Thursday, March 14, 2013
The Great Mother Goddess Cybele
The Great Earth Mother Goddess Cybele
The Great Mother Cybele, who is represented by the Sphinx, had doubtless been adored as a pure abstraction, her worship being that of the universal female principle in Nature. She is pictured as the “Eldest Daughter of the Mythologies,” and as “The Great First Cause.” She represented the past and the future. She was the source whence all that was and is had proceeded.
In its earliest representations, the Sphinx is figured with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. By various writers it is stated that the Sphinxes which were brought as spoils from Asia, the very cradle of religion, were thus represented. The lion, which symbolizes royal power and intellectual strength, is always attached to the chariot of Cybele. The Sphinx is supposed to typify not only Cybele, but the great androgynous God of Africa as well. However, as Cybele and Muth portrayed the same idea, namely, female power and wisdom, we are not surprised that they should have been worshipped under the same emblem. Neither is it remarkable, when we recall the fact that the female was supposed to comprehend both sexes, that in certain instances a beard appears as an accompanying feature of the Sphinx. We are told that the fourth avatar of Vishnu was a Sphinx, but a further search into the history of this Deity reveals the fact that her ninth avatar is Brahm (masculine). The female principle has at length succumbed to the predominance of male power, and Vishnu herself has become transformed into a male God.
Although the rites connected with the worship of Cybele were phallic they were absolutely pure. In an allusion to this worship, Hargrave Jennings admits that the “spirituality to which women in that age of the world were observed to be more liable than men was peculiarly adverse to all sensual indulgence, and especially that of the sexes.”
Although the creative principle was adored under its representatives, the Yoni and the Lingham, still the principal object seems to have been, when administering the rites pertaining to the worship of Cybele, to ignore sex and the usual sex distinctions; hence we find that, in order to assume an androgynous appearance, the priestesses of this Goddess officiated in the costumes of males, while priests appeared in the dress peculiar to females. However, that the sensuous element was to a certain extent already assuming dominion over the higher nature, and that priests were regarded as being incapable of self-control, is observed in the fact that in the later ages of female worship one of the principal requirements of a priest of Cybele was castration.
It is the opinion of Grote that the story which appears in the Hesiodic Theogony, of the castration of Saturn and Uranus by their sons with sickles forged by the mother, was borrowed from the Phrygians, or from the worship of the Great Mother.
In India, the strictest chastity was prescribed to the priests of Siva, a God which was worshipped as the Destroyer or Regenerator, and which in its earlier conception was the same as the Great Mother Cybele. These priests were frequently obliged to officiate in a nude state, and during the ceremony should it appear that the symbols with which they came in contact had appealed to other than their highest emotions, they were immediately stoned by the people.