The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)
By Eliza Burt Gamble

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Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun

“When we inquire into the worship of nations in the earliest periods to which we have access by writing or tradition, we find that the adoration of one God, without temples or images, universally prevailed."[23]

[23] Godfrey Higgins, Celtic Druids.

Underlying all the ancient religions of which we have any account, may be observed the great energizing force throughout Nature recognized and reverenced as the Deity. This force embraces not only the creative energies in human beings, in animals, and in plants, but in the earlier ages of human history it included also Wisdom, or Law–that “power by which all things are discriminated or defined and held in their proper places.” The most renowned writers who have dealt with this subject agree in the conclusion that, during thousands of years among all the nations of the earth, only one God was worshipped. This God was Light and Life, both of which proceeded from the sun, or more properly speaking were symbolized by the sun.

In Egyptian hymns the Creator is invoked as the being who “dwells concealed in the sun"; and Greek writers speak of this luminary as the “generator and nourisher of all things, the ruler of the world.” It is thought, however, that neither of these nations worshipped the corporeal sun. It was the “centre or body from which the pervading spirit, the original producer of order, fertility, and organization, continued to emanate to preserve the mighty structure which it had formed.”

It is evident that at an early age, both in Egypt and in India, spiritualized conceptions of sun-worship had already been formed.

We have seen that Netpe, the Goddess of Light, or Heavenly Wisdom, conferred spiritual life on all who would accept it. The Great Mother of the Gods in India was not only the source whence all blessings flow, but she was the Beginning and the End of all things.

Of “Aditi, the boundless, the yonder, the beyond all and everything,” Max Muller says that in later times she “may have become identified with the sky, also with the earth, but originally she was far beyond the sky and the earth."[24] The same writer quotes the following, also from a hymn of the Rig-Veda:

[24] Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 221.

“O Mitra and Varuna, you mount your chariot which, at the dawning of the dawn is golden-colored and has iron poles at the setting of the sun; from thence you see Aditi and Diti–that is, what is yonder and what is here, what is infinite and what is finite, what is mortal and what is immortal."[25]

[25] Ibid.

Aditi is the Great She that Is, the Everlasting. Muller refers to the fact that another Hindoo poet “speaks of the dawn as the face of Aditi; thus indicating that Aditi is here not the dawn itself, but something beyond the dawn.” This Goddess, who is designated as the “Oldest,” is implored “not only to drive away darkness and enemies that lurk in the dark, but likewise to deliver man from any sin which he may have committed.” “May Aditi by day protect our cattle, may she, who never deceives, protect us from evil.”

In the Egyptian as in the Indian and Hebrew religions, the two generating principles throughout Nature represent the Infinite, the Holy of Holies, the Elohim or Aleim–the Ieue. Within the records of the earliest religions of Ethiopia or Arabia, Chaldea, Assyria, and Babylonia, is revealed the same monad principle in the Deity. This monad conception, or dual unity, this God of Light and Life, or of Wisdom and generative force, is the same source whence all mythologies have sprung, and, as has been stated, among all peoples the fact is observed that the religious idea has followed substantially the same course of development, or growth. Within the sacred writings of the Hindoos there is but one Almighty Power, usually denominated as Brahm or Brahme– Om or Aum. This word in India was regarded with the same degree of veneration as was the sacred Ieue of the Jews. In later ages, the fact is being proved that this God, into whom all the deities worshipped at a certain period in human history resolve themselves, is the sun, or if not the actual corporeal sun, then the supreme agency within it which was acknowledged as the great creative or life-force– that dual principle which by the early races was recognized as Elohim, Om, Ormuzd, etc., and from which the productive power in human beings, in plants, and in animals was thought to emanate.

Prior to the development of either tree or phallic worship, the sun as an emblem of the Deity had doubtless become the principal object of veneration. Ages would probably elapse before primitive man would observe that all life is dependent on the warmth of the sun’s rays, or before from experience he would perceive the fact that to its agency as well as to that of the earth he was indebted both for food and the power of motion. However, as soon as this knowledge had been gained, the great orb of day would assume the most prominent place among the objects of his regard and adoration. That such has been the case, that the sun, either as the actual Creator, or as an emblem of the great energizing force in Nature, has been worshipped by every nation of the globe, there is no lack of evidence to prove; neither do we lack proof to establish the fact that, since the adoption of the sun as a divine object, or perhaps I should say as the emblem of Wisdom and creative power, it has never been wholly eliminated from the god-idea of mankind.

Bryant produces numberless etymological proofs to establish the fact that all the early names of the Deity were derived or compounded from some word which originally meant the sun.

Max Muller says that Surya was the sun as shining in the sky. Savitri was the sun as bringing light and life. Vishnu was the sun as striding with three steps across the sky, etc.

Inman, whose etymological researches have given him considerable prominence as a Sanskrit and Hebrew scholar, says that Ra, Ilos, Helos, Bil, Baal, Al, Allah, and Elohim were names given to the sun as representative of the Creator.

We are assured by Godfrey Higgins that Brahme is the sun the same as Surya. Brahma sprang from the navel of Brahme. Faber in his Pagan Idolatry says that all the gods of the ancients “melt insensibly into one, they are all equally the sun.” The word Apollo signifies the author or generator of Light. In the Rig Veda, Surya, the sun, is called Aditya. “Truly, Surya, thou art great; truly Aditya, thou art great.”

Selden observes that whether the gods be called Osiris, or Omphis, or Nilus, or any other name, they all center in the sun.

According to Diodorus Siculus, it was the belief of the ancients that Dionysos, Osiris, Serapis, Pan, Jupiter and Pluto were all one. They were, the sun.

Max Muller says that a very low race in India named the Santhals call the sun Chandro, which means “bright.” These people declared to the missionaries who settled among them, that Chandro had created the world; and when told that it would be absurd to say that the sun had created the world, they replied: “We do not mean the visible Chandro, but an invisible one.”

Not only did Dionysos, and all the rest of the gods who in later ages came to be regarded as men, represent the sun, but after the separation of the male and female elements in the originally indivisible God, Maut or Minerva, Demeter, Ceres, Isis, Juno, and others less important in the pagan world were also the sun, or, in other words, they represented the female power throughout the universe which was supposed to reside in the sun.

In most groups of Babylonian and Assyrian divine emblems, there occur two distinct representations of the sun, “one being figured with four rays or divisions within the orb, and the other, with eight.” According to George Rawlinson, these figures represent a distinction between the male and female powers residing within the sun, the quartered disk signifying the male energy, and the eight-rayed orb appearing as the emblem of the female![26]

[26] Essay x.

During an earlier age of human history, prior to the dissensions which arose over the relative importance of the sexes in reproduction, and at a time when a mother and her child represented the Deity, the sun was worshiped as the female Jove. Everything in the universe was a part of this great God. At that time there had been no division in the god-idea. The Creator constituted a dual but indivisible unity. Dionysos formerly represented this God, as did also Om, Jove, Mithras, and others. Jove was the “Great Virgin” whence everything proceeds.

     “Jove first exists, whose thunders roll above,
          Jove last, Jove midmost, all proceeds from Jove;
      Female is Jove, Immortal Jove is male;
          Jove the broad Earth, the heavens irradiate pale.     
      Jove is the boundless Spirit, Jove the Fire,
          That warms the world with feeling and desire.”

In a former work the fact has been mentioned that the first clue obtained by Herr Bachofen, author of Das Mutterrecht, to a former condition of society under which gynaecocracy, or the social and political pre-eminence of women, prevailed, was the importance attached to the female principle in the Deity in all ancient mythologies.

According to the testimony of various writers, Om, although comprehending both elements of the Deity, was nevertheless female in signification. Sir William Jones observes that Om means oracle–matrix or womb.[27] Upon this subject Godfrey Higgins, quoting from Drummond, remarks:

[27] See Anacalypsis, book iii., ch. ii.

“The word Om or Am in the Hebrew not only signifies might, strength, power, firmness, solidity, truth, but it means also Mother, as in Genesis ii., 24, and Love, whence the Latin Amo, Mamma. If the word be taken to mean strength, then Amon will mean (the first syllable being in regimine) the temple of the strength of the generative or creative power, or the temple of the mighty procreative power. If the word Am means Mother, then a still more recondite idea will be implied, viz.: the mother generative power, or the maternal generative power: perhaps the Urania of Persia or the Venus Aphrodite of Crete and Greece, or the Jupiter Genetrix of the masculine and feminine gender, or the Brahme Mai of India, or the Alma Venus of Lucretius. And the City of On or Heliopolis will be the City of the sun, or City of the procreative powers of nature of which the sun was always an emblem.”

According to Prof. W. R. Smith, Om means uniting or binding, a fact which is explained by the early significance of the mother element in early society. The name of the great Deity Om or Aum scarcely passes the lips of its worshippers, and when it is pronounced is always reverently whispered. Regarding the mystic word Om, we are told that it is the name given to Delphi, and that “Delphi has the meaning of the female organs of generation called in India the Os Minxoe.”

Although the great God of India was female and male, yet we are assured by Forlong that the female energy Maya, Queen of Heaven, even at the present time is more heard of than the male principle.

According to Bryant, the worship of Ham is the most ancient as well as the most universal of any in the world. This writer remarks that Ham, instead of representing an individual, is but a Greek corruption of Om or Aum, the great androgynous God of India, a God which is identical in significance with Aleim, Vesta, and all the other representatives of the early dual, universal power. “In the old language God was called Al, Ale, Alue, and Aleim, more frequently Aleim than any other name.” According to the testimony of Higgins, Aleim denotes the feminine plural. The heathen divinities Ashtaroth and Beelzebub were both called Aleim, Ashtaroth being simply Astarte adorned with the horns of a ram. Ishtar not unfrequently appears with the horns of a cow. We are informed by Inman that whenever a goddess is observed with horns–emblems which by the way always indicate masculine power–it is to denote the fact that she is androgynous, or that within her is embodied the complete Deity–the dual reproductive energy throughout Nature. The “figure becomes the emblem of divinity and power."[28]

[28] Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names, vol. i., p. 311.

Mithras–the Savior, the great Persian Deity which was worshipped as the “Preserver,” was both female and male. Among the representations of this divinity which appear in the Townley collection in the British Museum, is one in which it is figured in its female character, in the act of killing the bull. The Divinity Baal was both female and male. The God of the Jews in an early stage of their career was called Baal. The oriental Ormuzd was also dual or androgynous.

Orpheus teaches that the divine nature is both female and male. According to Proclus, Jupiter was an immortal maid, “the Queen of Heaven, and Mother of the Gods.” All things were contained within the womb of Jupiter. This Virgin within whom was embodied the male principle “gave light and life to Eve.” She was the life-giving, energizing power in Nature, and was identical with Aleim, Om, Astarte, and others. The Goddess Esta, or Vesta, or Hestia, whom Plato calls the “soul of the body of the universe," is believed by Beverly and others to be the Self-Existent, the Great “She that Is” of the Hindoos, whose significance is identical with the Cushite or Phoenician Deity, Aleim.

According to Marco Polo, the Chinese had but one supreme God of whom they had no image, and to whom they prayed for only two things–"a sound mind in a sound body.” They had, however, a lesser god–probably the same as the “Lord” (masculine) of the Jews, to whom they petitioned for rain, fair weather, and all the minor accessories of existence. Upon the walls of the houses of the Chinese is a tablet to which they pay their devotion. On this tablet is the name of the “high, celestial, and supreme God.” The principal word which this tablet contains is “Tien.” Of this Chinese Deity Barlow says: “The Chinese recognize in Tienhow, the Queen of Heaven nursing her infant son. Connected with this figure is a lotus bud, symbol of the new birth.

Originally in Chaldea and in Egypt, only one supreme God was worshipped. This Deity was figured by a mother and her child, as was the great Chinese God. It comprehended the universe and all the attributes of the Deity. It was worshipped thousands of years prior to the birth of Mary, the Mother of Christ, and representations of it are still extant, not only in oriental lands, but in many countries of Europe. Within the oldest temples of Egypt are still to be observed sacred apartments which contain the “Holy of Holies,” and to which, in past ages, none might gain access but priests and priestesses of the highest order. Within these apartments are pictured the mysteries of birth, together with the symbols of generation emblems of procreation.

On the banks of the river Nile are observed the ruins of the temple of Philae, which structure, it is said, represents the most ancient style of architecture. Within these ruins is to be seen an inner chamber in which are depicted the birth scenes of the child god Horus, and, indeed, everywhere among the monuments and ruins of Egypt, is plainly visible the fact that the creative power and functions in human beings, in animals, and in vegetable life, together with Wisdom, once constituted the god-idea.

Between the ruins of the palace of Amunoph III. and the Nile are two colossal statues, each hewn from a single block of stone. These figures, although in a sitting posture, are sixty feet high. It is thought that they once formed the entrance to an avenue of similar figures leading up to the palace. It has been supposed that the most northern statue represents Ammon, and that its companion piece is his Mother. It is now believed by many writers, however, that these figures do not represent two persons at all, but that in a remote age of the world’s history they were worshipped as the two great principles, female and male, which animate Nature. The fact has been observed that Am or Om was originally a female Deity, within whom was contained the male principle; when, however, through the changes wrought in the relative positions of the sexes, the male element in the Divinity adored came to be represented as a man instead of as a child, he was Ammon. He was the sun, yet notwithstanding the fact that he had drawn to himself the powers of the sun, he was still, himself, only a production of or emanation from the female Deity Om, Mother of the Gods and Queen of Heaven. She it was who had created or brought forth the sun.

There is a tradition which asserts that every morning a melodious sound is emitted from the first named of these two colossal figures as he salutes his rosy-fingered Mother whom he acknowledges as the source of all Light and Wisdom. The bodies are described as being “without motion, the faces without expression, the eyes looking straight forward, yet a certain grand simplicity occasions them to be universally admired.”

The Goddess Disa or Isa of the North, as delineated on the sacred drums of the Laplanders, was accompanied by a child similar to the Horus of the Egyptians.[29] It is observed also that the ancient Muscovites worshipped a sacred group composed of a mother and her children, probably a representation of the Egyptian Isis and her offspring, or at least of the once universal idea of the Deity.

[29] Jennings, Phallicism.

The following is from Payne Knight:

“A female Pantheitic figure in silver, with the borders of the drapery plated with gold, and the whole finished in a manner surpassing almost anything extant, was among the things found at Macon on the Saone, in the year 1764, and published by Caylus. It represents Cybele, the universal mother, with the mural crown on her head, and the wings of pervasion growing from her shoulders, mixing the productive elements of heat and moisture by making a libation upon the flames of an altar. On each side of her head is one of the Discouri, signifying the alternate influence of the diurnal and nocturnal Sun; and, upon a crescent supported by the tips of her wings, are the seven planets, each signified by a bust of its presiding deity resting upon a globe, and placed in the order of the days of the week named after them.

In her left hand she holds two cornucopiae, to signify the result of her operation on the two hemispheres of the Earth; and upon them are the busts of Apollo and Diana, the presiding deities of these hemispheres, with a golden disk, intersected by two transverse lines, such as is observed on other pieces of ancient art, and such as the barbarians of the North employed to represent the solar year, divided into four parts, at the back of each."[30]

[30] Symbolism of Ancient Art.

It was doubtless at a time when woman constituted the head of the gens, and when the feminine element in the sun, in human beings, and in Nature generally was regarded as the more important, that Latona and her son Apollo were worshipped together. Latona, Apollo, and Diana constituted the triune God. The last two were the female and male energies, the former being the source whence they sprang. As soon as one is divested of a belief in the popular but erroneous opinion that the gods of the early Egyptians and Greeks were deified heroes of former ages, he is prepared to perceive the fact that, although to the uninitiated these gods appear numberless, in reality they all represent the same idea, namely: the dual, moving force in Nature, together with Light or Wisdom.

We have seen that when among the nations of antiquity civilization had reached its height, the god-idea was represented by the figure of a woman with her child; subsequently, however, as these nations began to decline, the creative energy comprehended simply physical life, or the power to reproduce, and was represented by various emblems which will be noticed farther on in this work. In still later ages, after male reproductive power had become God, and when, through superstition and sensuality, the masses of the people had descended to the rank of slaves, monarchs, representing themselves to their ignorant subjects as the source of all blessings, even of life itself, appropriated the titles of the sun, and claimed for themselves the adoration which had formerly belonged to it. From this fact has doubtless arisen the opinion so tenaciously upheld in recent times, that the gods of the ancients were only deified heroes of former times.

If, during the earlier ages of human existence, all the gods resolved themselves into the sun, and if Light and Life, or Wisdom and the power to reproduce and sustain life, constituted the Deity, then of course God or the sun would be female or male, or both, according to the prevailing belief in the comparative creative and sustaining forces of the sexes.

From what appears in the foregoing pages the fact has doubtless been perceived that the worship of a Virgin and Child does not, as is usually supposed, belong exclusively to the Romish Christian Church, but, on the contrary, that it constitutes the most remote idea of a Creator extant. As has been hinted, there is little doubt that the earliest worship of the woman and child was much simpler than was that which came to prevail in later ages, at a time when every religious conception was closely veiled beneath a mixture of astrology and mythology. After the planets came to be regarded as active agencies in reproduction, and powerful in directing all mundane affairs, the Virgin of the Sphere while she represented Nature was also the constellation which appeared above the horizon at the winter solstice, or at the time when the sun had reached its lowest point and had begun to return. At this time, the 25th of December, and just as the days began to lengthen, this Virgin gave birth to the Sun-God. It is said that he issued forth from her side, hence the legend that Gotama Buddha was produced from the side of Maya, and also the story believed by the Gnostics and other Christian sects that Jesus was taken from the side of Mary.[31]

[31] The fact will doubtless be remembered that a similar belief was entertained concerning the birth of Julius Caesar.

Within the churches and in the streets of many cities of Germany are to be observed figures of this traditional Virgin. She is standing, one foot upon a crescent and the other on a serpent’s head, in the mouth of which is the sprig of an apple tree on which is an apple. The tail of the serpent is wound about a globe which is partially enveloped in clouds. On one arm of the Virgin is the Child, and in the hand of the other arm she carries the sacred lotus. Her head is encircled with a halo of light similar to the rays of the sun.

One is frequently disposed to query: Do the initiated in the Romish Church regard these images as legitimate representations of Mary, the wife of Joseph and Mother of Christ, or are they aware of their true significance? Certainly the various accessories attached to this figure betray its ancient origin and reveal its identity with the Egyptian, Chaldean, and Phoenician Virgin of the Sphere.

The fact has already been observed that in the original representation of the “Temptation” in the cave temple of India, it is not the woman but the man who is the tempter, and a singular peculiarity observed in connection with this ancient female Deity is that it is SHE and NOT HER SEED who is trampling on the serpent, thus proving that originally woman and not man was worshipped as the Savior. Another significant feature noticed in connection with this subject is that the oldest figures which represent this Goddess are black, thus proving that she must have belonged to a dark skinned race.

This image, although black, or dark skinned, had long hair, hence not a negress. The most ancient statue of Ceres was black, and Pausanias says that at a place called Melangea in Arcadia there was a black Venus. In the Netherlands only a few years ago, was a church dedicated to a black goddess. The Virgin of the Sphere who treads on the head of the serpent represents universal womanhood. She is the Virgin of the first book of Genesis and mother of all the Earth. She represents not only creative power but Perceptive Wisdom. Although this Goddess is usually seen with the lotus in her hand, she sometimes carries ripe corn or wheat.

The mother of Gotama Buddha was called Mai or Maya, after the month in which the Earth is arrayed in her most beautiful attire.

Maya is the parent of universal Nature. According to Davis, the mother of Mercury “is the universal genius of Nature which discriminated all things according to their various kinds of species,” the same as was Muth of Egypt. Mai is said to mean “one who begins to illuminate.” She was in fact the mother of the sun whence everything proceeds. She was matter, within which was concealed spirit.

In the representations of Montfaucon appears the Goddess Isis sitting on the lotus. Her head, upon which is a globe, is surrounded by a radiant circle which evidently represents the sun. On the reverse side is Ieu, the word “which is the usual way of the ecclesiastical authors reading the Hebrew word Jehovah.” Referring to this from Montfaucon, Godfrey Higgins observes: “Here Isis, whose veil no mortal shall ever draw aside, the celestial Virgin of the Sphere, is seated on the self-generating sacred lotus and is called Ieu or Jove."[32] She has also the mystic number 608 which stands for the Deity. Her breasts show plainly that it is a female representation, although connected with the figure appears the male emblem to indicate that within her are contained both elements, or that the universe is embodied within the female.

[32] Anacalypsis, book v., ch. iv.

Higgins thinks there is no subject on which more mistakes have been made than on that of the Goddess Isis, both by ancients and moderns. He calls attention to the inconsistency of calling her the moon when in many countries the moon is masculine. He is quite positive that if Isis is the moon, Ceres, Proserpine, Venus, and all the other female gods were the same, which in view of the facts everywhere at hand cannot be true. It is true, however, that “the planet called the moon was dedicated to her in judicial astrology, the same as a planet was dedicated to Venus or Mars. But Venus and Mars were not these planets themselves, though these planets were sacred to them."[33] Higgins then calls attention to her temple at Sais in Egypt, and to the inscription which declares that “she comprehends all that is and was and is to be,” that she is “parent of the sun,” and he justly concludes that Isis can not be the moon.

[33] Anacalypsis, book vi., ch. ii.

Apuleius makes Isis say:

“I am the parent of all things, the sovereign of the elements, the primary progeny of time, the most exalted of the deities, the first of the heavenly gods and goddesses, whose single deity the whole world venerates in many forms, with various rites and various names. The Egyptians worship me with proper ceremonies and call me by my true name, Queen Isis.”

Isis, we are told, is called Myrionymus, or goddess with 10,000 names. She is the Persian Mithra, which is the same as Buddha, Minerva, Venus, and all the rest.

Faber admits that the female principle was formerly regarded as the Soul of the World. He says:

“Isis was the same as Neith or Minerva; hence the inscription at Sais was likewise applied to that goddess. Athenagoras informs us that Neith or the Athene of the Greeks was supposed to be Wisdom passing and diffusing itself through all things. Hence it is manifest that she was thought to be the Soul of the World; for such is precisely the character sustained by that mythological personage."[34]

[34] Pagan Idolatry, book i., p. 170.

The same writer says further:

“Ovid gives a similar character to Venus. He represents her as moderating the whole world; as giving laws to Heaven, Earth, and Ocean, as the common parent both of gods and men, and as the productive cause both of corn and trees. She is celebrated in the same manner by Lucretius, who ascribes to her that identical attribute of universality which the Hindoos give to their Goddess Isi or Devi."[35]

[35] Ibid.

It seems to be the general belief of all writers whose object is to disclose rather than conceal the ancient mysteries, that until a comparatively recent time the moon was never worshipped as Isis. Until the origin and meaning of the ancient religion had been forgotten, and the ideas underlying the worship of Nature had been lost, the moon was never regarded as representing the female principle.

When man began to regard himself as the only important factor in procreation, and when the sun became masculine and heat or passion constituted the god-idea, the moon was called Isis. The moon represented the absence of heat, it therefore contained little of the recognized god-element. It was, perhaps, under the circumstances, a fitting emblem for woman.

In the sacred writings of the Hindoos there is an account of the moon, Soma, having been changed into a female called Chandra, “the white or silvery one.”

While speaking of the moon, Kalisch says: “The whole ritual of the Phoenician Goddess Astarte with whom that Queen of Heaven is identical, and who was the goddess of fertility seems to have been transferred to her."[36]

[36] Historical and Critical Commentary of the Old Testament.

To such an extent, in the earlier ages of the world had the female been regarded as the Creator, that in many countries where her worship subsequently became identified with that of the moon, Luna was adored as the producer of the sun. According to the Babylonian creation tablets, the moon was the most important heavenly body. In later ages, the gender of the sun and the moon seems to be exceedingly variable. The Achts of Vancouver’s Island worship sun and moon–the sun as female, the moon as male.[37] In some of the countries of Africa the moon is adored as female and sun-worship is unknown. Among various peoples the sun and the moon are regarded as husband and wife, and among others as brother and sister. In some countries, both are female. I can find no instance in which both are male. Hindoos and Aztecs alike, at one time, said that Luna was male and often that the sun was female.

[37] Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii., p. 272.

The fact that among the Persians the moon as well as the sun was at a certain period regarded as a source of procreative energy and as influencing the generative processes, is shown by various passages in the Avestas. In the Khordah Avesta, praise is offered to “the Moon which contains the seed of cattle, to the only begotten Bull, to the Bull of many kinds.”

Perhaps the most widely diffused and universally adored representation of the ancient female Deity in Egypt was the Virgin Neit or Neith, the Athene of the Greeks and the Minerva of the Romans. Her name signifies “I came from myself.” This Deity represents not only creative power, but abstract intelligence, Wisdom or Light. Her temple at Sais was the largest in Egypt. It was open at the top and bore the following inscription: “I am all that was and is and is to be; no mortal has lifted up my veil, and the fruit which I brought forth was the sun.” She was called also Muth, the universal mother. Kings were especially honored in the title “Son of Neith.”

To express the idea that the female energy in the Deity comprehended not alone the power to bring forth, but that it involved all the natural powers, attributes, and possibilities of human nature, it was portrayed by a pure Virgin who was also a mother. According to Herodotus, the worship of Minerva was indigenous in Lybia, whence it travelled to Egypt and was carried from thence to Greece. Among the remnants of Egyptian mythology, the figure of a mother and child is everywhere observed. It is thought by various writers that the worship of the black virgin and child found its way to Italy from Egypt.

The change noted in the growth of the religious idea by which the male principle assumes the more important position in the Deity may, by a close investigation of the facts at hand, be easily traced, and, as has before been expressed, this change will be found to correspond with that which in an earlier age of the world took place in the relative positions of the sexes. In all the earliest representations of the Deity, the fact is observed that within the mother element is contained the divinity adored, while the male appears as a child and dependent on the ministrations of the female for existence and support. Gradually, however, as the importance of man begins to be recognized in human affairs, we find that the male energy in the Deity, instead of appearing as a child in the arms of its mother, is represented as a man, and that he is of equal importance with the woman; later he is identical with the sun, the woman, although still a necessary factor in the god-idea, being concealed or absorbed within the male. It is no longer woman who is to bruise the serpent’s head, but the seed of the woman, or the son. He is Bacchus in Greece, Adonis in Syria, Christna in India. He is indeed the new sun which is born on the 25th of December, or at the time when the solar orb has reached its lowest position and begins to ascend. It is not perhaps necessary to add that he is also the Christ of Bethlehem, the son of the Virgin.

Nowhere, perhaps, is the growing importance of the male in the god-idea more clearly traced than in the history of the Arabians. Among this people are still to be found certain remnants of the matriarchal age–an age in which women were the recognized heads of families and the eponymous leaders of the gentes or clans. Concerning the worship of a man and woman as god by the early Arabians, Prof. Robertson Smith remarks:

“Except the comparatively modern Isaf and Naila in the sanctuary at Mecca where there are traditions of Syrian influence, I am not aware that the Arabs had pairs of gods represented as man and wife. In the time of Mohammed the female deities, such as Al-lat, were regarded as daughters of the supreme male God. But the older conception as we see from a Nabataean inscription in De Vogue, page 119, is that Al-lat is mother of the gods. At Petra the mother-goddess and her son were worshipped together, and there are sufficient traces of the same thing elsewhere to lead us to regard this as having been the general rule when a god and goddess were worshipped in one sanctuary."[38]

[38] Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, ch. vi., p. 179.

As the worship of the black virgin and child is connected with the earliest religion of which we may catch a glimpse, the exact locality in which it first appeared must be somewhat a matter of conjecture, but that this idea constituted the Deity among the Ethiopian or early Cushite race, the people who doubtless carried civilization to Egypt, India, and Chaldea, is quite probable.

If we bear in mind the fact that the gods of the ancients represented principles and powers, we shall not be surprised to find that Muth, Neith, or Isis, who was creator of the sun, was also the first emanation from the sun. Minerva is Wisdom–the Logos, the Word. She is Perception, Light, etc. At a later stage in the history of religion, all emanations from the Deity are males who are “Saviors.”

That the office of the male as a creative agency is dependent on the female, is a fact so patent that for ages the mother principle could not be eliminated from the conception of a Deity, and the homage paid to Athene or Minerva, even after women had become only sexual slaves and household tools, shows the extent to which the idea of female supremacy in Nature and in the Deity had taken root.

Notwithstanding the efforts which during numberless ages were made to dethrone the female principle in the god-idea, the Great Mother, under some one of her various appellations, continued, down to a late period in the history of the human race, to claim the homage and adoration of a large portion of the inhabitants of the globe. And so difficult was it, even after the male element had declared itself supreme, to conceive of a creative force independently of the female principle, that oftentimes, during the earlier ages of their attempted separation, great confusion and obscurity are observed in determining the positions of male deities. Zeus who in later times came to be worshipped as male was formerly represented as “the great dyke, the terrible virgin who breathes out on crime, anger, and death.” Grote refers to numerous writers as authority for the statement that Dionysos, who usually appears in Greece as masculine, and who was doubtless the Jehovah of the Jews, was indigenous in Thrace, Phrygia, and Lydia as the Great Mother Cybele. He was identical with Bacchus, who although represented on various coins as a “bearded venerable figure” appears with the limbs, features, and character of a beautiful young woman. Sometimes this Deity is portrayed with sprouting horns, and again with a crown of ivy. The Phrygian Attis and the Syrian Adonis, as represented in monuments of ancient art, are androgynous personifications of the same attributes. According to the testimony of the geographer Dionysius, the worship of Bacchus was formerly carried on in the British Islands in exactly the same manner as it had been in an earlier age in Thrace and on the banks of the Ganges.

In referring to the Idean Zeus in Crete, to Demeter at Eleusis, to the Cabairi in Samothrace, and Dionysos at Delphi and Thebes, Grote observes: “That they were all to a great degree analogous, is shown by the way in which they necessarily run together and become confused in the minds of various authors.”

Concerning Sadi, Sadim, or Shaddai, Higgins remarks:

“Parkhurst tells us it means all-bountiful–the pourer forth of blessings; among the Heathen, the Dea Multimammia; in fact the Diana of Ephesus, the Urania of Persia, the Jove of Greece, called by Orpheus the Mother of the Gods, each male as well as female–the Venus Aphrodite; in short, the genial powers of Nature.”

To which Higgins adds: “And I maintain that it means the figure which is often found in collections of ancient statues, most beautifully executed, and called the Hermaphrodite.”

As in the old language there was no neuter gender, the gods must always appear either as female or male. For apparent reasons, in all the translations, through the pronouns and adjectives used, the more important ancient deities have all been made to appear as males.

By at least two ancient writers Jupiter is called the Mother of the Gods. In reference to a certain Greek appellation, Bryant observes that it is a masculine name for a feminine deity–a name which is said to be a corruption of Mai, the Hindoo Queen of Heaven.

In process of time, as the world became more and more masculinized, so important did it become that the male should occupy the more exalted place in the Deity, that even the Great Mother of the Gods, as we have seen, is represented as male.

The androgynous or plural form of the ancient Phoenician God Aleim, the Creator referred to in the opening chapter of Genesis, is clearly apparent. This God, speaking to his counterpart, Wisdom, the female energy, says: “Let us make man in our own image, in our own likeness,” and accordingly males and females are produced. By those whose duty it has been in the past to prove that the Deity here represented is composed only of the masculine attributes, we are given to understand that God was really “speaking to himself,” and that in his divine cogitations excessive modesty dictated the “polite form of speech"; he did not, therefore, say exactly what he meant, or at least did not mean precisely what he said. We have to bear in mind, however, that as man had not at that time been created, if there were no female element present, this excess of politeness on the part of the “Lord” was wholly lost. Surely, in a matter involving such an enormous stretch of power as the creation of man independently of the female energy, we would scarcely expect to find the high and mighty male potentate which was subsequently worshipped as the Lord of the Israelites laying aside his usual “I the Lord," simply out of deference to the animals.

In Christian countries, during the past eighteen hundred years, the greatest care has been exercised to conceal the fact that sun-worship underlies all forms of religion, and under Protestant Christianity no pains has been spared in eliminating the female element from the god-idea; hence the ignorance which prevails at the present time in relation to the fact that the Creator once comprehended the forces of Nature, which by an older race were worshipped as female.


Preface  •  Introduction  •  Chapter I. Sex the Foundation of the God-Idea  •  Chapter II. Tree, Plant, and Fruit Worship  •  Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun  •  Chapter IV. The Dual God of the Ancients a Trinity Also  •  Chapter V. Separation of the Female and Male Elements in the Deity  •  Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race  •  Chapter VII. Concealment of the Early Doctrines  •  Chapter VIII. The Original God-Idea of the Israelites  •  Chapter IX. The Phoenician and Hebrew God Set or Seth  •  Chapter X. Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation  •  Chapter XI. Fire and Phallic Worship  •  Chapter XII. An Attempt to Purify the Sensualized Faiths  •  Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism  •  Chapter XIV. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism–(Continued)  •  Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland  •  Chapter XVI. Stones or Columns as the Deity  •  Chapter XVII. Sacrifices  •  Chapter XVIII. The Cross and a Dying Savior

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The God-Idea of the Ancients or Sex in Religion
By Eliza Burt Gamble
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