The Great Mother Goddess
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
The Great Mother GoddessHonoring the sacred feminine.
Just as May brings in a profusion of new growth, the flowers and trees that bud and bloom in the Spring, so does it also bring in Mother’s Day and the opportunity to honor the Great Mother as well as our own mother. The Great Mother is the goddess of motherhood, fertility, creation, and the bounty of the natural world. She is the feminine counterpart of the Sky Father, of God the Father. And just as your mom carried you in her body and nourished you with her blood, the Earth Mother carries and sustains us all.
The Great Mother Goddess, the embodiment of the feminine mysteries, was once worshipped in many cultural traditions around the world. Agricultural societies, like that of ancient Egypt, needed fertile crops to survive, and thus needed the Nile to overflow its banks each year. They celebrated the flood with a festival called the “Night of the Tear Drop,” since it was the tears of the goddess Isis as she grieved for Osiris that brought the waters of life. And when the goddess is honored, women are more likely to be respected by their society as well. Ancient Egyptian women could own property, carry out business deals, and initiate divorce. Wealthy women could become doctors or priestesses.
Each of the three great monotheistic religions of the West—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all started out with women who were seen as being as powerful and important as men. In Judaism, the four matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—were as honored as the patriarchs who founded the religion. In Christianity, Mary Magdalene was the disciple Jesus loved the most, and was the first to see the risen Christ. In Islam, the Mothers of the believers and the Prophet’s 16 women Companions were honored during the Prophet’s lifetime.
So what happened? Patriarchy: the social system that says men are the ones who hold all moral authority and control of property, and where fathers rule over women and children. Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father,” and it’s been going on a long, long time. In Christianity, the goddess became either the virgin or the whore. Mother Mary was sacred (although not on the same level as God the Father or the Son), while Jesus’s beloved Mary Magdalene was purposely labeled a prostitute by the Church fathers so they could stamp out any rival beliefs in the goddess cults. Churches were built over sites of goddess worship. Anything that smacked of “feminine magic” was banned or burned at the stake. We see how the women of Islam today are treated under the more patriarchal Moslem-ruled countries. And that same desire to control women, especially to control the power of their bodies, is also seen in the male-dominated conservative religious sects in the U.S.
In Jewish folklore, there is an interesting version of the Adam and Eve story that says God created Adam to marry a woman named Lilith (who was associated with Inanna, the Mother Goddess), and in Kabbalah Lilith is depicted as Adam’s first wife. Since the early Hebrews continued to worship “false idols” like Asherah/Inanna, and considered them as powerful as God, God was displeased and Lilith was banished as a “demon.” Eve became Adam’s wife. Lilith, in her jealous rage at being displaced, then took the form of the serpent in the Garden and tricked Eve into eating the infamous apple. In this way, Lilith was seen as responsible for the downfall of all mankind. Sure, blame it on the woman. We’re still doing that, aren’t we? Who is blamed when a woman gets raped? Not the football team. Yet, it is interesting to note that in pre-Judaic religions, the serpent was associated with wisdom and rebirth!
But something started about twenty years ago, which has been the laying down of a foundation of feminine spiritual wisdom to balance out the hypermasculine world. The ancient goddesses are being reclaimed. And modern-day spiritual practices recognize that the sacred is not just “up there” in some transcendent realm, but also “down here”—imminent in the natural world. Women are insisting that the sacred dimensions of life reflect the reality of women, not just Our Father in Heaven and all-male politicians in office.
Every woman knows the power of the sacred feminine. She knows the mystery of her body’s cycles, which are linked to the greater rhythms of the moon. Her deep knowing is found in her very nature. She understands the interconnectedness of life. It’s time to shift our focus away from only a transcendent male deity and equally honor the divine feminine. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an understanding of the divine that didn’t leave out half the human race? Now is the time and we women and men can do it!