Return of the Goddess
by Maria Kay Simms
(From the NCGR Journal - Winter 1987-1988 (Philosophy Issue))
What is God? Although some of the descriptive details might differ
in the ideas of various religions, one of the most obvious similarities
in world view for the past 2000 years is this: God is He-with a
capital H-male.It was not always so. In the 2000 or so years before,
God was She - Mother, Creatress, Giver of Life, Provider of all
food from Her earthly abundance. Now, in the thoughts of many, the
image of God is changing again. The Goddess is ascending, and with
Her a new movement toward a matrifocal social structure.have you
ever thought how profoundly our entire social and political structure
is influenced by this one simple concept - God as male, or God as
Ancient Goddess-worshiping civilizations were peaceful. Primary
occupations were gathering, and later agricultural. People were
very conscious of their dependence on Mother Earth, and they respected
Her deeply. Human mothers were the center of society. Lines of
descent were traced through the mother line. Inheritance of property
and position passed from mother to daughter. Councils of women
had the final say on most decisions that affected the welfare
of their groups. Women were priestesses and healers. Their brothers
and uncles protected the women - especially when they were pregnant
or caring for small children. Sexual activity was considered a
natural function - a gift of the Divine Mother, meant for pleasure.
Since the line of descent came from the mother, it really didn't
matter who the father was. All children were cherished, protected
by the entire clan. All this was during the time that we call
the Age of Taurus-earthy, sensual, peace-living Taurus. Taurus,
we are taught, is a "feminine" sign.
Around 2000 years ago the Age of Aries (a "masculine" sign) began.
Slowly, one by one, the culturally developed, urban, Goddess-worshiping
civilizations fell under the domination of conquering Aryan (or
Indo-European) tribes with a new point of view. Their God was
masculine, and was symbolized in various forms of fire. Their
leaders were men, their social-political structure patriarchal.
Because descent and inheritance from the father was important
to them, very strict sexual mores had to be enforced for women.
How else could the men be sure who fathered each child? Women
became the property of their fathers to be sold to their husbands.
With great religious zeal the Aryans slaughtered the matrifocal
societies into submission. This change in world view did not happen
overnight, or even in a century. Throughout the entire Age of
Aries the migrations and invasions went on. By the dawn of the
Age of Pisces, though, the transformation was nearly complete.
Only a few cultures, like the Celts, still clung to the Goddess.
Throughout the civilized world the vast majority of people referred
to God as He. That there had ever been another way to think was
all but forgotten.
The macho, all powerful, stern, punishing Aryan God, who was
given to appearances in fiery pillars or atop rumbling volcanoes,
had been modified by emerging Piscean concepts. He was now to
be called "Father", and while Father may be stern and just, He
was also loving and forgiving. But the social-political structure
had become firmly patriarchal. Generations had forgotten that
women had ever been more than property. Men made all the decisions.
Nearly 2000 years more have now gone by. The pendulum is slowly
swinging back to a matrifocal society. The struggle is much less
violent than before, but it is persistent - and inevitable. Why
is this so?
As above, so below! That's a familiar concept to all of us. We
know so little about how and why it works, yet life on earth does
reflect the patterns in the cosmos. Individuals and nations respond
to the cosmic clock, even when they have no conscious awareness
of its existence. We astrologers know this is true. We prove it
to ourselves with every chart we study.
Most of the time, though, like everyone else, our focus is limited
to our own lifetime and our current problems. That's natural.
Why should we be concerned about where we are in a cycle of thousands
of years? We have enough to contend with in our own lives. For
today, though let's look at the whole, the forest, instead of
just the individual trees. Let's see how very much we are influenced
by our place within the cycle of the ages. Let's see how this
cycle has affected our views about ourselves, where we are, where
we are going - and even our concepts of astrology.
To summarize: The collective concept of God reflects the cycle
of the precessional ages. To say that again, a bit more simply,
for emphasis: The way people think of God, and of themselves in
relation to God, is deeply influenced by the Great Ages. This
is true - it happens - even if the people have no idea what a
Great Age is - even if they've never heard of astrology.
The peaceful, agrarian, earth-centered, matrifocal cultures of
Taurus reflected Taurus not only in their values, but also in
their sacred symbols. Think of the sacred cattle of India, the
bull God Apis of Egypt, the Minotaur of Crete. Throughout the
civilized world bulls, cow, oxen - or the opposition Scorpio symbols
such as serpents, phoenix, eagles and Selket the Scorpion Goddess,
were important religious symbols.
The Aryan invaders of the Age of Aries introduced a competitive,
warring, patriarchal culture. God was represented in fire. Apis
of Egypt was supplanted by Amon the Ram God. Athena, born of her
father, wore a helmet with ram's horns. The Hebrews escaped from
Egypt, sacrificed the bull as a sin offering, and consecrated
their altar and priestly vestments with the blood of a ram.
As the Age of Aries drew to a close the Lamb of God was sacrificed
to atone for sin, and rose to introduce the Age of Pisces and
a new religion. Pisces is a 'feminine" sign, and the god- concept
softened to a compassionate, forgiving, parent figure who loved
everyone unconditionally. The followers of the Fisher of Men identified
themselves by the sign of the fish. The leaders of the new religion
adopted fish-head hats, and their supreme pontiff is said to wear
the "shoes of the Fisherman". The status of women had sunk to
an all-time low in the dawn of this age, but still the virgin
mother of Jesus was elevated to Queen of Heaven and called the
Mother of God.
Slowly, slowly social mores and political structures are changing
to reflect the Piscean vision of God. A new paradigm is born,
but old habits of thinking die very hard.
An astrological model that reflects the struggle for a new world
view is our so-called "natural zodiac". Aries rises. It represents
cardinal east. The ancients called the cardinal points the "four
Corners of the world" - only then the eastern corner was Taurus.
We have seen evidence of that. Old religious art from sphinx statuettes
of Egypt to representations of the apostles of the four New Testament
gospels, tell us that the four corners of the earth were the bull,
the eagle, the lion, and the man. In Job we are told that the
train of the zodiac was led by Aldebaran. The brightest star in
the constellation Taurus, Aldebaran is known as the "bull's eye".
The most renown ancient astrologers, the Babylonians, measured
the zodiac from the opposition axis of Aldebaran and Antares,
brightest star in Scorpio.
The cardinal points changed by formal designation when the classical
Greeks started the system known as tropical astrology. They created
twelve equal sectors of the ecliptic, named them for the constellations
that lay approximately in each sector, decided that the reference
point for measurement should be the vernal equinox, and called
it zero degree Aries. The constellation Aries rose with the Sun
at vernal Equinox. Rising heliacally - just before the sun - was
Pisces, symbol of the new age.
Now, in our astrological system, we say the whole has three qualities.
We attribute the qualities of action to the cardinal signs. Aries,
here, represents that quality, Pisces is of the mutable quality.
It is a changing, teaching, disseminating mode. Taurus, now well
below the horizon, represents the fixed, stable, always there,
sustaining quality. There's a close link, here to numerology and
to theological concepts. Follow closely:
Before the beginning was nothing. The circle, zero, or nothing,
contains the potential for everything (in our numerical cycle),
symbolized by 9. For reasons we do not know, everything-contained-within-nothing,
divided into itself - condensed into a seething center, and with
a "Big Bang" (we are told) became One. This was creation - the
beginning. The One was Three. It had three qualities. It was always
there (in potential) - eternal, fixed, past. In the present, it
acted, created, was cardinal. Now it had the capacity tochange
- it was future, mutable. Three aspects, you see, of one whole.
One is three. What happened to two? Two--duality or opposition
- may be only an illusion of our world of time and space. It is
a necessary illusion for physical experience. Only that which
exists can be perceived. We cannot perceive good unless we have
some perception of bad to contrast it with. We cannot see light
unless we know what darkness is. We have no conception of quiet
unless we know what it is to be noisy.
The only problem with two is that it can only be expressed as
separation: II The very perception of duality prevents us from
truly being whole - it keeps us separated from oneness with God.
Christianity, the keynote religion of the Age of Pisces, expresses
God as triune - the triangle - the trinity - Three in One. The
three aspects of God are three-in-one and one-in-three - all equal
and of the same substance. That which is currently called Father
represents that which was always there, before
the beginning - infinite, eternal, sustaining. The Son is called
the Word. He changed our concept of God, heralding a new age and
hope for the future in resurrection. The Holy Spirit acts
in our lives - is present everywhere.
Remember now, all three are one - equal and the same - a trinity
of trinities. All three are eternal (fixed), all three are active
(cardinal), all three evolve and change (mutable), as new concepts
of the Word are revealed.
I think that all of the twelve zodiac signs have all three qualities,
too. Aries was not always cardinal. In the Age of Aries, Taurus
was cardinal east - the sign of spring equinox. Aries rose before
the sun. It represented the changing concept of God -the new Word
to be disseminated. Hundreds and hundreds of years of struggle
passed before the ingrained patterns of how people acted gave
way to change. As Aries became the cardinal ascendant, Pisces
was given to the world as a new vision, a new Word - but Aries,
then, reflected the accepted mode of action.
The new vision was Piscean, but the decisions on what actions
should be taken to establish the new religion were left solely
to the men, who were products of Arian patriarchal conditioning.
Ideals were of the nature of the feminine - but females had no
voice within the social-political structure. I need not elaborate
for anyone remotely aware of the atrocities of early church history,
how very Arian were the methods by which the fathers of the church
sought to enforce acceptance of the new religion. Where were the
simple teachings of Jesus to love thy neighbor?
Let's compare a little more theology with astrology. The Holy
Spirit, said to act in our lives, is symbolically expressed in
three elements, fire, wind, and water. (The previous sentence
came straight from a Catholic religious education text-book, and
is based on Biblical references.)1 As the three-in-one
acts and descends into matter...matter? Mater... ma.. .ma-ma?
Mother Earth!...the three-in-one becomes three plus one: four!
The cross of our suffering!
God, the whole (God manifest in the world) is now four: fire, air, water,
and earth. And each of the elements has three qualities: eternal,
sustaining fixed; initiative action, cardinal; ever changing and
evolving mutable. Four trinities. And the four times the three are
12, and the 12 is 3, and the three is one. God in the Universe -
We, in the physical universe, however, are still obsessed with
dualism. To continue: Earth, theologians and astrologers agree,
is feminine: Mother Earth and Mother Church, bride of God on earth.
The other three elements - fire, wind, water - the Holy Spirit,
the church calls masculine. Unfair, church fathers! At least on
this point, astrology "balances the scales" with two elements
masculine and two feminine.
It is interesting that in early church councils great arguments
ensued over whether the Holy Spirit was masculine or feminine.
I think it is a reasonable conjecture that the decision to declare
the Holy Spirit male may have been prejudiced by the fact the
only males were allowed to debate.
In truth, of course, God the Whole is One and must be androgynous
- the resolution and unity of all opposites. Impaled as we are
on our cross of time and space, we perceive opposition. Male and
female we are, and male and female we have personified our gods.
In this age, which dawned at the same time as the origin of our
present zodiacal system, we have called our cardinal rising Aries,
and God is male. In the Age of Aries the cardinal rising was Taurus
and the Goddess reigned...until She was gradually suppressed by
the changing world view.
The great fiery wheel of the zodiac is never static. It is constantly
turning. Only the head of the western fish of the constellation
Pisces now rises before the sun at vernal equinox. Soon, in just
a few hundred years, the fish will be lost in
the blinding rays of the rising sun, leaving Aquarius as the helically
rising sign of the new age. Pisces then
be cardinal east, our new cardinal ascendant. Will the Goddess
Lookaround! You can see Her rising now! The changing roles of
women are a major issue of our time. Most urban areas now have
women's centers, often with emphasis on the feminist spiritual
movement that includes a reworking of ancient rituals based on
the lunar cycle. The roles of men are changing, too. Society is
in a state of crisis over changing ideas on careers, child care,
marriage, mothers without husbands, sexual mores, contraception,
abortion, environmental protection, disarmament. The momentum
is steadily and persistently toward a reawakening and reestablishment
of the values associated with the feminine principle. We are returning
to a matrifocal social-political structure. The Goddess is ascending!
Even highly patriarchal Christianity begins to bend as demands
are considered to alter the wording of prayers and scriptures
to remove references to God as male. Recent Catholic publications
have included discussions of the concept of God as Mother.
Our understanding of our own symbolic language of astrology is
changing, too, right along with the changing world view.
Very slowly, to be sure. I know some of you are thinking
already, "How can she say Pisces is becoming cardinal?
That would really mess up all we've been taught." Ideas are
changing, though...some in ways that many of you may already take
for granted. Think about aspects, for example.
Aspects are based on numbers. According to number philosophies
that were formalized in the Arian Age, one, the monad, is masculine.
God is male, He came first, remember? In the Genesis creation
myth, probably written by men who were determined to justify the
patriarchy, Adam is created first, and then Eve is formed from
his rib. She is two, and two is said to be feminine. One, the
masculine, represents action and initiative. Two is supposed to
be passive and responsive.
Poor Eve - she just didn't fit the mold. Not content to be the
passive creature that females are supposed to be, she wanted to
act, to learn, to know. So she ate the apple, and found that to
separate - to act on one's own individual will is to oppose passivity.
To perceive anything is to know its opposite. To live - to die.
If to live is good, then its reverse, death, is evil. Blame it
on Eve! She tipped the Libran scales out of balance and has been
blamed by mankind ever since the time of the Arian patriarchs.
Mankind has preferred her to remain passive, taking the action
principle onto itself.
To continue with our numbers, three (remember the trinity) is
masculine and good. Four, the number of earth, the cross and suffering,
is feminine and evil. Astrology used to be very firm on the meanings
of aspect. The conjunction based on one, was powerful and positive.
The opposition was bad. Trines were benefic-wonderful. Squares
were malefic-awful. Now, like masculine and feminine roles, the
interpretations are becoming blurred and meanings are changing.
Now we consider oppositions and squares to be not bad, but rather
challenging. The words "benefic" and "malefic" are out of fashion.
We now speak of "hard" and "soft" aspects. The hard aspects (derived
from the feminine, remember) are said to represent action. They
make things happen. lf we didn't have them we'd sit on our posteriors
and not get anything done. We wouldn't grow. The soft aspects
represent a state of being. They are called passive, easy flow.
And they are not always "good" anymore. Now our textbooks tell
us that a grand trine might not be so wonderful after all. That
easy flow of energy can get us into trouble.
Can it be that the principle of action is changing?
Is it passing symbolically as well as culturally from the masculine
to the feminine? Hundreds of years remain before the transition
is complete. The vernal point will not precess into Aquarius until
about 2700 A.D.(2) What new religion might emerge in this new
Age of Aquarius with Pisces rising? Aquarius, an airy intellectual
sign, will surely present us with the ideal of universal truth.
I do not think that a single new Messiah or even a second coming
of Christ will herald Aquarius. Rather, numerous great teachers
will emerge, with roots in all religions and all ethnic groups.
They will be men and women, of various races. They will merge
to prove to the world that all gods and goddesses are One. The
Christ will be revered, but understood to be not a god-man forever
set apart from sinful humanity, but instead, the potential within
every human to transcend the physical body and become one with
The Aquarian word will be taught, yet still the new world religion
will be established according to actions initiated by people long
conditioned by Pisces - now cardinal ascendant. As always, through
the ages, the masses will personify the divine. It seems to be
the nature of humanity to create symbols. With Pisces rising,
the most popular personification of deity will be a Goddess.
What might She be, the Piscean Goddess? For ideas let's consider
the Mother of God of our age - how she has been understood and
misunderstood and why. The archetypal goddess of the zodiac is
the Virgin - Virgo. She is pictured with the wheat and corn of
the harvest, symbols of the fruitful bounty of Mother Earth. Often
she is pictured standing upon the moon. The moon was long revered
as the Goddess who gave birth each day to the sun, and whose changing
phases timed all the cycles of life that were necessary for survival.
How in the world did this fertile and powerful Virgo get transformed
into a barren and nit-picking old maid?
Virgo has suffered from being the opposition to the sign of our
age. If Pisces is God, then Virgo must be not-God. The virgin,
in this age, is mortal. A lowly mortal maiden gave birth to the
Messiah. A patriarchy then told the world that the main attribute
of this virgin maiden is her chastity. Forever untouched by man,
pure and obedient, she is placed on a pedestal as the ultimate
example for all women. How convenient for the purposes of the
patriarchy! A nearly unreachable ideal of chastity - a perfect
excuse to heap guilt and inferiority on all women who fall short
of the ideal.
Before this age, however, the word "virgin" was not
synonymous with "chaste". It used to mean a woman who was independent
- who did not belong to any man. The temple virgins of Goddess
cultures were called temple prostitutes by their
A close reading of the gospels suggest ideas that the church
has suppressed or forgotten. Consider the choice of the name Mary
for the mother of Jesus - any the very predominance of Mars -
even to the three Marys at the tomb of Jesus. The pre-Christian
Man was the Goddess of the Sea, clothed in blue robe and pearl
necklace as symbols of the sea. Sometimes she was the Great Fish
who gave birth to the gods; and sometimes the Mermaid. Her latin
name, Maria, means "the seas". Evidence of that remains. The dry seas of the moon are called marias. Mar is the
root word for the sea in many languages - think of the costal
city names that end with "del Mar". As for the triple Mary at
the tomb, the pre-Christian trinity was the triple Goddess: Virgin,
Mother, Crone - representing the age cycle of the feminine.
The gospels are full of symbolism that was no doubt quite deliberately
put there by very early Christian Gnostics with a background in
the esoteric mysteries and in astrology and numerology.
The church is not the only culprit. Our Virgo has been shortchanged
by astrology, too. Our present system of rulerships was set up
by Ptolemy back at the dawn of this age. Since Leo and Cancer
were at the zenith at the warmest time of the year where Ptolemy
lived, he assigned the Sun and the Moon as their rulers. From
then on around the circle in either direction, he assigned planetary
rulers in their order out from the Sun. That is how Virgo got
Mercury. It was a purely arbitrary arrangement. Sterile, sexless
Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, was to be the ruler
of the Goddess of bountiful harvest? The rulers thus assigned,
delineations were made to fit, and Virgo was decreed to be barren,
and then further demeaned into her critical, sterile new image.
(It is interesting that the virgin Mary of the gospels was also
given her new role by a winged messenger of God.)
Recently many astrologers have finally become dissatisfied with
this state of affairs and have sought a new, more appropriate
ruler for Virgo among the asteroids. I submit that the artists
who have portrayed the Virgin standing upon the Moon have the
right idea. Virgo, the only Goddess figure in the zodiac, belongs
with the Moon.
When one compares Christian symbols and gospel stories with knowledge
of astrology and of the precessional ages, it's clear that the
links are numerous and deliberate. The fact that present day biblical
scholars disclaim the link doesn't mean it isn't there. History
undergoes great transformations in 2000 years. One only needs
to compare history books written generations apart to prove that.
Mary is obviously a composite of Pisces/Virgo symbolism. No matter
what the actual facts might be of the lives of Mary and her Son,
the stories about them are woven with symbols of the new age.
St. Paul, the true founder of Christianity, whose letters reveal
a fear and dislike of women, declared Jesus to be God. It is Mary,
though, who lives deep in the consciousness of the masses. Think
about this: throughout this age, whenever anyone has reported
a vision of the divine, almost always it is Mary. Many miraculous
healings have taken place at shrines built at the sites of her
In the current revival of interest in the Goddess, Mary is so
far not prominent. She is still misunderstood and too closely
connected with her chastely pristine image within the patriarchal
church. In thinking of her only as the mortal virgin, we hold
her and ourselves with her, away from full realization of our
spiritual potential in Pisces.
Mystical, visionary Pisces is synthesis - all in one whole. It
is the promise of resurrection - the deep soul-connection of each
of us with all others and with the divine one whole. "Love thy
neighbor as thyself' - because in that divine synthesis we are
Jesus is a man and also God. Mary is Virgo, but she is also Pisces.
Understanding her in a new image that fully encompasses all aspects
of the feminine principle may be an important part of learning
to understand ourselves, our times, our culture - past, present,
and future. Our Lady of the Seas may even emerge as Goddess -
when Pisces rises.
1 James Finley & Michael Pennock, Your Faith
and You, Notre Dame, IN, Ave Maria Press, 1978, pps 62-73.
2 2700 AD as the approximate beginning of the Age of Aquarius
is based on a ratlo of the number of years in each Great Age to
the number of degrees in its corresponding oonstellation. This theory
of measurement is explained in my book, Twelve Wings of
the Eagle, forthcoming from ACS Publications in early 1988.
Also, see Rob Hand's Essays on Astrology:, "The Age and
Constelladon of Pisces, Rockport, MA, Para Research, 1982.
Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths
and Secrets, San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1983.
Merlin Stone, When God was a Woman, San Diego,
Harvest/HBJ, 1976. Carol P. Christ & Judith Paskow, ed.,
Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader
in Religion, San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1979.