Muse of Love, painted jointly by Linda and Roger

FERTILITY GODDESSES

The Mother Goddess is the source of all life. Other powers can preserve, shape or destroy it but without the female principle there is no life to organize, just barren emptiness. In ancient times recognition of this went far beyond purely personal gratitiude for existence. Observing nature, it was plain that the same thing happened on all levels. It was the female that produced new life and generally nurtured it until it could fend for itself. Even the plants were male and female. To our ancestors it followed that even inanimate things must have been created in a similar way, that the earth and planets and stars must equally have had a mother.

Most spontaneous mythologies begin with a Mother Goddess from whom, for hazy reasons, was born the world of opposites, male and female, dark and light, sky and earth, good and evil. Immediately after their separation the opposites are then set spinning by the principles of love and sensuality. Aphrodite and her attendant Eros, mischievous though they often are, also represent the magnetic attraction between opposites that causes them to reproduce in the myriad forms that creation has taken. Often defying all logic and sense, love as personified in Aphrodite or Venus is the essence that keeps the opposites from simply flying apart.

Then when new life is born comes the nurturing aspect of the Goddess, the caring, milk-providing, hearth-warming pillar of stability. The ancient Egyptians pictured one aspect of the Great Mother Nut as Hathor, the great cow whose milk provided nourishment for all things. The moon itself was a pool of her milk and scattered across the sky it formed the Milky Way. In other cultures it was said that the earth was formed on the primal waters by churning the great Goddess's milk till it solidified like butter. Pots and cauldrons were sacred to the Goddess partly as symbols of her creative womb, partly as containers of the divine milk.

The picture on the right is one by Linda that we tried to include in the anthology Garlands of Fantasy but it was deemed too risque. But there was no-one to stop us this time. I've never asked them, but have always fondly imagined that Linda drew this one day to take Roger's mind off a stack of unpaid bills, though that doesn't really look like his face in the mirror. Unless he had a moustache at the time . . .

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