May 10, 2006
THE ORIGINAL INTELLIGENT DESIGN
In the beginning was the mother.
Before science documented the male role in procreation, women were thought to have conceived from the light of the moon or from ancestral spirits. Paleolithic sculptures depicted female figures with large bellies and breasts, deliberate exaggerations of their life giving and life nurturing aspects. While there are over 55 surviving female deity figures from the stone age, there are only five males, and of poor craftsmanship. Clearly, the original intelligent designer was Mom.
Ancient myths tell of a great earth mother goddess who started the whole ball rolling. In Egypt it was Neith who gave birth to Ra. In Greece, Gaia was the first being to emerge from Chaos and spawned the universe. Aditi originated in India as the self-formed mother of the Sun and Moon and all else. In Australian Aborigine myth, the Sun goddess Yhi created Baiame, the Father, and together they created animals and mankind. Thus mother emerged from the earth itself and then created man.
In the millennia since this goddess-based, matrilineal society, man rose to greater power and replaced the earth mother with male patriarchal deities. Once he figured out he was included in the conception process, he began to claim women and children as property. Moreover, given his independence of childbearing and rearing, he could use his mobility and aggression to start ordering his world. In turn, god became a man, and in the major religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the goddess was banished. Female forces were either virginal or corrupting and susceptible to bad advice from snakes.
I see in my friends who have become new mothers an emerging side of their primordial nature. Aside from the fact that they do not expect to have a good night's sleep until 2010, they feel a powerful shift in their being. Like a heightened sense of smell or sight, they have an acute sense of right and wrong and find they have no tolerance for bull****. In the instant when the baby is born and their lifelong mother status secured, these women's priorities go through a seismic shift. They embody the creative goddess and all the responsibilities that accompany that title. Birth, although it may take place in a high tech hospital instead of a field, has remained the same from the beginning of time.
What was a daily practice in ancient times of honoring and giving thanks to the life-sustaining power of motherhood has morphed into a single day in contemporary culture, marked by Hallmark cards and tulip bouquets.
Our current incarnation began as a campaign in 1907 by Anna Jarvis, a schoolteacher, to set up a national Mother's Day in honor of her mother. She spent a great deal of effort lobbying politicians and business leaders. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson, hoping to boost a flagging brunch industry, signed it into law, proclaiming the second Sunday in May as a national holiday in honor of mothers. Now the busiest telephone traffic day of the year, Mother's Day encourages children of all ages to seek out their own primordial earth mother and say, "I love you, here's some cheap perfume."
As we celebrate this holiday on Sunday, let us also honor our ancient, big-bellied and boobed stone mothers and say thank you to the original creative mother force which spawned us all and remember her utmost reverence for life. To all moms everywhere, I wish you peace. To my own Mom, I wish you much love and L'Air Du Temps.
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