Many global cultures refer to their matristic epochs as the sacred feminine. A Matristic ( partnership) society centred on the traditional thought of the feminine values of nurture, care, cooperation, protection, unconditional mutual respect, reciprocity and connectedness to the Earth – in short, a matristic order recognises all life springs from the feminine. While being concerned for women’s rights and well-being, needs are broadly involved with a source of energy in all its manifestations. It is a restoration of the balance of unchecked patriarchy.
Few entities have revered the All-Mother vibrant worship and devotion in humanity’s long and varied history. Also commonly referred to as the Great Mother, this figure would find expression in multiple forms throughout the world’s innumerable cultural traditions and historical epics. In her most essential representation, this figure would symbolise the sanctity and provenance of the earth itself.
This intimate interrelationship between human cultural manifestation and the natural world is beautifully enunciated in the words of Marija Gimbutas (1989) in her seminal work The Language of the Goddess:
The Goddess, in all her manifestations, was the symbol of the unity of life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, tomb and cave, 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. (p. 321)
The legacy of the All-Mother stretches back many thousands of years. It is widely understood to exemplify the evolution of nature worship as expressed in human artistic representation and religious ritual (Baring and Cashford 1993).
The Great Mother in the Evolution of Consciousness
In the tradition of Jungian depth psychology, the feminine principle exists as an essential component in individual spiritual development and the collective evolution of the human species (Jung 1963). Erich Neumann (1954; 1955/1983), one of Jung’s students and most trusted colleagues, produced an extensive study on this subject that outlines the period of the Great Mother as one of the most fundamental stages in human history.
During this time, human beings were thought to have ascended to transpersonal levels of consciousness for the first time, especially in the form of shamanic trance. This emphasis on heightened spirituality found expression in personified forms that included “figurines representing certain deities, priestesses, and other mythical personas” (Gimbutas and Dexter 1999, p. 4). Central to this experience of ascent into higher celestial domains is the theme of the world axis, or axis Mundi.
In ancient cultures, “the archetype of the world axis produced natural models of the All-Mother eternal life essence in all living things and rituals projected onto natural features like trees and surrounding the natural world.
One of “the most ancient of religious impulses was that of animism, in which natural phenomena and the land and all within it, animate or inanimate, were seen as being suffused with spiritual qualities, as being ensouled” (Devereux 2000, p. 20). In recent-ing to such characteristics, Eric Neumann (1955/1983) emphasized that:
numinous sites of a pre organic life, which experienced in participation mystique with the Great Mother, are mountain, cave stone, pillar, and rock—including the childbearing rock—and throne, seat, dwelling place, an incarnation of the Great. It is no accident that ‘stones’ are the oldest symbols of the Great Mother Earth, from Cybele and the stone of Pessinus (relocated to Rome) to the Islamic Kaaba and the rock of the temple in Jerusalem, also the omphaloi, the navel stones, which we find in so many parts of the world. (p. 260)
O Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019 D. A. Leeming (ed.), Encyclopedia ofPsycholou and Religion, https://d0i.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9 200204-2
The All-Mother in World Culture
As outlined above, it was through stones and other symbolic representations of the Earth Mother that this sense of sanctity was expressed, and continued over the centuries and later developed into many of the iconic symbols that still be found today in cultural and religious disciplines throughout the world (Neumann 1955/1983).
In European based cultures, for example, the most immediate example of this phenomenon is represented by the Christmas tree, which derives from the ancient and widespread practice of tree worship:
The numinous-feminine character of the tree speaks to us in the romanticism of Greece and the Germanic countries, and the Old Testament. We know— tree cult on the heights; the worship of the cult pole of Asherah, of heaven; and the ritual dance around the tree—from the polemics against it in the Old Testament.
In this aspect, the tree belongs to that stratum of life most directly attached to the earth. Older than this stratum is only that of the sacred stones and mountains, which along with water, are direct incarnations of the great Earth Mother. (pp. 259—260)
In the Americas, animals also held great sway as representatives of the Earth Goddess and her sacred covenant with humanity. The inherent strengths and survival Great Mother
Exploration and experience that arose during this period con-responding represented through such structures as the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia, which signified a meaningful transformation and extension of the powers of the Earth Goddess. Campbell arüculated this critical development as follows:
In the Neolithic village stage of this development and dispersal, the focal figure of all mythology and worship was the bountiful Goddess Earth, the mother and nourisher of life and receiver of the dead for rebirth. In the earliest period, such a mother-goddess may be thought of only as a local patroness of fertility.
However, in the temples even of the higher civilizations (Sumer, c. 3500-2350 B.C.), the Great Goddess of most profound concern was undoubtedly more than that. She was already, as she is now in the Orient, a metaphysical symbol: the arch personification of the power of Space, Time, and Matter, within whose bounds all beings arise and die: the substance of their bodies, the configuration of their lives and thoughts, and receiver of their dead.
And everything having form or name—including God personified as good or evil, merciful or wrathful—was her child, within her womb. (p. 7)
“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Revelation Chapter: 12 Verse: 6. King Kames Version
From the framework above, one observes the Great Mother, emphasizing fertility, nourishment, and the sacredness of the earth, the personified and holy deity of the Great Earth All-Mother, with her markedly expanded spiritual powers cosmological functions.
This metamorphosis resulted in the emergence of such iconic figures as Isis, Shakti, Prakriti, and Sophia, which all belong to this widely pervasive archetype of transcendent and spiritually advanced insight (Neumann 1955/1983).
And with this revolutionary transformation of the Great Goddess, it thus becomes necessary ‘to distinguish these two characters of the Feminine, which in their interpenetration, coexistence, and antagonism, are an essential part of the Feminine as a whole. These are the elementary and the transformative characters of the Feminine” (p. 24).
The Great Mother’s evolution in mythic form from fertility figure to icon of spiritual transformation would transcend numerous incarnations spanning thousands of years, and represented, according to Joseph Campbell, “a prodigious transformation, certainly the most important in the history of the world” (quoted in Wilber 1981/1996, p. 93). Indeed, so extensive was her proliferation and dispersal throughout world history that no other mythic figure can be said to have held more significant sway or reverence.
The All-Mother manifests images as symbolic structures such as the world mountains. The All-Mother Earth divine natural qualities is a compelling expression in a manner that confirms the divine union between all earth’s creatures and its creations—world tree, cosmic mountain, personified divinity, animal deity, and sacred stone. And despite the degradation suffered by the earth in recent centuries and the attendant subjugation of the feminine principle, such mythic images speak to us still, mirroring a place within and pointing to the sacredness of the natural world of which they are divine and eternal reflections.
They talk to the very nature of our beings—to the deep and abiding awareness that humanity and the earth are one—and they reveal the earthy hold of All-Mother Earth noble assesses as a sacred place that awaits our redemptive return. In the words of Gimbutas (1989):
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 strong roots of earthly life ensued, the results of which are apparent in our contemporary society. But the cycles never stop turning, and now we find the Goddess re-emerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us to hope for the future, reluming us to our most ancient human roots. (p. 321)
“And to the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” Revelation Chapter 12 Verse 14
Return of the Great Mother
Outsmart The Fox
The keeping box comes into life at five years old as a song. The package was given to me, Bugal Wena, on the same day as the Square dance ceremony place reactivation on Sunday 26 March 2017. It was a surreal moment on that day. The mantra for five decades:
“The debil is a sly old fox. If I catch him I’ll put him in a box. Lock the door and throw away the key for all those tricks he played on me.”
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis Chapter: 3 Verse: 15. King James Version
One Sky One Earth One Lore