For me the most poetic description of the Great Goddess is by the late architect Mimi Lobell: “The primordial Goddess represents the feminine principle rather than a personified deity who is out there independently, acting willfully in the world. She is undifferentiated. Everything is in Her as potential, and because She is so prehistoric, there are no words written about Her so She really has no name. Imagine the differentiated Goddess as stars. Then imagine the stars as pinholes in the vault of heaven. Beyond the pinholes are the archetypes, the spirits, and the divine beings, and the stars let their intelligence and consciousness come into our world.” (From Lobell in Biaggi, Footsteps, p. 24)
The Goddess predates God by tens of thousands of years and, despite fanatical repression, she thrives today, rebirthing herself for the Third Millennium. The power and personality of the Goddess flow through the early history of Homo Sapiens and possibly earlier still. She is a constant presence throughout the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras. The gravesites and shelters of Neanderthal peoples furnish signs of her presence and power; they continue to be abundant in the shelters, camps and cave sanctuaries of our Cro-Magnon ancestors especially in Europe but in other places as well. She is the personification of the reproductive energies of nature: birth, death, fertility, transformation and motherhood. Evidence of her worship can be found only from an examination of the artifacts (countless female figurines), from the mythology and from anthropological analogy of the cultures in question. Some of the most famous figurines that come to mind are the Venus of Willendorf from Austria and the Venus of Laussel from France.
These prehistoric manifestations of the Great Goddess form the basis upon which all her later images and personae were built. The later goddesses, products of patriarchy, are more differentiated and developed. Their stories and deeds have been recorded in history, literature, and art. They have definite personalities with strengths and weaknesses we can identify with, and they manage to live in a male-dominated world.
Contrary to the popular image, not all goddesses of old were sweetness and light. Warrior goddesses were powerful figures with supreme self-confidence and an "I can do anything" attitude. Today that translates to empowerment, and pushes us to stretch beyond our comfort zones to explore and experience all that life holds for us.
During the past sixty years, the Goddess movement has attracted an international audience of intelligent, independent and motivated women and men who are interested in seeking wider knowledge about our first numinous presence—the divine feminine. Only by taking up the discussion can we hope to venerate the powerful female qualities of nurturance, life affirmation, and respect for the Earth in all Her glory and munificence. Mother Earth deserves nothing less than an end to aggression and destruction. In Her, it’s possible to find meaning and passion for ourselves and others, and learn to live in harmony with Her bounty.
Much has been written about the history and impact of the Goddess. To learn more, click here.
– Cristina Biaggi, Ph.D.