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This classic exploration of the Goddess through time and throughout the world draws on religious, cultural, and archaeological sources to recreate the Goddess religion that is humanity’s heritage. Now, with a new introduction and full-color artwork, this passionate and important text shows even more clearly that the religion of the Goddess--which is tied to the cycles of women’s bodies, the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the fertility of the earth--was the original ...
This classic exploration of the Goddess through time and throughout the world draws on religious, cultural, and archaeological sources to recreate the Goddess religion that is humanity’s heritage. Now, with a new introduction and full-color artwork, this passionate and important text shows even more clearly that the religion of the Goddess--which is tied to the cycles of women’s bodies, the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the fertility of the earth--was the original religion of all humanity.
In the beginning...was a very female sea. For two-and-a-half billion years on earth, all life-forms floated in the womb-like environment of the planetary ocean — nourished and protected by its fluid chemicals, rocked by the lunar-tidal rhythms. Charles Darwin believed the menstrual cycle originated here, organically echoing the moon-pulse of the sea. And, because this longest period of life's time on earth was dominated by marine forms reproducing parthenogenetically, he concluded that the female principle was primordial. In the beginning, life did not gestate within the body of any creature, but within the ocean womb containing all organic life. There were no specialized sex organs; rather, a generalized female existence reproduced itself within the female body of the sea.
Before more complex life forms could develop and move onto land, it was necessary to miniaturize the oceanic environment, to reproduce it on a small and mobile scale. Soft, moist eggs deposited on dry ground and exposed to air would die; life could not move beyond the water-hugging amphibian stage. In the course of evolution, the ocean — the protective and nourishing space, the amniotic fluids, even the lunar-tidal rhythm — was transferred into the individual female body. And the penis, a mechanical device for land reproduction, evolved.
The penis first appeared in the Age of Reptiles, about 200 million years ago. Our archetypal association of the snake with the phallus contains, no doubt, this genetic memory.
Among mammals, even among humans, parthenogenesis is not technically impossible. Every female egg contains a polar body with a complete set of chromosomes; the polar body and the egg, if united, could form a daughter embryo. In fact, ovarian cysts are unfertilized eggs that have joined with their polar bodies, been implanted in the ovarian wall, and started to develop there.
This is not to say that males are an unnecessary sex. Parthenogenesis is a cloning process. Sexual reproduction, which enhances the variety and health of the gene pool, is necessary for the kind of complex evolution that has produced the human species. The point being made here is simply that, when it comes to the two sexes, one of us has been around a lot longer than the other.
In The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality, Mary Jane Sherfey, M.D., described her discovery in 1961 of something called the inductor theory. The inductor theory stated that "All mammalian embryos, male and female, are anatomically female during the early stages of fetal life." Sherfey wondered why this theory had been buried in the medical literature since 1951, completely ignored by the profession. The men who made this herstory-making discovery simply didn't want it to be true.
Sherfey pioneered the discussion of the inductor theory; and now, with modifications based on further data, its findings are accepted as facts of mammalian — including human — development. As Stephen Jay Gould describes it, the embryo in its first eight weeks is an "indifferent" creature, with bisexual potential. In the eighth week, if a Y-chromosome-bearing sperm fuses with the egg, the gonads will develop into testes, which secrete androgen, which in turn induces male genitalia to develop. In the absence of androgen, the embryo develops into a female. There is a difference in the development of the internal and external genitalia, however. For the internal genitalia — the fallopian tubes and ovaries, or the sperm-carrying ducts — "the early embryo contains precursors of both sexes." In the presence or absence of androgen, as one set develops the other degenerates. With the external genitalia, "the different organs of male and female develop along diverging lines from the same precursor." This means, in effect, that the clitoris and the penis are the same organ, formed from the same tissue. The labia majora and the scrotum are one, indistinguishable in the early embryonic stages; in the presence of androgen "the two lips simply grow longer, fold over and fuse along the midline, forming the scrotal sac."
Gould concludes: "The female course of development is, in a sense, biologically intrinsic to all mammals. It is the pattern that unfolds in the absence of any hormonal influence. The male route is a modification induced by secretion of androgens from the developing testes."
The vulnerability of the male newcomer within the female environment is well known. Vaginal secretions are more destructive to the Y-bearing sperm. The mortality rate is higher among neonate and infant males. Within the womb the male fetus, for the first two months, is protected by being virtually indistinguishable from a female. After that, it must produce large amounts of the masculinizing hormone in order to define itself as male, to achieve and to maintain its sexual identity. For all we know the Near Eastern myths upon which our Western mythologies are built, those which portray the young god or hero battling against a female dragon, have some analog here, in utero, where the male fetus wages a kind of chemical war against rebecoming female.
|I||Women's Early Culture: Beginnings||1|
|The First Sex "In the Beginning, We Were All Created Female"||2|
|Marx and the Matriarchy||13|
|The Original Black Mother||21|
|Women as Culture Creators||33|
|The First Speech||39|
|II||Women's Early Religion||45|
|The First Mother||46|
|The Organic Religion of Early Women||50|
|Female Cosmology: The Creation of the Universe||55|
|The Cosmic Serpent||57|
|The World Egg: Yin/Yang||63|
|The Gynandrous Great Mother||66|
|Mysteries of the Throne, the Cave, and the Labyrinth||71|
|The Cult of the Dead||77|
|The Mother of Wild Animals and the Dance||79|
|III||Women's Culture and Religion in Neolithic Times||87|
|The First Settled Villages||88|
|Southeast Europe: The-Bird-and-Snake Goddess||91|
|The Megalithic Tomb: The Moon and the Stone||96|
|The Earth Mound as Cosmic Womb of the Pregnant Goddess||104|
|The Islands of Malta and Gozo||110|
|Twelve Circling Dancers||116|
|Earth Spirit, Serpent Spirals, and Blind Springs||124|
|Underground Caverns and Alchemic Mysteries||131|
|The Goddess at Avebury in Britain||133|
|Moon Time: The Great Intellectual Triumph of Women's Culture||139|
|The Cow Goddess and New Foods||161|
|Mother and Daughter, and Rebirth||165|
|The Moon Tree||171|
|The Dark of the Moon and Moon Blood||176|
|Moon and Womb||189|
|Menstrual Rites: Rights and Taboos||191|
|The Original Woman: Witch, Rebel, Midwife, and Healer||200|
|Goddess of the Witches||208|
|Crete and the Bronze Age||212|
|Tantra and the World Spine||219|
|IV||Patriarchal Culture and Religion||229|
|God as Father||230|
|The Olympian Male||235|
|Sun's Victory over the Dark Mother||244|
|The Sun God||253|
|The Jealous God||264|
|Split in the Garden||276|
|Life as a Mistake||288|
|Denial of the Mother: Denial of the People||315|
|The American Split||330|
|"The Divine Homosexual Family"||346|
|Beyond the Male God and His Machine...||391|
|...The Magic Flight Home||410|
|Respell the World||425|
|Photograph and Illustration Credits||492|
Posted May 10, 2013
Posted June 10, 2006
This book is very truthful and very detail-oriented. I have never read a book that has been more real, just reading it brings back memories(from where, i can only guess). The Great Cosmic Mother has changed my life, and it is hard to find books out there that are dedicated to the past, present and the future. I recommend everyone to get a copy, you will be glad you did.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2001
For about 3 or 4 thousand years women have been told that we are the root of all evil. Women are the reason for the curse of Judaeo/Christian Original Sin. We are the temptress, whore, dark side etc., All of this and thousands of years of female enslavement is man's and his patriarchal religions' (Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, Hindu and so forth) attempts to dominate women and destroy the first religion, as well as the facts that women were the first, most knowledgable and most powerful practitioners/celebrants in this joyus,life affirming ancient religion. Women invented and/or discovered all of the important attributes of civiliation and for the last few thousand years men and their God have built civilization to suit themselves on the backs of their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. THE GREAT COSMIC MOTHER will take you on a journey of biological, historical and psychological discovery. It will reveal the ultimate joy, sacredness and holiness that is woman and therefore our birthright. Wiccan, pagan, feminist or woman. This is a must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2000
Never before have I come across a book that so thoroughly covers the great tale of our beginnings and the enormous contributions of women to the foundations of 'cosmic' and earthly life. Sjoo and Mor's work is a wonderful source book for those interested in the largely hidden and obscured female dimensions of the human experience. The authors present a profound and substanial argument against the destructive influences of patriarchal societies which have deliberately attempted to erased the Womb/Mother/Goddess from the very world in which She has created. This book is a must read...a must know...a must embrace. Many thanks to Sjoo and Mor for this enormous contribution and for giving homage and respect to the 'Original Black Mother'. Ache.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2000
In-depth history of the earliest Goddess-based religions and beliefs from a wide variety of cultures. Great for those following an earth-based religion, or those simply interested in Goddess theology. As a Wiccan, I found it very helpful in learning the origins of early Goddess worship, but as I am not Dianic or very feminist I found it was a little harsh on the male aspect of religion and deity. If you approach this book with an open mind, you can learn a lot.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.