The sacred feminine is the mythic representation of the mother goddess symbolized through images and events connected with fertility and reproduction from the earliest times.
Joseph Campbell was an American professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion. In The Power of Myth, a 1988 interview with Bill Moyers, Campbell links the image of the earth or mother Goddess to symbols of fertility and reproduction.
The connection of the image of the earth or mother Goddess to rituals surrounding, and images of, fertility, was (and still is) common to numerous cultural and religious traditions including Gnosticism and the New Age movement of Wicca. For example, Campbell states that, "There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... We talk of Mother Earth. And in Egypt you have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere". Campbell continues by stating that the correlation between fertility and the Goddess found its roots in agriculture:
Bill Moyers: But what happened along the way to this reverence that in primitive societies was directed to the Goddess figure, the Great Goddess, the mother earth- what happened to that?
Joseph Campbell: Well that was associated primarily with agriculture and the agricultural societies. It has to do with the earth. The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants...so woman magic and earth magic are the same. They are related. And the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female. It is in the agricultural world of ancient Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Nile, and in the earlier planting-culture systems that the Goddess is the dominant mythic form.
Campbell also argues that the image of the Virgin Mary was derived from the image of Isis and her child Horus: "The antique model for the Madonna, actually, is Isis with Horus at her breast".
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