Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

Today, Roman Catholics celebrate The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some parties are big and grand, and some are a bit more... well, I'm sure She appreciates the sentiment, although I feel safe in saying that "Ooo Ooo Ooo" is not among Her many titles. Gee. Hm...

Many Protestants, and Christians of other types too, object to the whole cult of Mary thing, finding no Biblical evidence to support it, crying "paganism," "goddess worship," and all sorts of other things that may seem terrible if you share their beliefs, though the labels are actually inviting to some others. If that's how you feel about the matter, I respect your objections, but I don't share them.

Scholar of mythology Joseph Campbell claims that the Blessed Virgin was growing into a role similar to that of the Egyptian goddess Isis, with Jesus as her Osiris. Now we're getting somewhere!

See, the Vatican, though it holds a great deal of power, presiding over the largest denomination of the largest religion in the world, is uniquely flexible in accommodating the folk-religion side of things. Power is not only top-down, and popular practices and beliefs may become official doctrine. The cult of the Virgin Mary is certainly a bottom-up development, an outcome of the worship of real people who know their needs well. It can't be contained by words written long ago or by Church doctrine. It grows freely and organically.

In prehistoric times, before sedentism allowed for the growth of religious authority, it seems that humans worshiped in this way. Personally, I feel no need for Neopagan reconstructions when the process continues under the gaze of Rome.

Ohhh, this is a subject very close to my heart, and it's hard not to go on about it. I'll save the many examples that come to mind for future postings. Let's just say that Mary continues to grow as a repository for the otherwise-repressed feminine aspect of Divinity in the West. And today is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

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