From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
At first, in primal times. there were only the forces of nature and the unknown power behind it all. Gradually there evolved the concept of a Supreme Being, a female, a She, a Goddess who created the Universe and all of its laws. She was the ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love, Birth and Death. And so, for 25,000 years, there was only the Goddess. Yes, that is 25,000 years.
The earliest agriculture grew up around the shrines of the Mother Goddess, and became social and economic centers as well as holy places. These places were the germs of future cities. Growing cities evolved around these sacred centers, built to honor the divine Mother, the mother Goddess, the Creatress of all life.
The poet and religious historian Robert Graves put it in these words: “the whole of neolithic Europe had a remarkably homogeneous system of religious ideas based on the Mother Goddess. The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless and omnipotent. The concept of a father God was unknown in religious thought. In Europe, the Great Goddess was thought of as the sole omnipotent deity. Fatherhood was not even a part of religious thinking.”
This same Goddess worship existed much earlier in those areas we know today as Iraq, Iran, India, Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Greece and Italy.
In Egypt, She was, quote: “the Being, eternal and infinite, the creative and ruling power of heaven and earth and of every creature and every thing in them. Mother Goddess, Lady of Heaven, Eternal Queen, She created all that is in existence. She commands the entire Universe… the giver of life and all that has ever been or ever will be.”
In India, it was the Great Goddess who gave birth to the Vedas, the rhythms of the day and night, the month and seasons, the inch, the second and all other measurements of time, death and memory. Root words for motherhood produced many words for calculation, metric, mark, mentality, geometry, trigonometry and so forth.
In Africa it was believed that “to women alone have been given the secrets of the Mystery.”
The brilliant American Eugene O’Neill wrote these words in his play Strange Interlude. “The big mistake began when God was re-created in a male image that makes life so perverted and death so unnatural. We should have kept the image of life as created in the birth pain of God the Mother. We would know that our life’s rhythm beats from her great heart and death would be a passing back into her substance. But what we have now is a God who pounds his chest and thunders with egotism.”
So… what happened? About 2800 or so years ago… there was a sex change. The Goddesses became Gods and the divine mother became the divine father, male, in the sternly patriarchal cultures of Judaism where father was Lord, literally, of the household and women were owned like cattle or land. The Christian cult, as well as Islam picked up on this theme and declared all Goddesses pagan and superstition. Male Gods, you see, were not pagan and superstition but female Goddesses were. How do you like that for the laugh of the day? In the Old Testament there is not even a word for Goddess and the Koran reads as follows: “only pagans pray to females.” An orthodox Jewish boy prayed every morning:”O God… I thank Thee that I was not born a woman.”
Christian Gospels commanded that the shrines of the Goddess be torn down. (Acts 19:27) Paul and the early members of the Christian cult went after the female Goddess with a zeal of fanaticism, burning and looting and destroying temples. Paul’s word was that of the patriarch… there was no room for a Goddess or female deities in the developing patriarchal Christian cult. The Goddess Isis especially had to be destroyed. Paul carried this over into he’s writings (New Testament) commanding wives to be submissive to men and to husbands. Writing that women were to be silent and not vote in church matters, writing that women were made by God for men, men were not made for women. The writings were so pathological that Dr. Karl Menninger wrote in one of his psychiatric essays that if you lifted these words out of the bible and read them you would realize you were reading the ramblings of a psychotic mind.
In A.D. 380 the Emperor Theodosius destroyed the temples of the Goddesses and closed down the temple, known as the seventh wonder of the world, the temple of the Goddess in Ephesus. This Christian emperor followed that by a massacre of 7000 people in Thessalonica.
The early church fathers of the 3rd, 4th and 5th century said in clear language what they thought of women and the degradation of women shifted into high gear. The female, as a symbol of the Goddess, was from Satan. There was a Goddess in every woman that had to be crushed.
Church father Clement of Alexandria wrote these words: “I have come to destroy all the works of the female.” The founder of Western theology, Tertullian, wrote: “Woman is a temple built over a sewer, the gate-way to the devil. Women are the gate of hell.”
Later church “fathers” held similar views of women. Martin Luther wrote that: “If a woman grows weary and dies from childbearing, it does not matter. Let her die bearing children, that is all she is here for.” John Wesley, of Methodist fame, wrote his wife: “Wife. Be content to be insignificant. Of what loss would it be to God or man had you never been born.”
The caring Goddess — the nurturing mother — was being replaced with the male God of the sword.
One of the most respected and distinguished church historians of our time, from Yale University, was Dr. Kenneth Scott Latourette. He wrote this, in plain words, bluntly: “Christianity survived, overcame and dominated, not through any teachings of Jesus, but by the brutal tyranny of the bloody sword of Constantine. The bloodiest massacres in history have been justified by telling the people they were ordered by a male God who was masculine, jealous, and ordering their destruction.”
The Christian church really went full steam ahead in their destruction of women, the female and the Goddess within women, during the Great Inquisition.
I am quoting now from a classic academic work on the goddesses by Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess… The author is a Professor of European archaeology at UCLA and the curator of the Old World archaeology at UCLA’s Cultural History Museum. On page 319: “Women were called Disciple of Satan and this period was one of the bloodiest in history. The witch hunt of the 15th to 18th centuries was the most Satanic event of European history. The murder of women accused as witches escalated to more than eight million. The burned or hanged women were mostly country women who learned the lore of the Goddess from their grandmothers.”
In The Crone by Barbara Walker, the number of witches slaughtered was estimated by scholars to be 7 to 9 million also. Will Durant, in his 12 volume History of Civilization sets the figure also at 7 to 9 million.
The Christian destruction of the female is one of the great crimes of human history. The degradation continues to this day in fundamentalist churches, Mormon, Roman Catholic and other mainline churches. I could give examples that would take this entire book to print. But only a sample.
Listen to Episcopal Bishop C.L. Meyers: “A priest is a God symbol. God is masculine in both the Old and New Testaments. Christ was a man, masculine. That was a divine choice.” He said this at Grace Cathedral before 700 delegates fighting the ordination of women.
The nurturing, caring, gentle Goddess who created all things in her image as the giver of life and love… who endured for 25,000 years… was finally replaced by a male God of the sword… a God of battle and war… a God who was jealous and judgmental… and under such a God the history of religious violence was under way.
Next week: Bill reflects on reaching age 93…