Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Historical Sacred Female Symbolism From Around the World -- Etymology, Mythos, and Sacred Geometry

(Stillness in the Storm Editor) As a property of life within the universe is a set of primal archetypes or symbols given many different forms of expression. The downward pointing triangle represents the feminine principle of receptivity—which contrary to popular belief, is not a feature of passivity only for women. Becoming receptive requires an act of will and is an agency of consciousness itself. Further, the concept of receptiveness transcends gender—both men and women can, and likely should, develop the skill to receive in life. For example, knowledge can only be generated if the truth is accepted. Love can only be felt if the heart is unveiled. And beauty can only be recognized if the eyes are open.

What follows is a series of informative and fascinating excerpts from Barbara Walker's book, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. It is arguably essential information to understand in order to realize how distorted contemporary views are, especially insofar as female sexuality and the sacredness of women. 

Related Another Look At: The Illuminati Eye, Pyramid, 33, And Other Symbols Are NOT Evil

Today, especially in corporatized consumer culture, the sacred nature of femininity seems to have been downplayed. Women are often used by advertisers as sexually enticing symbols that stimulate a deep aspect of consciousness related to fertility, vitality, and, of course, sex. That is to say since women have historically been associated with the generative nature of reality, the creative force, a female form is enticing at a subconscious level. 

Image Source

In effect, the archetypal female image, her body, bosom, and womb, have been weaponized as symbolic tools against the masses. Due to the ignorance and unawareness of how archetypal symbolism impacts consciousness, the average person assumes these are merely marketing techniques because "sex sells."

But in the mythos of modern society, indoctrinated by Abrahamic religions, Eve is blamed for tempting Adam in the Garden of Eden. And for most of human history, the sexual and life-giving nature of the female form was villainized as an insidious temptation of men. Thankfully this trend is fading, but amid the climate of social justice and progressivism, some people find any discussion of the differences between men and women as sexist. 

In reviewing the data supplied below, many of the words used today as insults actually had a much more sacred and honorable reference. Granted, there have been many cultures that seek to subvert the female form, but there are others which revered it. And arguably behind closed doors, in the secret places of worldly power and control, the truth that women are equal in capacity to men is well acknowledged. 

Furthermore, there is an active campaign on the part of social engineers to foment a war between the sexes. The patriarchal policies of history seem to have been founded on the premise men are superior to women—at least in some cultures. And now, some feminist groups seek to realize an age of matriarchy, where women are seen as superior to men. 

But it seems, based on research, historical accounts, and lost wisdom, that the sexes are different in attribute yet equal in capacity. That is to say, the combination of feminine and masculine aspects, properly accepted and balanced, unlock the full compliment of human potential. 

Related Why You NEED To Understand the Occult | De-Mystifying the Occult Seminar - The Nature of Sacred Symbolism and Hidden Knowledge by Mark Passio

As an analogy, consider a musical band. Is the drummer more important than the singer? Is the guitarist more important than the bass player? Isn’t each musician’s unique skill needed in order to produce a piece of music?

In other words, while women and men are different neither is better than the other. In order for all of the potentials inherent in human life to find expression, both archetypal roles and sexes are needed. 

Given how much we have forgotten as a species, it seems prudent to examine how cultures of the past understood the dance of the sexes and the role of feminity in human life. 

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- Justin

SourceHobbit Hills

From Barbara Walker's book The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.

Female (Genitals/Genital) Symbolism

"Vulva," the primary Tantric object of worship, symbolized variously
by a triangle, fish, double-pointed oval, horseshoe, egg, fruits, etc.
Personifying the yoni, the Goddess Kali bore the title of Cunti or
Kunda, root of the ubiquitous Indo-European word "cunt" and all its
relatives: cunnus, cunte, cunning, cunctipotent, ken, kin, country.
The Yoni Yantra or triangle was known as the Primordial Image,
representing the Great Mother as source of all life.1 As the genital
focus of her divine energy, the Yantra was adored as a geometrical
symbol, as the cross was adored by Christians.

The ceremony of baptismal rebirth often involved being drawn
bodily through a giant yoni. Those who underwent this ceremony
were styled "twice-born." 2

Yoni Yantra

Yoni Mudra

Yoni Yogini


Tantric tradition said the triangle was the Primordial Image, or the

female Triangle of Life.1 It was known as the Kali Yantra, representing

Kali as Cunti, or else as the Yoni Yantra, or sign of the vulva.2 In

Egypt the triangle was a hieroglyphic sign for "woman," and it carried

the same meaning among the gypsies, who brought it from their

original home in Hindustan. 3 In the Greek sacred alphabet, the delta or

triangle stood for the Holy Door, vulva of the All-Mother Demeter

("Mother Delta").

Most ancient symbol systems recognized the triangle as a sign of

the Goddess's Virgin-Mother-Crone trinity and at the same time as

her genital "holy place," source of all life. The triangle represented the

Virgin Moon Goddess called Men-Nefer, archaic deity of the first

Mother-city of Memphis. 4 The triangle itself was worshipped in much

the same way that modern Christians worship the cross. Concerning

this, Oriental sages said: "The object of the worship of the Yantra is to

attain unity with the Mother of the Universe in Her forms as Mind,

Life, and Matter ... preparatory to Yoga union with Her as She is in

herself as Pure Consciousness." 5

The triangle was everywhere connected with the female trinity,

and a frequent component of monograms of Goddesses. To the

Gnostics, the triangle signified "creative intellect." 6

Kali Yantra

Vesica Piscis

"Vessel of the Fish," a common yonic symbol, the pointed oval,

named from the ancients' claim that female genitals smelled like fish.

Mother Kali herself appeared in a Hindu story as "a virgin named

Fishy Smell, whose real name was Truth," like Egypt's Goddess Maat.1

Egyptians said Abtu, the Abyss, was "a fish who swallowed the penis

of Osiris," but this abyss was also "The Fish of Isis," therefore a sexual

metaphor. Aphrodite's principal rites at Paphos took place under the

sign of Pisces, the Fish. Aphrodite, Isis, Freya, and other forms of the

Goddess in sexual aspect appeared veiled in fish nets. 2 See Fish.

The vesica piscis was an unequivocally genital sign of the sheilana-

gig figures of old Irish churches. The squatting naked Goddess

displayed her vulva as a vesica, as did the temple-door images of Kali in

India. 3 One of the old pagan ideograms of sexual union was adopted

by the church to represent the Feast of St. Nicholas on the runic

calendar: a vesica piscis enveloping a male furka.4

The pointed-oval fish sign was even used by early Christians to

represent the mystery of God's union with his mother-bride- which

is why Jesus was called "the little Fish" in the Virgin's fountain. 5

This female enclosure was much used in Christian art, especially

as a superimposition on Mary's belly, with her child within. Sometimes

Christ at his ascension was shown rising into a heavenly vesica, as

if returning to the Mother-symbol. The vesica was also shown as a

frame for figures of Jesus, God, and saints.

Another name for the same sign was mandorla, "almond," which

also represented a yoni. In the cult of the Magna Mater, an almond

was the feminine conception-charm for the virgin birth of Attis.

Image Source.


Vesica Piscis on Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral in France

17th Century Central Tibeten Thanka of Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra Rubin Museum of Art


"Almond," the pointed-oval sign of the yoni, used in Oriental art to

signify the divine female genital; also called vesica piscis, the Vessel of

the Fish. Almonds were holy symbols because of their female, yonic

connotations. Almonds had the power of virgin motherhood, as shown

by the myth of Nana, who conceived the god Attis with her own

almond.1 The candlestick of the Jews' tabernacle of the Ark was

decorated with almonds for their fertility magic (Exodus 25:3 3-34).

Christian art similarly used the mandorla as a frame for figures of God,

Jesus, and saints, because the artists forgot what it formerly meant.


A world-wide symbol of the Great Mother was the pointed-oval sign

of the yoni, known as vesica piscis, Vessel of the Fish. It was associated

with the "Fishy Smell" that Hindus made a title of the yonic Goddess

herself, because they said women's genitals smelled like fish. 1 The

Chinese Great Mother Kwan-yin ("Yoni of yonis") often appeared

as a fish-goddess. 2 As the swallower of Shiva's penis, Kali became

Minaksi the "fish-eyed" one, just as in Egypt, Isis the swallower of

Osiris's penis became Abtu, the Great Fish of the Abyss. 3

Fish and womb were synonymous in Greek; delphos meant both.4

The original Delphic oracle first belonged to the abyssal fish-goddess

under her pre-Hellenic name of Themis, often incarnate in a great fish,

whale, or dolphin (delphinos). The cycles in which she devoured and

resurrected the Father-Son entered all systems of symbolism from the

Jews' legend of Jonah to the classic "Boy on the Dolphin." Apuleius

said the Goddess playing the part of the Dolphin was Aphrodite Salacia,

"with fish-teeming womb." 5

Her "boy" was Palaemon, the reincarnated young sun, made new

after sinking into the same abyssal womb as the dying god Heracles.6

The fish-goddess Aphrodite Salacia was said to bring "salacity" through

orgiastic fish-eating on her sacred day, Friday. The Catholic church

inherited the pagan custom of Friday fish-eating and pretended it was a

holy fast; but the disguise was thin. Friday was dies veneris in Latin,

the Day of Venus, or of lovemaking: Freya's Day in Teutonic Europe.

The notion that fish are "aphrodisiac" food is still widespread even


The Celts thought fish-eating could place new life in a mother's

womb. Their hero Tuan was eaten in fish form by the Queen of

Ireland, who thus re-conceived him and gave him a new birth.7 In

another myth, fish were associated with the clots of "wise blood"

emanating from the Mother-tree with its sacred fountain, in Fairyland.8

They were called blood-red nuts of the Goddess Boann, eaten by

"salmon of knowledge" who swam in her sacred fountain. "Poets and

story-tellers, speaking of any subject difficult to deal with, often say,

'Unless I had eaten the salmon of knowledge I could not describe it."' 9

The fish symbol of the yonic Goddess was so revered throughout

the Roman empire that Christian authorities insisted on taking it

over, with extensive revision of myths to deny its earlier female-genital

meanings. Some claimed the fish represented Christ because Greek

ichthys, "fish," was an acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God." But the

Christian fish-sign was the same as that of the Goddess's yoni or

Pearly Gate: two crescent moons forming a vesica piscis. Sometimes the

Christ child was portrayed inside the vesica, which was superimposed

on Mary's belly and obviously represented her womb, just as in the

ancient symbolism of the Goddess.

A medieval hymn called Jesus "the Little Fish which the Virgin

caught in the Fountain." 10 Mary was equated with the virgin

Aphrodite-Mari, or Marina, who brought forth all the fish in the sea. On

the Cyprian site of Aphrodite's greatest temple, Mary is still worshipped

as Panaghia Aphroditessa.11 In biblical terms, "Jesus son of

Maria" meant the same as Yeshua son of Marah, or Joshua son of

Nun (Exodus 33:11), which also means son of the Fish-mother. Mary's

many Mesopotamian names like Mari, Marriti, Nar-Marratu, Mara,

were written like the Hebrew Mem with an ideogram meaning both

"sea" and "mother." 12 The next letter in the Hebrew sacred alphabet

was Nun, "fish."

Another biblical name for the Goddess was Mehitabel, none other

than the Egyptian Fish-mother Mehit in a Hebrew disguise. 13


"Fish-Eyed One," title of Kali as the yonic Eye: possible origin of the

European bards' Love-goddess Minne.


Kali Ma as the Goddess of cremation grounds and other places of

death. The yantra (symbol) of Smashana-Kali was doubly yonic: an

eight-petaled lotus with multiple repetitions of the inverted triangle

that meant "female genitals."1 The meaning of the yantra of Smashana-Kali

was rebirth following death. Her priestesses, called dakinis,

arranged funerals and tended the dying. In the after-world they became



Philistine Fish-goddess, called Tirgata in Syria, identified with Aphrodite.

At the temple of Der, in Babylon, she was Derceto, "Whale of

Der." Her daughter, Queen Semiramis, founded the city of Babylon.1

She gave rebirth to Jonah in his earlier Babylonian form as the fish-god

Oannes. Philistines called him Dagon, Atargatis's mate. At Harran,

the Goddess's sacred fish were credited with oracular powers. In Boeotia

she was identified with Artemis who wore a fish amulet over her

genitals.2 See Fish.


"Whale of Der," a title of the Babylonian Fish-goddess, said to be the

mother of Babylon's foundress, Queen Semiramis (Sammuramat). 1

Derceto was the prototype of Jonah's whale, being the Great Fish

who swallowed and gave rebirth to the solar god Oannes, or Joannes

(Jonah). See Fish.


The "Abyss," sometimes called Fish of lsis, representing her genital

orifice, which "swallowed" the penis of Osiris. Abtu was the Egyptian

name of Abydos, an early yonic shrine where the god died and

entered his Mother's womb, the underworld. See Fish.


Egyptian word for the primal ocean, origin of the Hebrew letter nun

meaning "fish"; it was also a sacred name, as in "Joshua son of Nun"

(Joshua 1:1). As applied to a religious woman, "nun" descended

from nonne, a nurse, because in antiquity priestesses were practitioners

of the healing arts.


"Salacious" Sea-goddess, Venus-Aphrodite worshipped in Rome as

the feminine abyss "with fish-teeming womb." 1 The name probably

was related to Greek Thalassa, "Sea," which also gave rise to the holy

cry Talassio raised by wedding guests in honor of the Goddess of

Marriage, or maritare. Romans didn't know the origin of this wedding

cry but continued to use it nevertheless. 2 See Fish.


Hindus, Arabs, and Celts regarded the yonic shape of the horseshoe

as a symbol of the Goddess's "Great Gate," thus it was always esteemed

as a prophylactic door charm. Druidic temples were constructed in

the shape of a horseshoe.1 So were some Hindu temples, with the frank

intention of representing the yoni. The horseshoe arch of Arabic

sacred architecture developed from the same tradition. 2

Greeks assigned the yonic shape to the last letter of their sacred

alphabet, Omega, literally, "Great Om," the Word of Creation

beginning the next cycle of becoming. The implication of the horseshoe

symbol was that, having entered the yonic Door at the end oflife

(Omega), man would be reborn as a new child (Alpha) through the

same Door. It was everywhere represented as "a horseshoe, the very

figure that is nailed to so many doors in various parts of the world, as an

emblem of luck. Mighty few of those who live in such houses know

that the horseshoe is only a symbol of the yoni and that by nailing it to

their doors, they follow out a custom older than the history of their

race." 3

The Christian God who claimed to be the "Alpha and Omega"

(Revelation 1 :8) was only copying one version of this very ancient

symbolism, whose meaning seems not to have been understood by the

biblical writer.

Pearly Gate

Entrance to heaven; a Christian borrowing from the cult of Aphrodite

Marina, or the Sea-mother Mari, to whom pearls were sacred. Her own

body was the Gate of Heaven, like the Jade Gate of the Chinese

Goddess, through which all men passed at birth (outward) and again at

death (inward). Various yonic symbols of the Goddess were said to be

bordered with pearls, including even the Celts' sacred Cauldron of

Regeneration. (See Cauldron.)

When the Goddess appeared in the guise of the moon, she was

called Pearl of the Sea, or Pearl of Wisdom; her seven high

priestesses were the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (see Pleiades). As the

moon was the gate of paradise, so was the Goddess. Early Christian

sectaries copied the pagans in claiming that the souls of the dead

"mount up by the pillar of dawn to the sphere of the moon, and the

moon receives them incessantly from the first to the middle of the

month, so that it waxes and gets full, and then it guides them to the

sun until the end of the month, and thus effects its waning in that it is

lightened of its burden." 1

The pearly moon-gate like Mother Earth made no distinctions

between those who could be admitted and those who could not; as all

living things were her own children, so all dead things were her charges

also. When Christian mythology supplied a gatekeeper in the form of

St. Peter, then the Pearly Gate became a barrier where a judgment was

made on the worthiness or unworthiness of the soul.

The ancients gave all pearls the feminine connotation, saying they

were made of two female powers, the moon and water. It was

believed that pearls should be worn only at night, for moonlight would

enhance their luster whereas sunlight would spoil them.2


"Furka" or "fork" described the so-called lost letter of the Greek

alphabet, digamma, a double gamma having the sound of F. Its Sanskrit

name was forkwas, linguistic root of the two trees on which dying

gods were sacrificed: Norse fyr (fir) and Latin quercus (oak).1 The

Egyptian furka was the Y -shaped cross on which the god Set was

crucified. It was also a phallic symbol of the god's sacred marriage.2 The

"thieves' cross" in Christian iconography had the same shape. Such

crosses flanking Jesus's cross may have represented sacred marriage.

The Y-shaped fork was sometimes regarded as a female genital

symbol, in conjunction with the male trident or three-pronged fork.3

The voodoo savior-god Legba characteristically used as his crutch

a derivative of the sacred furka of Set. 4


World-wide female-genital symbol, often combined with a male

symbol in agrarian religions. Indian scriptures made the Earth-mother

Sita, "Furrow," the wife of Rama, whose name meant "Enjoyment

of Virility" and who was an incarnation of the phallic Krishna. 1 Ancient

Egypt celebrated an important annual rite called "the finding of the

scepter of flint in the furrow of [the Goddess] Maat."2 Similarly, Rome

kept a sexual-symbolic festival devoted to finding "the flints of

Jupiter" in a sacred furrow representing Ceres or Ops, Mother Earth.3

The city of Rome itself was established by plowing a furrow, an act

attributed to the legendary Romulus. A pre-Roman ancestral hero

called Tages was said to be "born from the furrow" as a son of Mother


The name of the zodiacal sign of the Virgin originally meant

"Furrow."> Its principal star, Spica, was known in Babylon as "the

corn-ear of the Goddess Shala." Corn-ear meant the shibboleth displayed

at the culmination of the rites of Ishtar, Astarte, and Demeter,

all of whom were also the Furrow. Demeter made lasion or Iasus her

lover "in a thrice-plowed field," giving him the name ofTriptolemus,

"Three Plowings," because he entered the Furrow three times. He was

also surnamed Soter, meaning both "Savior" and "Sower."

Seed entering the furrow was almost invariably likened to semen

entering the womb, as shown by numerous pagan savior-gods who

entered their Mother in the form of seed and were reborn as new

vegetation. The Latin god Semo Sancus, whose name meant both

"seed" and "semen," mated thus with Ops and died in her embrace, to

regenerate himself. 6

The classic custom of plowing a furrow for magical protection

around a town was perpetuated by country folk all over Europe.

Even in the 20th century, Russian villages were annually "purified" by

the same ceremony, which remained exclusively in the hands of

women. Nine virgins and three old women (representing the Fate

sisters, or Zorya) plowed a furrow around the village at midnight,

calling on the Moon-goddess. Armed with scythes, clubs, and animal

skulls, they struck down and beat any man they happened to

encounter while performing this magic.7


"Furrow," the Goddess Earth as the wife of Rama (Krishna) in the

Ramayana. A personification of the yoni, mated to the phallic "ram"

whose name meant "sexual enjoyment." See Furrow.


Asia's primary symbol of the yoni (vulva), often personified as the

Goddess Padma, "Lotus," also known as Cunti, Lakshmi, or Shakti.

The central phrase ofTantrism, Om mani padme hum, meant the

Jewel (male) in the Lotus (female), with interlocking connotations: the

penis in the vagina, the fetus in the womb, the corpse in the earth,

the God in the Goddess representing all of these. 1

The father-god Brahma claimed to be a universal creator; nevertheless,

he was styled "Lotus-born," for he arose from the primal

Goddess's yoni. Egypt's fatper-god Ra also claimed to be a creator but

owed his existence to the Goddess called "great world lotus flower,

out of which rose the sun for the first time at the creation." 2

Virtually all Egyptian Goddess-forms were symbolized by the

lotus. 3 Pharaohs were sexually united with the World Lotus to

achieve rebirth after death. The funeral hymn of Unas declared that he

"had union with the goddess Mut, Unas hath drawn unto himself the

flame oflsis, Unas hath united himself to the lotus." 4

One way of uniting oneself to the lotus was the custom of ritual

cunnilingus, widely practiced throughout the east as communion

with the feminine life-principle. 5 This was probably the true meaning of

the Land of Lotus-Eaters visited by Odysseus and his crew. The

sensual Land of Lotus-Eaters was described as a tropical place beyond

the southern sea, which could apply to any land from Egypt to lndia.6

Ascetic Jain Buddhism tried to eradicate the lotus symbol because

of its erotic implications. Nevertheless, a few centuries after Buddha's

time, the most prominent figure on Buddhist monuments was again

Padma, openly displaying her genital lotus. 7 A similar resurgence of

erotic imagery overtook ascetic Christianity, when "obscene" figures

proliferated in cathedrals and churches, for example the Irish sheilana-


Most Oriental mystics held that spiritual knowledge began with

carnal knowledge. The lotus was the Goddess's gate, and sex was the

Way through the gate to her inner mysteries. With proper sexual

exercises, a true sage might achieve the final flowering of revelation

described as the thousand-petaled lotus of invisible light emanating from

the top of the head after ascending the spinal chakras from the pelvis.

Worshippers of Vishnu sometimes painted their god as the source

of the World Lotus, which grew on a long stem from his navel. But

since "the primary reference of the lotus in India has always been the

goddess Padma, 'Lotus,' whose body itself is the universe, the long

stem from navel to lotus should properly connote an umbilical cord

through which the flow of energy would be running from the

goddess to the god, mother to child, not the other way." 8 Some Hindu

cosmogonies saw the whole world as the lotus flower, with seven

petals representing the seven divisions of the heavens where the cities

and palaces of the god were located.9

In the Middle East, the lotus was lilu, or lily.10 It was the flower of

Lilith, the Sumero-Babylonian earth mother claimed by the Jews as

Adam's first wife. The three-lobed lily or fleur-de-lis, like the shamrock,

once stood for the Triple Goddess's three yonis, which is why the lily

was sacred to the triune Queen of Heaven. The Blessed Virgin Juno

conceived her savior-son Mars by the lily, and the same flower was

adopted as a conception-charm of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 11 When Isis

was assimilated to the burgeoning legends of the Virgin, her Egyptian

images held the phallic cross in one hand, the female lotus seed-vessel in

the other, like the Goddess shown on the Isiac Table. 12




The flower of Lilith, Sumero-Babylonian Goddess of creation; the

lilu or "lotus" of her genital magic. The lily often represented the virgin

aspect of the Triple Goddess, while the rose represented her maternal

aspect. The lily was sacred to Astarte, who was also Lilith; northern

Europeans called her Ostara or Eostre, the Goddess of "Easter"


Because of its pagan associations with virgin motherhood, the lily

was used to symbolize impregnation of the virgin Mary. Some

authorities claimed the lily in Gabriel's hand filtered God's semen which

entered Mary's body through her ear. 2

Mary's cult also inherited the lily of the Blessed Virgin Juno, who

conceived her savior-son Mars with her own magic lily, without any

male aid.3 This myth reflected an early belief in the self-fertilizing

power of the yoni (vulva), which the lily symbolized and Juno

personified. Her name descended from the pre-Roman Uni, a Triple

Goddess represented by the three-lobed lily or fleur-de-lis, her name

stemming from the Sanskrit yoni, source of the Uni-verse.

In 656 A.D., the 10th Council of Toledo officially adopted the holy

day of Juno's miraculous conception of Mars into the Christian

canon, renaming it the Festival of the Mother of God, or Lady Day,

insisting that it commemorated Mary's miraculous conception of

Jesus with the aid of a lily.4 Christian artists showed the angel Gabriel

holding out to Mary a scepter surmounted by a fleur-de-lis on a lily

stalk. A scroll usually issued from Gabriel's mouth, with the words Ave

Maria gratia plena, the seminal "Word," which made Mary "full."

Aphrodite's dove, that other yonic symbol, hovered about the scene. 5

Celtic and Gallo-Roman tribes called the virgin mother Lily Maid.

Her yonic emblem appeared not only as the French fleur-de-lis but

also as the Irish shamrock, which was not originally Irish but a sacred

symbol among Indus Valley people some 6000 years before the

Christian era. Christianized France identified the Lily Maid with the

virgin Mary, but she was never completely dissociated from the pagan

image of Juno. Among the people, Lady Day was known as Notre

Dame de Mars.6

The Easter lily was the medieval pas-flower, from Latin passus, to

step or pass over, cognate of pascha, the Passover. The lily was also

called Pash-flower, Paschal flower, Pasque flower, or Passion flower.

Pagans understood that it represented the spring passion of the god,

like Heracles, for union in love-death with the Virgin Queen of

Heaven, Hera-Hebe, or Juno, or Venus, all of whom claimed the lily.

When Hera's milk spurted from her breasts to form the Milky Way, the

drops that fell to the ground became lilies. 7

Marginal note:

Sometimes, the

Easter flower was not a

white lily but a

scarlet or purple

anemone, emblem of

Adonis's passion and

called identical with

his bride Venus.8


The rosary was an instrument of worship of the Rose, which ancient

Rome knew as the Flower of Venus, and the badge of her sacred

prostitutes.1 Things spoken "under the rose" (sub rosa) were part of

Venus' s sexual mysteries, not to be revealed to the uninitiated. 2 The red

rose represented full-blown maternal sexuality; the white rose or lily

was a sign of the Virgin Goddess. Christians transferred both of these

symbolic flowers to the virgin Mary and called her the Holy Rose.

Rose windows in Gothic cathedrals faced west, the direction of the

matriarchal paradise, and were primarily dedicated to Mary as the

female symbol opposing the male cross in the eastern apse. At Chartres,

the window called Rose of France showed "in its center the Virgin in

her majesty .... Round her in a circle, are twelve medallions; four

containing doves; four six-winged angels or Thrones; four angels of a

lower order, but all symbolizing the gifts and endowments of the Queen

of Heaven." Beneath, the Marian number of five windows centered

on Mary's mother, "the greatest central figure, the tallest and most

commanding in the whole church." 3

Five was the Marian number because it was the number of petals

in the rose, and also in the apple blossom-another virginity-symbolgiving

rise to the five lobes of the mature apple, the corresponding

symbol of motherhood, fruition, regeneration, and eternal life. Five was

considered "proper to Marian devotion" because Rose-Mary was the

reincarnation of Apple-Eve. Christian mystical art showed apples and

roses growing together on the Tree of Life in Mary's "enclosed garden"

of virginity.

The fivefold rose and apple were also related to numerous preChristian

images of the Goddess, the witches' pentacle, the

five-pointed Star of Ish tar, and the Egyptian symbol of the uterine

underworld and cyclic rebirth. Mysteries of the Rose belonged to

Aphrodite, according to the poet Nossis: "Anyone the Cyprian does not

love, knows not what flowers her roses are." Aphrodite was represented

by a Rose-Mary plant, named for her as rosmarina, the Dew of

the Sea.4

In the great age of cathedral-building, when Mary was worshipped

as a Goddess in her "Palaces of the Queen of Heaven" or NotreDames,

she was often addressed as the Rose, Rose-bush, Rose-garland,

Rose-garden, Wreath of Roses, Mystic Rose, or Queen of the Most

Holy Rose-garden.5 The church, the garden, and Mary's body were all

mystically one; for she was Lady Ecclesia, the Church, as well as "the

pure womb of regeneration." Like a pagan temple, the Gothic cathedral

represented the body of the Goddess who was also the universe,

containing the essence of male godhood within herself. This .was largely

forgotten after the passing of the Gothic period. In later centuries,

"Gothic" became an epithet of contempt, synonymous with "barbarous."

The symbolism of the Palaces of the Queen of Heaven was no

longer understood. By the 18th century, its secrets were as obscure as

the crypto-erotic art of the temples of India. 6

In fact it was in India that the Great Mother, whose body was

the temple, was first addressed as Holy Rose. 7 The "Flower of the

Goddess" was the scarlet China rose. 8 This was sometimes identified

with the mystic Kula flower, source of a virgin's menstrual blood,

representing the life of her future children and her bond of union

with the past maternal spirit of her clan.9

The eastern World Tree was often envisioned as a family rosetree,

a female Tree of Life and Immortality. In central Asia the tree

was called Woman, the Wellspring, Milk, Animals, Fruits. "The

Cosmic Tree always presents itself as the very reservoir of life and the

master of destinies." Mongols knew the tree as Zambu, whose roots

plunge to the base of Mount Sumer; it is the Mother-tree whose

fruits feed the gods. 10 Zambu was undoubtedly the same as the Hindu

paradise, Jambu Island, home of the cosmic Rose-Apple tree. The

island was shaped like a yoni. In its "diamond seat" (a symbolic clitoris),

one could be reborn as a human being with keen intelligence. 11

J udeo-Christian tradition associated this tree of ancestors with a

male Tree of Life (genitalia), regarding male ancestry as the only

important kind. The genealogy of Christ was depicted in medieval art as

a tree-phallus rising from the loins of a recumbent Jesse, with its

flowers and fruit surrounding the figures of David, Mary, and Jesus.

Still, mystics generally assigned feminine gender to the rose-tree,

rose-garden, rose-wreath, etc., fully realizing that these were genital

symbols. The medieval scholar Pierre Col said the Gospel of Luke

represented the Holy Rose as a sign of the vulva.12

Britain had a traditional Mummers' dance known as The Rose:

five dancers formed a five-pointed star of swords over a victim, called

the Fool, who was symbolically slain and resurrected with a mysterious

elixir, the Golden Frosty Drop, or Dewdrop in the Rose. This was

simply a western version of the Jewel in the Lotus: i.e., a seminal drop

in the female flower. It is said the" 'garden' may symbolize the

uterus, as 'scarlet flower' may signify the vulva." The Frosty Drop, or

dew, signified the semen of the God reincarnating himself in the

Goddess. The Bible says dew was a poetic synonym for semen (Song of

Solomon 5:2). Meister Eckhart understood quite well the sexual

significance of both dew and rose when he wrote, "And as in the

morning the rose opens, receiving the dew from heaven and the sun,

so Mary's soul did open and receive Christ the heavenly dew." 13

The dance called The Rose seems to have been a pagan ritual so

vital that it couldn't be suppressed. The accompanying chant was

"ring-around-the-rose-wreath"; in German, Ringel Ringel Rosenkranz;

in English, Ring-Around-A-Rosy. 14 The "pocket full of posies" in

the nursery rhyme probably referred to' the cave of flowers, an old

symbol of the underground Fairyland. The final instruction, "All fall

down," was the behest of Morgan the Grim Reaper, or Mother Death

bringing an end to the fertility season. According to Danish folk

custom, roses decorated sacred groves for the dances of Midsummer

Eve, which had to be guarded by armed men against possible


Midsummer night upon the sward,

Knights and squires are standing guard;

In the grove a knightly dance they tread

With torches and garlands of roses red. 15

The Rose was likened not only to Mary but to other surviving

forms of the pagan Goddess. As Spenser's Faerie Queene she had a

Bower of Bliss signifying her sexual nature, where the central holy of

holies was the Rose of Love. 16 Medieval myths of Lady Briar Rose

pictured the Virgin as a rose in the midst of a thorn bush, a sexual

image established long ago by the poet Sedulius:

As blooms among the thorns the lovely rose, herself without a thorn,

The glory of the bush whose crown she is,

So, springing from the root of Eve, Mary the new Maiden

Atoned for the sin of that first Maiden long ago.17

No matter how consistently the Rose was assimilated to Mary, it

was obviously a sexual symbol of Goddess-worship brought back to

Europe from Arabia with the returning crusaders. 18 Sufi mystics in

Arabia wrote romantic-religious works centering on the rosary and the

Rose. Fariduddin Attar's Parliament of the Birds explained the

symbol in the words of the "passionate nightingale":

I know the secrets of love. Throughout the night I give my love call . ... It

is I who set the Rose in motion, and move the hearts of/overs.

Continuously I teach new mysteries . ... When the Rose returns to the

world in Summer, I open my heart to joy. My secrets are not known to

all but the Rose knows them. I think of nothing but the Rose; I wish

nothing but the ruby Rose . ... Can the nightingale live but one night

without the Beloved? 19

This Eros-nightingale reappeared in European romances as the

Spirit of the Rose, or a "devil" named Rosier in the 17th century.

According to the exorcist Father Sebastien Michaelis, the devil

Rosier whispers sweet words that tempt men to fall in love. Rosier's

heavenly adversary was St. Basil, "who would not listen to amorous

and enchanting language." 20 Still later, the same devil became the hero

of the classical ballet Le Spectre de la Rose in which he tempts a

young girl to fall in love.

Sometimes the male Spirit of the Rose was a briar rose with

"pricking" thorns. "Pricking flesh to acquire blood artificially is the

only way that men can 'produce' it. In the European romantic legend of

two heterosexual lovers, the female red rose is paired with th.e male

briar, or 'prick.' Prick, when used as a slang, taboo name for the penis, is

a descriptive-magical term for access-to-power. ... The briar is the

male rose." 21


The Gospels say Jesus cursed the fig tree and made it forever barren

because it refused to produce fruit for him out of its season (Mark

11: 13-22). The story probably was intended to express hostility to a

well-known Goddess-symbol. The fig was always female, its heartshaped

leaves representing "the conventional form of the yoni."1

Romans used to celebrate "a rude and curious rite" in connection with

the fertilization of Juno Caprotina, Goddess of the Fig Tree, by her

lecherous horned goat god.2

Jesus's rival deity Mithra, whom some called the true Messiah,

also was involved with the maternal fig tree. Shortly after his birth

from the petra genetrix, and his discovery by adoring shepherds, Mithra

was adopted by the fig tree,.which provided him with a continuous

supply of food (fruit) and clothing (leaves).3 According to the Book of

Genesis, fig leaves were the world's first clothing, donned by Adam

and Eve as soon as they acquired knowledge. Adoption by a fig tree also

figured prominently in the legend of Buddha, protected by the Bodhi

Tree, or Tree of Wisdom, ficus religiasa, the Holy Fig, when he

received his enlightenment on Full Moon Day in the month of


The fig was a common Indo-Iranian symbol of the Great Mother.

Babylonian Ish tar also took the form of the divine fig tree Xikum, the

"primeval mother at the central place of the earth," protectress of the

savior Tammuz.5 Patriachal writers of the Koran later turned Ishtar's

tree to Zakkum, the Tree of Hell, growing downward from the earth's


Gaulish gods called Dusii were described in medieval Latin as

ficarii, "fig-eaters," which meant the same as the Homeric "lotuseaters,"

in view of the fact that both the fig and the lotus symbolized

female genitals. 7 Anglo-Saxon "fuck" may have been derived from

ficus, "fig." To this day, Italians make the mana in fica, "fig-hand," as a

derogatory sexual sign implying, like the raised middle finger, "fuck

you." The mana in fica was of Oriental origin, a lingam-yoni formed by

the thumb projecting between two fingers. Hindus called the fighand

a sacred mudra, and Ovid said Roman householders used it as a

protection against evil spells.8 To Christians however, it was manus

abscenus, "the obscene hand." 9

Like other genital symbols, the fig was often incorporated into love

charms together with many other items formerly sacred to Venus.

Some of these items-blood, bread, doves, and pentacles- joined the

fig in a charm from the Zekerbani, to make bachelors see their future

brides in a dream:

They must have powdered coral and some fine powdered lodestone,

which they shall mix together a"nc/ dilute with the blood of a white

pigeon, and they shall make a dough of it, which they shall enclose in a

large fig after having wrapped it in blue taffeta; they shall hang this

round their neck, and when they go to bed shall put the pentacle for

Saturday under their bolster, saying a special prayer the while. 10·


Like barley grains in Greece, beans were yonic symbols in Rome, as
is still shown by the Italian slang term for female genitals, fava, "bean." 1
Along with all other ancient female-genital symbols, beans were credited
with magic power to impregnate, because they enclosed ancestral
spirits, the manes, born in dim prehistory of the Moon-mother Mana.
The Pythagoreans placed a taboo on eating beans because of their
supposed possession of spirits. In Rome, each paterfamilias went
through an annual ceremony of exorcising ancestral spirits by throwing
beans behind him at midnight, nine times enjoining the manes to
leave the house. 2
Another Roman ceremony on the twelfth day after the midwinter
solstice (Epiphany) recalled ancient customs of choosing a sacred
king. It was called the Festival of Kings Created or Elected by Beans,
the beans evidently representing women, the choosing carried out by
drawing black or white beans. Later, dice were used, and a ceremonial
king-for-the-night called Basilicus was chosen by the "Venus" throw.
The ceremony persisted in medieval England, where the TwelfthNight
plum cake contained one bean, and the man who received the
bean was declared king of the festival. 3
Some overlapping esoteric meanings of beans may be found in the
Sanskrit word mudra, "kidney beans," also "woman," and a "magical
gesture," the benevolent spell cast by a Shakti.4 The influx ofTantric
symbols into medieval Europe probably gave rise to Jack's beanstalk,
resembling the Ladder of Heaven in that it was a soul-bridge: "the myth

of the vine that once joined earth and sky," in the paradisal time
when men knew the way to heaven-or thought they did.5


Aphrodite's totem, the bird of sexual passion, symbolically equivalent

to the yoni. 1 In India, too, the dove was paravata, the symbol of lust. 2

Joined to her consort the phallic serpent, the Dove-goddess stood for

sexual union and "Life."

The phrase attributed to Jesus, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents,

and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16), was no random metaphor

but a traditional invocation of the Syrian God and Goddess.3 The

Oriental meaning was remembered by the gypsies, whose folk tales

said the souls of ancestors lived inside magic hollow mountains, the men

having been changed into serpents and the women into doves.4

Christians adopted the feminine dove as a symbol of the Holy

Ghost, originally the Goddess Sophia, representing God's "Wisdom"

as the Goddess Metis represented the "Wisdom" of Zeus. Gnostic

Christians said Sophia was incarnate in the dove that impregnated the

virgin Mary, the same dove that descended on Jesus at his baptism to

impregnate his mind (Matthew 3:16). Pious admirers of Pope Gregory

the Great made him even more saintly than Jesus by reporting that

the Holy Ghost in dove shape descended on him not once but many

times.5 All this was copied from Roman iconography which showed the

human soul as a dove that descended from the Dove-goddess's

oversoul to animate the body.6

Aphrodite as a bringer of death, or "peace," sometimes bore the

name of Irene, Dove of Peace. Another of her death-goddess names

was Epitymbria, "She of the Tombs." 7 Romans called her Venus

Columba, Venus-the-Dove. Her catacombs, mausoleums, and necropoli

were known as columbaria, "dovecotes." 8 Thus the soul

returning to the Goddess after death was again envisioned as a dove.

From this image, Christians copied their belief that the souls of saints

became white doves that flew out of their mouths at the moment of

death. In the Catholic ceremony of canonization, white doves are

released from cages at the crucial moment of the ritual.9

Christian iconography showed seven rays emanating from the

dove of the Holy Ghost: an image that went back to some of the most

primitive manifestations of the Goddess. 10 In the Orient, the mystic

seven were the Pleiades or "Seven Sisters," whose Greek name

meant "a flock of doves." They were daughters or "rays" of Aphrodite

under her title of Pleione, Queen of the Sea. 11 Hemdotus said seven

holy women known as Doves founded the oracles of Dodona, Epirus,

and Theban Amon.12 They were worshipped in the Middle East as

Seven Sages or Seven Pillars of Wisdom: the seven woman-shaped

pillars that had been upholding temples of the Goddess since the

third millenium B.c. 13 See Caryatid. Arabs still revere the Seven Sages,

and some remember that they were women, or "doves." 14 The

Semitic word for "dove," ione, was a cognate of"yoni" and related to

the Goddess Uni, who later became lune, or Juno.

The cult of the Doves used to incorporate primitive rites of

castration and its modification, circumcision. India called the seven

Sisters "razors" or "cutters" who judged and "critically" wounded men,

the Krittikas, "Seven Mothers of the World," root of the Greek

kritikos, "judge." They killed and gave rebirth to gods who were

castrated to make them fertile, like women. The name of Queen

Semiramis, legendary founder of Babylon, also meant "Dove" in the

Syrian tongue. She was said to have castrated all her consorts. 15

When circumcision replaced castration, the doves were involved in

that too. Even Christian symbolism made the connection. The

official symbol of the Festival of the Circumcision of Christ was a dove,

holding in its beak a ring representing the Holy Prepuce. "Christ's

fructifying blood" was linked with the similar emblem of Pentecost,

which showed the descending dove on a background of blood red,

officially described as a representation of the church fertilized by the

blood of Christ and the martyrs. 16

A certain "maiden ma~tyr" called St. Columba (Holy Dove) was

widely revered, especially in France, although she never existed as a

human being. 17 Another curious survival of pagan dove-lore was the

surname given to St. Peter: Bar-Iona, "Son of the Dove." 18 Some

survivals may have been invented to explain the doves appearing on

ancient coins as symbols of Aphrodite and Astarte. 19

Columba, Saint

"Holy Dove," a spurious canonization of Aphrodite as a "maiden

martyr" Columba of Sens.1 Celtic myth called her Colombe, the yoni

maiden mated to Lancelot as a lightning bolt, the Phallus of Heaven. 2

See Lightning.


Veil of the Temple; the anatomical definition descended from a

concept of the vagina as a sanctuary of Aphrodite, virgin Goddess

presiding over defloration. The veil of her temple was "rent in the

midst" (Luke 23:45) by the Passion of her doomed bridegroom, at the

moment when he entered her chthonian womb, and the sun (male

principle) was darkened-all elements borrowed by the Christian crucifixion

myth. (See Honey.) At the sacred marriage as well as at secular

marriages, the Goddess was invoked with the cry O Hymen Hymenaie:

possible origin of the word "hymn." 1

Janua Coeli

"Gate of Heaven," title of the sanctuary screen in Christian

churches, derived from the yonic "gate" of] uno (Uni, or yom) veiled

by the hymen in the Goddess's own temples. As a personification of

the Gate, Juno had two faces looking in both directions-the outward

passage of the Gate at birth, the reverse passage at death. At her

festival in early January she was addressed as Antevorta and Postvorta,

the Goddess Who Looks Forward and Backward, for January was the

"gate" of the year, when the god of the Aeon died and was reborn from

Mother Time.1

As Roman religion became more patriarchal, Juno's gate-keeping

persona became an androgynous Janua-Janus, later was wholly masculinized

as the two-faced god Janus to whom all gateways were sacr.ed.

He was another form of the Petra, Pater, or Peter, keeper of the keys

to the Goddess's "Pearly Gate."

The Christian version of the janua coeli depicted heaven on one

side, hell on the other. The "wrong" or "death" side of the Gate

became known as janua diaboli, "the gate by which the Devil enters."

Since the whole image was that of a yoni to begin with, it was almost

inevitable that Christian fathers used janua diaboli as a common

synonym for "woman." 2


Derivative of the Oriental Great Goddess as Cunti, or Kunda, the

Yoni of the Uni-verse. 1 From the same root came county, kin, and kind

(Old English cyn, Gothic kuni). Related forms were Latin cunnus,

Middle English cunte, Old Norse and Frisian kunta, Basque cuna.

Other cognates are "cunabula," a cradle, or earliest abode; "Cunina,"

a Roman Goddess who protected children in the cradle;

"cunctipotent," all-powerful (i.e., having cunt-magic); "cunicle," a

hole or passage; "cuniculate," penetrated by a passage; "cundy," a

coverted culvert; also cunning, kenning, and ken: knowledge, learning,

insight, remembrance, wisdom. Cunt is "not slang, dialect or any

marginal form, but a true language word, and of the oldest stock." 2

"Kin" meant not only matrilineal blood relations, but also a cleft or

crevice, the Goddess's genital opening. A Saharan tribe called Kuntahs

traced their descent from this holy place.3 Indian "kundas" were

their mothers' natural children, begotten out of wedlock as gifts of the

Goddess Kunda.4 Of old the name applied to girls, as in China where

girls were once considered children of their mothers only, having no

natural connection with fathers. 5

In ancient writings, the word for "cunt" was synonymous with

"woman," though not in the insulting modern sense. An Egyptologist

was shocked to find the maxims of Ptah-Hotep "used for 'woman' a

term that was more than blunt," though its indelicacy was not in the

eye of the ancient beholder, only in that of the modern scholar.6

Medieval clergymen similarly perceived obscenity in female-genital

shrines of the pagans: holy caves, wells, groves. Any such place

was called cunnus diaboli, "devilish cunt." Witches who worshipped

there sometimes assumed the name of the place, like the male witch

Johannes Cuntius mentioned by Thomas MoreJ "Under painful circumstances"

this witch died at the hands of witch hunters, but it was

said he was resurrected, and came back to earth as a lecherous incubus.8

Sacred places identified with the world-cunt sometimes embarrassed

Victorian scholars who failed to understand their earlier

meaning. A.H. Clough became a laughing-stock among Gaelic-speaking

students when he published a poem called Toper-na-Fuosich,

literally "bearded well," a Gaelic place-name for a cunt-shrine. The

synonym "twat" was ignorantly used by another Victorian poet,

Robert Browning, in the closing lines of his Pippa Passes:

Then, owls and bats,

Cowls and twats,

Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,

Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary hesitantly asked

Browning where he learned the word. He said it came from a bawdy

broadside poem of 1659: "They talked of his having a Cardinal's Hat;

They'd send him as soon an Old Nun's Twat." Browning thought the

word meant a wimple, or other headgear corresponding-to "hat."9


Tantric term for ( 1) "woman," one of the five boons bestowed on

man by the Goddess Kali; (2) "kidney bean," a female-genital symbol

associated with transmigration of souls (see Beans); (3) a mystical

gesture, in temple dancers' hand-sign language.1


Pre-Vedic name of the Goddess as dispenser of karuna. Kauri was

sometimes translated "Brilliant One," a name for the Goddess's virgin

aspect: she who gave their "Power" (Shakti) to the gods.1 Kauri was

also a name for the vulva (yoni), descriptive of the cowrie shell accepted

all over the world as a symbol of the female genital and its curative

and generative properties.


Feminine life force, a Chinese cognate of "yoni"; usually represented

as a fluid emanating from a female "Grotto of the White Tiger"

(genitals).' According to the doctrines of Tao, the power of yin was

stronger than any male power; therefore men had to learn to take

feminine fluids into themselves, to gain wisdom and health.

Kwai-Yin / Kuan-Yin

Eponymous Great Mother of China, known as the Lady Who Brings

Children; embodiment of the yin principle, as Kali embodied the yoni

principle in India. Kwai-Yin perpetually contemplated the Golden

Vial of her own womb, which produced the entire world while her

consort Shang-te (Father Heaven) lived within her in a Chinese

version of the Jewel in the Lotus. Kwai-Yin and her Japanese counterpart

Kwannon represented the principle of karuna, Boundless


Yang and Yin

Chinese mandala of light and dark, male and female, summer and

winter, death and life, etc.: an S-curve dividing black and white halves of

the circle, each half containing a spot of the opposite color. Though

now regarded as a bisexual emblem, the Yang and Yin symbol was once

wholly feminine. During the Sung period it referred to the cyclic

phases of the moon.1 Yin, the female power in the mandala, was a

cognate of "yoni."


Greek word for a comb, cowrie, scallop, or vulva; symbol of the

feminine Gate of Life. Pilgrims to Aphrodite's shrines carried a kteis in

token of a state of grace (charis). The custom continued in the name

of St. James of Compostela.


Greek nymphe, Latin nympha, a bride or a nubile young woman.

The same word was applied to female-genital symbols like the lotus

flower, water lilies, and certain shells. "Nymphs" served as priestesses

in ancient temples of the Goddess, especially in sexual ceremonies,

where they represented the divine principle of flowering fertility and

were sometimes known as Brides of God. See Virgin birth.

In medieval times the word nymph was applied to either a witch or

a fairy, since both descended from the pre-Christian priestess. As

spirits of nature, the "nymphs" were believed to embed their souls

forever in certain parts of the natural world that the Goddess had

ruled in antiquity: there were water nymphs, tree nymphs, mountain

nymphs, and nymphs who dwelt in the earth, the sea, or Fairyland.

Their ancient connection with sexuality was more or less consistently

maintained. Even now, "nymphomania" connotes sexual obsession,

like the moon-madness supposed to motivate the ancient nymphs in

their seasons of mating.

Ark of the Covenant

On its earliest appearances in the Bible, the ark of the covenant was so

sacer (taboo, dangerous) that it would kill at a touch. While it was

being transported on an oxcart, it teetered "because the oxen shook

it" and would have fallen, had not Uzzah "put forth his hand to the ark

of God, and took hold of it" (2 Samuel6:3). In spite ofUzzah's good

intentions, God instantly struck him dead for daring to touch the

holy object.

Again, when the ark returned from Philistia, God perpetrated an

extraordinary slaughter of 50,070 well-intentioned people for daring

to look inside the ark in their joy: "And he smote the men of

Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even

he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and

the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the

people with a great slaughter" (l Samuel 6:19).

Even priests feared the power of the ark, and resorted to ritual

washing before approaching it, "that they die not" (Exodus 30:20).

Water was a common prophylactic charm against the destructive power

of holy things. Phil on of Byzantium said all the "ancients" used water

for ritual purification before entering temples; they also spun prayerwheels

made of Aphrodite's sacred metal, copper.1

For some reason God lost interest in his ark by Jeremiah's time:

"Saith the Lord, they shall say no more, the ark of the covenant of

the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it;

neither shall it be magnified any more" (Jeremiah 3:16).

The probable cause of God's change of heart was a reform

movement to purge the temple of sexual symbols. The arks or cistae of

the Greeks and Syrians held emblems of the lingam-yoni, such as eggs

and serpents, clay or dough models of genitalia.-Rabbinical tradition

said the ark contained a hexagram representing the sexual union of God

and Goddess, the same meaning given to the hexagram in India. 2

Thus the ark was a female container for a male god. Mary, God's

consort in her later form, often received the title of "Ark."

Semitic Arek, "ark," descended from Hindu Argha, "great ship,"

metaphorically the Great Yoni: a female-sexual vessel bearing seeds

of life through the sea of chaos between destruction of one cosmos and

creation of the next. 3 From the same root came "arcane," literally a

dark or crescent phase of the moon. The crescent moon boat symbolized

the Goddess's spirit dancing on her primordial uterine Ocean of

Blood, whose "clots" would form the lands and creatures of a new

universe. Noah's version of the Argha came to Palestine via Sumeria

and Babylon (see Flood), but was intensively re-interpreted by Jewish

patriarchs anxious to eliminate the female principle.

Vagina Dentata

"Toothed vagina," the classic symbol of men's fear of sex, expressing
the unconscious belief that a woman may eat or castrate her partner
during intercourse. Freud said, "Probably no male human being is
spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the
female genitals." 1 But he had the reason wrong. The real reason for
this "terrifying shock" is mouth-symbolism, now recognized universally
in myth and fantasy: "It is well known in psychiatry that both males
and females fantasize as a mouth the female's entranceway to the
vagina." 2
The more patriarchal the society, the more fear seems to be
aroused by the fantasy. Men ofMalekula, having overthrown their
matriarchate, were haunted by a yonic spirit called "that which draws us
to It so that It may devour us." 3 The Yanomamo said one of the first
beings on earth was a woman whose vagina became a toothed mouth
and bit off her consort's penis. Chinese patriarchs said women's
genitals were not only gateways to immortality but also "executioners of
men." 4 Moslem aphorisms said: "Three things are insatiable: the

desert, the grave, and a woman's vulva." 5 Polynesians said the saviorgod
Maui tried to find eternal life by crawling into the mouth (or
vagina) of his mother Hina, in effect trying to return to the womb of the
Creatress; but she bit him in two and killed him.6
Stories of the devouring Mother are ubiquitous in myths, representing
the death-fear which the male psyche often transformed into
a sex-fear. Ancient writings describe the male sexuarfunction not as
"taking" or "possessing" the female, but rather "being taken," or
"putting forth." 7 Ejaculation was viewed as a loss of a man's vital force,
which was "eaten" by a woman. The Greek sema or "semen" meant
both "seed" and "food." Sexual "consummation" was the same as
"consuming" (the male). Many savages still have the same imagery.
The Yanomamo word for pregnant also means satiated or full-fed; and
"to eat" is the same as "to copulate." 8
Distinction between mouths and female genitals was blurred by
the Greek idea of the lamiae-lustful she-demons, born of the
Libyan snake-goddess Lamia. Their name meant either "lecherous
vaginas" or "gluttonous gullets." 9 Lamia was a Greek name for the
divine female serpent called Kundalini in India, Uraeus or Per-Uatchet
in Egypt, and Lamashtu in Babylon. Her Babylonian consort was
Pazuzu, he of the serpent penis. Lamia's legend, with its notion that
males are born to be eaten, led to Pliny's report on the sexual life of
snakes that was widely believed throughout Europe even up to the 20th
century: a male snake fertilizes the female snake by putting his head
into her mouth and allowing himself to be eaten. 10
Sioux Indians told a tale similar to that of the Lamia. A beautiful
seductive woman accepted the love of a young warrior and united
with him inside a cloud. When the cloud lifted, the woman stood alone.
The man was a heap ofbones being gnawed by snakes at her feet. 11
Mouth and vulva were equated in many Egyptian myths. Ma-Nu,
the western gate whereby the sun god daily re-entered his Mother,
was sometimes a "cleft" (yoni), and sometimes a "mouth." 12 Priestesses
of Bast, representing the Goddess, drew up their skirts to display their
genitals during religious processions.13 To the Greeks, such a display
was frightening. Bellerophon fled in terror from Lycian women
advancing on him with genitals exposed, and even the sea god Poseidon
retreated, for fear they might swallow him. 14
According to Philostratus, magical women "by arousing sexual
desire seek to devour whom they wish." 15 To the patriarchal Persians
and Moslems this seemed a distinct possibility. Viewing women's
mouths as either obscene, dangerous, or overly seductive, they
insisted on veiling them. Yet men's mouths, which look no different,
were not viewed as threatening.
"Mouth" comes from the same root as "mother" -Anglo-Saxon
muth, also related to the Egyptian Goddess Mut. Vulvas have labiae,
"lips," and many men have believed that behind the lips lie teeth.
Christian authorities of the Middle Ages taught that certain witches,

with the help of the moon and magic spells, could grow fangs in their
vaginas. They likened women's genitals to the "yawning" mouth of
hell, though this was hardly original; the underworld gate had always
been the yoni of Mother Hel. It had always "yawned" -from Middle
English yonen, another derivative of "yoni." A German vulgarity
meaning "cunt," Fotze, in parts of Bavaria meant simply "mouth." 16
To Christian ascetics, Hell-mouth and the vagina drew upon the
same ancient symbolism. Both were equated with the womb-symbol
of the whale that swallowed Jonah; according to this "prophecy" the
Hell-mouth swallowed Christ (as Hina swallowed her son Maui) and
kept him for three days. Visionary trips to hell often read like "a
description of the experience of being born, but in reverse, as if the
child was being drawn into the womb and destroyed there, instead of
being formed and given life." St. Teresa of Avila said her vision of a
visit to hell was "an oppression, a suffocation, and an affliction so
agonizing, and accompanied by such a hopeless and distressing
misery that no words I could find would adequately describe it. To say
that it was as if my soul were being continuously torn from my body
is as nothing." 17
The archetypal image of"devouring" female genitals seems undeniably
alive even in the modern world. "Males in our culture are so
afraid of direct contact with female genitalia, and are even afraid of
referring to these genitalia themselves; they largely displace their
feelings to the accessory sex organs-the hips, legs, breasts, buttocks, et
cetera-and they give these accessory organs an exaggerated interest
and desirability." 18 Even here, the male scholar inexplicably "displaces"
the words sex organ onto structures that have nothing to do with
sexual functioning.
Looking into, touching, entering the female orifice seems fraught
with hidden fears, signified by the confusion of sex with death in
overwhelming numbers of male minds and myths. Psychiatrists say sex
is perceived by the male unconscious as dying: "Every orgasm is a
little death: the death or 'the little man,' the penis." 19 Here indeed is the
root of ascetic religions that equated the denial of death with denial of
Moslems attributed all kinds of dread powers to a vulva. It could
"bite off" a man's eye-beam, resulting in blindness for any man who
looked into its cavity. A sultan of Damascus was said to have lost his
sight in his manner. Christian legend claimed he went to Sardinia to
be cured of his blindness by a miraculous idol of the virgin Mary-who,
being eternally virgin, had her door-mouth permanently closed by a
veil-hymen. 20
Apparently Freud was wrong in assuming that men's fear of
female genitals was based on the idea that the female had been
castrated. The fear was much less empathetic, and more personal: a fear
of being devoured, of experiencing the birth trauma in reverse. A
Catholic scholar's curious description of the Hell-mouth as a womb

inadvertently reveals this idea: "When we think of man entering hell
we think of him as establishing contact with the most intrinsic, unified,
ultimate and deepest level of the reality of the world." 21


One of the titles of the Greek "female soul," also known as Psyche,
in her devouring aspect; literally, a yoni-that which devours the
phallus.1 The same word was applied to the night-moth, as a
mysterious dark sister of the sun-loving butterfly that represented
Psyche's daylight aspect. Phallaina was Psyche paired with Eros.
According to the classical myth, their matings could take place only in
the dark. When Psyche saw her husband in the light, their marriage
was dissolved.


"She Who Makes Weak," a name compounded of De (daleth), the

yonic Door, and lilu, the lotus, another yonic symbol. She was the

Goddess who "weakened" the sun god every day and sent him to his

death on the wheel that turned him under the earth. In the case of

Samson-who was the sun god Shams-On, or Shamash-it was the

mill wheel. In the case of Heracles, another name for the same solar

deity, it was Omphale's wheel: the omphalos often represented by the

cosmic yoni.


Greek meter is "mother." De is the delta, or triangle, a femalegenital

sign known as "the letter of the vulva" in the Greek sacred

alphabet, as in India it was the Yoni Yantra, or yantra of the vulva. 1

Corresponding letters-Sanskrit dwr, Celtic duir, Hebrew dalethmeant

the Door of birth, death, or the sexual paradise.2 Thus,

Demeter was what Asia called "the Doorway of the Mysterious Feminine

... the root from which Heaven and Earth sprang." 3 In

Mycenae, one of Demeter's earliest cult centers, tholos tombs with their

triangular doorways, short vaginal passages and round domes, represented

the womb of the Goddess-from which rebirth might come.

Doorways generally were sacred to women. In Sumeria they were

painted red, representing the female "blood oflife." 4 In Egypt, doorways

were smeared with real blood for religious ceremonies, a custom

copied by the Jews for their Passover rites.

The triangle-door-yoni symbolized Demeter's trinity. Like all the

oldest forms of the basic Asiatic Goddess she appeared as Virgin,

Mother, and Crone, or Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, like Kali-Cunti

who was the same yoni-mother. Demeter's Virgin form was Kore,

the Maiden, sometimes called her "daughter," as in the classical myth

of the abduction of Kore, which divided the two aspects of the

Goddess into two separate individuals. Demeter's Mother form had

many names and titles, such as Despoena, "the Mistress"; Daeira,

"the Goddess"; the Barley-Mother; the Wise One of Earth and Sea; or

Pluto, "Abundance." This last name was transferred to the male

underworld god said to have taken the Maiden into the earth-womb

during the dark season when fields lay fallow. But this was a late,

artificial myth. The original Pluto was female, and her "riches" were

poured out on the world from her breasts. 5

The Crone phase of Demeter, Persephone-the-Destroyer, was

identified with the Virgin in late myth, so the Maiden abducted into

the underworld was sometimes Kore, sometimes Persephone. Some of

the Destroyer's other, earlier names were Melaina, the Black One;

Demeter Chthonia, the Subterranean One; or The Avenger (Erinys).

Her black-robed, mare-headed idol, her mane entwined with Gorgon

snakes, appeared in one of her oldest cave-shrines, Mavrospelya, the

Black Cave, in Phigalia (southwest Arcadia). She ca~ried a dolphin

and a dove, symbols of womb and yoni. Like the devouring deathgoddess

everywhere, she was once a cannibal. She ate the flesh of

Pelops, then restored him to life in her cauldron.6 She was as fearsome

as every other version of the Crone. The legendary medieval NightMare-

an equine Fury who tormented sinners in their sleep-was

based on ancient images of Mare-headed Demeter.

Her cult was already well established at Mycenae in the 13th

century B.C. and continued throughout Greece well into the Christian

era, a length of time almost equal to the lifespan of Christianity

itself.? Her temple at Eleusis, one of the greatest shrines in Greece,

became the center of an elaborate mystery-religion. Sophocles wrote,

"Thrice happy they of men who looked upon these rites ere they go

to Hades's house; for they alone there have true life." Aristides said,

"The benefit of the festival is not merely the cheerfulness of the

moment and the freedom and respite from all previous troubles, but also

the possession of happier hopes concerning the end, hopes that our

life hereafter will be the better, and that we shall not lie in darkness and

filth-the fate that is believed to await the uninitiated." Isocrates said:

"Demeter ... being graciously minded towards our forefathers because

of their services to her, services of which none but the initiated may

hear, gave us the greatest of all gifts, first, those fruits of the earth which

saved us from living the life of beasts, and secondly, that rite which

t¥kes happier the hopes of those that participate therein concerning

both the end of life and their whole existence." 8

Eleusis meant "advent." Its principal rites brought about the

advent of the Divine Child or Savior, variously named Brim us,

Dionysus,Triptolemus, lasion, or Eleuthereos, the Liberator. Like the

corn, he was born of Demeter-the-earth and laid in a manger or

winnowing basket.9 His flesh was eaten by communicants in the form of

bread, made from the first or last sheaves. His blood was drunk in the

form of wine. Like Jesus, he entered the Earth and rose again.

Communicants were supposed to partake of his immortality, and

after death they were known as Demetreioi, blessed ones belonging to


Revelations were imparted to the initiate through secret "things

heard, things tasted, and things seen." 11 This formula immediately

calls to mind the three admonitory monkeys covering ears, mouth, and

eyes, supposed to illustrate the maxim, "Hear no evil, speak no evil,

see no evil." Was the "evil': a secret descended from Eleusinian

religion? Demeter was worshipped as "the Goddess" by Greek

peasants all the way through the Middle Ages, even up to the 19th

century at Eleusis where she was entitled "Mistress of Earth and

Sea." In 1801 two Englishmen named Clarke and Cripps caused a riot

among the peasants by taking the Goddess's image away to a

museum in Cambridge.12

Early Christians were much opposed to the Eleusinian rites

because of their overt sexuality, even though their goal was "regeneration

and forgiveness of sins." 13 Asterius said, "Is not Eleusis the scene

of descent into the darkness, and of the solemn acts of intercourse

between the hierophant and the priestess, alone together? Are not the

torches extinguished, and does not the large, the numberless assembly

of common people believe that their salvation lies in that which is

being done by the two in the darkness?" 14 Fanatic monks destroyed

the temple of these sexual mysteries in 396 A.D., but the site remained

holy to the Goddess's votaries, and the ceremonies were carried on

there and elsewhere.15

Rustics never ceased believing that Demeter's spirit was manifest

in the final sheaf of the harvest, often called the Demeter, the Corn

Mother, the Old Woman, etc. At harvest festivals it was often dressed in

woman's clothing and laid in a manger to make the cattle thrive.16

Secret anti-Christian doctrines of medieval Freemasonry also drew

some symbolism from the cults of the ancient Mistress of Earth and

Sea, particularly the masonic sacred image of Plenty: "an ear of corn

near a fall of water." 17 The ultimate Mystery was revealed at Eleusis

in "an ear of corn reaped in silence" -a sacred fetish that the Jews

called shibboleth.18


Women's festival of Demeter Thesmophoros, "Demeter-Who-Established-

the-Customs." Women mixed the seed corn with their

menstrual blood to give it life; sacrificed pigs; and carried in procession

seed vessels, serpents, and cakes formed like female genitals.1 On

the third day, sacrificed victims came forth from the earth-womb in

the Kalligeneia, "Fair Birth." 2 Victims were identified with the savior

Dionysus, a Holy Child laid in a manger, later to die and give his

blood as sacred wine for the worshippers to drink, thus assuring their



From Greek kleitoris, "divine, famous, goddess-like." 1 Greek myth

personified the phallus as Priapus and the clitoris as an Amazon queen

named Kleite, ancestral mother of the Kleitae, a tribe of warrior

women who founded a city in Italy.2 In Corinth, Kleite was a princess

"whom Artemis made grow tall and strong," an allegory of her

erection.3 Or, again, she was a nymph who loved the phallus of the sun

god and always followed his motion with her "head" -a transparently

sexual metaphor.4 In a bowdlerized version of the story she was

transformed into a sunflower, turning to follow the motion of the sun

across the sky.

Pausanias said the Arcadian city of Clitor was sacred to Artemis, or

to Demeter, and stood at the genital shrine of the earth, the

headwaters of the Styx (or Alph).5 The meaning of this geographical

myth is made clear by the primitive belief that the Styx represented

Mother Earth's menstrual blood, source and solvent of all things. In

this place, too, the orgiastic priestesses of Artemis were "soothed" out

of their frenzies; therefore the local omphalos must have signified the

Goddess's clitoris instead of her navel.

Later patriarchal society managed to ignore the clitoris. Since the

Christian church taught that women should not experience sexual

pleasure but should only endure intercourse for the sake of procreation,

growing girls and boys alike were kept ignorant of female sexuality,

insofar as possible.6 Even physicians came to believe that no clitoris

would be found on a virtuous woman.

From medieval times onward, virtuous women rarely showed

themselves naked to any man, even a husband; so it was perhaps not

surprising that men should remain ignorant of the female anatomy they

clumsily fumbled with in the dark. Pious married couples wore the

chemise cagoule, a voluminous nightgown with a small hole in front, to

allow impregnation with a minimum of body contact.7

At a witch trial in 1593, the investigating gaoler (a married man)

apparently discovered a clitoris for the first time, and identified it as a

devil' s teat, sure proof of the witch's guilt. It was "a little lump of flesh,

in manner sticking out as if it had been a teat, to the length of half an

inch," which the gaoler, "perceiving at the first sight thereof, meant not

to disclose, because it was adjoining to so secret a place which was not

decent to be seen; yet in the end, not willing to c~mceal so strange a

matter," he showed it to various bystanders.8 The bystanders had

never seen anything like it either. The witch was convicted.

European society certainly knew all about the penis, and never

ceased to worship it, even in Christian times.

Yet the clitoris was forgotten:

Almost from the very beginning of our lives, we are all taught that the

primary male sex organ is the penis, and the primary female sex organ

is the vagina. These organs are supposed to define the sexes, to be the

difference between boys and girls .... This is a lie . . . . Woman's

sexual pleasure is often left out of these definitions. If people considered

that the purpose of the female sex organs is to bring pleasure to

women, then female sex would be defined by, and focused on, a different

organ. Everyone would be taught from infan~y that, as the primary

male sex organ is the penis, so the primary female sex organ is the clitoris. 9

Medical authorities in the 19th century seemed anxious to

prevent women from discovering their own sexuality. Girls who learned

to develop orgasmic capacity by masturbation, just as boys learned it,

were regarded as medical problems. Often they were "treated" or

"corrected" by amputation or cautery of the clitoris, or "miniature

chastity belts, sewing the vaginal lips together to put the clitoris out of

reach, and even castration by surgical removal of the ovaries. But

there are no references in the medical literature to surgical removal of

testicles or amputation of the penis to stop masturbation (in boys)." 10

In the United States, the last recorded clitoridectomy for curing

masturbation was performed in 1948-on a five-year-old girl. 11

The Catholic church's definition of masturbation as "a grave

moral disorder" in 1976 may have incorporated fears of the effect of

masturbation on female orgasmic capacity, now well known to evolve

through masturbatory experience the same as that of a male. 12 Less

than a century ago, in the Victorian era, priests and doctors realized that

"the total repression of woman's sexuality was crucial to ensure her

subjugation." Leading authorities like Dr. Isaac Brown Baker performed

many clitoridectomies to cure women's nervousness, hysteria,

catalepsy, insanity, female dementia, and other catchwords for symptoms

of sexual frustration. 13

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

The Internal Clitoris

the internal erect clitoris

The scientific name for the external “little button” or “bulb” is glans. Not to be confused with glands, glans simply refers to a small circular mass. This little structure contains approximately 8,000 sensory nerve fibers; more than anywhere else in the human body and nearly twice the amount found on the head of a penis! The fact is, though, that most of the clitoris is subterranean, consisting of two corpora cavernosa (corpus cavernosum when referring to the structure as a whole), two crura (crus when referring to the structure as a whole), and the clitoral vestibules or bulbs.

The glans is connected to the body or shaft of the internal clitoris, which is made up of two corpora cavernosa. When erect, the corpora cavernosa encompass the vagina on either side, as if they were wrapping around it giving it a big hug!

The corpus cavernosum also extends further, bifurcating again to form the two crura. These two legs extend up to 9cm, pointing toward the thighs when at rest, and stretching back toward the spine when erect. To picture them at rest, imagine the crura as a wishbone, coming together at the body of the clitoris where they attach to the pubic symphysis.

Near each of the crura on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral vestibules. These are internally under the labia majora. When they become engorged with blood they actually cuff the vaginal opening causing the vulva to expand outward. Get these puppies excited, and you’ve got a hungrier, tighter-feeling vaginal opening in which to explore!

We now understand how the erectile tissue of the clitoris engorges and surrounds the vagina – a complete breakthrough that explains how what we once considered to be a vaginal orgasm is actually an internal clitoral orgasm.


Jewish door-charm, supposed to protect the house from entry by evil
spirits. Originally, an imitation of Egyptian door-charms known as
Pillars of Horus: small tablets engraved with hieroglyphic spells to
repel evil spirits.1 Touching or kissing the door-charm when passing
through dates back to the Hindu custom of touching the yoni of the
door-post Kali-figure "for luck," when entering her temple.2 Similar
"obscene" yonic door-charms were used in early Irish churches; see


Carved representation of a naked woman squatting with her knees

apart, displaying her vulva, shown as a vesica piscis or double-pointed

oval. Sometimes the figure presented the vesica with both hands or

drew it open with one. Sheila-na-gig figures appeared all over old Irish

churches built before the 16th century.1 Many were still in place

during the 19th century, but Victorian prudery defaced or destroyed

large numbers of them. Some have been found buried near the

churches they once embellished.2

Sheila-na-gig figures closely resembled the yonic statues of Kali

which still appear at the doorways of Hindu temples, where visitors

lick a finger and touch the yoni ''for luck." Some of the older figures

have deep holes worn in their yonis from much touching.3

The protruding ribcage on many examples of the sheila-na-gig

imitates the figures of Kali as the death-goddess, Kalika, evidently

remembered in Ireland as the Caillech or "Old Woman," who was also

the Creatress and gave birth to all races of men.4 Celts generally

protected doorways with some female-genital fetish, which is why they

settled on the horseshoe, classic Omega-sign of the Kalika. In India it

stood for the feminine cosmos within which Shiva ever performed his

creative sexual dance, although he was assimilated to the Kalika and

given her title of Destroyer. 5

Derivation of the term sheila-na-gig is obscure. It meant something

like "vulva-woman." Gig or giggie meant female genitals and

may have been related to the Irish "jig," from French gigue, in

pre-Christian times an orgiastic dance. In ancient Erech a gig seems to

have been a holy yoni; the sacred harlots of the temple were known

as nu-gig.6


The Celtic trefoil, which originated in the east. Pre-Islamic Arabs

called the trefoil shamrakh, the three-lobed lily or lotus flower of the

Moon-goddess's trinity: a design of "three yonis" which appeared on

artifacts of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, as well as on stone,

pottery, and woodwork in Mesopotamia, Crete, and Egypt between

2300 and 1300 B.c.1

Christians pretended that St. Patrick explained the doctrine of the

Christian trinity to the Irish by exhibiting the shamrock. However,

the Irish were worshipping this emblem of their Triple Goddess long

before Christianity appeared in their land. It stood for her triple

"door," and her God sometimes bore the title of Trefuilngid Tre-

eochair, "Triple Bearer of the Triple Key," a trident representing the

triple phallus. He was known as a God of the Shamrock, partially

assimilated to Christianity by a legend that he appeared to the Irish on

the day of Christ's crucifixion, bearing sacred stone tablets and a branch

with three fruits.2


Perhaps more than any other natural objects, mountains most often

represented the Great Mother. In every land the mountains were

identified with breasts, belly, or mons veneris of the Earth, as well as

the paradise where gods live.

Chomo-Lung-Ma, "Goddess-Mother of the Universe," is the

world's highest mountain, known in the west, typically, by the name

of a man: Mount Everest. Nearby rises Annapurna, "Great Breast Full

ofNourishment." 1 There is also Nanda Devi, "Blessed Goddess,"

mother of the river-goddess Ganga (Ganges). These mountains are

some of the Primal Mothers called Himalaya, "Mountains of Heaven,"

which gave rise to the Germanic Himmel, "heaven." 2

Northern Europeans called the home of the gods Himinbjorg,

Heaven-Mountain. 3 The gods lived on the "lap" of the Great

Mother. "This notion of a mountainous situation of the home of the

gods is one shared by other Indo-European races such as the Greeks

who settled their pantheon on Mount Olympus; it is surely behind the

psalmist's 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh

my help."'4

Snow-covered, breast-shaped mountains were considered the

source of"help" (or food) from the benevolent Goddess whose white

milk was really water: glacier-fed streams whose waters were often white

with suspended rock dust. The Mountain Mother was both a source

of life-giving waters, and a Queen of Heaven. One of the oldest titles of

the Hindu triple Goddess Parvati-Kali-Uma was Daughter of Heaven

(Himalaya).5 According to the Greeks, the Goddess formerly ruled not

only Mount Olympus, home of the classic gods, but all mountains;

hence her title Panorma, "Universal Mountain Mother."6

One of the archaic Goddesses was Niobe, "Snowy One," identified

with Mount Sipylus, where a water-streaming crag still bears the

carved image of a Hittite mother goddess.7 Mountainous breasts rise in

County Kerry, Ireland, as double peaks called the Paps of Anu-that

is, the ancestral Goddess Anu, or Danu, mother of the Tuatha De

Danann. 8 Samoyed shamans believe they must experience a vision of

climbing a magic mountain, where they will meet the Lady of Waters.

She is a naked Goddess who accepts the shaman by allowing him to

feed at her breast, saying, "You are my child; that is why I let you suckle

at my breast." 9

Sumero-Babylonian texts spoke of the Mother-mountain where

the sun god was daily born and nightly swallowed up. This was

Mashu, "Twin Peaks," as high as the walls of heaven, dwelling in the

western garden of paradise by the shores of Ocean. 10 The twin peaks

were breasts nourishing heaven, and the mountain had another set of

"paps" reaching downward to nourish the underworld, as if it were

the two-faced Goddess of life and death. The way into the land of death

was into the Mother-mountain's body, via the Road of the Chariot,

or Road of No Return. 11

There was a curious resemblance between Mashu of the Sumerians

and Macchu Picchu of the Peruvian Incas, another twin-peaked

holy mountain where the sun rose and set, tended by priestesses. There

as in distant Sumeria, the common name of the Goddess was


The Hindu pantheon was settled on Mount Meru, or Sumeru, the

"Good Mountain" located in the north, pointing to an archaic

connection between India and Sumeria. 13 The Chinese located their

Mount of Paradise in the same general vicinity as Sumeria, in the

west. It produced the usual four rivers and was surrounded by "red

water" like the River of Bl~od that surrounded ancient Fairylands. 14

See Menstrual Blood. l

Iranians said the LofJ Mountain-Mother stood at the center of the

earth. She was called High Haraiti. At her summit was the Navel of

Waters, "for the fountain of all waters springs there, guarded by a

majestic and beneficent Goddess." The Vedas say Yama, Lord of

Death, sits in the midst of the celestial ocean in her highest heaven, on

the Navel of Waters, where "matter first took form." 15 The Japanese

combined him with the Mountain-Mother Fuji the Ancestress, and the

magic mountain came to be called Fujiyama.16

A very old Dravidian form of the mountain-Mother was Hariti,

who nursed five hundred supernatural beings at once. 17 The gods she

supported on her lap recall archetypal images of the infant enthroned on

the mother's body, which is simultaneously "earth" and "paradise.''

Myths hold many indications of the child-parent relationship between

the god and his feminine support. One of the emblems of Isis was

the Mu'at, "foundation of the throne," meaning hers was the lap the

pharaoh and his divine alter ego sat on, on earth as well as in heaven.

The Persian sun god Ahura Mazda lived in a glowing palace on

the summit of Mount Hara, a derivative of Hariti. 18 In Hebrew, hara

meant both "mountain" and "pregnant belly." 19 In Latin the word

described the official diviners called haruspices, those who gaze into

the belly-that is, entrail-readers. 20

The idea of the Mount of Paradise as the Goddess's belly or vulva

led to the widespread belief that life-giving rivers of blood emanated

from it, the "four rivers of paradise" common to Asiatic traditions,

identified with real rivers by the Bible with lofty disregard for their

geography (Genesis 2:10-14). One of these rivers was Gihon, the

Hebrew name for the Nile, coming from "the whole land of

Ethiopia." The name was a corruption of Gehenna or Ge-enna, the

River of Ge (Gaea), or of Mother Earth. Or again, the Nile was

supposed to emanate from the Mountain of the Moon (Ruwenzori)

beyond Ethiopia.

This was one of the universal female-symbolic images in mytholo-

gy: the lunar mountain, located in a garden of paradise, containing a

great cave or labyrinth, producing the rivers of life. Its genital connotation

could hardly be overlooked. Arabs called it Jebel Ka-Mar, the

Mother-mountain. Even in medieval European romances it was the

source of wisdom; Merlin learned his magic by drinking of its

ambrosia. Anointed knights of Charlemagne, searching for the same

source, traveled to a great cavern under a Mountain of the Moon at

the headwaters of the Nile. 21

Egyptians eventually transferred the mystic source of the Nile

from the remote Mountains of the Moon to the handier first cataract

at Elephantine (modern Jazirat Aswan). This was regarded as the earth's

yoni, where the God mated with the Goddess, to produce the annual

outpouring of the Nile. The genital metaphor of the mountain is still

suggested by the word mons, meaning both a mountain and a female


Pyramids and ziggurats were artificial mountains built where the

land was flat, to serve as thrones of the Lord, "high places" for his

sacred marriage to the Goddess, earth-wombs for his regeneration, and

shrines. Like the Celtic tumulus, a Buddhist reliquary mound or

stupa was also an imitation of the holy mountain, often likened to the

Mother's belly.23 Similar tombs on a larger scale were the Mycenaean

tholos tombs, covered with tons of earth to make artificial hills.24

Eastern lamas were interred in domes or pyramids plated with gold

whenever possible, because imperishable gold was the metal of

apotheosis and immortality, making the body imperishable also. 25 In the

west, where gold was not plentiful, the magic mountain was said to be

made of glass or crystal, in imitation of the seven crystalline spheres of

heaven. The Celtic after-world centered on a glass castle, perhaps a

misunderstanding of the old word glas, meaning "the blue of heaven."

26 But the crystal mountain was sometimes taken literally. At the

Celtic burial mound of New Grange, the surface of the earth-womb was

once covered by quartz fragments to make it sparkle in the sun like a

mound of crystal. 27 The Slavs believed in a crystalline mountain of

heaven, and used to bury bear's claws with the dead, to help them

scramble up the slippery glass. 28

The expression "in seventh heaven" came from the ancient

belief that the seven celestial spheres were arranged like a seven-story

mountain, as shown by the Babylonian ziggurat of seven stages.29

Below ground, seven concentric "hells" or "pits" reflected the celestial

realm in Sheol, its mirror image in the Abyss, ruled by the queen of

the underworld, who had many names-Allatu, Eresh-kigal, Persephone,

He!, Hecate, Nephthys, or the earlier female Pluto-but always a

dark alter ego of the celestial Goddess.30

The Babylonian netherworld was "divided into seven zones, like

those of Dante's Inferno, upon the model of the -seven planetary

spheres .... Seven gates gave admission, each guarded by a porter. ...

This idea of the circles of the underworld is also found in the

Egyptian mythology of the ritual of the dead." Like the biblical Joseph,

Assyrian priests went down into the Pit as part of their death-rebirth

initiations. There at the base of the celestial mountain in the land of the

Black Sun, stood "the foundations of the earth, the meeting of the

mighty waters." 31

Initiations everywhere enacted a journey through the nether and

celestial spheres, a symbolic ascent of the mountain. The Norse

father-god Odin himself had to win his wisdom by traversing the "seven

nether spheres" of death. 32 Apuleius described his own initiation into

the Mysteries of Isis as a journey to the land of death, where he beheld

the Black Sun, and saw the deities of the upper and lower worlds

"face to face." Then he rose to the heights, and was exhibited to the

congregation in the costume of the sun god. Mithraic initiates

similarly rose through seven spheres, winning the ranks of Raven,

Bridegroom, Warrior, Lion, Persian, Sun-runner, and Pater (high


Arabs perpetuated the basic Chaldean notion of the cosmos as a

magic mountain with seven ascending spheres and seven underground

ones; this in turn was basedon the Hindu image ofPurusha, the

universe personified. "According to the common opinion of the

Arabs, there are seven heavens, one above the other, and seven earths,

one beneath another. ... This is explained by a passage of the Koran

in which it is said that God created seven heavens and as many earths or

storeys of the earth." 34 Medieval Christians inherited the same idea,

modeling their cosmos on that of ancient Chaldea. The church officially

listed the heavens as aerial, ethereal, Olympian, the heaven of fire,

the heaven of stars, the crystalline, and the Empyrean. In the seventh

heaven "Christ dwells, and this is the especial and proper dwelling

place of Christ and the angels and saints." 35

Thus the magic mountain was taken over by Christianity, but at

the same time the church vigorously condemned all the magic

mountains where "witchcraft" carried on worship of the Goddess. Puyde-

Dome in Auvergne was a famous witch-mountain; so was the

Bracken or Blocksberg in the Hartz Mountains. Puy-de-Dome had a

temple served by women called fatuae, "fairies" or "fates," and

!atidicae, "seeresses." Young girls were periodically initiated into the

sect, under the novice-title of bonnes filles. 36

A map made of the Bracken in 1751 noted that its summit was a

witches' ground, where sabbats were celebrated before an altar by a

magic spring, "formerly consecrated to some false deity of the pagans."

37 This may have been the mountain Pope Pius II called Mons

Veneris, where one could meet witches and demons, "address them and

learn the magic arts." 38

The story ofTannhauser's sojourn in the Mons Veneris or Mount

of Venus (Venusberg) was another relic offairy-religion, hinting at

the existence of a real high priestess powerful enough to defy the pope,

and serving the Goddess under the name of Queen Sybil. The

Goddess "still resided in the megalithic temples of western Europe,

which were old before the Greeks invaded Greece. Although her

rites were officially forbidden, her worship was celebrated on magical

mountains throughout Europe. She came to be confused with the

classical goddess Venus, and her magic mountains were called Venusbergs

in Germany, where the written versions of the Tannhauser

myth seem to have originated. Her worship was celebrated at several

real mountains: Horselberg, Waldsee, Freiburg, and Wolkenstein, as

well as at peaks in Italy and Scotland .... In all the Tannhauser myths,

the Queen Sybil is the Goddess Venus."39

Sybil was a Latinization of Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods,

whose worship actually continued in secret up to the 20th century on

wild mountaintops in her native Anatolia. Her rites "contained primitive

usages of the religion of Anatolia, some of which have survived to this

day in spite of Christianity and Islam. Like the Kizil-Bash peasants of

today, the ancient inhabitants of the peninsula met on the summits of

mountains covered with woods no ax had desecrated, and celebrated

their festal days." 40

Throughout the Middle Ages, men believed the Goddess could

invite them into the interior of her magic mountain, as shown by

many tales-Tannhauser was not the only Venus-loving hero. The

Danish ballad of The ElEen Hill speaks of a youth enchanted by an

elf-maid's dancing, and invited by her to the interior of her hill. 41 There

were even indications that the Mountain-goddess was still a trinity.

According to the Thuringian Chronicle of 1398, she appeared at midday

as three great flames in the air, "which presently ran together in

one great globe of flame, parted again and finally sank into the

Horselberg." 42

The Mother-mountains continued to shelter pagan gods, who

were thought to be not dead but sleeping in the terrestrial womb,

awaiting rebirth like Hindu gods between their incarnations. Merlin,

William Tell, Barbarossa, Frederick, and others slept in magic mountains.

Many were assimilated to "the figure of Wotan, which survives in

these legends of emperors and empires. It is Wotan who is awaiting

to reappear in this world ... a dark heathen god-image that has not been

taken into account by the prevailing attitude of consciousness." 43

Marginal note:

Dravidian Referring

to the cultures of the

Dravidian language

group in southern and

central India, now

ranging from highly

civilized people to

preliterate forest primitives.


languages were rooted

in pre-Aryan Indus

Valley civilization, the

earliest known in



"Mountains of Paradise" in Sanskrit, the root language that gave rise

to other Indo-European languages. In German, for instance, paradise

became Himmel, originally conceived as a heaven-piercing mountain.

1 See Mountain.


"Goddess Mother of the Universe," the real name of the world's

highest mountain, which westerners renamed Everest after a man. This

masculine name was bestowed on the Goddess Mother in 1863 by

foreign invaders who preferred to attach patriarchal surnames to

everything. 1


Himalayan mountain called Great Breast Full of Nourishment; a

manifestation of the Great Goddess as the home and support of the


Nanda Devi

"Blessed Goddess," the mountain-mother who gave birth to the

Ganges; one of the holiest mountains of the Himalayan chain (see

Mountain). The nearly inaccessible peak of Nanda Devi lay beyond

walls of rock and ice, none less than 18,000 feet high. The Blessed

Goddess was finally approached by climbers in 1936.


"Grandmother" or "Ancestress," the holy Mother-mountain of Japan.

1 Mount Fujiyama was interpreted as a point of contact between

heaven and the underworld, as were most mountains. (See



"Universal Gaea," title of the Earth Mother at her mountain shrine

in Thrace. She was also called Ida, Olympia, and Panorma, Universal

Mountain Mother.1 See Mountain.

Mons Veneris

"Mount of Venus," simultaneously a mountain shrine and a figurative

reference to female genitals. Medical terminology still calls the

pubic area mons veneris. Medieval Europe had mountains of the

same name. Pope Pius II said witches met by night on Mons Veneris

(German Venusberg) to consult demons and learn magic. 1


"Snowy One," Anatolian Mountain-goddess whose worshippers

were destroyed by patriarchal Hellenic tribes. Greek myth therefore

made her a mother forever mourning her "children" slain by the

Olympian gods. 1 Greek writers pretended she was a woman too proud

of her children, so the gods killed them to punish her hubris.


"Snow Queen," a Greek title of one of the Horae; an untouchable

virgin Goddess of the high mountains, prototype of the medieval fairy,

Virginal the Ice Queen. She was also canonized as a Christian

"virgin martyr."

Virginal the Ice Queen

Medieval European version of the high-mountain Goddess, known

in India as Durga the Inaccessible. She lived in the high Himalayas, and

sometimes came down to form alliances with men; but always she

returned to her lonely glaciers. In European folk tales, Virginal the Ice

Queen lived alone in the pure upper snowfields of the mountains,

but once she descended to a valley to become the bride of a minstrelwizard,

Dietrich von Bern. Soon, however, she wearied of the

lowlands and of him, and went back fo her inviolable mountaintop,

where "she still rules supreme." 1

The Norse version of Durga-Virginal was the death-goddess

Skadi, who married the god Njord but grew tired of living with him

in the lowlands by the sea, so she returned alone to her mountains.

Some say she became the evil Snow Queen who would kidnap

children from their homes and take away their souls.

Since snow-covered mountains were widely associated with the

milk-giving breasts of Mother Earth, it is possible that Durga the

Inaccessible and similar Ice Queens represented the nursing Goddess,

in the period when lactating human females, like lactating animal

females, were literally inaccessible to the male. Preoccupied with

motherhood, the Goddess became "virgin" again in her refusal to

tolerate male attentions. She "withdrew" from her marriage and went

away to a place where no man could follow. There was an archetypal

element in these stories. As M.-L. von Franz has said, "One may

suddenly find oneself up against something in a woman that is

obstinate, cold, and completely inaccessible." 2


Babylonian "Mountain of Heaven," the pyramid that served as

temple and palace in Mesopotamian towns. At its summit, the king

consummated his sacred marriage with the Goddess, this being the

point of contact between heaven and earth. Nebuchadnezzar's ziggurat

was built in seven stages, representing the seven planetary spheres.

Beneath, seven nether pits represented the descent into the corresponding

seven spheres of the underworld. Such pits were used for

death-and-rebirth ceremonies of priestly initiations. See Mountain.


Perhaps the most common manifestation of the Great Mother as

Preserver was the white, horned, milk-giving Moon-cow, still sacred in

India as a symbol of Kali. Egypt revered Mother Hathor as the

heavenly cow whose udder produced the Milky Way, whose body was

the firmament, and who daily gave birth to the sun, Horus-Ra, her

Golden Calf, the same deity worshipped by Aaron and the Israelites:

"These be thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee up out of the land

of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4).

The name of Italy meant "calf-land." 1 This country too was the

gift of the Milk-giver, whom Etruscans called Lat, Arabs called Al-

Lat, Greeks called Latona, Lada, Leto, or Leda. She ruled Latium, and

gave her milk (latte) to the world.

All Europe was named after the Goddess as a white Moon-cow,

whom the Greeks mated to the white bull incarnation of Zeus. Her

alternative name was Io, "Moon." Under this name she was presented

in classic mythology as a rival of Hera, but patriarchal writers were

always setting different manifestations of the same Goddess at odds with

one another, possibly on the principle of divide and conquer. Hera

herself was named Io, ancestress of the Ionians. In her temple on the

site of Byzantium she appeared as the same lunar cow, the Horned

One, wearing the same crescent headdress as the Egyptian Cowgoddess.2

The Cow as creatress was equally prominent in myths of northern

Europe, where she was named Audumla; she was also Freya, or a

Valkyrie taking the form of a "fierce cow." 6 A semi-patriarchal Norse

myth tried to attribute the creation of the world to the giant Y mir,

whose body and blood made the universe. But he was not the first of

creatures. The Cow preceded him, for he lived on her milk. 7

Earlier myths showed the universe being "curdled" into shape

from the Cow's milk. In India, many still believe literally the creation

myth known as Churning of the Sea ofMilk.8 The Japanese version

said the primordial deep went "curdlecurdle" (koworokoworo) when

stirred by the first deities, to make clumps ofland.9 The ancient Near

East thought human bodies too were curdled from the Goddess's

milk. One of her liturgies was copied into the Bible: "Has thou not

poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?" (Job 10:10).

The root of" cow" was Sanskrit Gau, Egyptian kau or kau-t.

Goddess-names like Gauri and Kauri also designated the yonic

cowrie shell. 10 Brahman rebirth ceremonies used either a huge golden

yoni or an image of the Cow-mother. "When a man has for grave

cause been expelled from his caste, he may be restored to it after passing

several times under the belly of a cow." 11 The Egyptian Goddess as

birth-giver typically wore a cow's head or horns, as she offered her

breasts with both hands. 12 As the nursing mother who gave each

Egyptian his secret soul-name (ren), she was entitled Renenet, the Lady

of the Double Granary, a reference to her inexhaustible breasts.B

The bovine enzyme rennet, used even in antiquity to curdle milk, was

also sacred to her.

A favorite Roman emblem of the Goddess was the Cornucopia,

Horn of Plenty: a cow's horn pouring forth all the fruits of the earth.

The cow was honored as the wetnurse of humanity, and her image is

mentioned had already become well aware that there was no use talking

about sexual symbols to missionaries.

Marginal note:

Herodotus said the

milk-giving Mother

Hera-Io-Latona was

the same as Egypt's

Buto, "an archaic

queen of the Lower

Kingdom." 3 The

holy city of Buto,

Egypt's oldest

oracular shrine, was

known to the Greeks

as Latopolis, "city of

Lat." 4 Of course

Buto, or Lat, was only

another name for

Hathor, or Isis, or Mut,

or Neith; all

represented "the great

cow which gave birth

to Ra, the great

goddess, the mother

of all the gods ... the

Cow, the great lady,

lady of the south, the

great one who gave

birth to the sun, who

made the germ of

gods and men, the

mother of Ra, who

raised up Tern in

primeval time, who

existed when nothing

else had being, and

who created that which

exists." 5


"Milk-giving Goddess," a title of White Aphrodite of Paphos, where

her high priest Pygmalion "married" her, by keeping her white image in

his bed.1 The custom formed a basis for the classical myth of

Galatea's marble statue brought to life by Aphrodite for her bridegroom.

The story probably arose from a ritual of invocation, to call down the

Goddess's spirit into her sculptured eidolon.

Galatea was another name not only for Aphrodite but also for

Egyptian Hathor the Celestial Cow, and Phoenician Astarte, the

same milk-giving Mother. Pygmalion was a Hellenized version of her

high priest Pumiyathon at Byblos.

Celtic tribes from Galatia-named after her-also worshipped the

milk-giving Mother as Galata, from whom Gauls and Gaels traced

their descent.3 Their early-medieval hero Galahad was one of her sacred

kings. He was a Gaulish form of Heracles, who married the Gauls'

ancestral Goddess Galata, sometimes symbolized in Britain as Albion,

the White Moon, source of the Milky Way. Heracles also was a

solar hero who lived for a year-like Galahad-in the palace of the

Goddess, at the hub of the spinning wheel of the galaxy (Milky

Way). In this Lydian story the Goddess was called Omphale, the

"center," or omphalos. When the year turned around this hub full

circle, Heracles too was supposed to die the year-god's death in a fiery


All the names of Galatea-Galata-Galatia were based on gala,

"mother's milk," for the Goddess was supposed to have made the

wheel of the stars and constellations from her own milk.5 Therefore the

Moon-goddess often appeared in ancient iconography as the divine

cow, horned like the moon.


"Moon," the white Cow-goddess who mothered the lonians. Hers

was another name for "Cow-Eyed" Hera, as Homer called her, although

classic mythographers portrayed her as a separate entity, one

of Zeus's many paramours. Io represented the horned, milk-giving,

lunar Triple Goddess, as shown by her sacred colors. She turned

herself from white to red to black, the hues of the Virgin, Mother, and

Crone (see Gunas).1

The apocryphal story that Hera sent a gadfly to sting Io, to send

her wandering all over the world, was a Hellenic myth invented to

explain the universality of the worship of the white Moon-cow. Since

Hera was herself the same Goddess, her alleged jealousy of lo was a

patriarchal fiction. Some said Hera placed lo under the guardianship of

hundred-eyed Argus Panoptes ("All-Eyes"), an allegory of the moon

traveling under the many-eyed gaze of the starry sky.2


"Horned One," a Byzantine title of Hera or lo as the Heavenly

Moon-cow, symbolized by the horns of the crescent moon.1 See also


Milky Way

The Milky Way is our galaxy, from the Greek gala, "mother's milk."

The ancients believed this heavenly star-stream issued from the breasts

of the Queen of Heaven.1 Worshippers of Argive Hera said the stars

were made of milk from Hera's Moon-Cow incarnation. Ionians said

the stars came from the udder of their own Moon-Cow, lo, "the

Moon." 2 Others said the Moon-Cow was Europa, consort of Zeus as a

totemic white bull. All white Moon-Cows were the same Goddess,

known from India to Scandinavia as the nourisher of the world and the

mother of the star-spirits.3 See Cow.

The Four Rivers of Paradise were supposed to pour from the four

teats of the Moon-Cow's udder. Norsemen said these rivers came

from the udder of Audumla, the Nourisher, a divine cow who existed

before any other creature.4 She was identified with Mana, the Moon

Mother. Scandinavian mythology knew the Milky Way as Manavegr,

"Moon-Way." 5 To the Celts, it was Bothar-bo finne, Track of the

White Cow.6 The primordial white cow whose udder produced the

star-rivers was almost certainly the same cow who "jumped over the

moon" in the nursery rhyme, because she was shown hovering over the

moon in pre-Christian icons.

Akkadians called the Milky Way River-of-the-Divine-Lady, or

Hiddagal, the Great River, which the Bible rendered Hiddekel

(Genesis 2:14). Arabians called the Milky Way Umm al Sama, Mother

of the Sky.7 Egyptians called the Milky Way the "Nile in the Sky,"

which poured from the udder of the Moon-Cow, Hathor-Isis, who thus

gave rain to the rest of the world, though she reserved her "true

Nile" for Egypt.

Classic mythology made the galactic mother Gala-Tea, "Milk

Goddess," a white statue of Aphrodite carved by her priest-consort

Pygmalion, whose name was a Greek form of Pumiyathon, priest-consort

of Astarte-Hathor at Byblos.8 Alternatively, the galaxy spurted

from the breasts of Hera when she suckled Heracles; or else it came

from the breasts of Rhea when she suckled Zeus.9 Names differed,

but everywhere the Milky Way was regarded as the Goddess's star-milk,

which formed curds to create worlds and creatures.

The Rabelaisian statement that the moon is made of green cheese

dates back to old legends of the moon's creation as a ball of cheese

curdled from the Milky Way.10 Sometimes it was the earth that was

made of green cheese from the Goddess's milk. The Bible copied a

former address to the Goddess: "Hast thou not poured me out as milk,

and curdled me like cheese?" (Job 10:10).

Anglo-Saxon names for the Milky Way suggested that it was not

only a river but also a main street of heaven. It was called lrmin' s

Way, Waetlinga Straet, Vaelinga, Vaetlinga, or Watlingastrete, Wadlyn

Street, and Watling Street.11
Stillness in the Storm Editor's note: Did you find a spelling error or grammar mistake? Do you think this article needs a correction or update? Or do you just have some feedback? Send us an email at sitsshow@gmail.comThank you for reading.


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