Friday, September 30, 2011

Virgin Mother Goddess

In this article, I propose to address only the iconic symbolism of Virgin Mary and its evolution. The worship of Mother Mary as the Mother of God is an all prevalent ritual practice in the Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. While in a so called puritan sense, the protestant movement has done away with worship of all other entities other than Jesus, the fundamental psychological need in worship, where there needs to be transference from the iconic to the abstract in stages of easy ascendance, has been ignored.

Carl Jung points out the need for the relation to 'mother archetype' in the psyche’s framework in invoking deep-felt outlets for psychic energy through dreams and other forms of visualization.

The Great Mother is portrayed in myth as a host of archaic images, as divine, ethereal and virginal. Commonly conceived of as a nature goddess, the recurrent theme of nature and motherly care go hand in hand. As the prominent feature of almost all early Indo-European societies, the mother archetype manifests itself in a host of deities and symbolism. Always ambivalent, the Great Mother is an archetype of feminine mystery and power who appears in forms as diverse as the queen of heaven and the witches prevalent in myth and folktale.

The name given to Mary is “Theotokos” which literally means bearer of God or one who gives birth to God. The theological controversy is not the subject of discussion as how the primal cause can be birthed. There are volumes written on this subject through invoking the Holy Trinity. But if we look at the linkage of how the human creation can access the Divine realm then we have the mythical symbolism finding a meaning in our ritual worship. The Virgin mother is a very ancient concept in middle eastern cultures.

In reality, the virgin-mother motif is common enough in pre-Christian cultures to demonstrate its unoriginality in Christianity.
In “Pagan and Christian Creeds”, Edward Carpenter recites a long list of virgin mothers:
  • Devaki, the radiant Virgin of the Hindu mythology, became the wife of the god Vishnu and bore Krishna, the beloved hero and prototype of Christ.
  • With regard to Buddha, St. Jerome says "It is handed down among the Gymnosophists (Naked philosophers) of India that Buddha, the founder of their system, was brought forth by a Virgin from her side."
  • The Egyptian Isis, with the child Horus on her knee, was honored centuries before the Christian era, and worshiped under the names of "Our Lady," "Queen of Heaven," "Star of the Sea," "Mother of God," and so forth.
  • Before her, Neith, the Virgin of the World, whose figure bends from the sky over the earthly plains and the children of men, was acclaimed as mother of the great god Osiris.
  • The saviour Mithra, too, was born of a Virgin, as we have had occasion to notice before; and on Mithraist monuments the mother suckling her child is not an uncommon figure.
  • The old Teutonic goddess Hertha (the Earth) was a Virgin, but was impregnated by the heavenly Spirit (the Sky); and her image with a child in her arms was to be seen in the sacred groves of Germany.
  • The Scandinavian Frigga, in much the same way, being caught in the embraces of Odin, the All-father, conceived and bore a son, the blessed Balder, healer and saviour of mankind.
  • Quetzalcoatl, the (crucified) saviour of the Aztecs, was the son of Chimalman, the Virgin Queen of Heaven.
  • Even the Chinese had a mother-goddess and virgin with child in her arms.
The iconic symbolism of a virgin Mother Goddess is the 'waking consciousness' level entry into the creative and protective archetype of the Mother Goddess of the 'Universal unconsciousness' field, the link being the imagery, dream, vision or internal and intuitive medium of elevated consciousness through which one can reach out to the Divine plenum.

Let us move beyond dogma and theology to an inner experience of the interceding Mother who can birth us into the Divine realm.

Love to you all.


  1. Dear Tibs,
    It has been an enriching read as always. Mother Goddess as Shaktiroopa, the kinetic principle of the Impersonal Brahman is indeed very meaningful when it comes to destruction of the evil forces and of Her enveloping kindness, easily acceptible to the psyche of mankind when compared to that of a Father God..

  2. Thank you dear Bhaskar. Your comment beautifully captures the essence of the Blog.