Religion Past and Present

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Supernatural Birth
(463 words)

[German Version]

In myths and legends, the motif of supernatural birth distinguishes deities and saviors who procreate, give birth, and are born supernaturally. Zeus’s potency is a token of his divinity and enables him to beget additional deities. Goddesses sometimes give birth without conception; examples include Hephaestus’s birth from Hera and Gaṇeśa’s birth from Parvati. Paradoxically, virginity (Virgin birth) is associated with goddesses of fertility (Ishtar, Venus). Gods appropriate the bir…

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Beinhauer-Köhler, Bärbel, “Supernatural Birth”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 30 June 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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