IN THE BEGINNING
THE FIRST OF ALL MYTHS

(Barbara G. Walker, Restoring the Goddess:  Equal Rites for Modern Women)

         In the beginning, in the time that was no time, nothing existed but the Womb.  And the Womb was a limitless dark cauldron of all things in potential:  a chaotic blood-soup of matter and energy, fluid as water yet mud-solid with salts of the earth; red-hot as fire yet restlessly churning and bubbling with all the winds.  And the Womb was the Mother, before She took form and gave form to Existence.  She was the Deep (biblical tehom, Babylonian Tiamat, Egyptian Temu, Greek Themis).
          In the time that was no time, She divided the elements in the Womb cauldron into the two spheres of infinity.  By the use of Her magic Om, Her grunt of cosmic birth giving, She caused the fiery lights and airs to collect in the heaven sphere, and the dark waters, salts, and solids to collect in the sphere of earth.  She shaped the heavenly lights into sun, moon, planets, and stars.  She shaped the earthly materials into continents, rivers, mountains, and seas.  By the light of the sun She made Day, and by the shadow of the earth She made Night.
          At the point of contact between the two spheres of infinity, Her blood of the Womb generated living things.  To each living thing the Mother gave a temporary form that would eventually dissolve, back once more into the infinite churning cauldron of potential, where matters and energies are constantly exchanged and recombined.  She made the world an image of the uterine cauldron, so that every life form sustains itself by absorbing, decomposing, and assimilating other forms.  And She gave autonomy to each form by pronouncing its name in Her primordial language, expressing the verbal magic of creation.
          She made human beings able to imitate Her in the use of language.  She formed them of reddened earth (adamah), moistened in the Womb by Her own holy blood.  She gave them consciousness capable of remembering their own passage through dark birthways into the light of seeing and knowing; capable, too, of envisioning their own return to darkness and dissolution.  She made woman in Her own image, with the female-mammalian power to create new life out of her interior blood.  She made man to be woman's consort and helper, to assist in the long, arduous nurture of the world's most helpless offspring.  She taught Her people to sow and reap, preserve food, weave cloth, build shelters, carry fire, make tools and vessels, keep records of the seasons, and a thousand other practical arts and crafts for their survival in the world.  She taught Her people not to take more than they needed from the earth, the plants, the animals, the waters, and the woods; for if any creature took too much, others would suffer.
          The world and its creatures dwelt in peace until the Mother began to give birth to jealous gods.  Each god claimed to be Her firstborn and Her chosen lover, privy to Her secrets, sharer of Her creativity.   Each god insisted that he alone was both Her son and Her bridegroom, as well as Her helper in the world's creation.  Some even went so far as to claim sole responsibility for creating the earth or its living things.
          It is written that the Goddess's true firstborn took the form of the divine serpent, to slide into Her terrestrial body, to be anointed by Her wise blood, to know Her inner wisdom, and to learn how to become immortal by periodically shedding his old skin and being reborn in a new, fresh one.   The phallic serpent represented sexual "knowing" as man's way to contact the blissful life-giving magic inside woman; and so when men made images of the Mother, they often showed her accompanied by Her snake, or even gave Her a snake form.
          Later gods, jealous of the wise serpent, sought ways to discredit him.  The pretended that the serpent's connection with the maternal netherworld was an evil rather than a special privilege.  They began to claim credit for dividing the Womb into earth and heaven, for the pronouncing of sacred names, and for the molding of clay figures to be brought to life.  Some even claimed to be birth givers themselves, despite their male incapacity for that.  One even went so far as to declare that he could make man into a birth giver - at least one man, the first, who could then usurp maternal authority over the woman who was his child.
          The jealous gods appealed to men, promising them longer lives, earthly riches, or godlike immortality if they would become dutiful worshippers.  They taught men to perform blood sacrifices, to imitate the mysterious blood-magic of the Mother, to claim a connection with the giving of new life.   Alas, the men never learned to let blood without pain or harm, as women did.   Nonetheless, they mutilated their own bodies to imitate women's lunar bloodletting.   They even killed some of their own number and claimed that the victims were transformed into life givers by their outpouring of blood.  The men promised to feed the ancestral gods on sacrificial blood, to preserve their immortality, hoping for similar immortality in return.  Their gods found blood sacrifices acceptable, but rejected the offering of grain and fruit that had been customary in the elder times of peaceful agriculture (see Gen. 4:3-5).
         The new, jealous gods were not kind to the people they claimed as their children.  They tyrannized the people and oppressed them mightily for the most trivial offenses.  They threatened the people with plagues, wars, fevers, madness, blindness, slavery, famine, and rains of fire (see Deut. 28) for the least infraction of their rules.
         One of the new gods even dared to send a world flood, to drown nearly every creature on earth - even nonhuman ones - because a few of the people displeased him.  The Mother caught him at it and became very angry.   She punished him be setting a rainbow in the sky to bar him from feasting on men's altar offerings.  She said he should starve, "since rashly he caused the flood storm, and handed over my children to destruction."
         Nevertheless, the jealous gods continued to attract men by a combination of promises, threats, and violence.  The gods restricted men's expressions of love for women, even for mothers.  They allowed men to seize their neighbors' lands and possessions, to enrich themselves, to make slaves of other people.  They allowed men to declare themselves kings, and to choose surrogate victims to be sacrificed in their stead.  Men knew that many of the things they did were wrong, and their gods' threats made them guilty and fearful.  They submerged their fear in acts of cruelty performed in groups, so that other men could justify their behavior.  They appointed male priests to condone everything and write that it was all the gods' will.
         Male priests wrested power from the tribal mothers and priestesses by organizing men into marauding armies, blessing their violence, and rewriting myths to exclude the Goddess or declare Her an abomination.   The jealous gods became even more jealous, and fought among themselves, and each pronounced himself the One God.  Their warfare was unremitting, until one devoured nearly all the others, diabolized his few remaining rivals, and proclaimed himself superior even to the Goddess who had produced him and taught him all his ideas.
        
And so the world was set upon a trail of tears, oppression, and intellectual error that prevails even to this day.
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