Important Sisters

The apparent Stone Age belief that some divine Great Mother probably gave birth to the world back in the Beginning—as laid out in my July 25th blog—ultimately turns out to be but the root of a Tree that from that very idea, has since risen to great height while diversifying itself into seemingly endless branches.

It arose from the basic, almost universal impulse to equate the Great Mother with the common earth: that is, with the idea of her ‘daughter’ the Earth-mother—our ‘trunk’.

I say almost only because peoples living along the world’s seacoasts and chiefly sustaining themselves on marine life have traditionally beheld her twin sister the Sea-mother as their version of the Earth-mother.

Since many peoples around the world still worship both, we shall speak of these sacred Personages in the present tense.

Wait, you say. Many peoples—still? 

Oh sure. Granted that Christian missionaries, among others, have by now made contact with and often managed to convert at least some individuals within most of the earth’s remaining ‘pagan’ societies—if only at the point of a sword, or by taking away their children as, say, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, the Spanish Conquistadors, and more than a few recent American churchmen are on record as having done; sorry, but I have to mention that—there are still many people, though admittedly fewer and fewer as the days pass, who hope to cling to their traditional beliefs, or at worst, find some accommodation for them amid the new.

In fact, should you be interested, the alphabetized list below is offered as a generous sample of the many Earth- and Sea-mother figures who since the invention of writing are on record as having been worshipped by various extinct peoples (distinguished by an asterisk) or are known to still be worshipped by people scattered among the living world’s forty-two hundred different religions; and who knows by how many more, now long disappeared into the past.

  • the Siberian Sea-mother Aba khatun
  • the Benin-African Sea-mother Agwe
  • the Haitian Sea-mother Agweta; said to be Agwe’s Caribbean daughter
  • the Uggric-Finn Earth-mother Akka
  • the *Mayan Earth-mother Akna
  • the Ibo-Nigerian Earth-mother Ala
  • the *ancient Greek Sea-mother Amphitrite
  • the Mongolian Earth-mother Altan Telgey
  • the *Etruscan Earth-mother Altria
  • the Basque Earth-mother Ama Lur
  • the *early Indian Earth-mother Amba
  • the Dravidian Earth-mother Ambika
  • the *early Phrygian Earth-mother Anieros
  • the *Irish-Celt Earth-mother Anu
  • the Greenland-Inuit Sea-mother Arnakua’gak
  • the Ashanti-Ghana Earth-mother Asase Ya
  • the *Canaanite Sea-mother Asherah
  • the Athabascan Earth-mother Asintmah
  • the *ancient Greek Sea-mother Atanea
  • the Polonesian Sea-mother Atanua; said to have created the seas by filling them with her amniotic fluid following a miscarriage
  • the Pawnee Earth-mother Atira
  • the Mongolian Earth-mother Atugan
  • the Caroline Islands Earth-mother Audjal
  • the Finnish Sea-mother Avfruvva; traditionally described as a mermaid
  • the *Phyrigian Earth-mother Axiocersa
  • the Zuni Earth-mother Awitelin Tsita
  • the *Gaulish Earth-mother Berecyntia
  • the Hindu Earth-mother Bhumidevi
  • the *Etruscan Earth-mother Cel
  • the *Mayan Earth-mother Chibirias
  • the *early Aztec Earth-mother Chiconahui
  • the Aztec Earth-mother Coatlicue
  • the Incan Sea-mother Cochamama; identified by the Incas as the sister of their Earth-mother, Pachamama
  • the *early Mesopotamian Earth-mother Damkina
  • the *ancient British Earth-mother Deae Matres
  • the *ancient Irish Earth-mother Dechtire
  • the Balinese Sea-mother Dewi Danu
  • the Javanese Sea-mother Dewi Lanjar (Java Sea side only)
  • the *ancient Irish Sea-mother Dubh Lacha
  • the Korekore-Zimbabwean Earth-mother Dzivaguru
  • the Gonja-African Earth-mother Eseasar
  • the *ancient Greek Sea-mother Eurynome
  • the Siberian Earth-mother Gazar Eej
  • the *ancient Irish Earth-mother Elaine
  • the *ancient German Earth-mother Erda
  • the East African Earth-mother Eseasar
  • the Celtic Sea-mother Fata-Morgana
  • the *Etruscan Earth-mother Fauna
  • the Norse Earth-mother Fjorgyn
  • the *ancient Greek Earth-mother Gaia
  • the *early Mesopotamian Earth-mother Gat Um Dug
  • the ancient British Sea-mother Geofon
  • the Haitian Sea-mother Guabonito
  • the Polynesian Earth-mother Hakahotu
  • the ancient Greek Sea-mother Helle
  • the Scandanavian Earth-mother Hertha
  • the Norse Earth-mother Hlodyn
  • the Chinese Taoist Earth-mother Hòutû
  • the Aztec Sea-mother Huixtocihuatl
  • the Siberian Earth-mother Icci
  • the Canadian-Inuit Sea-mother Idliragijenget
  • The *ancient Greek Sea-mother Idothea
  • the Greenland-Inuit Sea-mother Immap Ukua
  • the Yakut-Siberian Earth-mother Itchita
  • the Shinto Japanese Earth-mother Izanumi
  • the Brazilian Sea-mother Jamaina
  • the Buddhist Chinese Earth-mother Jian Lao
  • the Icelandic Earth-mother Jörð
  • the Latvian Sea-mother Juras-mate
  • the Hawaain Sea-mother Ka Ahu Pahay
  • the *Sumerian Earth-mother Ki
  • the Angolan Sea-mother Kianda; literally, ‘mermaid’; traditionally worshipped by throwing food and clothing offerings into the sea
  • the *Sabine Earth-mother Larunda
  • the Micronesian Sea-mother Latmikaik
  • the *ancient Welsh Sea-mother Lazdona
  • the Leitei-Indian Earth-mother Leimarel Sidabi
  • the ancient Finnish Earth-mother Luonnotar
  • the Chinese Sea-mother Ma Shi-Ko
  • the Estonian Earth-mother Ma-Ema
  • the Sri Lankan Sea-mother Manimekhala
  • the Middle Eastern Sea-mother Mari
  • the *Etruscan Earth-mother Marica
  • the Hatian Earth-mother Marinette
  • the Russian Earth-mother Mat Zemlya
  • the Taoist Chinese Sea-mother Mazu
  • the Polish Earth-mother Mokoš
  • the *ancient Irish Sea-mother Muireartach
  • the Cuna-Panamanian Earth-mother Nana Dumat
  • the Huichol Earth-mother Nakawe
  • the *Sumerian Sea-mother Nammu
  • the *Sumerian Sea-mother Nanshe (Persian Gulf only)
  • the Inuits Sea-mother Nerrivik
  • the *ancient German Earth-mother Nerthus
  • the *Sumerian Earth-mother Ninhursag
  • the Netsikik-Inuit Sea-mother Nuliajuk
  • the Bribri-African Earth-mother Nungui
  • the Congolese Earth-mother Nzambi
  • the *Celtic/Gaul Earth-mother Onuava
  • the Incan Earth-mother Pachamama
  • the Polynesian Earth-mother Papahānaumoku (usually shortened to just Papa)
  • the Maori Earth-mother Papatuūānuka
  • the Thai Earth-mother Phra Mae Thorani
  • the Hindu Earth-mother Prthvī Mātā
  • the Norwegian Sea-mother Rán
  • the Indian Sea-mother Samudra
  • the Arctic Sea-mother Sedna
  • the *ancient Norse Earth-mother Sif
  • the *Akkadian Sea-mother Sirara (Persian Gulf)
  • the *Assyrian Sea-mother Tamti
  • the Lobi Earth-mother Tangba
  • the Khond-Indian Earth-mother Tari Pennu
  • the *Roman Earth-mother Tellus Mater
  • the Chinese Sea-mother Tien Hou
  • the Tonga-Polynesian Earth-mother Touia Fatuna
  • the Japanese Sea-mother Toyota Mahime
  • the Indonesian Earth-mother Untombinde
  • the Mongolian Earth-mother Umay
  • the Finnish Sea-mother Vellamo
  • the Ugrit Sea-mother Ven-ava
  • the Estonian Sea-mother Vete-ema
  • the West African Sea-mother Yemaja
  • the Mongolian Earth-mother Yer Tanri
  • the *Thracian Earth-mother Zemele
  • the Latvian Earth-mother Zemes-Māte
  • the Lithuanian Earth-mother Žemyna

Many of these names translate into our own language as simply ‘Earth-mother’, ‘Sea-mother’, ‘Mother Earth’, and so forth; while one may also find her addressed directly in prayer as ‘Grandmother’, and occasionally, even ‘Great-grandmother’.

And as in ancient times, her traditional worshippers still touch their newborn to the earth in acknowledgment of their ultimate source; kneel and touch their own lips to the earth before their morning meal as an acknowledgement of all the food that they’ll consume that day; kiss the earth upon arriving in a strange country, to indicate that as children of the earth both the visitor and host are ultimately brethren; and at puberty, hang a small pouch containing a stone or bit of her sacred soil around their neck in the same manner that, say, a Catholic might wear a crucifix or medal, and then for the rest of their life sanctify all their oaths, witness statements, important promises and so forth simply by touching this pouch while uttering them.

_________________________

Sources

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, 2 vol., ed. Maria Leach, 1949

Lowchen Australia, Native American Goddesses http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/names/native-american-goddesses.htm

Lowchen Australia, African Goddesses http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/names/african-goddesses.htm

Lowchen Australia, Chinese Goddesses http://lowchensaustralia.com/names/chinese-goddesses.htm

PIE Religion, Proto-Indo-European Goddesses http://piereligion.org/pantheon.html

GodFinder, Table of Gods http://godfinder.org/index.html

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