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The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

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The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby moonlightsonata » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:32 am

So as I'm starting to read I'm hearing that The White Goddess, When God was a Woman, and several other authors who wrote about the historical background of Goddess worship are "inaccurate". Can someone explain to me how? Is it just in the matriarchal societies idea, or is it the concept of Goddess worship in general? Because it seems pretty obvious to me that the Goddess has been worshipped pretty much since the beginning. I'm not talking about the idea that Wicca itself dates back that long, but merely the worship of the Goddess.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby Lady_Lilith » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:38 am

There is no proof of the (universal) matriarchal utopia described in Gimbutas's theory. People of prehistory and beyond, did not worship "the Goddess". They worshiped many goddesses, as most religions are polytheistic and monotheism is a later development. Worshiping goddesses isn't "proof" of equality in any case, as goddesses are not necessarily human females and many pro-goddess societies were patriarchal. (I.e. ancient Babylonia) Also, to note, there are violent goddesses in history. (Ishtar, Athena, etc.) Gods are ideas, but that does not mean they translate to human females.

Another problem with this theory is it makes the assumption that when ruled by women this is "equality" and is rife with benevolent sexism stemming from Victorian ideals. The sexism is this; women ruled, then the evil men with their weapons of war "conquered" them and installed patriarchy, all women are now victims. That's not how it works, that's not how any of it works. Women can and have been just as violent as men. (Note: The myth of Matriarchy was not even originally a feminist myth at all, either. It was adopted by feminists later.)

Per anthropology, patriarchy developed through agriculture when mankind became settlers because of the cost of labor demand. This meant women were pressured to stay at home and make babies per the demand. Slowly, this translated into sexism. No one in anthropology takes the theory of Matriarchy and it's inventions as serious and it was not even mentioned in my textbooks or class. It's a feminist historical revision that makes women victims of the evil men. (And cites a heteronormative interpretation of that.) They really like to latch onto Lilith with this theory. (She was never a historical goddess.)

Here is an article about it.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby planewalker » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:57 am

Personally, I think that societies went with the ideas that resonated with them the most. At first, their deities were animals. The totems of the oldest cultures we see, the cave paintings and pictographs on rock faces are animals. Makes sense to me. It was a period when the most important thing was to eat. Some years it was more of a burden to have more mouths to feed. From there, as society became settled and agricultural, fertility to produce the food to feed people and to do it easier, and to increase the people in the group to make the work easier, became the most important thing. The female seemed to be the center of fertility. ( No ladies, I'm not being dismissive. There are even some things that reproduce without sex. I don't see that as being much fun. I've been in the delivery room, I've never said men could do that or that humanity would have survived if we had to. Just saying that fertility is way more complicated then just the female part. ) It only made sense to that society to have female deities. Societies went on growing and all of a sudden it became a job description to protect what you had and to go take other peoples stuff away from them. Back in the day, men were better equipped because you were doing it with clubs and knives up close and personal. It was even a good thing that all but a couple of the men doing it weren't the brainiest thing going. You've either got to have a suppressed survival instinct {not to smart} or if you are intelligent you have to really believe in defending your society or be an all-out adrenaline junky or even better, both. That's when you see the take over of pantheons by male deities. Bring it to the present day and we are seeing the rise of science as its own religion. When they get big enough to have them, their gods won't worry about what sex they are.Their only requirement will be that they have spotless,blindingly white lab coats,glasses and the attitude that they are somehow superior to everything, even the nature they study.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby Siona » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:15 pm

moonlightsonata wrote:Because it seems pretty obvious to me that the Goddess has been worshipped pretty much since the beginning.


Goddesses have been worshiped for an incredibly long time, but The Goddess is a relatively new concept. I am mostly familiar with Graves' work, and if I remember right he said there was a single great goddess who was worshiped across all Europe long ago, but really, there is just no evidence for this.

Graves is known for, well, just making things up and passing them off as historical in general. Celtic tree calendar? Yeah, thank Graves for that one. That myth where Hestia gives up her seat on Olympus for Dionysos? Guess who made that one up? Yeah, Graves. The White Goddess and other works by Graves are very interesting reads because a lot of modern paganism stems from them, but much like others who influenced the early movement, such as Murray, the 'history' of these works has long since been shown as false, even if the 'spiritual' elements were found useful by some traditions.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby Xiao Rong » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:57 pm

I think the main thing is that it's very difficult to find solid, archaeological evidence that there was ever a single matriarchal society everywhere that all practiced the same religion worshipping a single Great Goddess (much less that the one "true" religion was able to survive in a single, unbroken chain all the way from prehistory). That theory seems to majorly underestimate the sheer diversity of human culture.

I still like the myth of the Great Goddess and matriarchal prehistory, but only as an inspirational myth, and not as literal fact.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby moonlightsonata » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:44 pm

Lady_Lilith wrote:There is no proof of the (universal) matriarchal utopia described in Gimbutas's theory. People of prehistory and beyond, did not worship "the Goddess". They worshiped many goddesses, as most religions are polytheistic and monotheism is a later development.


Thanks for the article! I agree that they worshipped many Goddesses and this did not necessarily lead to female equality. I had heard that the myth of matriarchy can be disproved pretty easily. I guess I just always thought that it was more of a soft polytheism then a hard polytheism, but that does not seem to be the case. So then I guess my question is: what is the historical justification for any position other then hard polytheism? I'm more of a duotheist myself. I realize a lot of paganism is "what works for you" but I have no interest in creating my own gods/goddesses. I'd like there to be evidence on some level that they're real.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby moonlightsonata » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:46 pm

Xiao Rong wrote:I think the main thing is that it's very difficult to find solid, archaeological evidence that there was ever a single matriarchal society everywhere that all practiced the same religion worshipping a single Great Goddess (much less that the one "true" religion was able to survive in a single, unbroken chain all the way from prehistory). That theory seems to majorly underestimate the sheer diversity of human culture.

I still like the myth of the Great Goddess and matriarchal prehistory, but only as an inspirational myth, and not as literal fact.


But if it's a made up myth, what good is it? I guess the same can be said of all myth; that it expresses truths in a different way, But I always thought there was some level of fact behind the myth, and not just "our universal archetypes" or something nice and vague like that.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby Lady_Lilith » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:07 pm

moonlightsonata wrote:
Lady_Lilith wrote:There is no proof of the (universal) matriarchal utopia described in Gimbutas's theory. People of prehistory and beyond, did not worship "the Goddess". They worshiped many goddesses, as most religions are polytheistic and monotheism is a later development.


Thanks for the article! I agree that they worshipped many Goddesses and this did not necessarily lead to female equality. I had heard that the myth of matriarchy can be disproved pretty easily. I guess I just always thought that it was more of a soft polytheism then a hard polytheism, but that does not seem to be the case. So then I guess my question is: what is the historical justification for any position other then hard polytheism? I'm more of a duotheist myself. I realize a lot of paganism is "what works for you" but I have no interest in creating my own gods/goddesses. I'd like there to be evidence on some level that they're real.

"Hard polytheism" is not the default position of ancient religions, either. They also were not soft polytheists. They were somewhere in the middle. You see this with how Ishtar became Aphrodite, and how the cult of Isis sprung up. (Egyptian and Hindu religions in general blur lines between gods, but so does the Greco-Roman pantheons.) You have gods ending up in radical places, such as the Aztec Quetzalcoatl becoming a Hopi god.

moonlightsonata wrote:
But if it's a made up myth, what good is it? I guess the same can be said of all myth; that it expresses truths in a different way, But I always thought there was some level of fact behind the myth, and not just "our universal archetypes" or something nice and vague like that.


The psychological benefit. I mean all myths are 'made up', yet we are inspired by them consistently. Even from a fiction standpoint.

Siona wrote:
Graves is known for, well, just making things up and passing them off as historical in general. Celtic tree calendar? Yeah, thank Graves for that one. That myth where Hestia gives up her seat on Olympus for Dionysos? Guess who made that one up? Yeah, Graves. The White Goddess and other works by Graves are very interesting reads because a lot of modern paganism stems from them, but much like others who influenced the early movement, such as Murray, the 'history' of these works has long since been shown as false, even if the 'spiritual' elements were found useful by some traditions.


A bit OT, I never understood Murray's prominence considering she was not talking of "the Goddess" at all. Rather she was speaking of the Horned God and his dominance. The blurring to me, is weird. [In the Goddess movement and Matriarchy movements.]
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby Siona » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:55 pm

moonlightsonata wrote:So then I guess my question is: what is the historical justification for any position other then hard polytheism?


'Softer' polytheism was (and is) definitely a thing. There are Hindu teachings from thousands of years ago that are pretty soft-polytheistic in nature. There's a bit in the Roman novel The Golden Ass where Isis says some call her Juno, or Bellona, or Hekate, etc... Which also matches with how the nature of Isis changed as she moved out of Egypt. But it wasn't as often presented in some of these texts we have now, there was no one singular great goddess who was worshiped over such a wide area. So even if you saw some soft-polytheistic ideas in, say, ancient Rome, it doesn't translate to all the other cultures over Europe. And, there were certainly those who were hard polytheists, or atheists, etc. The ancient world was quite varied, even when looking at one culture, there were often lots of mixed views.
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Re: The White Goddess, When God was a woman, and others

Postby autumn swan » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:47 am

moonlightsonata wrote:I have no interest in creating my own gods/goddesses. I'd like there to be evidence on some level that they're real.


What is real for you, and what isn't? You could say all gods were made up by someone because what proof of a gods existence is there but UPG? How are gods born, are they an idea who grow over time, are they beings that mix with each other, are they ancestors, are they archetypes? Can a totally new god be born today? I think all of this can be or is true. It's not much different from pop culture magic except that the latter is not viewed as serious or true by some.

I'm not saying you could or should invent a god and worship them, im not sure it works that way. Though it could, I guess, as a writer I know the thing when your own characters come alive and develop a will of their own. But since they were born recently they usually are not wise enough to be gods...? :mrgreen:

I am creating my own pantheon, though, by investigating old gods and see what connects them. In a way I try to reconstruct an (P) I.E. pantheon but because I'm no scientist or expert or whatever I wouldn't officially call it that. Rekindle is what I call it. Changes will always be there because we move into the future, and it is a good thing to go with that. That's why where people used to sacrifice animals today we sacrifice rice or the like and it works just as well. :wink:
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