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Early Depictions of the Sacred Feminine

Egyptian and Classical Deities

Hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls of Egyptian temples and Sumerian tablets contain hymns and prayers addressing the divine goddess that date back to the Bronze Age (c. 3500 BCE). In these early texts of Egypt and Canaan, the Goddess is associated with all forms of life, the eternal womb of fertility, the life-force of attraction between male and female, the creative and destructive force of all life and its transformations, and the embodiment of all instinctive processes, nurturance and compassion.

The divine feminine was worshipped in its various embodiments as the Syrian deity Astarte, the Roman Ceres, the Phrygian Cybele, the Greek Demeter, the Babylonian Ishtar, and the Egyptian Isis. The cult of the divine feminine in its later forms often involved the addition of a male deity as a son or a lover, whose death and resurrection would serve to emphasize the earth (or Mother Earth's) power of regeneration.

The Mother Goddess is embodied as Ninsun in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, as the Celtic goddess Anu, in Norse mythology as Freyja, and in the form of Cybele the "Magna Mater" or Great Mother in Rome (the later versions of the Greek Gaia or Rhea).

The divine feminine plays a significant role in Hinduism, and can be traced to ancient Vedic texts dating to 500 BCE. The Divine Mother also appears in Chinese mythology in forms such as Hsi Wang Mu, the goddess of eternal life, and many have written of the importance of the feminine aspect in the Islamic tradition.

The Divine Feminine and Christianity

The loss of the feminine has been traced back to the Iron Ages, beginning in 1200 BCE, with decreased emphasis on the importance of Nature as replaced by the value of human creative arts leading the way to the predominance of more patriarchal religions. Some consider the addition of the male deities to the mythological stories of the Mother Goddess, such as Osiris in the story of Isis, to represent the beginning of this change, whereby the female figure began to play a significant maternal role, but a less prominent role in general.

Some believe that the status of the divine feminine has been manifested in the figure of the Virgin Mary, who has been given titles such as Star of the Sea in Roman Catholicism, titles which bear similarities to Eastern traditions of the Goddess. Some believe that depictions of the Black Madonna derive from ancient figures such as Isis in Egypt. Others point out that resurrection stories were common in ancient mythologies, and are thus connected to the story of Jesus. Indeed, the divine feminine figures prominently in the Gnostic Gospels of the period of the development of early Christianity, during which the earliest sects of Christianity were established.

Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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