Considering the power of matriarchal spirituality, as evidenced by ancient through contemporary Afri

Considering the power of matriarchal spirituality, as evidenced by ancient through contemporary African Goddess traditions in attached article, answer the following:1. How has African Goddess spirituality evolved through time and cultural memory to its present context as another way of knowing the Sacred, Sacred Others, and Self?2. Provide a visual image of the Dark Mother goddess from either African Diaspora, Latin Diaspora, European, Native American, Polynesian, Mediterranean, Asian, Australian, or another global culture, and then explain the power of the Divine Feminine embedded in those images. 3. What does HerStory reveal about the prominence of women as leaders in religious, political, and other cultural spaces of ancient times to the evolution of their leadership onto sacred and secular stages of contemporary world cultures?ReferencesChiavola Birnbaum, L. (2001). African dark mother: Oldest divinity we know. Retrieved from, M. (2014). Divine encounter: The journey of the matriarch (Unpublished paper).*******PLEASE MAKE SURE TO USE AND CITE THE ASSIGNED SOURCES WITHIN TEXT AND IN A REFERENCE PAGE .See Article EC..pdf —————————————————————————————————Own Words Short Answers Questions based on the done assignment : What new learning did you acquire from completing this assignment? How will you apply your new learning to your life? How will you use your new learning to make the world a better place for yourself and Sacred Others?African Dark Mother – OldestDivinity We KnowLucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Ph.D.From dark mother: african origins and godmothers, originallypublished by Authors Choice Press, 2001. © 2001 by the author.r. Birnbaum is on the core faculty ofthe Women’s Spirituality program atthe California Institute of IntegralStudies in San Francisco. She is a Sicilian/Italian woman and feminist cultural historianwith a focus on the vernacular history of womenand other subaltern classes. In this excerpt,she links the oldest deity of human culture, thedark mother of Africa, with Isis and the BlackMadonnas of Europe and elsewhere. In accordwith the latest findings of anthropology, sheemphasizes the African origins of all humansand the legacy found on African migrationpaths—namely, the values of sharing andcaring, justice with compassion, equality, andtransformation—which were transmitted to allcontinents from 60,000 BCE to the present, aspart of the primordial tradition. [Editor’s Note:Dr. Birnbaum deliberately writes in a styleusing very few capitals, emphasizing essentialequality.]Black-topped pottery, fired upside down with thetop buried in sand. Naqada II culture (3500–3200BCE). This deprived the clay of oxygen and resultedin the distinctive coloration. Excavated from a graveat Badari, probably used to hold grain. An image ofa hunting dog attacking an ibex was scratched ontothe vessel in ancient times. From the Collection ofthe Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.An image of the bird-headed african snakegoddess in the orant position (arms upraised incelebration) dated 4,000 BCE, has been calledan image of our creatrix. Angeleen Campra’sdoctoral study of Sophia has taught me thatgeneratrix is the more appropriate term. Theimage is held in the Department of EgyptianAntiquities of the British Museum. Precedingthis anthropomorphic image were her signs—the color ochre red and the pubic V. Hercharacteristics are those of a bird and a snake,yet she is a woman. With legs firmly planted inthe earth, her arms celebrate the universe, andher breasts offer nurturance to all life. Whyhasn’t she been acknowledged?Slave traders, slaveholders, andimperialists (european, arab, and northamerican) enslaved Africa’s peoples. Africanresources were stolen, african treasuressacked, icons and other art objects werelooted and taken away. African traditionswere appropriated, destroyed, distorted,or suppressed. What remains in Africatoday is what could not be stolen:the memory of the dark motherin rock engravings, cave paintings, otherart, and rituals.Along with her early signs connotinggeneration of all life, african prehistoricart associates the dark mother with theDPage 33Detail from a Neolithic carving from the Tassili (Algeria). Photo ©2006 Gruban / Wikimedia’s fruitfulness; she is depicted withcorn showering down between cow’s horns.Women are often depicted dancing. Men arepainted running with antelopes, elephants,rhinoceroses, lions, and giraffes. In regions ofthe Hoggar, Tadrart Acacus, and above all inthe Tassili, “we have some twelve thousandpaintings done between the fifth and firstmillennia, which includes the most beautifulrenderings of the human form that prehistorycan show.â€1In the neolithic era, a black-toppedred polished ware appeared in Nubia andelsewhere. “These vessels (nearly all openbowls) have a dark red exterior and a shinyblack interior, the black extending also to theoutside for half inch to an inch below the rim.The red was achieved by painting the surfacewith red ochre before firing, while the blackseems to have been imparted by placing thevessel, directly after firing, rim downward, ina mass of densely smoking material such asleaves or straws.â€2This technique, characteristicof the pottery of northeastern Africa, wassubsequently known as far away as India.3RosicrucianDigestNo. 12010During the millennium before Jesus,continuing into the first five hundredyears thereafter, the major divinity of themediterranean world appears to have been Isisof Africa, dark mother of many names. Greatmother of the mediterranean, Isis inheriteda long matristic tradition of Africa whosePage 34signs were the color red ochre and the pubicV, as well as spirals and circles, and humanidentification with animals. Scholarship sincethe 1960s has recovered what the ancientsknew: Isis was an african deity, whose originswere in Nubia, or upper Egypt. Nubia, at theconfluence of the Blue and White Niles, wasan african region whose civilization flourishedfor “more than five hundred years before thebuilding of the great pyramids of Egypt.â€4In her sanctuary at Philae in Africa, Isiswas black. Metaphor of the dark mother ofhumanity and precursor of black, as well aschurch-whitened, madonnas of christianEurope,5 her civilization at Meroe, Nubia,from 100 BCE to 400 CE conveys hervalues. Region of inner Africa best knownto the ancients, it was called Ethiopia, aname given in antiquity to “all parts ofAfrica occupied by dark-skinned peoples.â€Egyptian artists utilized a “red-brown paintfor the skin color of Egyptian men, yellowfor Egyptian women, and a dark brown orblack for all Nubians.†Greeks and romanscalled Ethiopia (the area south of Egypt)the “Land of the Burnt Faces,†and calledthe Sudan “Land of the Blacks.â€6 Ethiopiatoday comprises Nubia.7 Although nubiansresemble other peoples of the Sudan, theyare unique in speaking an ancient group oflanguages unrelated to the arabic of theirneighbors.8 Egypt built some of its massivemonuments in Nubia, notably the great rocktemples of Abu Simbel, but Nubia gave thedark mother Isis to Egypt, and the rest ofthe world. 9The little island of Philae in Nubia wasknown as “Holy Island,†as well as “Interior ofHeaven,†and “City of Isis.â€10 In the 1960s,William Y. Adams, leading nubiologist,anthropologist, archaeologist, and UNESCOexpert, supervised the salvaging of Nileartifacts and treasures during the constructionof the Aswan dam. Adams considersveneration of Isis to be “one of history’s mostimportant ideological transformations.â€Within the microcosm of Nile lands, worshipof Isis became “the first truly internationaland supra-national religion, no longerclaimed as the proprietary cult of any oneruler but sanctioned by and conferring itsblessings upon several. Philae became aholy city and place of pilgrimage alike forall classes and all nationalities: Meroites,Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and desertnomads.â€11 Worship “of the age-old fertilitygoddess of Egypt,†for Adams, anticipated therole of “Christianity and Islam on the largerstage of the Middle Ages.â€12The city of Meroe, site of the kushiteroyal court, was the center of an empire “thatincluded not only much of Nubia, but alsoregions far south of modern-day Khartoum.Meroitic culture was strongly connectedwith central African traditions althoughit made use of Egyptian styles, to which itadded graeco-roman elements.â€13 Study ofnubian archeology and history has establishedthe centrality of the dark mother Isis, whois considered to have exemplified africanmatrilineal traditions. “It was only throughthe royal women that Nubian rulers inheritedthe throne. All kings and queens had to beborn to a queen, usually the ruler’s sister.â€14The seamless fit between religion and dailylife in Africa is suggested by the fact thatan african woman, as priestess of the darkmother, was “Mistress of Heaven,†as well as“Mistress of the House.â€15Saite Coffin of Tahure (Twenty-sixth Dynasty). The eyes looktoward the East, and the rising sun. From the collection ofthe Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.Eyes of Isis inside tombs of egyptianpharaohs looked to eternity; e.g., that ofKhnumnakht (100-100 BCE), whosesarcophagus is now in New York’sMetropolian Museum of Art. Her eyes canbe seen on the many amulets worn to thisday by mediterranean peoples to ward offthe “evil eye.†The ubiquity of the belief inthe “evil eye†may convey the wide-spreadpopular appeal of the dark mother, as wellas patriarchal anxiety before the mother’sriveting gaze.16Veneration of Isis, according to R. E.Witt, spread from her center in Nubia toAfghanistan, the Black Sea, and Portugal, tonorthern England.17 By the first century ofthe common era, one of her largest templesoutside Africa was located in Rome, whileothers were located at Ostia and Pompeii. AtPhilae in Nubia, Isis is invoked: “Hail Queen,mother of god.†At Ostia, outside Rome,Italy, she was celebrated on the 5th of March,when sailors returned to the sea, naming theirboats and ships for her. Women of Rome,after immersing themselves in the icy Tiber,proceeded on their knees all along the riverPage 35edge to the Pantheon, today a gathering placefor feminists.The image of Isis most popular at theheight of the roman empire appears to havebeen that of Isis nursing her child, Horus.Besides queen of the sea, Isis was consideredqueen of heaven and of earth, and was easilytransmuted into the christian holy mother.Legions of the roman empire, whose rankswere drawn from subordinated dark peoplesof three continents, carried images of africanIsis, as well as images of Isis melded togetherwith west asian divinities Cybele, manna, andAstarte all over the known world, from Africato Asia, to Rome, France, England, to theDanube.18 At Benevento, where a great iseoflourished in the roman epoch, her followerswere later called witches.19In October 1999, when Wally [ed: theauthor’s husband] and I visited the sanctuaryof Isis at Philae, I remembered LuciusApuleius’ description. Roman citizen ofAthens who studied at Carthage and lived inthe interior of Morocco, Lucius said he wasawakened by “all the perfumes of Arabia,â€when Isis appeared and said, “I am Nature, theuniversal Mother, mistress of all the elements,primordial child of time, sovereign of allthings spiritual, queen of the dead, queen alsoof the immortals, the single manifestation ofall gods and goddesses that are.â€RosicrucianDigestNo. 12010Worshipped by many names throughoutAfrica, Asia, and greek and roman empires,she was known as Isis, Hathor, Ma’at,Artemis, Demeter-Persephone, Hera, Motherof Corn, Juno, and Hecate. She was Lilith ofwest Asia and Kali of India. Hymns invokedher as “the one who rises and dispels darkness,â€solar ruler who “smites her enemy,†whoseradiance “fills the earth with gold-dust.â€20The memory of the ancient africanmother is recalled today in the poetry ofLuisah Teish, african american poet andwriter who traces her heritage to Egypt, whichshe calls the “mystical cradle of civilizationâ€and finds Isis in yoruba goddess Yemonja,mother goddess who “nurtures us through thecycles of Life.†She also finds Isis in yoruba’sOshun, goddess of love, art, and sensualitywho “represents the Erotic in Nature.†Africa,for Teish, is a continent where “deities walkamong human beings and dance is worship.â€Acknowledging african diasporas, Teish findsreverence for the earth in african ibo beliefsand in native american “need to walk inbalance.†Teish’s poems praise yoruba Yemonjaas “mother of the night, the great dark depth,the bringer of light†who is related to Isis andHathor. She considers the implications ofthe many manifestations of the dark mother:“The Horned Cow, the many-teated Sow,the queen bee, the Mothertree, the PregnantDavid Roberts (1796–1864),View of the Island of Philae,Nubia, 1838.Page 36Womb, the Grain-seed broom, the candle’swick, the matrix, and woman, you aremy daughter.â€21The civilization of the dark mother ofAfrica is glimpsed at Meroe in Nubia, regionof upper Egypt in the area called Ethiopia.Egypt, despite eurocentric misconceptionsaligning the country with the “Orient†orthe “Near East,â€22 is an african countryshaped by the Nile, river that carries africanpeoples and products back and forth alonga north-south axis, particularly betweenEgypt and Nubia. In the ancient civilizationof nubian Meroe, matrilineal succession wasthe custom, yet genders co-existed peacefully.Some queen mothers ruled alone, many ruledwith husbands or sons. In mother-centeredcultures of Africa, religions also co-existedpeaceably. At Meroe, the religion of Isishonored the religion of the lion-headed godcalled Apedemek as well as that of Amun.Priests and priestesses of each religion sharedin the political and economic administrationof Meroe.An egalitarian civilization that nurturedall life, Meroe was a noted center of learningand commerce that spread its prosperity toall peoples. Every day, in the temple calledTable of the Sun dedicated to goddesses andgods, africans offered food and other lifesustaining goods. “Those in need could comeat any time and take freely of the offerings.â€23This ancient african tradition, persisting overmillennia, is recalled today in San Franciscoin the vibrant community services of Rev.Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church.The Table of the Sun at Meroe was theprecursor of roman temples to Cerere (Ceres),grain goddess of Rome, where the poor wouldcome for free wheat. This ultimately africancelebration of wheat is kept to this day inItaly in mid-August at the christian festival ofthe assumption of the virgin into heaven. OnAugust 15, when we were in Sicily, we wentto her festival at Gangi, in the mountainsof northwest Sicily when many hundredsof emigrant workers come with their familyon this date every year. We brought home atriple cluster of wheat from this festival, thatcelebrates pagan wheat goddesses, and put iton the front door of our Berkeley home.In Rome, the temple of wheat goddessCeres became the church of Santa Maria diCosmedin, a church with a black madonna.In the early historic epoch, a sculpture thatconnotes roman male appropriation of Isiswas placed at the entrance to this church.The legend of this sculpture (called Boccadella verità, or Mouth of truth) has it thatthe mouth of truth will bite the hand ofanyone who tells a lie. Contemporary italianfeminists, enacting the dark mother’s legacyof truth and justice, have placed replicas ofthe Bocca della verità in theaters where peoplecan deposit written denunciations of corruptmafia chiefs and political officials.The interior of Santa Maria di Cosmedin (Rome),prepared for the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Theancient temple dating from the sixth century, wasoriginally part of the Greek community of Rome,and is shared today by the Roman Catholic Churchand the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church. TheGreek-Byzantine Churches inherited much fromthe Mystery Schools and the Egyptian-HermeticTradition, and continue the Isis-like venerationof Mary. The title “Cosmedin†comes from theGreek Kosmos, meaning both “the Cosmos,†and“beautiful adornment.†Photo © 2007 by TillNiermann/Wikimedia Commons.Page 37Italian evidence of veneration of theafrican dark mother may be found in iconsof Isis in the national museum at Naples,and icons at Pompeii, Benevento, Palestrina,Aquileia, Verona, and in Rome. Much ofthe evidence of the widespread veneration ofafrican Isis in the roman epoch was destroyedby the volcanic eruption that laid waste toPompeii.24 In 1997 the Isis exhibit at Milandocumented the vast arc of veneration of Isisin late antiquity and early christianity, an arcthat extended from Africa to Europe, to theUkraine, to India.After christianity was established in 323CE, church fathers, aiming to obliteratepagan beliefs, destroyed Meroe in 450 CE.What was it they found so threatening in thisafrican civilization that identified so stronglywith nature, particularly the Nile? “Every yearthe land arose from the watery flood richerand more full of life; every year the migratorybirds swooped down into the marshesfor food and rest. A great order, ancientand ever renewing, sustained Egypt whilenations rose and fell all around it…. Natureworked patiently, bore richly, and sustainedcontinually. The human order which grewout of that great original natural magic was asunique as its setting.â€25RosicrucianDigestNo. 12010This grounding in a constant andsustaining earth may help us understandwhy egyptians attained an extraordinarylevel of artistic, architectural, and moralexcellence. “The ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ ofEgypt literally sprang from the soil and thewater of the river, and literally were one withthe air and the creatures which flew throughit, all interweaving into the phenomenon ofthe country itself.†Everything, and everycreature, was imbued with the force of life:“The hieroglyphic word for beetle means‘to be.’ The beetle and sun are both analogsof the same force, not symbols.†For theearth-bonded person, in Africa, Sicily, andelsewhere, “The name of the thing and thething itself are the same.â€26Page 38Earth-bonded theology is not ponderous.In one egyptian creation story, the creatorAmun runs around honking after layingan egg. Africans, who regard their deitiesfamiliarly, call Amun the “Great Cackler.â€Similarly, africans attributed animalcharacteristics to humans, and humancharacteristics to animals, identifyingdivinity with animal and human forms.27Sometimes the goddess was a cow namedHathor, other times she was a woman witha Hathor headdress. Horus, son of Isis, couldbe a hawk, sometimes a man with a hawk’shead, or a child in the arms of his mother.28Harmony between humans and animalscharacterized ancient Africa, as did harmonybetween men and women, a contentmentvisible in many depictions of embracingcouples. Seeing life as a spiral, africansbelieved new life came from death.The Black Madonna at Santa Maria de MontserratBenedictine Monastery in the MontserratMountains in Catalonia. In the fifteenth century,the Basque soldier Iñigo de Loyola hung up hismilitary equipment before this image and beganthe pursuit of mysticism, founding a religious orderwhich followed a policy of practical mysticism(“Contemplatives in Actionâ€), deeply devoted toMary. The evening hymn sung each night beforethis Black Madonna begins, “Rose of April, DarkLady of the Mountain Chain….â€Isis melded with Ma’at, african goddesswhose name connotes mother,29 and withSekhmet, whose name means “powerful one.â€Ma’at had a feather on her head that signifiedjustice. Many representations of Isis (as well asof Ma’at) have feathers. Feathers, an egyptianguide advised us, connote equality, since theyare the same, back and front. When a persondied, his or her heart, the seat of intelligence,would be weighed on a scale balanced by thefeather of Ma’at. If the heart was not as lightas the feather, the soul would be lost to Apet,the devourer.Ma’at, or mother, embodied truth,ethics, justice, and righteous behavior.30Sekhmet, the fierce aspect of the africandark mother, was a woman with a lion’shead. Hundreds of statues of Sekhmet werefound in the temple of Mut in Karnak.Like Isis, Sekhmet originally carried a sundisk on her head and an ankh, signifyingGoddess on a coffin fragment, Twenty-second Dynasty(1064-717 BCE). Many aspects of different Goddesses arecombined in this protective image: the headdress of Isis, theface of Sekhmet, the color of Wadjet, and the wings of Mut.From the collection of the Rosicrucian Egyptian, in her hand. The ankh is said toprefigure the christian cross, although thechristian symbol has no female oval.31African Isis melded with anatolianCybele, sumerian Inanna, canaanite Astarte,and roman Diana. Isis’ distinguishingimages were a throne, a boat, sails, and theannual flooding of the Nile. Often depictedwith outstretched wings, Isis harks backto the paleolithic bird and snake goddessof Africa. Attesting to african migrations’carrying african beliefs to all continents, acontemporary native american figurine isthat of a venerated woman with wings. A20th century sicilian artist depicted comari,women who bonded together in memoryof the mother, sheltered by protectivewings of Isis.In antiquity, at Byblos in west Asia,african Isis was identified with the canaanitegoddess Astarte. With hellenization, Isisbecame the great mother; her consort Osiris,or “the great black,†became Zeus, Pluto,and Dionysus. The enduring truth of Isis,whose civilization centered in nubian Meroe,may be that she embodied veneration of alllife…trees are sacred, so are birds, crocodiles,the dung beetle, the hooded cobra, and allliving creatures.R.E. Witt, historian, following thetransformation of a “purely African faithinto a world religion,†points out thatafrican veneration of Isis became greek,then graeco-roman32 as greek and romanempires swept through Africa, Europe, andAsia. After 332 BCE, when Alexander ofMacedonia conquered Egypt, Alexandria inAfrica became the capitol of an empire thatstretched from the Nile to the Danube, acity where africans, asians, europeans, jews,and greeks mingled, where Osiris becameAesculapius, or Serapis, healing god of Greeceand Rome, and Isis, blending with anatolianCybele, canaanite Astarte, and graecoroman goddesses, became great mother ofthe Mediterranean.33Page 39All over the known world in the firstcenturies of the common era, slaves and noblewomen venerated african Isis as a divinitywho “prevailed through the force of love,pity, compassion, and her personal concernfor sorrows.â€34 Before christianity did so,the religion of Isis promised life after death.Isis centers have been found throughout theroman empire; in Gaul, Portugal, Spain,Britain, Germany, and Italy, particularly inplaces that later became sanctuaries of blackmadonnas.35In Italy, Isis was a mother divinityassociated with healing; the 6th centuryBCE temple to Isis at Pompeii is locatednext to a temple of Aesculapius, or Serapis.36A significant characteristic of Isis, one laterassociated with the christian madonna,was that she was a compassionate mother.In the christian epoch her son Horus wasrepresented as a christ figure. Isis is oftendepicted with a laurel wreath and twoprominent ears, symbolizing that she listenedwith both ears to the prayers of all those whocame to her, an image that can be found tothis day in italian folklore.Water, always associated with Isis, helda sacred quality: holy water, holy rivers, andholy sea. The serpent, identified with Isis; wasalways sacred. Hathor, was associated withregeneration. The cow, another image of Isis,became sacred in India. Music, associatedwith Isis, was conveyed by the image ofIsis carrying a sistrum, a rattle still heard inafrican music today. Isis and wheat, in theroman epoch, became Ceres and wheat. Inthe christian epoch Isis became santa Lucia,whose images always carry a sheaf of wheat.The olive tree, associated with Isis, has todaybecome symbol of nonviolent transformation.Italy’s contemporary nonviolent left politicalcoalition is named: L’Ulivo, or the olive tree.37RosicrucianDigestNo. 12010Mistress of religion in Egypt, Isis was godthe mother, yet in Isis there was no divisionbetween feminine and masculine. She wasbeloved by women and men, young and old,Page 40Isis giving milk, the favorite image of the Goddess for theRoman world. Collection of the Louvre. Photo © 2007,Rama/Wikimedia Commons.and all social classes. Her statue at Philae,created between the second and first centuriesbefore Jesus, carries the sistrum in one handand the ankh in the other. In her 600 BCEimage in the Museum of Cairo, Isis is figuredas a black nursing mother, who bears a startlingresemblance to christian images of the nursingmadonna.Veneration of Isis, her spouse Osiris,and son Horus persisted in all the pharaonicdynasties, a 3,000 year old history when beliefin Isis spread from Meroe and Alexandria to“the whole Mediterranean basin.â€38 In Italyand other latin countries where the holy familyis a focus of devotion, the trinity of Isis andher husband and child became the popularchristian trinity of Maria, Joseph, and Jesus,popular trinity that differs from the motherlesstrinity—father, son, and holy ghost—ofcanonical christianity.At african Memphis, hymns praised Isis asa civilizing, universal divinity who had endedcannibalism, instituted good laws, and givenbirth to agriculture, arts and letters, moralprinciple, good customs, and justice. Mistressof medicine, healer of human maladies,sovereign of earth and seas, protectress fromnavigational perils and war, Isis was “Deadella salvezza per eccellenza…veglia anche sullamorte,†divinity of salvation par excellence,who also watches over the dead.39Amulet bearing the name of Vizier Paser, with Isis and Hathor;gold, gold leaf and amazonite, New Kingdom. Excavated fromthe Serapaeum of Memphis. Collection of the Louvre. Phot..

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