The Role ofThe Female divine (ingeneral)
Humanbeings worshipped a powerful GH’ goddess (30,000BCE)
This is basedon archaeological records as far eastas Serbia.
“MATRIARCHAL” =mother leading worship
possibly these cultures had gender-mutual relations
Primordial entity is GAIA (mother earth) in many cultures there is the importance of the primeval
goddess, suchTAIMANT(starts the universe by breaking off portions of herself that become the
gods and goddesses)
There mayhave beena time in human history when reproduction wasn’tunderstood fully and
The vegetative myth: a goddess who embodies a piece of or is the mother goddess, mates with a
male and the taskis deadly to him. Oftenrituals accompanythis myth where a male would be
chosen. Some suggest thatthis is basedon the lunar cycles (but this is speculative) However these
theories are found in the work of James Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” the goddess and consort
are there,the consort must literally or ritually die in his studies.
The motif of dying reappears in other myths but is strong in the vegetative myth.
Sumaria hadthe goddess Inanna and her consort was Dumuzi this myth is an archetype and
other myths canbe tracedtoit. Severalmyths are associatedwith these two.
InPrehistoric times it appears thatInanna presided over grain. Dumuzi hada character of date
palms (both representedby ‘vegetative things’). According to Frazer the coming of the two was
celebratedwhere the King of Sumaria copulated with a priestess of Inanna to enriches/bless crops
Hieros Gamos = mating of gods.
Sometimes the goddess will go to the underworld to try and retrieve the consort.
Females inthe GreekWorld
Females are notof greatimportance
The views are incomplete
The myths often raise more questions then answers
There are female figures in Crete,identified as mother-goddess but there is no concrete
confirmation of this fact.
Textualevidence from Greek world does not paint the life of the female as a happy one. Generally
she is confined to the house, controlled by male counterparts, etc.
Womenare oftenactive in the religious sphere.
Whendealing with the female divine it is important to remember we are not dealing with ‘women’
Some elements suggestfemale worship
There are fragments andobjects (linear A) that can’tbe read
Whatis known: Minoan culture was polytheistic and it seems pretty clear that it was a matriarchal
The female dominated the religious sphere in Minoan Crete, therefore manyscholars believe that
the inhabitants of Crete are not Indo-European
Minoans did not seemto develop a male divinity. Some suggest that the legacy of a feminine
divinity canstill be seenpresentday (The Virgin Mary = Theotokos = god bearer)
The female divinity was a mother-goddess which makes the relationship betweenoffspring distinct.
The artistic representation have led to twotheories: 1 = she is one entity or 2 = there are multiple
One female entity seems torise above the rest:“POT(Power)NIA Theron=the lady of the beats
(she whohas power of animals). She is often depicted as dominating nature (such as twolions at
either side of her, where she rests her hands upon). Other depictions show her holding up two
snakes,with bare breast(this may be a different goddess, no one is sure). Snake goddess appears at
multiple sites throughout Crete (Knossos and Gournia are twoexamples) suggesting both fertility
The Snake goddess seems only to appear in private homes (small shrines), leading to question if she
is a domestic goddess, with snakes as totems?
Inseveralof these small shrines, there are depictions of birds (dove-like) with human heads this
is similar depiction to the Egyptian ‘Ba” the soul, asking another question if these depictions are
Whatis known is thatCrete was veryreligious world.
Minoan mythological figure seems to incorporate demonic figures depicted lower then other
leading scholars to believe thatthey are lowly/evil
The bull is another character thatis always seenin Minoan. Sometimes the depiction of the bull is
with females. Bull leaping was a sport (frescoon walls show depictions of women leaping over the
bull). Even on the wall paintings, there seems tobe some reflection of whatcomes in later myths.
The lastfigure in Minoan culture: mythic amalgon (many parts) which seems to be
thereoanthropomorphic. She is female figure, but has the hands, feetandtail of a lion.
Scholars are not sure whatthese figures mean(cannot translate Linear A) but there is some
There are severalfemale entities representedbut not just maternalentities.
The Female Olympians
Mostcharacters are associatedwithfertility and/or domestic life
Greekmyth was told by and for Greek males**
With the exception of a few (Demeter,Athena and Aphrodite) theydon’t do much
Compromised pantheon? Olympian (Sky) VS Chtonian (earth) gods.
Whenthe Indo-Euro’s come along they bring the sky-gods and military technology. The Olympians
are imposed on the Chtonian and the Chtonian’s are reducedin status, and the female goddess
demises. These challenges lead to the suppression of female goddess and supplanted by male gods.
Marduk(male god) slays Thiamat. His creation is ‘arranged’ rather than born. This is how things
The suppression of the goddess by the male gods wsa seento be a good thing (throughout the
majority of the 20 century) and showed development in the culture. Some more modern scholars
has questioned this and thought it was not so great.
Apollo supplants himself killing Pytho (Gaia, a mother-earthgoddess transformed into a monster)
andclaims Delphi for himself. One way to dealwith the mother goddess is to demonize her and
transformher into a monster (either literal or not, such as Pandora andEve)
Females transforming into something ‘not pleasant’
**throughout Greek myth there is the presence of ‘monsterous females’ (Maedea) and‘female
monsters” (Pytho,the dragon that was once Gaia)**
the prerogative of the solely female actof birth is also supplanted by the male gods (the origin of
Aphrodite for example and Athena). The male is able to produce creations from themselves. Male
gods usurping the role of female goddess so the male god takes precedentover the female.
There are severalfemale Greekgoddesses
Meter =mother (anindo-euro word)
De maybe (Di) as in Zeus or (Ge) as in earthmother
Demeter is the archetype of the mother, she is not known apartfrom being a mother
Her daughter is Persephone:there are severalsuggestions to Persephone’s paternity (Zeus) or
(Poseidon). SeveralLinear B tablets are dedicatedto Poseidon and the 2 Queens (the 2 Queens
(Poseidon). SeveralLinear B tablets are dedicatedto Poseidon and the 2 Queens (the 2 Queens
could be Demeter andPersephone)
Persephone alsonamedKore (means ‘girl’).
The storyis thatPersephone is out with her friends in the fields, Hades appears,seizes her and
brings her to his realm. Zeus does nothing because itappears to be an arrangedmarriage.
Persephone goes into the underworld with Hades. Noone saw the abduction exceptfor Helios (the
sun) and Hekate (representative of everything dark and mysterious of the woods, sometimes
associatedwith witchcraft,a darkgoddess). Demeter did not see the abduction so she wentballistic,
going across the world (Greece) looking for her lost daughter.
Eventually Demeter arrives at Eleusius, sitting ata well weeping Demeter is the goddess of the
harvestandbecause she is depressedthe harvestis poor. She is approached by the daughters of
Eleusius who offer the position of nanny to their new infant brother ‘Demophoon’. Because
Demeter is brokenheartedshe partakes in human life (human mothers must eventually saygoodbye
totheir daughters so Demeter is exhibiting humanity). Demeter decides to make Demophoon
immortal which involves the ritual of ‘burning awaythe mortality/humanity’. The mother,
Metanaira walks in on Demeter dosing her baby in fire, drops the baby and Demeter through
various events reveals her divinity. Instead she teaches the locals agriculture. Eventually Demeter
finds out from Helios where Persephone has gone. Zeus strikes a bargin with Demeter that
Persephone will spilt her time betweenHades andDemeter
Anetiological myth that explains the seasons
One of the few gods thatcanemphasize with humanity
Goddess of the hearth(where the fire burns, the hearth of the home) The goddess of the house
She doesn’tdo much but tend the hearth
One of the first generation goddess
Consideredto be a ‘spinster’ like character
She is both the ‘oldest and youngest’ Olympian
First born of Rhea and Cronos
Whenonce made a ritual offering it began with Hestia Hestia prote (Hestia first)
She has a very important role in the religious sphere but no role in myth
BothApollo andPoseidon pursued her but she retained her virginity
Hestia is given honour instead of marriage
The protector of married women and family
Wife of Zeus
Archetype of the union of marriage (despite the disaster of her own marriage)
While associatedwith marriage and the product of marriage she is not the obvious ‘mother’ figure,
nomother connotations with her.
Acts as more of persecuting Step-Mother. She makes like hell for the children of Zeus who are not
hers. Whenshe is not doing this she produces monsters
Typhoesus some stories suggestthat he was producedby Hera tochallenge Zeus. Hera gave
Typhoeus to Gaia to raise.
Easier tohate someone/something when you demonize it**
Inmyth, you are meantto detestHera
Samos oldest temple in Greek world (The Herion) dedicated to Hera. Soin religion she is very
Her transformation in myth is another wayof supplanting the goddess
Hera =hora (hour) = she is in the hour of marriage, the age of producing offspring
Epithets: Argos, Samos andmost importantly Hera Boopis (cow-eyed) this perhaps points to
thera-po-morphic and may have been a cow goddess. Hera alsois associatedwith the Egyptian