The sky father is a recurring theme in pagan and neopagan mythology. The sky father is the complement of the earth mother and appears in some creation myths, many of which are European or ancient Near Eastern. Other cultures have quite different myths; Egyptian mythology features a sky mother and an earthly dying and reviving god of vegetation. Shinto gives precedence to a sun goddess. A sky father also relates to a solar deity, a god identified with the sun.
n Maori mythology, Ranginui was the sky father. In this story, the sky father and earth mother Papatuanuku, embraced and had divine children.
In China, the God of the Abrahamic religions is sometimes called 天父 which means the Sky Father or Heavenly Father.
It is in fact true that a male sky father, whose name has been reconstructed as *dyēus ph2ter, and who appears in Greek mythology as Zeus, in Roman mythology as Jupiter, in Norse mythology as Tyr, and in Vedic religion as Dyaus Pita, seems to have been shared and inherited from a common stock of Proto-Indo-European religion. Each of these names is cognate to the others. This is not, in fact, the most widespread inherited Indo-European deity. The dawn goddess whose name is reconstructed as *aus-os- is even more widespread; she appears in Greek mythology as Eos, in Rome as Aurora, in Germanic mythology as Eostre, in Baltic mythology as Aušra, in Slavic mythology as Zorya, and in Hinduism as Ushas. These names are all cognate as well. From what we can tell of Indo-European culture, there was neither a systematic bias against goddesses or a religious motivation towards male dominance greater than any other comparable culture.
Belief in the sky father and the military prowess of Aryan supermen was a feature of Nazi racial ideology; the swastika was chosen to embody this belief system because it was a solar symbol. Sympathy with the lost utopia of the matriarchal goddessdom arose later. Established as a recurring theme in important literature, the tale lived on among the literature faculty long after it had been dropped by the anthropology department. Its truth was assumed by several historical novelists and fantasy authors, including Mary Renault, Mary Stewart, and more recently Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley, among many others.
A mother goddess is a goddess, often portrayed as the Earth Mother, who serves as a general fertility deity, the bountiful embodiment of the earth. As such, not all goddesses should be viewed a manifestations of the mother goddess.
She ranges in Western traditions from the elegant snake-offering goddess figures of Knossos to the rock-cut images of Cybele, to Dione ("the Goddess") who was invoked at Dodona, along with Zeus, until late Classical times.
Examples of Mother Goddess type
There is no dispute that many ancient cultures worshipped female deities which match the modern conception of a mother goddess as part of their pantheons. The following are examples
Sumerian, Mesopotamian and Greek goddesses
The Irish goddess Anu, sometimes known as Danu, has an impact as a mother goddess, judging from the Dá Chích Anann near Killarney, County Kerry. Irish literature names the last and most favored generation of gods as "the people of Danu" (Tuatha de Dannan).
Amongst the Germanic tribes a female goddess was probably worshipped in the Nordic Bronze Age religion, which was later known as the Nerthus of Germanic mythology, and possibly living on in the Norse mythology worship of Freya. Her counterpart in Scandinavia was the male deity Njord. Other female goddesses in different pantheons may also be considered mother goddesses. Also Yggdrasil, the World Ash, is often understood as the Mother Goddess.
In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, a Mother Goddess was worshipped in the forms of Cybele (revered in Rome as Magna Mater, the 'Great Mother'), of Gaia, and of Rhea.
The Olympian goddesses of classical Greece had many characters with mother goddess attributes, including Hera, Demeter and Athena. In Minoan Crete one of her aspects was the Mistress of the Animals (Potnia Theron) who some say devolved into the huntress Artemis; the archaic Artemis of many breasts worshiped at Ephesus retained some of these aspects.
In the Hindu context, the worship of the Mother entity can be traced back to early Vedic culture, and perhaps even before. The Rigveda calls the divine female power Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth. At places, the Vedic literature alludes to her as Viraj, the universal mother, as Aditi, the mother of gods, and as Ambhrini, the one born of Primeval Ocean. Kali, the wife of Shiva, represents the destructive aspect of femininity and motherhood.
Today, Devi is seen in manifold forms, all representing the creative force in the world, as Maya and prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into self-projection as the cosmos. She is not merely the Earth, though even this perspective is covered by Parvati. All the various Hindu female entities are seen as forming many faces of the same female Divinity.
The Mother Goddess, amalgamated and combined with various feminine figures from world cultures of both the past and present, is worshipped by modern Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans (see Triple Goddess). The mother goddess is usually viewed as mother earth by these groups.
The Earth Mother is a motif that appears in many mythologies. The Earth Mother is a fertile goddess embodying the fertile earth itself and typically the mother of other deities, and so are also seen as patronesses of motherhood. This is generally thought of as being because the earth was seen as being the mother from which all life sprang.
Some of the Black Madonnas are believed to stem from ancient statues of Earth Mother, whose partner was the Moon above her. When Virgin Mary dethroned Earth Mother the Moon was placed under her feet.
The Rigveda calls the Female power Mahimata (R.V. 1.164.33), a term which literally means Mother Earth.
Examples of Earth Mothers