Monday, February 28, 2005

Mother of God

The Virgin Birth is a common motif in myths around the world. The virgin Mary, the Egyptian goddess Isis, Persephone and the Mesopotamian Ishtar, all seem to be local manifestations of one universal theme: the mother-wife of the god who dies to be reborn.

The myth of Dionysus (equivalent to the roman Bacchus) is very similar to the christian myth. Earth goddess Demeter left her virgin daughter Persephone in a cave and let Zeus (father of Persephone) know where she was. Then Zeus came to the cave in the form of a giant serpent and copulated with his daughter Persephone. And from this union was born Dionysus, god of bread and wine, who dies and lives for ever, who was born and raised in that cave, then as a child he was dismembered, and finally resurrected. And this story can be traced back to the oldest known Sumerian mythology, that of the god Damuzi-absu, who also died and resurrected.

In the East, one story tells that Krishna was born from the virgin Devaki (the Divine One), in whose womb Vishnu had placed hairs from his head.

And in Mesoamerica, the Aztec feathered-snake god Quetzalcoatl (equivalent to the Mayan Kukulkan) is born from the virgin goddess Coatlicue, who by religious syncretism is now called Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I am atheist or agnostic, depending on my mood and who I'm talking to. As Joseph Campbell pointed out, myths are metaphors, and when they are interpreted as facts their whole point is missed.