Goddesses and Mortals

June 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Gather the Women

Malta SmallWhat if every boy and girl around the world learned about goddesses in their history classes? Would it make a difference in how women are regarded? Is teaching about the existence of goddesses too revolutionary? Would there be an uproar among religious leaders and PTAs? An entire ancient belief system has been “disappeared”.

I never saw the Venus of Willendorf in my history books. She, with her great belly and ample breasts, is one of the earliest depictions of the human form. Archeologists discovered her in Austria and estimated that she existed around 30,000 B.C.

Would the children of the Balkans recognize Ariel the Bird Goddess? She is the keeper of the powers of Air. With a woman’s body and a bird’s head and wings, she was a goddess of the Vinca culture of Neolithic Europe between the 6th and 3rd millennium B.C. in what is now the Balkans. Ancient worshipers believed that the dawn came when she sang, and that Ariel guided the spirits of the dead into the afterlife.

Then there is Isis, the Egyptian Mother Goddess of Protection and Childbirth, who dates back to 2400 B.C. More people recognize Isis, the Egyptian Mother Goddess of Protection and Childbirth, who was the divine mother of every Pharaoh. Her image was painted on royal mummy cases, and hieroglyphic hymns praised the Gread Goddess Isis as, “she who made light with her feathers and wind with her wings.” Isis, or something similar to her, is very familiar to most people. How many know the important role she played in Egyptian culture as the goddess who protected mothers during childbirth?
The Nile Goddess predated Isis by about 2,000 years. The crescent formed by her arms reaches for the stars and draws down the moon. Many of these small figures have been found in Egypt and might be funeral icons. The gracefully curved head and upswept arms are thought to symbolize the free flight of the soul after death.

Sumeria was a very ancient culture with temples, cities, irrigated fields, codes of law, and mastery of terra-cotta arts. Living between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Sumerians worshipped Ianna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, as early as 7,000 B.C. They believed that she descended into heaven to bring prosperity to her poeple, then descended into the Realm of Death in a quest for wisdom. Worship of Ianna survived the invasions into the Euphrates plains. Other sources talk about her sexuality and she was the goddess of prostitutes. Who knew?

Gaia is the primordial Goddess of the Earth. She was the Mother Goddess of all and has a complex history dating back to Ancient Greece. Gaia is the goddess who has taken on new life as the symbol of the environment, the forests, even a coven in Pittsburgh. In Africa, there are over a dozen different goddesses. South America has powerful goddesses of volanoes, the earth, and the volcanoes. The Goddess A Day website has an entire section on Central and South American goddesses. Many of them begin with “Mama”.

Visualize a world where the goddesses of all cultures are front and center in our history books, literature, poetry, and art. What impact would that have on girls and women who had no idea how many goddessprayerflagsgoddesses are out there to be discovered?

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