The Age of Aquarius, which we are entering, has a very decisive influence on what we could call “the search for the feminine”, or “feminine archetypes”. As a result, while the model of a patriarchal society is being debated in a deep crisis, “the Goddess” has begun to regain her ancient status. It is not only a question of equalizing the values, rights and social position of both sexes, but also of a profound cultural and spiritual change, in which the feminine aspects of the soul (essential in any process of self-realization) begin to take on the value they deserve.
Nor is it a question, of course, of imposing “the feminine” on “the masculine”, but rather of the essential synthesis of both.
It is not easy to delimit and define what the image of “the Goddess” encompasses. If we had to synthesize it in a few words, we would say that the Goddess embodies all the processes of nature: creation, fertility, motherhood, sexuality… But also aspects that go beyond, archetypal aspects associated with our own mind and, equally, with our psyche (the soul).
The first thing we realize is that the manifestation of the Goddess comprises very diverse forms and states. It is not possible to lock it in the stereotypes associated with what, popularly, is usually defined as “femininity”, because it is something much more complex, which includes aspects such as birth (life), subsistence, and destruction (death).
In this sense, the Goddess encompasses all the opposites, including the male and female, of what gives life and what takes it away.
In Greek mythology, the archetype of the Great Mother, as personification of Mother Earth, was represented by Gaia, the first cosmic creation after the initial Chaos (that indefinable thing that existed before everything, and comparable to the great formless darkness).
“Before all things was Chaos,” writes Hesiod in his Theogony,”and after that Gaia with a wide bosom, the ever-solid seat of all Immortals who inhabit the summits of snowy Olympus and dark Tartarus…”
In this sense, it seems evident that Gaia refers to the first emanation of the Unmanifested (Chaos) or, in other words, to its first manifestation as cosmic matter which, later on, will give rise to the heavens (Uranus) and the waters (Pontus).
Thus, in its most elevated aspect, Gaia is seen as the matrix of all living things (including the heavens, the gods of Olympus and the waters). In their densest aspects, they are the bodies of the Earth. We refer to “bodies”, since the Earth, like human beings, has seven bodies or sheaths.
Gaia was later replaced by her daughter Rhea, sometimes also called Cybele, a Phrygian goddess, who was worshipped in Rome as Magna Mater, the “Great Mother”, and identified with Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, equivalent to the Greek Demeter (Demeter and her daughter Persephone were central figures in the Eleusinian mysteries).
The Goddess and her cult had many names, although it is always the same essence, which includes both what we can call dense physical-matter and soul-matter. The cult of the Mother Goddess, at least in its Gnostic aspect and more luminous, has come to us, particularly through the Egyptian goddess Isis.
The creator of Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky, tells us about it.
As a goddess of mystery, she is generally represented with her face covered by an impenetrable veil, and on the frontispiece of her temple in Sais the following words were written: “I am all that has been, is and will be, and no mortal has ever yet removed the veil that hides my divinity from human eyes. (H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary)
The image of Isis as a mother breastfeeding her child was adopted by Christianity, under the numerous representations of the Virgin of the Milk (Christian version of Isis breastfeeding Horus), and of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in her arms. But although the image of the Goddess remained hidden in esoteric traditions, society (at least in the so-called first world) ended up being structured on the basis of a clear predominance of male rationalism, as opposed to its female counterpoint. The obvious result is a society lacking, in good part, affective values and, in particular, the recognition of our habitat, the Earth, and all that conforms the terrestrial scope, as sacred.
Today, few are capable of perceiving the Earth as the “Mother Goddess”, as an organic whole linked to the Solar Logos, a sacred and living unity that gives us life and which we need to continue living.
The sacred character of Mother Earth has been lost and, surely today more than ever, it is necessary to recover it. We live in an era in which Nature has become completely desacralized, where the Earth is not perceived as a living being, but as something that can be exploited without any consideration for the benefit, almost always, of a few. It is not by chance, therefore, that pollution of water, land and air has reached a critical point today that threatens to become a real catastrophe for all of us who share the blue planet.
By delving into the myth of the goddess, perhaps we can understand what spiritual aspects beat within it, as well as become aware of how such spiritual aspects were lost to a male god who, far from harmonizing with Nature, chose to try to subdue it and, in the long run, led to the opposition between spirit and matter. Such opposition has given rise to the belief that the spiritual world and the physical world are totally separate, leading us to assume that they in fact belong to different and opposed realities. In spite of the fact that the doctrine of dualism has deeply marked both the human soul and the way of approaching the sacred, we can say, however, that spirit and matter are not at war. Neither is the spirit and the flesh, given that the divine is found in the human, as well as in any place or object that we can embrace with our gaze. There is nothing, nor can there ever be, that is not divine. Yet, how often we try to separate “above” and “below,” the earthly and the heavenly, assuming that “above” or heavenly is good, and “below” or earthly is contaminated by “sin”. Such a way of approaching life responds only to our dualistic vision, to a lack of awareness of the all-encompassing Unity. Of course, in the process we call spiritual, sooner or later, the candidate is confronted with such a dichotomy. Unfortunately, there are few who, after facing the apparent duality between body and spirit, are able to break this taboo and dare to live fully in the body, knowing that the body is but one aspect (no doubt the densest and therefore darkest) of the luminous reality of the true Self.