Related Pages.

 

Venus Figurines.

Oracle Centres.

Passage Mounds.

Earth Navels.

Shamanism.

 

Index of Ancient Sites.

A-Z Site Index.

Homepage.

 

 
 

 

 

Share/Bookmark

Homepage.

About Us.

A-Z Site Index.

Gift Shop.

Contact Us

 

       Earth-Mother-Earth:

Archaeological evidence from around the prehistoric world suggests that the Earth may have once been viewed/worshipped as a living, female being. Ancient texts and mythologies support the idea that the primary goddess was intimately associated to the earth, fertility and agriculture, as epitomised by Cybele, the Phrygian Earth mother, who represented the fertile earth and was the Goddess of caverns, mountains and all nature. The Greek Cybil's later became the female oracles inspired to divination by the Gods.

The worship of the Earth-mother was a common belief before the more recent development of the patriarchal society (c. 3,000 BC), coinciding with a shift in focus from Lunar to Solar worship across Neolithic Europe. Traces of a matriarchal society can be seen reaching back into the Palaeolithic period through the numerous Venus figures discovered in Europe. The early mother-earth belief system also had close connections to the beliefs in the afterlife, as seen in the use of red-ochre in funerary rights.

Featured Articles:

 

 

 

   Mythology of the Earth Mother:

Many ancient cultures worshipped female deities who match the modern conception of a "mother goddess". The word 'Gaia' originates from ancient Greece, in which it was considered the primary Greek Goddess personifying the Earth. Gaia is a primordial and Chthonic deity in the Ancient Greek pantheon and considered a mother Goddess or Great Goddess.

In Greek mythology, the myth of Demeter and Persephone tells the story of a mother who discovers that her daughter has been abducted by Hades, who drags Persephone into the underworld with him. Demeter, goddess of the harvest, whose name originally meant 'earth mother', wreaked revenge upon the earth by refusing to provide any crops.

The Sumerians wrote many erotic poems about their mother goddess Ninhursag:

(Sex, Love & Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature, G, Leick, Routledge, 2003).

In the Hindu context, the worship of the Mother entity can be traced back to early Vedic culture, and perhaps, even before that time. The Rigveda calls the divine female power, Maimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth.

Catal Huyuk, Earth-Mother.

 

In Anatolia, the Neolithic settlement from 7,500 BC, Çatal-höyük, has yielded many examples of worship of a mother goddess. Examples found show that images of the goddess greatly exceeded the small number of a male deity found in early associations and that the male images eventually ceased to appear at all after a certain time, as evidenced in the temporal stratification of the excavations of the site. (3) To date eighteen levels have been identified. These careful figurines were found primarily in areas Mellaart believed to be shrines. One, however – a stately goddess seated on a throne flanked by two lionesses – was found in a grain bin, which Mellaart suggests might have been a means of ensuring the harvest or protecting the food supply. The image on the left was found in excavations there and depicts a Mother Goddess seated on a throne that is flanked by two lionesses. It is dated at c. 6000-5500 BC and resides in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

(More about Chatal Huyuk)

 

Mother goddesses are present in the earliest images discovered among the archaeological finds in Ancient Egypt. Primarily the Supreme Egyptian Goddess, Hathor, who is portrayed as a cow, a woman, and the holder of the sky. It is interesting in relation to the finds at Chatal Huyuk that one figure of a deity, depicted standing between two lionesses, exists among those on one of the earliest paintings found among the Naqada Culture.

In Egyptian mythology Aker was the double lion god, the guardian of the sunrise and the sunset. Between the lions is the Akhet symbol which represents the horizon on which the sun rises or sets. This symbol is made up of a solar disk cradled between the two peaks of the mountains Djew. The western peak was called Manu, while the eastern peak was called Bakhu.

Following this line of thought, the Female goddess above can be seen to represent the earth itself.

The European Prehistoric Earth Goddess 'Cybele' (left), (later Britannia), is also often depicted enthroned with lion/s as is the Minoan mountain goddess (right).

(Note the similarity to Sumerian Gilgamesh figure)

The Modern Gaia theory, which was revived by James Lovelock, approaches the Earth as a super-organism with self-regulatory functions.

 

 

Malta - 'Home of the Mother-Goddess'.

The large number of female figurines discovered in the prehistoric Maltese temples has led to suggestions that it was once home to a 'matriarchal oracle-culture'.

It has been suggested that the temples themselves may have been built in the shape of the mother-earth.

(More about Malta)

The same design feature has also been noted at Skara-Brae, on the Orkneys where the interior outline of one of the buildings bears a stark similarity to the human form (5). A similar but more primitive version on the same theme is said to be seen at the Neolithic house at Gruting School, also on the Shetlands, a pit-dwelling at New Barn Down, Sussex, and in the outline of the moat surrounding Silbury-hill (as the pregnant earth-mother) (5)

Marcel Gruale recorded the following account in 1947, from a member of the Dogon tribe from west Africa:

'The big central room is the domain and the symbol of the woman; the storerooms each side are her arms, and the communicating door her sexual parts. The central room and the storerooms together represent the woman lying on her back, with outstretched arms, the door open, and the woman ready for intercourse. The room at the back which contains the hearth shows the breathing of the woman' ... ' The Village should extend from north to south like the body of a man lying on his back'  (5).

 

 

 

The Palaeolithic Venus Figurines.

The worship of the female figure can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period through the numerous Venus figurines which have been discovered across Europe and Asia. Although there is no direct association, the figurines display the same featureless face, exaggerated hips, breasts and belly as seen in later images of the mother earth.

The fact that so many examples of this type of female figure have been found over a broad geographical area ranging from France to Siberia, suggests that some system of shared understanding and perception of a particular type of woman existed during the Palaeolithic.

It has been noticed that while these figurines exhibit amplified sexual/reproductive organs, they tend to lack limbs such as hands, feet or faces. This has been suggested as being due to the figurines representing the 'fertility' of women rather than a goddess.

 

The 'Venus of Laussel'  (left), is suggested to include a lunar-count on the conch. It is also suggested that because she has her hand on her belly, that the lunar count is represented here in relation to the female cycle.

Images of women, mostly figurines of the same type as the "Venus" of Willendorf (see top of page), all dating to the Palaeolithic period, far out-number images of men. This has lead to speculation about the place of women in Stone Age society.

Some have argued that these female figures denote the existence during this period of a prominent female deity identified usually as the Earth Mother or the Mother Goddess. On the basis of this assumption, it has been suggested that, unlike today, women played a considerably more important, if not dominant role in Palaeolithic society.

(More about Venus Figurines)

 

 

 

Problems with the Earth-mother-goddess Theory.

Recent research has made it clear that our belief in a primitive female Mother-earth-goddess cult is based more on current perceptions than on actual facts. Apart from the fact that these discoveries come from a time period stretching from the Upper Palaeolithic c. 40,000 to Neolithic c. 5,000 years ago, the context of discovery is often ignored, something which has supported the modern-myth of a prehistoric Goddess figure. In addition:

The discovery of a naked female figurine is not in itself proof of earth-mother worship.

Spatial and Temporal considerations: Most of the discoveries of female statuettes can be broadly seperated into one of two categories: Discoveries from Eastern European Upper Palaeolithic, and discoveries from the Western Mediterranean Neolithic era. Apart from the huge diversity in style, form and composition, it is no longer tenable to consolidate all prehistory into a single homogenous image. The broad range of discovery across such vast distances in both time and space make it probable that each discovery served its own unique purpose to its individual maker.

Many of the prehistoric figurines are of males, while others are sexless or have dual sexuality:  Quantitative analysis of Upper Palaeolithic imagery has shown that no single source can affirm more than 50 percent of the imagery as being recognisably female. (6)

Context of Discovery: Was the figure found in a well, a rubbish dump, a building or a grave? Many of the Upper Palaeolithic discoveries have been found without supporting contextual information, such as associated stone tools, climatic information, associated fauna or knowledge of the habits of the people it belonged to. Many statuettes were discovered before such disciplines were considered important, and such contextual information is lost to us.

 

The "lady of Villers-Carbonnel"

Article: (Dec 10, 2011) The Independent: Rare Earth Mother Figurine found on the Banks of The River Somme .

 

 

Omphalus: (Navel stones).

Omphalus stones have been found at several sacred sites. (i.e. Delphi, Dodona and Thebes (Egypt). Within these stones lies a symbolism which is almost lost to us now.

Although not at first apparent, the Omphalus stones from Thebes and Delphi have several features in common through which it is possible to see the fusion of Egyptian and Greek iconography and mythology, and through them both, the thread of an older set of ideas.

    

Thebes, Egypt (left), Greek engraving of Delphi (Note: Apollo’s harp, Doves), (right).

Santillana (4), offers several examples to support the association between navel-stones and ‘the great flood’ by referring to their function as ‘plugs’; an idea typified by the following phrase “The opening of the navel brings the deluge”. If one considers the myth of the 'Ark', and the symbolic reference to doves notifying the end of the flood, then one can see the Ark itself as a symbolic navel or 'plug', the Doves on both the omphalos above reflect this suggestion

Service and Bradbury (2), state that 'Within concept of the Omphalus, there is also implied an umbilical cord, an invisible link reaching from the depths of the earth through the navel right up into the heavens' (Roscher 1913) (2)

 

Earth-Navels.

Several Earth-navels are considered to have been significantly situated.

Cuzco - Literally translated means 'Navel'. The capital of the Inca empire was situated at Cuzco, high in the Andes. Tradition states that the city was founded according to 'geomantic' principles.

Easter Island - Was also called 'Te-Pito-O-Te Henua' Which translated means, 'The Navel of the Earth'. Hancock suggested that its geographical location may have determined the original settlement. (1)

Jerusalem - As the capital of the 'Holy land' Jerusalem is called an Earth Navel.

Delphi - Contained an 'Omphalus', which was believed to mark the centre of the world. It was supposed to have fallen from heaven. The story is that Cronus, the god of time, was driven to the depths of the universe by Zeus, who forced him to vomit the stone, which landed in the centre of the Earth. The current Omphalos is a replica of the original, made in the Hellenistic period. (1)

Eridu - Iraq. The original Sumerian 'Mound of Creation'.

Angkor Wat - The 'Bayon' in the network of temples at Angkor was described by B. Groslier as 'the Omphalos in Angkor's stone cosmos'. (1)

Karnak, Egypt - An Omphalos was excavated in the sanctuary of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak, by G. A. Reisner. It supports the Greek traditions of doves flying between Delphi and Karnak. (1)

 

Mecca - The centre of Islam. The location of the Kabba, and the 'black stone' which, according to Islamic tradition, fell from heaven during the time of Adam and Eve. It is said that Abraham found the black rock and when he rebuilt the Kaaba, Archangel Gabriel brought the Stone out of hiding and gave it to him.

 

Allahabad, India - Formerly called Prayag, and listed in the Mahabharata as the last and most important of 270 ancient holy places. Prayag was considered the mythical creation point of the universe. The chief cult shrines at Prayag stood on an island with a shrine to the primordial serpent who protected the eternal tree (seen by Hsuan Tsang in 644). A goddess-shrine was recently found south of Allahabad that dates to 11,000 BC, along with Mesolithic cave paintings of a dancing shaman with horned head-dress, bangles and a trident, closely resembling Shiva. (3)

Allahabad is still the site of the largest gathering of humanity on earth.

(More about Prehistoric India)

 

(The Oracles)

(Divination)

(Gaia: The Living Earth)

(More about Earth Navels)

(More about the Venus Figurines)

 

References:

1) G. Hancock. Heavens Mirror, 1998, Michael Joseph Ltd.
2). A. Service & J. Bradbery. Megaliths and their Mysteries. 1979. Macmillan.
3). Mellaart, James. Catal Huyuk: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia. 1967. McGraw-Hill. pp. 181. 
4). G. De. Santillana, Hamlet's Mill. 1983, Godine Publishers'.
5). Michael Dames. The Silbury Treasure. the Great Goddess Rediscovered. 1976. Thames and Hudson.
6). L. Goodison. C. Morris (Editors). Ancient Goddesses. 1998. British Museum Press.
 

 

Become the exclusive sponsor of a page on this site.
 
 
Contact us HERE for further information.

About Us Homepage  |  A-Z Site Index  |  Gift Shop  |  Contact-Us

Web Hosting by WiserHosting