She Is God
By Dalian Adofo (Ancestral Voices Co-director)
Why can’t she be, after all don’t you owe your entry into this world to her? Personally, it would seem quite logical to arrive at this conclusion considering the concept of God is about one that creates and brings forth life, yet I’m surprised at how often people take offence when I mention this.
With people I’ve only recently met, we tend to walk down this conversational path when the question ‘Do you believe in God?’ comes up and I end up explaining my position: that there was a feminine concept of God that preceded the male God of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), that is now taken for granted as true and accurate.
With familiar friends, I struggle the most with those who also claim the label of ‘feminist’. Why? Primarily because I assume they would have understood by now that the subjugation and degradation of the female is not a recent invention nor is it merely about social roles, pay differences and employment opportunities in society. The suppression of the female has worked in tandem with the rise of patriarchy for centuries and firmly stamped into the psyche as ‘fact’ with the rise of organised religions.
From Pandora opening the box to let out all manner of evil into this world in ancient Greece to Biblical creationist stories of Eve tempting Adam to commit the greatest sin leading to the downfall and misery of all humanity, there is a long list of other religious, mythological and populist allegories all aimed at the one objective: to suppress the image of women and ensure their dominance by the male. She is responsible for all evil and thus by association deserves the ‘less than status’. This is the reason for my surprise at my feminist friends because I assume they would/should have made some of these connections considering the two aforementioned stories in particular are fairly common knowledge?
This sad state of affairs reminds me just how deeply entrenched the image of God as a Man is deeply rooted in the psyche and many are unwilling to even question or simply entertain the idea of an alternative. Understandably so, as the male is still largely the main breadwinner in most families, so the deference to him also reflects a crossover between what has become accepted as social norms influencing religious and spiritual understandings.
But how erroneously so……because God was a woman first, before she was turned into a man. Not just in Africa, but the world over. Is there any evidence to support such a bold statement, I’m sure readers may be thinking? Of course, and plenty of it too!
For example, in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ we have a dialogue when ‘God’ takes physical form, Ra, from his intangible self, Amen, and proclaims that he was born out of his mother, Nun, the primordial waters of Creation.
TA-Urt is the oldest depiction on record for representing what we now refer to commonly as God. She is embodied in the statue of a hippopotamus pregnant and carrying life, from the Ancient Nile Valley Civilisation, now modern-day Egypt. In some communities she still holds her position as supremely divine, such as in Ijaw cosmology in present day Nigeria.
More on the various conception of the Creator can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
Merlin Stone affirms in her landmark book ‘When God was a woman’, “The Great Goddess-the Divine Ancestress-had been worshipped from the beginnings of the Neolithic periods of 7,000 BC until the closing of the last Goddess temples, about AD 500.” and the reason evidence of the female as God is now hard to find is because of “the antagonistic attitudes of Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism (Islam) towards the sacred artifacts of the religions that preceded them revealed this to be so, especially in the case of the Goddess worshipped in Canaan (Palestine). The bloody massacres, the demolition of statues (i.e pagan idols) and sanctuaries are recorded in the pages of the Bible…” and not forgetting the Koran, “In it we read, “Allah will not tolerate idolatry…the pagans pray to females.”
The rise of organised religions spearheaded by men would lead to Her demise and as with any smear campaign, her demonisation took place on many levels and in different forms.
Her veneration became strongly associated with the idea of ‘pagans’, ‘witchcraft’ and ‘fertility cults’ or ‘gods’. Ideas that would be frowned upon amongst the masses to further alienate people from these ancient conceptions to eventually aid their abandonment. The selective use of terms such as cults and gods (always written without capital letters) are further indicative of attempts to keep them discernible as less ‘noble’ and ‘civil’ than the mainstream doctrines. It is thus not surprising that the West would witness the murder of millions of women during the Salem Witch hunts and Spanish Inquisition just to ensure these ideas would permanently permeate mass consciousness. Clearly it has worked. Unfortunately, similar is still occurring in places such as Africa, the Caribbean and South America where persecution of spiritual practitioners who still hold such understandings sacred, continue unabated.
My reference to God as a concept is not because I do not believe in such, but rather that my conception is very different from that widely held. A birthing process eternally manifested, without beginning nor end, as cyclical as the African spiritual concept of time.
It seems the ancients were a lot more discerning than us; ‘God’ was not so much gendered, but a functional concept: of bringing life into this world! So does this not make sense for this concept to be afforded to the woman?
So why then should anyone find the idea that God is a woman offensive? Who carries and brings forth life into this world? Certainly not a man!
Much more about the various African conceptions of the Creator, including as female, is available in the book Ancestral Voices: Spirit Is Eternal.
Download the first chapter for FREE here