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Feminine symbols and religion

Feminine symbols and religion. Although masculine images reflect the male control of religion for at least the last 2,000 years, the earlier pervasive and dominant importance of feminine imagery has not been entirely lost, persisting as it does in most religions (though less so in the later arrivals such as Islam). Early archaeological evidence is always open to speculation in the absence of text controls, but the abundance of images of the fruitful woman certainly suggests dominant cults of the Goddess rather than the God. But Tanach (Jewish scripture) displays the passion and vigour with which the cult of Yahweh, under the control increasingly of men, drove out the feminine in the cult, adapting myths to make woman the cause of fault, pain, and sorrow. The cult of the feminine persisted in Christianity in devotion to the Virgin Mary (especially in syncretistic assimilation in such countries as Mexico), but even that image was reduced in male interpretations to one of submissive obedience.

In India, the same early reverence for the female as the source of life is evident from the archaeological remains, and here it would seem that the Goddess remained undiminished, with the cult of the Goddess still being of paramount importance, especially for Śaktas (see e.g. DEVĪ, ŚAKTI, KĀLI, DURGĀ, RĀDHA, SARASVATĪ, LAKṢMĪ, GAṄGĀ, PĀRVATĪ, amongst many). Yet still the Goddess has often been brought into a relationship with the God, which means that most of her activities are expressed as extensions of his power, except, usually, when the power is negative.

The reassertion of the feminine imagination of the sacred is gaining ground, but usually against much male resistance in the historical religions (hence the importance of Wicca and witchcraft). The loss in the intervening centuries has been a kind of intellectual genocide—the eradication of the vision of half the human race.

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