VIRGINIA BOWERS

The Goddess Redefined

Being Virginia was, occasionally, a bit tricky in the school playground. I always felt there was something off with the societal definition of the word the name is derived from, used solely as it has been to patriachically classify women for centuries. Monica Sjöö says it perfectly.

“Ancient moon priestesses were called virgins. ‘Virgin’ meant not married, not belonging to a man – a woman who was ‘one-in-herself’. The very word derives from a Latin root, meaning strength, force, skill; and was later applied to men: virile. Ishtar, Diana, Astarte and Isis were all called virgin, which did not refer to sexual chastity, but sexual independence. And all great culture heroes of the past, mythic or historic, were said to be born of virgin mothers: Marduk, Gilgamesh, Buddha, Osiris, Dionysus, Genghis Khan, Jesus – they were all affirmed as sons of the Great Mother, of the Original One, their worldly power deriving from her. When the Hebrews used the word, and in the original Aramaic, it meant ‘maiden’ or ‘young woman’, with no connotations to sexual chastity. But later, Christian translators could not conceive of the ‘Virgin Mary’ as a woman of independent sexuality, needless to say; they distorted the meaning into sexually pure, chaste, never touched.”

~Monica Sjöö, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth~

Alphonse Mucha, The Moon and the Stars (1902) Colour lithograph