Pigeonholing the Gods.

One of the things I have a very difficult time with, and I’ve discussed, is how very easy it is for people to just take a single aspect of a god and then they start running with it. It is at the point with this where I will not do generalized searches for Sekhmet or Sutekh or Hekate because I am sick of seeing all of the dark and dire nonsensical drivel people can think up. I end up wanting to correct or just smack my head against a wall at fifty miles an hour with some of the things that I’ve seen. However, it’s recently come to my attention that this is one of those aspects that we get, not just from the proliferation of the Internet era where everyone can make a website, but also in pseudo-literary books, in feminazi* propaganda, and in the mediocre [American] education of public school graduates.

* After a long discussion with a feminist friend of mine regarding one of the books I’m going to discuss, she remarked that people who apply feminist ideals in all areas are not real feminists because they tend to do it in an effort to belittle others, such as boys and men. She said to me that feminists, real ones, are looking for equality and that anyone who claims to be a feminist but does such a thing as to belittle others is not a real feminist. I’ve decided that they are “feminazis.”

The Sister recently went back to school and has to read the book, The Chalice and the Blade for her English class. This book is distinctly matriarchal in its content. The thing that really started to get to us (as the Sister had to, of course, share it with me) was that the author seems to not understand her mythology in any context. For example, there were a long list of deities that the author considered as a kind of hippy, mother deities. Some of these types of gods are Hera, Ma’at, Nut, Lilith, and Kore. This last god the author appears to be switching with Persephone. However, the fact that the author is pigeonholing gods in this ultra-feminine, mothers-are-awesome way isn’t really the issue inasmuch as the author not understanding in any way that some of the gods she listed do not qualify as “mothers” or as “loving mothers.”

Ma’at has never been anything in regards to a mother. In one instance, as a youth, I read of her as mother to Renenutet and Shai in her capacity as consort with Djehuti. While there is little to no evidence that either of these gods were parents, the one aspect to this particular model that I’ve read is that Djehuti fathered both. However, the generally accepted belief is that his consort as Seshat was the parent deity for these two gods. In regards to Nut, at one point, it is mentioned that she actually eats her children. Taken from Henadology, “In a text from the ceiling of the sarcophagus chamber of Seti I, it is said that Nut is called ‘Sow who eats her piglets,’ referring to the stars. In this text, Geb quarrels with Nut because she eats their children, but is reassured by Shu that ‘they [the stars] shall live, and they shall go forth from the place under her hind part in the east every day [i.e., at sunset], as she gives birth to Re daily,’ (Neugebauer vol. I, 67f).” In which context are either of these goddesses mothers or what the author believes to be good, happy, lovable mothers? Never mind the little factoids that I know about the other goddesses mentioned – Lilith appears to have had demonic associations and in many mythos eats/steals children; Hera did not want to marry her husband, allowed him to eat their children, and tried to kill her husband and therefore destroy the happy family dynamic; while Kore appears to be a reference of Persephone who was not a mother as far as I can recall – where in the world is it feasible to call any of these goddesses as loving mothers?

While discussing the horrors of this book with her English class, the Sister came across another form of pigeonholing in regards to her main mover and shaker, Aphrodite. For whatever reason, the discussion turned into this goddess’s direction. A small child, fresh out of high school, remarked that Aphrodite was “nothing but a whore anyway.” Of course, this is also incorrect. While Aphrodite is a goddess who obviously enjoys the stimulation of her body with other partners, she is also just the simple goddess of love. And while her mythologist tend to associate her with love in regards to that between a man and a woman, she also held sway and dominion over all forms of love – friendship, for instance, being a main example. She also held dominion over beauty, which I believe had something to do with the Trojan war or something. But what she really represents is a woman, content with who she is, what her body can deliver, and not willing to back down even if in a jealous rage or upset because she doesn’t get her way. She is the epitome of womanhood, in my eyes.

All of the goddesses I have mentioned thus far don’t even have “darker contexts” or “darker associations.” I couldn’t help but remark that I was shocked the author didn’t bother to mention that both Kali Ma and Sekhmet were “loving mother” goddesses.

And that, I feel, is a side project of these matriarchal society women who think that patriarchy is bad. I’m not saying that living in a patriarchal society is all roses and sunshine. I pay very close attention to the GOP and their inability to leave the birth control and abortion debates alone after nearly fifty years of not having to worry about having a right to these items. However, we can’t possibly assume (especially with our current psychology) believe that a matriarchy would be any better. Just because it may or may not have worked before doesn’t mean that it would work again. And while I really got irritated by the joke about a woman president being so overcome by PMS she would hit the switch to attack all of our foes with our hydrogen bombs and missiles, one can’t help but wonder how a woman would handle all of that if she had her period… or was menopausal… But, anyway. The point here is that a lot of people who believe that a matriarchal society means a better society tend to utilize goddesses like Sekhmet and Kali to show that they are “supremely awesome wonderful cuddly mothers.”

No.

Sekhmet was a mother in the fact that she gave a child to her consort, Ptah, by way of Nefertem. However, just because she had a kid in the Egyptian mythology does not mean that she doted on him hand and foot. In the Kali Ma mythology, she has a mothering side in which Shiva is sent to her in infant form while she has gone out of control with her blood lust. In seeing the helpless infant, she stops her crazed dance to tend to the infant and so, Shiva saves the world from the lust of Kali. In either of these aspects, both of these goddesses as mothering aspects to them. However, in no way shape or form does this mean that they were down with the motherhood. And in no way does it mean that we should pick and choose generalized mythos in an effort to recreate what matriarchal proponents would want to see. In all honesty, for the longest time, I thought these people were just Wiccans who were trying to work their feminine dynamic around all goddesses and now, I’m just thinking that people are trying to create a quieter spin on two gods who, let’s face it, have destruction in their blood.

In same vein, however, we can’t just pick and choose these two aspects of these goddesses and run with it either. I cannot comment on Kali as my research into her is extremely limited. However, I can clearly say that while she did have some lusting of the blood going on, she also came about to destroy Raktabija, which if you ask me, is a good thing.

When we look to Sekhmet, however, the mythologies that commonly get associated with her, in various forums and blog entries, are merely just the fact that Re sent her down to wreak havoc against humanity for plotting against him. And after he told her to stop, she was so drunk with blood that she didn’t. Obviously, Re fixed that situation, but just because she came down to our home just to destroy us doesn’t mean that she isn’t a deity that we should look to in other arenas. She is a great healer; she is a great proponent of justice. Too many people are so focused on her associated with the hot desert winds (as this was often thought to be her breath) and the Destruction of Mankind mythology that they forget she has other facets.

And this is something, I feel, that I will always be arguing against. I will always end up seeing people trying to pigeonhole her, Sutekh, Kali Ma, and others in an effort to make themselves feel right with the world. Or because they are just too blind to see that the gods are as imperfect as we are. I am a bitch; I open my mouth and volatility spews forth. But, I am also a mother, a daughter. I am also on the path to healing my soul. I am also a pagan. Just as people will look at me and see my white skin, people look to Kali and see her becoming drunk on the blood of humanity.

The gods are faceted and so are we.

So, for fuck’s sake, stop fucking seeing the gods within this tiny keyhole realm. The picture is a lot more broad and varied than you are able or capable of seeing.

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10 thoughts on “Pigeonholing the Gods.

  1. Re: Nut eating her children

    You might find My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts (I think that’s the author?) to be very interesting, if only because that bit of myth attached to Nut is involved to other myth bits, including being in her embrace and her helping you renew yourself. However, it IS terrifying to be eaten, to have yourself consumed by a goddess with sharp teeth. It’s an Ordeal.

    Okay, getting off my rambly box now. :)

  2. Heh heh heh… The last two sentances made me chuckle. interesting post and yes I agree with your rant. I’ve also seen people try to describe The Morrigan as a loving mother, and I’m familiar with the Aphrodite-is-a-whore mentality. Clearly they’ve never bothered to read up on Her mythology. I think some folks just want a mommy when what they need is a dominatrix but that’s my own highly biased opinion…

  3. In my experience and analysis, Nut is a *very* loving mother.
    I see most myth as metaphorical (since we all know now that the Earth revolves around the sun, etc), but let’s look at it literally for a second.
    I don’t think Nut would find pleasure in eating her children. But she does it so that they can be reborn. Being (metaphorically) reborn is never easy.
    Also, we have to see the flipside of this: by eating the child, Nut is promising to birth it. Again.
    Each child only has to be eaten once (until the next time, of course). But she’s so devoted to Her children that She’ll give birth to EACH of them over, and over, and over, and over again. Can you imagine being in labor 24/7? Oh my gosh. That’s a big sacrifice, and it’s for the wellbeing of Her children.
    Also, if she didn’t consume and birth the sun – which, again, must be painful to have a burning flaming star come out of your nether regions – then it would either be all darkness, under which we couldn’t survive, or all light, under which many species couldn’t survive. She ensures the continuation of all species, since some species thrive in sunlight, and others thrive in darkness.
    As well as this, have you *seen* the position She’s in, in many of her depictions? That looks so uncomfortable! :P Yet, if She didn’t agree to be in that position, we’d be exposed to the Chaos above Her.

    Overall, I think many of Her actions are justifiable. Unpleasant, but VERY necessary. Although I do agree with you – many of those other goddesses don’t quite exhibit many “loving” maternal traits.

    • I didn’t actually state that I didn’t agree that Nut couldn’t be a loving mother. I merely stated that practicing cannibalism, as it states in her mythos, doesn’t necessarily equate to the love-and-light mommy persona the author of the book passed onto her.

      That was, clearly, the point in this post. We have to look at the gods in their entirety, not just pick and choose pieces that we like. I’m sorry you missed that.

  4. Also, there are plenty of queens and female rulers etc that have existed, and I don’t remember menstruation ever having been a problem. There’s also the fact that the “PMS” zone is when a woman’s hormones is most similar to a male’s – decreased female hormones [ie estrogen] and such – which isn’t a surprise, since men are the ones who commit the most violent crime & have the most impulse disorders (women are more likely to develop depression, etc).
    Not that I’d favor a matriarchy over an egalitarian society, but I just felt like this needed to be said.

    • Could you provide me with the study or studies that indicated that males are more likely to suffer from impulse control disorders? I did a search because I was curious, but only found old information based on specific disorders but nothing so general as you claim.

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