Connection between Woman and the Moon

This mysterious unity of the heavenly and the terrestrial realms personified in the Female is certainly the most powerful and long lasting religious image ever to evolve in the human species. And in fact, it is still with us today. Go into any Catholic church and look closely at the image of the mother of Jesus. She is usually depicted standing on the crescent Moon.


A man by the name of Alexander Marshack, in 1960's found a piece of bone near the headwaters of the Nile. The bone was close to 30,000 years old. But its age, however, was not the most exciting feature. What made this bone particularly unusually is that it had at periodic intervals, notches carved into it as if to mark a sequence of time. He later found many other such markings on bones, antlers, stones and goddess figures, in Czechoslovakia, Russia, Spain and Italy.

goddess-venus-lausell

After studying these numerous finds, Marshack was convinced that the lines were not made all at once as (like decoration). In fact, they were made at different times as one would find in any crude calendar. His theory is that these objects were the first attempts at keeping a record of time and that these markings were indications of lunar cycles.

This idea was quite shocking to his academic friends. For it implied a degree of mental sophistication on the part of our early ancestors, that no one had yet imagined. But then something else turned up, something that uncovered their eyes and pulled back the curtain. It is a solitary carving in the rock about 17 inches high, discovered in France, aged between 24,000 to 20,000 years old. It is a female figure standing upright. She is holding elevated in her right hand a bison's horn - crescent-shaped like the New Moon. The horn is notched with thirteen lines.

These mysterious thirteen lines became the centre of much discussion. Eventually, they came to be understood to indicate either the thirteen days from the visible New Moon to the Full or the thirteen New Moons of each yearly cycle.

The most astounding thing about this carving, however, is graphically indicated on her left hand. She is resting her left hand upon her swelling womb, showing all to see in no uncertain terms, a relationship between the cycles or phases of the Moon and the cycles of the womb. In this figure, the mystery and power of the celestial realms have become graphically infused and embodied in the Female Form.

This mysterious unity of the heavenly and the terrestrial realms personified in the Female is certainly the most powerful and long lasting religious image ever to evolve in the human species. And in fact, it is still with us today. Go into any Catholic church and look closely at the image of the mother of Jesus. She is usually depicted standing on the crescent Moon.

If we take off our glasses of the twentieth century and peer out into the darkness of our past, there is one image that dominates the night like no other - the Moon. Her ever changing phases, yet ever-renewing cycles captured the imagination of the human mind like no other image. And with her mysterious motions she wove the fabric of many myths and rituals all over the World.

At some point in our evolutionary journey, the Moon became the universal image of the eternal Goddess. The Moon governed not only the tides of the sea, but also the "tides" of the womb. The menstrual cycle coincides with the 28-day cycle of the Moon. Even today, in many parts of the world women still refer to their menstrual cycle as being in their "moon time".

The primary association between the cycles of menstruation and the phases of the Moon we can find in all early calendars. In many languages, the words for Moon, month, measurement and menstruation have either similar meanings or common root words. In Gaelic, for example, the words for "menstruation" and "calendar" are the same. Similar associations are seen all over the world.

A month was measured from one New Moon to the next, giving 13 New Moons for each year. Consequently, all early calendars had thirteen months in the year. For every New or Full Moon, we can find the corresponding festival. And in many parts of Europe, people continued observing these ancient festivals well into the Middle Ages.

The calendar then was not some distant abstraction to these individuals, but something that gave meaning and structure to their lives in ways we can scarcely imagine. It was a reality that recognized the seasons of increase and decrease, birth and death as rhythmic phases in a larger, ever-renewing cycle. Our ancestors did not perceive anything in terms of absolute opposites, only as complementary sequences in the spiral dance of Creation.

venus-von-willendorf

The ever changing, self-renewing lunar image of the Goddess became the unifying symbol of the Heavens and the Earth, and lent meaning and measure to all things. The three phases of the Moon Goddess reflected in the lives of all her children: human, animal and plant.

In the Northern latitudes, the New Moon became associated with spring, birth, and the growth of all living things. Like in nature, so in perception of Female as the maiden or young girl we can find similar correlation.

Associated with the Full Moon was summertime, when all life became fruitful. This phase of the Moon naturally became symbolic of motherhood.

The waning or decreasing Moon was associated with winter, when the Earth became less abundant. It also became associated with the Female, who ceased to flow her life-giving blood. Because she now retained the sacred blood of life, the older woman was regarded to be more powerful and wise. For this reason, in many societies the more elderly women were always the centre of power.

We find this mysterious relationship between the three phases of the Moon, the seasonal rhythms of the Earth, and the three stages in a woman's life. All of this we can find symbolically depicted in the lunar image of the Goddess. She represented the primary image that influenced nearly all concepts of Deity for at least 20,000 years.

Each of these three lunar aspects eventually became personified as a separate Goddess, giving rise to the most abstract concept of the Three in One, and the One in Three. These aspects were the origin of what much later became known as the Trinity.

In Greece, the three Goddesses were known as Athene, Aphrodite and Hecate. In Ireland, they were known as Ana, Babd and Macha; in India: Parvati, Durga and Uma.

goddess-aphrodite-greece-love

Eventually, the three Goddesses were replaced by Male Gods, or as in the case of Christianity, three masculine aspects of one God.

Through these kinds of associations, we are still able to get a small glimpse, of the once universally recognized bond between the concepts of Deity, the Moon and Females. The Moon Goddess was perceived to empower a woman, and menstrual blood was a sign of that empowerment. The whole concept of measurement of sequential time arouses from this perception. The menstrual and lunar cycles became the basis of all ancient calendars, which in turn became the governing principle for almost all activities of early societies, especially those activities centred around agriculture. Even today in many parts of the world, the cycles of the Moon are considered when planting or harvesting food crops. In this country, we have the Farmer's Almanac, which still associates times of planting with the cycles of the Moon.

Because of their mysterious association with the Moon Goddess, women were quite naturally seen to be the leaders of the tribe, clan or social structure. The women became the natural power holders, the initiators of the species and whole of their biological processes intertwined with spiritual context.

In the ancient and almost universal culture that we have been examining in detail, women didn't dominate men as in the later societies, where men had absolute power over women. We do not find any indications of a pyramid social structure, or hierarchy dominated by a female or a group of women. At the same time, we can not find evidence of the gathering of the wealth and power for this woman as we repeatedly find in the later societies ruled exclusively by male hierarchies. Rather, we find cooperative communities that had its primary ethic based on sharing, the sharing of food, natural resources and work. By every indication, these early communities sought to live in harmony with the organic and cyclic processes of Nature. They did not want to dominate or exploit their environment, a process that begins to be so typical of the later Bronze Age developments.

Also, these early communities showed no indication of any sign of violence. In their extensive artwork, there was no indication of any symbols of domination like spears, swords, or thunderbolts.  In later societies, in which the ruler or deity demands obedience under the threat of killing or violence we start to notice above mentioned symbols.. Rather the emphasis was on bonding, reinforcing the primal connection with the Source of Life and the cooperation between all Life forms.

Souce:

  • The Story of The Great Mother
  • Getty Images
  • Wikipedia

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