History of women & nature • Historical – grew out of nature knowledge – where to get food, medicines, • Since nurturing, associated w/ women (as opposed to hunting ) • Earth goddess • Midwives/ healers • Witches • Modern • wicca
History • Most researchers currently accept the belief that modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 to 250,000 years ago. • Until about 8000 BCE, hunter-gatherer societies. • Humans alone had developed the realization that their life was finite; that they would all die. This resulted in the development of the primitive religious beliefs.
History cont • Societies which relied mainly on hunting by men naturally developed hunting gods to worship. • Those in which gathering was more reliable -vegetative Goddesses. • Fertility was important in crops, in domesticated animals, in wild animals and in the tribe • The female life-giving principle was considered divine and a great mystery. • Some Goddess statues still survive from this era.
Role of hunting vs women • Societies which relied mainly on hunting by men naturally developed hunting gods to worship. • Those in which gathering was more reliable generally created vegetative Goddesses. The importance of fertility in crops, in domesticated animals, in wild animals and in the tribe itself were of paramount importance to their survival. • The female life-giving principle was considered divine and a great mystery. Some Goddess statues still survive from this era.
History con’t • the old European culture stressed the female as divine -based on the number of carvings of a female shape found. • Some point to the relative lack of equivalent male statues as evidence of a Goddess culture. • Others suggest that the female statues might have been the old European culture's equivalent of modern-day erotic photographs. Freya
History – old european • This "old European" culture lasted for tens of thousands of years in what is now Europe. They generally lived in peace; there is a notable lack of defensive fortifications around their hamlets. • As evidenced by their funeral customs, males and females appear to have had equal status. Many historians and archaeologists believe that: • Their society was matrilineal; children took their mothers' names. • Life was based on lunar (not solar) calendar. • Time was experienced as a repetitive cycle, not linearly as we think of it.
History Europe • suppression of Goddess worship in Western Europe 2000 BC Indo-Europeans invaded Europe from the East. • They brought with them some of the "refinements" of modern civilization: the horse, war, belief in male Gods, exploitation of nature, • a variety of Pagan polytheistic religions developed - Romans War horse from Roman era
History – influence of judaism & Christianity • Further south, as Judaism, Christianity & eventually Islam evolved, the Pagan religions were suppressed • female principle was driven out of religion. • Women were considered inferior to men. Fall of man by evil woman
History - christianity • The role of women became restricted. • A woman's testimony was not considered significant in Jewish courts; • women were not allowed to speak in Christian churches; • positions of authority in the church were limited to men. • Young women possessions of their fathers. • After marriage, their ownership was transferred to their husbands.
Christian history • Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) rejected millennia of religious tradition by treating women as equals. Women played a major role in the early Christian church. • Later, epistle (letter) writers who wrote in the name of Paul, started the process of suppressing women once more.
History - christianity • A feminine presence was added to Christianity by the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE when the Virgin Mary was named Theotokos (Mother of God). • But her role was heavily restricted and included none of the fertility component present in Pagan religions.
Celtic/Druid nature concept • Primitive ecology concept • Interconnectedness of nature • Celtic symbols all interwoven
Asian Philiosophy – Taoism • Yin- yang duality • Male/female; light/dark; wet/dry, etc Lao Tzu – wrote about equal but different roles for sexes but almost all adherents were men!
Witches • very late Middle Ages, • many tens of thousands of suspected female witches (and a smaller proportion of males) were exterminated by burning and hanging over a three century interval. • Modern “witches” refer to Mary as a “goddess”
Witch Hunts • A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and mob lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials. • The classical period of witch-hunts in Europe falls into the Early Modern period or about 1450 to 1700, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War, resulting in tens of thousands of executions. • US – Salem Witch trials 1692 • Female land owners • Midwives • Those using herbs as medicine • case study: http://www.gendercide.org/case.html
Tellus/ Gaia: Nature Goddess • Tellus • (t.eĺes) , in Roman religion, earth goddess; also called Terra Mater. • goddess of fertility • worshiped at festivals held in January (in conjunction with Ceres) and in April. • April festival coincides with Easter – christian religion • Tellus was identified with the Greek Gaea.
The Horae - seasons • Horae " • (hÇór‘e) , in Greek religion and mythology, • goddesses of the seasons; • daughters of Zeus and Themis. • controlled the seasons, • The number and names of the Horae differed from region to region. • According to Hesiod, there were three Horae—Eirene or Irene (peace), Dice or Dike (justice), and Eunomia (order).
Ishtar: Fertility Goddess • (/Ish́tär) , ancient fertility deity, the most widely worshiped goddess in Babylonian and Assyrian religion. Also known as the sun goddess. • She was worshiped under various names and forms. Most important as a mother goddess and as a goddess of love, • Ishtar was the source of all the generative powers in nature and mankind. • goddess of war and as such was capable of unremitting cruelty. • One of the most famous of the Babylonian legends related the trials of her descent into the underworld in search of her lover and her triumphant return to earth. • In Sumerian religion, where her cult probably originated, she was called Inanna or Innina.
Aartemis: Goddess of animals • In Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation, and of chastity and childbirth; • identified by the Romans with Diana. • Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. • Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favorite goddess. Her character and function varied greatly from place to place, but, apparently, behind all forms lay the goddess of wild nature, who danced, usually accompanied by nymphs, in mountains, forests, and marshes. • Artemis embodied the sportsman's ideal, so besides killing game she also protected it, especially the young; • Homeric significance of the title Mistress of Animals.
Venus: goddess of vegetation • Venus is the brightest object in our sky after the Sun and the Moon, so it has played a role in many human mythologies. The earliest recorded observations of Venus come from the Babylonians on the famous Venus Tablet dated circa 1500 B.C. The tablet includes the relative times when Venus would change from being an evening star to a morning star. Another Babylonina tablet records the length of the Venus axial rotation as 587 days (actual value of 584 days). • The name Venus was used by the Romans, to whom she was the Roman goddess of vegetation, gardens and vineyards. However, Venus has been known by many different names in the past.
Modern writing about goddesses • The goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her Power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hills, trees, and flowers. Hence the holistic and mythopoeic perception of the sacredness and mystery of all there is on earth. .......The Goddess gradually retreated into the depths of forests or onto mountaintops, where she remains to this day in beliefs and fairy stories. Human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life ensued, the results of which are clear in our contemporary society. • From: Return of the Great Goddess by Burleigh Muton
Goddess & religion • Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe: • "I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me. • For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return. • From Return of the Great Goddess by Burleigh Muton
Goddesses & witches • The Goddess is "the end of desire," its goal and its completion. In Witchcraft, desire is itself seen as a manifestation of the Goddess. We do not seek to conquer or escape from our desires---we seek to fulfill them. • Desire is the glue of the universe; it binds the electron to the nucleus, the planet to the sun---and so creates form, creates the world. • To follow desire to its end is to unite with that which is desired, to become one with it, with the Goddess. We are already one with the Goddess---she has been with us from the beginning. So fulfillment becomes, not a matter of self-indulgence, but of self-AWARENESS. • From: Return of the Great Goddess by Burleigh Muton