Craft of the Wise

Ancient knowledge for today's times

BELIEFS OF GODDESS WORSHIP

BELIEFS OF GODDESS WORSHIP

Christianity teaches that God is transcendent, is separate from nature, and is
represented to humankind through masculine imagery. Witchcraft holds a
pantheistic view of God. God is nature, therefore God is in all things and all
things are a part of God. However, this God is in actuality a goddess.

A fundamental belief in Goddess Worship is the idea that the goddess predates
the male God. The goddess is the giver of all life and is found in all of
creation. The importance of the Goddess symbol for women cannot be overstressed.
The image of the Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies
as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy,
and our anger as purifying. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength,
enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions.

The modern Goddess movement is an attempt to integrate the feminine back into
the world as we know it. This means bringing the Goddess out of the shadows and
back into the limelight where she belongs. Part of most modern Goddess
traditions is the idea that Goddess exists within and around everything in
creation. Therefore, if Goddess is sacred, then so is the Earth, so our bodies,
etc. Moreover, the relationship between all of these things is equally sacred.
Therefore, not only do we need to revere the creations of the Goddess, we must
revere the relationship and the systems that Goddess has created, for they each
have their purpose. The problem is that we don’t always know what the true
system is anymore because our society is so corrupted by the patriarchy. For
example, if we only examine the system as it exists today, we might come to the
conclusion that women’s place within the system is necessarily subservient to
the men in the system. Naturally, eco-feminists would laugh at this idea. First
of all, eco-feminism maintains that the natural order of things is not linked by
hierarchical value, so the very notion of men governing women is absurd. The
nature of things would require reciprocal communication and integral networking.

In light of this, then, Goddess religion asserts that Goddess and God cannot be
viewed separately, but rather as a network of energies that work together to
better the entire network.

Goddess Archetypes:

THE MAIDEN
The Maiden is the first aspect of the Goddess, presented to us as a young woman,
blossoming into womanhood, exploring her sexuality and learning of her beauty.
She is most often depicted as a teenaged girl or a woman in her very early
twenties.

Unlike the images of young women in many patrifocal religions, the Maiden is not
necessarily depicted as a virgin in most Goddess traditions. In Catholicism,
Mary is depicted not only as a virgin maiden, but continues to be a virgin
throughout the duration of her lifetime, regardless of the fact that she was
married and gave birth to a child. This has more to do with the taint patrifocal
religions assign female sexuality than anything else. But because women’s
sexuality is not denigrated in Goddess traditions, there is no need to associate
virginity with the Maiden Goddess.

In fact, the Maiden Goddess is seen as a particularly sexual being. Because she
has just bloomed into her womanly form, she is particularly interested in her
body and what it can do. She is interested in her beauty, and she learns to
manipulate the affections of other’s based upon her feminine wiles.

Some might take offense at my use of the word manipulate in the preceding
sentence, but in fact, that is what sexuality is about, both on the part of the
male and the female. Flirtation, courting and other manners of getting the
attentions of the opposite sex is certainly a form of manipulation. It is not
manipulation with malicious intent, to be sure, but when you attempt to curb the
attitudes or thoughts of others through your own appearance or behavior, this is
a form of manipulation, and by no means negative.

Because the Maiden is associated with the first blossoming of womanhood,
adulthood and sexuality, she is associated with the Springtime. Just as her body
develops breasts and she becomes sexually capable, so too does the Earth mimic
her development. Flowers bloom, the Earth awakens from the deep sleep of winter
and begins to procreate again. Animals lie with one another, flowers are
pollinated. Spring is a time for new beginnings. It is the counterpart to the
winter of Death.

Just as Spring is the counter to Winter, so too is the Maiden the counter to the
Crone. The Crone is the embodiment of death, and subsequently rebirth, and it is
through the aspect of the Maiden that the Crone is able to pass from this world
and be reborn. As the young Goddess delves into her sexuality, and eventually
becomes pregnant, the Elder Goddess may pass away and give her life that the
Maiden may become Mother, and one day, Crone. The cycle is never ending.

The Maiden takes the Green Man (Horned Lord, many other names in many other
cultures) as her consort. In some cultures, the Green Man may be her brother or
even her son. At first glance, the courtship between the Maiden and the Sun God
seems ripe with incest, because he is always somehow related to her. But if you
read the myths associated with the Mother Goddess and how it came to pass that
she became pregnant, you will usually find that she became pregnant by her
husband, who has to give his life for one reason or another, and she agrees to
bring him back into he world as the child in her womb. In essence, she gives
birth to her husband, rather than taking her son as her lover. This is even true
in the Catholic goddess vision: Jesus was the son of God, but he was also God.
Because this idea is confusing and can lead to ideas of incest much like I
discussed above, the Christian church left Mary a virgin, thus bypassing the
whole sexual encounter, and thus the issue of incest altogether.

Maiden Goddess of Note include:
Diana, Persephone, Kore, Bleudowedd, Artemis, Ariadne, Hestia,
Athena, Aphrodite, Minerva, and Venus.

THE MOTHER
The aspect of the Mother Goddess is probably the most widely known and most
widely envisioned in most cultures. Because the Earth nourishes and replenishes
us, most goddess cultures did pay reverence to the Earth as the Mother, and
therefore the Goddesses that are most prominent and about whom stories are most
prolific are the goddesses that are the representation of the Mother.

She is, in virtually every aspect, a divine or celestial representation of our
earthly mothers. Everyone has an earthly mother, or at least did at one point,
so we readily understand the relationship between mother and child. The mother
is the protector, the care-giver, the kisser of wounds, and the disciplinarian.
The Divine Mother is no different.

Many of the most ancient goddess figures that archeology has uncovered are
goddesses depicted as round, pregnant women. They feature large breasts and
full, meaty hips. Some archeologists (patriarchal, close minded fellows, to be
sure) have written these goddess figures off as nothing more than prehistoric
“porn” figures. However, the generally accepted opinion is that these figures,
found in such places as France, modern day Turkey, and Egypt, are actually
representations of a mother goddess. There is some speculation that perhaps
these figures are not goddesses at all, but rather figures used in fertility
rites to enable women to conceive children. This too is a possibility, but when
combined with other information that we have (such as other evidence of
prehistoric goddess worship, and the fact that the connection between sex and
pregnancy was not made until much later than the dates associated with these
figures) leads most scholars to believe that these statues are indeed goddess
representations.

Although the depiction of the Mother Goddess as a pregnant woman is prominent,
she is certainly not always seen that way. The Mother aspect may be seen with
small child in tow (most often a boy, who later becomes her consort, as is
discussed in the section on the Maiden). This aspect of the Mother Goddess plays
on the care-giving, sweet, loving aspect of the Goddess. However, do not be
fooled into thinking that the Goddess as Mother is a pussy cat. She can also be
a warrior.

Like earthly mothers, the Goddess is fiercely protective of her children, and in
order to provide that protection she will often don the face of the warrior. The
Warrior Goddess most probably gained popularity among people who had begun to
adopt a more patriarchal (or at least patrifocal) structure. It might be
presumptuous to say that matrifocal cultures were not particularly warlike, but
it is safe to say that patriarchal cultures were more so. In either case, the
warrior Goddess did become popular. In this aspect she is Amazon, fierce and
strong, and able to take on any man to protect what needs protection.

Just as the maiden is represented by the season of Spring, the Mother aspect is
present in Summer. By summer, berries and fruits are ripe, ready for the
plucking. Vegetable gardens are mature and harvest is close at hand. The sun is
high in the sky, and even though the sun is typically seen as a Male Deity, some
cultures did associate the sun with the Goddess, (most notably the early
Egyptian culture) and thus the high sun of summer was associated with the
Mother, who was also seen as the pinnacle of the cycle of life.

In western traditions, the Goddess remains pregnant until the Winter Solstice,
at which time she gives birth to a sun god of some kind. (Note the adaptation of
the Christian church …Christmas, anyone?) The Catholic Goddess Mary also falls
into the category of the Mother Goddess, because she does give birth to King at
Solstice. (At least this is how the Christians celebrate the holiday, even
though biblical scholars suggest Jesus was very likely born during a warm
month)

Mary is a curiosity though, because she is a Dual Goddess, and not a Triple
Goddess as most multifaceted Goddesses are. She is a maiden because she remains
a virgin (and though not all maidens are virgins, all virgin goddesses are
maidens), and yet because she gives birth, she is also a Mother. However, there
is no reference in the Catholic tradition of Mary as an older woman. Therefore,
Mary’s development ended with her at the Mother phase.

Mother Goddesses of Note include:
Demeter, Isis, Cerridwyn, Kali, Gaia, Oceana, Brigit, Nuit, Hera,
Selene, Anu, Dana, Arianrhod, and Epona

THE CRONE
The Crone is the final aspect of the Goddess. The Crone is most often depicted
as a Grandmother, a SageWoman, or a Midwife. She is the keeper of Occult
Knowledge, the Mysteries and the Queen of the Underworld. It is through the
Crone that knowledge of magick, the Dark, and other secrets of the ages are
passed down.

The Crone is, in some ways, a Triple Goddess herself. She has lived through the
tender, sensual age of Maidenhood, suffered the birth pains of Motherhood, and
now carries with her the memories of these passages into her old age. But though
she has experienced these events, these are not the things she represents, and
therefore she is not revered for these traits. Nevertheless, having endured
these experiences makes her the wise woman that she is, and enables her to
guide us through the dark.

Her role as Midwife is both symbolic as well as actual. Traditionally, it is
always the older women of the tribe who facilitate the birth of children, most
likely because they themselves had gone through, but also because the role of
midwife was a sacred position, and thus suitable for an older tribeswoman.
Certainly the Crone fulfills this aspect in that she is the midwife to the Queen
of Heaven when she gives birth to the Oak King at Yule.

But symbolically she is the midwife in our lives as well, guiding us from one
phase of life to the next. If you see progression from one phase of life to the
next and can see it as a rebirth process, then envision the Crone as the aspect
of the goddess that guides you through that time. Transition is very difficult,
and for most people it is a time of darkness. It is a time where we have to rely
on our intuition, because we are unfamiliar with the territory. But according to
the myths and ancient lore, we receive our intuition from the Crone. It is she
who guides us, and it is she who facilitates our birth.

The Crone Goddess is often times the least seen, because she does represent
death, and with death comes fear: fear of the unknown, fear of losing our loved
ones, and fear of being alone. But we must remember that with death always comes
rebirth. The Crone always brings with her promises of the Maiden, and the cycle
never ends.

The Mother aspect of the Goddess is discussed as being a Warrior Goddess, but
the Crone can be a Warrior Goddess as well. Where the Mother Goddess is the
blood of battle, the War Cry incarnate, the fighting Amazon, the Crone is the
Strategy, the ability to see what cannot be seen. She is the seer, the General.
The Crone Goddess does not don the face of the warrior to shed blood, but she
will provide the courage to walk through the dark, the ability to seek and
destroy the enemy, whether the enemy is actual, or internal.

In many respects, the Crone Goddess is the aspect of the Goddess that is most
called upon to conquer inner demons. This is due to the fact that as the keeper
of mysteries, the Crone is also the Keeper of the Underworld. With her help, we
are able to travel into the Underworld and fight whatever demons haunt us.
Likewise, once we are ready to be reborn, she again acts as the midwife and
guides us once again into the light.

Crone Goddesses of Note include:
Hecate, Kali, Cerridwyn, Badb, Cailleach, Macha, and the Morrigan

written by susan lucas

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October 19, 2010 - Posted by | Beliefs of the Witch

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