeking rebirth.
Muslims had so much secret fear of the mouth like vulva which they called insatiable that by extension they also labeled women’s mouths obscene, Muslim women were forced to hide their mouths when they appeared in public, the men persuaded themselves that a vulva mouth could bite off a man’s eyesight so a man who looked at female genitals could go blind.
Such images arose from men’s sexual diminishment in climax still called mans little death.
This belief became the disease process and the purulent explosion of ignorance responsible for the disembodiment of all that was feminine, women were born and died, again and again for centuries into a void that lacked the presence of Goddess but infused with the perverted acts of violence and brutality against them.
A burden of pain steeped in history, a legacy held within the collective today and acted out by the few who are remnants of a dark past.
Women’s journeys and my own experiences contain this history, they are filled with shame, guilt and fear, they uncover feelings of inadequacy, of unworthiness and men living unconsciously, a repeated pattern of behaviour, absorbed by osmosis, a verbal rhetoric of their father.
However the tide is changing and the momentum is slowing as more and more women and men reclaim Goddess and expunge the script of the past and heal the wounds of the feminine within themselves and together.
I have explored and found in my own sexual healing how similar beliefs and fears played out in my sexuality, such as, the events that acted out in my life as opportunities for healing: rape and abuse in marriage, prostituting myself within that relationship, the giving up of my power and eventually the reclaiming of that power, moving me into freedom to be more fully in my sexual nature.
Judeo-Christian tradition insisted that woman was the universal death bringer, God imposed death on the world only because of the disobedience of Eve, so said the early fathers of the church.
Tertullian said it was entirely Eve’s fault that death came to destroy the image of man and even the son of God had to die, the book of Enoch said the woman Eve was responsible for the death of every man.
In the fifth century AD a church council declared it heresy to call death a natural necessity rather than the result of Eve’s sin, death is guilt made visible says theologian Karl Rahner claiming that the mythic unpleasantness in Eden resulted in death as a demonstration of human sin, it has been written much of western patriarchal prejudice against women can be confirmed through man’s ultimate fear, the fear of his own final non existence. To early Christian men even an existence of eternal hell seemed preferable to this.
This prejudice became virulent in acts against women and led to agonising deaths as witches.
There can be no dawn without dusk, no spring without fall, no planting without harvest, no birth without death, everything has its day in the sun and then gives way to others. This vision was pushed aside by rising patriarchal religions viewing all flesh as sinful, death as punishment.
This view enforced by patriarchal priesthoods had to culminate in the elimination of the thousand named Goddess whose images were embedded in the culture of the masses in the religion of the Great Mother and was very different from that of the Heavenly Father, the Great Mother was the earth, the sea, the moon, the milky way, the elements, mountains, rivers, stone, vegetation, women, intelligence, time, fate, birth, love and death, She was the first holy trinity, Virgin, Mother, and Crone, Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.
The Goddess figures of India, Arabia, Egypt, the Middle East, Aegean and Mediterranean, Celtic peoples of Northern Europe and Old Europe held within them the Feminine Divine principle, Her mysteries, the secret, that is now once again living and breathing, becoming more and more visible upon our landscape and held as a precious jewel within the hearts of our brothers and sisters.
Perhaps this time we can create the balance that history lacked and learn from the sins of our fathers that the compassionate loving nature of the Mother is expressed as forgiveness in a deep desire for evolution and growth, She is Love and Love is all there is ……