According to current archaeological and anthropological research, all of Europe, as well as the area known as the fertile crescent, i.e. present-day Syria, Palestine, Israel and Iraq and also the Nile Valley, during the period known as the Neolithic, had a very similar set of religious beliefs.
Men and Women in Astrology in Ancient History
The sun and the moon – Symbolism of the masculine and the feminine
The religious scheme of the Neolithic period or Bronze Age was constituted around the cult of maternity or fertility as the most important and evident mystery of nature and likewise, mystery or prodigy closer to life and the most daily needs of society.
Almost all the anthropomorphic statuettes found in this period are female divinities, some in an advanced state of gestation, which shows that the first concepts of the divine were associated with women or the feminine, that is to say, that the Goddesses are, almost certainly, before the Gods.
In these cultures, we are talking about the period between 4,000 and 1500 BC, the concept of paternity was not yet assumed and motherhood was considered independent and autonomous.
Therefore, the Gods were nothing more than subordinate elements of the Great Goddess who ruled in an omnipotent and immortal way the destinies of all creatures. The Great Goddess, being independent in her creative and governing functions, did not need the institution of marriage.
The power of women
The matriarchy was characterized by great independence and the power of women.
For she was in charge of most of the religious and political functions of society. Men had to obey and worship the Great Goddess and her earthly representation, the High Priestess, so that the social structure was more feminine at the top.
As the meaning of the sexual function concerning procreation was not well understood, sex had more of a pleasurable and religious function: the institution of sacred sexuality (in some cases we could rather call it sacred prostitution) was common practice.
Orgiastic ceremonies, sexual freedom and the almost total independence of women from men.
In some cases the terms were even reversed, that is to say, the situation of domination of women over men, as in the case of the Libyan Amazons and other communities in the south of the Black Sea.
Initially, it seems that both the Sun and the Moon were feminine emblems.
That is to say, emblems or symbols of the power of the Great Goddess and it is not until much more recent dates that the Sun was assimilated with the patriarchal power of the man and the Moon was left to the woman exclusively.
The Moon has always been associated with women and, therefore, with the feminine because of the analogy of its phases with the period of menstruation, its three phases were also associated with the three phases of a woman’s life:
- The maiden = crescent moon;
- The nymph (woman of childbearing age) = full moon;
- And the old woman = waning moon.
These same phases were also associated with the calendar of the solar year, which in matriarchal societies had three seasons:
- The maiden with spring;
- the nymph with summer
- and the old woman with winter.
More modern is the feminine triad: Selene-Aphrodite-Hecate symbolizing the maiden = Selene (the aerial world) – the nymph = Aphrodite (the terrestrial world) – the old woman = Hecate (the subterranean world).
These three personifications of the Great Goddess were as were three phases of the same person. This primitive Holy Trinity was worshiped in any of its forms knowing that it was one person and in some temples was worshiped as a single name: the Goddess Hera.
These primitive matriarchal societies were ruled by Queens. They received the hereditary title through the female line, inheriting, not the firstborn as in patriarchal societies, but the last genetic, that is, the youngest.
The men who received the title of King received it in consort form, that is, by marriage with the heiress, as is evident in all ancient myths, in which the hero receives as a reward for some feat the hand of the youngest daughter of the king, that is, the heiress.
Until the status of man in society improved, which seems to have been not before the second millennium, the King had a religious character, i.e., the tribes elected their Nymph-Queen a King, every year, among the young men of the kingdoms.
This King did not have much executive power, since the power was normally in the hands of the Queen herself or direct relatives: siblings, maternal Uncle, etc.
The annual Sacred King had the function of accompanying the Queen to the social ceremonies and participated in the government in a delegated way, that is to say with restricted and delegated powers from the Queen.
At the end of the year, the King had to be ritually sacrificed (which included various tortures and mutilations, only endured through the use of drugs) and his body buried or cremated according to the custom of each society.
Sometimes the body of the King was torn to pieces and ritually eaten by the Queen’s companion nymphs and his blood was scattered over the fields to ensure fertility.
In some societies, two Sacred Kings were chosen so that the second one had to replace the first one in the second semester after giving him death using some pre-established ritual procedure…