Metaphors for the Ground of our Being

Some theologians and lay people prefer to think about and worship the Goddess.

Images of the Goddess have been found by archaeologists in Crete, in Catal Hüyük the Goddess is giving birth, Pazardzik in Bulgaria, Laussel in France below, and dozens of other sites dating from 25,000 to 2000 BCE. That is long before we hear of the paternalistic god in the Old Testament.

Images of the Goddess emphasize her life giving, nurturing qualities — birth and breasts, seed into bread, wool into clothes, clay into colored pots. Evidence suggests the Goddess was seen as part of the life cycles found in nature and in humans of birth, death, and rebirth. Burial sites 70,000 BCE were spherical with bodies circled in them fetal-like and had a very small opening, suggesting the womb of rebirth within the fruitful earth. See Marija Gimbutas' The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe for illustrations and information.

Later in the Old Testament we meet Wisdom that translates a Hebrew and Greek female name — Sophia. When the creation narrative of Genesis 1 says, “Let us create humankind in our image,” I think of Proverbs 8:

The Lord created me (Wisdom/Sophia) at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world…

Menstrual blood apparently was seen for the Goddess as a sign of life, since red color is on many images of the Goddess. Today how about sacralizing a girl's first menses? Image it as life, possibility, and hope; how could that affect sex education? And sacralize menopause as well.

In the Old Testament menstrual blood and birth are the opposite — women menstruating could not enter worship and new mothers had to be ritually cleaned! Do we need to examine many images of God in the Old Testament?

Goddess of Laussel in France of 25,000 BCE; one hand points to her life-giving vulva; the other holds a horn with 13 notches for each annual moon cycle. Women may have used the lunar cycle to practice birth control!