When Margaret Murray wrote her ground-breaking God of the Witches in 1931, scholars quickly dismissed her theory of a universal, pre-Christian cult of witches who worshiped a singular mother goddess. However, she wasn’t completely off-base. Many early societies had a mother-like godform, and honored the sacred feminine with their ritual, art and legends.
Take, for instance, the ancient carvings of rounded, curved, feminine forms found in Willendorf. These icons are the symbol of something once revered. Pre-Christian cultures in Europe, like the Norse and Roman societies, honored the deities of women, with their shrines and temples built to honor such goddesses as Bona Dea, Cybele, Frigga, and Hella. Ultimately, that reverence for the archetype of “mother” has been carried over in modern Pagan religions. Some might argue that the Christian figure of Mary is a mother goddess as well, although many groups might disagree with that concept as being “too Pagan.” Regardless, those goddesses of motherhood from ancient societies were a widely varied bunch — some loved unwisely, some fought battles to protect their young, others fought with their offspring.
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