Tracing the roots of Fertility’s Sacredness: An Anthropologic perspective-A A +A
Monday, September 17, 2012
AS MUCH as several millennia earlier than Christianity, the belief in female deities or goddesses prevailed among the earliest forms of civilizations that had walked the planes of the earth.
According to several ethnographic reports, the belief in female goddesses in the past was due to the procreative power of women that were given of utmost value then. As a matter of fact, in the past, the term “mother goddess” pertained to the female deity that represented motherhood, fertility, creation and who embodied the bounty of the earth.
During the Paleolithic epoch for example or sometime within 900, 000 BC, figurines of the different Venuses had prevailed among mankind that era.
Also, although figurines of Venuses vary greatly in terms of sizes, colors and contours, what was common of all was the exaggeratedly sculptured female secondary sexual characteristics such as large breasts, wide hips and to some extent, a bloated belly that could give an impression of being pregnant.
In Neolithic era or the “New Stone Age,” a milestone in history marked by the beginning of farming and agriculture, a good number of goddesses with the same anatomical features as those with the Venuses preceding them had been excavated by Western Archeologists from Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. Experts thus claim that the concept of the goddesses must have been introduced by cultural diffusion due to extensive migration of people or tribes.
In Ancient Egypt, the image of Goddess Isis nursing her son was a powerful icon of motherhood that was heavily hailed among the Egyptians during the sixth century AD.
The ancient Romans, Greeks, Celtics and Germanic tribes also had their own versions of female goddesses who were endowed with great physical feminine beauty.
Having all these literatures at hand, and with the use of sociological and anthropologic reasoning, one can readily assume that the roots of the thoughts that women’s fertility and the ability to procreate are regarded as sacred have a common genesis regardless of cultural background.
How these thoughts have dominated humanity over time can be explained by cultural diffusion and syncretism or the blending of cultures to include beliefs and practices probably because of migration, colonization and most importantly, cultural ethnocentrism or the assumption that one culture is more superior than the other thus others have to follow.
These thoughts also predates writing and the era of Christianity thus, without any biases, the syncretic practice among Christians adoring let’s say the belief on “The Madonna and Child” or asking for the intercession of female saints may actually have sprouted in the belief of the Venuses and mother Goddesses.
In contemporary times, although much Filipinos have been advocating and expressing their support to refute the sensationalized RH bill, their belief that controlling fertility by some mechanical means with the use of artificial contraceptives as immoral have actually its roots in “Venuses.”
For one, during the time of the Venuses, it was believed that fertilization that would lead to pregnancy should be left alone or untouched by unnatural means until delivery of the baby. Manipulation such as removing the fetus or even just the ability of the fertilized ovum to implant itself to the endometrium or the wall of the uterus is construed immoral.
Another important implication of this belief system was the morality placed on genetic engineering and surrogate motherhood. Modern-day natural science has far advanced that it is possible to choose the desired physical characteristics of one’s offspring, to clone oneself or anybody or to be pregnant without engaging into any form of sexual act.
No matter how scientific breakthrough these advances may seem, holding on to the belief of the Venuses or any of its synonymous thoughts would make this science immoral because the unnaturalness of the means to an end is like playing the role of a demi-goddess.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 18, 2012.