This is the 6th blog in the 2016 Mothering Matters blog series:
The Great Mother – Remembering the Goddess of Antiquity
By Steve Trimmer
“We have much forgotten wisdom to relearn from our human past.”
– Steve Trimmer
Since writing my book, White Poetry To The Muse, I have been asked often by others to explain who The Goddess is. It is a very broad question, yet I will attempt to expound somewhat on the subject as best I can in this article.
As many of us already know, this modern world — despite some very slow changes — is still very male oriented. This is the case in many major aspects of our society including the workplace, religion, and even family lineage. To the detriment of the human condition, this has been the situation for some time, yet was not always so.
Before there was history (his story), there was in fact Her Story.
Before there was a family lineage traced through fathers, there was a lineage traced through mothers. Most importantly though, before there was our current One God of monotheist faiths, there was his lover and his mother and his guide to the Land of the Dead (Maiden, Mother, and Crone/Death Muse); all the salient and varying aspects of The Goddess.
Her three main aspects (Goddess triumvirate or Three-Fold Goddess, so to say) make up Her collective whole:
1. The Maiden
2. The Mother
3. The Crone
The Great Goddess, in all Her forms, once ruled tribal based Gynarchies (female ruled systems) found the world over. These societies were inherently egalitarian by nature, and did not have any class systems, racial or gender segregation, or gross financial imbalances. In fact, the concept of money or ownership would be quite foreign to these tribal groups.
In these systems, women were held in great esteem as the divine keepers of wisdom, knowledge, and magic.
This was due to their amazing beauty, attributes and abilities in divination, horticulture, weaving, and of course in their ability to give life through childbirth and motherhood. Woman today still possess this great magic within them, yet it often lays dormant inside of them because of the cultural codes thrust upon them — and on all of humanity — over the last few centuries.
Within these Gynarchies, family lineage was through the mothers (matrilineal). This is not to say that men did not have a place in this system. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Men and boys were loved and cherished also. They were tutored in the ways of female power and guidance of the Lunar Priestesshoods (manifestations of The Goddess on earth).
They were the male half of divinity in a society reared to love and respect women. They were regarded as the keepers of seeds to sow, which would of course help women in their task of creating life.
Essentially, these societies would strive for a perfect balance of female and male. Just as nature is balanced, so too were they.
They lived with the rules of nature and the universe and did not try to go against it or control it.
In this modern age we fail in these regards and must return to our very ancient roots if we are to find peace, spirituality, and meaning in our lives. This modern age has the misconception that it is somehow at the apex of human ability, knowledge, and understanding. This, in my opinion, is false. We have lost much of the ancient wisdom we once held.
We, as humankind, are failing mentally, spiritually, and metaphysically. Modern science is only just beginning to confirm and “discover” what the ancients knew and recorded in their myths, oral traditions, and theological texts for countless centuries.
We have much forgotten wisdom to relearn from our human past.
Because our ancient ancestors lived closer to nature than we do, they understood that all things on earth are imbued with a spirit and life force.
Female spirits were seen everywhere; as Goddesses and spirits of the landscape, trees, rocks, lakes, oceans, mountains, stars, plants, the universe itself, etc. The Goddess was also the Queen of and Guide to and from the Spirit World (Land of the Dead/Underworld). She could easily (and still can easily) be contacted in wild places like lakes, forests, and mountains.
It should be pointed out that male spirits and divine beings are just as accessible in the Old Code polytheist system, yet their agenda would differ immensely from later patriarchal male One God deities found in monotheist faiths. Many myths found worldwide tell of this. One must think allegorically, in a non-literal manner, to conceive of the message properly. Ancient storytellers, poets, and writers loved parables and “read-between-the-lines” messages.
Here is but one example of these ideas: anyone who is familiar with The King Arthur story — which has pervaded well into modern western society — will recall The Goddess in many guises. She comes into the story as Lady of The Lake (Vivian and Branwen) who gives Arthur his sword Excaliber via a sacred stone and he receives it back by way of the lake. The Goddess appears also as Morgan (Morganna/Morrigan/Morgan le Fay), Arthur’s sister. We also see in this tale, The Land of the Dead or The Western Land. In this story it is called Avalon.
We also get a good look at male divinity as well in this Old Code (Old Religion) system with the great wizard Merlin. Arthur himself is an aspect of male divinity, always lead by his heart and The Goddess in different forms at varying stages of his life. So, too, is Merlin an aspect of male divinity in this story.
As mentioned earlier, The Goddess of the Old Code has three main aspects: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The God of the Old Code has two aspects: God at waxing year (the consort), and God at waning year (the tanist). This article does not allow the space to explain these concepts in great detail.
I would recommend one read my book White Poetry To The Muse, or better yet, The White Goddess by Robert Graves for a more extensive explanation.
For those interested in some of The Goddess’s ancient names, here are but a few of Her titles:
Morgan le Fay, Rhiannon, Bridget, Ostara, The Valkyrie, Hel, Skadi, Demeter, Isis, Venus, Hera, Minerva, Athena, Sedna, White Shell Woman, White Buffalo Calf Woman (Ptesan Wi), Aphrodite, Ishtar, Fortuna, Lilith, Kuan Yin, Nu Kua, Spider Woman, Flora, Artemis, Hina, Persephone, Amphitrite, Thetis, Selene, Eve, Medusa, Mary, Ix Chel, Psyche, Diana, Themis, Bast, Hathor, Changing Woman, Eagle Woman, Triple Goddess, Gaia, Etain, Inanna, Epona, Pele, Arianrhod, Tlazolteotl, High Priestess, Kaltes, The Sphinx, Maeve, Hestia…………the list goes on and on.
I believe at various times in history, The Goddess was deliberately removed from our social systems to create a more male dominated political and religious agenda.
Often She was deemed evil in the new world orders to make people avoid Her and abandon their old beliefs. The Witch Trials over the past thousand years or so are testament to this. Patriarchal political and religious orders knew (and know) the power of women, The Goddess, and the Old Religion.
The Witch Trials were one of many ways they attempted to quell old beliefs. Yet truth always prevails, regardless of how many lies one weighs it down with. This new system is not one of an egalitarian or humanitarian mandate.
We now worship money, power, control, vanity, and possessions rather than nature, love, abundance, respect, and balance.
We no longer live in the present that creates happiness and contentment. Instead we live in a state of lack and fear. We are taught to focus on living either in the past (living in the past is depression), or living in the future by worrying about things we have no control of or that have not yet, or may never happen (living in the future is anxiety).
Just watch an animal for a day. Animals do not worry about what has happened before, or what might happen in the future. They live in the now. They live in the moment and worry about today.
Women (and men) may ask how to find this Great Goddess again?
Well, She has never left us. She is in all places in nature. She lives within all women on the earth. She is mother to us all and still survives in modern western consciousness and myth as Mary mother of Jesus, Mother Nature, Lady of The Lake, Lady of The Wood, The Easter Bunny (The Goddess Ostara), The Tooth Fairy, and the list goes on and on.
She is still here. We all feel Her internally within our hearts and souls. We may go to any wild place, or deep in our own hearts to find Her.
She is the mother who is always there when we need Her. She does not judge us.
She does not demand constant appeasement. She loves us unconditionally. She does not send Her sons to war for financial or political gain. She does not threaten doomsday upon humanity for disobedience.
She does not send Her followers to force religious opinions to convert others to Her will. She is the eternal life force within us all. She will answer and guide all who come to Her with a pure heart and earnest quests for answers. She has countless names, countless faces and forms. If you want to know Her again, if you want answers, just look inside and ask. She is The Great Mother of us all.
About White Poetry to the Muse
White Poetry To The Muse by Steve Trimmer is a book of Pagan poetry. The book strives to recapture the ancient matriarchal spirit of The Great Goddess found the world over. The poems are not a reconstruction of history, but rather an allegorical reconstruction of Her-Story. White Poetry To The Muse may be ordered on Amazon.
For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.
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