The Great Goddess
Prior to the assertive imposition of the male patriarchy upon society several millennia ago, The Great Goddess defined a matriarchal society substantially quite different from that which followed. The differences are as easily conceived as the differences between Venus, the Goddess of Beauty, and Mars, the God of War. 
One of the best descriptions of the Goddess is the traditional “charge of the Star Goddess” provided here in a version by Starhawk:
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.
Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold --
All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and
humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning
will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery:
for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never
find it without.
For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that
which is attained at the end of desire.
This speaks volumes of why the Goddess was worshipped with such reverence for such a long time -- the course of The Great Cycle. But in the Third Millennium B.C.E., the Age of Taurus (the astrological sign inimately associated with the Goddess) gradually gave way to the Age of Aries (a sign very much associated with the masculine gods -- see, e.g. the Age of Pisces). In the process, the goddess religions and spiritual practices were finally abandoned or forced underground. The holy priestesses of Sumer and Akkad -- as well as the Scarlet Women of Egyptian History -- became equivalent to the Whores of Babylon. The profound Descent into Hades by the Goddess Inanna (a Sumerian poem of 415 lines) was “edited down” to Ishtar’s Babylonian myth of only 145 lines. Astrology was changed profoundly from an Astrology According to the Goddess to one giving all power to the god. Competition replaced cooperation.
The curious aspect of this change in the fortunes of the Goddess is that in virtually every mythology, it is the Goddess who gives birth to the world. The patriarchal problem seems to stem from the fact that some of her offspring were male! Whether it was Nyx, who laid the cosmic egg out of which the world was born, Gaia, the Great Mother Earth Goddess who is said to have come out of the dark alone, or the sea Goddess, Tethys (aka Tiamat or Nammu), from whom all the goddesses and gods emerged; it is always the feminine that arrives first. In the case of the Sumerian Goddess, Ninki, it is she who does the “labor” to get mankind started. Her half-brother, Enki, may have helped in the science part, but the one going through the birthing itself -- up close and personal -- is Ninki.
Mythology may be thought of as not particularly relevant in our technological, scientific society, but just as incomprehensible science is often classified as Magic; brief archetypal histories are often called Mythology. In other words, if we knew more, then both magic and mythology would not be needed to explain things. The more we learn of the myths, the more we see the scientific and historical basis for their stories -- even to the point that we must inevitably realize the fundamental truths of what is being told in story form.
Accordingly, when the Sumerian myths tell of the Goddess, Ninki (the half-sister of Enki), and her giving birth to Adam, we can think of this tale as better than a history: It is, in fact, Herstory. With the scientific details presented in the tablets of Sumeria and the other early civilizations in the Tigris-Euphrates valley -- the “Fertile Crescent” from which all the biblical patriarchs from Adam to Abraham, i.e. the Adams Family derive -- it becomes clear that the tales are basically true. Thus while the Sumerian God of Wisdom, Enki, might be recognized as the “Father of mankind”, it was Ninki who did the “labor”, including the scientific work as well, birthing Adama from her own womb.
Notwithstanding Enki’s claim to fame as the God of Wisdom, there is a strong emphasis on the Goddess as the source of all wisdom. The “sophy” in philosophy, for example, is derived from Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom, the latter so beautifully described in the Bible in the Book of Proverbs. There is even the tradition that it is the blood, the Star Fire, that contains the wisdom. Thus, when the female goes through menopause, she thereafter keeps her blood and becomes the “Crone”, i.e., the wise woman. That aspect of The Goddess Within is fundamental to the Delphic quest to know thyself.
Fundamental to any understanding of the Goddess is her three fold nature. Known as the Triple Goddess, she is Virgin, Mother, and Crone. (“Virgin” in this context, however, is not about sex, but is more accurately defined as: “beholden to no man”. Aphrodite, for example, was a “Virgin Goddess” -- and trust me, she was no prude.) During the matriarchal period, all three aspects of the Goddess were revered, but with the coming of the patriarchy, only the Mother received any respect at all. (Undoubtedly due to the fact that the men couldn’t figure out how to have sons without a mother! On the other hand, it is possible to fertilize an egg with an egg, and thus eliminate the need for a father! Oops!)
Another difference between the god and goddess is that the god is a linear thinker, while the goddess emphasizes the cyclical nature of reality. The Goddess has again taken the high ground, because Cycles, or Vibrations (the latter being a manifestation of the former), are an integral aspect of the universe, our physical, psychological and spiritual growth, and our day-to-day lives. From the Harmony of the Spheres to the ups and downs of the stock market, from the characteristics of human generations to personal biorhythms, cycles play the fundamental role.
In the end, it is the Death and Rebirth cycle of the Goddess which drives all else. The difficulty occurs when we concentrate upon the first part of the cycle and forget about the second part. Because within this cycle is the elimination of the old and the generation of the new -- and inevitably, the new is a vast improvement over the old. Shifts in the Paradigms are inevitably beneficial, even when the transitional part, the baggage shedding, and the letting go portions are often anxiety ridden.
Then there’s The Great Cycle. On the one hand, the Precession of the Equinoxes, and on the other hand, the comings and goings of the Great Goddess. Indications are that the current age, the eminent completion of the Age of Pisces, the “Dark of the Moon” phase, and the “end of time” of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 A.D., are all leading inexorably to the Return of the Goddess in the very near future.
Accordingly, it might be wise to become aware of a few of the traditions honoring the goddess... just in case. For example:
· The Egyptian goddess Neith (who may be related to an ancient Athena or Aphrodite) is said to have emerged from the primeval floodwaters. Her name means: “I have come from myself.” The inscription of her temple at Sais reads, “I am all that has been, that will be, and no mortal has yet been able to lift the veil that covers me.”
· The Great Goddess is perhaps best described in terms of the Goddess Archetypes, in particular, the description of Inanna. The more traditional Greek Archetypes -- Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, and so forth -- can be thought of as different aspects or moods of the Goddess. In other words, she likes to change her mind. Without warning. Without reason. And it is not man’s fate to ever understand the why, wherefore, or when of it. Don’t even try. Forget it. Live with it. Ah, geez!
· Lilith was a handmaiden to the goddess Inanna. “To enter into the figure of Lilith is to remember a time in the ancient past when women were honored and praised for initiating and fully expressing their personal freedom and sexual passion.” Lilith brought in the men from the fields to the holy temple at Erech for the sacred, sexual customs.  As Adam’s wife, Lilith refused to be “under” him -- and thus she was banished by the patriarchy! Lilith was not the shy, retiring type!
· Sexuality honors the Goddess: “Among the most sacred customs of the Goddess, in all three of her manifestations, were the sexual rites in which her priestesses would have ritual intercourse with the members of the community who came to the temple to worship Her. These priestesses acted as channels to bring the Goddess’ divine blessing of love and fertility into the lives of human beings. Warriors, returning home from battle, would first come to these priestesses to be ritually cleansed from the stains of having killed. The recipients of this blessing participated in a rite in which they could be purified, healed, and regenerated through the sexuality of the Goddess, which was enacted within a ritual context.”  Wives often entered the temple to have inter-course with strangers as a form of worship. Meanwhile, Tantric Sex is all about offering up the orgasm to the Goddess -- but being fully allowed to enjoy all the rest of the love making.
Hey! The last part doesn’t sound all that bad!
 Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, ACS Publications, San Diego, 1986, pages 187, 190, 33.
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