Legacy of Carol P. Christ: GODDESS AND SACRED COW: A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE SACRED BULL

This was originally posted on August 5, 2013

Most archaeologists and visitors to museums assume that when they see a horned bovine, they are faced with the image of the male God or the image of the bull sacrifice.  In the minds of many, these two are one, as we have been taught that the male God who was the consort or son-lover of the Goddess was sacrificed. Yet horned Goddesses are not infrequent in the history of religions and Hindus still revere the sacred cow.  

Cattle have played an important role in human life from the beginning of agriculture.  Cows provide milk which is also turned into butter, cheese, and yogurt.  Most of the young males and some of the females are killed for meat or leather, while a few males are kept to impregnate the females.  Though the “raging bull” is the lens through which most of us think about mature male bovines, I have been told by a friend who raised cattle that in fact bulls are for the most part gentle and even sweet–though of course they are also potentially dangerous.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: GODDESS AND SACRED COW: A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE SACRED BULL”

TRAVELOGUE INTO HISTORY: MY BIG FAT GREEK ODYSSEY (Part 2) by Sally Mansfield Abbott

Part 1 was posted yesterday. You can read it here.

Arriving in Heraklion on Crete, I was enlivened by the sea air and the informal “island” vibration. My sister and I made our way through its labyrinthine streets, following Daedalus, a pedestrian street named after the legendary creator of the labyrinth at Knossos, the prototype of the artist, who Joyce names as his stand-in in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Our hotel was on Theotokopolous Street. (They’d call you El Greco too if your name was Domenikus Theotokopolous.) Nikos Kazantzakis was also from Heraklion, a city noted for its artists.

Knossos was a small, contained place circled by pine trees, unlike the sprawling sun-drenched expanse of a typical archeological site. There were restored ocher columns, four storeys to the palace, open courtyards for bull leaping, and cisterns that had been used for self-purification. Its red clay and turquoise frescoes were so familiar to me, with their vivid colors and playful lines that Matisse could have envied. No wonder it was the prototype of a work of art!

Continue reading “TRAVELOGUE INTO HISTORY: MY BIG FAT GREEK ODYSSEY (Part 2) by Sally Mansfield Abbott”

Jewish Folklore and Women’s Clothing: When Things are the Text by Jill Hammer

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  The Jewish Museum has long been a favorite museum for me.  My wife and I took our daughter to this particular exhibit because we knew she’d like it.  The exhibit is entitled “Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress from the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.”  It consists of many, many garments created and worn by Jews, from Moroccan wedding clothes to German prayer shawls to Yemenite amuletic (meant to protect the wearer) dresses.  Accompanying the garments were placards explaining the folk traditions giving rise to the various garments.  What I realized (again) after viewing the exhibition was how much I could learn about the culture of Jewish women, and Jewish culture in general, by looking at things, not texts.

The sacred texts and laws central to Jewish life, while they certainly discuss Jewish women, tend not to be created by or for Jewish women.  This means many aspects of how Jewish women thought or acted (before the present day) are obscured. However, these garments were created by and often for Jewish women, and their shapes and symbols tell a great deal.  For example, the Moroccan Jewish wedding clothes I mentioned were embroidered with spirals, representing (according to the accompanying written material) the spiral of life.  These spirals were also found on Jewish tombstones. The spirals resembled, to me, the spirals I’d seen carved on stone at Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland—the ancient symbols of life and journey.  I was amazed to see them in a Jewish context.  Another dress that mixed Sephardic and Moroccan style also had spirals featured prominently.

Continue reading “Jewish Folklore and Women’s Clothing: When Things are the Text by Jill Hammer”

GODDESS AND SACRED COW: A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE SACRED BULL by Carol P. Christ

carol-christStatue_of_Egyptian_Goddess_Hathor_from_Luxur_Museum_EgyptMost archaeologists and visitors to museums assume that when they see a horned bovine, they are faced with the image of the male God or the image of the bull sacrifice.  In the minds of many, these two are one, as we have been taught that the male God who was the consort or son-lover of the Goddess was sacrificed. Yet horned Goddesses are not infrequent in the history of religions and Hindus still revere the sacred cow.  

Cattle have played an important role in human life from the beginning of agriculture.  Cows provide milk which is also turned into butter, cheese, and yogurt.  Most of the young males and some of the females are killed for meat or leather, while a few males are kept to impregnate the females.  Though the “raging bull” is the lens through which most of us think about mature male bovines, I have been told by a friend who raised cattle that in fact bulls are for the most part gentle and even sweet–though of course they are also potentially dangerous.

Before the industrial revolution, there was also a third category of bovines, the castrated males, known as oxen, who were used as “beasts of burden”–to pull plows, litters, and after the invention of the wheel, wheeled vehicles. Many people assume that only bulls have horns. This is not the case.  Recently a friend who was raised on a dairy farm described to me the pain experienced by young female cows when their horns are burned out. So let us think again about the images of the horned bovines found in museums.  Given that cows and oxen were long-term companions of early “man” and early “woman,” why should we assume that all horned bovines are bulls?  Continue reading “GODDESS AND SACRED COW: A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE SACRED BULL by Carol P. Christ”

For the Love of Gaia by Jassy Watson

For the Love of Gaia Jassy WatsonOn January 26, 2013 a rare, devastating tornado hit our community in Queensland, Australia, a coastal town on this sub-tropical coast. My family experienced nature’s elemental force firsthand and hopefully will never again. The tornado viciously shattered houses, peeled away roofs, uplifted cars and trees, and took down power lines, tearing apart everything in its path. With absolutely no warning, literally out of the blue, it formed over the churning sea, rapidly intensifying before striking land, awakening the vulnerability and fragility of all life in its midst.

When it struck, our four kids and I were waiting in our car while my husband ducked into a mate’s house to borrow a tool. We heard the sound of a roaring jet plane overhead, as my husband came running, screaming at us to get out of the car. Turning to my left, in a vision imprinted forever, a spiral of debris flew toward us. Scrambling, we got the kids out of their harnesses and safely indoors. I lagged behind, taking care of the children first, and fell out of the side door of the van with the wind’s impact. As I got up to run, a large piece of roofing tin flew straight for my head. I dove, seeking safety under the front of our running car. My life flashed before my eyes. All of us in a state of shock, the tornado was gone as quickly as it had come, we were unscathed except for a few minor cuts and bruises. It was only a few moments before the immediate danger passed. We ventured outside to inspect the damage, destruction surrounded us. Continue reading “For the Love of Gaia by Jassy Watson”

Hagar – Demoted Servant or Egyptian Princess? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

A socio-political examination of Genesis 16 explores how ancient myth can influence the story of Hagar and Sarai. Socio-political events could have occurred between the Egyptians and King Solomon that influenced the writing of this text.  According to John Currid in Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, the Egyptians and Hebrews borrowed many things from each other and because of that, an inter-relatedness exists between the languages as well as cultural and religious practices of both kingdoms (26).  It is this inter-relatedness that I wish to explore and ask the question -was Hagar an Egyptian Princess demoted to a lower position of servitude in order to make a political statement of superiority of the Israelites over the Egyptians?  Or is this a story of conflict between two of Solomon’s wives?  Finally, could this story tell us about events that occurred after Solomon’s death since the Biblical texts from the pre-exilic period began to take shape during the reign of David and Solomon?  This is a very brief exploration of these theories.

In Genesis 16, Hagar and Sarai connect Egypt and Israel in a familial relationship, one rooted in strife.  These two women, an Israelite and an Egyptian, are brought together because of Sarai’s barrenness and need to fulfill the covenantal promise. Because of this, Hagar becomes Abram’s secondary wife.  This is not the only time that marriage between an Israelite and Egyptian occurs in the Old Testament.  Joseph marries and an Egyptian, the daughter of a priest of On (Genesis 41:45).  Solomon also has an Egyptian wife who seems to have some importance because she is mentioned six times in the Old Testament (1 Kings 3:1; 7:8, 9:24; 11:1-2; 2 Chronicles 8:11).

Important is the fact that this passage could be rooted in the writings that emerged in that period that portray family strife.  Savina J. Teubal in Ancient Sisterhood: The Lost Traditions of Hagar and Sarah, states these “andocentric writing and editing” of the biblical narratives portray conflicts between women who “vie for the attention of their husbands or sons” (19).  In this case the story really could be a tale of family strife inspired by two of the wives of Solomon, one of which was Egyptian.

Continue reading “Hagar – Demoted Servant or Egyptian Princess? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

%d bloggers like this: