Feminism and Spirituality
Vicki Hill 2005

The Synchronicity of Symbolism of Goddess Worship
and Astrology Found in Christianity.

The earlier Earth-mother Earth-centered religious beliefs, as well as their practices and rituals have found their way into 20th Century religious practices. With harsh judgment, prejudice, and distain, the modern-day Bible-thumping fundamentalist would call it Paganism, Neo-paganism, or even Satanism, ignorant of the fact that their own religious foundation is deeply rooted in these much earlier beliefs and principals that were established by goddess-centered worship, magic, myth, and the divine science of astrology. The golden thread of astrology intertwined with the silver thread – the divine energy of the feminine, have both created the underlying fabric of humanity’s need and constant search for the sacred. By analyzing the Astrological Epochs, one can see the symbolism of the sacred.

It takes the Sun nearly 25,920 years to complete the entire cycle of twelve zodiacal Astrological Epochs, each one individually is approximately 2650 yrs. and when the zodiacal sign changes, so changes the consciousness of man and this brings cultural changes in religion, philosophy, and in art. When these changes occur, it does not happen with a sudden burst of energy, but with a slow blending and merging of ideas, goddesses, gods, myths, religious beliefs and practices, art, and philosophy. Dr. James J. Bogan, professor of art history said, “One needs to explore the changes in architecture and art during each of the astrological ages. The ancients built on the natural relationships of earth and time, organizing space according to the relationships of the Earth, Sun and Moon.”

If one looks at some of the Astrological Epochs, they may begin to see the common and underlying braid of beliefs, rituals, and religiosity that have weaved it’s way through the people of the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, Mithraism, and finally into Christianity. The Earth Mother of Laussel, created during the Paleolithic period, holds the ram’s horn engraved with thirteen lunar stripes. If we examine the astrological implications of this, we find that the Astrological Epoch that humanity was experiencing, at this time, was the Age of Aquarius, known as the human. A well-known saying is, ‘Aquarius pours out her spiritual waters, so all who thirst, may drink her precious healing waters’.

Arriving at the Astrological Epoch of Leo, around 10,000 B.C.E., the symbolism of the Lion would have been proudly resonating on earth, leaving more images of animals in cave art, as well as the goddess and life giver and life taker. According to Gadon, “A powerful naked figure modeled in bold relief with arms and legs spread wide – although her face is not human and her body is catlike, she clearly represents the female figure”. In addition, although a controversial topic among Egyptologists, some do not agree with the dating of the Great Sphinx of Giza, such as Graham Hancock, John West, and Robert Bauval. After reinterpreting the geological data, they believe that the Sphinx, which has the face of a man and the body of a lion, was created during the Leo Epoch. Both Hancock and Bauval also believe that there are certain astrological alignments that make the Sphinx an equinoctial marker at the spring equinox, when the constellation of Leo would have risen heliacally. The Ancient Egyptians believed in the mythology of a golden age called Zep Tepi, or ‘The First Time’. Later this myth came to represent Osiris and in a symbolic way he became Orion, the giant Boeotian hunter who pursued the Pleiades and was eventually slain by Artemis. He was then placed in the sky as a constellation. The stars of Orion’s starting point during this precessional cycle show that this occurred around 10,500 BC (Hancock). The Zep Tepi, is the Genesis point and symbol for the god Aker, who is depicted as two lions seated back to back, one facing east and one facing west on the equatorial horizon that was called ‘yesterday and tomorrow’. At this time, the lion that faces west descends into the underworld while Aker guards the gate there, and Aker will only open the gate for the King to pass through (crystalinks – zeptepi).

Likened to the early Jewish and later Christian rituals, the ‘Divine Drama’ that follows in the passage below, is an example of an ancient ritual that uses water and sacred oils for baptism and purification, so one will be acceptable to god.

During this time, the primary function of the priests was to perform the rituals of the Divine Drama, the Great Myth, at the appropriate time and in the correct way. A baptism in a sacred pool, symbolic of the waters of Nu, the Cosmic Ocean, washed away all evil. Then the candidate was sprinkled with oil and water as purification, led to the statue of the Goddess and instructed in the secret ways. The female priestesses held the main function was music and dancing within the temple. At Thebes, the chief-priestess of Amun was the leader of the female music-makers who were regarded as the god’s harem and were identified with the goddess Hathor (crystalinks-egypt).

The domestic and motherly sign of Cancer governed the Epoch that occurred around 7500 to 5000 B.C.E. During this time in culture, the Mother Goddess was venerated in places all over the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Asia Minor. At Lepenski Vir, the Fish Goddess sculptures were carved in her honor, in Crete the Crowned Snake Goddess appears, and in Bulgaria, the Pregnant Vegetation Goddess symbolized the ultimate feminine archetype of fertility which ultimately leads to birth. Our Lady of the Beasts painted on terracotta incorporates the symbol of the fish resting inside the fertile womb on the heart-shape-faced lady. Young lions, which could be indicative of the past Leo Epoch, flank each side of the Goddess, a bullhead is under her right arm and this could indicate that after the Age of Cancer concludes, the Epoch of Taurus will commence. Numerous swastika-like emblems are also included and symbolize planetary movement or the cycle of the Moon. The fish, originally the symbol of the goddess, has become the universal symbol for Christianity and it is well known, that the ancient Hebrews were divided into twelve tribes, each indicative of an astrological sign of the zodiac.

The tribe of Judah, the Lion is the line that Jesus was from according to Biblical historians. Most all of the Jewish as well as the Christian holidays and feast days are determined by the phase of the Moon as well as the solstices and equinoxes. With the symbols of the fish, the lion, and the phases of the Moon, one can obviously see a connection to the symbols and customs within Judaism and Christianity, as well as the continued themes of the Goddess and astrology.

“Jacob, when speaking of Reuben being as unstable as water, Aquarius; Simon and Levi as the Twins, Gemini; Judah is a lion's whelp is Leo, the Lion; Zebulon shall dwell at the have of the sea, the home of the crab, Cancer. Isaachar as a strong ass, is the sign Taurus. Justice is weighed in the scales of Libra, and it is Dan who shall judge his people. Speaking of Gad, a troop shall overcome him, but he will overcome at last and because Scorpio has a multitude of desires, but the power to divert them to high purpose as symbolized by the Eagle, which is also a token of this sign. Asher shall yield royal dainties and his bread shall be fat, indicates, Virgo. Naphtali being a hind, or deer, or Goat, signifies Capricorn. Joseph's bow abodes his strength, and we find the Archer in Sagittarius. Now Aries has a constructive and a destructive, or warlike aspect; the later being signified by the wolf, as when a wolf in sheep's clothing. So we learn that Benjamin shall rave as a wolf, we know he belongs to Aries. And when we come to Ephram and Manassah, we find that Ephram, who was the younger, was blessed first, and that Manassah, who was older, was blessed later, thus indicating that at the end, or last sign, the dual sign Pisces, that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. This not merely signifies the sign of disappointments, but also indicates that the priesthood, who belong to this sign of Universal Brotherhood, should be willing, when necessary, to renounce worldly advantages for the good of mankind (Zain).”

“Mediterranean intellectual and religious life was pervaded by astrological beliefs. It was widely believed that the stars and planets were living gods, and that their movements controlled all aspects of human existence”. (Ulansey) The Epoch of Taurus, symbolized nature along with the fertile and virile bull, began around 4000 B.C.E. to about 1500 B.C.E., and the idea of the rich, bountiful, and fruitful land in connection to the worship of the Goddess continued because of her relationship to and with Earth. Different expressions of the worship of the feminine were created by different races, often with dramatic effect such as at the huge sight at Silbury Hill in England and the megalithic structures at Malta. At the same time, many cultures developed dramatic ceremonies with secret mysteries that reflected birth, death, and resurrection during the magical rites. The esoteric purification Mysteries at Eleusis swallowed up all others and spread into all of Greece, Asia Minor, and beyond the limits of the Roman Empire and they were instituted in honor of Ceres and Proserpine, who had been carried by Pluto into the underworld. While wearing a golden globe suspended from his neck, the Hierophant would deliver the oratory as the postulant descended through the penal fires in purgatory and after passing through the gates, they would proceed into ‘everlasting bliss’ (Macoy pg. 134-137).

The goddess Isis was the symbol of nature, mother, and nurse to all things and in the Egyptian mysteries, the candidate would go through the initiation ceremony and first, be purified by the great elements - fire, water, and air, then emerge from the ‘bosom of earth’. In ceremonial dresses that bore the mystery symbols, the priests would enter the sanctuary, which housed the pedestal of the triple statue of Isis, Osiris, and Horus as well as the allegorical figures of the serpent throwing the egg out of his mouth, the eternal coiled snake, and the double tau. The novice would arrive at the sanctuary of Isis and be retained at the temple for several months while his moral character would be tested and if, he passed the trial, a crown of palm leaves was placed on his head and a burning torch in his hand. Finally, he would receive the ‘Olympic cloak’ along with the consecrated scarf embroidered with the twelve signs of the zodiac, after which he would appear before the people and proceed through the solemn ‘Triumphal March of the Initiated’ and prepared to make his first sacrifice to the goddess Isis which was augmented with the ‘tragedy of Osiris’. This ceremony, like the Eleusian Mysteries, consisted of the acting out the expressive grief during funeral rites of Osiris, the search for his body, his miraculous rebirth, and the final destruction of Typhon, the evil murderer (Macoy pg. 127-129).

These ceremonial pageants symbolized birth, death, and finally, the triumphal return to everlasting life and promise of immortality, parallel to the Jewish and Christian cosmology. At this point, as far as Astrological Epochs is concerned, the wheel of time has already past through Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo, and Taurus. These same four fixed signs of the zodiac are found in the famous vision of Ezekiel when he saw the four creatures, each with four faces.

“Jews of Diaspora integrated Pagan spirituality with their own religious traditions. In Babylon, Jews became famous for their practice of astrology. The great patriarch Abraham was a Babylonian Jew who was well versed in astrological doctrine. Jews even adopted the Pagan Mysteries. In Babylon, they practiced the Mysteries of Tammuz. Ezekiel describes Jewish women ritually mourning the death of Tammuz at the north gate of the Jerusalem Temple (Freke pg. 178).”

Each new astrological age seems to be consistent with a major religious innovation inaugurated by the change of symbolism related to the zodiacal sign of the time. For example, from about 2000 B.C.E. through the start of Christianity, the Aries Epoch, ruled by the war-like planet of Mars and symbolized by the ram, was an obvious religious theme within the Hebrew theology. It was during this period when Abraham, the father of Judaism nearly sacrificed his son Isaac to the fiery fierce god Moloch. The triumph of the sun god, was naturally, ascribed to the influence of Aries and the Vernal Equinox, which is the Jewish festival called Passover. The sacrifice of the lamb became the symbol of the risen savior and the passage from the underworld into heaven. The sacrifice of the Lamb promised redemption and the Jewish people placed blood onto the entrance of their homes.

“During the Exodus, the astrological epoch was Aries, the ram. This is why a lamb, related to the ram was the Paschal sacrifice. This mazal dominated events for 2,000 years, from about the time of Avraham until the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. This was a time of severe judgment, for Aries is ruled by the planet Mars, who rules over blood (Tzadok)”. Venus, often called the morning star, is associated with love, beauty, and fertility as well as numerous goddesses such as Freyja, the Norse goddess and Asherah the Canaanite goddess. Asherah gave birth to twin sons called Shalim, who was Venus at dusk, and Shachar, who was Venus at dawn (Knight pg. 84).

Venus was also known as, Astarte or Ashtar, and she was the Phoenician goddess. The Jewish King Solomon hired the Phoenician king of Tyre to help with the design and construction of the first temple and these Phoenicians or Sidonians who worked on the temple, carried with them the mysteries of Baal represented by the sun and they all worshiped Venus. Many of the inner decorations of the temple revealed their system of worship (Macoy pg. 94).

At the Temple of Astarte in Babylon, every woman was required to serve at the temple at some point and ‘associate herself with a strange man’. After she ‘fulfilled herself to the goddess’ at this holy place she could return home. The women were called Hierodules, meaning temple prostitute (Knight pg. 89 - 95). It is possible, that temple prostitution was some sort of sacred sexual ritual that was linked to the sacred marriage rituals.

“Temple prostitution and the public offering of virginity occurred in all eastern temples between the Mediterranean and the Indus valley. Hierodules even worked in the older Jewish temples, where they were called Kedeshim, consecrated ones (Knight pg. 96)”.

Susan Ackerman, Professor of Far Eastern and Judaic studies, has apparently found numerous references to sexual rituals that took place at the temple in Jerusalem on the ‘high and lofty mountain’ known as Mount Zion (Knight pg. 175). “Sexuality was considered sacred, a special gift from the goddess of love, and the priestess who officiated at the temples of the love goddess in the Middle East were considered holy… Known as ‘consecrated women’, they were held in high esteem as invokers of the love, ecstasy, and fertility of the goddess (Starbird pg. 29)”.

The wife of the Phoenician king was Baalat, known as Astarte or Venus, and she was also called, the ‘Queen of Heaven’. The people who adored her referred to her as ‘our dear lady’ while they would pray to her for abundance in land, crops, health, and giving birth. Baalat also had a son who would first, die at the fall equinox and then, be resurrected during the spring equinox. This ritual represents a god-man that suffered his own death for his people (Knight pg. 97). The theme of Baalat is similar if not identical to the myths regarding the Virgin Mary, the story of birth of Jesus, and his subsequent crucifixion. It is obvious that these concepts, along with the goddess Venus were deliberately designed to infiltrate and influence Judaism and later, Christianity in both of their rituals and theology.

“Popular motifs from Pagan mythology became grafted onto the biography of Jesus. The virgin birth is often regarded as an extraneous later addition that should not be understood literally (Freke pg. 6)”. Finally, at the start of the Piscean Epoch, the alignment of planets caused a brilliant blaze in the sky, subsequently called the Star of Bethlehem, which announced to the Magi that a savior is soon to be born. Embedded into the Christian themes were the older cosmological concepts. Hermes, the messenger of the gods and son of Zeus and the virgin Maia, was born wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger in a cave, and performed extraordinary prodigies a few hours after birth. Dionysus also known as Bacchus had a similar history. Myths regarding the Immaculate Conception, were common in hero or god-man figures and just like the Virgin Mary, they each had a son. For example, the virgin Cybele was mother to Attis, the virgin Myrrh gave birth to Adonis, Dionysus was born to Semele who was also a virgin, and Pythagoras was the son of Apollo and his mother’s name was Parthenis, which meant ‘virgin’ etymologically (Freke pg. 29).

“The Magi were followers of the Persian Mystery god-man Mithras and his birthday was celebrated on December 25. The Pagan sage Empedocles speaks of worshipping God with offerings of myrrh and frankincense, with libations of golden honey. Sacred myrrh incense was used during the festival of Adonis. In Antioch, the Mysteries of Adonis was celebrated by cries that the ‘Star of Salvation’ has dawned in the East. This was the morning star. Which is actually the planet Venus (Freke pg. 33)”.

Dr. Ernest Martin author of, The Star that Astonished the World, believed that an extremely close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus along with the full moon would have caused the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem to appear with celestial brightness while all three were together in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Zoroastrian priests from Persia were the Magi and they believed that a son of Zoroaster would be born by a virgin with the power to raise the dead and crush the forces of evil. According to the verse found in Genesis 49:9-10, the followers of Judaism also believed that a savior would be born under this constellation.

In addition, the ‘Divine Shekinah’ which represented the ’Glory of God’ inside the ‘Holy Tabernacle’ seems to fit the pattern and movements of the planet Venus and is connected to the birth of the savior-type during history. According to Reverend AJ Grieve, Professor of Systematic Theology at Edinburgh, “The shepherds in the district are startled by seeing an angel and the Shekinah radiance, but are reassured and told the Messiah has been born in the village (Knight pg. 212-226)”. Jupiter, the lawgiver and Regulus, the scepter, together, were a sign for the coming of a Messiah. The Jupiter transit actually formed a halo directly above Regulus, as if it was crowning the King's Star and Venus along with a full Moon were in very close aspect.

In part, because of the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels at Nag Hammadi, a new light is radiating on Mary Magdalene. “In the Near Eastern religions of Sumer, Babylon, and Canaan, anointing the head of the king with oil was a ritual performed by the heiress or royal priestess who represented the goddess. In Greek, this rite was called the hieros gamos or sacred marriage (Starbird pg.36)”. Mary Magdalene came from the tribe of Benjamin, she was a princess, and related to the Hasmonean royal house of Israel.

The Italian Dominican Jacobus de Voragine, said “Her surname is of Magdala, meaning a castle, she was descended of the lineage of kings, and her mother’s name was Eucharis, a title given Aphrodite, also known as Astarte, who Solomon dedicated his temple. Magdala, was known as the ‘Village of Doves’, and there is evidence that sacrificial doves were bred there as sacred symbols of Astarte, also known as Inanna and/or Ishtar in the Jewish version. Magdalene was not the ‘fallen woman’ and the social outcast falsely depicted by the Church. Jesus gave her many great gifts, embraced her all his love, made her right familiar with him, and she was called the apostle to the apostles.”

Author Marjorie Malvern, says, “Magdalene is similar to ancient female fertility figures and regenerative goddesses and she embodies aspects of the Great Goddess, of Isis, of Venus, of Eve, of Psyche, and Pandora.” Susan Haskins, author of Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor, says that, “Mary Magdalene may be recognized as a figure of very ancient, pre-Christian origin. Her most conspicuous symbol, the ointment jar or pot, is an especially potent symbol and metaphor for female sexuality and power, and one which we recognize as belonging also to Psyche and to Pandora.”

In a psychological study published by R.L. Bruckberger, he says, “Mary was familiar with the court of Herod, she lived where the Hellenistic ideas were flourishing, she had a fascination with wisdom (Sophia) and the idea that the character and soul is found in beauty, and she may have been a priestesses.” The Black Madonna echoes the Neolithic ‘Triple Goddess’, the sacred feminine of Isis, Cybil, and Artemis. Notre Dame de la Confessione, is one of the Black Madonna’s that can be found in France. Some believe that Mary and Jesus were married and they produced offspring who later descended through the Merovingian kings. Authors of, The Holy Blood, Holy Grail, believe that when Mary anointed Jesus with sacred spikenard, that this was a pagan ritual from Sumeria, Babylonia, and Canaan. Jesus symbolically was the sacred king and she was the priestess or royal bride, representative of the goddess and this ritual act was a prelude to the “sacred marriage” of the God and Goddess. The Song of Songs, dedicated to the Queen of Sheba has elements of goddess worship and allegedly, the fragrant oil was only used at king’s banquets. I

In ancient Manichaean writings, Magdalene is the Maiden of Light, the Virgin of Light, and Miryai-Noohra. She functions as the Nazorean Priestess and is the incarnation of their greatest heavenly Goddess, the “Treasury of Life”. The Magdalene’s epithet means “elevated” or “watchtower”. Donna Bucar says, “Magdalene is the wild woman of the Bible. She is the source of the feminine. She shows the instinctual, intuitive and sexual sides of the feminine. She resides in our hearts and teaches us to honor the mystic and visionary in ourselves. She helps us to accept our sexuality, and reminds us to honor the work of all women, because she is a model of boldness.” In fragments and scriptures from the Gnostic text, Pistis Sophia more appropriately called “Piste Sophiea Cotice; Books of the Savior”, Mary Magdalene is the ‘blessed one’. Margaret Starbird says, “Magdalene is the sacred feminine and the ‘Goddess in the Gospels’.

Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb crucified for humankind. “Jewish initiates adapted the myths of Osiris and Dionysus to produce the story of a Jewish dying and resurrecting god-man, Jesus the Messiah (Freke pg. 132).” J.M. Robertson author of Pagan Christs, said, “The priests of Mithras and Attis did not regard baptism by blood very differently from the way in which the later Christian Church has generally regarded baptism by water… We cannot but be struck by the extraordinary analogy between the tombstone inscriptions of that period ‘born again into eternity by the blood of the bull or the ram’”.

Later, in Christian writings such as from St. Paul's epistles and from the early leaders, the imagery of the ‘saving power of the blood of the lamb’ became more popular and the expression ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’ was adopted. Similar to both Judaism and Christianity, Mithraism celebrated the slaying of a bull on the vernal equinox and the blood of the bull held a magic virtue and a holy mystery (sacred-texts). Mithras rose to the supreme position, became an intensely ethical deity, and was the sun of the world in the same sense as Jesus. Mithras lived a life of celibacy, and drastic asceticism and purity was demanded of his worshipers. As a sign of devotion and because they believed that he had come to take away the sins of the world, worshipers of Mithras, were baptized in blood and like the twelve apostles of Jesus, they had a communion supper of bread and wine. Like Christians, the believers of Mithraism celebrated his birthday December 25th. Identical to the beliefs of Christians, Mithraism stressed the immortality of the soul, a future judgment, and the resurrection of the dead (Selby).

A male-dominate Christian fundamentalist viewpoint is currently predominating in the United States, in part, because of a ruling right-wing presidential regime with a narrow-minded philosophy and a war-like mentality. Although, historical records along with art, sculpture, and architecture reveal that originally, the founding fathers of the United States were all practicing occultists with a connection to freemasonry. Because of this, they incorporated images of the goddess, along with Pagan and astrological symbolism of the sacred mysteries into the art and architecture of many of the buildings in Washington D.C. The statue of the assassinated President Garfield designed by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward has the entire zodiac in bronze. When Adolf Cluss designed the allegorical Columbia, he included Athena’s owl perched near numerous stars (Ovason pg. 29). In the past, when the commencement of a building was to start construction, a ‘corner-stone-laying ceremony’ was held by using Electional Astrology. This was also a traditional Medieval ritual (Ovason pg. 77). The Muse of History, Clio, stands at the Car of History at the Statuary (Ovason pg. 104). There is an entire zodiac on the Car of History and it is connected to the Capricorn-Cancer duality, as well as to the ‘horn of plenty’, that is originally from Zeus and connected to the goat. “The interior of the horn is dark, but from the darkness pours into the light of day, to enrich the living… Descent into birth, ascent into the spiritual realm… The great cornucopia encapsulates the extremes (Ovason pg. 173)”.

There is a Babylonian priest on the Federal Triangle who pours out his libations near another figure who carries the sheaf of corn and this is symbolic of Demeter, the corn goddess. The corn goddess, Ceres, is magnificently symbolized at the central pediment of Columbia holding the flaming torch and astrology is represented by Europa along with the bull (Ovason pg. 295). Sculptor Sherry Fry included ‘Spring’ in the form of a nude female with a cornucopia at the Department of Labor building. There are two rams on each side of the female and they represent Aries, the god of war. Throughout Washington D.C. there are numerous zodiacs such as the Dirksen zodiac, the Mellon Fountain zodiac, the extended zodiac of the Federal Trade building, and at the National Academy of Sciences to name a few, which all seem to highlight the sign of Virgo and they often incorporate the wheat sheaf. One may pass by the many gods and goddess’s of the Pagan persuasion that our founding fathers left as a hidden reminder of where we came from if they visit Washington D.C.

From the start of Genesis to the end of Revelations, intertwining throughout the Bible are the golden threads of astrology and silver threads of the divine goddess symbolism. The silver thread of the heavenly female, along with the golden thread of astrology are at the heart of holiness along with a circle of animals that can not be broken, and together they will continue to compose the harmony of the ‘divine’. The ancient people lived in peace and therefore could hear the music of the celestial spheres, but will any of us in the twentieth century stop and listen to the message of the Magi? Should we take charge and finally count our lucky stars or be fearful that fate will cause unluckiness for us? It has taken over 25,950 years, but we are on the cusp of the next Epoch of Aquarius and one can only hope that the sacred vessel of the Aquarian goddess is restored bringing fresh reviving waters for all of us who thirst for the sweet taste of the fruit of the feminine.
My prayer;

‘Peace on Earth’ and goodwill to HUMANS… and to animals!