Saturday, January 27, 2007

FEMALE Monotheism, ANYONE?

Goddess forbid I should leave you with the impression that all archaeologists pooh-pooh the Goddess. Here’s a pretty impressive dude who claims the Goddess was "a supreme being" all across the Near and Middle East from at least 10,000 BC all the way up to the time Yahweh reared his War-God head. This highly respected archaeologist even serves up the term “female monotheism”:

“Throughout the total duration of the Neolithic across the whole of the Near and Middle East, a unique ‘ideology’ is found … organized around two key symbols: one [is] female. Can she perhaps be derived from the first female statuettes known in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe and spread as far as Siberia? … She was not a ‘fertility symbol’ but a genuine mythical personality, conceived as a supreme being and universal mother, in other words a goddess who crowned a religious system which one could describe as ‘female monotheism’ in the sense that all the rest remained subordinated to her. The other [symbol], incarnate in the form of the Bull, is male…. At Catalhoyuk he appears subordinated to the Goddess by filial relationship, but he nevertheless ranks as the second supreme figure…” (Cauvin 2002: 32).

“Thus there is the celebrated statuette of Catalhoyuk, the Goddess, obese, giving birth, seated on panthers that serve as her throne; at Hacilar, the same person, equally seated on a panther, holds in her arms sometimes an infant, sometimes a young feline. Thus … are the ideas of fertility, of maternity, of royalty and of being the mistress of wild animals. Here are all the traits of the Mother Goddess who dominates the [Near and Middle Eastern] pantheon right up to the time of the male-dominated monotheism of Israel” (Cauvin 2002: 29-31; there’s a picture page in between this quote).

The book these quotations come from is Cauvin’s The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture, 2002, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. "Jacques Cauvin is Directeur de Recherches emerite of the CNRS [the French National Scientific Research Council]. He is the founder of a CNRS-funded multidisciplinary research team that has worked at the Institut de Prehistoire Orientale at Jal├Ęs for more than twenty years on the beginnings of sedentary village life and the origins of farming in the Near East.”


Morgaine said...

AWESOME!!! Maybe you should share that over at WaPo. I wonder if she has read any of her responses?

That author needs to learn some Goddess terms:
*Monotheasm - believing in one supreme Goddess
*Consort- the male subordinate/mate of the Goddess

He recognizes the structure but he doesn't have the vocabulary to describe it.

Nice catch, Athana!

Irenesson said...

Any talk about ancient "female monotheism" is pure rubbish. No-one can know with any degree of certainty, exactly what deities the neolithic people worshipped.

But fertility is the most natural deity for any people anytime, and worship of a Mother Goddess seems perfectly likely. But fertility of course includes a male counterpart, which makes monotheism impossible. Monotheism has always been oriented towards a (single) male deity. Polytheism is and has always been man's natural spiritual choice. Monotheism is a late abnormality, and neolithic people certainly had no need for the intolerance and xenophobia embedded and included in monotheism, they were too few.

The preposterous claim looks more like a vain attempt by a stout monotheists to claim "deep roots", although it should be clear to anyone with any serious insight, that monotheism isn't much older than Abraham, i.e. circa 1800 BCE.

Athana said...

“fertility of course includes a male counterpart…”

Not necessarily, my sweet.

BTW, Irene's son, what’s your background that you so confidently contradict a seasoned archaeologist also the Director of the National Scientific Research Council of a major European country?

Athana said...

Maybe I will take this over to WaPo, Morgaine. And thnx for the term "monotheasm." Hadn't heard it before, but of course it makes sense.

Morgaine said...

Hey, Athana - yep, it's just like 'thealogy' changing that o to an a for Goddess.

Irene's son has a lot of misconceptions. I have the impression that this is a very young (under 25) person speaking, which means that reasonable discourse is unlikely. I just don't have the energy to deal with sophomoric ego anymore.


sopka said...

I always wondered about male archeologists and anthropologists I majored for five years in their field and I have heard dousies of theories that make radical thealogy sound mainstream. Like why when a male body is painted or tatooed it is the development of spirituality and religion yet in woman it means she might be important or they are keeping away evil spirits. Goddess figures are sex toys, male figure ushers in the concsiouness of man from animal consciousness. Also why was it only after female forensic anthropologists started looking at fossils was it discover that there was little size difference among genders in prehistoric tribes of people postulating gender size difference among homo sapiens in modern culture is caused by selective breeding of females to a standard of beauty emphasizing weakness and small stature. Maybe leading to the mordern ages plague female death in birth. Also they proved that many Hunter and warrior grave were occupied by females especially in russia and the steppe. How did these male anthropolgist miss looking at the pelvis to judge sex and simply assumed they were male by accoutroments left in the grave. Alot of male anthropolgy is fueled by modern ethnocentric assumption.

Athana said...

Interesting stuff, sopka. It's true that many men like tiny women. Thankfully that seemed to change a little -- at least in the fifties and sixties. We had some actresses who were fairly large women. Sophia Loren, for example. And Jane Fonda isn't that small, is she? And Barbara Bush must outweigh George by a few score pounds.

Morgaine said...

Unfortuantely, that trend has passed and now men want tiny little women again. Ultimately, that whole "double zero" obsession fueled by Hollywood is damaging to the whole species.

Silveryfae said...

Men want tiny women to augment their huge egos. But I guess women cause a lot of wounding to the male ego by worshipping large men. Diversity is more interesting.

Silveryfae said...

Men want tiny women to augment their huge egos. But I guess women cause a lot of wounding to the male ego by worshipping large men. Diversity is more interesting.