Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Goddess Worship and It's Origins
Good Afternoon My Witchy Reader,
Today we will discuss a little about ancient Goddess worship and what we think about how it originated. Of course, archaeologists and anthropologists can't say definitely how early mankind thought or what their beliefs were, as humans who lived during the prehistoric period (pre-history is the time defined before written language) left very little behind for us to know about them.
Yet, luckily, archaeologists are constantly digging in the earth's soil, and at times unearthing objects created by early humans that we can study and try to understand what they believed and how they saw the world around them.
The above figurine is called the Acheulian Goddess and is a replica of the original that was found in 1981 at the Acheulian site of the Berekhat Ram in the Golan Heights in Israel. It is believed this figure which, the original is 1.4 inches long, was created by a hominid species which predated the Neanderthal era, since it has been carbon dated to between 800,000 and 1 million years B.C.E. (Before the Common Era, which is before the year 1. Afterwards until the present is now referred to as C.E. the Common Era)
The Acheulian Goddess, which as of now, is known to be the oldest, human created piece of art work ever unearthed, tells us about the people who created her. Like many Goddess figures hundreds of thousands of years after her, she had no facial features. Her body is round and rotund, large breasts, large hips, a distinct vulva which was considered sacred. All of this points to an understanding of how ancient mankind, even the earliest understood his/her Creator to be.
Every culture, every generation of man has always looked around him and wondered at where we have come from, who our creator is, and how we came to be. It is one thing we all seem to have in common. We look to the stars and wonder, what is out there? What made us? Who made us?
Understandably, early man was much simpler than we are today. Not that he was less intelligent, that is not at all what I am saying. Mankind looked around and made observations by what he saw in his surroundings. The Sun rose in the sky and died at night. The moon rose in the night sky and many times lived on during the day, as we can sometimes see the moon in the sky during the day. So ancient man, had the concept of a God that was born, lived and died. Whereas the Goddess had a reign of being a young maiden, a full mother and an elderly crone, but She never died, She was always among us.
Mankind looked around and saw the female of all species gave birth to offspring. This was in nature, from birds, to fish, to the animals in the forest and fields, to other humans. The female gave birth to the babies. So when the concept of a creator was considered, it made perfect sense that the one that gave birth to the whole universe would be a female, a Goddess. Perhaps, rather than a Goddess, back in Neolithic times, it would have been a Great Mother, but a female form nonetheless.
It is telling that early Goddess figures did not have facial features, for what woman would the Goddess look like? When she is all women.
Even the Old Testament of the Bible, the original from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Jewish Torah, before the Christian Kings sanitized and re-wrote so much of the bible mentioned Goddesses' and many holy women of power and influence. The Sacred Divine Feminine that was worshiped and revered before Christianity worked in the early days to eliminate the memory of the Goddess by burning her Priestess' and midwives, her herb women and her wise women on the stake.
After the Burning Times, patriarchal rule was complete and a male God, who was vengeful, punishing, terrible and judgmental ruled over the world, except for some very distant, obscure isolated pockets of humanity where the Christian missionaries had failed to find and convert or kill the pagans who still lived there. The loving, forgiving and turning the other cheek God or Christ is a fairly modern, new concept in the history of man and still giving mankind a challenge as Christians try to emulate those concepts in their day to day lives with varying degrees of success and failure.
It is known that older cultures such as the Greeks and Romans that the Moon and at least one planet, Venus, both represented the Goddess to the inhabitants on Earth at various times in history. We also know for some cultures, for instance the Egyptians, for a period of time, felt the Sun in the sky represented their God, thus giving us an understanding that the ancients looked around them and saw their creator(s) in the world of nature around them.
Modern Pagans have a few authors, anthropologists and scholars to thank for the revival of the Goddess worshiping culture we have today. First and foremost is was the Scottish Anthropologist, Sir Jame George Frazer's The Golden Bough published in 1890 which first introduced the comparative study of mythology, magic and ritual.
This was followed by a wonderful work by Margaret Alice Murray who was born in 1863 and died in 1963 and was an Egyptologist. She wrote and published in 1922 "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" which was geared more for Academia but re-introduced into a Judeo Christian world the concept of Goddess worship, which had primarily at this time the Virgin Mary or female Saints.
Then author and poet, Robert Graves wrote "The White Goddess" in 1948 in which Graves proposes the concept of a Mother Goddess, a European Deity of Birth, Life and Death which he ties into the phases of the moon.
Then we have Gerald Gardener to thank for introducing us to Wicca a modern religion he created from the ancient Witchcraft practice and Goddess worship, and his book "Witchcraft Today" and then Raymond Buckland brought the practice of Witchcraft as a formal spiritual practice to the United States and with it, the Goddess worship that is so much a part of witchcraft.
These are really the first ones to bring back the worship of the Goddess to us, and yes, there are others that I have not mentioned, but anyone that is knowledgeable of the family tree will recognize the contributions these individuals have given to all of us and how they have helped resurrect the ancient Great Mother for all of us to meet again and to become close to again.
I could write down the 'family tree' of the modern practice of modern Wicca and Witchcraft, and I do so for my students at classes at Enchantments, but I do encourage you to do the research yourself. Do you know the name Janet Farrar? You should. Laurie Cabot? Doreen Valiente? Margot Adler? Vivian Crowley? These are just a few names you should know. Names that, without their contributions, their written words, their work, our practice of witchcraft, our Goddess worship would be woefully lacking. And again, I have left out so many more, but I will leave them for you to discover.
If you simply cast a circle when the moon is full, or read tarot cards for friends, burn a little incense, yes you are doing some of the practice of the witch, but without really knowing our history and learning of the wonderful men and women who have gone before us, who have taught us, who have shared their knowledge with us, you are not enjoying all this path has to offer.
In my next discussion I will cover more Goddesses and their cultures and the beliefs surrounding them, along with some of their mythos. Did you know that your Goddess, may require a specific offering? Do you know her feast day or her favorite incense or perfume? Haha yes, just like a woman Goddesses have their favorite likes and even dislikes. If you wish to work with Her properly, you need to know these things.
Today I wanted to introduce you to the first Goddess image created by mankind, dated to almost a million years ago, and we are still, some of us, seeing the Divine Feminine in women to this day. Now that is an enduring concept.
Live, Laugh and Always Love
© 2010-2017 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Tuesday, April 11, 2017