I remember my first exposure to “the Goddess.” One of my first life instructors was certainly a “crazy woman” before her period. She educated about the Goddess, healing herbs, women’s music festivals, paganism-all types of theories that seemed radical to me at the moment.
I would not have guessed it, but within several years I had embraced many of her values and interests. Many years after I read what was among the most influential books of my life. I picked up a copy of The Great Cosmic Mother by Sjoo and Mor, and my view about women’s place in history and spirituality was changed forever. I learned that there really were civilizations long past that worshiped the Divine from the female form, and accorded women the dominant place in society.
According to my research, and supported by archeological findings, these goddess civilizations existed, probably through the world, and continued from humanity’s earliest beginnings (although archeological evidence of these starts at about 30,000 BC) through roughly 2400 BC. At the moment the male-god worshiping tribes slowly forced the Goddess cultures from prominence.
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Perhaps the best insight I received was struck by the inspiring worth of these goddess-worshiping peoples. Their religions embodied female principles that have endured through the ages, although occasionally necessarily underground. Interestingly, these values generally correspond to the majority of the aspired worth of the New Consciousness, and have much in common with all the wisdom of the world’s courageous native peoples. As we learn from these values, the ancient spiritual wisdom appears to unite with our aspirations of our planet for the future.
In analyzing ancient feminine-honoring civilizations, we see that their various traits grouped themselves around specific recurring themes. These themes pervaded all the Goddess societies, whether in Crete, Sumer (Iraq), Anatolia (Turkey), the British Isles, African countries, the Americas, or eastern Asia. Mysticism Encouraged: Images we’ve gleaned of the Goddess cultures indicate that ancient people were invited to look inside themselves for messages in the”inner” Spirit.
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Despite the fact that the priestesses and leaders of the community were relied on for spiritual wisdom, it was understood and emphasized that the Divine dwells within every person. Much of the contrasts our contemporary religions where the main source of advice is that the minister, imam or rabbi. Invasion of Other Countries Minimized: Archeological findings of goddess cultures (usually Neolithic) have shown the lack of large standing armies.
This and other signs suggest that these societies decided not to invade other lands to inflict economic dominance. Sometimes, when so many countries feel compelled to keep a military foothold in different countries, this is a refreshing example. It goes without saying also, that lots of the Goddess societies were of a pacifist nature. History indicates that military actions from the women-centered lands were mostly defense oriented, the obvious example being the famed Amazons of Libya and Turkey.
There’s obviously much more here than could be stated in one paragraph. Suffice it to say that girls weren’t downtrodden in early times. For instance, in ancient Sumer (Iraq), society was obviously matrifocal (women based). Women managed temples, and normally organized society in a communal way. They sometimes took two husbands. In their spare time, they developed the world’s first written language. Another famous Goddess worshiping community was Crete.
Here women presided over spiritual matters, and were judges, athletes, business owners, and renowned technology developers. Ancient Cretans were famous for dance and their joyous, peace-loving character. They shunned temples and frequently worshiped at shrines in groves, caves or on mountaintops, in harmony with nature.
- Earth Viewed as Sacred: Goddess individuals, as do most native peoples, revered nature, seeing the Earth as a reflection of the Divine, the Goddess. To them “Gaia” wasn’t a “hypothesis.” They loved and admired the Earth presents, and understood of the reciprocal effects caused by the use of the Earth’s resources. Prayer preceded the hunting of animals. Crop rotation and organic fertilizer ensured that the dirt wouldn’t be destroyed. Harmony was hunted with the Earth’s moods and habits.
- Sexuality Seen as Positive: Consider the Beltane Festival of early pagan England. Young men and women met at Avebury circle for dance. The celebration continued with union and sexual rites in the sacred stone henge. The party was honored by the community as a sacred expression of the moon (the Goddess) and the arrival of Spring. Also famous for its rich sexuality was idyllic Crete. Its art and artifacts reflect joyous sexuality, sensual clothes and love of this dance. In these lands, the art of love was sacred-not lewd and unspeakable.
- Connectedness and Oneness: Ancient people understood that we are all connected together, part of the identical living essence. History suggests that the greed and materialism of the achievement cultures sought to eliminate our remembrance of our religious and cosmic connectedness. The sacred truth of oneness doesn’t support class hierarchy, imperialistic rule, or corporate controlled society.
- Art and Creativity Nurtured: Art was considered a sacred and amazing expression of the mysteries of existence. There’s speculation by some that ancient tribal peoples frustrated human expression and creatively in favor of the requirement to encourage tribal or community needs. The diversity of vision, crafted dance and work which were handed down from those cultures, however, would surely argue that query.
- More Equality: Consistently, studies of Neolithic matrifocal society reveal that life has been generally egalitarian. This theme runs through the writing of varied authors like Marija Gimbutas (archeologist), Eric Fromm (psychologist) and Sjoo and Mor (historians). This was established through burial practices and living artifacts. Gross manipulation of the masses to the material gratification of the elites (or the girls ) wasn’t evidenced.
- Materialism De-emphasized: These people’s spiritual connection to the Divine taught them that accumulation of material possessions isn’t what brings joy in life. This does not indicate that material abundance wasn’t celebrated-but it wasn’t horded at the expense of exploited classes, or the less fortunate. For instance, in Sumer, written documents show that temple orchards and crops were made accessible to people in need. This contrasted sharply with the impinging patriarchal lands, whose priestly course took the idea of ownership to a different level.
- Inclusive Spirituality: Worshipers of the Goddess understand that Inanna, Brigid, Kali and Isis-and Jehovah, Mithra and Shiva were images of the same divine Spirit. They didn’t fear and criticize the faith of the neighbors, except of course when those religions’ followers tried to convert, subjugate or slaughter them. Their inclusive spirituality taught them that spirituality is universal. And in that way their beliefs seem genuinely monotheistic than those of our Western religions.
- Intuition Honored: We can clearly see that the people of old were instinctive. Their descendants of soul are the pagan revivalists, the Native Americans, the Sufis, the Taoists, and normally the individuals of native cultures that have retained the time-tested manners. The Goddess peoples were connected with their ancestors and Spirit, as well as their leaders affirmed their internal sensings and knowings. They hadn’t yet been brainwashed with the assumption that scientific and left brain thinking is exceptional.
They were in contact with the planet’s energy forces-the underground currents, energy from the planets and stars, and the life force energy that moves through our bodies. The wisdom that was ruined by their covetous successors, we’re only starting to reabsorb. All these traits appear to honor the female nature-our feminine side. Fortunately, these faculties lie with every one people, male and female. Sometimes they lie dormant, but as world and community spirituality develop, they’re yearning to be expressed. To merge with the milder worth of the time and stand firm in the face of the frenzied front. They’re here for us to adopt, and to combine with the values of people who would make a world that honors and sustains all of the Earth’s peoples.