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Goddesses with bad tempers

My daughter is named after Greek mythology, for those of you who weren't aware. The mother of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Gemini-brothers Castor and Pollux.  And appropriately named, we found out last night.

The mama and I watched the first (excellent) episode of the BBC documentary Divine Women last night called "When God Was A Girl." Bettany Hughes starts at the very beginning and traces the history of goddesses in a multi-part series. Despite my own screaming goddess-daughter who would not go to bed, we enjoyed the program as it traced Neolithic fertility figures to ancient Roman goddess cults involving men who self-castrate themselves to followers of Hindu goddesses today. Christianity, I believe, is covered later in the series in more detail, but last night it touched on Christians crushing pagan goddess-worship and eventually even building the Vatican on the former altars in Rome.

The show starts with the evolution of non-divine female religious icons and early humans in awe of the life/death duality for both the human life cycle and the crop cycle. Some great carvings of these usually wide-hipped women...including one we were especially intrigued by that shows fertility in the front, but when the statue is turned 180 degrees the back is a skeleton representing death.

These non-divine or semi-divine figures eventually turn into goddesses. Interestingly, there is new evidence that the earliest figures pre-date farming...which was the former assumption about when goddess culture really took off.

When the show moves to India, we explore the current worship of the female divine in Hindu homes and communities and it follows a women-centered celebration of one goddess in particular to its conclusion "sending her back" to the Ganges River where she came from--until the next year. But the really eye-opening parts are the discussions of the psychology involved where goddesses have the dual role of both nurturing protector and fire-breathing slayer and bringer of destruction. You want the goddesses on your side because they are Divine Mothers...but don't cross them because they have another side. Especially fascinating is the story that the gods were facing a battle against an invincible demon so they collectively go to the Himalayas and craft a new, great goddess Durga. She has weapons in each of her many hands despite being the Mother Goddess.

Hmm, sounds familiar!

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In other religion news last night, we attended a live nativity here in the village. The kids would have stayed longer if it weren't so cold. They loved it!

It was put on by a church who has been doing it for 20 years. A real camel, donkey, flock of sheep, real baby, sets, music, costumes...all spread over about 5 scenes on their front steps, church yard, etc.. Very well done and we were happy to see so many people in attendance. Police were directing traffic and they had a hot chocolate and hot cider stand set up to take donations.

What a great event to put on in the community.