A famous Jewish proverb says, “God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.
Six thousand years ago, people believed it was the Goddess who created everything! The goddess, known as the Great Mother, was thought to have given birth to the whole universe. She did so, not from a position of remote, male authority, but from the very blood and substance of her body, right here on Earth.
In her limitless fertility and abundance, she birthed, not just a host of children of every kind, but the Heavens themselves. She created everything that walked or crawled upon the Earth, flew across the skies, swam in the oceans, lakes and rivers, or languished in the lonely fires of the Underworld. She created them out of Kaos, inspired by love, and loved all of creation.
Like the God of the Old Testament, she looked at her work, and found it good.
Not all of her children were beautiful, successful, or even kind. She birthed monsters along with her divine offspring. Yet, like all human mothers who follow in her footsteps, she loves her children, and provides, as best she can, for their care and feeding. She forgives them for their faults and failures, and is always ready to welcome them home into her loving arms, or into the Earth from which they sprang, and to which they must all return.
The Great Goddess or Mother has many names. Tiamat, Isis, Inanna, and Gaia, to name just a few. Her characteristics, name and personality reflected and adapted to the culture in which her worship grew. Because of this, she was readily accessible and recognizable to the people she served. Her worship grew up in pre-historic and ancient times in the rich, agricultural lands along the Nile, the Indus, and the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers. Gradually, it spread along the Mediterranean Sea into Greece and Europe. There, it flourished. Agricultural societies depend upon the fertility of the land, and of the mothers who bear children to help care for it.
Goddess worship prospered in these places until it was overthrown, first by a wave of nomadic, monotheistic Semite sheep and goat herders, starting in the 4th millennium BC, and later by the triumphant Christian faith that grew out of the earlier Hebrew tradition.
But, as a friend of mine said, “The goddess is like dandelions. You can root them out. Weed them. Spray them. And still, they come creeping back!”
You cannot kill the goddess, or the Great Mother! She is part of our deepest cultural memories ~ and of our real-life experiences with our own Great Mother, the mother you call your own.
In this image, we see Gaia, the great Greco-Roman goddess who we know as Mother Earth. She is shown, surrounded by just a few of her countless children. They range from small human beings to a sampling of all creatures of the Earth, Sky, and Water.
Gaia is even more influential today than she was thousands of years ago! The Gaia Movement, founded by James Lovelock in 1972, started the huge environmental revolution unfolding right now. This movement sees the entire planet as a single, living organism, where everything must be in balance if life, as we know it, is to continue to be sustainable. As in a happy family, each member must contribute to the good of the whole, and refrain from polluting or damaging the family home.
To keep us aware of this delicate balance, who is a better archetype than Gaia, the great Earth Mother goddess?
On Mother’s Day, most of us will remember our mothers with greeting cards, flowers, and perhaps a dinner out. How could it be otherwise? She is our first experience of love and security on Earth. As William Makepeace Thackeray said, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”
For me, a child who grew up all over the world, home was always where my mother was. She was my comforter, my teacher, my playmate, and my very first love. Even though I am now a mother, and a grandmother as well, I still miss her wise counsel and warm arms.
This is a universal experience.
Soldiers, dying on the battlefield, have been known to cry out for their mothers with their final breath. The last thoughts of Christ, hanging on the cross, were for Mary, his mother. He consigned her to the care of his beloved disciple, John, so that she would not suffer the poverty of other widows in first century Palestine.
It can’t have been easy being Gaia. Imagine giving birth to galaxies, as well as to rafts of children! She also dealt with a husband who was jealous and suspicious of his own children, who was often violent toward them and towards her. Yet she endured, as all Great Mothers do. And she kept her turbulent family together.
Her legacy has never been forgotten.
Gaia bless all mothers! May Earth Day (April 22nd) and Mother’s Day (May 9th) be days of thanksgiving for our earthly mothers, and for Mother Earth, who nourishes us all.
April 20, 2010
It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it. ~From the television show The Golden Girls
Anne Baird, Designer/Owner of GODDESS CARDS, is a self-taught artist who has been painting and writing since childhood. Her chosen media for her unique line of greeting cards is watercolor, with touches of gouache, ink and colored pencil.
Her GODDESS CARD line grew from a birthday card she created for her daughter, Amanda, in 2001. Amanda was disheartened at being a curvaceous beauty in the Land of Thin. (Los Angeles.) That seminal card declaring, “You’re a GODDESS, not a nymph!” evolved into a long line of love notes and affirmations for ALL women. At over 125 cards, the line is steadily growing.
Anne is inspired by the archetypal Legendary Goddesses, who have so much to teach today’s women. Her greatest inspiration however, comes from the Goddesses of Today, who write her with wonderful suggestions and thoughts that expand her consciousness and card line.
She has launched an E-Goddess Card website, where the Goddess on the Go can send Goddess “e-cards”, enriched with music and stories, at the click of a mouse. (A virtual mouse.)