“Las diosas de America: Concealed Symbols of the Great Mother in Latin American Literature,” my doctoral dissertation approved by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University had an inspiring but polemic birth. Like most texts that mention myth, the Great Mother or a goddess, this dissertation faced great adversity from a collective group of professors within the department who deemed it unscholarly, intellectually immature and irrelevant. Although readers across the Atlantic and in the Southern hemisphere praised its innovative approach and transcendental quality, it was an arduous task to secure readers for its defense. Structural changes were suggested but I resisted. Knowing my intellectual work had depth, meaning and truth, I persisted like a mother who loves, nurtures and defends her child. My search for the origin was just beginning.
This thesis was born over the course of several years, at various moments in my life. During one of my first seminars, as a graduate student, I came across a professor’s book titled Yemayá y Ochún by Lydia Cabrera. At the time, I was caught by the book’s cover, a display of a voluptuous, mermaid with bare and exuberant breasts looking into a mirror. Surrounding this image were those of the sun, a serpent, a flower, an anchor and the ocean. It was captivating. I was immersed in this symbolic imagery. As an initiated daughter of Yemayá I respected these goddesses and venerated the Yoruban dieties since my young adulthood in different and distinct ways. Until then, never before had found a text that delineated the traditions, rituals, myths and secrets that pertained to this belief system. Everything I knew about these goddesses had been passed on to me orally, and intuitively by elders. Needless to say, I was entranced with this book and the centuries old knowledge that it contained. Little did I know then that would be the first sign.
Also during that first semester of graduate studies, through an hermeneutical reading of Beckett’s Molloy, Kafka’s Das Schloss, Saint Teresa de Avila’s The Interior Castle (Las Moradas) and Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, I was able to explore the concept of the Great Mother and the feminine principle in greater depth. Little did I know then that an informal seminar presentation about the female characters in the novel Pedro Páramo, which in my reading, represented a pantheon of Mesoamerican goddesses, would become the catalyst of my intellectual quest.
As an undergraduate student I had read Pedro Páramo several times. Although I was familiar with the text, reading the novel later in life as a graduate student, a single mother of a young boy and a mature professional transitioning into academia, the novel held different meaning. This time, Pedro Páramo resonated with me in such a profound and intimate manner. To quote the novel with what I consider its most poignant excerpt, the protagonist, Juan Preciado says,
Yo imaginaba ver aquello a través de los recuerdos de mi
madre; de su nostalgia, entre retazos de suspiros. Siempre
vivió ella suspirando por Comala, por el retorno, pero jamás
volvió. Ahora yo vengo en su lugar. Traigo los ojos con que
ella miró estas cosas, porque me dio sus ojos para ver.
These seemingly simple lines marked the birth of my thesis. Whereas for years I believed Juan Preciado, the novel’s protagonist, was on a quest to find the father he never knew, Pedro Páramo, it became clear with a more mature reading that his search was one for his mother Dolores. It is her world, her past, and the origin of life itself that Juan Preciado seeks knowledge of. Why this novel resonated with me so strongly is deeply personal, rooted in my relationship with my own son and my experience as a mother. Indeed, my intellectual work is interlaced with a personal and spiritual journey. The novels chosen for my doctoral study in some form or another express themes of motherlessness, orphanhood, homelessness, separation from community, disconnect from nature, the fragmentation of the whole integral self and the annihilation of an entire cultural memory. These problems are not just relegated to fiction but rather are found across personal, social, cultural and political narratives.
A common thread between Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo, 1955), Los ríos profundos (José María Arguedas, 1958) and Macunaíma: um herói sem nenhum caráter (Mario de Andrade, 1928) may seem obvious, all are canonical, classic and exemplary works of Latin American literature, all of them rely on ancient American myth and Indigenous thought throughout their narratives. More precisely, however, is that all three novels share a common metaphysical, aesthetic, political, cultural project: they are classic novels that touch upon universal themes but also underscore the tension between the pre-Hispanic and colonial past. They reflect upon a cultural memory intertwined with the process of colonization and modernity while developing solidarity with indigenous peoples against the violence and oppression to which they are subjected. What is not so obvious is that these novels employ symbols and manifestations to represent the Great Mother through their female characters or elements of nature. Drawing specifically on the trans-historic/trans-cultural reach of the Great Mother Goddesses’ lunar, chthonic and aquatic symbolism, I trace the emergence of the Great Mother in these narratives, and the ways in which this figure’s symbolic connections revolve around the concept that life on earth is an eternal transformation, a permanent and rhythmic change between creation and destruction, between life and death.
Thus, Las diosas de América demonstrates how the female characters are represented as actively opposing the dominant (patriarchal/colonial/technocratic) culture, helping to preserve the concept of an indigenous identity. These characters can be seen as consistently subverting patriarchal authority in order to reestablish a lost paradise, or are depicted as a central force leading to the disintegration of patriarchal political and social establishments. I propose that the mythological dimension of these novels enables the authors to present these new - or in some cases, already existent, yet marginalized - cultural definitions through the framework of myth. Rulfo, Arguedas and de Andrade remind us of that which defines the feminine principle: creative and destructive, harmonious and dissonant, definite and ambiguous; elements at the core of a social and aesthetic project. They poetically reveal a meta-historical symbol-system that recuperates a complete human history, a cultural memory, and a model for the re-sacralization of life in union with the cosmos. Through this search for the origin of life and of artistic creation, the authors establish new and alternative ways of conceptualizing culture.
In Pedro Páramo Juan Preciado embarks on a journey to Comala and the matriarchal paradise it represents in search of his mother’s past. What he finds there is his own death, murmurs and the spirits of various women who narrate the past of Comala to him. The feminine presence in the novel serves an essential and diverse purpose. Women in Pedro Páramo are mothers, lovers, destroyers and creators. This multifold presence is condensed into one character: Susana San Juan. Various elements- telluric, aquatic and lunar; those which the Great Mother Coatlicue is also attributed with- are intimately and explicitly associated with Susana San Juan.
As the most prominent voice in the novel, Susana San Juan narrates the story of Comala through Juan Preciado. The town is, as his mother Dolores describes, “una alcancía donde hemos guardado nuestros recuerdos,” and her son, Juan Preciado, too, as a memory carefully guarded, is taken into its underworld, its earth. He is pulled into memory – into Comala’s “alcancía” – from life itself by the strength of what yearns to not be forgotten. Those in Comala are alive in death – not just an archive of history, that can be lost or burned in order to be forgotten, but a living history that never fades, and that envelops the living. In blurring the boundaries between life and death, narrating death from life and life from death, Rulfo’s intention to recuperate an ontological and spiritual past in his novel is palpable. It is plausible to say that the novel allows the reader to re-visit the past continuously in order to connect with the Great Mother, Coatlicue, Coyolxhaqui, Tonantzin, among many others through Susana San Juan.
The original title, Una estrella junto a la luna, is yet another reminder of that divine relationship we have with the cosmic mother. In changing the title to Pedro Páramo, however, the social and political drama that has crossed the nation is condensed: from the conquest to the revolution, from the slaughter of Tlatelolco, to the blatant and excessive violence against indigenous groups, women, children and nature; violence against humanity. Thus, Susana San Juan symbolizes the unifying cosmic principle that integrates the forces of nature and astral powers with human life and matriarchal organization. Her duality and the cosmic chaos Rulfo describes are but a way to recognize the origins of all human and spiritual life-eternally rooted in the indigenous. She is the symbol of a mother goddess who integrates and preserves the sacredness of nature and being.
The young protagonist of Los ríos profundos, Ernesto journeys into the chicherías and the Andean landscape to define his own identity. What he discovers is the tension between the confusion and violence necessary to promote the regenerative forces of life (death/fertility), and, a longed-for harmony with nature and thus, the Great Mother, Pachamama. In the process of self-formation this motherless child refuges himself in the exuberant breasts of nature, the “maternal imagen del mundo.” Filled with symbols of nature that represent Pachamama as a cosmic and feminine principle, Arguedas presents a vision of the universe interrelated as a whole and the magical approach to this world consists in attempting to discover the subterranean paths that move between human beings, things and spiritual values. It deals with comprehending the essence of the cosmos, consistent in discovering the interrelation between beings and objects. However, only the indigenous community and Ernesto share this integrating and pantheistic perception.
Myth and magic are vital guiding forces for Ernesto in his quest and he finds it in the memory of the virgin stones of the great Incan wall, from where he is able to feel and capture the tenderness and solidarity of his ancestors. This same magic is also found in the rivers. The rivers not only possess a divine role of purification, they also represent the blood that streams through the valleys, having descended from the sierras, thus the memories of the past. The sounds of the flowing rivers become song, and ultimately becomes the language of the world. The deep river’s music possesses an erotic dimension and represents the permanency of what is Andean, as it is eternally flowing. It is more than a bridge between the civilizing and oppressive world and the fluidity of the world of maternal memories; it is safe and free. The zumbayllú that at first glance seems not to have any relationship with the past represents the profound and complex identity of a cultural memory, nature and music. Ernesto’s journey towards manhood is in turn a search of the feminine principle, the Great Mother and for her maternal embrace in an orphaned world. Though the novel poetically reflects upon Andean reciprocity, it also provides an intensely tragic vision of life through rebellions, plagues, conflicts, death and confrontations. In reflecting upon this violence juxtaposed with the multiple representations of Pachamama, the novel provides a complex mythical dimension that proposes an alternate wisdom that is better able to confront the social with the cosmic.
In the novel Macunaíma: um herói sem nenhum caráter, based on several Taulipang and Arekuna myths and legends, Mário de Andrade reflects upon an essentially feminine, if not maternal, sexual, erotic, and creative universe. Through a vast number of symbols, feminine characters, elements of nature and rhythm, Macunaíma embodies the utopian matriarchal world. Women appear at every turn - from the hero's mother and the cunhãs of the forest, to the mystical goddesses and the destructive and terrifying feminine forces of nature to the French and Polish prostitutes of São Paolo. However, the driving force of the novel and the overlooked protagonist of the novel is Ci, the Mother of the Forest, the Great Mother Goddess.
While cunning, deceit, lust, sensuality and creation are undoubtedly prominent features of the novel, Macunaima’s relationship with Ci reflects something more profound and mystical: it represents the sacred union of the cosmos: the hierosgamos. The hierosgamos, the sacred union between the hero and the Great Mother goddess, is only achieved when the hero conquers his fears and defeats his monsters. This “marriage” mirrors the goddess’s various manifestations of female power, in the sense that it is a metaphor for transformation through unity. The union, then, is a symbol for unity and balance.
The Great Mother goddess, personified in Ci, seems like a secondary background character, since the novel follows the hero’s adventures. Yet, it becomes clear to the reader that even if she is not physically present throughout the unfolding of the events, she is central to his actions; the hero’s thoughts and actions are suffused with her presence in the shape of dreams, memories, frustrations, and desires. Macunaíma’s quest throughout the narrative is driven towards the recuperation of the sacred muiraquitã, a symbol of love and power but above all, the all-embracing presence of the sacred maternal deity. Through various trials, challenges, mishaps and precarious encounters- (there are plagues, sickness, “a sol traiçoeria”, the beasts and fantastic beings of the forest, and of course the foreign exploiter)- Macunaíma and his brothers seek to recuperate the amulet, stolen by the giant foreign man-eater Venceslau Pietro Pietra/Piamã, which in many ways represents the journey every hero must take to recuperate treasure and/or rescue a captive. Macunaíma, as the culture hero of the Brazilian people, must overcome a myriad of obstacles. Though the hero dies physically, he achieves mythic survival in the form of the constellation Ursa Major along side of his beloved goddess Ci who is transformed into Beta Centauri. Macunaíma and the other characters are aggrandized when they become stars or constellations, which creates a Brazilian sky and, therefore, the cosmos.
Full of irony, parody, humor and language (both native and created), and sensuality, the novel emphasized the mythological roots of Brazilian culture in order to convey greater understanding of the dichotomies of death and rebirth, destruction and renewal, decay and regeneration, which transform the personal and the collective. In writing about Macunaíma’s quest to reunite with the Great Mother, the origin of all creation, however, de Andrade leads the reader not just to meditate on Brazilian culture, but culture in general. Through an understanding of these dichotomies, we are best able to return to that utopian matriarchy of Pindorama, a place where both personally and collectively, beings are renewed, transformed and eternal.
All three journeys reflect upon characters driven by female ones to find something forgotten, hidden or lost. Though these three novels are centered on masculine characters, a hermeneutic reading reveals is that feminine/maternal energy is the driving force of the search for the origin of life, identity, creation and artistic expression. Further, the multiple references to the different elements of nature underscore the idea that these novels contain concealed symbols of the Great Mother myth.
The Great Mother is an all-encompassing term that implies the fundamental sacred importance of the feminine principle. This archetype has a range and combination of attributes, names and manifestations within diverse cultures, historical periods and religious narratives. At the core, she represents the whole of nature as well as plurality. The Great Mother, or as some may refer to as the Goddess, Earth Goddess, Earth Mother or Mother Nature is also a figure of duality- embodying the characteristics of the good, the terrible, the creator and the destroyer. In his work, The Great Mother, Erich Neumann writes about the Great Mother figure and very aptly points out her dual nature,
The good feminine (and masculine) elements configure the
Great Mother, who like the Terrible Mother containing the
negative elements can also emerge independently from the
unity of the Great Mother…Great Mother, Good Mother, and
Terrible Mother form a cohesive archetypal group.
For Neumann the terms "mother" and "great" symbolize the "complex psychic situation of the ego." Furthermore, Neumann writes, "Because the earth, as creative aspect of the Feminine rules over vegetative life, it holds the secret of the deeper and original form of "conception and generation" upon which all animal life is based. For this reason the highest and most essential mysteries of the Feminine are symbolized by the earth and its transformations." In terms of the feminine creative force/power, C.G. Jung talks about maternal instinct and the archetype of the mother;
The positive aspect [...] namely the overdevelopment of the
maternal instinct, is identical with that well-known image of
the mother which has been glorified in all ages and all tongues.
This is the mother-love which is one of the most moving and
unforgettable memories of our lives, the mysterious root of all
growth and change; the love that means homecoming, shelter,
and the long silence from which everything begins and in which
The Great Mother holds so many attributes that are also spiritually sustaining and necessary for coming to terms with the inevitable changes in our current deteriorating world. She can act as a protectress, source of ethnic identity, and nurturing healer. She is also capable of stirring the deepest levels of the spiritual and religious imagination by focusing on human terror and assisting in its resolution. Ambivalence, awe and terror are linked together at the most fundamental level of the human experience.
Due to the Great Mother Goddess’s multiple manifestations, varying representations and different names throughout history and across cultures, this aspect of the novels is frequently missed and ignored. Several elements in these novels establish a relationship between the magical and overlooked female characters and the mythological backgrounds of Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian cultures- an observation seldom emphasized and in most cases, completely unrecognized by existing textual criticism. Omitting the mention of the Great Mother goddess myth in these foundational texts – specifically research about it within in the field of Latin American literary studies – is striking given the centrality of myth in these novels.
But myth is a contentious term.
Myth has a number of meanings in the English language. Some major pejorative definitions of myth are distortion, imaginary, fictitious or fable. Yet, research and study of myth and of mythology over the last one hundred years have revealed the importance of myth not only in primal culture but also in modern life. While our culture has become largely de-mythologized, we nevertheless are tied to myth through camouflaged or modernized mythic symbolism. It is important and powerful in our lives even though we may be unaware of it or precisely because we are unaware of it. Myths may be understood as narrations of primordial experiences, sometimes personal but more often transcendental. They reflect a living and burning reality that exists in the psyche and culture of a people, as Jung once wrote, “Myths are original revelations of the preconscious psyche, involuntary statements about unconscious psychic happenings.” In other words, they are not simply allegories representative of the outer and inner lives of peoples, but are their psychic lives “their living religion” -- all religions are based on myths. Every voluntary or involuntary mental construct in a myth, legend, dream, visitation, hallucination or apparition may be said to be real or to be at least a fragment of something that occurred either consciously or unconsciously. The anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, indicated that myth is a vital ingredient of human civilization, “it is not an idle tale but a hard-worked active force, not an intellectual explanation or an artistic imagery, but a pragmatic charter of primitive faith and moral wisdom.”
Myth is an expression of emotion and instincts with objective characteristics and this symbolic expression, as a constitutive part of the function of myth, characterizes the process of human thought. Myth is based on an intuition of the cosmic solidarity of life. Certain sociologists such as Bronislaw Malinowski and Émile Durkheim argued that myth is a rationalization and a validation of ritual and that it metamorphoses human hopes and fears, especially the fear of death. Regarding literature, Joseph Campbell, Northrop Frye, among others consider myth as a symbol of universal archetypes and primordial images that emerge from the collective unconscious. Myth, as art and literature, can have a profound symbolic value and an allegorical function, not necessarily because it latently contains an esoteric wisdom, but rather because the plot and actions suggest universal patterns of motivation and behavior.
It should be mentioned that there are almost as many definitions of myth as scholars on the topic. Among the many definitions, is that which posits that myth is found in literature as an expression of humanity; myths find in literature distinct symbolic and narrative expressions; and that the presence of myth within a literary work of art is precisely what resonates within us. In global literature, throughout the ages, myths have been poetically concealed. This idea, now more widespread among modern critics, finds its roots in the research of the collective unconscious, archetypes, myths and symbols by Carl G. Jung. Jung was primarily interested in the psyche, but also in literature as an expression of the psyche. He explains that the images and symbols that appear in literature are images of the collective unconscious. That is, the particular innate structure of the psyche that represents the womb and early stages of consciousness. The contents of the unconscious exert a formative influence on the psyche. Consciously we despise those contents, but unconsciously we respond to them and to the symbolic forms - including dreams in which they are expressed. Jung says that the analogies between ancient myths and stories in modern literature are not trivial, nor accidental. They exist because the unconscious mind of modern human beings retains the ability to create symbols that once, in another age, found expression in the beliefs, rituals and myths of ancient man.
Although there are different approaches, opinions and discussions on the subject of myth, most of criticism subscribes to the general principle that the creation of myths, mythopoetic power, is inherent in the process of thinking and respond to a basic human need. Further, as John B. Vickery points out in Myth and Literature: Contemporary Theory and Practice, myths form the matrix that emerges in literature, both historical as well as psychological. As a result, the traits, themes and images that appear in the literature are basically similar complications and displacements of similar elements found in myths and folktales. Jung explains that myth inserts into literature by way of the collective unconscious, because of historical diffusion or because of the similarity of the human mind in all parts of the world. He adds that myth not only simulates artistic creation, but also provides concepts and patterns that can be used to interpret certain literary works. Understanding these patterns gives us a way to read and understand literature. In fact, the ability that literature has to move us deeply is precisely due to its mythical quality. The actual function of literature is to continue ancient myths and its basic purpose is to create a place full of meaning for human beings in an indifferent world.
Many Latin American writers have sustained that their literature is rooted in a complex and disjointed series of cultural and literary processes that started long before the Spanish invasion and that have continued into the present. Regarding narrative, poetry and history, often these processes have been characterized both silence and expression, whether it written or oral. This fact implies the need to recuperate and reestablish lost historical realities, as well as, the language with which to express them. In response to this challenge, Augusto Roa Bastos coined the phrase "literatura sin pasado, pasado sin literatura.” He writes,
Esta literatura sin pasado plantea, en primer termino, el
compromiso de rescatar esa literatura ausente, la memoria
de esos textos borrados, destruidos, antes aun de que fueran
escritos. En ellos están inscritas las prefiguraciones del
porvenir de una sociedad, de una literatura, inscritas a su vez
en el contexto de una historia particular.
For those writers interested in the future of their people, these words hold an implicit creative evaluation of the past: of cultural and sociopolitical values inscribed in myths and in the natural landscape of their communities.
The proposal for a deeply creative recuperation of the past responds to the idea that a true political consciousness implies a vital connection to the past, because a significant part of that wisdom, knowledge and historical experience of the indigenous Americans and mestizo people (both north and south), lives in popular memory, and in their oral traditions. Historical events continue to be interpreted and expressed within these contexts. It is this is connection that is partly strengthened by a vulnerable act of being defined as a process of reverie (“ensoñación”)--- from there the fundamental role that imagination and intuition should play in the understanding of reality. Precisely to this idea Roa Bastos points out:
La obras de los mejores escritores latinoamericanos de hoy..
muestran la necesidad creativa de mantenerse fieles a la
expresión de sus propias esencias culturales, cuanto mas
hondas mas universales. Estas obras están construidas sobre
la aspiración de intensificar a través de la distancia y del
distanciamiento - y precisamente a favor de ellos - la actividad
de la “imaginación mítica.
On a concrete level, the cardinal purpose of this work is to explore the essence of that ‘rescate creativo’ and show how, inspired by the fluid and changing reality of myths and autochthonous landscape, certain writers have pointed towards the possibility of establishing a more just and humane modernity for their people. But to understand this fully, it is necessary to first make a few observations on the role and function of myth and landscape in indigenous communities. This will also help to expand our understanding of what the true relationship is between what has traditionally been called literature and other forms of cultural expressions.
When Roa Bastos writes about the need to recuperate a missing literature, the memory of forgotten and deleted texts, destroyed even before they were ever written and which are inscribed in the foreshadowing of the future, he doesn’t refer only to the traditions of the Paraguayan people. Further, he doesn’t allude solely to specific myths and legends, those that still dwell in the oral traditions of indigenous communities and which are susceptive to being recorded or transcribed, but rather the myths and legends of an entire cosmic space. In other words, it is a particular way of relating with the landscape that surrounds us, the community and finally, human existence.
It is my observation that Rulfo, Arguedas and de Andrade deploy a mythological memory within their novels- a memory that reflects upon history, religion and Latin American civilization- in order to observe how that memory speaks to the processes of modernization. Further, myths that reflect upon the Great Mother, are able to construct identity, respond also to the illuminating images of artistic and aesthetic characteristics and contain a value of resistance against colonial and patriarchal violence, restore social democracy, sustain communal regeneration and promote humanism.
We humans are vulnerable beings. Our elaborate civilizations are but recent experiments in a long evolutionary process. Thus, the Great Mother is an ancient reminder for humans of their vulnerability and their earlier dependence on the earth. A profound exercise of the imagination is at the root of the Great Mother, creating a multitude of forms to express something mysterious at the heart of the human experience. Whether it be the Great Mother goddesses Coatlicue, Pachamama or Ci, or for that matter Kali, Isis, Tuwatsi (Hopi for earth),Yansá, Ochún or Yemayá– they are all the personifications of a myriad of goddesses that embrace the most sublime forces, like the moon, the earth, the waters, the sun; the very mysteries of creation. They are cosmic mothers that integrate the forces of nature and those of the astros with human life and community. These goddesses preserve the sacred character of nature and of being. The creation of sacred images is perhaps the most awesome act available to man. Icons are constructed and destroyed, displaying the fundamental insight that divinity is both seen and unseen, this is the mystery that challenges humans to continue to perfect and refine their relationship to something beyond and within them, something that can never be fully comprehended rationally.
Modern industrialized people are uprooted, lonely, severed from the earth. The Great Mother goddess figure represents a metaphorical image of primacy. It is probably no accident that female deities were the earliest human representations of divinity. She represents places of origin associated with beginnings, the process of metamorphosis, and the eternal return. Ultimately, the Great Mother goddess is a symbol of transformation, whatever shape they may take. Rebirth is the key theme for all aspects of life, and these deities are profound reminders to us all of the primacy of the mother/infant bond - a source both of stability and of change. In essence, worship and veneration of the Great Mother is an attempt to recapture this primal experience by divinizing it and thus enshrining it with a sense of meaning and sustenance available for all of us.
Despite that they may vary greatly in their details, myths of the Great Mother have a universal model. If analyzed closely, we discover they are very similar in structure. Literature reveals this same phenomenon. Although the work of each writer varies in the details- they express stories steeped in distinct circumstances, times, and spaces- these are universal models, fundamental structures and mythical archetypes and universal contents that are, in the opinion of many critics, what constitutes the 'literary' as a great bridge across time, space and across the literature of all time. The fact that myth is found in and are the basic structure of literature- despite our supposed rationalism and demystification- proves that mythic contents are still the substratum of our psyche. Myth exerts its symbolic function through the instrument of the narrative, since what it narrates is a story in itself. This original narrative then reveals the hidden meaning of the human experience and in doing so myth then assumes the irreplaceable function of the narrative, to tell a story. The fact that myths appear in literature speaks of a desire to return to the sacred origin of the Great Mother: a desire that persists in our unconscious.
According to Eliade, myth is the history of the rituals of supernatural beings. Therefore these stories are considered true and sacred.82 They always refer to a creation; it recounts how something has come to existence. Upon recognizing myth, the origins are revealed. This is a profound, interior experience, a knowledge experienced ritually. To experience myth is to go through a truly spiritual, sacred experience because they reveal that human beings and life has a supernatural and magical origin, and a significant and exemplary history. The ancients and members of today’s societies experienced and understood myths according to their cultural canon- they answered a need, an inner pulsing, an inspiration, or a yearning on both a personal and collective level. Modernity has caused human beings to lose their relationship with myth and ritual. We are at a critical point in time where history and myth split from one another and this crisis, this crossroads, in which myth and history have been disassociated from one another, means the loss of a mythical dimension and thus, the demystification of our own mentality.
To study the Great Mother myth, and its deeper meanings today may help awaken readers to new perceptions and to different judgments about themselves, others and life in general. The search and ultimate return to the origin, through the understanding of ancient myths and rituals, seems to be a new way towards knowledge and consciousness that promises human beings a deeper understanding of ourselves and our renewed experience of the sacred.
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