Religion is a central or at least very important part of many people’s lives. Nowadays, most religions are patriarchal, or centered on a male deity, but such was not always the case. In ancient times, most people worshiped some sort of female deity, often referred to as a sort of “Mother Goddess”.
|Image by Itwasn'tme101 on DeviantArt|
Sometimes, this goddess was the head of the religion and was accorded all the respect that is now given to male deities. At other times, the female deity was given equal billing to her “kingly” husband—rarely was she ever considered to have second seat to him, unless, like many wives of today, she just let him think he was in charge. She was the female to his male, the white to his black, the yin to his yang, the peace to his violence.
Mother goddesses permeate many religions, even today. The Mother Goddess, who is sometimes referred to as the Great Goddess, is the central deity of Wicca, a nature religion with deep roots in the past. In this religion, she is often seen as a three-part deity—Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Virgin Mary, while not a goddess, is often worshipped and prayed to just as a goddess would be, as the mother of the Christ, who could technically be classified as a demi-god.
|Triple Goddess by benu-h on DeviantArt|
Why this fascination with female deities, though? I personally believe that it has a lot to do with reproduction. Until the last couple of centuries, reproduction was a mystery. I’m sure that the ancients knew that it took a male’s “essence” to impregnate a woman, but for that load of cum to merge with the female and become a living, breathing human being—that was the mystery. Women not only grew the child within their bodies, they brought them into the world in pain and blood (which also have mysteries and religions associated with them—pain transcending a person out of their bodies and blood being such a huge component of life itself). Once the child emerged from the female’s body, she then was the one to keep it alive, using the milk of her breasts.
Men, beyond the first “donation” were not welcome to participate in these events, nor were they likely interested in them. Even today, many men are squeamish about watching their mate give birth—oddly, it’s often the same men who will go hunting and gut an animal with hardly a thought. And so the whole process was given a mystic pedestal to stand upon.
For a time, patriarchal religions ruled the world. Even these days, they are the norm rather than the exception. But the Mother is nothing if not patient (and occasionally short-tempered, but mostly patient). Like water weathering a shoreline to create a new delta, she carries on, eroding as she builds, perhaps not noticed but never able to be completely ignored. More and more people are turning back to some of the old religions, to the old ways, and opening their hearts to the Mother once more, particularly when they find out she is not the evil that she has been portrayed as.