Moon Gods and Godesses part 1 – The power of the matriarch

Moon Gods and Godesses part 1 – The power of the matriarch

Here is a new LWTM series that introduces you to the world of moon gods and goddesses – not strictly biodynamic, but nevertheless fascinating. We will delve into where the legend of some of these goddesses come from, and how people worshipped them…

For the last 2,000 years, the religious and political world has largely been male-dominated. But early men worshipped many goddesses, depicted as independent, intelligent, and fierce women.

The Earth Mother goddess 

The ancient societies recognized very early on that the moon and female fertility cycles go hand in hand. It is a well-known fact that women living nearby synchronize their periods and this close link led to a raft of moon goddesses being worshipped. Throughout history, humans worshipped moon goddesses. They were seen as the guardians of the female fertility cycle. Archeologists uncovered figurines of naked, heavily pregnant women from the Nile Delta, in the Pyrenees, most European countries including the British Isles. The mother gives birth to a child and cares for it. In a time when many newborns or small children died before the age of 6, motherhood and fertility were seen as an essential part of life and to keep the human race alive.

The responsibility of men was to hunt and provide food. The women’s task were to bear children and keep them safe. Since the woman was the bearer of life, it stands to reason that women and their gods were held in high esteem. This lifestyle gave women independence and wisdom and in some ways, their knowledge and crafts gave them equal if not superior rights. Most cultures dating back to 9 to 7,000 B.C. followed a matriarchal model.

What is the matriarch? 

The term ‘matriarch’ refers to the authority, influence, and strength associated with female leadership. It stems from the Latin word ‘mater’, meaning mother. It is mainly associated with older, experienced women in leadership positions and as central decision-makers.  It all goes back to the original female icon – the Earth Mother.

She is depicted as the mother, cradling her newborn child and nourishing it with her breast milk. In her honor, people made small female figurines with round features showing a pregnant belly and breasts.  Subsequent gods like Demeter came from this ‘Earth Mother image’, responsible for feeding the nations and bringing fertility to the land in the form of plentiful harvests.

The concept of a matriarch is more inspired by wisdom and guidance within a community, rather than strength and power. Historically women seek nurturing roles that enjoy empathy, and collaboration. Of course, this is a stereotype and I am sure there were also plenty of scheming and power-hungry women in charge.

On the whole, matriarchal cultures and their female leaders are revered for their wisdom, resilience, and ability to unite and guide their communities through challenging times. They often serve as pillars of strength and sources of inspiration for future generations, shaping the values and traditions of their societies.

One of the oldest ‘matriarchal cities to be unearthed is Catalhüyük. This ancient Neolithic site located in present-day Turkey, near the town of Konya,  is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and is considered one of the earliest known human settlements.

Çatalhöyük was occupied roughly between 7500 BCE and 5700 BCE, making it one of the oldest known settlements. It predates many other ancient civilizations, including Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.

The settlement is characterized by its dense, mud-brick houses built closely together, with rooftops serving as streets. The houses were accessed by ladders through holes in the roofs, suggesting that the community was primarily engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. We know a lot about their culture as many wall paintings and intricate pottery survived. What was surprising is that shrines and many figurines depicting goddesses and animals were found, but no male statues. Therefore archeologists suggest that Çatalhöyük may have been a matriarchal society, based on the prominence of female figurines and the absence of male figurines.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Çatalhöyük was a relatively egalitarian society, with little evidence of social hierarchy. Houses within the settlement appear to have been of similar size and construction, suggesting a relatively equal distribution of resources in the throws of a hunter-gatherer society settling down to become dominated by an agricultural way of life. Since 2012  Çatalhöyük is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage outstanding universal value and significance to human history.

Next time we look at the Minoan civilization and connections between the bull and the moon.

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Halloween, witches and Samhain

Halloween, witches and Samhain

      This post will delve deeper into the subject of Halloween, where it comes from, and its significance.

The history of Halloween

Halloween has its origin in the Celtic festival Samhain, celebrated on the evening of the 31st of October. This symbolized the end of the harvest season and the ‘death of the seasonal growing cycle’. It was also celebrated on the eve before All Saints Day or better known as ‘ All Hallow’s Day’- the day of the Saints and the dead Ancestors.
halloween  The Celts believed in reincarnation. The highest honour was to die in battle. The body of a slain soldier or member of society was burnt on a pyre together with the corpse of their favorite horse. The cold ashes were collected in a clay jar and buried in a mound. For centuries these practices continued. The souls turned into invisible figures wearing cloaks with large hoods – just think of the grim reaper! These figures escaped in the moonlight to another world, unseen by those left behind and eventually reincarnated into another human, animal or plant.

Moon gods, bulls and horns

cow horns Many cultures, amongst them the Sumerians, Babylonians and Minoans worshipped moon gods and their sacred animals were the cows and bulls. Here is an article that explains a bit more about the Minoan culture and their practices with bull jumping, now believed to be a forerunner of the Olympic Games.

Bull horns represented the moon cycle and the cycle of life. The first cave paintings dating back to 30,000 B.C. depicted horned animals together with the cycle of the moon. Horns decorated helmets and found their ways into the graves of the dead. The moon, fertility, celebrations and horns – all are symbols of the moon gods, celebrating the rhythm of eternal life.  Just like the seasons, we come, we go and we are reborn.
As Albert Einstein once said, ” Energy doesn’t get lost, it only gets transformed’.  As the leaves sprout in spring and help the tree survive throughout summer and autumn. Eventually, they wilt and fall to the ground.  But that is not the end. The dead leaves now have a new purpose.  Rotted down, they produce precious compost which nourishes the trees and makes sure that the next growing cycle begins.

A practice of Biodynamic agriculture sees the farmer fill a cow horn with manure in autumn. This gets buried into the ground for around 6 months. In late spring it gets dug up and the now well-rotted manure is diluted into a spray preparation that fertilizes the new crops on the fields. As weird as it sounds these preparations produce excellent results. It is most likely down to the microbes that find their way into the soil and nourish it.

How come we dress up as witches at Halloween?

During the Middle Ages and even before,  local herb women, so-called witches, ran the Ancient healthcare system. They delivered babies and attended to the sick and dying. They made concoctions and potions to give to their patients. They made these out of animal products and gathered herbs. Some medicines ask for blossoms, others for dried leaves or root extracts. Collecting roots usually happened during the evening or at night. The reason was that roots deemed to be less effective once exposed to direct sunlight. The logical time to gather these roots was around the Full Moon, as it provided the necessary light at night.  Digging out roots at Full Moon and being connected to the dead (as some patients undoubtedly died) – the myth of the witch was born.  It all fitted in nicely with Halloween, the festival of the dead.
The connection between witches and Friday the 13th comes from the pagan lunar year. The Ancient Calendar year followed the path of the moon. Normally 12 moon cycles with the occasional  13th cycle added in to align the year again with the seasons. Friday was the day of worship for the Fertility Goddess Frigga. Friday the 13th became synonymous with the forbidden pagan knowledge and a particularly unlucky day.

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The effects of the moon on the earth’s climate

The effects of the moon on the earth’s climate

Earth and Moon Welcome to the LWTM ‘Moon Science’ section! 
This series contains a number of blog posts that all deal with scientific and historical aspects of the moon. 
If you are interested in this strand, please type
‘moon science’ into the search button and read more articles about this fascinating subject. 
The effects of the moon on the earth’s climate: 
A book written around 330 B.C. by the  famous Greek mathematician and explorer Pytheas confirms that the Ancient Greeks knew already that the formation of ocean tides are influenced by the moon. But these were pure observations and the actual scientific explanation remained a mystery until Sir Isaac Newton discovered the ‘Law of Universal Gravitation’ in the 17th century.
Today the tides are still the most conspicuous evidence of the moon’s gravitational pull. During the course of a 24 hour period, usually two high and two low tides take place. The exact timing is not static, but changes each day, depending on the moon’s path around the earth. In addition, the altitude of the tidal difference also alters from place to place. For some locations this variation is slight, amounting to just a few centimetres. But in other parts of the world, for instance the Bay of Fundy in Canada, this difference can be highly significant and measure up to a total of 15 meters or more. Making each tide the equivalent height of a four-storey building.
Have a look at this video – The effects of the moon on the earth’s climate.  It shows how interlinked the moon cycle is with the world’s climate.  Without the moon’s natural gravitation our world would look like a very different place indeed!

 

 

The Moon and the tides

At Full Moon and at New Moon the sun, earth, and the moon align creating a stronger gravitational pull, meaning that the tides are higher. In some places that can amount to a few inches, in others to a few feet or more. The Bay of Fundy in Canada has recorded tidal differences in height of a 2 storey house, which of course is massive.  Here is an article that explains how the Full Moon helped to free the container ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal. This ship was lucky that it got stuck during the Waxing Moon time coming up to a powerful Super Full Moon (when the moon is closer to earth than usual), meaning the tidal pull was even greater and helped the ship to carry on.

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