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The Catholic Goddess

the-catholic-goddess
the-catholic-goddess

Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary keep turning up all over the world. She appears in Yugoslavia, New York, France, Mexico... She even appears as an image in rust on the side of a grain elevator in the Midwestern United States! But what do all these apparitions mean?

For Catholics, appearances of the Blessed Virgin "officially approved" by the church are just that.... literal appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the faithful. Numerous other apparitions draw throngs of worshippers and curiosity seekers, but those apparitions are never officially approved by the Papal See.

Then there are some "apparitions" that are just too silly for the church in all its dignity to even consider. (Although I, personally, believe that the Virgin could and would show up on the side of a grain elevator if She so wanted to... after all, wasn't Her First-born Child born in a stable?)

However, it is the heretical apparitions of the Blessed Virgin - and even some of the officially approved apparitions - that are of special interest to Pagans. The Divine Being who appears, is witnessed by people whose minds were trained to think only in terms of Christianity and Catholicism. However, it is more than possible that many of these apparitions are actually The Ancient Earth Goddess continuing to appear to Her people in terms they can come closest to comprehending today.

What Do They Have In Common?

The Virgin shares many attributes with The Goddess: The blue of the sky and sea, also represents The Great Above and The Great Below, and is sacred to both of Them. Both are Queens over Heaven and Hell (or of The Underworld). There are even some representations of Mary where She wears a mantle of stars (as does The Goddess), and somewhere She is either sitting or standing upon the crescent Moon (one of the best known symbols of The Goddess).

The Goddess is crowned and enthroned as the Ruler of everything, because She Creates Everything. The Blessed Virgin Mary also is depicted crowned and enthroned (signifying Her Rule over Heaven), as well as being depicted trampling Satan, or a dragon, underfoot (signifying Her Power over Hell). When Enthroned, both The Goddess and the Virgin are often depicted as The Throne Of Wisdom... Isis holding Horus on Her Lap, The Virgin holding Jesus on Her Lap... It is from The Goddess that The Infant Son/Sun God, draws His Life and Nourishment, and there are many artistic representations of both The Goddess and Mary nursing Their Son/Sun.

As stated before, both The Goddess and Mary are associated with the Moon, which waxes and wanes.... and thus, They are Both associated with Time, Eternity, and the Cycles of the seasons. The Goddess is often worshiped in a Triple Form: The Maiden (Virgin), The Mother, and The Crone. Just so, Mary is also worshiped in Triple Form: the Maiden or Eternal Virgin - The Mother of God - The Crone who mourns Jesus and claims His Body in death.

the-catholic-goddess
the-catholic-goddess

The major difference between The Goddess and the Blessed Virgin Mary is that The Goddess is a Creatrix in Her Own Right and a source of Divine Power. In Catholicism, Mary is Blessed, unique among women, sinless, The Mother of God - and it is believed that She ascended bodily into Heaven. However, for Catholics, She is supposed to be merely a channel of Power from God, and not a source of Divine Power, Herself. Of course, this is only the official view of the Catholic Church. Many worshipers understand, and have always understood instinctively, if not consciously, that the Blessed Virgin is a modern version of The Goddess; and many Catholic cathedrals are actually built upon the sites of ancient temples to The Great Goddess. For example, St. Peters Cathedral in the Vatican is built right on top of the old temple of The Goddess, Magna Mater, and some parts of the original temple are presumably still left under the foundations.

Another factor in all this, is that Mary also appears to be more 'accessible' to worshippers, and indeed more sympathetic to their needs than the distant and wrathful Sky God - Jehovah. She is everything that a "Good Mother" needs to be. This, then, could be why they light candles and pray to Her to intercede for them and their loved ones in Heaven, where She rules with a gentle, but firm hand, and tempers God's Judgment with Mercy.

Miracles are often attributed to statues and images and apparitions of the Virgin, who intercedes on behalf of women, children, the poor, the sick, the outcast and others on the fringes of society.

Voudoun, Macumba, Yoruban and Candomble religions - which identify ancient African and Native South American Gods with images of Catholic Saints - explicitly recognize Mary's identity with The Goddess. For them, She is Erzulie or Oshun, The Great Goddess of Love, Beauty and Water. Also, in the European Middle Ages, Mary became transformed into a Goddess of Love and Beauty, Matroness of the cult of courtly love.

the-catholic-goddess
the-catholic-goddess

The Virgin Appears In Lourdes

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One particularly famous apparition of the Blessed Virgin is "officially" accepted by the Catholic Church, yet illustrates the idea that apparitions of Mary may actually be the Goddess in disguise. This event occurred on Thursday, February 11th, 1858, when a vision of a "pretty lady" appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, near a grotto outside Lourdes, France.

Bernadette described the apparition as being very young, almost a girl like Bernadette herself, with golden roses lying on her feet. At first Church authorities dismissed Bernedettes story, even implying that she was crazy. Bernadette's family was extremely poor, barely existing on the outskirts of society, and not especially pious. Nor was Bernadette the pious exception in her family. She attended church school like all the other children in the village, but exasperated her teachers because she was so slow with her lessons, and particularly because she had never been able to memorize her catechism. Gradually, however, the poor people of the village came to believe in Bernadette's visions, especially after healings began to occur when people bathed in or drank from the spring that emerged from the grotto near where the Lady appeared. Finally, church authorities were unable to deny the miracles associated with Bernadette's vision. They insisted that she become a nun and live out the rest of her life as a virgin, cloistered away by the Church, although what she really wanted was to continue living like any of the other village girls, to marry and raise a family. Also, the Church (which hadn't seemed particularly concerned about the miserable existence of Bernadette's family prior to her visions), moved her and her family to more comfortable living quarters, as befitted the relatives of a future Saint.

Today of course, Bernadette is a recognized Saint, and pilgrims from all over the world flock to the grotto at Lourdes to pray for healing. In fact over 200 million pilgrims have visited Lourdes so far. In folklore, it is said that Saint Bernadette is believed to have the power to even raise the dead by simply uttering the simple words: "O Marie, concue sans peche", which means "O Mary, conceived without sin".

The Goddess and The Grotto/Cave

'The Immaculate Conception' at the grotto at Lourdes

'The Immaculate Conception' at the grotto at Lourdes

First, and most obviously to Pagans, is the fact that the Lady appeared, associated with a grotto - which identifies Her with The Ancient Goddess Of The Earth. The cave is symbolic of the womb / yoni / chalice / grail / cauldron, and archaeologists have located the most ancient of pre-historic sites in caves. Caves also symbolize the entrance to The Underworld, (as caves lead us down and into the earth), and so are associated with The Goddess as The Giver and Taker of Life. So it would only be fitting that The Goddess/Mary would chose such a place as the grotto at Lourdes to reveal Herself. And if you just look at the shape of the grotto entrance at Lourdes (see picture above), you can clearly see the yoni shape of the grotto-cave.

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The Goddess and Water

Sacred wells and springs were also associated with The Goddess in Europe long before the arrival of Christianity, as water was considered to be the primordial element of The Goddess. In ancient Celtic Tradition, wells and springs were watery passages into The Otherworld/Underworld, many of which were said to have healing properties. Although Celtic mythology is most strongly associated with the British Isles, Lourdes is located in an area of France with a Celtic heritage, as it borders on a part of France that was once known as Brittany.

Celtic mythology, of course, is replete with stories of underwater cities, or cities reached by entering through a well of cave. These cities were often ruled by a Great Lady, The Goddess, or Faery Queen. There was even a local legend extant in Bernadette's time of an underwater city that existed in the lake near Lourdes. It had originally existed on dry land, but had been flooded when all the springs in the area overflowed, and almost all its inhabitants drowned. In part of the story that seems to have been influenced by biblical tales of Sodom and Gomorrah, one family escaped the flooding by fleeing without looking behind them. But as you can probably guess, it was the mother who turned around for one last look and was turned to stone where she stood. And to this day there are ancient standing stones in the area of Lourdes. Now children in Bernadette's day were cautioned not to throw stones into the lake, for fear that they would anger the inhabitants of the underwater city, who would then cause fearful storms and attempt to flood and drown the inhabitants of the area, as they, themselves, had been destroyed ages ago. This story betrays traces of ancient reverence and fear of the ancestors, who resided in a city of the dead beneath the waters, and needed to be placated. Reverence for the dead was an element of the Faith for most of the ancient Celts, who kept the skulls of ancestors in their homes in order to commune with and learn from them.

Shamanistic Visioning?

Also interesting, was the fact that Bernadette's messages from the Lady to the priests were quite curt, and could even be thought of as demanding. The Lady showed no respect for the Catholic Church and its hierarchy, although She showed love and respect to Bernadette, and to the poor, the sick and the suffering through Her apparitions and miracles. "Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and to build a chapel here." was the command that the Lady gave to Bernadette on March 2nd 1858. Through a simple child, the Lady commanded the Church to honor and worship Her at Her ancient Grotto and Spring. As mentioned before, church authorities at first dismissed Bernadette's visions as those of madness. However, these accusations did not dissuade the common people from believing in her, largely because of ancient folk traditions that insane people are those "touched by God". Actually, the fact that Bernadette was a sickly, and most likely malnourished because of her family's extreme poverty, could mean that the visions were possibly induced through illness and hunger. After all, in Shamanistic Traditions from all over the world, young people who are to become shamans and see true visions to aid their communities often are tempered by severe, life-threatening illness, near death experiences, madness, fasting or starving, before arising renewed and endowed with spiritual strength and power.

"I Am The Immaculate Conception"

One especially revealing fact for Pagans is that Bernadette never once claimed that the "pretty lady" was the Blessed Virgin Mary! When pressed by church officials to ask the Lady to identify Herself, the closest She ever came was to say that She was "Que Soy Era Immaculada Concepciou" ("I Am The Immaculate Conception"). The question of the immaculate conception was hotly debated by church authorities in Bernadette's day, and was not accepted as "official church doctrine" until 1854 - just four years before the Lady's appearance at Lourdes. According to the doctrine, Mary was conceived without sin and remained sinless (so Mary's own birth was immaculate - as Jesus' was), even though she was a human. Look deeper at how the Lady's reply to Bernadette was worded though... She did not claim that She was the Immaculate Conception. She claimed that She IS The Immaculate Conception. Could She possibly have meant that She was The Creatrix - Who formed the World out of Herself, and that the World is perfect, just as She, Herself, is Perfect?

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In Conclusion

There is of course no final answer to this question. However many Pagans may want to at least consider that the Blessed Virgin Mary may be a true aspect of The Goddess, doing Her best to communicate love, beauty, healing, mercy and compassion to Her people in spite of their acculturation by Christianity. I know that in my home I have a statue of the Virgin holding the baby Jesus. I had found Her at a thrift store, and decided to buy it because I thought She looked so much like my Goddess holding the infant Sun King to Her Breast. At first, I did not intend to place Her on my altar. After all, this was a Christian image... But one day however, I noticed that it was not where it usually was, and after looking around, I found it on my altar! Later I came to find out that my littlest daughter had placed it there all by herself, because she thought that's "where it went". And there it has remained. If The Goddess chooses to be moved onto my altar, through my child - who am I to deny the Wishes of The Goddess?

With the passing of time and a little judicious editing, I have found that it is not impossible to pray along with the Catholic people;

"Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy; Hail our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope...."

Yes, very possible.

One Last Word...

For those skeptics that are reading this article with disdain and disbelief, I would like to offer this quote from a Master whom I have always admired. He was once asked by a disciple if the parables used in their Faith's teachings were indeed true. And the Master looked deeply into his eyes and said, "It matters not if the story is true or not. It only matters if the story is worth believing."

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Titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Adam's Deliverance

Advocate of Eve

Advocate of Sinners

All Chaste

All Fair and Immaculate

All Good

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin

Aqueduct of Grace

Archetype fo Purity and Innocence

Ark Gilded by the Holy Spirit

Ark of the Covenant Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Basillica of Saint Mary Major

Blessed Among Women

Blessed Virgin Mary

Bridal Chamber of the Lord

Bride of Christ

Bride of Heaven

Bride of the Canticle

Bride of the Father

Bride Unbrided

Cause of Our Joy

Chosen Before the Ages

Comfort of Christians

Comforter of the Afflicted

Conceived Without Original Sin

Consoler of the Afflicated

Co-Redemptrix

Court of the Eternal King

Created Temple of the Creator

Crown of Virginity

Daughter of Men

David's Daughter

Deliverer From All Wrath

Deliverer of Christian Nations

Destroyer of Heresies

Dispenser of Grace

Dwelling Place for God

Dwelling Place Meet for God

Dwelling Place of the Illimitable

Dwelling Place of the Spirit

Earth Unsown

Earth Untouched and Virginal

Eastern Gate

Evergreen and Fruitful

Ever Virgin

Eve's Tears Redeeming

Exalted Above the Angels

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Fleece of Heavenly Rain

Flower of Carmel

Flower of Jesse's Root

Formed Without Sin

Forthbringer of God

Forthbringer of the Ancient of Days

Forthbringer of the Tree of Life

Fountain of Living Water

Fountain Sealed

Free From Every Stain

Full of Grace

Garden Enclosed

Gate of Heaven

God's Eden

God's Olive Tree

God's Vessel

Handmaid of the Lord

Healing Balm of Integrity

Health of the Sick

Helper of All in Danger

Holy in Soul and Body

Holy Mountain of Our Lady

Hope of Christians

House Built by Wisdom

House of Gold

Immaculate

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Heart

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Mary

Immaculate Mother

Immaculate Virgin

Incorruptible Wood of the Ark

Inventrix of Grace

Inviolate

Joseph's Spouse

Kingly Throne

King's Mother

Lady Most Chaste

Lady Most Venerable

Lady of Good Help

Lady of Grace

Lady of Mercy

Lady of Peace

Lady of Perpetual Help

Lady of the Rosary

Lady of Sorrows

Lady of Victory

Lamp Unquenchable

Life-Giver to Posterity

Light Cloud of Heavenly Rain

Lily Among Thorns

Living Temple of the Deity

Loom of the Incarnation

Madonna of Saint Luke

Marketplace for Salutary Exchange

Mary of the Assumptions

Mary of the Hurons

Mary the Blessed Virgin

Mary, Blessed Virgin

Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Queen of Africa

Mary, Queen of Angels

Mary, Queen of Peace

Mary, Star of the Sea

Mater Dei

Mediatrix

Mediatrix and Conciliatrix

Mediatrix of All Graces

Mediatrix of Salvation

Mediatrix of the Mediator

Minister of Life

Mirror of Justice

More Beautiful Than Beauty

More Glorious Than Paradise

More Gracious Than Grace

More Holy Than the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the Entire Angelic Hosts

Morning Star

Most Venerable

Mother and Virgin

Mother Most Admirable

Mother Most Amiable

Mother Most Chaste

Mother Most Pure

Mother Inviolate

Mother of Christians

Mother of Christ's Members

Mother of Divine Grace

Mother of God

Mother of Good Counsel

Mother of Jesus Christ

Mother of Men

Mother of Our Creator

Mother of Our Head

Mother of Our Savior

Mother of the Church

Mother of the Mystical Body

Mother of Wisdom

Mother Undefiled

My Body's Healing

My Soul's Saving

Mystical Rose

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Nature's Re-Creation

Nature's Restoration

Neck of the Mystical Body

Never Fading Wood

New Eve

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

Notre Dame of Chartres

Notre Dame of Easton

Nourisher of God and Man

Olive Tree of the Father's Compassion

Only Bridge of God to Men

Our Immaculate Queen

Our Lady, Gate of Heaven

Our Lady, Help of Christians

Our Lady, Mother of the Church

Our Lady, Queen of All Saints

Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles

Our Lady in America

Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace

Our Lady of Africa

Our Lady of Altotting

Our Lady of Arabia

Our Lady of Bandel

Our Lady of Bandra

Our Lady of Banneux

Our Lady of Bethlehem

Our Lady of Calvary

Our Lady of Charity

Our Lady of Consolation

Our Lady of Copacabana

Our Lady of Coromoto Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Europe

Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Our Lady of Good Help

Our Lady of Grace

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe of Estramadura

Our Lady of High Grace

Our Lady of Hungary

Our Lady of Japan

Our Lady of Kevelaer

Our Lady of Knock

Our Lady of La Leche

Our Lady of La Vang

Our Lady of Las Vegas

Our Lady of LaSallette

Our Lady of Lebanon

Our Lady of Limerick

Our Lady of Loreto

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lujan

Our Lady of Madhu

Our Lady of Mariazell

Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady of Montserrat

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Aylesford

Our Lady of Nazareth

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Pompeii

Our Lady of Pontmain

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

Our Lady of Providence

Our Lady of Ransom

Our Lady of Safe Travel

Our Lady of Salambao

Our Lady of Shongweni Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Tears

Our Lady of Victory

Our Lady of Walsingham

Our Lady of Washington

Our Lady of the Americas

Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Cape

Our Lady of the Conquest

Our Lady of the Golden Heart

Our Lady of the Gulf

Our Lady of the Hermits

Our Lady of the Highways

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

Our Lady of the Holy Souls

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of the Incarnation

Our Lady of the Kodiak and the Islands

Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa

Our Lady of the Pines

Our Lady of the Prairie

Our Lady of the Presentation

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Thorns

Our Lady of the Turumba

Our Lady of the Valley

Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Woods

Our Lady Who Appeared

Our Own Sweet Mother

Paradise Fenced Against the Serpent

Paradise of Innocence and Immortality

Paradise of the Second Adam

Paradise Planted by God

Patroness and Protectoress

Perfume of Faith

Preserved From All Sin

Protectress From All Hurt

Queen of All Saints

Queen of Angels

Queen of Creation

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven and Earth

Queen of Martyrs

Queen of Nigeria

Queen of Peace

Queen Unconquered

Refuge in Time of Danger

Refuge of Sinners

Reparatrix

Reparatrix of Her Parents

Reparatrix of the Lord World

Rich in Mercy

Rose Ever Blooming

Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit

Salve Regina

Scepter of Orthodoxy

Seat of Wisdom

Second Eve

Singular Vessel of Devotion

Sister and Mother

Source of Virginity

Spiritual Vessel

Spotless Dove of Beauty

Star of the Sea

Star That Bore the Sea

Suppliant for Sinners

Surpassing Eden's Gardens

Surpassing the Heavens

Surpassing the Seraphim

Sweet Flowering and Gracious Mercy

Tabernacle of God

Tabernacle of the Word

Temple Divine

Temple Indestructible

Temple of the Lord's Body

Theotokos

Throne of the King

Tower of David

Tower of Ivory

Tower Unassailable

Treasure House of Life

Treasure of Immortality

Treasure of the World Undefiled

Undefiled Treasure of Virginity

Undug Well of Remission's Waters

Unlearned in the Ways of Eve

Unplowed Field of Heaven's Bread

Unwatered Vineyard of Immortality's Wine

Vessel of Honor

Victor Over the Serpent

Virgin by the Sea

Virgin Inviolate

Virgin Most Faithful

Virgin Most Merciful

Virgin Most Powerful

Virgin Most Prudent

Virgin Most Pure

Virgin Mother

Virgin of Charity

Virgin of Copacabana

Virgin of Sheshan

Virgin of Virgins

Wedded to God

Woman Clothed With the Sun

Workshop of the Incarnation