"Considering the primordial nature of The Mother archetype, it is not surprising that it surfaces in many, if not most, religious traditions of the world-even those that are pronouncedly patriarchal. Perhaps the most striking example of a patriarchal religious tradition with a prominent mother image is Catholicism. The Virgin Mary, who is worshipped as the all-holy mother of Jesus and"Queen of Heaven," is a potent archetype for millions of Christians. She is hailed as the New Eve who brings not death, as did the old Eve, but immortal life. Faith in Mary has in recent years been strengthened by the Marian apparitions at Guadalupe (Mexico), Lourdes (France), and Fatima (Portugal).
Few Christians are aware of the strong historical and symbolic connection between Marian worship and the veneration of earlier, non-Christian mother-goddesses such as Isis or Diana.
The Divine Mother is an image that has long been blurred and even altogether buried by patriarchal conceptions of the ultimate Reality as Father and Creator. After Nietzsche, we even declared the death of that patriarchal God, taking recourse to more abstract notions of the Divine. But our abstractions generally fail to feed us with inspiration and hope, and so we feel peculiarly adrift and ill at ease.
Thus the living spiritual traditions of the East, which have challenged and enriched our Western heritage millennium after millennium, hold a strong attraction for many of us. It is there, and especially in the tradition of Hinduism, that the image of the Divine Mother shines with undiminished brightness, as it has ever since the dawn of human civilization.
Hinduism recognizes the existence of beings whose consciousness is steeped in the Divine but who are yet endowed with a human body. These great beings are the"Incarnations," or avataras, who are not simply advanced human beings, or superb mystics who have attained union with the Divine through steadfast spiritual discipline. Rather they are beings descended from the radiance of the Divine, who have taken on human form to aid the spiritual maturation of humanity.
Some of these extraordinary beings embody the maternal aspect of the Divine. They are the"mothers," whose purpose is to draw us toward the Divine through their boundless love and nurturing. They are not mere archetypes but they mesh, if we allow it, with The Mother archetype within us, and then become singularly potent carriers of meaning and personal transformation."
Gerg Feuerstein, www.yrec.org
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