When God Was Also a Woman
"According to the myriad images that have survived from the great span of human prehistory on the Eurasian continents, it was the sovereign mystery and creative power of the female as a source of life that developed into the earliest religious experiences. The Great Mother Goddess, who gives birth to all creation out of the darkness of her womb, became a metaphor for Nature herself, the cosmic giver and taker of life, ever able to renew Herself within the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth."
― Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe
Goddess history dates back to the earliest civilizations. It's well documented that ancient societies worshiped feminine forms of God—typically as mother, earth, and nature, or as deities who personified feminine attributes. Theologians, archeologists, historians, and experts in religious mythology have told of literally thousands of goddesses from cultures around the world.
Worship of the Divine Mother permeated ancient societies. Her temples abounded. Her presence was expressed in the images, artifacts, and stories that were passed along through countless generations. Her place in society was carved out in ancient tablets and documented on temple walls. She was personified in statues, reliefs, carvings, ritual tools, and common items in her culture, such as mirrors and vases. Many of these items live on, always there to remind us of her presence in our world. And many of the world's cultures continue to worship, honor, and pray to female deities. The Hindu, Buddhist, Tibetan, Native American, South American, and African cultures are among those that always have, and continue to, commune with the Divine Feminine. Today, she is also actively honored as earth, and by countless ancient names, by practitioners of modern goddess spirituality.
The Very Ancient Goddesses
Before the establishment of the religions we know today as the major religions of the world, there were ancient societies known to worship the female divine. One of the most similar and striking finds in archaeological digs of these ancient communities are small clay images of females—the original goddess statues. Famous among them are the Venus of Willendorf, about 25,000 years old, and the Goddess of Lespugue which may be 35,000 years old. Both are in museums bearing proof that worship of feminine icons of power existed in cultures around the world.
The Neolithic cultures were rich in these kinds of icons, according to goddess archeologist Marija Gimbutas. There were goddesses set about ancient clay ovens and left to watch over children as they slept. Archaeological evidence shows that a complex series of disruptions—including natural disasters and violent invasions—began to shift the world culture and end the reign of the early, peaceful societies governed on the feminine principle.
However, most of the world's oldest religions included the Divine Feminine in some form or by certain names.