Religion Past and Present

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Mother Goddesses
(763 words)

[German Version]

The supposed priority of mother symbolism in anthropomorphic ideas of God (God, Representations and symbols of) led many scholars in the past to postulate a “cult of the mother goddess as an archetypal phenomenon” (Heiler, but also van der Leeuw and others). But mother symbolism is only one aspect in the complex world of goddess worship. The definition of the term mother goddess is inconsistent and problematic, because it mixes biological elements (such as “mother of the gods” or “she who creates humankind”) and social elements of the matern…

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Heller, Birgit, “Mother Goddesses”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 14 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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