Who on Earth is the Goddess ?

"Well, for instance, who is this All-Mother you're always talking about ?

Why, you are, Edward. . . The All-Mother. You're the All-Mother, I'm the All-Mother, that little bird singing out there, it's the All-Mother. The All-Mother is everything. The All-Mother is life..."

Mother Earth/ Mother Nature is the oldest and most universally worshiped as Mother Earth/ Mother Nature. Her images were first created in Aurignacian Cro-Magnon peoples, which was about 27,000 years ago. They're found all over the Eurasian continent from Spain to Siberia.

The Goddess and Her worship existed for thousands of years before there were any male gods, and this worship continued until its violent suppression by Iron Age Patriarcy. Women and Nature were held in esteem where the Worship of the Mother was dominant. She was called Kwan Yin by the Chinese, Isis by the Egyptians, and Changing Woman by the Navajo. The Greeks new Her as Gaia, and she was Yemanja to many Negroes. As Aphrodite the Goddess of Love; She says, "All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals." She is also Hecate, the ancient Crone who gives us both Wisdom and Death.

The Goddess is Diversity. She is of both Darkness and Light, and Her worship the reconciliation of opposites. There is no "Good Goddess" or "Evil Goddess." As night follows day, Death follows Life and it's a part of the natural cycle; and we accept Death with grace as Her final gift. Balance is the goal of Her people, and we search for it and achieve it by the acceptance of multiple paths and truths. Dion Fortune once commented that all goddesses are manifestations of the One Great Goddess whose identity is as the Universal feminine Soul of Nature.

As Great Mother Nature, the Goddess' eldest and greatest aspect is the all-encompassing energy of Universal Life. Her womb is the White Hole which pours all energy into our Universe, and its opposite, the Black hole, is Her all-devouring mouth which consumes the energy and matter around it. Finally, the Universe itself will be consumed or dissipated then reborn once again as between Her thighs the universe of matter is again squeezed from spirit. Her energy will then coalesce into Matter-Mater, the Mother of all Forms. When She ignites, she become the Star Goddess Nuit once again, whose future galactic breast will resemble our present Milky Way. From Her, star systems and planets are born. And all planets including, of course, our very own Earth Mother, Gaia, are aspects of Her.

The Goddess is seen as manifesting in many different aspects, for She is Diversity. She is also The Triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone, a reference to Her links to the fertility cycle. Some ancient cultures personified this Triplicity, where She appears as the Aspects of the waning, waxing and the full Moon. The Fates, Graces, Furies, Muses, or even Faith, Hope and Charity are the Aspects of the three-faced Goddess are familiar to us. Her Dual Aspects are also the familiar divisions of Mother and Daughter (Demeter => Persephone), or as Sisters/Lovers=>Fauna => Flora). These polarities are important to Her worship, for it can exist with two opposing aspects of the Goddess representing as poles, as in a magnet, but more commonly it's the great polarity of gender. The Goddess is a deity of sexual loving.

She's Ishtar or Aphrodite, who are eternal Lovers who await with eager arms the mortal man with enough bravery to risk Her Immortal favors. Many men have worshiped Her as their lover, but she never may be possessed or bound into marriage for She belongs only to Herself. She is the Eternal Virgin or Parthenos in the prepatriarchal meaning "of her own household"). She represents the Strong Woman who isn't dominant - she is independent. Her lovers transcend the merely human into the truely divine. Many gods have Beloved Her. She shared the co-rulership of Heaven and Earth for thousands of years of marital bliss, before jealous male gods eventually suppressed Her worship. She is the inescapable Yin which balances the cosmic Yang: Yang/Yin. The Tree of Life, the Sacred Serpent, the Labyrinth are the Symbols associated with Her, and they are found at the heart of all the Mysteries, in all parts of our world. She underlies all the later accretions that later, successive religions laid over Her. The answers to the search for our deepest ancestral roots is ultimately found in the search for Her.

I am the Star that rises from the twilight sea.
I bring men dreams to rule their Destiny.
I am the Eternal Woman; I am She!
The tides of all souls belong to me-
[The] Touch of my hand confers polarity-
These are the moontides, these belong to me. [2]

Honor Thy Mother...

There's no confusion over Her identity in all the cultures where She is still worshiped - She is Nature; She is the Earth. She's not an atavistic abstraction, a metaphor for the mystical, or a consciousness construct. She has a body with a substance as material as our own and and we are formed of Her flesh and tread upon Her breast. "Walk lightly on the bosom of the Earth Mother," says Sun Bear, and the Native American Traditionalists agree. Cherokee shaman Rolling Thunder emphasizes, "It's very important for people to realize this: the Earth is a living organism, the body of a higher individual who has a will and wants to be well, who is at times less healthy or more healthy, physically and mentally." [3] Frank Waters, author of Masked Gods and Book of the Hopi, makes the same point:

. . . To Indians the Earth is not inanimate. It is a living entity, the mother of all life, our Mother Earth. All Her children, everything in nature, is alive: the living stone, the great breathing mountains, trees and plants, as well as birds and animals and man. All are united in one harmonious whole. [4]

Renowned historian Arnold Toynbee wrote in "The Religious Background of the Present Environmental Crisis," also observing:

For pre-monotheistic man, nature was not just a treasure-trove of "natural resources". Nature was, for him, a goddess, "Mother Earth," and the vegetation that sprang from the Earth, the animals that roamed, like man himself, over the Earth's surface, and the minerals hiding in the Earth's bowels, all partook of Nature's divinity. [5]

Before ever land was, before ever the sea,
Or soft hair of the grass, or fair limbs of the tree,
Or flesh-coloured fruit of my branches, I was -
And thy soul was in me. [6]

The Gaia Thesis

We must first understand our own origins to Understand the nature of the Earth Mother. Unisexual biological organisms are always considered to be female, for only the female brings forth life from her own body in the act of reproduction. Single cells are "mothers" and their offspring are "daughters". We began our individual lives as a single fertilized cell, or zygote. As this zygote divides to form copies or multiples of itself, the cell divided and then redistributed the very same protoplasm. This zygote protoplasm is the very same substance which now courses through all of the several trillion cells of your adult body. The mother cell does not remain intact when a cell reproduces but actually becomes the two new daughter cells. This is why all the daughter cells collectively continue to comprise but one single organism no matter how many times the cells fission in embryological development processes. If our cells have consciousness akin to our own, we may imagine they may very well believe themselves to be independent entities, who will live and die in a world that to them would seem to be merely an inanimate environment. In our arterial highways our blood cells seem race along as a undifferentatied liquid, but we know they are, in fact, minute components of a far vaster living being which is our body.

Life on Earth began over three billion years ago with a single living cell containing DNA and RNA, the first replicating molecules, as we also do as individual zygotes. That first original cell developrf the awesome capacity for reproduction, and from that point on, it divided, redivided, sub-divided and mutated its protoplasm into the myriads of plants and animals, including ourselves, that inhabit the "Third Rock [or mudball] from the Sun".

No matter how many times a cell fissions in the embryological development process, the daughter cells still collectively continue to comprise but one single organism. The body of a single vast living being-Mother Earth comprises all life on Earth comprises as Herself. Her radiant heart is the Moon, and the tides beat the pulse of Her blood. The very protoplasm which now courses through every cell of every living organism, plant or animal, of our planet coursed through the body of that first primeval ancestral cell. Earthly life was biologically female for the first three billion years before life evolved sexual reproduction, and males. All individuals are first "female" until the differenciating gender gene transforms some of us into males.

In the Theory of Evolution, "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" or individual development repeats ancestral development. Ancient peoples anticipated these scientific ideas when they intuitively conceptualized our planetary Divinity as feminine, Our Mother Earth, the Soul of our planetary biosphere is the Goddess - She. [7]

First life on my sources first drifted and swam.
Out of me are the forces which save it or damn.
Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird.
Before God was, I am. [6]

". . . Be the terror and the dread of all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven, of everything that crawls on the ground and all the fish of the sea: they are handed over to you." (Gen. 9:2-3)

Western Civilization has been pursuing a course that has taken it farther and farther from the Mother since the time of the Exodus, 3,500 years ago. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three great Western monotheistic religions, have suppressed the worship of the Goddess and have tortured and brutally murdered millions of Her people since they first began their activities. Today, Her body lies raped and ravished in the wake of human progress, while she is all but forgotten by the hearts of Her children. The Goddess is feminine divinity incarnate, and the denial of feminine divinity results in the oppression of all women, as well as Mother Nature Herself. As Toynbee says:

The thesis of the present essay is that some of the major maladies of the present-day world-for instance the recklessly extravagant consumption of nature's irreplaceable treasures, and the pollution of those of them that man has not already devoured-can be traced back in the last analysis to a religious cause, and that this cause is the rise of monotheism. [5]

This is not mean that non-monotheistic religions have a perfect track record on the treatment of women who live in those societies. Hindu cultures revere various goddesses, but they are also among the more sexist and female-suppressive societies in the modern world. However, there's abundant archeological evidence that indicates things were not always as they are now, especially in the truly ancient societies like India. Many Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures, including the Harrapan culture of the Indus Valley and the Minoan people of Crete, had what appears to have been some remarkably egalitarian societies before the waves of Aryan Indo-European invasions around 1,500 BCE. Before She was later broken into a multiplicity of minor goddesses who were demoted to the position of wives or concubines of the gods, these societies were universally characterized by the worship of a powerful, Great Mother whom the Hindu people still call Maha Devi Ma.

The Indian Primal Goddess Maha Devi had been divided into a triplicity of goddesses characterized as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer: Saraswati, Laksmi and Kali; respectively the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, by the time various sacred writings were codified into the Vedas. But, it should also be noted that these Goddesses are believed to be the Sources of each of these god's Mana or Power. In Greece, the original Cretan Rhea was transformed by a similar process to Kore, Demeter and Persephone (or Hecate).

The Great Mother became easier to control Once She had been married off. The way was then paved for Her dowry of natural wealth to be handed over to Her divine consort's financial control. Whether this revolutionary development in Mythology, at that time, mirrored the social diminishment of women's rights, or whether it preceded it and was then invoked as a justification for the new order is really a moot point.

The land was formerly tied to territorial matrilineal clans, but then it then passed into the hands of patriarchal kings and princes who began making it their private property. Then they laid waste to the forests, and built vast temples and palaces for house their concubines and other slaves in harems. The Goddess of Nature fell from the position of being the body and soul of All That Lives to that of a wife, mother and household servant (from the Latin "servi" -> slave). Many Traditions have given lip service to the so-called "Female Principle," either in the form of a divided identity like the Hindu Shakti or as a semi-divine emanation. The power of the Goddess of Nature, unfortunately, has gradually lost its ability to inspire the necessary respect and reverence which was once accorded to the Source and Bearer of Life.

Where are You, then, Mother, whose strength was before
All other powers? Your name is the only freedom. [8]

Pantheism views everything in Nature and all living is Divine and alive. In the context of Pantheism, the simplest explanation of Divinity is as "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together" (Star Wars: "The Force"). The Pantheistic Theology of Immanent Divinity ("Thou Art God/dess") contrasts sharply with the theology of a Divinity that is Transcendent or,("God is Out There"), presented by most of "The World's Great Religions."

The Goddess is not an all-powerful, indestructible, non-physical being who created the world, and who exists apart from it, unlike the God of the Christians, Moslems and Jews. Although Mother Nature is Life on the universal scale, Gaia, the Earth Mother is the very Soul of this living planet, and she lives or dies as all life on this planet lives or dies. . .

Mother, not maker; born, and not made.
Though her children forsake her, allured or afraid,
Praying prayers to the God of their fashion,
She stirs not for all who have prayed.

O my children, too dutiful towards Gods not of me,
Was not I enough beautiful? Was it hard to be free?
For, behold, I am with you, am in you, and of you -
Look forth now and see! [6]

"Earth Mother, Your Children Are Here!"

The current enviornmental crises of our planet are Legion and are growing worse yearly: Chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the atmosphere's ozone layer; industrial pollution is exacerbating the present greenhouse effect which is has begun to melt the polar icecaps, and which will eventually drown the coastal regions, and is currently changing our stable weather patterns into a more chaotic one, which may soon bring on a global super storm; and the ongoing destruction of the rainforests by timber and agricultural interests with the collusion of national governments; and the pollution of phytoplankton in the seas is causing worldwide droughts, and areas of black water in our oceans which are zones where the seas are devoid of life. The politics of greed and corruption are so complex, and the problems are so vast that it will truly take a miracle to reverse such ongoing global destruction. The only thing that can save us is a total and electrifying change of consciousness in our government leaders, industries, the People themselves. Nothing will bring home the desperation of our plight, short of a worldwide realization of our planetary awareness. We must activate our Gaian identification so to regain our shattered empathy with the Spirit of Nature. We must become one with our Earth Mother in order to feel Her|our pain, and stop the cancer before it spreads and reachs a terminal phase, which will terminate but us and our civilization. Alas, as of 2005, the Bush Administration, like the other administratoins before it, has absolutely no interest in Enviornmental protection, especially if it might offend important corporated special interests. As usual, we will procrastinate until the wolf is at the door, but by then it may be far too late.

"Religion is a word that derives from 're-ligio' or; "relinking." in Latin. The purpose of a true religion, is to heal the alienations and the resulting rifts which have separated Us, mostly Western Christian Civilization, from the Source of Divine Being: Rifts between humanity and Nature; matter and spirit; mind and body; man and woman; and our own egos and the Soul of Nature. Recent books,with increasing frequency, called for a return to the worship of the Mother, after analyzing the trends of our wayward world.

So many wistful comments made by writers such as Merlin Stone, Mary Daly, James Lovelock, Judy Chicago, Dolores LaChapelle, Rene Dubos, Daniela Gioseffi, Paolo Soleri, Elizabeth Gould Davis, Arnold Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas and Riane Eisler reflect a growing yearning for such a religious revival. Such a revival has been on-going for some time now - at least since the early 1960's in the Neo-Pagan movement (Paganus-"Peasant" or country dweller in Latin). Paganism now references all nature religions.

To the several hundred thousand Neo-Pagans who have been actively practicing and publishing for more than a quarter of a century, the greatest quandry of the Neo-Pagan Movement is its continuing obscurity and invisibility to those such as the above-named writers, who continue to publish books advocating such a movement ours, while remaining tlolidly ignorance of its existance and that it has attracted a substantial number s of people to it. The new Paganism encompasses many Nature-oriented groups such as Feraferia, Sabaean Society, Circle, Earthspirit Community, Thiasos Apollon Dionysos, Cyprian Society, and various incarnations of the Church of All Worlds [[CAW Inc., iCAW, CAW Tradition Network, etc]]), Umbanda House, Bear Tribe, Pagan Way, Church of the Eternal Source, Odinic Fellowship, Earth Church of Amargi, Fellowship of Isis, and various Druidic orders and ethnic traditions.

However, Witchcraft, or Wicca has the largest contingent of modern Goddess-worshippers. Wicca is a pre-Christian European Pagan magical tradition which incorpoartes European Shamanism. The violent suppression and near eradication of the followers of Wicca by the Inquisition can only be compared to the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany (estimates of the number of martyrs run into the millions!) The Craft is making a powerful modern comeback on the wings of the re-emergent Goddess.

the Women's Spirituality movement has discovered Feminist Witchcraft, and the Deep Ecology movement and even such radical environmental activists as Earth First! have discovered The Neo-Pagan movement, and has been joined together increasing numbers of thinkers who have had similar thoughts along these lines -- Maybe it's time to form our own Think Tank ! These are only some of the groups that are the core of the movement to restore the Earth Goddess to Her rightful place. This movement has its roots in the combined studies of ecology and feminist Neo Paganism is the logical spiritual application of such studies. If Witches can be priestesses of Feminism, then Neo-Pagans are the Priest[s]/ess, ministers, and chaplains of the Ecology movement. The overall movement is truly an attempt to express Our Gaian Spirituality, whether it's called Eco-feminism, Ecosophy, or Neo-Paganism. Deep Ecology, Goddess Spirituality, and Neo-Paganism, three streams of spirituality, have met and mingled; And We are in solidarity and concordance with Native American, Hindu, Tibetan, Hawaiian and other ancient spiritual teachings and fused somewhat with the more mainstream, but nebulous, New Age Movement.

Therefore, a truly planetary religious metaphor is struggling to be born from this blending of pathways that will transcend all of the tradition-specific patterns in the same way the the idea of Neo-Paganism absorbed and united a multiplicity of wildly differing, but basically polytheistic religious groups, in the 1970's. What we are looking for could perhaps be called Gaian religion, because at the heart of our Unity is our identity as children of the same Mother-Gaia Herself; Mother Earth. It is said that it's a wise child who knows its own Mother!

The Gaian Conspiracy
A brief digression on etymology:

Who is Gaia, and why would we would name a movement after Her ? Gaia (or Gaea) is the Roman(Greek) name for the Earth Mother Goddess: She who was created by Love and Light from the primal cosmic chaos. Gaia, shot by the arrow of Eros, gave birth to all plants, animals, gods and goddesses, and the human race, of course. Gaia is the Mother of us all in ancient Greek Mythology.

We have been impelled towards planetary identification from the moment when the people of Earth achieved the ability to see the image of our planet spinning in all Her blue-and-white radiant splendor, moving through the black velvet night. We must inevitably begin to think of ourselves as one one people, one planet, one wholistic organism. This image's power alone unites us, for it's a conclusion of the concept that the past three-and-a-half billion years of terrestrial evolution resembles one vast embryogenesis. Something is Quickening, developing, hatching, and unfolding as a self-reflexive universal mind capable of contemplating its own existence. Gaia has increasingly developed more complex eyes and extensions of Her eyes/our eyes to observe and contemplate Her own image. And now, having seen Herself through our satellite eyes, She is awakening to consciousness. She has a face, an identity, and now even a name, and so we inevitably come to identify ourselves as Gaian through Her.

The Gaian movement needs to be deeply committed to communication and education. Many tribal people and many of the old nature-based folk religions such as native Australians, Hawaiians, Siberians, Tibetans and Americans have come near to the brink of extinction, rather than to allow the Mysteries of their sacred rites to stolen and abused by greedy outside exploiters and missionaries.

The Gaian movement is small and largely unrecognized, since it's anarchic and not evangelical. However, it has tremendous potential strength in not having a single head, and having the ability through modern communications to present genuine answers to so many of the world's problems. Its vision is an idea whose time has come, yet there's still alot of obstacles before us, and revolutions in consciousness rarely happen overnight, even if it may sometimes seem that way. The greatest forces against a new Gaian renaissance are inertia and apathy - the watchwords of the '70s and '80s. But winds of change are blowing, and by the time the century turns we will see that once again Goddess is Alive and Magick is Afoot! So Mote it Be !

And you who think to seek for me -
Know that your seeking and yearning will avail you naught
Unless you know the Mystery:
That if that which you seek you find not within you,
You shall never find it without.
For behold: I have been with you from the beginning,
And I am that which is attained at the end of desire. [9]

Footnotes:

  1. Mack Reynolds, Of Godlike Power, 1966, pp. 146-147
  2. Dion Fortune, "Charge of the Moon Goddess"
  3. Doug Boyd, Rolling Thunder, 1974, p. 51
  4. Frank Waters, "Lessons From the Indian Soul," Psychology Today, May 1973
  5. Arnold Toynbee, "The Religious Background of the Present Environmental Crisis," International Journal of Environmental Studies, 1972, Vol. III
  6. Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Hertha"
  7. Oberon (Tim) Zell, "The Gods of Nature; The Nature of Gods," Gnostica #15, 1973
  8. Ramprasad Sen, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair; 18th Century Bengal
  9. Doreen Valiente, "Charge of the Star Goddess"



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