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Goddess worship

From Academic Kids

Goddess worship is a general description for the veneration of a female Goddess or goddesses. Many New Age Goddess devotees prefer the term goddess spirituality, avoiding the term "worship" for a faith that does not distance the Divine into a remote, hierarchical separation. Goddess veneration may be also used instead of "worship", as it can imply respect and intimacy without undue deference. In such contexts, "spirituality" is often preferred to "religion" because major organised religions have not typically nurtured goddess worship, with the notable exception of Hinduism.

Goddess worship can be conservative, supporting male dominance, state control, and empire building; or it can be radical, challenging those traditions. It can support women's authority. In Western society goddess worship has developed into a distinct culture since the mid-19th century. Goddess worship is not necessarily feminist, though in Western societies the feminist version is probably the most articulate.

Pagan and Neopagan religions or denominations generally recognise goddess worship as one of their few areas of consensus. However not all goddess worship is Pagan.

The female deity may be referred to in all inclusive terms, such as "The Great Goddess" or "Queen of Heaven", or she may be referred to in more specific terms: Kali, Isis, or Kwan Yin.

Some authors, the most notable of whom is Marija Gimbutas, believe goddess worship started in prehistoric times. They believe that artifacts from that period, such as the "Venus of Willendorf", may be representations of fertility goddesses. However, it is difficult to prove the role of these artifacts conclusively as evidence surrounding their place in their society is scanty. Scholars including Peter Ucko have asserted that the figurines in question were territorial markers, toys, sex aids, sex education models, and images of priestesses rather than goddesses. Such controversy tends, though, to assume that these artifacts were put to specific, single usage. It is quite possible that the same object served many functions, at different times, or even simultaneously.

Contents

Examples of goddess worship

  • Inanna in Sumerian mythology is one of the oldest known goddesses.
  • Isis in Egyptian mythology was a goddess of fertility.
  • Freya in Norse mythology was worshipped as a fertility goddess.
  • Morrigan in Celtic mythology was a goddess of war.
  • Hinduism is the most prolific and oldest surviving religion incorporating formal goddess worship where Mahadevi is one of the three major traditions of Hinduism.
  • Native religion frequently venerate goddesses: this is probably the most numerous goddess culture type worldwide.
  • Some early Christian sects such as the Collyridians venerated The Virgin Mary as a goddess. Later mystics such as the medieval Julian of Norwich, and Joanna Southcott, referred to the divine Mother. Contemporary pressure groups are petitioning the Pope to recognise Mary as part of the Christian Godhead.
  • Some feminists within the Latter Day Saint movement have advocated the worship of a Heavenly Mother (sometimes called the ?Shekinah?), whom they view as the wife of God the Father.
  • Living goddess cults view a human girl or woman as a goddess. In ancient times stateswomen such as Hatshepsut of Egypt and Cleopatra VII of Egypt wielded total power as living deities. The imperial families of China, Rome and Japan have used similar strategies. It was an Empress of newly Christianised Constantinople, Pulcheria, who insisted on elevating Mary to virtual deity status as Mary Theotokos. Monarchs such as Elizabeth I of England consciously drew on the iconic powers of a living goddess. Young girls are still selected as living icons in Nepal, a practice called Kumari. In Germany today a living goddess called Mother Meera has inspired a pan-faith movement.
  • The Craft (popularly, witchcraft) founded 1951, Britain, is a major tradition within Western Paganism which venerates both Goddess and God in a dynamic polarity reminiscent of Tantra. Its best known type is Wicca, though there are others.
  • Dianic Craft is a Craft variant that exclusively worships the Goddess, founded 1971 by Zsuzsanna Budapest, drawing on her native Hungarian folk magic and USA feminism.
  • The Fellowship of Isis, based in Eire, is an international network founded in the 1970s that spans all continents, but especially Europe and Africa. Members are both conservative and radical, Pagan and non-Pagan. There is a well developed liturgy, and well established support for home based temples or teaching centres.
  • Aristasia, while not a religious or spiritual group per se, acknowledges, and many Aristasians worship, God in feminine form, as befits an all-female "alternative reality". The most usual Aristasian designation for the Divinity is "Dea" or "Dia".

Further reading

  • Balter, Michael. (2005). The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk, An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization. Free Press. New York. ISBN 0743243609
  • Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. E.P.Dutton, 1981. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Llewellyn Worldwide, 1990, 1995.
  • Peter Ucko, Anthropomorphic Figurines of Predynastic Egypt and Neolithic Crete 1968 (countering the more extreme versions of the neolithic Goddess theory)
  • Peter Ucko, "Mother, are you there?" Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 6, (1996), pp 300-4.

See also

External links

  • Goddess Worship (http://www.religioustolerance.org/goddess.htm) - ReligiousTolerance.org
  • "The Goddess Remembered" (http://www.debunker.com/texts/goddess_rem.html): debunking the prehistoric mother goddess
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