Ancient Goddess Religion in the Middle East

Authors of published works and books on Ancient Goddess religion talked about the history and the importance of the religion in the worship of the Goddess. This papers attempts to to share and relate how the topic affects the modern person. This paper aims to show that the Ancient Goddess religion is more than just a piece of forgotten history and that it in fact is gaining much notice today. This presents how one goddess has influenced the ancient people, connecting different names to one single deity the Great Mother Goddess.

To be able to achieve such purpose, this paper is organized into four main sections. The first section discusses the history of the ancient religion, archaeological findings and a brief look at the old Middle East, also called as Near East, in religious practice. The second section gives the different names of the Goddess and how the different ancient people unknowingly worship the same Goddess under different names while the third sections sees the actual Ancient Goddess religion in the early times of the Middle East or most commonly called before as the Near East. Modern times have seen the rise and fall of things and beliefs as well as the return in interest for the lost religion of the Great Goddess and it is in the last section that this areas of concern are discussed.

Historical Context
The ancient Near East is described to have the world s early civilization in a certain region that is the equivalent of the present day Middle East and includes the  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiMesopotamiaMesopotamia (the modern  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiIraqIraq and north-eastern  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiSyriaSyria), the Egypt, the   HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiHistory_of_Iranancient Iran ( HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiElamElam,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiMedesMedia and  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiFars_ProvincePersia),  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiArmeniaArmenia,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiAnatoliaAnatolia (modern  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiTurkeyTurkey) and the  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiLevantLevant (modern  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiSyriaSyria,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiLebanonLebanon,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiIsraelIsrael,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiPalestinePalestine,  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiJordanJordan, and  HYPERLINK httpen.wikipedia.orgwikiCyprusCyprus). It is in this ancient region that their spiritual beliefs influenced their lives. They believed in the supreme and divine beings or deities.

Female deities were worshipped all throughout the world in the ancient times. But this paper will focus on the Goddess religion in the Near East for this is one of the cradle of the world s civilization, specifically the Western civilization.

Thus, long before the birth of the present day religions that survived the ages, there were some forgotten religions that have recently gained notice. Deities influenced the beliefs of men and in the ancient Near Eastern regions, long before the birth of men who shaped our lives, there is the Great Mother Goddess. This divine deity was the symbol of the earth and its fertility. It is a female divine deity that has been the center of religious worship and religion in the ancient Near East. It is in this region where one could trace the birth and rise of the Ancient Goddess religion and its worship.
Unknown to many, the Great Mother Goddess worship goes back to almost 25,000 BC as evidenced by recent findings. Temples were erected for the Goddess and she was worshipped until 500 AD when the last temple was ultimately closed. Very little is known about the female deities and their worship. That is because there are very few surviving written materials that give proof to such worship.  Yet their worship can be traced back in the ancient times. One could say that their history and worship goes back to the times when gods and goddesses roamed the earth.

So why are they unheard of until today Almost all the writings, artifacts and knowledge about the female religion and worship that was practiced for thousands of years were lost or hidden and forgotten. The ancient Goddess religion flourished for practically thousands of years long before the classical age and the world of Greece and Rome.

As the new era of religious beliefs began, the few thousand years saw women experiencing alienation as they were the priestesses of the Goddess religion and a source of power and influence. The new culture has excluded the female aspect and the rise of dominant religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam focused mainly on the male aspect and has remained so until now.  The last remnants of the Goddess worship were all but wiped out by the killing of thousands of women as witches during the Middle Ages (mothergoddess).

The recent discovery of artifacts and writings has lead to a renewed interest in the Ancient Goddess religion. Most of these Goddess worships are traceable to where the early civilizations first started and flourished.

Near East Goddess
With the rise of the awareness of the ancient people on their spirituality, they reconciled with the fact that there are gods, goddesses and men. With this, they have started naming them in their own language. The Near Eastern region has centered its religious life on the different deities and supreme beings that almost all early civilizations have different names for their goddesses and as well as for the supreme Mother Goddess.

In his book Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Jordan gave a list of the ancient of goddesses that were worshipped. The names mentioned in the book likewise were mentioned in a website,  HYPERLINK , that offers information about these ancient deities. The 12 goddess names are most likely to refer to the same supreme female deity. They are as follows
Achamoth - Mother Goddess who gave birth to the creator of the material universe, according to early Gnostic Christians
Al-Uzza - Powerful One. Arabic Goddess. Founder of Mohammeds tribe, the Koreshites, hereditary tenders of Her Sacred Stone in Mecca.The Mighty. Mohammed worshipped this Desert Goddess of the Morning Star. Acacias are Her sacred tree.
Anath - Strength of Life. Worshipped by Canaanites, Amorites, Syrians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Phoenicians. Queen of Heaven and Mistress of all the gods
Anatu - Great Mesopotamian Goddess, Ruler of the Earth and Queen of the Sky
Aramaiti - Iranian Earth Goddess, whose language was the original language of the Christian Gospels. Mother of the People made of Clay
Arianna - Great Goddess of Persia (Iran)
Aruru - Sumero-Babylonian Great Goddess who was the original Potter who created human beings out of clay
Asherah - Semitic name of the Great Goddess. Sacred Grove, Divine Harlot, Lady of Heaven, Queen of the Gods, Lady who traverses the sea. Sacred Cow. Symbol - stylized multi branched tree. She who gives birth to the gods, Goddess of the Tree of Life, Goddess of the Grove. She who gives birth, Wet-nurse of the gods. Ugaritic Mother Goddess. She was the Force of Life, experienced as benevolent and enduring, found in flocks of cattle and groves of trees, evoked in childbirth and planting time. Sometimes appeared as a naked, curly-haired Goddess riding a sacred lion and holding lilies and serpents in up-raised hands
Chaabou - Semitic Earth Mother
Inanna - Sumerian Queen of the Land. Source of the Earths life blood. She filled the wells, rivers and springs with Her blood. 2,000 B.C.E. Juniper is Her tree. Queen of Heaven, Sumerian (Iraq) Queen Moon, Great Goddess of the Bronze Age
Shayba - Arabic-Aramaean title of the Great Goddess. Shayba was Old Woman whose spirit dwelt in the Sacred Stone of the Kaaba in Mecca
Shebat - Mesopotamian Moon Goddess
As noticed, despite the different names, they refer to one supreme female goddess who is the mother of all things and the source of life. These goddess names are found in the surviving texts and scrolls that were unearthed in the excavations and archaeological digs. Such similarity proved that the ancient people look into the Mother Goddess or the Great Goddess as the source of life even to the extent that they consider the earth as the goddess herself.

Ancient Goddess Religion
The supreme Mother Goddess was worshipped by almost all ancient people that it has been said by the Museum of Ancient and Modern art

The deification and worship of the female divinity in so many parts of the ancient world were variations on a theme, slightly differing versions of the same basic theological beliefs, those that originated in the earliest periods of human civilizations. It is difficult to grasp the immensity and significance of the extreme reverence paid to the Goddess over a period of either twenty-five thousand (as the Upper Paleolithic evidence suggests) or even seven thousand years and over miles of land, cutting across national boundaries and vast expanses of sea. Yet it is vital to do just that to fully comprehend the longevity as well as the widespread power and influence this religion once held.

The Goddess and her accounts are found in almost all areas in the world. The discovery of many texts and accounts about one female creator and that she is responsible for all existence is surprising. Likewise, credit is given being the one that has brought forth the first people, the entire earth and the skies and heaven on high. Numerous records supporting this belief are found in Babylon, Egypt, Africa, Sumer and even in China.

Such evidence and writings were found way back, with even some dating 5,000 years old. Women were attributed to be the givers of life because only women could give birth and this was associated with their Goddess who gave life to this earth. Further more, the Museum of Ancient and Modern art also said that

In agreement with the generally accepted theory that women were responsible for the development of agriculture, as an extension of their food-gathering activities, there were female deities everywhere who were credited with this gift to civilization.In Mesopotamia, where some of the earliest evidences of agricultural development have been found, the Goddess Ninlil was revered for having provided Her people with an understanding of planting and harvesting methods.

In nearly all areas of the world, female deities were extolled as healers, dispensers of curative herbs, roots, plants and other medical aids, casting the priestesses who attended the shrines into the role of physicians of those who worshipped there.

The Divine Ancestress was known as Astarte -- the Great Goddess, the Queen of Heaven, Innin, Inanna, Nan, Nut, Anat, Anahita, Istar Isis, Au Set, Ishara, Asherah, Ashtart, Attoret, Attar and Hathor. Each name is denoted in the various languages and dialects of those who revered Her as different aspects of the Great Goddess.

Toward Modern Times
The present day has seen onece again the recognition of the said Goddess religion. And to review what Goddess religion is, this last section discusses how the ancient Goddess religion in the Middle East affects the modern-day people.

Goddess religion is the worship or devotion to the supreme female deity.  Because of this, many civilizations devoted their time to the worship of the Goddess and even built temples for her. Traces of these temples could still be seen in the modern Middle East being one of the cradles of the civilizations. It is in this region that much of the world s religions originated, flourished and shaped the world.
It is said that over the years, the religion met its end when the last temples where burned and women who practice it were executed in the middle ages. It must be a puzzle why they were obliterated from memory and history.  Caris, in his article, Reflections on Goddess religion explained

The ancient Middle Eastern cultures of Sumer, Babylon, and Egypt demonstrate the change from goddess religion to god religion. Inanna, a Sumerian goddess who later becomes Babylonian Ishtar, is the Great Mother Goddess, who holds the caduceus and double-headed ax as symbols of her power. The lunar cycle represents her power of life and death. The queen of heaven and earth, she has these attributes the tree of life (palm tree), dove, owl, lion, dragon, serpent, scorpion, planet Venus, and Sirius... The great cosmic cycle of life and death can be described in this way the soul comes from or is born from the goddess, and its life cycle resembles the lunar cycle at death the soul returns to the goddess. This cycle is very conducive and supportive of reincarnation.

There are some areas in the world that is reviving the Goddess religion that originated in the Middle East. Modern people embrace the belief that the earth and the life on it came from the Goddess and that the people are not taking care of her because they are destroying it. With the modern thinking and acceptance of new ideas and the radical changes over the years, it will not be a surprise if the number of this resurfacing religion will rise.

Examining the different books and sources, one can say that the Goddess religion is universal and the beliefs are almost the same. The development of the spirituality of the people has led them to channel their minds to more deeper things and their understanding of them deepened as well. Yet it cannot be denied that the influence of the Goddess religion in the Middle East has created a lasting impact that could still be felt after it has been thought to have been totally lost. Thousands of years later, the sands of the Middle East regions are telling us that the Ancient Goddess religion maybe lost but is never forgotten.


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