For centuries, all over the world, visionaries have seen Mary—in France, Russia, Egypt, South America, USA, and, of course, Italy, to name a few. When we think of Lourdes, Fatima, or Medjugorje, Mary comes to mind.
But who was Mary really? Was she the mother of Jesus? Did she conceive without Joseph’s help? What’s the real story?
Anyone who studies Christian history comes to know that much of the Christian teachings, and much of the New Testament were fabricated by early Church fathers. It’s not necessarily true that they deliberately meant to deceive, but nothing is known of the historical Jesus, and nothing is historically known of his mother, the “Lady of Roses,” Mary.
The founders of the Christian Church had to take their best guesses, recording what they believed to be true of the many legends and stories, and deleting what they believed to be false. However, it becomes apparent, after studying Biblical and Church history that many of the early fathers were misogynists (woman haters) and used their position to subjugate any worship of Mary. As an example, consider what Tertullian (155-220 C.E.), a former pagan, turned powerful father of the Church said to contemporary women.
"And do you not know that you are an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age; the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway, the first deserter of the divine law; you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death, even the Son of God had to die."
From Barbara Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
Those are not the words of a man who believed in the equality of woman, nor in the divinity of Mary.
For the first few centuries of formalized Christianity, the Church fathers tried their best to discredit any goddess, especially the mother of Jesus, and forbade any mention of her that would even hint at divinity. They were afraid that the people, accustomed to worshipping a pagan goddess as the giver of life, would put the mother before Jesus. That simply would not do in a male dominant religion. Especially one that considered women just one step above cattle.
Anastasius insisted that Mary must never be called the Mother of God for “it is impossible that God should be born of a woman.” Thomas Aquinas stated that women had no souls. Epiphanius ordered, “Let the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit be worshipped, but let no one worship Mary.” Ambrose called Mary the temple of God but “Only He is to be adored who worked within the Temple.”
An early Christian sect called the Marcionites believed that Jesus could never touch vulgar female flesh, therefore was never born at all but appeared from Heaven fully grown.
On the other hand, up to the 5th century, there was a sect called the Marianites who claimed that Mary possessed the true qualities of divinity, more so than even Jesus. Church persecution finally extinguished these worshippers of Mary as Goddess.
In spite of all the persecution, denials and taboos about recognizing Mary as divine, the people would not be denied their Goddess. They clamored for a Mother Goddess to balance the masculine Trinity of God the FATHER, Christ the SON, and the Holy Ghost (whose gender is not identified, but is thought of as masculine). Once, Mary was worshipped as a part of the feminine trinity - Mary the MOTHER, Mary Magdalene the DAUGHTER, and Jesus’ sister Mary as the Holy Ghost.
Ancient mythologies and religions balance masculine and feminine deities. In all the pantheons of deified beings, gods and goddesses, saviors, messiahs, avatars, and so forth, each male had a female partner. Rama had Sita; Shiva had Kali and Parvati; Krishna had Rhada; Buddha had Kwan Yen; Ramakrishna had Saraden Devi; Zeus had Hera; Dionysus had Demeter; Quetzalcoatl had Cimalman (his Virgin Mother). In Mexico the virgin mother of the savior was Cicomecoatl; the Celtic savior Cu Chulainn was also born of a virgin mother whose name has been lost through the centuries. Mohammed had Fatima his divine daughter; Tammuz had Inanna; Osiris had Isis; Izanagi of Japan had Isanami; and, through the efforts of early Christians, Jesus was paired with Mary. Mary as the eternal Goddess, representing the feminine balance of the masculine Jesus.
The early Christian fathers tried to stamp out any hint of the female goddess concept in its religion. Any temple dedicated to a feminine deity was either destroyed or forbidden. The Christian patriarchal hierarchy tried all they could to belittle Mary. Epiphanius forbade anyone to worship Mary. Anastasius taught that Mary couldn’t be the mother of God because she was a woman and God could not be born of a woman.
The people wouldn’t stand for it—they wanted their Goddess. So, the church fathers, did what they needed to do in order to survive, they brought in a “new and improved” Mary. According to Mary Daly who wrote Beyond God the Father, the Church was failing, “destined to go down to bloody death amidst the bleeding corpses of its victims. . .” The people resurrected goddess worship. To avoid losing Christians to paganism, they relented and began teaching that Mary was indeed divine. Even though the new Mary was a composite of goddesses, the church presented her as the historical mother of Jesus, divine and pure. Teaching that she, not the pagan goddesses was the “Holy Mother of the Savior. “
Oddly enough, even though virgin birth of saviors is common in all ancient religions, the question of Mary’s virginity wasn’t thought of until the 6th century. Perhaps because the people demanded that the mother of the savior be a virgin like all the other mothers of gods. Could Jesus, the proclaimed only Son of God have a lesser mystical birth than Osiris, Krishna, Buddha, Quetzaloatl, or Tammuz? Certainly not!
According to Joseph Campbell and others, the mystical meaning of the virgin comes from the ancient myth of the cosmic mother manifesting the material world from virgin space. Whether or not the Church fathers were aware of this or not is unknown. However, Mary’s virginity was played to the hilt. It was emphasized more than any other aspect of her “history.” Unfortunately, Mary’s purity did nothing for the plight of women who continued to be considered “unclean” because of their sexuality. They were both cursed if they were barren and cursed if they bore children because of “original sin.”
After relenting on the subject of Mary’s divinity, the Church fathers went all out. They put forth a campaign to put Mary in the place of all other major goddesses. They erased the names of goddesses on pagan temples and replaced them with Mary’s. They took the attributes of the goddesses and gave them to Mary. They assigned to Mary, a compilation of Mariamne (Semitic); Aphrodite-Mari (Syrian); Juno; Isis; Maya (Moerae); Diana; and other goddesses from all over the known world.
The Church proclaimed Mary the supreme Mother, chaste, beautiful beyond all women, perfect in every way. They created a supernatural Mary for the people. This campaign was so successful that many Christians thought the church went too far and that Christianity was dedicated more to Mary than to Jesus, but that didn’t stop Mary’s popularity. The Catholics still refer to their religious institution as “Holy Mother Church.”
Is Mary then, merely a fabrication of the church to placate the people? The Hindus believe that at every turning of astrological ages (approximately every 2000+ years), an avatar (savior) takes human form to help raise human consciousness to meet the incoming energies of the New Age. Many believe that Jesus came to bring us out of the age of Moses (Aries) into the age of Pisces.
Each astrological age avatar had a feminine counterpart that resonated to the opposite sign of the zodiac. Jesus resonated to Pisces the Fish. We find references to fish in connection with Jesus scattered throughout the New Testament—fishers of men; gathering his disciples among fishermen; loaves and fishes; the Greek word icthus whose letters form the anagram “Jesus Christ Son of God,” is the Greek word for fish.
The opposite sign form Pisces is Virgo, the Virgin—pure, precise, nurturing, chaste. She is associated with wheat. Mary is often depicted with sheaves of wheat. And in the story of the loaves and fishes, Virgo is representative of loaves (wheat) and fish is representative of the sign Pisces (symbolized by two fish).
In pre Catholic teachings such as Cabbala and Gnostisism, the universal female energy is the activator of the universal masculine energy. It is the masculine energy that takes the cosmic energy and channels it into form. But there can be no manifestation without the feminine activating (birthing) energy.
It matters little that much of what is written by the Church about Mary’s life is false—her essence has survived the ages. She is the Eternal Goddess Mary, and will continue to be so, even if she appears again in a different form, with a different name and with a different “Savior.” She is timeless, indestructible, universal, purity of thought, word and deed, the ancient Mother of the universe, the activator of the male principle.
In my never-to-be-humble opinion, Jesus is equally a myth, an archetype of kindness and sacrifice in masculine form. But, we believe what makes us feel safe and comfortable. My beliefs are no more valid or invalid than anyone else's. They are just beliefs.
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