Author Topic: The Virgin Mary - Lunar Goddess in Disguise?  (Read 681 times)


The Virgin Mary - Lunar Goddess in Disguise?
« on: November 20, 2018, 09:32:48 pm »
Category: Comparative Theology, Archetypical Analysis

I'd like to start this thread off with a disclaimer. I am not and have never been a practicing catholic, nor I have studied the canon of Catholicism at a scholarly level. I do have a strong understanding of the history of the church and important doctrinal distinctions, perhaps at the level of a second year seminary student, but I understand this is a far cry from living inside the faith or as an ordained priest. So again to be perfectly clear, I am approaching this subject as an outsider primarily interested in the esoteric and archetypical meaning contained within the catholic depiction of the Virgin Mary.

In the largely baptist protestant culture I grew up around, Mary is relegated to the role of a supporting role - a minor character. It is commonly believed in this framework that the catholic reverence for Mary amounts to a kind of Idol-worship, and is a sign of the corruption in the Roman Church. Funnily enough, the answers one gets when asking protestants about their legitimate object of worship, the Godhead, are greatly confused and nebulous. Especially when it comes to what is known as the Holy Spirit. Christ is of course known, and the Father can at least be described as the vengeful deity of the Old Testament - but what of this ghostly figure off to the side? Hardly a thing can be said. Some describe it merely as the human conscience, (AKA the knowledge of Good and Evil - this is actually an interesting connection as we shall see in time), others as the image of the Father in man, and still others hold a myriad of incongruous views. 

If this really be the true understanding, does it not seem that the trinity is severely imbalanced? There is an emptiness in the protestant trinity; the negative knowledge of which has formed the basis of many critiques of the doctrine of the godhead itself.

The Catholic church does not have this problem. Mary is implicitly and explicitly identified with the Holy Spirit in much of the reference material I have combed over. And in a way this makes a good deal of sense. My understanding of the Holy Spirit indicates that it is indeed a feminine force. A receptive and graceful quality that can be cultivated in man in order to receive the light and wisdom of the heavenly realm. Mary is a perfect example of this. The term Immaculate Conception refers not to the miracle birth of Jesus Christ - but of the miracle sanctity of his Mother. It is believed that the Virgin Mary was born without bearing original sin; in other words, she herself - while not God incarnate, was indeed a perfected being. We see this made plain in the following two official statements (quoting from wikipedia here):

The defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception states that

the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin [ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem].

Not only that, but "The Encyclical Mystici Corporis from Pope Pius XII (1943) in addition holds that Mary was also sinless personally, 'free from all sin, original or personal'. "

These two statements, taken together, confirm that the Virgin Mary was not only free from original sin, but also from personal failings. In other words, the Virgin was in the highest sense a sanctified and pure being of spiritual significance. Both of these opinions have been widespread since antiquity.

Further cementing the connection between Mary and the Holy Spirit are some interesting quotes from Louis De Montfort - a priest and confessor (later made missionary apostle) from the 1600s.


All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for their mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father.

Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul...

Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance.

We can keep going and going on this subject, but based on what I've gone over so far - I'm prepared to accept that in theological terms the Virgin Mary is equivalent to the Holy Spirit of the trinity. Or at least, that she represents an archetypical manifestation of the Holy Spirit fully embodied as woman. If we take this to be true, things begin to line up in a significant way in potential interpretation of the doctrine of the trinity. No longer is the trio lopsided - it is balanced. The divine feminine principle that was sorely missed in the protestant version now makes a colorful reappearance. Now we have the Mother, the Father, and the Son - all the parts necessary for the Divine Child spiritual narrative that has been popularly used for thousands of years. (Compare to the Osiris-Isis-Horus story for example.) We can also plausibly connect this with the Three Great Lights of Masonry - The Sun, The Moon, and the Master. Therefore it seems to me that this understanding of the trinity is also esoterically accurate.

Catholicism, it is known to students of the esoteric tradition, has historically made a habit of reincorporating pagan ideas behind a thin Christian veneer. One obvious example of this is the recasting of several ancient daemons and gods as angels and fictional saints. This proved to be a useful method of preserving the wisdom contained in these tales while simultaneously protecting the church from the influence of those pesky heretics. So the reader may forgive me if I suggest that the cult of Mary, could be based on - and covering over - another important pagan figure. She is in fact a near perfect representation of the Lunar Goddess - corrupted only in that she has been made servant to the Sun (Son) rather than being a significant and independent figure in her own right.

This idea first occurred to me en force when I was inspired by the beauty of Schubert's Ave Maria. I decided to translate the lyrics of the piece and was somewhat surprised by what I found.

Quote from: Ave Maria

Ave Maria! Virgin mild,
Listen to a maiden pleading,
Out of this rock, rigid and wild
Let my prayer come to you.
We'll sleep well until morning,
Whether people are still so cruel.
O virgin, look after the maiden,
O mother, hear a pleading child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Undefined!
When we sink to this rock
To sleep, and your protection covers us
Will the hard rock soften us?
You smile, blowing rose scents
In this dull crag,
O mother, hear child's plea,
O virgin, a virgin calls!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Pure maid!
Earth and Air Demons,
Chased by your eye's favor,
You can not live here,
We want to quietly bow to fate,
As your sacred comfort comes to us;
The Virgin wants to hold you,
The child pleading for the father.
Ave Maria!

I realized that I could have easily written these lines in praise of my Patron, the fair moon. And while the verses are more poetic than spiritual in character, we can still see a connection to the Gnosis or Transcendental Sorrow that we Artemists attribute to the Moon. (The description of Earth as "the hard rock," and "this dull crag," as well as the acknowledgement of the cruelty of men and the sacred comfort of the Lunar goddess.)

The similarities do not stop there, however. Being first and last among the planets, the Moon is heavily identified with the number Seven (there being seven classical planets and seven also being symbolic of magic). Both of the previous two correlations are nicely tied up in one of Mary's titles: Our Lady of Sorrows  -- [referring to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady; revealed to Saint Bridget]

(I'm sure it's not necessary to point out the obvious numerology here.)

Heck - even Crowley gets in on this association of the holy spirit and the Moon. In his Eight Lectures on Yoga, he writes

Quote from: Third Lecture - Niyama

14. The last of the seven sacred planets is the Moon. The Moon represents the totality of the female part of us, the passive principle which is yet very different to that of Venus, for the Moon corresponds to the Sun much as Venus does to Mars. She is more purely passive than Venus, and although Venus is so universal the Moon is also universal in another sense. The Moon is the highest and the lowest; the Moon is the aspiration, the link of man and God; she is the supreme purity: Isis the Virgin, Isis the Virgin Mother; but she comes right down at the other end of the scale, to be a symbol of the senses themselves, the mere instrument of the registration of phenomena, incapable of discrimination, incapable of choice. The Niyama corresponding to her influence, the first of all, is that quality of aspiration, the positive purity which refuses union with anything less than the All. In Greek mythology Artemis, the Goddess of the Moon, is virgin; she yielded only to Pan. Here is one particular lesson: as the Yogi advances, magic powers (Siddhi the teachers call them) are offered to the aspirant; if he accepts the least of these-or the greatest-he is lost.

At the other end of the scale of the niyama of the Moon are the fantastic developments of sensibility which harass the Yogi. These are all help and encouragement; these are all intolerable hindrances; these are the greatest of the obstacles which confront the human being, trained as he is by centuries of evolution to receive his whole consciousness through the senses alone. And they hit us hardest because they interfere directly with the technique of our work; we are constantly gaining new powers, despite ourselves, and every time this happens we have to invent a new method for bringing their malice to naught. But, as before, the remedy is of the same stuff as the disease; it is the unswerving purity of aspiration that enables us to surmount all these difficulties. The Moon is the sheet-anchor of our work. It is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel that enables us to overcome, at all times and in all manners, as the need of the moment may be.

There are other significant correlations, as well. There is a prominent statue of Mary on the golden dome of the University of Notre Dame that features striking Lunar and Serpent imagery; originally the figure also bore a crown of stars (The Lunar Goddess, being the queen of heaven, is also depicted like this at times - partially due to the fact that the stars remain visible when she reigns). This statue was allegedly based on a statue of Mary that existed in Rome.

And when you really start looking into it, you'll find this kind of imagery repeated over and over again...

One final, much more esoteric connection I would like to draw is that which has been previously alluded to - the connection to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In legitimate gnostic texts written around the beginning of the christian age, the Moon is associated with that sacred knowledge definitively. In the text we call On the Origin of the World, we read

And next to it (is) the tree of knowledge (gnosis), having the strength of God. Its glory is like the moon when fully radiant. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig leaves. Its fruit is like a good appetizing date. And this tree is to the north of Paradise, so that it might arouse the souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that they might approach the tree of life and eat of its fruit, and so condemn the authorities and their angels. The effect of this tree is described in the Sacred Book, to wit: "It is you who are the tree of knowledge, which is in Paradise, from which the first man ate and which opened his mind; and he loved his female counterpart and condemned the other, alien likenesses and loathed them."

Now after it, the olive tree sprouted up, which was to purify the kings and the high priests of righteousness, who were to appear in the last days, since the olive tree appeared out of the light of the first Adam for the sake of the unguent that they were to receive.

This lines up perfectly with what Montfort claimed about Mary. And if we go a step further and recall that in other Gnostic texts such as the Hypostases of the Archons and The Apocryphon of John, the Tree of Knowledge itself is considered to be but one manifestation of the Woman of Spirit (or Gnostic Lilith, or Epinoia or Zoe - also either the Serpent or the Mother of the Serpent) - we can see that the theological position of Mary as "The Second Eve" is just another formulation of the Double Creation of Woman (the Feminine and Divine Feminine principles). This would theologically mean that the sacred principle of woman which in the beginning gave the Knowledge of Good and Evil - also reappeared to produce the fulfillment of that promise in the perfected man of Christ. Narratively, this can also provide an explanation of how  Mary could have been free from original sin. She was actually not from the line of Adam and Eve - she was Lilith, finally overcoming the curse of the Demiurge which had always prevented her from conceiving, thanks to the help of the Most High. This would mean that the Holy Spirit did not originate with Mary 2000 years ago, but has always been with mankind - even from the first.

After all that my research has revealed so far, I am inclined to believe that in the figure of the Virgin Mary, we are looking through a lens darkly at the remains of the Lunar cult as it existed in antiquity before being rolled into the solar christian cult alongside many other myths and legends. I'll continue looking into Mariology (the equivalent of Christology) and probably make a part 2 to this post in a few months to talk about what else I turn up. For now, I'll leave you all with the heavenly music that sent me down this path of exploration to begin with. Enjoy :)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 10:38:19 pm by Olive »
    Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
     Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth, -
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


Re: The Virgin Mary - Lunar Goddess in Disguise?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2020, 01:14:28 am »

I think it is also interesting if you look at some popular names for Mary.

Lady Of Sorrows and the partnering iconography. Mary is often crying (water & emotion).

We often see  the symbol of hearts with swords through it, very similar to the image in the Tarot three of swords. Symbolizing heartbreak, intense emotions & feelings.

Immaculate Heart of Mary - again emotions/feelings

There are probably more connections but this is just what came to my head after reading your post.

The Rose of the Palace of Fire