Figurines appear in the archaeological record throughout Europe, mainly in the South-east, South-west Asia, and the Mediterranean area from the Cyclades, Majorca, and Malta. Female figurines from the Neolithic and Copper Age Cyclades were first described as a group in the 1880′s but there was no attempt to link them to the goddess. From Central Europe to the Near East during the Neolithic period archaeology has previously revealed thousands of anthropomorphic terracotta figurines, nearly all less than six inches high.
Balkan figurines, and Greek, were kept inside habitations and hosed in special wall niches (Malone, 1993). In the Karanovo Culture many figurines are forms of the Bird Goddess, others a pregnant goddess, as well as zoomorphic and stiff nude figures. In the Starcevo Culture there also occur ornithomorphic vases dating from circa 5900-5800 BC. The Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture flourished in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and south west Ukraine from 500 to 2750 BC. This culture left behind numerous clay figures some of which represent the Mother Goddess.
"This… moon principle is that of life engaged in the field of time and space, in the field of phenomenal apparitions and dis-apparitions of forms. The sun, on the other hand, is never shadowed except in eclipse, and so does not carry its death within it; thus is represents consciousness disengaged from the field of time and space.
"…The great mystic realization is that these two aspects of consciousness are in fact one consciousness, so that your consciousness here in the field of life is at the same time disengaged from this field. The paradox of relating oneself to these two aspects of one’s own true being and entity is the great mystical balancing act. It is a dangerous path - the sharp edge of the razor - the path between the knowledge of yourself as consciousness in the field and knowledge of yourself as consciousness in disengagement from the field. You can tip either way— and then there comes an inappropriate attitude, inflation or deflation of one kind or another.
"The goal of all meditation and mystery journeys is to go between the pair of opposites.""
THE MOTHER GODDESS SARDA
prenuragic Ozieri culture (3500-2700 BC), Sardinia
“This statue carries within herself a history of the worship of the feminine principle that echoed up through time. Even today our most basic, universal human experience is that of our mother’s body. It is our very first sensation.”
This week on Getty Voices, educator and religion buff Erin Branham talks about the ancient sacred and the differences between religion in ancient times and today.
Fertility Goddess, made on Cyprus, 3000–2500 B.C. The J. Paul Getty Museum
Parthian reclining figure of a woman, alabaster, 2nd-1st c. bce
Setareh, Esther, Aphrodite, Venus = both the morning and evening star, the dual goddess of love and war ..
Ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess. Patron Goddess of pleasure and music, She also was protectress against contagious diseases and evil spirits. Mother of all cats, Egypt’s most sacred animal. Bubastis, Her Holy city was home to the land’s greatest temple. Cats were taken to the Holy city upon their deaths, where they were embalmed in Sacred Temples and buried. Originally in the Nile delta, Lion Goddess of Sunset, symbolizing the fertilizing force of the Sun’s rays. She ruled pleasure and dancing, music and joy. Bestower of mental and physical health. Hundreds of thousands of Her worshipers gathered in Her holy city Bubastis where they were greeted by flutes. It was a great celebration - worship service and vast trade fair.
For ages, pomegranates have symbolized love, fertility, and abundance. Inspired by the ancient myth of Persephone, the queen of the underworld and the goddess of spring growth, this beautiful pendant was designed by me (Natalia Moroz) and crafted by the jewelry designer Sergey Zhiboedov (my husband).
ROMAN DEMETER/CERES INTAGLIO RING, via EBAY
DATES FROM THE 1st CENTURY AD. THIS VERY NICE BRONZE INTAGLIO RING WITH A LARGE OVAL BEZEL ENGRAVED WITH THE FIGURE OF THE GODDESS DEMETER or CERES. ARISING FROM THE GREEK ORIGINS SHE WAS POPULAR GODDESS AMONG THE ROMANS. SHE HOLDS AN EAR OF CORN IN HER RIGHT HAND* AND A WREATH WITH TRAILING RIBBONS IN HER LEFT…THOUGHT TO REPRESENT A GOOD HARVEST. IT WAS FOUND IN THE SERBIAN DONAU REGION.
* I personally think it’s a sheath of wheat, or some other sort of grassy grain.
Coatlicue (pronounced koh-ah-tlee-kweh) is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. She is also known as Toci (Tocî, “our grandmother”) and Cihuacoatl (Cihuācōhuātl, “the lady of the serpent”), the patron of women who die in childbirth.
The word “Coatlicue” is Nahuatl for “the one with the skirt of serpents.” She is referred to variously by the epithets “Mother Goddess of the Earth who gives birth to all celestial things”, “Goddess of Fire and Fertility”, “Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth”, and “Mother of the Southern Stars.”
She is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws and her breasts are depicted as hanging flaccid from nursing. Her face is formed by two facing serpents (after her head was cut off and the blood spurt forth from her neck in the form of two gigantic serpents), referring to the myth that she was sacrificed during the beginning of the present creation.
Most Aztec artistic representations of this goddess emphasize her deadly side, because Earth, as well as loving mother, is the insatiable monster that consumes everything that lives. She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the womb and the grave exist.
According to Aztec legend, she was once magically impregnated by a ball of feathers that fell on her while she was sweeping a temple, and subsequently gave birth to the gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl. Her daughter Coyolxauhqui then rallied Coatlicue’s four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother. The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle. He killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head he cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon. In one variation on this legend, Huitzilopochtli himself is the child conceived in the ball-of-feathers incident and is born just in time to save his mother from harm.
A new article by Cecelia Klein argues that the famous Coatlicue statue in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, and several other complete and fragmentary versions, may actually represent a personified snake skirt. The reference is to one version of the creation of the present Sun. The myth relates that the present Sun began after the gods gathered at Teotihuacan and sacrificed themselves. The best known version states that Tezzictecatl and Nanahuatzin immolated themselves, becoming respectively the moon and the sun. However, other versions add a group of female deities to those who sacrificed themselves, including Coatlicue. Afterwards the Aztecs were said to have worshipped the skirts of these women, which came back to life. Coatlicue thus has creative aspects, which may balance the skulls, hearts, hands, and claws that connect her to the earth deity Tlaltecuhtli. The earth both consumes and regenerates life.
Stephanie Guajardo, Coatlicue
Ana Mendieta, Untitled (First Woman), 1981
From the Brooklyn Museum:
Ana Mendieta depicted goddess figures throughout her oeuvre in a variety of media, including leaves, fire, earth and, as in this piece, a rock wall carving that has been photographed. Like many artists in the 1970s, Mendieta was interested in the feminist reclamation of goddess imagery and the idea of a pre-patriarchal society in which women’s social role was celebrated. Like those created by her feminist counterparts, Mendieta’s goddess has exaggerated sexual features that emphasize fertility, including large thighs. This particular limestone carving was made in Jaruco, Cuba, about an hour outside of Havana, and refers to a Taíno goddess from an ancestral heritage that the artist identified as her own.